Some wrestle with whether or not the Devil is real. Winkelbury Camp is an Iron Age hill fort in Wiltshire, England. According to legend, if you march around it at midnight cursing all the time you can summon the Devil who will appear on a black horse and grant one wish. Of course, that’s a foolish superstition. In the first place you cannot summon Satan to come to you. Secondly, you need not summon Satan to come to you, for he is always near.
Anyone who has read the temptations of Jesus, understands and believes in the reality of the Devil. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: `Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “`He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: `Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: `Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Satan is a better theologian than any of us and is a devil still.
Jesus said, (Luke 10:18) “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. When Satan was thrown out of Heaven and 1/3 of the angelic host followed him. The devil decided to have a garage sale. On the day of sale, his tools were placed for public inspection, each being marked with its sale price. There were a treacherous amount of implements: hatred, envy, jealousy, deceit, lust, lying, pride, and so on. Set apart from the rest was a harmless-looking tool. It was quite worn and yet priced very high. “What is the name of this tool?” asked one of the customers, pointing to it. “That is discouragement,” Satan replied.
“Why have you priced it so high?” “Because it is more useful to me than the others.
A materialist is one who does not believe in demons and has no interest in what they do. A magician is one who believes too much in demons and has an unhealthy interest in them. As for the demons, they care not which you are, for both are equally in error and thus leave you open to the demons efforts.
Many American adults believe in psychic phenomena, but few have ever consulted an astrologer, medium, tarot card reader, or psychic. That is the conclusion from a CBS poll of 984 adults. The study found: – 64 percent believe in psychic phenomena – 25 percent say they have personally experienced such a phenomenon – 10 percent consult a medium, etc. regularly.
1 Peter 5:8 Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. I think we understand and feel the effects of the Devil in our lives, especially with temptation. It is the demonic forces, the fallen angels, that we do not understand.
Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva were doing this. [One day] the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
Luke cites this incident in Ephesus. Traveling Jewish exorcists were common in the ancient world. The name of a person or of a deity was thought to have special power that could control the person concerned if the name were used in the right way. These Jewish exorcists, witnessing the miracles done by Paul in the name of Jesus, attempted to use the name in the practice of their magical spells. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! (Acts 8:18)
We have never really understood “demonic possession.” We see it portrayed on TV and in the movies. We know that some is based on fact but then becomes greatly embellished.
What do we know about demon possession and what to do about it? First of all, we know very little, and that in and of itself tells us something. There was to be no fear of evil because Christ has won the battle. David writes, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me….” When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. (Matt 8:28)
Secondly, demon possession can be found in some illnesses but not all illnesses. Clearly we know that most illnesses come from viruses, bacteria or some cell that goes crazy. Some illness like VD, may be the result of living a promiscuous lifestyle and a consequence of sin. Clearly Paul is convinced that some illness is brought on ourselves by our choices. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. (1 Cor 11:27) I think it is easier to find demon possession in mental illness than in other types of illness. Please do not misunderstand, not all mental illness is demonic. Some mental illness is of a genic connection. Some chemical or others growths. There is some mental illness where no connection can be made and the behavior is bazaar, and may just be demonic. They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” (Mark 5:1)
Third, demon possession can be found in some life styles. Probably far more common is the issue of life style and demonic possession. Without realizing it we surrender our lives to many things. I am not convinced that some forms of alcohol and drug additions are not a form of demonic possession. Even after you have purged the person of the alcohol there is a tremendous temptation to return. “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, `I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. (Matt 12:43) There is no proof, but it is widely believed that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute prior to meeting Christ. Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out….She was set free and lived her life for Jesus. Fourth, by the power of Christ, all prisoners can be set free. A safari hunter was startled by the loud screeching of a bird. When he caught sight of the bird, it was darting back and forth around its nest. He was perplexed by all the racket until he noticed a huge snake moving up the tree. The hunter could have easily aided the bird with one shot from his gun but he was captivated by the drama before him. As the snake slithered up the tree, the bird became silent and flew from the nest. It now seemed as though the snake would dine without resistance. But before the reptile could reach the nest, the mother bird returned with a leaf in her beak. She carefully placed the leaf over her babies then flew to another tree. The snake raised his head to strike but then hesitated. It froze as if it had met a foe. Slowly it recoiled from the nest and wound its way down the tree. The puzzled hunter related the event to native Africans when he returned to the camp. The leaf that the mother had used to cover her nest was poisonous to the snake. What looked like nothing more than a leaf was in fact a life-saving shield. Our faith may at times feel as flimsy as a leaf, but God’s Word reminds us that it is a shield against the attacks of our serpentine enemy.