Homeless Demons

[Jesus said],“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’  And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order.  Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”  Luke 11:24-26

There are dozens of sermons in this passage.  Allow me to briefly focus on just one: the security & authority one has in Christ.

First of all, this passage must not be taken out of the context of the canon of Scripture.  One who has professed their faith in the risen Christ cannot be demon-possessed (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19-20; Eph. 1:13-14)  A believer is already “possessed” – by the Holy Spirit.  John MacArthur rightly comments on this passage:  “When a demon is defeated by the power of Christ, the soul vacated by the power of darkness is taken over by Christ.”

It should be noted that the principles taught by Jesus in this passage apply without restriction to a non-believer.  This truth is sobering. The torment of evil spirits can be manifested in chronic anger, bitterness, a critical spirit, unforgiveness, pride, sexual addiction, lying, disrespect for authority, fear, etc.  For the non-believer, to try and “will” these self-destructive habits away can, indeed, lead to momentary improvement.  But, according to Jesus, the relief is merely temporalChrist, the Bible tells us, is the only “cure” for sin.  (cf. Romans 8:1)  A demon is not afraid of “a house swept and put in order.”  A demon, on the other hand, is terrified of a “house” possessed by the risen Christ.  (cf. James 2:19)

For the believer, as previously stated, the Bible is clear:  we cannot be demon-possessed.  However, the enemy is no fool.  As Billy Graham purports, satan is a strategic genius.  As such, demonic oppression is quite common and can be manifested in the very self-destructive habits mentioned above.  New Testament scholar, Dr. David Garland, comments, “Demons…do whatever they can to neutralize” and twist biblical truth in a believer’s life.  The difference between a believer and a non-believer, when in this state, is profound.  For the believer, all that is required is a conscious re-focusing on the truth: God’s Word.  Jesus said, the truth sets us free.  Paul wrote, “For we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”  In sum, satan has no hold on believers.  He only wants to make us think he does.  The enemy’s best and most used weapon, after all, is deception.

If you’ve never placed your faith in the risen Christ, please consider His claims.  Honestly investigate the historicity of Jesus and the reliability of the Gospels. 1  Consider the evidence.  Make your own decisions based on the evidence.  Consider Him who loves you so much that He died a horrific death on a wooden cross, then, three days later, authenticated His claims about Himself by rising again.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”  The Apostle Paul  (1 Cor. 15:3-4)

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

1 Two very good, very readable books on the topic of evidence for the Christian faith were written by former atheists:  More Than a Carpenter, by Josh & Sean McDowell;  The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel.   A third book, a little harder to read, but a classic, is Mere Christianity  by C.S. Lewis, also a former atheist.

Shields Up!

“The Shield of Faith” – Part 4 of a 7 part series on the “Armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

In the 1989 movie, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” Indiana (Harrison Ford) is being forced to endure successive “tests” of skill (and luck) to accomplish his goal: discover and acquire the “holy grail.” To make things even more critical, his father (played by Sean Connery) is dying, and the only cure can come from the sacred cup. The final “test” for Indiana is, by far, the most difficult. Because, instead of skill, the test now requires faith. The ancient writer of the biblical book of Hebrews described faith as the “assurance about what we do not see [i.e. perceiving as fact what is not revealed to our senses]” (Hebrews 11:1) So, what makes this particular test the most difficult of all previous tests is this: what we’re called to believe makes little or no sense. But, that’s why it’s called faith.

The Bible is replete with passages about the importance of our faith in God (we’re “saved by faith”; we “live by faith; we “walk by faith;” – Eph. 2:8; Rom. 1:17; 2 Cor. 5:7) But you won’t find a single biblical example of a person’s faith being easy. In fact, as one of my best friends told me, “Nick, if it’s easy – it’s not faith.”

The “shield of faith” described in Paul’s passage on the “armor of God” (Eph. 6:16) is based on the large, heavy, door-like shield that covered an ancient warrior’s entire body….As the shield protected a soldier in combat, so also faith spiritually protects us in every situation from whatever the devil might launch at us.”

