Question #1: You don't strike me as the type of individual who sees a demon around every corner or the kind that claims stuffed animals can actually be possessed (I have actually read this several times on the net.) I can see your point, there is only so much knowledge we need to have about Satan's kingdom and his demons, anything beyond a certain point is probably dangerous, especially to people like myself who have been oppressed in the past. God Bless,
Response #1: I do believe that knowledge about the influence of the devil and his minions on us is of critical importance for all Christians. My only point here is that while many want to confine this influence to possession and the like, the real danger, the really significant way in which Satan is prowling around like a lion ready to devour those who are not walking in Christ as they should, is in his influence on our thinking. He has a way, both through the influence of small events, but even more particularly through the power of suggestion, of delivering a very effective "one – two punch". The devil is very good at dangling bait out there for us to react to, knowing well our specific areas of weakness (and, after all, most human beings are vulnerable in all of the main areas of temptation in some way or other: inordinate desire for some unauthorized or sinful form of sex, money, possessions, ego-glory, power, variations and combinations thereof); he is also very good at getting us to react in negative sin to our circumstances (fear, anger, frustration, laziness, hatred, resentment, jealousy, etc., etc.); and, like a very good boxer, he has a way of putting these punches together in various "combinations" so as to keep us off balance. Thankfully, he can only do what God lets him do, and God will never let him do more than we can handle – even though at times we may think we have been stretched to the breaking point (1Cor.10:13). It is somewhat ironic that many Christians are willing to see possession everywhere, even while they fail to see how they are letting themselves be emotionally manipulated by the evil one in many very mundane and predictable ways.
In the One who is ever watching over us and guarding all of our ways, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Question #2: A brother in Christ had forwarded me a weird response on fallen angels that doesn't seem to make sense. Would you please have a look
Response #2: This is "weird" indeed! I agree with the very first bit that the Nephilim are offspring of fallen angels. However, the detailed "information" which follows about demons, their activity, and their methodology, I cannot endorse. There is much we do not know about demons and how they operate – because it is not in the Bible for us to know it. I have put everything I could ever find on this subject into the last section of part 4 of the Satanic Rebellion series: Satan's tactical methodology (which includes what the Bible does say about demon possession et al.; see the link). Most of what this person says he "knows" seems to come from "personal experience". To which I would say 1) unless personal experience agrees with what scripture has to say, it is valueless in building doctrine, and 2) when it comes to demons, the less personal experience, the better.
I think one conclusion we can draw from the way scripture approaches the subject is that we are definitely not supposed to be paralyzed by the thought of demons attacking us in all sorts of fearful ways. In fact, that is almost certainly why scripture keeps us somewhat in the dark on the subject in my view. As believers in Jesus Christ whose bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, we cannot be "possessed" by demons. Therefore it is pointless for us to worry about what opposition we face may be demonic and what may be from more mundane sources. Job's sufferings were caused by demons to a very great degree (though notice he was never "possessed"), yet it is seems clear from the narrative of Job that he had no reason to know that this was the case. So it is pointless for believers to obsess about demons, and on the other hand it is spiritually very dangerous to develop a morbid curiosity about them: it can't do us any good, but it can potentially do us a good deal of harm. I'm not in a position to know for certain, but since scripture does not supply most of the information this fellow has on the subject, much of it is bound to be incorrect (and therefore dangerous) – if not all of it.
In Jesus who lives in us and we in Him.
Question #3: What do you think about the evidence out there for paranormal activities. I realize that it is true that there can be footsteps and other apparitions and that it is demonic activity. I was just trying to figure out the science behind the phenomenon that you can take a photo of a plain scene and then find one of these "images" upon development of the film. Some slides and their explanations do seem genuine so I wonder how spirit beings can be captured on film.
Response #3: I'm not sure what to tell you about this one. I don't believe in ghosts, spirits, wraiths, zombies, vampires, etc., etc. It is true that there are fallen angels (aka demons) who oppose believers. I have seen no evidence from scripture that leads me to believe they are allowed to be visible in any form or way whatsoever in this dispensation of the grace of God. Photographic trickery is way beyond my area of expertise – I only know not to take photographs seriously, as they can be made to show anything (like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, the Yeti, men from Mars, etc.).
Question #4: Hi Dr. Luginbill, I was talking to my friend the other day who mentioned that she was going to a deliverance retreat to have some old demons cast out. I am saddened by this because my friend is an elderly woman with a very limited income and she is going to pay $700 dollars for a weekend of demon busting. I know that she is a sister in Christ, but says she still struggles with religiosity – something she said was developed while a practicing Catholic. I told her that I believed Satan and his demons can oppress believers, but I have found not anything in Scripture to support that a (true) Christian can be demonized via possession. Have you ever heard of a "doctrine of demons" and where did this doctrine come from?
Response #4: I quite agree with your assessment. In my reading of scripture, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor.3:16; 6:19; cf. 2Cor.6:16), and it seems inconceivable that the Spirit would allow demon entrance and cohabitation. Further, there aren't any scriptural examples of actual demon possession of believers, and everything else I find in scripture seems to refute that notion (see the links: "Demon Possession", and "Acts 16:16"). That is not to say that believers cannot be harassed by demons; they certainly can be (see the link: Demon Attack). However, as far as I know, there is nothing in scripture to suggest that there is anything we can do about this besides trusting God and committing such things to Him in prayer. Under just such a situation, Paul besought the Lord three times to take away a particularly virulent demon attack (not possession – Paul's will and self-control were never even minutely affected), but he received the response "My grace is sufficient for thee" (2Cor.12:7-10). This tells me that 1) God is well aware of everything we are going through (of course! but we tend to forget this under pressure); 2) prayer is the appropriate venue for dealing with such issues (rather than some sort of believer "exorcism" – if anyone could have exorcized a demon, it was an apostle: cf. Acts 16:16-18); 3) God will handle the issue in His own perfect way and time. Therefore, for all practical purposes, we can't see or know whether some illness or trouble we are having is demon induced or not, so that we might as well not even worry about it. Whatever problems or needs we have, we should follow the same procedure every time of trusting God, praying to Him in faith for relief, and waiting faithfully for His deliverance at His perfect time and in His perfect way. On the other hand, I know of no scripture which would authorize anyone who is not an apostle (and there were only 12) to perform an "exorcism" (please see the link: "Exorcism"). No one outside of our Lord and His apostles is ever recorded to have thrown out a demon and there is no recorded spiritual gift of "exorcism". Therefore it seems to me that even if a person believes (wrongly, in my view) that believers can be possessed, there would still be no present method for ejecting them outside of prayer. As to the "doctrine of demons", that is a reference to 1st Timothy 4:1 where Paul relates the Spirit's teaching of a very disturbing end times trend to apostasy. This is really not at all about demon possession but really about demon influence (see the link: "Demon Influence"), and will take place during the Tribulation (see the link: "The Great Apostasy").
I am very sorry about your friend. It may seem that our only weapons here of praying for her and doing what you are doing, namely, trying in a good hearted and compassionate way to steer her away from trouble, are paltry in the face of such negative influence, but never underestimate the power of prayer or of the Word of God ministered by a loving heart. It is sad that so many good believers are duped by so many false operations. For me, it only goes to show that the Word of God is the only true bulwark against the infiltration of the devil. Whatever Satan has accomplished by physical attack in human history, he has done far, far greater damage by his evil influence, by substituting lies for the truth. That has been the story since the temptation of Eve and Adam, and will continue to be so until the coming of the Kingdom.
In the one who is the only truth, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Question #5: Can there be other sources of confusion? This person told me that Satan is the only source and author of our confusion and that all the evil we have today in our world since time began came from him.
Response #5: Well, from a certain point of view it is difficult to separate the two, but they are distinct. Jesus does say that Satan is the father of lying (Jn.8:44), and it is also true that Adam and Eve would doubtless not have fallen into sin without the devil's interference. However, it is hard to make the argument that the devil, who is a creature and neither omniscient nor omnipresent, is responsible for all sin and evil, for everything everyone has every done against God and His truth. As any history book will show, human beings are quite capable of creating their own confusion, trouble, sin and evil apart from the devil, and in the majority of instances these things come to be purely from mankind's own sinful motivations (we all possess a sin nature, after all). Not that the devil is uninvolved or disinterested. He attempts to manipulate human history on the large scale and the small for his own nefarious purposes. I think the problem here may be in the way we are relating the two words, sin and evil. When we say "evil" in English, we have a specific concept in mind. In the Old Testament, however, the word for both "bad" and "evil" is one and the same (ra') – anything bad is evil; anything evil is bad. Sin, on the other hand, is a very distinct category of human behavior (please see the link: in BB 3B: "The distinction between sin and evil"). So while it is certainly true that Satan is the origin of rebellion against God in the universe, the father of lies, and the originator of "evil strategic thinking", to make him responsible for everything is to let human beings "off the hook" for the sin and evil they commit out of their own free will (and the Bible is ample proof that of this there is a monumental amount). During the Millennium, the world will be a place of perfect peace ruled by the perfect King without the devil around to stir things up, but there will still be a need for divine law and order:
No longer will there be there any infant that perishes in his youth, nor any old man who fails to live out his days in full. For a man will be accounted but a youth, should he die at a hundred (i.e., from divine capital punishment), even the sinner a hundred year old who suffers this curse. Isaiah 65:20
After Satan is released at the Millennium's end (Rev.20:7-10), it will take him no time at all to organize a massive rebellion against the direct rule of the perfect Ruler in perfect conditions (cf. Ps.2), and he will apparently do so without his legions of fallen angels. This would be absolutely impossible if there were not many evil hearts ready and able to respond to the devil's evil lead.
Question #6: I heard a sermon once where the preacher had said that this verse literally translates as "doctrines that are taught by devils":
1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
I don't understand how demons can teach false doctrines if they're not human? How is this possible and is that what the passage implies?
