The Supernatural World

On the book of Job, chapters 1-2…

From award-winning author, Philip Yancey’s, book, The Bible Jesus Read:

“Nowhere else in the Bible are we more clearly informed of a realm beyond our own – one we cannot see but, nonetheless, exists.

“Like Job, we live in ignorance of what is going on ‘behind the curtains.’ Job reminds us that the small history of mankind on this earth takes place within the large drama of the history of the universe. We are foot-soldiers in a spiritual battle with cosmic significance.

“In the words of C.S. Lewis, ‘There is no neutral ground in the universe – every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.” (Philip Yancey)

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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.

Paranormal Activity

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“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons….Watch your life and doctrine closely.” (1 Timothy 4:1 & 16)

Years ago, I had a conversation with a friend about the (then) recently released movie, Paranormal Activity. For those of you who don’t know, Paranormal Activity (definition of “paranormal activity” is: phenomena unexplained by normal experience) was produced along the lines of 1999’s hugely successful Blair Witch Projectfilmed more in the genre of a documentary filled with raw footage. In other words, it’s hard to tell what’s fact—and what’s fake.

The movie centers around a young couple who begin to try and find out what all the creepy stuff is that keeps happening in their home at night. Little does the guy know that the girl has dealt with this creepy stuff most of her life. The guy gets curious and sets up a video camera during the night to try and “catch a ghost in the act” of pulling some kind of prank—much like you see on popular shows like SyFy’s Ghost Hunters. But, things go from mischievous to nefarious very quickly as this dark entity becomes more and more hostile and possessive.

This led to some great dialogue between me and my friend —who happens to be a born-again believer— regarding what the Bible teaches about “paranormal activity.”

According to the Bible, there are no “disembodied human spirits” (a.k.a. ghosts) roaming this earth. On the contrary, scripture teaches just the opposite:

2 Corinthians 5 reminds us that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Jesus told the repentant thief, Today, you shall be with Me in paradise.” Furthermore, in the only parable in Scripture that includes a proper name, Jesus describes the Rich Man in Luke 16 as going immediately to hell after he died, and Lazarus (not the “raised-from-the-dead Lazarus”) going immediately to heaven.

In other words, the Bible consistently teaches there’s no “roaming around on earth period” between life & the after-life.

“If that’s true,” you ask, “then WHAT is causing all the ‘paranormal activity’ that cameras appear to catch on film?”

The same thing that caused paranormal activity in the New Testament: demons. And they would love for believers to base their understanding of what demons can – and can’t – do on movies, documentaries, etc – anything but the Bible. 

Before I continue, C.S. Lewis’ warning in the preface to his Screwtape Letters is most appropriate here:

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally please by both errors…”

That said, I will address this topic, but will not give Satan more “press” than he deserves.

There are nine recorded stories of demonic possession in the New Testament with numerous other stories related to demonic activity.  My point here is simply: according to God’s own Word, demons exist.

And horror flicks can plant within a person a “spirit of fear” which, we know, is not from God (2 Timothy 1:7).  Further (and Satan enjoys this immensely), even a believer, when gripped with fear, can begin to think Satan is more powerful than Christ.

But nothing could be farther from the truth.  For Jesus said about Satan, “He has no power over me.”

Indeed, Satan was helpless to prevent Jesus from uttering from the cross, “It is finished,” or preventing Christ from rising from the dead.

The biblical truth is clear:  Christ, over whom Satan has absolutely no power, dwells within the believer.  Hence, Satan has no power over one who has placed their faith in the power, risen Christ.  John comforted his readers,

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

In 1989, I had the opportunity to visit with a former Satanic high priest who had professed his faith in Christ.  I’ll never forget what he shared – creepy stories that made the hair stand up on the back my neck.  But he concluded by saying,

“I’ve seen some terrifying things within the realm of Satanism. But nothing satanic comes close to the terrifying presence and power of Almighty God.”

