Part 3: Thieves of forever

THE ANGELS OF THE DRAGON

Just as God has angels who does His will, Satan has angels who do his will. The Bible calls them evil spirits. It also calls them demons and devils.

There is no darker reality confronting human existence than that of evil spirits. They are unseen enemies of God and of man; they are ceaselessly at wor against the will of God and against all the best interests of man. The effects of their activity are all around us today, ad the Scriptures inform us that these effects are going to be multiplied many times, and at a very rapid pace, as the prophesied events of the end-time occur – events that precede the era when the returned Lord Jesus will righteously rule on earth.

And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.” (Revelation 12:5)

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4)

The term demon is foreign the Western consciousness; remote from the common Western concepts of the nature of life and being. Yet, no living person escapes the attention of demons.

Ignorance of them, just about total in the Western world, is becoing less and less conveniant in our society, because there has been a marked step-up in demonic supernatural activity in the Wetern world in recent years. We see its effects on almost every hand, but too often we are blind to its source.

All of the angels were servants of God until Lucifer, the “son of the morning”, rebelled and caused a great split among them. Most held to their loyalty to God. Others abandoned that loyalty and went after Lucifer, or Satan.

The Scriptures speak of the angels who sinned against Godd. In 2 Peter 2:4 we read: For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;”

Again, Jude 6 says: And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. ” The demons are angels who left their first estate, as Satan left his. It appears that some evil spirits were put in confinement. Others are scripturally described as working with their leader.

The angels who serve God and the demons who follow Satan engage in conflict. The Book of Revelation gives us a glimps of this:And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,” (Revelation 12:7) The dragon is a figurative term for Satan, as the next verse states. Here are seen two companies of angels under different leaders – Michael and his angels, and Satan and his angels. Michael, an archangel , is a leader of the angels of God, while Satan leads the host of angels called demons, devils, or evil spirits.

This conflict bears upon man, for both angels and demons have to do with men and women. Acting with Satan, among the demons, are other evil princes subordinate to him (Satan). They stand together in unrelenting defiance of God’s will.

10 ¶ And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.
11 And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.
12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.
14 Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.” (Daniel 10:10-14)

ACTS OF POWER AND LOVE: SETTING VICTIMS FREE

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38)

Jesus did His liberating work by preaching, by teaching, by acts of kindness and by acts of power, including healing the sick and casting out demons.

An immensely important fact is that evil spirits can, under certain circumstances, eneter into and occupy the human body and use it as the vehicle for carrying out their own deprived intetions. They cannot do this at mere will. They must be given a basis for occupation by voluntary acts of human of human compliance with evil  – most often repeated and willful acts or a venture into some extreme and forbidden thing. (That does not mean that they always realize what they are doing. I trully believe that some open the door to evil spirits without knowing it.)

I havetalked to individuals who became Christians after their involvement in occultism or spiritism. Their experiences gave them an especially keen and painful awareness of the demonic supernatural and of the damage, trouble and torment that can come to a person by it. Often when demons and evil have greatly influenced a person in an evil way, it is possible to find one perticular point in life when the evil was given a way in into the persons life.

When Jesus gave His commishion to the disciples in Mark 16:17 we read: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils;” The casting out of demons was to be one part of the total ministry of the Christian church to humanity. In His three years of ministry, Jesus repeatedly engaged in casting demons out of people. Matthew 8:16 records that “When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:” Jesus recognized them, identified them and ordered them to depart from their victims.

It is equally true that the demons recognized Him. They often made that recognition emphatically known by speaking to Him through the individuals in whom they dwelled.

This ministry of casting out demons was to continue in the church through the disciples, and indeed it did. It is part of the basic and contiuing mission of the church for the taking away of suffering, and a good many missionaries to heathen countries have found it so. We read of this in Acts 8:5-7:

5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.”

