Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Systematic Theology, chapter 20

Satan and Demons.

They were angels, who sinned against God, and who now continually work evil in the world.

They are separated from God and in "eternal chains." (Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:4).

Satan is the head of the demons, which means adversary in Hebrew.

Satan is the first one to sin historically.

Demons oppose and try to destroy every work of God.  They use lies, deception, murder, etc to try to cause people to turn away from God and destroy themselves.

Demons are limited in power, and can be successfully resisted by Christians through the authority Christ gives them.  They do not know the future, only God knows the future, and they cannot read our thoughts.

In the Old Testament, the false gods that people worshipped were demons, "they sacrificed to demons which were no gods." Deut 32.

Just as pagan worship of demonic idols leads to destructive practices such as sacrificing children, inflicting bodily harm, cult prostitution, so will worship of demons regularly lead towards immoral and self destructive practices.

Jesus was doing something new in history by casting out demons with authority, and this is a mark in history to bring in the reign of the kingdom of God in power.  Jesus speaks of "binding the strong man,"  Matt 12, and indeed Jesus triumphs over Satan.

There will be a final judgement, where Satan and his angels are decisively defeated and thrown into the lake of fire.

Are Demons active in the world today?   Modern society has a hard time admitting to something they cannot see or touch.
"However, if Scripture gives us a true account of the world as it really is, then we must take seriously its portrayal of intense demonic involvement in human society."
How do we recognize demonic activity today?

Demonic influences are far reaching around us, and yet the power of God and the gospel is what we are often encouraged to go to in the New Testament.

1 John 3:8 says, He who commits sin is of the devil....and yet the context is comparing who are children of God, those who do right, love his brother, etc.

Satan is the originator or father of lies, murder, deception, false teaching and general sin.  Not all sin is cause by Satan or demons, but it factors into almost all destructive activity that opposes the work of God in the world today.

The responsibility is ours as Christians to give no opportunity to the devil (Eph 4:26),  and also in 1 John 5:18 it says,  He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.  Demons can indeed influence us in our sinful areas, and we need to seek God's help.

No Christian can be so influenced by a demon (some say demon possessed) to the point that they dont have any power to chose to do right and obey God.   Romans 6:14 says, Sin shall have no dominion over us since we have been raised with Christ.

The question of how much a demon can influence a Christian is similar to the question, how much can a genuine Christian let his life be dominated by sin and still be a born again Christian? Yes, both sin and demonic attacks can happen to true Christians.

How do we recognize it?  Satanic  activity always tends toward the ultimate destruction  of parts of God's creation and especially of human beings who are made in the image of God.  Demonic influence will lead to blatantly false doctrinal statements, such as exclaiming "Jesus be cursed."

The Bible mentions a spiritual gift to be able to discern between spirits.  Sometimes Christians can sense both other Christians and distinct evil before discussing what it is.

Jesus gives all believers authority to rebuke demons and command them to leave.
Many examples are given of believers casting out demons in Jesus name.
Eph 6 says, Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

The work of Christ on the cross is the ultimate basis for our authority over demons.  Because of Christ's death on the cross, our sins are completely forgiven, and Satan has no rightful authority over us.  We are also members in God's family, and when Satan picks on one of us, he picks on God our father!

1 John 4:4, You are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Why should Christians get involved at all?  Can't God just solve it if we pray to him?  (in the same thought line, why do we need to speak to people in evangelism and not just pray for them from a distance?)  The answer is that God has given us a very active role in carrying out his plans.

Paul speaks about not just wrestling with flesh and blood but also against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph 6).

When dealing with evil spirits, we shoudl remember that we who have the Holy Spirit have a spirit of gentleness and peace (1 Cor 14:33). If we pray for a person and command an evil spirit to leave, often the person can express a feeling of relief, freedom, joy, and peace.  The power to cast out demons comes not from our own strength or power of our own voice, but from the Holy Spirit.

A non-Christian who has had an evil spirit removed should be encouraged to come to Christ as soon as possible, so there is no foothold for the devil to return.

In summary, demons are around, and God is triumphant over all of them and protects his children.  He has given us weapons and power to stand fast in Christ Jesus.

Next week, "The creation of man."

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