The subject of the demonic was on my mind last week, and not by happenstance. By coincidence, it was on Milly's mind too. Odd that. At any rate, I figure I should post my thoughts, but I am going to have to do it quickly, because I am just so tired these days.
I won't waste any time doing more than pointing out that demons are real. They are active spiritual beings with a malicious intent toward God's creation. I don't think they particularly care one whit about humans, except that getting at us gets at God. We are mere pawns to them.
And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart *, and said, Why could not we cast him out ? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
The testimony of the father is that his son is clumsy. The reality is that the son chooses to throw himself into fire and water because the demon has rendered him senseless. I contend that the boy is acting with his own will, but that his will under the constant oppression of demonic suggestion. The voices of demons are so deeply buried in the child's mind that to resist them causes psychic, almost physical, pain. The boy chooses to obey the same way that a slave chooses to obey a violent master. He makes the choice that is no choice.
So, I don't believe in mindless possession. I believe in mindful oppression by the demonic.
The first thing I point out is that Christ casts out the demon, even though the disciples could not. Jesus gives solid reasoning for why the disciples could not cast out this demon. I recommend that we all ignore that reasoning for most purposes. It's true, and it's truth today, but I still recommend we ignore it.
At the same time that Jesus was casting out demons all over the holy land, he was healing people, raising them from the dead and walking on water. There was a time for this kind of dramatic display of God's power, and that time was during the ministry of the Messiah and the formation of His kingdom on earth. Those days are past, and trying to imitate Christ in this method in America in the 21st century is best attempted after having proven you can walk on water and raise the dead.
Our day looks more like this:
2 Cor 10:3-5
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
My beliefs about demons are largely formed from Jessie Penn-Lewis's (unabridged!) War on the Saints. Her core point (as I recall it from 25 years ago) is that demons use lies to fool us into passively laying down our will before them. Once we lay down our will, they are able to insert their lying suggestions vastly more deeply into our minds. As Christians, the Truth lives in us, making it much harder for them to lie with impunity to us, but any human is capable of being fooled by a lie. Any human is capable of laying down arms and surrendering to being led by the whispers in his mind.
It is no coincidence that every major superstition on earth centers itself around the idea of letting go of the consciousness, and allowing one's self to be led by [fill in the blank.] All superstitions major in the release of the will, and they defend the action by a multitude of lies.
It is not a good thing that "centering prayer" is so popular in the church these days.
The demons speak lies to get us to stop resisting them, to lay down our will. When they succeed, they are inside our head and can speak more directly to us. The more lies we believe, and the more we accept their decision making for us, the louder their voices become - the more powerful, the more painful to resist.
But, resist we can according to Christ.
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
There are questions about this passage. It is written about Israel, and not about an individual, and it does not describe why the demon decided to leave the house in the first place. Still, I take it to mean that a man can resist a demon to the point it leaves, and he can set his mental house in order. And it can all be for naught.
In order to clean the house, to rid the mind of demonic influence, one must resist the demons via the will. "Casting out" and "exorcism" are as much a part of our American experience as the healing of those blind from birth. I ain't never seen it here. Christ will never overshadow His church with mere miracles, but this is not the post in which to explain that statement.
Assuming that we can actually clean our house though, we have accomplished only the first step. The demon will merely come back with reinforcements and overcome us again. The house must be defended with the Truth, and filled with the Lord Jesus.
If Christ is living in that house, no demon will be.
I know that seems to contradict my statement earlier that Christians can be oppressed by demons. Let's just leave that seeming conflict unresolved. If Christ is in a mind, no demon will take up residence there, but that is not to say that no demon will pick on our weak grasp of the Truth or jelly-reinforced willpower.
There is a reason to learn to use the weapons of our warfare, but most are confused about what those weapons are. Those weapons are not loud shouts of Christ's authority and demands to know some demon's name. Our weapons are Truth and the will wielded in the power of the Spirit of the Lord.
That concludes my thoughts on the subject, but I'll say a quick word to Milly's post.
Yes, demons possess people in the bible, and yes it's evil. What's more, they still do it today. When a man goes on a killing rampage, the odds that demons were not involved is less than zero. But the demons were not joy riding in the man's body against his will. They were whipping him into a frenzy because of the many times he'd surrendered his will to their lies. They were taking the advantage that he had given them, by absorbing their lies and laying down his will. The Spirit was not there to fight off the lies and he didn't have brothers in the Lord to support his wavering will during all the years the demons moved in and out of his life. This is a major failing, but not unexpected.
Man was put on earth to protect it, and to take authority over the demonic. When man fell, he retained the responsibility and even the tools, but lost the power of Truth. Men now lose to demons. When that happens, the man does not suddenly become innocent of the crimes he commits. It's still his will to do the things to which the demons torment him. It's still his responsibility to take authority over them. It's still the man that goes on the rampage. It's still the man who will be judged; the demons will just be judged along with him.
That man needs to hear about the power of Christ, and the love of God and the church for him. He needs to repent and be converted, and let the church circle around him and rebuild the fallen walls and establish the Truth as his guardian.
Miracles still happen, but now they happen by the love of the church.
Somewhat out of the ordinary for this blog, but I hope it was profitable.