Christ, Christians and
A survey taken by the Barna Group revealed some interesting attitudes concerning American Christians and their beliefs in relation to Satan and dark spiritual influence in general. From this survey of 1,871 self-described Christians it was found that 59% said that they believe Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” While a literal belief in Satan may be on the decline, the survey revealed the belief that a person can be under the influence of dark spiritual forces in general, such as demons or evil spirits is still strong at 64%.
After all it is hard to understand how one might consider themselves a Christian and not have a belief in such influences, and yet there are a growing number of Christian denominations that are softening belief in the preternatural. There is a trend toward explaining away Biblical references to dark spiritual influence as nothing more than primitive metaphors for bad habits, mental illness and disease. In this age where science and technology is more and more becoming the religion of choice, one might wonder how long it will be until God Himself is reduced to nothing more than an imaginative representation of the desire to believe in something bigger than ourselves.
All of this said, as a Christian it would only make logical sense to focus on the teachings and example of Jesus and try to emulate those things, rather than trying to dismiss or change them to fit our own personal views and beliefs. If we look at The New Testament from a literal perspective, we find that Jesus provides us with some interesting and helpful teachings concerning spirit oppression.
Sin and Disease
The book of Luke chapter 13 recounts the story of "a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself." Jesus encountered this woman in a Jewish synagogue on the Sabbath day. After he had laid his hands upon her and she was healed, the ruler of the synagogue criticized Him for healing on the holy day. In response to this Jesus asked the following question:
And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?
In the story this lady's severe arthritic-like condition was referred to as "the spirit of infirmity" insinuating that a spiritual presence was responsible for it. While addressing the synagogue's leader, Jesus refers to her ailment as the result of being literally bound by Satan himself.
On another occasion, the book of John chapter five tells of a natural spring in the city of Jerusalem that created a pool of water that was known as Bethesda. It was widely thought that this pool contained healing powers. Many believed that when the waters in the pool moved, it was a sign that angels had come to heal the sick. There by the side of this pool laid a man who had an infirmity for 38 years and this issue had interfered with his ability to walk. We are told that Jesus eventually came upon this man and, without the assistance of the waters, healed him. Jesus instructed the man to take up his bed and walk. The man eventually followed His instructions and having been made whole, walked away. During a later encounter with this same man in the temple, Jesus reveals a fascinating concept concerning the affects of spirit oppression. In verse 14 it records that he told the man the following:
Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
It is clear that Jesus was trying to teach this man that his original disability came into his life as a result of his behaviors or sin, and that if he continued to sin, another more serious disease or ailment might be contracted. By way of these experiences, Jesus taught that our sins or rather our poor behaviors and attitudes can lead to physical dysfunction and illness. We are taught that some physical issues can be caused by destructive spiritual presences and that these spirits can use such problems to literally take us and our lives captive and under their control. This serves to confirm my own experience as I have found within my work many instances of dark oppressing spirits claiming to manipulate and worsen physical ailments, while using them to their advantage. This should cause us to wonder what physical issues we are inviting into our lives and our futures as a result of our participation with these destructive spirits. As Christians perhaps we should begin to look at disease, at least in part, as a work of the devil and not simply a physical phenomenon of which we are all randomly victims; and perhaps this is necessary if we wish to tap into God's healing blessings in overcoming it.
Earlier we discussed the fact that these spirits can literally speak through us if we are under the influence of negative emotions such as anger, fear, jealousy, etc. They can also make their presence known in word and deed when we are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This process is clearly demonstrated in the 16th chapter of the book of Matthew. As Jesus prophesied to His disciples concerning His coming crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, He had a fascinating interaction with the apostle Peter:
21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
I remember in my childhood feeling troubled after reading this passage. I wondered why Jesus had just referred to Peter as "Satan". It seemed a little harsh to me. It was truly a mystery. As I grew older and began doing this work, the meaning of these verses became crystal clear. It appears that as Jesus shared the details of these coming events, Peter became greatly and understandably fearful and angry. It was through these dark emotions that Satan was able to take control and speak through Peter if only for a few moments. Jesus was never one to mince words. He very directly let Satan know that he was aware of his presence and his intentions. Now think about this for a minute. Have you ever been in an argument with a friend or family member and perhaps said something in the heat of the moment that you later regretted? Maybe you even felt that it was totally out of character for you to say such a thing. In this instance and many other emotional circumstances, you may just have received some unwanted assistance in your communications with others. And finally, since the apostle Peter, a preeminent follower and disciple of Jesus, and one of the first Christians was not immune to this phenomenon, are we as modern day Christians free from it's influence? Most likely not.
As I mentioned earlier, growing up I was taught that Satan had the power to approach me and tempt me. I recall that I was periodically told this from a young age and that there didn't seem to be an age limit within the concept. I remember hearing, from our Christian perspective, that the age of accountability was around 8 years old. This meant that a person was not accountable or did not have responsibility for their actions until they were old enough to begin to have a basic level of understanding. So there was an age of accountability but there didn't appear to be an age of accessibility. Many Christians, if they believe in the devil, think that children are untouchable where the preternatural is concerned.
Again Jesus gives us some insight into this concept. Now the following example is a bit extreme and the great majority of children will never face such a level of spirit oppression, but it does help to make this point, again from a Christian perspective.
In the 9th chapter of the book of Mark, we learn of a man who approached Jesus in the hope that he might deliver his son from a great spiritual burden:
17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;
21 And he [Jesus] asked his father, How long is it ago since this [the spirit] came unto him? And he said, of a child.
25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.
From this passage we see that even children are not perfectly immune from spirit oppression. Jesus confirmed that he believed it to be a spirit. He asked the father when it had come unto his son. The father answered that a spirit had afflicted him in childhood and there is no indication that Jesus disagreed with the father’s perspective. He then further confirms the father’s diagnosis of the situation by removing the “deaf and dumb spirit” from the boy.
While most children are likely to only be affected in the areas of negative promptings and small temptations, this experience illustrates that no one is perfectly immune from this process. It is a parent's responsibility to live in a fashion that will place them in a position to help protect and guide their children through such spiritual challenges.
The truth is that almost a third of Jesus' miraculous healings were as a result of indentifying and removing oppressing spirits. If you take the time to study the new testament, especially the first four gospels, you will find that Satan and his minions of oppressing spirits play a major role. So if you are a Christian or come from that background, why wouldn't you believe that he is still hard at work today?
The Next Step: The Human Spirit Factor
Next we reveal a little known spiritual condition that we refer to here as "The Human Spirit Factor" The Bible teaches of a spirit prison. Learn about this earthbound state of bondage awaiting many after death.
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The Bible teaches of a spirit prison. Learn about this earthbound state of bondage awaiting many after death.
Spirit Oppression: 101
To defeat your enemy, you must first know your enemy. Your formal education on the works of the Devil continues here.