You’ve heard it said that bad company corrupts good character. That saying actually has it’s roots from the Biblical passage, 1Co 15:33 “Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals.” Another is, Pro 13:20 “ Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
While these truths are very important when referring to the type of people we spend time with, more importantly, there are some non-physical entities that we all should be very aware of that can and do cause many problems in our lives. What I’m referring to are fallen angels, demons (unclean spirits), and satan himself.
Many churches and pastors today tend to avoid the subject for a number of reasons. I’m not going to get into all the reasons why as that is not the goal of this article, but understanding the big picture of what it is that influences us or controls us is critical to understanding who GOD is, who satan is, and specifically the spiritual realm.
The first and most important thing for us to understand is that we are not the master of our lives. We are either under the authority of satan or GOD. Satan’s sole purpose is to destroy the plan of GOD and destroy us for eternity. He absolutely hates Jesus and anything Jesus loves including us.
Most of us know instinctively that there is something special about us as humans in that we are able to think, reason, and have emotions. These are made possible by what is referred to as our soul which is not material and consists of our mind, will, and emotion. However, in addition to our soul we each have a spirit. This spirit is not emotion and is the essence of who we are as breathed into us by GOD. Our spirit by itself is influenced by many things and can be many times recognized in our overall demeanor. For instance our spirit may be heavy with thoughts that life is against us, or joyful which comes from a hope and faith in something that we look forward to. What we think about and focus our thoughts on influences our spirit. However, in our fallen state, we naturally focus on worldly things, which may bring us temporary joy or happiness, but are not eternal and in most cases are very destructive. Remember, satan’s goal is to destroy us by keeping us from seeking GOD and asking Jesus to be our Lord and Savior. Anything he can do to distract us or distance us from GOD he will do. It can be through prosperity, obsession with something that consumes our time and lives, or anything that he can do to make us feel condemned, ashamed, and/or angry toward GOD. But there’s more to the story.
There are other spirits that can influence or even control our spirit if we “open that door” or allow them into our lives. First, the good news. When we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, and to forgive our sins, we receive the Holy Spirit which comes and indwells us as a helper with our spirit Act 2:38. Evidence that a person has been saved is usually seen through an increasing change in demeanor and the fruit that comes from the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control Gal 5:22-23. When the Holy Spirit indwells us, there is obviously no way a demon (unclean spirit) can indwell, possess, or control us at the same time. However, they can still influence (tempt, etc) and torment us if we take our eyes off of Jesus, and His Word, and start focusing on worldly things. Some can even be allowed by GOD to keep us humble as in the case of the apostle Paul;
2Co 12:7 “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.”
2Co 12:8 “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.”
2Co 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Now the bad news. For someone who is not saved, they are defenseless and like a sheep being led to the slaughter. Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and His counsel, a person is left to his or her own sinful nature trusting in what the world has taught them and not the Word of GOD. Granted, some are more sinful than others, but as far as satan is concerned, all he needs to do is keep a person from seeking GOD and Jesus Christ which causes that person to be lost and condemned with no way to pay for his or her sin debt. Without the protection of GOD and the Holy Spirit, some become possessed and controlled by unclean spirits causing every level of sick, twisted, and demented behavior imaginable. In some people, what we sometimes refer to as mental illness is in actuality demonic possession or control;
Mar 5:2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.
Mar 5:3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain,
Mar 5:4 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.
Mar 5:5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.
Notice that one of the components of the soul is our “will”. Without the Holy Spirit, all we have is our own spirit and our will to resist unclean spirits. We become more vulnerable to influence, and sometimes possession, when things happen in our life that can break us down causing us to be depressed, angry, bitter, and/or obsessed. We tend to focus on the lies of the enemy that tell us that drugs, sex, revenge, money, power, or maybe another form of temporary pleasure will bring us joy or relief. Any one of these can be a form of a drug with unclean spirits telling us things like “you are a victim”, “you have a right to be bitter and angry”, “you can’t live without it”, “you need more”, “no one loves you”, “You’ve done too many terrible things, “GOD hates you and can’t possibly love you or forgive you”.
Lies, lies, and more lies! I can imagine Jesus almost wanting to rap us on the head saying “Wakeup McFly! I’m your way out! The spiritual realm is what’s real and eternal and not the temporary things you have trusted in and spent so much time on!” The apostle Paul told us the reality of what we are up against;
Eph 6:12 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.
As Jesus did in Luke chapter 4 when the devil tempted Him in the wilderness, we are to resist the devil using the Word of GOD to defeat him;
Luk 4:13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Jas_4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Here is a difficult truth for many of us to accept. We cannot expect GOD to hear our prayers, help, and protect us if we first, do not believe or have faith in Him, second, if we have ignored or rejected His Son and His payment for the forgiveness of our sins, and third, if we have not turned away (repented) from our sins and asked His forgiveness. We do not have to clean up our act and become perfect first before asking GOD to forgive us, we just need to call to him, ask His forgiveness and be sincere about turning away from our sin. GOD does not owe us anything. We owe Him everything!
In Part 2, we’ll look at the most important war of all and our role in that war.