Demons, Devils, and Exorcisms

July 21, 2011 at 12:07 AM

I was watching Primetime Nightline on ABC with Terry Moran this evening.  The show was called “Battle with the Devil,” and of course, since it was a secular media program, it was unintentionally a bit of a hoot.  Yes, there were some serious moments, but most of them were a bit laughable, I’m sorry to say.  In fact, one segment highlighted a pastor of a “deliverance church.”  The pastor was a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and carried a MacArthur Study Bible.  Nothing wrong with either of those.  What’s wrong is the man’s theology.

In my lifetime, I have attended (for a brief period of time) a church that also called itself a “deliverance church,” or had what they termed a deliverance ministry.  The emphasis was on the demonic.  What I found interesting was that the pastor of that church, much like the pastor of the church on the Primetime Nightline episode, believed that demons manifested in several ways.  They might cause a person to yawn…a lot.  Conversely, demons might create in a person the desire to puke, or gag on their own mucous.

Demons can create all sorts of problems, like (and this according to the pastor on the ABC special), hemorrhoids, restless leg syndrome, hiccups, and the list goes on of the more “benign” areas that demons apparently create for people.  Of course, demons also cause addictions and probably the most interesting thing that the pastor of the church in the ABC “documentary” stated is that “if you’re breathing, you’ve got ’em.  If you’re dead, don’t worry about it.”  At one point during the broadcast, the pastor himself can be seen puking mucous into a paper bag, because he had demons too.

I recall my involvement in that church I mentioned above.  At one point, the pastor of that church – during a time of “deliverance” in the service – pointed out this red spot on the neck of this woman.  He was telling me that this is often how demons manifested and it would travel up the neck.  As I’m recalling this, I’m wondering why I did not start laughing uncontrollably, but it must be because he himself was obviously taking things so seriously, as was the woman with the red spot…on her neck…that was going to start moving up or down her neck…any moment now.  Just wait for it.

Look, here is the deal.  Where in the Bible does it provide any evidence at all that demons make people yawn, or hiccup, or puke mucous?  In fact, where does it say that Christians can have demons?

As I watched the Primetime Nightline special, I noticed that during the service, there was a lot of commotion at one point because a man got up and started yelling and shoving people.  Women screamed.  Some men moved out of the way, while others began to tackle the man screaming.  The trouble is that everything I saw that man do seemed 100% fake to me.  There was nothing unusual about his behavior that I have not seen at a sporting event!

I have seen videos of demons acting out through the person they have inhabited.  I have heard their voices.  In fact, I have encountered real demons in real life.  I have a good sense of what they do, how they sound, and the power that can emanate from their human host.  There was nothing like this during the ABC special.  Nothing at all.  It was a bunch of people, who buried their heads in paper bags gagging on phlegm.  Their voices did not change.  It did not sound as if their bodies were directly connected to hollow pits where sound reverberated.  It was simply their voice and their energy.

I recall one instance where my wife and I were in Los Angeles.  This was several years ago and off the top of my head I cannot remember why were there.  At any rate, we went to the deli in the hotel in which we were staying and ordered a couple of sandwiches.  The place was empty except for a lone woman who sat at a table just several tables away from us.

My wife and I sat and talked as we waited for our food and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  Our food arrived and as we normally do, we bent our heads in prayer.  Normally, I pray for our food, but this time, my wife did.  As we prayed, I heard this really raspy, whiny voice say “Oh look, she’s praying.”  The voice came out of the woman seated a few tables a way.  We tried to ignore it, but she kept muttering to herself.

I glanced over and she was starting first at my wife then at me.  She had this extremely nasty, mocking grin on her face.  When our eyes met, I said, “Excuse me, did you say something?”  All of a sudden, her eyes rolled completely back into her head, she swallowed very deeply, and then it was like another person was there, this one was mild-mannered and polite.  She responded with “No,” then as a waiter walked by, she calmly and politely asked if he would bring her a spoon.  It was clear that within this woman, there were other entities.

The idea that Christians can be and are possessed or demonized is not only ridiculous, but asinine and anti-biblical.  Yes, demons can harass a Christian as they can harass anyone, but this does not mean they can get into a person.

While I do agree with the idea that a person who has an addiction to drugs or alcohol often winds up opening the door to the demonic, it is not necessarily automatic.  The same is true for those who have restless leg syndrome, or a severe bout with hiccups, or are extraordinarily tired.  It becomes simply stupid to believe that any and every illness is directly caused by satanic entities.

