DemonsI have no idea what made me think about demons this weekend.
Probably the most interesting thing about demons is that when Christ confronts them, they recognize his deity, authority, and office.
When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way. And they cried out, saying, "What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?" (Matthew 8:27-29, NASB)
Which is also intriguing for the “before the time” phrase.
Demons know about Christ and they believe in him, in a sense. In the book of James we read:
You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. (James 2:19, NASB)
This verse is often used to combat easy believism—by arguing that “simply believing” is not enough, you need a saving faith that leads to good works because, after all, even the demons believe.
I agree with the conclusion, but I am not sure the argument holds together logically. That is, that the demons believe but that is not enough to get them into Heaven-- and so if you “just” believe, it is also not sufficient for you. I don’t think the demons have a chance in hell to get to Heaven, saving faith or not. It is not the fact that the demons “only” believe that keeps them hell bound, it is because God has not provided a plan for the salvation of fallen angels, just fallen man.
One question that always comes up is whether Christians can be possessed. The Bible doesn’t say anything explicit about this. However in this case it is because the answer is so obvious. The Holy Spirit indwells Christians—there is no possibility of cohabitation with a demon. Christians cannot be possessed.
Many believe that demonic activity has subsided in the modern age. This can be tied to one’s millennial view. Specifically if you happen to think, as some do, that at this moment Satan is (at least in some sense) bound as described in Revelation
And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; (Rev 20:2, NASB)
then that would explain the present day lull in demonic possession.
I happen to think demonic activity still exists, but that Satan uses it where it is most effective, which is in non-western cultures. I talked with one of the evangelical missionaries used by God to bring the Gospel to my wife when she was a younger woman in Taiwan. He told me how he had performed exorcisms in Taiwan. I myself have been to Taiwan and have encountered spiritists and fortune-tellers and I can tell you that I believe something super natural and evil was present. Taiwan has a culture that is fertile for such things, so I think that Satan takes advantage of it.
It is often said that in the west, we would send a demon-possessed person to a psychiatrist, perhaps mitigating the religious aspects and denying the demon the desired effect. This too is offered as a partial explanation as to why we seemingly see so little of this kind of activity. That may indeed be true, but I also think that Satan uses the things of the west to deceive the people of the west. Pornography, sensuality, abortion, materialism, relativism—Satan has many ways to attack westerners.
The Depravity of ChildrenWe were listening to a tape of a sermon the other night. At some point the man speaking (a missionary, but not the one I spoke of earlier) talked about depravity. He said he often meets people who object to being characterized as depraved. His strategy in responding was one I have heard many times: He would ask that person what would it be like to have a movie made of all their thoughts, throughout their life, and to have that movie displayed publicly.
I have found this little thought experiment to be more effective with believers than in convincing someone, who didn’t want to be convinced, that they were sinners. I know that unless I really work on my own thoughts I wouldn’t even want some of the things I think about during Sunday’s sermon to be exposed.
This man went on to give an example (of our innate depravity) I hadn’t heard before. He made reference to all the toddlers in the church, especially the little girls--so beautiful with ribbons in their hair, sitting nicely with mom and dad. Surely there is no depravity there. He told a story (probably apocryphal) of a father, sitting at church, with his beautiful, innocent 18-month old daughter on his lap. She was fascinated by his watch and began to grab at it and twisting the flex band. He told her to stop, gently moving her little hand away. She persisted, and he became more forceful. Still she persisted and now there is a great deal of squirming and utter determination on the part of the child. Finally the father actually smacked her hand. What the father saw in the daughter’s eyes, in the instant before she started crying, made him realize this: If this beautiful little girl, my beloved daughter, suddenly had the strength of a grown man, she would beat me to the ground and rip this watch off my wrist and leave me for dead without an ounce of remorse.
I present that to you without further comment.
No Free BiblesI heard this same missionary describe how he distributes Bibles in the field. He doesn’t give them away. Anyone who wants a Bible has to pay something for it—usually it is in the form of bartering. It might be something like a chicken, or maybe even just a single egg, depending on the resources of the individual—but it must be of nontrivial value for that person. Whatever he gets in payment for the Bible is used elsewhere to help other needy people. He said he used to give away free Bibles but found that whatever supply he had would be quickly exhausted. Basically, in many parts of the world if you give anything away for free people will line up to get it. Many of the free Bibles ended up as “conversation pieces” in the homes of people who had no intention of reading it. Requiring it to be purchased is an effective filtering technique.
EconomicsAll this talk of economics going on here and here and here reminds me that in my late teens and early twenties, before I was saved, I was effectively a member of a economics/philosophy cult: the Ayn Rand-sians. I viewed her as a guru with all the simple answers to all questions economic. And she had great admiration for physicists.
I read virtually all of her (exceedingly pedantic) writings. To this day I have probably read more words written by Ayn Rand than any other writer.
By the way, in case you don’t know, Ayn rhymes with pine. It is not pronounced like Ann. We past and present acolytes know these things.
These are some of the things I have since learned about Ayn Rand:
- She was an adulteress who openly cuckolded her doting husband.
- She was not just an atheist, she hated religion—a religio-phobe.
- For one who worshiped individualism, it is puzzling she actively encouraged the incongruity of an Ayn Rand cult (alive and well today ). To be consistent, she should have told her followers to get a life.
What has been said of others applies to Ayn Rand: She was a self-made woman in love with her creator.