On a power trip?

Kathy (not her real name) struggled with life. She had bouts of severe anxiety, sometimes flew into blind rages, and was occasionally suicidal. She was in therapy for years.  Her psychiatrist reached out to me and asked if I would counsel with her.  “I have gone about as far as I can go,” he told me. “I believe that there are spiritual issues in her life that I cannot change.”  After meeting with her a couple of times, I felt strongly that in addition to her real emotional problems that somehow she had come under the influence of demonic spirits.

Are you shocked? Does that seem the stuff of movies or the medieval age?  Over the next year, prayerful engagement with the evil influences in her life brought a remarkable change to Kathy’s life.

“Spiritual warfare” is often sensationalized, even in the Church. My generation gained strange ideas about ‘demons’ from by a movie called ‘The Exorcist’ that had a kernel of truth wrapped in layers of Hollywood dramatic fiction!  In many churches, other than the creed there is almost no recognition of the demonic, the dark influence of the Devil.  In a few, there is a silly, over-wrought insistence that every problem, pain, and personality issue requires ‘deliverance’ from demons.  The truth is more balanced. For the Christian there need not be an obsession with demons, given that in Christ we are secure, but should we ignore their reality we can end up fighting the wrong enemy with the wrong strategies.

Paul approached the Corinthians with correction for their spiritual errors reminding them of the power of the Gospel of Christ. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, NIV)

When a nation goes to war, the only way to win is to overpower the enemy. Half measures will not accomplish the goal of defeat. “Limited warfare” usually prolongs the conflict. Massive force is gathered and sent to gain victory, bringing death and destruction on a terrible scale.

Christians overcome evil with a powerful weapon called ‘love.’  We eliminate the darkness by shining the Light. Fear is erased by the assurance of the Father.  Deception is exposed by the Truth. Whenever the Church attempts to use political might, or coercive threats, or such things – the results may look good in the short term, but in the end there is only superficial compliance without deep heart transformation.

There are moments when demonic forces must be met with the authority of Christ. Such encounters are for those who are mature in faith, who have great spiritual discernment, and who are bold. On those occasions when a person is severely demonized (yes, it does happen) a solid foundation of Christ and His resurrection power must be laid down and in the proper time the person can be delivered from their captivity.  We all are delivered in some measure by the Gospel! “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8-10, NIV)

We need not go on a power trip, loving our authority in Christ Jesus, shouting and confronting evil just because we can. Rather, we live holy lives, serving the least and the lost, careful to live the Truth we preach – and in this we, like generations of Christians before us, change our world.

Live in this confidence today. The word from the Word is one we need to confess and know. It our foundation for a life full of faith. “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39, NLT)   Can I get an ‘amen’?



A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
(listen to this great song of faith)

A mighty fortress is our God
A bulwark never failing
Our helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe
His craft and power are great
And armed with cruel hate
On earth is not his equal

Did we in our own strength confide
Our striving would be losing
Were not the right man on our side
The man of God’s own choosing
Dost ask who that may be
Christ Jesus it is He
The Lord of Hosts, His name
From age to age the same
And He must win the battle

And though this world
With devils filled
Should threaten to undo us
We will not fear
For God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us
The prince of darkness grim
We tremble not for him
His rage we can endure
For lo his doom is sure
One little word shall fell him

That word above all earthly pow’rs
No thanks to them abideth
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth
Let goods and kindred go
This mortal life also
The body they may kill
God’s truth abideth still
His kingdom is forever

Martin Luther © Words: Public Domain

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