1 Timothy 2:5
There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
The fourth unifying factor of the New Age Movement is a cosmic evolutionary optimism . There is a New Age coming. There will be a new world order with a one-world government. New Agers believe in a progressive unification of world consciousness eventually reaching the “omega point.” This is a counterfeit kingdom and we know who its prince is.
Fifth, New Agers create their own reality . They believe they can determine reality by what they believe, so by changing what they believe, they can change reality. There are no moral absolutes because there is no distinction between good and evil.
Sixth, New Agers make contact with the kingdom of darkness . Calling a medium a “channeler” and a demon a “spirit guide” has not changed the reality of what they are. They are in contact with the god of this world instead of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Recently I received a call from a lady who was concerned about the turn of events in a small group she was attending. It had started out as a group of supposedly Christian women. The one woman began to function as a medium, and they thought they were hearing from God. They recorded six hours of videotape, and in that six hours, five different personalities can be identified in the medium. The group was convinced they were hearing from God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and two angels.
The lady functioning as a medium was later identified as not being a Christian. In the tape her eyes roll back in a trancelike state. At one point a voice says through her, “It’s going to snow here tomorrow.” I’m surprised that when it didn’t snow the next day, they couldn’t see the snow job being done on them!
How can a thinking person, professing to be a Christian, consider this as anything other than demonization? But it isn’t just lonely homemakers who are being deceived. This deception is invading every area of society today.
Prayer: Father, keep me alert to the deception of New Age thinking around me, and help me dismiss the darkness I encounter with the light of Your truth.
Bring them [your children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord
What are parents, Sunday school teachers, youth workers, and pastors to do in the face of Satan’s assault on the minds of our children? Let’s begin by stating what we can’t do.
First, we can’t bury our heads in the sand. This is not the time to respond in denial or claim that our Christian kids are immune to this kind of problem. Satan’s seductive activities are aimed at destroying the church at its point of greatest vulnerability: the family. The enemy is after Christian families in general and the families of Christian leaders in particular. Half of all my counseling regarding demonic influence has been with Christian leaders and their families.
Second, we can’t run in fear. Remember: Thanks to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Satan is a defeated foe. The war against the seduction of our children is a winnable war. If we retreat instead of advance, we forfeit ground to the enemy that doesn’t belong to him. We must exert our authority in Jesus Christ and claim His victory in the lives of our children.
How can we do that?
First, we must become aware of the spiritual nature of the world we live in. Our children are growing up in a seductive world. Many of the things that surround them are subtly influenced by the New Age Movement, the occult, and Satanism.
Second, we need to understand how parents and parenting styles can either assist or block the resolution of a child’s spiritual conflicts. If a child comes from a dysfunctional home, it’s rather pointless to deal with his problem only to send him back into the home that caused the problem in the first place.
Third, we need definite strategies for protecting our children from spiritual assault and helping them resolve their spiritual conflicts. This is a winnable war, and it is a war we must win for the sake of our kids and the cause of Christ.
Prayer: Dear Father, keep me alert to spiritual opposition and bondage in my children, and equip me to assist them in appropriating Your freedom.
1 John 4:1
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Paul warned us against the deception which comes through demonic influence (1 Timothy 4:1). John also cautioned us to test the spirits and to distinguish the spirit of truth from the spirit of error (1 John 4:1-6). Satan’s demonic forces are at work attempting to pollute your mind with lies in order to keep you from walking in the truth. Hannah Whitehall Smith wrote:
There are the voices of evil and deceiving spirits, who lie in wait to entrap every traveler entering these higher regions of spiritual life. . . . These spiritual enemies, whoever or whatever they may be, must necessarily communicate with us by means of our spiritual faculties, and their voices, as the voice of God, are an inward impression made upon our spirit. Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit may tell us by impressions what the will of God is concerning us, so also will these spiritual enemies tell us by impression what is their will concerning us, though not, of course, giving it their name” (Quoted from Martin Wells Knapp, Impressions , Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishing, Inc., 1984, pp. 14-15).
Due to the deceptive nature of his impressions, Satan’s voice may not always be detected objectively. You need to pray in order to disassociate yourself from deceiving spirits.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I commit myself unreservedly to Your will. If I have been deceived in any way, I pray that You will open my eyes to the deception. I command in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that all deceiving spirits depart from me, and I renounce and reject all counterfeit gifts (or any other spiritual phenomena). Lord, if it is from You, bless it and cause it to grow that Your body may be blessed and edified through it.
You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free
When I was a boy on the farm, my dad, my brother and I would visit our neighbor’s farm to share produce and labor. The neighbor had a yappy little dog that scared the socks off me. When it came barking around the corner, my dad and brother stood their ground, but I ran. Guess who the dog chased! I escaped to the top of our pickup truck while the little dog yapped at me from the ground.
Everyone except me could see that the little dog had no power over me except what I gave it. Furthermore, it had no inherent power to throw me up on the pickup; it was my belief that put me up there. That dog controlled me by using my mind, my emotions, my will, and my muscles, all of which were motivated by fear. Finally I gathered up my courage, jumped off the pickup, and kicked a small rock at the mutt. Lo and behold, it ran!