Back to my conversation about paranormal activity with my friend.  In addition to reminding them of their position/authority in Christ, I said,

“Be very, very careful not to develop your doctrine of demons/evil spirits on anything other than Scripture. When we do that—and a lot of believers do—we open our minds up to what the Bible calls “every wind of doctrine”. (Eph. 4:11-14)

Throughout the history of Hollywood, movies dealing with the paranormal (a.k.a. demonic activity) like The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Conjuring, the list is endless – are filtered through the minds of Hollywood directors and producers. Stick to the one true Script—the Bible.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

 

 

Your Enemy is Always Ready. Are you?

“….in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”  2 Corinthians 2:11

Phoebe Palmer, raised in New York City, was one of the first women of the 19th century to become a celebrated public figure and speaker.  In her classic work, “The Way of Holiness,” she writes, “But the adversary, who had stood ready to withstand every progressive step [of my spiritual growth in Christ] suggested, ‘Be careful, God may disappoint your expectations….”  This quote by Palmer is powerful not only because of the biblical truth it represents, but also because she includes the enemy’s “suggestion.”  Ever since Eden, Satan has been attempting to plant seeds of doubt in our minds where the character of God is concerned.

Satan is always ready.  God cautioned Cain, “…sin is crouching at your door;…” (Gen 4:7) Peter’s familiar warning comes to mind:   “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

If our enemy is so constantly fixed on us, as believers, what hope do we have?  (Glad you asked.)

Nineteenth British theologian, John Henry Newman, paraphrased the power of the Gospel when he wrote, “While we are found in Christ, we are partakers of His security.  He has broken the power of Satan;…the dragon hath He trod under His feet!  And, henceforth, evil spirits, instead of having power over us, tremble and are affrighted  at every true Christian.”   In short, our enemy is a defeated enemy, terrified that believers will become constantly aware of our position in the Victor, Christ.

This is why Peter continues, Resist [the devil], standing firm in the faith [in Christ].” (1 Peter 5:9)  Satan wants no part of Jesus Christ – which is why he hopes daily that we will mindlessly abandon our commitment to the Lord, becoming more and more entangled with the cares of this world.  The world is full of believers who’ve “fallen asleep at the wheel of their Christian devotion.”  Remember, when Paul exhorted the Ephesians to “be filled with [controlled by] the Spirit,” he was writing to Christians. (Ephesians 5:18)

Be ready.  Be alert.  Abide in Christ.  Meditate on His Word.  The tomb is empty.  The battle is already won.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Why Doesn’t Life Get Easier When We Become Christians? (Great question….)

The simple answer is that Jesus never said life on planet earth was going to get “easier” after professing our faith in Him. However…..

When we profess faith in Christ, “God moves in” and unleashes metaphysical power within us. Read on….

“When we come to faith in Christ, we become liberated prisoners of war. However, the battle is not over; we just changed sides. A new battle begins within us – the battle between what the Bible calls the flesh (our natural desire to sin), and the Holy Spirit who now dwells within us. Our former master, Satan, the enemy of our souls, (using our flesh as a sort of ‘base camp’) tries to apply and enforce bogus fugitive slave-laws to reclaim our mental and emotional allegiance….But, God has equipped us for overwhelming victory (Rom. 8:37). God’s greatest demonstration of His power was in the resurrection, ascension, and exaltation of His Son. We share in that power because we were raised with Christ, seated with Him, and now rule with Him (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 1:16-23). We lack nothing (Philipp. 4:13)….We cannot exaggerate the power of Christ’s person and work. Christ has triumphed over the [satanic] principalities and powers (Col. 2:15). He has rendered Satan powerless (Heb. 2:14). Because we are in union with Him, we share His victory (Eph. 2:6). That union is demonstrated by our deliverance from the dominion of darkness (Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13). Our union with Christ also means that He dwells IN US by His Spirit, and we dwell with Him (Rom. 8:9). We are now a Holy Habitation (a living, breathing temple) of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20).”  (Brian Borgman & Rob Ventura; Spiritual Warfare: A Biblical and Balanced Perspective)

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick