Sunday, August 18, 2019

190818 Demons at Work

1 Timothy 4:1-3 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

Satan and his demons, throughout human history, have been at work trying to destroy Gods people. After the creation of the universe, the original sin was committed. We do not know specifically how, or when, Satan rebelled against God. Apparently, he ruled over part of the angels. Some people believe that the Day Star or Lucifer was one of three Archangels. The other two being Gabriel and Michael. If that is true then we can assume that he ruled over one-third of the angels when they were created. Nevertheless, there would be a vast number since the remaining angels number myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands (Revelation 5:11).
The Old Testament does not often use the word “demon” causing many people to believe that demons were not active at that time. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the first “evil angels” were active under the direction of Satan in the Garden of Eden. There…
We first see “the serpent”. Look at Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
There is no question that this “serpent” was no other than the accuser — Satan! We see him continuing his conversation with Eve accusing God of being unfair to the humans he had created. Satan proves himself to be, what he has always been, a liar! He twists God’s words and leaves out important facts. This is a pattern Satan has followed throughout history. He and his demons have trained billions of people in the art of twisting the truth. We see him active in Genesis and we see him being overcome in Revelation.
Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
He has gone from being called “the serpent” to being identified as “The Great Dragon ”! The Dragon is the deceiver of the whole world. Let’s not get off on the side track in Revelation. Instead, let’s stay on track with evidence of the working of the serpent. It may be that the term demon is seldom used in the Old Testament but it is very active in that…
Idol worship is demonic. Let’s look at the song of Moses for evidence. Deuteronomy 32:17-18 They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had come recently, whom your fathers had never dreaded.        18 You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth.
I hope you’re not too surprised that Moses is talking about the people of Israel! In the wilderness, they did not give up the demon gods of Egypt! They continued to sacrifice to demons! They added new gods to the Egyptian gods as they traveled. When Moses was on the mountain receiving the most perfect law that it ever been conceived to give them spiritual strength and freedom the people of Israel were down in the valley worshiping a golden calf!
Amazing! They did not pay attention to the Rock that had brought them to life. They forgot the God who birthed them! Forgot? Only a few months before they were watching Moses and Aaron raise the rod of God to destroy the Egyptian fake Gods. They had seen the Red Sea parted and they crossed on dry land while the Egyptians were destroyed who attempted to follow them. They saw water come from a rock and quail settle around them in abundance so they could have meat when they cried for it. Then after only a few days without Moses present in the camp, they set up an idol with the intent of going back to Egypt. They were willing to choose bondage over God’s freedom!
Let’s turn aside for a moment to clear up a question.
Angels/demons did not marry women. Look with me at Genesis 6:4. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
Many people have read this — taking it out of context — and taught that it teaches the intermarriage with angels and human women. It’s true that the term “sons of God” seems to be used for angels in other places particularly the book of Job. It cannot be that way here. How do I know this? Because I know Jesus not only knows the truth but he also tells the truth.
 Luke 20:34-36 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.
Jesus is not directly referring to the passage in Genesis 6. He is answering their question. They set the scene by describing a woman who had had seven husbands. And they asked “in the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be?
Jesus’ answer should have corrected their theology. In the resurrection, they do not marry. Instead, they are equal to angels! Equal to angels? Meaning that angels do not marry because they do not have material bodies.
The term “demon” may not be used much in the Old Testament but…
Without a doubt, there was demonic activity. Genesis 6:11-12 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.
There is no doubt in my mind that this description of the earth before the flood is a description of satanic influence. The earth was filled with violence! All flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. This would fulfill the goals of Satan himself.
Israel, in the wilderness, worshiped demons. For example, Exodus 32:1-4. When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”
This is one of the strangest scenes set in the Bible. Aaron, Moses brother, was deeply involved in all the things that God did leading them out of bondage and defeating Egypt. Now, the people who have been delivered from bondage want to return. They had seen how the unseen hand of God and guided them all the way. Now they were ready to make an idol that they knew did not have life and worship it.
Not only that, they wanted to go back to Egypt!
They asked Aaron to make them “gods”. Aaron explained to Moses that he had taken the gold ornaments of the people, he threw them in the fire, then they came out a golden cafe!
Apparently, this was the lifestyle of the people of God. They not only worshiped demons in the desert they also worshiped demons…
Even after they entered the land. Turn with me to Psalm 106:19-20 They made a calf in Horeb and worshiped a metal image. 20 They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.
In the wilderness, they exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox. Then after they entered the land. God conquered it for them! They saw the gods of all the people around them being defeated by the living God. Then… Look a few verses down 35-37 but they mixed with the nations and learned to do as they did. 36 They served their idols, which became a snare to them. 37 They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons.
The story was told in the book of Judges and repeated again and again for hundreds of years. The people of Israel would become very complacent in their lifestyles and sinful in their behavior. Then they would be defeated by their enemies and for a time under foreign control. They would cry out to God, repent of their sins and God would send a deliverer.
After the United Kingdom was established under the influence of the prophet Samuel the nation turned to God. When David became king for several years there was peace and prosperity as well as spiritual growth. Solomon continued the process until he turned away from God in the last years of his reign. Then the kingdom divided and consistently the northern kingdom did what was evil in God’s sight. Judah the southern kingdom had a few kings that led them closer to God. God was patient with them for hundreds of years finally he allowed them to be taken into captivity.
Until a king led them to ultimate evil. 2 Kings 21:14-16 And I will forsake the remnant of my heritage and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, 15 because they have done what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.” 16 Moreover, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides the sin that he made Judah to sin so that they did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.
A king named Manasseh came to the throne of Judah determined to rebel against God. God saw that Manasseh’s lifestyle was worse than the nations God had removed the land. Manasseh set up pagan altars in the temple of the living God. He offered his son to one of the pagan gods as a burnt offering. Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the pagan nations had that. Therefore, it became necessary for God to destroy the kingdom and allow his people to be taken into captivity.
The Bible tells us the story of God’s working with his people and of satanic oposition. We are told about the beginning in the garden followed by a growing rebellion that led to a worldwide flood. The Bible record goes on to tell us about the call of Abraham and his descendants. After 400 years in Egypt the Bible tells us about their deliverance and wanderings in the wilderness. Even there they worshiped demons. The Bible goes on to record the conquest of Canaan and God’s care for his people. The people of Israel achieve their highest level in the United Kingdom under David and Solomon. Then hundreds of years of decline. Finally, the OT ends in a period of silence before the Messiah came. That Messiah is Jesus who took our sins and set free all who will put their trust in him.

