Influence that remains dormant until challenged by the testimony of truth-tellers and those who give the testimony of Jesus.
Jesus spent much of His time healing the sick. He also cast out many demons and forgave sins. All were examples of His mission to set captives free and crown them with dignity and righteousness.
We would be wrong to assume that the demonic presences that were around then are not around today or that certain people are not held captive by their influence, just as they were in Christ’s day. Captivity to double-mindedness, contrariness and living from offence are evidence of their presence, as are addictions and the kind of workaholism that makes people slaves of their church or their career.
A dissolute life; a constant refusal to heed the voice of the Holy Spirit; an attitude of pride and intellectual arrogance or even a quiet stubbornness and a smug attachment to unscriptural beliefs is an invitation to demonic influence – influence that remains dormant until challenged by the testimony of truth-tellers and those who give the testimony of Jesus.
We live in the same world as Jesus did but with a different worldview. The rationalist/materialist mind-set has not made demons disappear. But it has made them almost invisible. It has enabled them to insert themselves into oppressive mind-sets in the church and in governments. Their influence is seen in the porn industry, hierarchical religion, the specious doctrine of ‘covering’ and the excesses of the capitalist system. Anything that is deceptive, exploitative and amoral is not only evil but the habitation of unclean spirits.
‘He gave a mighty shout: "Babylon is fallen--that great city is fallen! She has become a home for demons. She is a hideout for every foul spirit, a hideout for every foul vulture and every foul and dreadful animal’ Rev 18. 2 NLT.
Don’t fall for the illusion that demons can be found in that compartment of life that you call ‘the Bible’ or ‘religion.’ Demons are present wherever there is oppression, bondage and chaos. They remain hidden until some reform is attempted. Then they manifest not as monstrous apparitions but as vociferous and sustained opposition to the removal of oppression and injustice. A recent example of this in Australia was seen in the attempted reforms of the poker-machine industry.
It should be obvious that where Christianity is careless of Christ it comes under the influence of the anti-christ spirit. Wherever lip service is paid to the name of Christ yet there is a marked distaste for His person, the antic-christ spirit holds court. It is greatly angered when Jesus appears in the flesh of His people to provoke spontaneous worship, colouring outside the lines of conformity or the healing of the sick and casting out of demons. It hates nothing so much as the manifestation of Christ’s miraculous power – which to it is a death sentence.
The spirit of anti-christ does not mind how charitable or missionary-minded people are. But it fights to the death against life in the Spirit of Christ and the manifestation of His limitless power. The demonic will manifest its opposition through people whenever God’s people are on the verge of entering a new realm of freedom in Christ or a new level of dignity and honour as God’s daughters and sons. You do well to know what spirit you are of.
The religious spirit loves to frame dullness and bondage in terms of honour to God. It will do this with using weapons of tradition, identity and even the Bible. One of the most comfortable couches on which the religious spirit can rest is an identity based theology –where a denomination claims to possess something in addition to Christ that sets it apart or some variation on the doctrine of the apostles that robs the cross of its power.
‘But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!’ Gal 1.8 NIV.
Political spirits find a congenial living space in political pastors who inhabit political churches and political denominations. Here the agenda is to please the factions of the church and to maintain the status-quo as the means of maintaining power and control. It was so when Jesus was here and in many places it is so today. The mouth-pieces of these spirits do not so much contradict the revelation of Jesus. They release clouds of doubt to multiply confusion. Those most vulnerable to the resulting chaos are those whose relationship is to church rather than the person of Jesus.
Demons cannot hide when the glory and power of Jesus is declared. They are exposed today as they were in Jesus’ day. Yet it’s amazing the number of professional religionists who believe in demons in principle but never in practice. Should a demon manifest in a particular situation as it did in my daughter’s school some years ago, there’s a panicked scramble to define what happened in psychological terms rather than in the terms simply described in the Bible.
‘And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel’ Matt 9.33 NIV.
Such an assumption is itself an evidence of demonic influence. Demons have access to human minds and can insinuate thoughts that keep people vulnerable and weak. They intensify and multiply thoughts that are religious, fearful or dismissive of their existence and influence. The Bible indicates that those not filled with the Spirit of Christ are vulnerable to being filled with spirits that are not Christ. Religious spirits are undoubtedly the most wide spread and influential spirits in the Western Church. They live to keep people bound to religion and insulated from Jesus, the real source of authority and power.