Response #6: Here is how I translate the verse:
The Spirit explicitly says that in the end times (i.e.,
during the Tribulation) certain men will rebel (lit.,
"apostatize") from the faith, giving their allegiance [instead]
to deceitful spirits and demonic doctrines.
1st Timothy 4:1
It's not that demons are visibly present and teaching overtly. Rather, the devil has a whole variety of ways to influence human beings, human society, and human thoughts (please see the link in SR 4: "Satan's World System: Tactical Methodology"). Those who apostatize from the faith necessarily become empty vessels for soaking in of demonic thoughts and doctrines. These people are the ones who listen to "deceitful spirits" and "demonic doctrines". While this may entail direct "communion" with demons, in most cases it will mean giving their allegiance to other human beings who have bought into Satan's lies, whether or not they are personally possessed.
We see a parallel usage in 1st John 4:1: "Dear friends, 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." In this verse, the "spirits", held up in comparison to the prophets, are clearly the human beings who have given themselves over to satanic influence of one type or another so that they believe and teach lies rather than the truth. It is in this sense that we should understand 1Tim.4:1 as well. For it seems that part of the "ground rules" under which the devil is constrained by God to operate on the earth forbid him and his minions making themselves manifest in a visible way. Those who violated this stricture in the Genesis 6 attempt to destroy the true human race were consigned to the Abyss (see the link in SR 5, "Satan's antediluvian attack on the purity of the human line (the Nephilim)"), something that terrifies the demons (cf. Lk.8:31). Despite his considerable abilities to seduce, the devil apparently has had to acquiesce for the most part on this point on account of his inability to persuade his followers to risk this severe punishment. It is my contention that in the face of the threat of confinement in the Abyss, Satan assured those willing to participate in the Genesis 6 conspiracy that if they would only do so, "victory would be just around the corner" and they would thus be released almost immediately. After God so effectively thwarted this attempt on the devil's part to force Him to relent in the judgment that has been passed against Satan and his followers, the demons still at large seem far less willing to violate God's ground rules so as to risk such a fate.
It is true, however, that during the Tribulation the devil will pull out all the stops and make use of all of his last reserves (including sacrificing those reckless few demons still at liberty who would be willing to risk an immediate end to their freedom of action). So we can't really rule anything out. However, the biblical picture of the Tribulation given in Revelation and elsewhere (collected in the Coming Tribulation series), seems to indicate that even during the Tribulation what we will primarily have is satanic influence being channeled through demon possessed and demon influenced people rather than coming directly from demons themselves (cf. antichrist himself as the prime purveyor of the devil's doctrines during this period). The fifth and sixth trumpet judgments constitute a major exception to this, of course (see the links: "The Fifth Trumpet Judgment" and "The Sixth Trumpet Judgment"), but believers will be exempted from demon depredation in both of these cases.
In our Lord Jesus who is our strong Rock of defense.
Question #7: Could you please explain Matthew 11:12 for me?
Response #7: Here's my translation:
Since the days of John the baptist until this present time, the Kingdom of God has been under violent attack, and violent men are laying hands upon it.
Matthew 11:12 is addressing the increased opposition to Jesus and His ministry that was in the process of developing with John in prison and would soon intensify exponentially following the execution of John not many days hence. Thus here we find Jesus saying essentially the same thing as Paul when he refers to "such opposition by sinners against Himself (i.e., our Lord Jesus)" (Hebrews 12:3). So this verse is addressing the intensified satanic opposition that would befall our Lord during the final year of His ministry, culminating in His trials and suffering which preceded the cross. As I point out in SR 5 (fn.71), even while in prison, John's celebrity acted to deflect some of the "attention" that otherwise would have come Jesus' way, an intensification which could not continue very long before the earthly and demonic powers that be demanded our Lord's execution:
John himself, it is true, was imprisoned shortly after Jesus' baptism (Matt.4:12), but his disciples continued to operate under his authority (Matt.9:14; 11:7; Mk.2:18; Lk.5:33; 7:18; cf. Jn.4:1-2) so that the ministry of John would still serve to deflect the oppressive and negative scrutiny of the Jewish ruling class that would later come to rest so heavily upon Christ during His final year of ministry.
This statement by our Lord in Matthew chapter 11 is given in the context of praising and explaining John and his ministry as the last of the prophets, the forerunner of our Lord, the herald of the Messiah, and the counterpart of Elijah (who, along with Moses, will conduct a similar ministry during the Tribulation). It serves to explain and forewarn Jesus' disciples of the difficult times ahead, and by application is an explanation for us as well: after John, the end of the Old Testament prophetic regime, Jesus becomes the focus of the devil's opposition, and, now that our Lord is seated at the Father's right hand awaiting the time when His enemies "shall be made the footstool" of His feet, we, His Body the Church, are the target of an ever increasing and intensifying systematic assault from the evil one and his demonic forces. For the age of the Church begins the count-down to the end, and it is upon us that the "end of the ages has come". All the more reason to take advantage of every opportunity to grow in Christ before the final days are upon us.
In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.