I have had recent discussions concerning spiritual warfare and how it affects the Christian walk. I have previously covered this issue in previous sermons; however, I see the need to address the topic again with more specifics. I recently viewed a tape series from a preacher who claimed to be a former witch. While I won’t dispute his previous involvement in the occult, I must contend with his doctrine. I have received several emails related to this topic over the last few years and I have read many web-based ministries that play on fears and build up their beliefs from many sources external to the
Bible while doing very little to encourage believers and exhort Christians to follow the principles of God. These teachers introduce rules and practices that the Bible does not support and often that completely contradict the Bible.
One error that stands out in this type of doctrine is that they believe that a Christian can be cursed regardless of their relationship with Jesus Christ. Christians are taught to fear Satan and demons rather than fearing and trusting God. Music, holidays and entertainment is called an anathema to God and demons are said to be secretly planted within the Christian’s home to rob them of peace and place them under bondage to the Devil. It is true that you can find fault in music, holidays, entertainment and almost anything else if you are willing to look hard enough; however, bad examples do not stand as evidence against the whole.
We should take care to note that Satan is not given the power to curse anyone. If you examine the scriptures, you will find that the devil, demons and any other created being is never given the power to curse anyone. Each time you see a curse mentioned in scripture, it is God blessing or God cursing nations and people for their obedience or disobedience to Him. Only God has the power to bless and only God has the power to curse. Our lives rest completely in the hands of God.
A License to Gossip
Some use the fear of a curse as a license to attack others through gossip. Look now at Galatians 5:
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
The Bible is warning us not to allow backbiting and attacks among us against our fellow believers. It is wrong to allow gossip just as much as it is wrong to repeat it. It is unfortunate how easy it is to fall into the trap that if you label someone as evil, then you can attack them as much as you desire. Many falsely fall under the assumption that attacking someone who is labeled as evil is doing God a service. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Comparing someone’s doctrine to scripture is very biblical; declaring someone as a disciple of the devil is unbiblical. When you can stir up someone’s fear of being polluted, you can sway them into joining into the attack. However, there should be no fear of pollution because if we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Our focus should never be on searching for evil to destroy it, but rather searching out God’s word to walk in it. The light always overcomes the darkness – it is never the other way around.
What deeply concerns me is that these teachers use gossip to turn brother against brother and sister against sister. A rumor that cannot be substantiated is gossip. A rumor that is intended to turn one person against another – even if it is substantiated is gossip. Gossip tears down and is completely unbiblical. Look at John 13:
34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The evidence that we are followers of Christ is that we love one another just as Jesus loved us. When the disciples failed, did Jesus cast them off as heretics? When Jesus showed them servant hood by example and they argued among themselves about who was the greatest, did Jesus reject them? What was Jesus’ reaction when Peter denied Him three times; when Peter criticized him from saying that he was going to be crucified, when the disciples bickered, acted selfishly or expressed unbelief in spite of all the miracles they witnessed? Jesus did not discredit them, but rather he patiently instructed them and built them up in the faith.
The criticism I hear from these teachers who focus heavily on demons is that spiritual immaturity is intentional and there is a vast conspiracy to deceive the church. Mistakes, blunders, misspoken words and selfish immaturity are not a reason to reject our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must remember that most people are just like you and I. They are trying to find their way through this life and do what is right. Often times we act with selfish motives and make mistakes. This does not make us evil deceivers, nor does it make those who act or speak in a way that we may disagree with.
Why do we fear that a conspiracy is going to overthrow the church? The Bible tells us that the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18), the wicked who dig a pit will fall into it (Proverbs 26:27), those who roll a stone, God will return it back onto them (Proverbs 26:27) and that the wicked who seek to slay the righteous will be condemned (Psalm 34:21-22) and the Lord will not leave us in his hand nor condemn us when we are judged (Psalm 37:32). Let the schemers plot and the conspiracist plan; if the righteous are following God, there is nothing that can drag us away from God and no power on earth that can overthrow God plan. God will allow what fits into His plan and will unravel any plan that contradicts His plan. God has a way of revealing what He wants to be known – or as Luke 12 puts it: “For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.”
You will know them by their fruits.
Examine Matthew 7:
15 ” Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
16 “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?
17 “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
18 “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
We are commanded to be on guard against wolves within the church. The question is answered as to how we know them – by their fruits. Are teachers edifying the church? Are they teaching us to obey the two greatest commandments: love God and love each other? Are they building up the church’s faith in God? Are they teaching others to be conquerors and overcomers? Or are they teaching fear, suspicion, bondage and giving glory to demons rather than God? Do these teachers instruct us to fear Satan or demons? Here is the Bible’s answer:
4 ” And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
5 “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!