All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton, Ill, Standard Bible Society.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

190811 Fallen Angels — Demons!

Ephesians 6:11-13 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

The Scriptures tell us that when God created the world he “saw everything he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). By the time of Genesis chapter 3, we have evidence that the creation was no longer “very good”! Because, Satan himself came into the Garden of Eden to tempt Adam and Eve. What happened? Why was this allowed to happen? I know that I’m not going to be able to give you all the answers but we will look at Scripture and see what it has to say on the subject of demons.
“Satan” is the personal name of the angel who rules over the demons. The name is first used in 1 Chronicles 21:1 identifying an accuser who stood against Israel’s trust in God. The name is used a number of times in the book of Job. Describing the adversary who was able to come into God’s presence and make accusations against God’s people. As we will see later, he is the adversary in Zechariah 3:1-2 accusing the high priest. The New Testament takes the Hebrew name from the Old Testament. Jesus used the name in his temptations in the wilderness. A little later Jesus testified that he “saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
Satan never shows up in a red suit with a pitchfork and tail. He always comes in disguise. If he came as he really is it is very likely no one would follow him. Paul tells us that his opponents disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. And this is no surprise to Paul because…
Satan comes in disguise. Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 11:14. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
We must be very careful not to be taken in by a being that describes himself as an angel. Demons, pretending to be God’s angels, will lead people astray. We should be careful not to be deceived. For instance, the Mormons claim that an angel gave Joseph Smith the basis of their false religion. The revelation of “golden plates” that contained the book of Mormon, if it happened at all, is in total opposition to the teachings of Scripture. We are not to listen to any creature, human or angelic, that presents teaching that is not found in the Bible. The Bible teaches us that we are not to worship angels or to pray to them. There are many ways that…
Satan — in his demons — seeks to destroy God’s people. Let’s look at the warning in 1 Peter 5:8. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Authority over unclean spirits extends to everyone who ministers in Jesus’ name. In fact, the ability to resist the devil is characterized by triumph over the power of the devil. We’ll look at that a little more in a few minutes. Very clearly…
Satan opposes God’s people. When the temple was reconstructed and sacrifice was resumed after the return from exile we are shown Satan’s opposition in Zechariah 3:1. Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.
This Joshua is the grandson of the man who was high priest when Jerusalem fell who was put to death by Nebuchadnezzar. His father lived through the captivity in Babylon and Joshua returned with Ezra to establish worship among those who returned from captivity. Satan is an accuser of God worshipers. With all of his accusations, we need to remember that…
Satan is a liar. Let’s look at the words of Jesus found in John 8:44. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Here we find Jesus being confronted by the Pharisees. They had claimed that God was their father. Jesus’ reply was a direct attack on their claims. He accuses them of not only lying like the devil but of having murder in their hearts. By this point in his ministry, the Pharisees were clearly planning to put him to death. They only needed an acceptable excuse. In order to get that excuse, they would not hesitate to lie. Many years later John would write…
 1 John 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
The devil is not responsible for all the evil in the world but he certainly encourages it. Our human nature following the pattern of our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, always leads to rebellion against God. The world system that we live in is in opposition to God! A life of practicing sin is evidence of our separation from God. We must repent of our sin and turn from Satan’s rule. Let’s take a minute and consider the fact that…
Satan has many descriptive names. Ephesians 2:1-2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience
Here we find one of the descriptive names of our enemy “the prince of the power of the air”. There are many other descriptive names that help us understand what Satan is like. Let me share some of them. He is called the “devil” only in the New Testament. In both old and new Testaments he is called “the serpent”. Jesus used the term “Beelzebul” to describe his enemy. The word means “Baal the Prince”. Jesus used the term “ruler of this world” at least two times. Jesus also uses the term “the evil one” when describing the one that snatches away the good seed in the parable of the sower.
With all this emphasis on Satan beginning in the Garden of Eden and coming through the book of Revelation into the very end time, we must not be overwhelmed by his power. The first two chapters of Job clearly teach us that…