LEGION: A TROPHY OF GRACE

Whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not, there is no escaping the fact that evil spirits are at work in human society. Until the coming of the Lord, the church of Jesus Christ is appointed by heaven to be the single greatest counterforce to evil powers.

Whether the church is alive, alert and faithful, it severely crimps demonic activity in many ways just by what it is and what it does. It also has, in its armory, specific weapons of devestating efficiacy against the workings of evil powers. They are vital and not to be laid aside, but they are far from the whole. Overall, it is highly probable that more damage is done to the intersets of the evil by godly lives of consistent faith, especially those called to particular vocations in faith, than by anything else.

In Mark 5:1-13 we read a passage of scripture  that gives insight and important information.

“1 ¶ And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.
2 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
3 Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:
4 Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,
7 And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
8 For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
9 And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.
10 And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.
11 Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.
12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.
13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.”

Notice that Jesus did not deal with the evil spirits as conditions but as with intelligent beings. There are some who are fond of saying that, in this, Jesus was merely going along with the superstitions of His time, but this is not the case.

Jesus made a distinction. He dealt with conditions as conditions, and He dealt with evil spirits as evil spirits, and He knew the difference. Think for a moment of the state of the man whom Jesus met in the tombs – a man made in the image of God, though born in sin, still bearing many aspects of that likeness, as we all do, but now reduced to a pathetic captivity, a travesty on God’s design and loving intent.

Friendless and homeless, he was useless, dangerous to himself and others, utterly insane, uncontrollable, miserable. What a grief to the heart of God such a human spectacle mustbe. Roaming the tombs and mountaintops night and day, howling or making strange crying noises.How rarely he must have had anything like decent food. Jesus showed nothing but care for the man. He had not a word of reproof for him. He dealt solely with the evil spirits.

The man in the tombs was not his own master after unclean spirits had gained control. They drove him away from human society and made him a wild, restless, reckless, roaming recluse. The man had more than mere human strength. Evil spirits forced him to inflict damage to himself, and Jesus turned it all around in a few moments’ time.

Jesus went beyond the man and directly addressed the unclean spirit. The demons answered, trying to hide themselves behind the identity of the man. Evil spirits seek the closest possible identification with the person they inhabit, so that their words and acts will be mistakenly ascribed to the person. The spirits were in great fear of Jesus, and begged Him not to torment “me”.

They used the first-person singular because they still hoped to conceal their true identity. They hoped tomake it seem that the man was asking Jesus not to torment him. Plainly, Jesus had not come to torment the man, the evil spirits were doing that!

Jesus made the evil spirits leave the man, but He allowed them to go into the swine. Immediately, two things happenned:

– The man out of whom the demons had gone, sat there quietly clothed, and in his right mind” (verse 15) 

– The pigs on the hillside, into which the demons went, immediatelyran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.” (verse 13)

When the demons, unseen to the natural eye, entered the herd of pigs, the man was perfectly sane and rational and calm, but the pigs immediately became self-destructive, as the man had been. Real demons had gone from a real man and entered real pigs. There can be no more graphic description than this of the reality of evil spirits and the effects of demon possession.

KING SAUL CONSULTS A MEDIUM

We have noted that evil spirits work to produce definate effects in human thought and behaviour. Such effects are easily traced in the life of Saul, the first king of Israel. The Bible affirms that he was a choice young man, humble, gentile and exceedingly good-looking. 1 Samuel 9:2 says: “And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.”

There was no royal line in Israel (God was their King), but the people insisted on having a king (like all the other nationds) and God let them. The prophet Samuel anointed Saul for the office and gave him supernatural signs to make plain to Saul that he had been chosen by God, not man. Soon after this anointing,the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.” (10:10)

The young king was greatly blessed by God. He was a modest and unassuming individual, but he was weak and only partial in his obedience to God. He began well, but through cumulative acts of disabedience, Saul lost out. The fateful transition is seen in 1 Samuel 16:14 where we read: “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.” 

The course, which had tended upward, now ran steeply downward. Saul ended asa man capable of murder. At the very end, he sank to consulting a medium.