Satan is like that yappy little dog: deceiving people into fearing him more than God. His power is in the lie. He is the father of lies (John 8:44) who deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9), and consequently the whole world is under the influence of the evil one (1 John 5:19). He can do nothing about your position in Christ, but if he can deceive you into believing his lies about you and God, you will spend a lot of time on top of the pickup truck! You don’t have to outshout him or outmuscle him to be free of his influence. You just have to outtruth him. Believe, declare, and act upon the truth of God’s Word, and you will thwart Satan’s strategy.
I have learned from the Scriptures and my experience that truth is the liberating agent. The power of Satan is in the lie, and the power of the believer is in knowing the truth. We are to pursue truth, not power.
Prayer: Father God, when Satan is badgering and confusing me, remind me that Your Holy Spirit within me is greater than all the evil around me.
2 Corinthians 11:14, 15
Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness
Another common misconception of the spiritual world is that demonic influence is only evident in extreme or violent behavior and gross sin . Most Christians suffering from demonic activity lead relatively normal lives while experiencing serious personal and interpersonal problems for which no cause or solution has been found. Since they relegate satanic involvement only to mass murderers or violent sex criminals, these ordinary problem-plagued individuals wonder what’s wrong with them and why they can’t just “do better.”
Satan’s first and foremost strategy is deception. It is not the few raving demoniacs who are causing the church to be ineffective, but Satan’s subtle deception and intrusion into the lives of “normal” believers. One Christian psychotherapist who attended my conference on spiritual conflicts and counseling said, “I discovered that two-thirds of my clients were having problems because they were being deceived by Satan–and so was I!”
A final misconception that must be dispelled is that freedom from spiritual bondage is the result of a power encounter with demonic forces . Freedom from spiritual conflicts and bondage is not a power encounter; it’s a truth encounter. Satan is a deceiver, and he will work undercover at all costs. But the truth of God’s Word exposes him and his lie. His demons are like cockroaches that scurry for the shadows when the light comes on. Satan’s power is in the lie, and when his lie is exposed by the truth, his plans are foiled.
When God first disciplined the early church in Acts 5, He did so in a dramatic way. Peter confronted Ananias and Sapphira: “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?” (verse 3). God wanted the church to know that Satan the deceiver can ruin us if he can get us to believe and live a lie. If I could infiltrate a church, a committee, or a person undetected, and deceive them into believing a lie, I could control their lives! That’s exactly what Satan is doing, and his lie is the focus of the battle.
Prayer: Lord, enable me to stay alert to the enemy’s wiles and arm myself with Your truth.
How can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man?
Another common misconception of the spiritual world is that some problems are psychological and some are spiritual. This misconception implies a division between the human soul and spirit, which does not exist. There is no inner conflict which is not psychological, because there is never a time when your mind, emotions and will are not involved. Similarly, there is no problem which is not spiritual. There is no time when God is not present or when it is safe for you to take off the armor of God. The tendency is to polarize into a deliverance ministry, ignoring the realities of the physical realm, or a psychotherapeutic ministry, ignoring the spiritual realm.
Dr. Paul Hiebert, a missions specialist, contends that, as long as believers accept a two-tier worldview with God confined to the supernatural and the natural world operating for all practical purposes according to autonomous scientific laws, Christianity will continue to be a secularizing force in the world. If your worldview does not recognize the activity of the god of this world in human problems, it is at best incomplete and at worst a distortion of reality.
Another misconception is that Christian aren’t subject to demon activity . The prevailing belief among evangelicals today is that Christians cannot be severely oppressed by demons. Even the suggestion that demonic influence can be part of the problem often prompts the hasty disclaimer, “Impossible! I’m a Christian!”
Nothing has done greater damage to diagnosing spiritual problems than this untruth. If Satan can’t touch the church, why are we instructed to put on the armor of God, to resist the devil, to stand firm, and to be alert? If we aren’t susceptible to being wounded or trapped by Satan, why does Paul describe our relationship to the powers of darkness as a wrestling match? Those who deny the enemy’s potential for destruction are the most vulnerable to it.
Prayer: Father, I don’t want to be ignorant in matters of the spiritual world. Remove all blinders from my eyes so I may see clearly and share the truth with others.
Having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise
After King Saul disobeyed God (1 Samuel 15), we’re told that “the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him” (1 Samuel 16:14). This is a difficult passage for two reasons. First, it seems to imply that a person can lose the Holy Spirit by an act of disobedience. But it must be understood that the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was selective and temporary. The Spirit involved with Saul was probably the same Spirit involved with David in verse 13: a special equipping of the Spirit for ruling as God’s anointed king. This unique equipping is not the same as the personal relationship in the Spirit that we enjoy with God as His children today.
Beginning after the cross, the church is identified by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, who forever unites the children of God with their heavenly Father (Ephesians 1:13, 14). Jesus promised that no one shall snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28), and Paul assured that nothing–not even disobedience–can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39). We are secure in Christ and indwelt by His Spirit through faith in the work of Christ on the cross.