Demons do not live under every rock.  While it is absolutely true that they negatively impact society and individuals within society, we need to realize that sin itself has drastically and negatively affected not only society, but all of Creation!

If we go to the book of Job, we will clearly see that everything Satan was allowed to do where Job was concerned was external.  Satan was at no time allowed to possess Job.  What Satan did, he did to Job, even affecting his dreams.  All the problems Job experienced were problems that Satan attacked Job with, from the outside.

If I attended a church where the pastor believed that he routinely had to be “delivered” from Satan or his demons, I would run, far away from that church and I would move my 54-year-old body as fast as it could go in the opposite direction.

What I find fascinating with these churches and pastors who believe in “deliverance” type of ministries, is that they believe they have to do battle with satanic forces directly.  There are times when that needs to happen, to be sure.  However, the greatest deliverance anyone can receive is salvation!  Unless it was edited out of the segment, I did not hear the pastor of the church discuss that part of it.  All he did – in my opinion – was glorify the powers of darkness as if they play such an important part in the Christian’s life.  This is absolutely garbage.  While we should never underestimate or even disrespect the powers of darkness, the Christian is protected from Satan’s assault, and the book of Job bears this out.

In the situations that occurred in the gospel accounts, either the demons were extremely powerful so that they broke chains and completely overpowered men, or demons were able to literally take charge of a human being, tossing them into the water (to drown the person) or the fire (to burn them to death).  I do not see any accounts in Scripture where the demons were wimpy, or able to be contained by people.

Let’s look at the Seven Sons of Sceva in Acts 19.  We discussed this before, but it is good to look at it again.  These guys apparently worked as exorcists.  It’s what they did for a living and when they saw that Paul was casting out demons in the Name of Jesus, they thought that would be a good thing for them to do, so they tried it.  They did not get what they bargained for, but something far worse!

Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them,I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded,” (Acts 19:14-16).  Go ahead and read that again.  I’ll wait…

Now check it out.  There were SEVEN sons of Sceva.  SEVEN against one guy with ONE demon.  Note what happens.  The demon, realizing that he did not have to obey them because they did not personally know Jesus, the Name by which they were trying to cast the demon out, attacked them.  This demon inside one human being…

  • leaped on the seven men
  • subdued them all
  • overpowered them all
  • beat the crud out of them
  • left them wounded, naked, and running for their lives

What I saw on the TV tonight was faked.  It was not faked for the camera.  I fully believe that the people were simply acting out because this is what they do.  They are in a situation where they are encouraged to believe that they actually have demons.  So if they have demons, then my goodness, the demons will manifest themselves, won’t they?  So, this is what they do and they do it within the environment that not only encourages it, but essentially says it is normal.

I truly believe if we could see into the spiritual realm where demons mainly reside (though they can obviously come into this realm), we would likely realize that we are giving credit where credit is not due.  Demons can and do possess people and demonize others.  I do not believe that Scripture teaches that Satan or his demons can actually possess an authentic believer.  Moreover, the incidents I have seen, read about, and even witnessed first hand, are far different from the situations that were highlighted on the Primetime Nightline episode.  To me, it was so fake, it was laughable, except for the fact that it brings Christianity into dubious light.

Like Harold Camping’s ridiculous failed predictions, churches like the one shown on “Battle with the Devil” bear little to no resemblance to the actual situations that occurred in the gospels and in real life.  Because of it, the world laughs and they laugh heartily.  It’s a shame and it’s wrong, but who can blame the world?  The world laughs because gullible Christians give them something to laugh at.  Even my son, who was watching the episode with me said it would be difficult to be there and maintain a straight face.

I think when people come face to face with demons, they know it, and it is not at all pleasant.  It’s not a matter of fact thing.  It is not evidenced by red spots, or puking mucous.  It is something so powerful that it is very difficult to explain.  It can tend to make the hair on your neck stand straight up because it is other-worldly and our bodies simply react to that.

