Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Faith of Demons

There is an old adage: "Every step you take closer to God, Satan takes two steps closer to you."

Some people believe that if anything should go wrong it must be the work of the Devil's minions. There are demons of headaches, cancers and any other ailment in (or not in) medical books. To some, even the simplest of nightmares are attributed to demonic oppression, and there is an evil spirit behind every bad mood or disagreeable occurrence.

While demons do exist and are able to effect people both mentally and physically, many people are giving Satan far more credit than he deserves. While opinions of the true doctrine of demonology can be as diverse as the people that offer them, perhaps the more important question would be why are so many Christians obsessed with demons? One reason why the over-credit is given to demonic presence is because demons are the perfect internal scapegoat and provide false comfort and sanctuary from issues Christians wish to not face. Furthermore, some Christians are able to appoint themselves purpose and a sense of power in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.

Solace from the Tough Questions

"Why do bad things happen to good people?" It is a question that almost every Christian will face throughout their life of faith, and for some, the theology of demonic involvement offers both solace and some form of palatable answer. The theory appears to make sense: God is always good and never causes harm to befall the righteous. But there are demons straight from Satan and the pit of Hell that are out to destroy and cause suffering. It's a simple view of Good vs. Evil - and we poor humans are merely caught in the center of it all. Without this theory the question once again falls in the lap of the believer's faith. After all, if Satan didn't do it, then who did? Who's fault could it be if not that of unseen evil?

The Devil Made Me Do It

On a similar - though be it opposite side - of the theory, is the aspect of persuasion and deceit of demons being the key reason behind moral failure and poor behavior. It is one thing to be simply found in sin - it is another to be deceived or under the pressure of demonic presence. Although it is seemingly unlikely that a Christian would thoughtfully use this theory in attempt to duck the blame of basic poor decisions, there are several instances throughout history - including the Salem Witch Trials 2 - in which demonic influence has been branded as the cause of a person's decision to break laws or otherwise go against God's guidance. This becomes especially so in cases in which the person continuously returns to habitual or addiction-driven sin.

Fighting the Good Fight?

Another aspect of this doctrine of demonology is the draw of being able to fight or guard against the demonic force. The underlying of this is control, power, and secret knowledge.

This is most apparent as the person or ministry is constantly dictating masses of specific rules (usually Don't-do-this-boundaries) in order to protect themselves from "opening doors" for demons to enter.
This doctrine also becomes apparent when the persons begin to deter their prayers from God and direct them toward demons and/or Satan himself. Although the Gospels do show that Jesus commanded demons to exit the persons seized, people take this to an unhealthy extreme. Certain well-attended pastors have been known to open prayers by speaking to Satan to tell him that he wasn't allowed to disturb the patrons of the prayer meeting.
While the reasoning isn't immediate as to why a Christian would want to shift their purpose and focus away from God to Satan, much of it can be attributed to the simple fact that it can seem empowering to think that one can deter demons. While on the surface people attempt to state that it is only the power of Christ that causes demons to shudder, often times the acts and words used are very human-centered. It is most often emphasized that if one has the faith, one can cast out Satan's minions. One website proudly proclaims:
"What is needed to cast out demons? One word... authority! Who has such authority? God's children... the believers! How do we exercise our authority? Through a spoken command in faith directed at the unclean spirits. The more faith we have, the more authority we can exercise." 3
This "authority" is usually accredited to Luke 9:1, in which Jesus grants the disciples the authority to cast out demons and cure diseases. However in most cases, phrases such as "In Jesus Name" and "By the Blood of Christ", are merely sprinkled over the exorcism procedures like magic words or secret passwords granted to those special enough to come by them.

The Tragedy of the Falsehood

While on the surface this doctrine seems simple enough to be practically harmless, the issues quickly arise when one goes about the tedious task of avoiding the tricks and triggers of demonic attack. Suddenly, the unknowing Christian is doomed by any number of things: the wrong music, the wrong movies, even certain phrases or words are ear-marked for opening doorways to demonic attack or possession. These snares are undeniable, but can be very sneaky - even to the point that things that praise God are preached by some to actually be Satan's claws reaching into the church. 1

From there, the possibility of being under demonic oppression becomes even more daunting, because of the fact that demons will - in a sense - come in droves when a Christian is doing well in his or her walk, especially those given to ministry. Oddly enough it is viewed that, in these cases the Christian's family or other loved ones become the most vulnerable of attack as opposed to any other thing - including the most heinous habitual sins. In effect, believers are less likely to follow the call into ministry due to the fear that the family could come under attack of demonic power.

Mild forms of hysteria can easily ensue as families and congregations focus more and more on attempting to avoid demonic influence. Times of worshiping and waiting in His Presence is cut short to anoint and pray against demonic attack, because the belief is that when one is close to God, Satan is bound to advance. Burgeoning lists of rules - set to protect people from demons - become entanglements of legalism and choke out people from faith altogether.

Yet, perhaps the most tragic detail is that, through this view, people are being given the dismal belief that Satan is somehow on the same plane as God. Satan is treated as if he is omnipotent and omnipresent such as God is. God is taken out of His place as Protector and loving Provider of His own people, and we are placed with the impossible task of staving off hordes of powerful and malignant spirits in an all-ensuing battle. Moreover, as people are so focused with battling against Satan, they are failing to focus on the direction of God. In her article Liberty Savard, writer for Charisma Magazine, writes:
"God is telling us that what will bring about the healing of the land is His people's turning away from wrong attitudes and self-centeredness. He does not say anything about warring with Satan to heal the land." [In reference to 2 Chr. 7:14] 4
Whether the view is that demons are everywhere or that few are anywhere, most agree that it is not God's plan for His people to be so concerned with Satan's presence that we leave the presence of God.

Isaiah 14:16 says that once we see Satan for who he is, we will simply ask ourselves "Is this the one who shook the earth? Who made the Nations tremble? What? That's it?" But here is the key to that: I don't believe we'll say this because we'll see Satan simply for who he is - we will see Satan in relation to who God is! Once we are face to face with God's glory, there would be no way that Satan or a
ny demonic army would seem powerful! The question is: When that time comes, how much time will we have regretfully wasted fretting about whether a demon was giving us a cold?

So in simple, we should be wise to give credit where credit is due - and only where it is due.

1. Article - "Religious Rock - The Music of Devils in the Church" by By Alan Yusko and Ed Prior

2. Mega Essays: Essay excerpts - The Girl's Role in the Salem Witch Trials

3. Great Bible - "Casting Out Demons"
4. Charisma Magazine - "Stop Blaming the Devil" by Liberty Savard.

1 comment:

  1. I guess I hadnt really thought about things that way but Now that you mention it it's as plain as day. We do seem to give Satan WAY more credit than he deserves. Keep teaching and Keep up the Great Work. Aaron