KNOW THE FOE
BY PASTOR GLENN PEASE
A young Christian woman, after only 8 months of marriage came to a counselor complaining that she was as frigid as a ice burg. She had promised herself as a teenager that she would be a virgin on her wedding day. But then she fell madly in love, and after he gave her the ring, and the wedding day was set, she let down her guard, and the result was, she was not a virgin in her wedding gown. This broken promise so plagued her that she blamed her husband for it, and developed a hostility toward him that led to depression and to her becoming frigid.
This story could have very well ended in years of unhappiness and then divorce, for here was a situation where Satan had a foot in the door of her life. Fortunately she got help, and was led to seek God's forgiveness for her broken promise. Her depression lifted, and she was able to develop a warm and loving relationship to her husband.
But had she not gone the way that Christ opened up by His atoning death, she could have become a demonized Christian, who would have ruined her marriage and become a bitter hostile person the rest of her life. She would not have been lost, but she would have been a prisoner of war. She would have been in demonic bondage as territory captured by the enemy, and thus, a breeding ground for the weeds of the wicked one, rather than for the fruit of the Spirit.
Can a Christian become a weed patch rather than a garden of God? This is the question we were answering last week. The answer this week is the same. It is yes, a Christian can be demonized. How can this be? It is really quite simple if you believe in the reality of the warfare between light and darkness, good and evil, Christ and Satan. Satan operates on the principle-take every inch the Christian leaves open for grabs. If we are ignorant of the enemy and his strategy, we can leave ourselves wide open for him to invade our lives. The superficial idea that Christians cannot lose in the battle of Satan is the cause of great harm. It is the war we can't lose, for Christ has already won the war, but there are many battles, and Satan can win battles every day because Christians are blind to his schemes.
Peter became a temporary opponent of the plan of God, and Jesus said to him, "Get thee behind me Satan." At that point, on that specific issue, Peter was a tool of the devil. Satan was in control of part of his life. Peter won the war, but he lost battles, as all of us can do.
Ignorance is our greatest danger, and that is why we need to learn all we can about demons to be better soldiers of the faith, and to avoid the extremes of finding demons everywhere, or believing that they are nowhere. So let's look at more evidence of the reality of the demonic.
Dr. Karefa-Smart, a distinguished physician, teacher, and diplomat, who held the post of Cabinet Minister in Sierra Leone, and was the Assistant Director of the World Health Organization, and visiting professor of International Health at Harvard, speaking to the western world said, "No African that I know doubts the reality of the devil. Living as close to nature as we do, the devil does not have as many technological devices to mask his presence as he does among you."
He recognizes the distinction between the demonic and disease, but he recognizes there is also a connection, for both are of the kingdom of evil. He has a point, for Jesus dwelt with both side by side. They were different, and yet in the same category as evil. Dr. Smart writes, "The bacteria and viruses of disease may be called little devils; physicians recognize them as powerful foes. The derangement of normal physiological functioning of the endocrine system, chemical imbalances which cause disease, are the scientific counterparts of the spirit of the devil working within the human body."
In other words, all of the things that go wrong in the body, and all of those tiny foes of the body that make it sick are not part of the kingdom of God. They are part of the kingdom of Satan. Disease may not be demonic, but it is related, for it is an enemy to man. This African scientific perspective is easier to combine with New Testament revelation than the western scientific perspective that says bacteria and viruses are just natural phenomenon. They are not evil forces, but just forces of nature. It is not that this is not true, it is just questionable that this is the whole truth. Those closer to the demonic, like African doctors, may be seeing the connection of disease and the demonic in such a way that they are closer to the New Testament world view than we are as American Christians.
I have studied the virus enough to know that it is an amazingly clever creature. Man can learn how to destroy it by developing the code of its shape so antibodies can lock onto them and destroy them, but they can recognize they are doomed if they don't do something, so they change their shape so the anti-bodies cannot touch them. These are smart little devils, and they drive the medical profession crazy with their defense system. They have a superior defense system that brings the offensive army of medicine to a halt. The question is do you think the vast army of the medical world that labors to defeat these clever foes of man is fighting the forces of God, or of the devil?
I believe medicine is on God's side, and viruses are the enemy of God and man. Disease, plague, and all manner of sickness may be used by God, for in His sovereignty He even uses evil, but these things are excluded from His eternal kingdom, and thus, they are a part of the evil kingdom that will be eliminated. The bottom line in my diagnostic analysis of the demonized and diseased is that they are two distinct problems, but they are nevertheless twins. They are often so much alike that you can't tell them apart, and Satan is the father of both.
Many demonized persons copy the same symptoms as are exhibited by the mentally and physically ill. This is their disguise, and it is very clever, for they are treated by mere natural means, and this is very ineffective, and so they are protected. Natural illness is subject to natural means, but the supernatural can only be cured by supernatural means. If you throw psychiatry and medicine at demons, they will laugh and maintain their control of a person. They can only be defeated by a power greater than themselves, and there is no such natural power in man or medicine.
Getting back to the African doctor, Dr. Smart: He points out that the mass of psycho-somatic illnesses in the world that imprison and keep people in bondage, are also the work of the devil. The fear and ignorance and negative emotions that bind men are demonic. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind. So when we are bound by fear, where does it come from? It is not from God. Just as temptation does not come from God. These things are satanic, but not necessarily demonic. They are often natural, for Satan uses the natural events of stress and crisis to get a foot in the door of our lives. The demonic may enter if we allow more than a foot in the door, and let stress overwhelm us to the point of extreme loss of control. But even if the demonic does not enter in, the natural is enough to make life miserable and defeat us. So it is vitally important that Christians be aware of the forces of evil as being in partnership with all that leads to any form of sickness or abnormal behavior. Just because something is natural, does not mean it is not being used as a tool of evil. Our best hope to win any battle is to know the foe.
If something is on the natural level then even secular counseling can help deliver people. Many are healed by natural means. But if the demonic is involved you need to have the help of a spirit force greater than these evil forces. This is where exorcism comes in. It is a part of the battle for health in this world. The enemy may attack by land, ship, or plane, but whatever his strategy it is the same enemy. It is not flesh and blood we strive against, but spiritual forces. If you think all sickness if natural you will fight on only one front, and use natural resources. This is like using only depth charges because you know the enemy has submarines. But what do you do about his bombers? You need to be able to fight on all the levels the enemy has for attack. That is why the battle for health has to be fought on the physical, mental and spiritual levels to be effective against the weapons of Satan.
Doctors who believe in the reality of the demonic have developed a rule of thumb. If medicine which ordinarily works to relieve mental problems does not have any effect and prayer does, then there is strong evidence of a possible demonized patient. There are cases where strong injections do not have any effect, but where prayer brings calmness. Many who practice spiritual healing along with medicine are not fly by night quacks, but distinguished men of world fame. Dr. Paul Tournier,for example, the Swiss physician who authored many books read around the world. Dr. William S. Reed is another who wrote, "Many mental and physical illnesses result, in fact, from demonic attacks. Exorcism must therefore be given a place within present day psychiatry and medicine."
Dr. Lechler, for 35 years the medical superintendent of the largest mental hospital in Germany has seen all stages of being demonized. He is a medical authority who believes in the reality of the demonic, and of the need for exorcism. The point is, the Bible and many modern men of medicine agree that we need to see beyond the natural in the battle for health. We need to be aware of the reality of the demonic. We need to know the foe.