The enemy’s overarching goal is to destroy our faith – which renders us useless for the Kingdom of Heaven here on planet earth. The devil’s “flaming arrows” of doubt, discouragement, anger, unforgiveness, lust, materialism, pride, etc. “come unexpectedly, suddenly, with great speed, and in great number. Sometimes we are even attacked while having some powerful thought about God!”

Faith is hard or it wouldn’t be called faith. I heard a preacher once say, “Faith is like a muscle. It doesn’t grow unless it’s exercised.” “Faith is a firm persuasion; an unwavering trust in God based on everything He said to us about Himself in His Word….Unbelief will weaken you before the enemy will.”

In the early years of Billy Graham’s ministry, his dear friend (and fellow evangelist), Charles Templeton, shocked Billy by abandoning his faith due to nagging questions about evil in the world. “People no longer accept the Bible as being inspired the way you do,” Templeton told Graham. “Your faith is too simple.” Billy Graham found himself in a crisis of personal faith. Lee Strobel recounts the story: “Graham searched the Scriptures for answers, he prayed, he pondered. Finally, in the moonlit San Bernardino mountains, everything came to a climax. Gripping his Bible, Graham dropped to his knees and confessed he couldn’t answer some of the philosophical questions that Templeton and others were raising. Graham confessed, ‘I found [by attempting to know the answer to every question on earth] I was trying to be on the same level as God. And, at last the Holy Spirit freed me to say it: Father, I am going to accept this as Your Word – by faith!

“When Satan strikes we are to look away from ourselves to Jesus Christ, lay hold of His Word, and say with the Apostle Paul, ‘I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.” (Acts 27:25)

NOTE: The video clip from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” is below.

Some quotes were taken from Borgman’s & Ventura’s “Spiritual Warfare: A Biblical and Balanced Perspective”

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Nike, Adidas & “εὐαγγέλιον”

“The Gospel of Peace Footwear” – Part 3 of a 7 part series on the “Armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

“…to stand against;….to withstand;….to stand firm;….Stand, therefore….” Four times Paul reiterates the overriding purpose for our “armor” as he introduces the believer’s supernatural panoply: to stand i.e. not give ground to the enemy (Ephesians 6:10-14). And most everyone knows that standing firm requires the right kind of footwear.

“Along with the belt and breastplate, proper footgear was a vital piece of equipment for the first-century Roman soldier….To fight well, he needed to move quickly and decisively….His shoes actually were equipped with the ancient precursor to today’s athletic cleats worn in football and baseball.”

Paul described the type of footwear we need this way: “as for shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” (6:15) The gospel (literally: “good news”) of the Bible is found in the life, death & resurrection of Jesus Christ – and how Jesus satisfies God’s wrath over sin, thereby giving sinful/corrupt mankind peace and reconciliation with a holy & just God, both now and in eternity. (“…God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.” 2 Corinthians 5:19)

The Greek word for our English word “gospel” is “εὐαγγέλιον”. When transliterated, it’s pronounced, “yoo-on-GEH-lee-on”. And here’s the cool thing (think: supernatural power) about this “footwear”….

(1) It advances the kingdom of God against a hostile enemy: “Paul is calling believers to strap the good news of the gospel of peace to their feet. Consider the Old Testament herald announcing the good news and liberation to those in bondage. Note the words of Isaiah 52:7 – “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace,who bring good tidings,who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!” God’s people today must do the same, which means going forth courageously and boldly into enemy quarters, equipped with the combat boots of the good news of Christ Jesus.” And there’s not one thing Satan can do about it. ([Jesus said to Peter], “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades [the powers of the infernal region] shall not overpower it.” Matthew 16:18 – Amplified)

(2) It empowers the believer with courage, strength, and peace: “Just as the gospel is a powerful means for advancing God’s truth and delivering many from Satan’s clutches, it is also a powerful means for stabilizing us as believers, helping us stand against the devil’s attacks….Satan lives to make us miserable….he is relentless….We need peace when the spiritual bombs of the enemy are exploding around us. We find that peace in the gospel.” (cf. Philippians 4:6-7) As we live/share the gospel we are constantly reminded of its truth. And the truth, Jesus said, sets us free. (John 8:32)

“As we understand and appropriate the gospel more and more in our lives, we will advance in our ability to hold our ground when the enemy strikes.”