6 “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.
7 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Are we to fear demons? No. Are we to fear Satan? No. There is only one to fear – God. To be afraid of demons and curses is a complete lack of faith. Is God not able to overcome these things? In a few moments we will examine this closer; however, keep in mind the words of scripture, “whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23b). It is ironic that people in fear of Satan are falling into sin simply by fearing him. A true teacher gives glory to God and upholds scripture that builds our confidence in God. A false teacher does not but plays on peoples fears of being secretly deceived – which also ironically is a deception.
How we are Deceived
How is a person deceived? This is a profoundly simple answer and is found in scripture. Look at 2 Thessalonians 2:
9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,
10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,
12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
The Bible makes it absolutely clear – you cannot be deceived without being a willing participant. We can be misinformed and believe what is false, but God will reveal truth and then we have that moment of decision; do we want the truth, or do we choose the lie. Unrighteous deception is to those ‘who did not receive the love of the truth’. Those deceived have already rejected the truth and therefore God has given them over to what they have already declared allegiance too. It is not possible to follow the truth and be deceived. In order to be deceived, we must turn from the truth and follow the lie. Ultimately, people follow the lie because they have pleasure in unrighteousness. Aldous Huxley, the atheist who wrote the book, ‘Brave New World’ stated that he was opposed to God because “we objected to the morality” and abhorred religious principles “because it interfered with our sexual freedom.” When someone loves sin, they will reject the Word of God that calls them to holiness. When someone loves wealth, they will reject Jesus call to die to ourselves, lay down our lives and follow Him. All things are created by God and are good within God’s purpose and design; however, when we love what has been created more than the God who created it, we fall into sin. The Bible tells us that we are tempted when we are drawn away by OUR OWN LUST and enticed (James 1:4). Not a single person is dragged into sin and not a single person can claim that ‘the devil made me do it’. We follow our desires. If we love God, we will follow Him. If we love the pleasure of unrighteousness, we will follow sin. Each individual person is the deciding vote on the deception of sin.
Can Satan inhabit objects?
Take a look at this quote from an ‘end times ministry’ that provides tapes, videos and literature:
Do you know why figurines are hollowed? This was done to provide a house for demons. Every figurine is hollow or has a hollowed out place on the bottom so that witches can put demons into them to curse the homes of believers.
Witches place curses on common household objects in order to get demons into the house of Christians to curse them. You must find and remove cursed items to set your home free from these curses. If you have cursed items in your house, your children will rebel, you will get sick and even allergies are caused by cursed objects in our house.
I have had allergies since I was a child. In the last few years I have found that you can repel the demons of allergies with Flonaise. I decided not to identify the teacher who is quoted here because the same types of teaching are echoed repeatedly around the world. This quote equally applies to all groups that have a fearful obsession with demons.
An object is nothing and cannot be cursed. Observe these two passages:
1 Corinthians 8:
4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.
5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords),
6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
1 Corinthians 10:
19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?
20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.
21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.
As always, the Bible is one, complete revelation and to understand it, we must honor the whole message of God’s word. This passage clearly uses this principle. In the same letter to the Corinthians, the Bible teaches two important things that we will briefly examine: one, an idol is nothing; two, those who offer up to idols are worshipping demons.
The first applies directly to the Christian. We do not need to fear an idol or any other object. They are nothing. In fact, we are told that God is the Lord of all things and through Him, these things exist and we have our being. The Bible also teaches that “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.” (Titus 1:15). An idol is nothing more than a piece of wood, stone or metal. It has no power in itself nor can it have any power over a Christian. When I was a child, I found 7 Japanese gods in our attic. My father was stationed in Japan and bought these pagan idols as souvenirs. Even though these objects were created solely for the purpose of worship, they held no power in and of themselves. I took them out of the box and played with them like toys until they fell apart or were lost. Demons did not take over me nor did anything about my life change. The power of these items is derived solely from the worshipper.
This brings us to the second point from the above passages. The Bible first asks a redundant question, Is an idol or things offered to an idol anything? No. This was answered in the first passage. Instead, it is the worshipping of the Gentiles that did not know God that were worshipping demons. In other words, the object itself has zero power and has no curse. A man or woman is only in danger when they allow Satan to use these objects as tools to lure them into worshipping a false god – which is no god at all.
Just like the Japanese gods I had as a child, I bring the value to an object. A figurine is only a decoration if it is not worshipped. A figurine is an idol if it is worshipped. Money is neutral – it is neither good nor evil. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, or the responsible use for money is a tool for good. Music is the same. In the hands of a Christian, it is used as a tool for worshipping God, yet in the hands of a pagan it is used to summons demons. A demon does not respond to the beat of a drum; the devil is responding to the heart of the person submitting to him. A Christian can beat a drum all day and what is that to Satan? Yet if you take a drum into an occult ritual, it is very useful to Satan.
