The Demonic Realm
The next invisible barrier we want to discuss is the demonic realm. There seems to be two extremes in this area. There are those who give too much credit and influence to demons. Then there are those who discount the demonic realm completely.
If you are older, like me, you may remember a comedian named Flip Wilson. He had a character named Geraldine. One of the constant lines that came out of Geraldine's mouth on a regular basis was, "The Devil made me do it."
She would describe walking by a store window and seeing a purse. She would tell herself, "No I don't need that purse." Then she would describe being drawn into the store and coming out with purse, because "The Devil made me do it."
There are some believers that blame every problem in their lives on the Devil. They like to point the finger at the devil because it relieves them of any personal responsibility. I want to say this a clearly as possible, the devil cannot make you do anything against your will.
When it comes down to it you will never be able to stand before the Lord and say, "The Devil made me do it." No one MAKES you do anything. Now I am not talking about a situation where someone points a gun at you head and tells you to do something you would not normally do. I am talking about you making a choice to respond in daily life.
Then there are those who are either totally unaware of the demonic realm or reject it as superstitious mumbo jumbo of less enlightened times. There is always a rational, scientific reason for what is going on in a person's life.
If there is something going on in someone's life, it must have a psychological reason behind it. There is no way that an unseen spirit could influence person in the Twenty-First Century.
The problem with both of these views is they do not line up with the Bible. If you want to live life as God intends you to live, you must allow the word of God to shape your thoughts. So let's look at what the Bible has to say about this important topic.
Jesus Believed in Demons
One important thing to consider is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, believed in demons. Much of His ministry to people centered around commanding demons to get out of the lives of people. Jesus said to those who were opposed to Him, "If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Matthew 12:28).
Luke tells the story of a woman who had a sickness that was caused by a spirit. She was doubled over by this spirit for eighteen years. Jesus told the woman she was freed from this sickness. He laid His hands on her and she was healed.
When the synagogue leader accused Jesus of healing her on the Sabbath. Jesus responded by saying, "And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not be released from this bond on the Sabbath day?
There is no doubt that Jesus acknowledged and actively resisted demonic beings. Matthew summarizes the ministry of Jesus like this. He said, "When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill" (Matthew 8:16).
Paul Explains the Demonic Battle
The Apostle Paul gives us great insight into the demonic realm. He wanted the people in Ephesus to understand that they were fighting a battle against demonic forces. He describes the enemy forces, his plans, and God's solution to the battle. He wrote:
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggles are not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, Against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything stand firm. (Ephesians 6:11-13)
Satan has an army
There are several points to consider from the passage above. The first is that Paul recognized an invisible demonic army that we are fighting against. Whether we know it or not. Whether we believe it or not. There are levels of demonic forces that are at work in our world.
The battle is not against people, but the demonic forces behind the people. These forces seek to influence us at a variety of levels: as individuals, families, cities, states, and nations. They seek to work through governments, ideologies, philosophies, false religions, and outright occult activities.
Satan has a plan
The devil's forces are opposed to everything that God desires a believer to experience. In the verses above Paul tells us to stand against the schemes (wiles, tactics, strategies) of the enemy. In. 1 Corinthians 2:11, Paul tells his readers that they are not ignorant of the devil's devices.
These verses inform us that Satan has a plan to bring about your downfall. There is an invisible army directed by Satan that is seeking your destruction. They are organized. They have strategies to use. They have tactics to employ.
The great thing about it is that we know the plans and strategies of the enemy. Paul says we are not ignorant. We know the ways and the tactics that the enemy uses to bring about the downfall of believers.
That is why it is so important to know the New Testament. These letters were written to help you understand the ways of God and the ways the enemy uses to influence your life.
I am saying this to help you see that the enemy has plans for you, and they are not plans for your welfare. The Apostle Peter warns, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
We know that the enemy has a plan to destroy your life. The question is, do you have a plan to stand firm against all of his tactics?
The wonderful thing is that God has made available to us everything that we need to stand up against the ploys of the devil. We are not helpless and at the mercy of the devil.
God has supplied us the full armor of God so that we can effectively resist the devil. Next week we will start a five-week series looking at the strategies the enemy uses to defeat us and the armor that God gives us to overcome each tactic of the devil.
Thank God. He has given us the victory. Through Him we are more than conquerors.
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