The only deliverance ministry that I believe is worth anything at all is the deliverance from the kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of Jesus.  Yes, people need cures for their addictions and that also comes from and by the grace and strength of God.  I’ve been fighting an addiction most of my life and probably will until I breathe my last.  It’s an inordinate love for sugar.  The pastor on the TV would say that I am possessed with a sugar-lovin’ demon!  Do I hear an AMEN?  Whatever.  It is a chemical thing that works with my brain to make me believe I must have candy when I see it.  My love for sugar probably has more to do with the fact that chocolate for instance, has caffeine and caffeine helps people stay awake.

My wife has restless leg syndrome.  I guess I need to go exorcise her tonight, tomorrow and every other night her legs twitch.  Those darn demons don’t take “no” for an answer, do they?  They keep comin’ back, night after night!  Good grief, what’s next?

It really annoys me when secular news bureaus try for ratings by going after sensationalized subjects that they can twist and turn to make Christians look like morons.  Let’s face it, there are plenty of Christians who are more than willing to offer themselves as examples of the truly asinine if it means they get some face-time on the telly.  Who knows, but maybe it’ll expand their “ministry” so that they can go on the traveling circuit, casting out demons left and right.  Tummy Ache Demon – be gone!  Ingrown Toenail Demon – out!  Splinter-in-the-Finger Demon – go away and don’t let the door hit you on the way out!  Come to think of it, I’m only 5’7″ tall.  It must be due to a “size” demon that has kept me smaller than the average adult male since birth.  Dang it!  If I had only known about this before puberty!  Too late now.

It’s a bit much.  It is simply another way the world ridicules Christians.  The trouble is that we are moving toward a time of terrible darkness that will envelope this earth because we are moving toward the beginning of the Tribulation.  When people see programs like the one described above, it will merely make it that much more difficult for them to take the true facts concerning demons to heart.  They will poo-poo everything and believe nothing.

There was a very small portion of the TV program that had something worth noting.  Forgive me, but I do not remember the guy’s name but he is an expert in exorcism.  He notes that while many illnesses that are labeled demonic are actually illnesses and not demonic, he has seen individuals who have been allegedly possessed levitate or speak in foreign languages (fluently) that they never studied or were necessarily in a position to hear.  Of course, the time spent with that guy on the special was minimal.  They spent probably 12 to 15 minutes with pastor-of-the-deliverance-church “I see a demon around every corner.”  Why?  Because it was far more sensational than sitting down with a very educated individual who spoke plainly, intelligently, and without all the fluff of the our pastor friend.

Demons exist.  They do possess and demonize people.  However, while I’m not an expert, I have yet to witness a situation described by the pastor on the TV that has been nothing more than overworked imaginations of the people in the congregation.  The entire emphasis is wrong because its focus is on the satanic!  The focus should be on Jesus.

I never want to downplay the dangers and power of the demonic.  However, that power pales in comparison to the love, the riches, the freedom, and the salvation of Jesus Christ.  True deliverance comes to the soul who gains his/her freedom from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light.  That only happens through the gift of salvation.  When salvation enters the soul, it comes in because it is brought in by the Holy Spirit.  Who would dare say that any demon can (or would) co-exist where the Holy Spirit dwells?  That is nothing short of blasphemy.  I’m sorry to say, but it is very likely that the pastor of that deliverance ministry is a bit deluded.  He has spun a lie and those in his congregation have come to believe it.  I’m sorry that they think so little of God that they believe Satan and his demons have that much power over them.  How tragic is that?

God lives!  He is absolute ruler of this universe and beyond!  Neither Satan nor his demons have any power over anyone except it is allowed by God Himself.

After Jesus had sent out the 70 in His Name to cast out demons and heal the sick, they returned marveling that even the devils listen to them.  Jesus very quickly responded with the fact that they should not marvel at that, but at the fact that their names were written in the book of life (cf. Luke 10:19).

We give the devil way too much credit.  He is a powerful being to be sure, but he is fully under God’s control.  The idea that Christians can be possessed on a daily basis (or at all) is ridiculous.  The pastor who said that if we’re breathing, we’ve got ’em knows nothing and I find it difficult to believe he graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary, though maybe I shouldn’t be.

The reality is that once Christians turn completely inward and begin focusing on their alleged possessions and problems, the ability and even the desire to witness to the lost of this world goes out the door.  It is merely another way that Satan causes Christians to become completely sidetracked.

The Great Commission of Matthew 28:says this:  “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The message of salvation is the subject of the Great Commission.  It is that salvation that frees people from the powers of darkness and that happens every time a new person is won for Christ.

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