I was recently asked by a writer to respond to four questions he had about spiritual warfare and the current culture. I am guessing that if he decides to run with his article parts of the answers I provided for him will appear in the article within the next week. I have learned to be very careful with reporters and articles. Some are looking for truth or at least honest clarification. Some are looking for an article that may help promote their public perception. I typically attempt to help the former and avoid the latter. Jesus knew what was in the hearts of men. I cannot always say the same thing. Time will tell, but I think this writer is friend not foe or I would have politely declined the opportunity.
1. Do you believe the idea that demons are being blamed for social discomfort? Or is this just an attempt by secular types to hide the reality of the spiritual world and spiritual warfare?
“The devil made me do it” secular crowd is neither new nor particularly creative in their attempts to explain things that naturalism, empiricism, and rationalism are incapable of explaining. Naturalists typically rule out the legitimacy of miracles or any violations of the laws of physics a-priori. Their worldview, therefore, forces them to reject any serious consideration of the supernatural, including God, Satan, angels, demons or miracles. They usually personify those talking about the supernatural as silly simpletons or buffoons, which they seem to enjoy doing. So yes, they are very comfortable blaming demons in mockery for personal and social discomforts.
Within various religious groups there are individuals who seem to believe that demons have little to nothing to do with personal or social discomforts, “just take responsibility for your own actions and quit blaming the devil” and those who are able to somehow discern a demon behind most bushes and trees in the forest. Extremes on both sides make great fodder for those attempting to ridicule God, the devil, angels, demons, miracles and the supernatural.
The new reality, however, is that in many theistic and agnostic groups a strict anti-supernatural materialistic worldview is fast falling out of favor. All one needs to do is turn on their television or go to the movies to see this is the case. It is a bit of an irony that as the secular city systematically attempts to run from theism in general and Christianity in particular, they have opened a door and left a vacuum that atheism and naturalism are incapable of satisfactorily filling. People are flocking into the arms of pantheism, monism, demonism, hedonism, and occultism. Rather than thought and actions continuously evolving in nobility, as the naturalist assumes should be the case, thoughts and actions in the public square seem to be de-evolving, spiraling from bad to worse. Gone are the days when parents worry about their children talking back to a teacher, sticking gum under their desks or being a few minutes late coming home from activities. Parents are now worried about their children being bullied, abused or murdered, and reality would confirm that these concerns are not unfounded in the culture we live in.
Consider the latest Star Wars movie. This movie brought in more than 50 million dollars in less than 24 hours, and approximately $250 million in the first 48 hours. Some people stood in line for days to get their tickets for the opening night. The dark side, the force, ancient prophecies, and paranormal abilities are all themes and concepts incorporated in this saga. Professing naturalists and atheists can insist that educated people do not believe in the dark side, the light side, supernatural entities or paranormal abilities, but that is simply not true.
The only people who seem to be attempting to hide the reality of demonism and spiritual warfare are ideological naturalists, and some paradigm driven Christians. Among a growing number of our youth today, demons are not so much blamed for social discomfort as celebrated.
2. In your experience, do you think demons are becoming more active?
This question is akin to asking a North American Christian if Christians are ever going to have to suffer persecution. In North America it is coming. Around the world, it has never stopped; look at the treatment of Christians in the Middle East, China, North Korea, Cuba, Russia, and ask Christians if they are ever going to face persecution or death for their faith.
If the question is focused on North America, I think demonic activity has become more open and overt as the Judeo/Christian foundations of the USA have eroded into the celebration of secularism and paganism. The television, movies, internet, and corresponding media outlets are replete with programs glorifying demonism, Satanism, the occult and the paranormal. To the naïve it is innocent fun. To those who understand the reality of demonism, it represents the acceleration of disaster and loss of common sense.
The Apostle Paul told Timothy that in the end times, referring to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be an increase in demonic activity and religious teachers tickling people’s ears rather than having the courage to stand up for biblical truth. (1Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:1-5).
Are demons more active or are we just more aware of their activity? I do not know the answer to either question for certain, but I suspect the answer to both is yes.
3. Obviously, in terms of pop culture (especially because of ‘The Exorcist’), the Catholic Church is the first thing that comes to mind when people think of demons and exorcism. How do Protestants and non-Catholics fit into spiritual warfare? Is it some ritual demons fear or is it something different (the name of Jesus, etc.)
Demons do not care about a person’s particular denominational affiliation. Demons fear Christians because Christ lives in them. If a person is a genuine Christian, demons understand that the delegated authority of a Christian is greater than their own, because the master of the Christian, Jesus Christ, is eternal, and the master of the demonic host, Satan, is finite. Jesus is the creator; Satan is part of His creation. The primary reason that Christians win in confrontation with demons is because Jesus Christ has already won this war. We should win because He has won!
Rituals and incantations do not scare demons. But a Christian standing upon and utilizing their delegated authority to tread upon all the power of the demonic hierarchy because their names are written in heaven certainly do. This is true regardless of the denominational affiliation of a Christian. Another way of saying this is that demons do not fear people who only bring religious titles to a confrontation, but they will flee from Christians with a testimony that is affirmed by the Lord Jesus Christ and opposing them through their delegated authority, Luke 10:18-20.
4. What are the dangers of amateurs or people who don’t know what they are doing getting mixed up in demonology, either in terms of dabbling in the occult or trying to perform an exorcism?
Demons approach their work with a plan A and a plan B. Their motivation for both is destruction or domination. Their plan A is to keep people away from a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Plan B is to discourage and debilitate those with whom they have failed to accomplish their plan A.
When the demonic host approaches their task in deadly earnest, and Christians approach this same fight as a joke, who do you suspect will win most of the battles unless or until Christians wake up? The answer is obvious.
Jesus and Satan are not equals on opposite sides. Christians and demons are not equals either. Acts 19 clearly demonstrates how non-Christians who attempt to exorcize demons can get themselves into trouble. Christians who attempt to confront demons in any fashion apart from their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and His delegated authority over all the power of the enemy can potentially create more problems than they resolve for both themselves and those they are experimenting on. On the other side of the coin, any true Christian with a biblically informed understanding of the subject of spiritual warfare and the delegated authority and protection given them by the Lord Jesus Christ should consistently win battles that too many are currently losing. Ignorance and fear are not bliss, and neither puts a Christian in an advantage in demonic conflict. We must study, and we must stand; we are victors in this battle, not victims because of our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
The study of spiritual warfare should not be frightening to a genuine Christian as a member of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 1:16-2:7; Ephesians 6:10-18. But it should never be approached in a cavalier fashion. Should non-Christians or Christians play with the subject of demonism or dabble in the occult? No, either can get hurt in the process. Don’t we fall into enough holes without planning our falls?
-Dr. Karl I. Payne, author of Spiritual Warfare: Christians, Demonization, and Deliverance