A point came at which God withdrew His spirit from Saul and allowed an evill spirit to get to him. This change in the spiritual realm, unobservable to the human eye, brought distinct and drastic changes in Saul’s behaviour. The first effect was that the evil spirit “troubled him“, causing Saul to suffer internal agitation and unrest. That’s why David was brought to the king to play the harp, bringing soothing and rest to his troubled soul.

Saul’s immediate reaction to David was that he loved him greatly. But soon, under influence of the demon, he would show an entrirely different attitude.

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: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand. And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.” (1 Samuel 18:10-11)

The last step for Saul was a deiberate and desperate encounter with occultism (1 Samuel 28). When Saul had been persuing the will of God, he “had put the mediums and wizards out of the land” because God had commanded that these demonic sustitutes have no part with the pure worship of the Jews.

4 And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa.
5 And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.
6 And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.
7 ¶ Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.
8 And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.” (1 Samuel 28:4-8)

Saul chose his words well, for he knew what he was talking about. A medium who is not a sheer fake, who does in fact make “contact” with an intelligent, invisible being, is one who works together with, or comes under control of, an evil spirit.

The woman was afraid to practice her illicit craft, but she had not given it up. Sha said to her anonymous visitorBehold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?” (verse 9)

10 And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.
11 Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.
12 And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.
13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
14 And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.
15 ¶ And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.” (verses 10-15)

The spirit was soon telling Saul that the Philistines would conquer and that to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me” (verse 19).

Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid” (verse 20)

It was but hours between Saul’s visit to the medium and his death. He had crossed the last line of disobedience to God. Tje very man who had put the mediums out of business ended up asking one to “consult a spirit for me”. The next day the whole house of Saul fell. Badly wounded in battle, he took his own life.

Young people need to become aware of the damage or danger they can sustain by any involvement with these demonic invetions, even when presented in the form of a game. Some time ago I came upon a news report of several teenagers in different places who did away with themselves or killed friends, apparently as a result of their involvement in a popular “game” that concentrates heavily on playera imagining themselves into situations of intense conflict with strangeothe-worldly powers. The game reportedly draws directly on witchcraft practices in some of its instruction to players.

MYSTICISM, MEDIUMS, WITCHCRAFT AND MAGIC

What is magic? One definitions says magic is “the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of various techniques, as incarnation, that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature”. With it go magic spells, magic rites, magic words, enchantments, witchcraft, hexes, charms, so-called communication with the “dead”, and a wide variety of other practices and means. There is plenty of quackary and fakery in it, but there is also a potent realm of magic that sometimes produces real effects.

Many rituals and practices and spells and incartations have a religious character, entirely on the enermy’s side. As prayer is an appeal to heaven, based on faith in God through Christ; as intersession is prevailing with God on behalf of mankind, these practices appeal, wheter done knowingly or igorantly, to wicked spirits. Thet stirr up such spirits, give them room to manouver in, and them advantages they seek over those who engane in them, and sometimes, over other individuals or events.

Though there are heaps of it in print, I read very little, and extremely selectively in any of the litterature of occultism, magic and witchcraft while investigating these matters, because such material is a sinkhole.

Recent years have brought a rising vogue in occultism, astrology, magic, witchcraft, etc in our culture. For many decades, spiritualism and witchcraft were off in remote and obscure corners of our western life. For quite a while it was entirely the fashion in this society to hold that there were no such things as witches – individuals who practice various kinds of magic or black magic – and dare I say that anyone who had ventured to assert thar there were such individuals would have been regarded as hopelessly medieval. Now we are faced with the fact that there are witches who publicly say they are witches.

To some, the surge of of interest in withcraft and the like may seem to be a bit of a lark, a nild dabbling in the fantastic, a form of escapism, perhaps, in a crowded and perplexing age. Yet any of these ancient occult practices can open up a dangerous avenue into the supernatural for a person who becomes involved in them.

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