But we ourselves must not decline the burden of responsibility,
nor take counsel of unworthy passions.
People are increasingly concerned about demonic torment and possession. Recently, Newsweek published an article by Cristian Maza with the headline, “Catholic Church Needs More Exorcists Due to Urgent Increase in Demonic Activity, Priest Warns.” (January 25, 2019)
Demonic power is a growing concern because when people sink into the Godless darkness of spiritual apostasy, they enter the domain of Satan’s demons. It begins this way: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8) For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galatians 6:7,8) “For they that are after the [desires of the] flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8) So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God [because they are separated from the uplifting, ennobling and transforming power of the Holy Spirit!].” Romans 8:5-8, Insertions mine.
The devil knows that God sends the Holy Spirit to each person at birth. As long as we obey the Spirit’s prompting to do what is right in God’s sight, He keeps the demons at arm’s length by providing a strong hedge of protection around us. (Job 1:10; Psalm 34:7)
We desperately need God’s protection!
When we yield to temptation and willfully do wrong, the Holy Spirit retreats because He accepts our power of choice. He will not overrule our choices. If we insist on continuing to do wrong, the Holy Spirit will retreat even further. When the protection is removed, the demons approach us aggressively.
They want to control our minds and bodies.
God permits demons to put their thoughts in our minds. They can influence us in powerful ways to do greater evil in the same way the Holy Spirit can put thoughts in our minds and influence us to do what is right. The power of choice is very powerful, but so is the sinful nature! Both the Holy Spirit and demons are on an intense mission. The Holy Spirit wants to prepare us for Heaven through sanctification. Demons are determined to separate us from the Holy Spirit so that they can destroy us.
Demons are delighted when they see families trapped in cycles of pain and suffering caused by addiction. There are all kinds of addictions because the devil knows that addictions ruin relationships and lives. They know that drugs are a gateway to many hellish experiences. Demons prey on young people who are blind to the fact that drugs and alcohol are very dangerous, not only for the users, but also for anyone within their sphere. Demons use glossy ads and celebrities in the media every day to disconnect young people from this solemn fact:
“What we sow, we will reap.”
Demons are highly intelligent angels who once lived in God’s presence. They know how to seduce each of us because they study us closely. They use nudity and music to arouse passion, they use riches and material things to arouse covetousness. They constantly appeal to our sinful nature by making wrong doing appear “new, edgy, and exciting.”
Sometimes, demons will sink their hooks into their subjects with “small wrongs” that have few or no immediate consequences.
They are masters at gradualism and once they have their hook in us, they begin to reel us in. Demons do their best work if they can put our sinful nature into a state of discontent. They dangle lures before us to create discontent because they know the law: “What we sow, we will reap.”
Demons were present when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, during the flood in Noah’s day, and when Jesus walked on Earth. They have been involved in every war fought on Earth.
For them, cruelty is a sport.
They are highly educated, wise, relentless, and deadly when they toil to deceive and seduce. They know that some sins can have lifelong consequences, others have immediate ones, or both. For example, sexual immorality can have both consequences. A child is abused, a woman is raped, or sexual promiscuity produces a child no one wants. Drinking and driving under the influence can have both types of consequences.
The demons have a tailor-made collection for each of us.
Therefore, if the Holy Spirit retreats from us, they will pounce. Their goal is bondage, misery, and death. They are hateful and motivated to loathe us because they hate Jesus.
Jesus created us and later redeemed us.
Therefore, if these satanic agents keep a soul from inheriting eternal life, they are elated. They know they are going to their destruction, so they are determined to take many individuals with them.
Their next level of control is increasing demonic torment and we see evidence of this each day. The world is roiling with the successes that demons have had capitalizing on our sinful nature. Our only safety is to nurture the gift of the Holy Spirit. I call His presence a gift because we do not deserve Him. All of us are sinners. However, He loves us and is willing to enter into any heart that will open the door with repentance and reformation.
Consider the question: “Why was Saul tormented by demons?”
The Holy Spirit retreated from the king because he would not obey the Holy Spirit’s promptings to do right. Old Testament writers use a variety of expressions that need explanation. I would like to explain one. As you consider the following two verses, look for the phrase, “an evil spirit from the Lord.” “But the [Holy] Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubleth [tormented] him. 15) . . . an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.” (1 Samuel 16:14,15; Insertions mine.) “And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house. . . 12) And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul.” 1 Samuel 18:10,12.
Did the Lord actually send evil spirits to Saul? Did God partner with evil spirits to do work that holy angels will not do? The answer to both questions is “NO.”
Old Testament writers were faithful Jews and during Saul’s time, their view of Almighty God was simple: He had sovereign power. Remember, the Canaanites worshiped many false gods during Old Testament times, but for Bible writers, there was only one true God. Jehovah was God Most High.
They thought God was responsible for everything that happened. He sent rain and famine. He gave Israel victory over their enemies and He allowed Israel’s enemies to triumph when Israel fell into apostasy. When Saul was tormented by a demon, it had to be an “evil spirit sent from the Lord” because there was very little understanding about Lucifer and his followers.
The books of Isaiah and Ezekiel had not been written when Saul was king. Therefore, they believed since the Lord had turned His back on Saul, only the Lord had the power to torment Saul for his evil conduct.
Because of progressive revelation and the truth Jesus declared when He was on Earth, we know today that God permitted demons to torment Saul because the Holy Spirit had retreated from him.
A righteous and loving God does not work with demons. In fact, He cast them out of Heaven because He will have no partnership with evil. James 1:13-15.
Most Christians understand that Satan is a predator and they need to use God’s power to escape the devil’s temptations. However, when the devil gains control of an individual, that person becomes his slave.
During these final days, it is imperative to invite and surrender our will to the Holy Spirit each day to prevent Satan’s demons from exercising control over us. “Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: 7) Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6.7.
Abraham Lincoln bore a tremendous burden for his country. He held himself responsible for the freedom of millions of slaves, the unity and future of the nation, the safety of his soldiers, the happiness of his family, and the lives of his friends. In a speech on December 3, 1861, Lincoln explained the need for responsibility to rest on a single leader. One passion that Lincoln found worthy was the pursuit of freedom for all people, regardless of race, and it was this passion that propelled him to the presidency.
Lincoln often referred to the war as a “tumultuous storm” and likened his administration to a gigantic ship. He expounded on this analogy in his annual address: “In a storm at sea no one on board can wish the ship to sink, and yet not infrequently all go down together because too many will direct and no single mind can be allowed to control.” Responsibility must be centralized. Committees cannot be held accountable to accomplish every task, because in the end, the leader is responsible and will be held accountable. And Lincoln understood that he was that person.
Lincoln was not afraid of responsibility. “I have said nothing but what I am willing to live by and if it be the pleasure of God, to die by,” he told an audience in Independence Hall in 1861. As a leader, he held himself accountable to God and to his Country. He was driven by strength of purpose and the resolve to see his goals come to pass.
“Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them,
and they will never be afraid again.” Jeremiah 23:4 NLT
Walking with Lincoln, p.p. 198-201 by: Thomas Freiling