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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Part 1: Is Spiritual Warfare for Real?

I will never, ever forget the one and only time I watched the movie "The Exorcist." I was about 15-years-old and it scared the bee-hee-bee-gee-bee's out of me! All these years later I can still clearly recall Linda Blair's head spinning around her body and the green vomit that exploded from her mouth. Hollywood continues its fascination with all things demonic. In the past few years a number of movies have come out that involve evil spirits and demon possessions. I can't tell you what they're about because I have not and will not see them. In my old age I've come to this sensible conclusion: demons and Satan are not something to mess around with. They are certainly not fodder for entertainment or to be made light of in any way.

Why?

Because spiritual warfare is real. Very real. Satan is a real spiritual being and so are demons. Let's take a look at what the Bible says about them. Genesis 3: 1 says:

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made."

The Bible never calls the serpent "Satan" in Genesis but we know it's him. Revelation 12:9 identifies him:

"The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray."

From the beginning of time Satan has been deceiving humankind. "Did God really say?" he asks Eve in Genesis 3:1. That is the exact same question he is asking people today! "Did God really say not to have sex unless you're married? Did God really say two men shouldn't lie together? Did God really say we could only worship Him?"

Satan is the great deceiver. Jesus called him "the father of lies" in John 8:44. But a serpent telling lies doesn't seem so bad, does it? I mean, we can just ignore him and go on about our business, right?

If that were all he did, yes, he would be easy to ignore. But Satan is not just a liar. He is actively looking for ways to thwart God's perfect will for mankind. Job 1:6-7 is a passage that gives me chills when I read it:

"One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the Lord, "From roaming through the earth, and going back and forth in it."

I don't know about you but that absolutely creeps me out! Satan is roaming our earth, actively seeking ways to mess with us. Peter wrote this about Satan in 1 Peter 5:8:

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

Picture a hungry lion on the hunt for prey. Stalking. Teeth and claws bared. Ready to pounce. You, my dear, are Satan's prey! We all are. And he's not alone in his hunt. He has helpers. We call them demons. The New Testament is full of eyewitness accounts of demon possession. It was apparently a fairly common problem and even the teachers of the Law recognized the need to drive out demons. Jesus had a notable encounter with a demon possessed man in Luke 4:31-37 where the demon recognized Jesus and his authority. Which makes sense because James 2:19 says,

"You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder."  

People, Satan is real! Demons are real. Demon possession is real. Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was taken over by Satan himself. Luke 22:3 says, "Then Satan entered Judas..." We all know how that turned out. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss and then went off to hang himself.

But it's not just physical possession we need to worry about. It's the lying, the deceiving, the tempting, the drawing us away from God that is Satan's ultimate goal. Satan knows the end that is coming for him described in Revelation 20. He knows his time gets shorter every day. And guess what? He doesn't want to go down alone. He wants to take as many of us with him as he possibly can.

So now what? What do we do once we realize Satan and demons are real spiritual beings that are out to destroy us?

Stay tuned for:
Part 2: Put on Your Armor

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