Monday, August 24, 2009

Putting the Devil On Notice

I'm not a fan of spiritual bravado, but I do think there are times when believers ought to realize the frustrations occurring in their life may be satanic. Our enemy is real and he does not want the gospel to bear fruit in our lives.

We need to remind ourselves and him that we are not trapped in this world with the devil. He is trapped in this world with us.

Lord, give us tender hearts and strong backbones.

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name."
He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

-- Luke 10:17-20


Rob said...

I have to admit I struggle with this one. I have an aversion to those who see demonic influence behind every situation. Then again, refusing to ever see satan's schemes behind certain situations is too far to the other extreme. But how do you tell?

Our current situation is a good example. Without going into details, my family and I desperately need a breakthrough in a specific area. We have done everything "right" that we can think of, are praying and doing our best to trust God, and in the meantime lots of other people are praying too. This has been going on for six months, but no breakthrough. At what point should we start to think that demonic opposition is involved here?

(I'm not really expecting you to answer that - I just used our situation as an illustration...)

Jared said...

Rob, I know you aren't really expecting me to answer that, and I know I can't discern the spiritual nuances of your situation better than you, but that's what I would say is involved -- discernment.

I'm not a fan of finding a demon under every bush either. I think the "This Present Darkness" stuff really distorted evangelicals' intelligence of spiritual warfare.

I don't think we go around rebuking satan and casting out spirits of creaky knees and car trouble. But I do think we acknowledge Satan is real and he is scheming against the spread of the kingdom, and we combat this largely by proclaiming the gospel to ourselves and others and continuing to build for the kingdom all the more.

And I'm a fan of the occasional Luther-esque rebuke of the devil. :-)

I think one place where placing the blame on satan can be quite helpful, actually, is when we are the targets of gossip or slander or routine hurtfulness from others. We ought to ask those hurting us to repent, but in a spirit of grace to others, we may reserve our most fervent ire for the devil who is stirring up the weaker among us toward hate.

One way satan messes up a church is to tickle the ears and poison the already sinful hearts of some people against others.

Rob said...

Hey Jared,

Thanks for your response. I think we're pretty much on the same wavelength in terms of the dangers of seeing demons everywhere. Maybe some Luther-esque rebuking could do me good.

(And just to be clear, the situation I'm referring to has nothing to do with a church.)



Dan said...

I have trouble with this too. The unfortunate fact is that my flesh is more than capable of doing most of the harm that comes into my life. A demon merely has to hint the activity, and I can take care of the rest! I don't mean to be sarcastic. The fact is that it's an ugly battle and I have many scars to prove it.

Satan's ploy once the flesh has taken its course is to blame me and make me feel shame. That reduces the true conviction that the Holy Spirit is able to use.

It is at this moment where I need to tell the demon to leave, and the moment where I need to flee as well, right to God.

Jared said...

Dan, I agree that I have no one to blame for my sins but me. The devil and his crew can tempt me, but he can't make me do anything.

I would hope that regular readers know I rarely, if I ever have, talk about demonic activity or "spiritual warfare" on this blog, so that at least should give some indication of how much of our brokenness and sin I attribute to demons. :-)

Jared said...

Oh, but forgot to add: I still think, however, it is an error to discount the devil's presence and attacks completely.

Dan said...

Verbal Kint (a character in Usual Suspects) once said that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. Ok, bad pop-culture quote, but it's true.

Don't apologize for proving the devil wrong. He does exist, and we are in battle against him.

It's really another one of those things that we won't fully understand until we are perfect, I'm sure. How much of my sin is me? How much came from the devil? Did the Devil ever really make me do it?

Until then, we'll just keep fighting.

Rob said...


Squeezing a film reference into this was quite an achievement. I'll let you off as it's a great film...

In keeping with the post from a couple of days ago, you could have referred to the classic keith Green song "No-one believes in me anymore".

Jared said...

Or to get more classical, Lewis's intro to The Screwtape Letters discusses the opposite dangers of ambivalence and fixation quite artfully.

Dan said...

Thanks for the extra points!

Rob, you still working in France? I think that's awesome!

Rob said...


Yes, we're still in France at the moment (been here nearly four years), though trying to move back to the UK for family reasons. (We have to sell our house first.)