NOTE: Unless otherwise noted, all sections in quotations are from Brian Borgman’s & Rob Ventura’s “Spiritual Warfare: A Biblical & Balanced Perspective”.

Soli Deo Gloria, nw

“Me? Righteous??” (God: “Yes, you.”)

“The Breastplate of Righteousness” – Part 2 of a 7 part series on the “Armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

When I was young i was always conflicted when I read James 5:16 – “….The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” I found myself being glad that prayer contained such power, but at the same time, discouraged that, due to what a mess my life is, I wasn’t in a biblical position to offer that kind of prayer.

Then the book of Romans showed up. And I was, in the words of C.S. Lewis, “surprised by joy.”

Continuing his description of the “armor of God,” Paul describes the second piece of armor as “the breastplate of righteousness.” (Ephesians 6:14) For a soldier, the breastplate protected the vital organs, specifically the heart. Spiritually, “heart” denotes the center of a person. Jerry Bridges puts it this way: “The mind as it reasons, discerns, and judges; the emotions as they like or dislike; the conscience as it determines and warns, and the will as it chooses or refuses – all are together called the heart.”

Prior to reading the book of Romans I lived most of my life in perpetual guilt i.e. “As hard as I try – I’ll never be ‘righteous’ enough.” The devil continually rubbed my face in my daily failures. Then, through His Word, Christ shouted truth so loudly into my life I could hear it echo through 20 centuries all the way back to the cross at Calvary. He held me close and said, “Although you fail/sin, ‘there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 8:1) When the devil points his accusing finger at you, you should say with the Apostle Paul, ‘Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:33-34) (Brian Borgman & Rob Ventura)

This truth remains beyond my grasp. I believe it by faith.

Christ’s “perfect merits are ours by faith alone apart from our works (Romans 4:1-6). His life, death, and resurrection are the complete and final grounds of our acceptance before the Father. We are accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6). When God looks at us, He does not see our filth and sin; rather, He sees the beauties and perfections of His Son that have been credited to our [formerly bankrupt] account. As Christians, our standing before the Almighty is not only ‘just-as-if-i-never-sinned.” Because of Christ’s righteousness, which God reckoned to us, it is ‘just-as-if-i-lived-a-perfect-life.”

Hallelujah.

So, now – when I pray fervently, I know my prayer is “powerful and effective” – because i am righteous, because of Christ Jesus.

Soli Deo Gloria, nw

“What is truth?” (Pontius Pilate)

“The Belt of Truth” – Part 1 of a 7 part series on the “Armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Pilate’s question to Jesus (cited above) is proof that, although technology & culture changes, people never do. Mankind has the same needs/questions we had in Pilate’s day, one question being, “What is truth?”

Describing the “armor of God,” Paul began by writing, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,…” (Ephesians 6:14) Why does Paul begin the armor with “truth?”

“The truth is our first line of spiritual defense against the devil…As the soldier’s belt was placed at the center of his body, so truth must be central in our lives….What hangs from a police officer’s or construction worker’s belt? All the necessary tools of the trade which must be easily accessed….Without the belt of truth, we are exposed and utterly vulnerable to the devil’s schemes…” (Brian Borgman & Rob Ventura)

Truth, here, doesn’t refer to anyone’s subjective definition of “truth.” Contrary to popular opinion, there is absolute truth. It’s contained in a book called the Bible.

“The belt of truth refers to the truths of God as contained in His Word….Since God’s Word is truth (John 17:17), and we have been saved by Jesus who is the truth (John 14:6), we are to walk in truth (3 John 1:3-4) so that we will not be tricked by the enemy who loves to twist the truth.” (Borgman & Ventura)

Soli Deo Gloria, nw