Sunday, February 12, 2017

Paleo-Orthodoxy: Spiritual Warfare Part Three: Jesus, Demons and Authority

It is not uncommon to find Christians and even Christian theologians who deny the reality of the demonic. They chalk up all claims of demonic activity to psychology, medical causes, mistaken sensory perception, or pure lying and myth making. Sacred Scripture treats it as real, and so did Jesus Himself. Let's look at just a few examples of Jesus interacting with demons.

1. They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.                                                                                                        - Mark 5:1-20
And...
14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.”20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.- Mark 9:14-27
One thing that is pretty clear from these passages is that Jesus considered them to be very real. As He is our prime witness to objective Truth, we cannot ignore his example. From these verses we can deduce that demons:

  • Are personal, 
  • think, 
  • speak, 
  • control, 
  • possess

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.- Ephesians 6:12

The above verse inform us that demons are of various "orders" or "functions" and that, as created beings, are under the authority of Jesus, through whom they were created. 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.- Colossians 1:15-16

Additionally Jesus has granted a certain degree of authority over these demons to His church. Now there are some who suggest that the authority to cast out demons ceased with the passing of the twelve apostles. Is this what Sacred Scripture says? No. In fact it tells us the seventy two disciples had this same derived authority.

17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”- Luke 10:17

Now if some attempt to move the goal post and suggest that this authority ceased with the seventy two disciples, they still have the problem of Philip, who was not one of the seventy two nor one of the twelve.

Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.-Acts 8:4-7

Beyond this we have the testimonies of the Church Fathers who tell of demons being cast out in their time.

"Throughout the whole world, and in your city, many of our Christian men have healed numerous demon possessed persons, exorcising them in the name of Jesus Christ."- Justin Martyr

"Even the demons fear the power of his name. At this day, when they are exorcised in the name of Jesus...they are defeated."- Justin Martyr

"Even to this day, the demon possessed are sometimes exorcised in the name of the living and true God."- Theophilus

"We daily hold them up to contempt. We exorcise them from their victims, as multitudes can testify."- Tertullian

"The demons themselves confess concerning themselves as often as they are driven by us from bodies by the torments of our words and by the fires of our prayers.."- Mark Minucius Felix

"This is also done in the present day. For the devil is scourged, burned, and tortured by exorcists-by the human voice and by divine power."                                                                                                             - Cyprian

Indeed, this authority to cast out demons continues to this day in the Body of Christ, and is a derived authority and not something for us to take joy in or brag, boast and sell as some televangelists are fond of doing.

19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”-Luke 10:19-20

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