The second problem concerns the bothersome idea that an evil spirit could come from the Lord. But we must remember that God is supreme, and He can use Satan and his emissaries as a means to discipline His people as He did with Saul. It is not inconsistent with the nature or plan of God to use anything to accomplish His will. Even the church is permitted to turn a grossly immoral member over to Satan “for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5). Why? Allowing people to experience the natural consequences of their actions has always been an effective means of discipline.
Do you want to do the devil’s bidding? Go ahead, and maybe the painful consequences you suffer from your immorality will turn you back to God.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for sealing me in Christ by Your Spirit. Help me live obediently today as an expression of thanks for what you have done.
1 John 4:6
We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
People who know they are having spiritual problems usually have severe perceptual problems too. Satan seems to be more present, real and powerful to them. These types of people usually hear opposing arguments in their head. They are constantly confronted with lies, told to get out of the counseling setting, or threatened with harm or embarrassment.
One dear lady I was ministering to suddenly bolted for the door. “Tell me what you’re hearing,” I said.
“You’re going to hurt me,” she answered fearfully.
“That’s a lie,” I assured her. Slowly she returned to her chair.
Some people experience internal interference when demonic powers are confronted by the truth. They may become dizzy or glassy-eyed. If you proceed without regard for their reaction, they may lapse into catatonia.
The goal in helping people find freedom in Christ is to avoid all demonic activity which would short-circuit their ability to participate in the process. With this in mind, I usually begin the time of ministry with prayer, acknowledging God’s presence, claiming His authority, and binding the enemy to silence.
I require one major point of cooperation from all those who want help: They must tell me what inner opposition they are experiencing. If they have a thought that is contrary to what we are doing, they are to share it with me. Some thoughts can be very hostile or threatening. Others will be very deceptive, such as “This isn’t going to work.” The power of Satan is in his lie. The moment the counselees bring the contrary thought to light, the power of it is broken. The power for the Christian is in the truth. That is why it is truth that sets us free.
Prayer: Lord, I desire to be a committed student of Your Word. I know the truth of Your Word dispels the darkness in my life. Thank You for this powerful weapon.
God . . . made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus
The New Testament clearly reveals that Christ’s power and authority over Satan and his kingdom have been conferred to those of us who are in Christ. In Ephesians 2:4-6, Paul explains that when Christ was raised from the dead, those of us who have believed in Him were also resurrected from our condition of spiritual death and made alive “together with Christ.” It’s only logical that the head (Christ) and the body (His church) should be raised together.
Furthermore, when God seated Christ at His right hand and conferred on Him all authority (Ephesians 1:20, 21), He also seated us at His right hand and conferred on us through Christ all authority because we are “together with Christ.” The moment you receive Christ, you take possession of what God did for you 2000 years ago. Your identity as a child of God and your authority over spiritual powers are not things you are receiving or will receive at some time in the future; you have them right now. You are a spiritually-alive child of God right now . You are seated in the heavenlies with Christ right now . You have power and authority over the kingdom of darkness right now . We have the authority because of our position in Christ, and we have the power when we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
Paul also related this life-changing truth in his letter to the Colossians: “In Him [Christ] you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority” (Colossians 2:10). Notice again that the action is past: We have been made complete. When? At the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. And since Christ is the God-appointed head over all rule and authority, and since we are seated with Him in the heavenlies, we have the authority and power to live responsible lives.
Prayer: Father, help me want to live responsibly, to claim my position as Your child, and to grow to full stature in You.
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him
There are three ways of responding to the demonic taunts and barbs being thrown at you during your daily walk with Christ, and two of these ways are wrong.
First, the most defeated people are those who consider demonic thoughts and believe them. A subtle thought is shot into your mind: “You don’t pray, read your Bible, or witness like you should. How could God love you?” That’s a bald-faced lie because God’s love is unconditional. But you start thinking about your failures and agreeing that you’re probably not very lovable to God. Pretty soon you’re sitting in the middle of the street going nowhere.
These Christians are totally defeated simply because they have been duped into believing that God doesn’t love them, or that they will never be a victorious Christian, or that they are a helpless victim of the past. There is no reason why they can’t get up immediately and start walking again, but they have believed a lie and the lie controls their life.
The second response is just as unproductive. You try to argue with the demons: “I am not ugly or stupid. I am a victorious Christian.” You’re proud that you don’t believe what they say, but they’re still controlling you and setting your agenda. You’re standing in the middle of the street shouting at them when you should be marching forward.
We are not to believe evil spirits, nor are we to dialogue with them. Instead, we are to ignore them and choose the truth. You’re equipped with the armor of God; they can’t touch you unless you drop your guard. With every arrow of temptation, accusation or deception they shoot at you, simply raise the shield of faith, deflect the attack, and walk on. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. The way to defeat the lie is by choosing the truth.
Prayer: In the face of the lies the enemy throws at me today, Lord, I choose and embrace Your truth.