Satan and his demons have limited power. Let’s look at 2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment. And Jude 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.
I quote “The emphasis is on the fact that they are removed from the glory of God’s presence and their activity is restricted (metaphorically, they are in “eternal chains”), but the text does not imply either that the influence of demons has been removed from the world or that some demons are kept in a place of punishment apart from the world while others are able to influence it. Rather, both 2 Peter and Jude tell us that some angels rebelled against God and became hostile opponents to his Word. Their sin seems to have been pride, a refusal to accept their assigned place, for they “did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling” (Jude 6).” Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pp 412-413
Satan and his demons are kept restricted to God’s will. They can do nothing without permission. This does not mean we should not fear them. Instead, it means that we should be careful in dealing with them. He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world. But if we take off on our own in combat with the devil we will be defeated most of the time. Satan and his demons have had the opportunity to observe us all our lives and draw conclusions from that. They cannot read our minds, only God can, but they can predict our actions from our past performance.
When Jesus went up on the mountain with Peter, James and John the other disciples were confronted with a demonized boy and failed to deliver him. When Jesus came down off the mountain he said that this kind only comes out by prayer. Obviously, a prayerful relationship to God is necessary before we can defeat the devil.
We are also reminded of the seven sons of Sceva in the book of Acts. They attempted to cast out a demon in the name of Jesus who Paul preached and they were thoroughly defeated. Exorcism is not magic! It is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Satan is very powerful, however…
He can be opposed. Let’s look at James 4:7-8. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Often Christians will quote the sentence “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” While neglecting “Submit yourselves therefore to God” that clearly comes first. If we try to resist the devil without first being submissive to God we will be clearly and soundly defeated. The devil only laughs at those who try to resist him in their own strength. Only God can defeat him. Jesus gave the power over evil spirits — demons — to his disciples. Luke recorded this gift for us in chapter 10 of his gospel. He gave his disciples explicit directions. They were to pray earnestly for laborers in the harvest. They were to make no provisions for themselves. They were to heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom of God. When they returned they rejoiced that demons had been subject to them in his name. Jesus immediately said that he gave them authority over the demons and all the power of the enemy but they were not to rejoice in that. They were to rejoice that their names are written in heaven!
It is so easy to get caught up in spiritual warfare.  Satan, even in defeat, will snatch a victory out of loss if he can get us wrapped up in our authority. We will be just like those disciples who were at the foot of the mountain unable to cast out a demon that Jesus quickly disposed of. We should rejoice that we are God’s children and be careful to always give him credit for any victory we receive. You see…
Christian believers already live in victory! Look with me at 1 Corinthians 15:56-57. The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We should rejoice that God gives us the victory. But that victory is not in our abilities. That victory is through our Lord Jesus Christ. The only ability we may have is avail-ability. If we are available to God he will use us as he chooses. Sadly enough we often are disappointed that God chose what we did not.
Now let’s look at the end of Romans chapter 8.
Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We are more than conquerors. We are not more than conquerors in our strength! Our victory is in the Lord Jesus who loved us enough to die for us. Nothing can overwhelm us or separate us from the love of God. Rest in him and he will take you where he wants you to go to do what he wants you to do and you will discover that gives victory over Satan and his demons.
There are two wrong ways to deal with the reality of the devil and his demons. First, there is the tendency to deny his existence. “The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” C. S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters. We must recognize that our enemy exists without, at the same time, giving him too much control in our lives. The greatest victory over the devil is our surrender to Jesus as Lord and Savior. We are born in sin and heirs of death and hell. But God loves us enough to send Jesus to defeat our enemy. We must confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead.

All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton, Ill, Standard Bible Society.