Worship is the key. If I am not engaging in worship, there is no such thing as an idol or an evil object. It is only when someone uses an object to submit themselves in worship that the item ceases to be neutral. Even so, the item still has no power in itself. It is only the person’s submission to demons that creates idolatry. This is reiterated in the Old Testament as well. Look at Jeremiah 10:
2 Thus says the LORD: “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, For the Gentiles are dismayed at them.
3 For the customs of the peoples are futile; For one cuts a tree from the forest, The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.
4 They decorate it with silver and gold; They fasten it with nails and hammers So that it will not topple.
5 They are upright, like a palm tree, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, For they cannot do evil, Nor can they do any good.”
6 Inasmuch as there is none like You, O LORD (You are great, and Your name is great in might),
7 Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? For this is Your rightful due. For among all the wise men of the nations, And in all their kingdoms, There is none like You.
8 But they are altogether dull-hearted and foolish; A wooden idol is a worthless doctrine.
There is a little bit of irony in how this passage is used as well. I frequently hear this passage used to make people afraid of Christmas trees, but this misunderstanding is the result of not reading the entire passage in context. Rather than teaching us to be afraid of this object, the Bible is teaching not to be afraid of this object. It is not a Christmas tree at all, but is identified clearly in verse 8 as an idol. This is a wooden idol that began as a tree that foolish men cut down, fashioned into a god and decorated with gold and silver. They worship it as a god, but it cannot speak or move. The worshipper must carry it from place to place because it has no power to move itself. Instead of being taught to be afraid of this object that has been used to worship demons, God said, “do not be afraid”. “They cannot do evil, nor can they do any good”.
What is this? An idol used to worship demons can’t do any evil? Why then do these teachers claim that an idol or cursed item can bring evil into our houses? You alone choose the blessing or the curse, not a witch or a Satanist plotting against you.
Can we be cursed?
One thing that is strangely absent from the New Testament is the word curse. In Christ Jesus there is no curse for He has conquered all things and given us victory. I will look at this in detail in the last section of this study. The only time the curse is mentioned in the New Testament is in reference to Jesus, warning us not to curse our enemies, and the curse of those who stand before the Judgment. In the Christian’s life, there is no curse. We are blessed by obedience or we are clinging to the curse of the condemned world.
I recently had someone write me claiming that they were a demon possessed Christian. They kept giving in to sexual temptations and the demons were overpowering them and causing them to sin. This is simply not possible. In fact, by teaching these heretical views were are giving people an excuse for sinful behavior. No demon can make you sin. You sin because you desire to sin – plain and simple. James 1:14 tells us that we are tempted when we are drawn away from God by our own lusts and enticed. Satan stands outside the way and beckons us to come. We cannot sin and walk with God at the same time. Satan cannot drag us away from God; we must make a willful choice to depart from fellowship with God in order to sin.
People often get angry when you take away this excuse for sin, but there is no such thing as a possessed Christian – nor is there any such thing as a demon oppressed Christian. The only thing that oppresses us is our willingness to submit to our flesh. It is true that Satan continuously offers temptations that appeal to our weaknesses, but that is not oppression. We still must choose to submit ourselves to sin. The Bible explains the solution very clearly in James 4:
6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
We have already seen that we are drawn away by our own lust and enticed. Now we see that the solution is the humble ourselves before God, resist temptation by submitting to Him and the devil will flee. Satan is not fleeing from my resistance, but my submission to God. On my pilgrimage to heaven, there is only room for two – you and your God. Satan cannot abide with God but you can. Satan may be called a roaring lion, but you must get in his cage to be devoured and temptation is the bait. Only you can make the choice to depart from your walk with God; Satan cannot do anything to force your submission. Oppression is an excuse that people use, but the Bible tells us the truth about oppression in Luke 4:
18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
If you are in Christ, you are at liberty and cannot be oppressed. If the Holy Spirit resides in you, you cannot be possessed. The Spirit of God does not have fellowship with demons. Jesus said that the one He sets free is free indeed. Some have argued that Jesus taught a parable that teaches that Christians can be possessed in Matthew 12:
43 ” When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.
44 “Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.
45 “Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”
There is one important oversight this claim has omitted. The house was clean, but empty. What good does it do someone to get their life straightened out if they never surrender their heart to Jesus Christ? It is your effort alone and no one is justified by good deeds nor can we make ourselves holy by cleaning up our life. God puts His Spirit within us when we are raised as a new creation by His power. Nothing can possess or oppress what God has sanctified – or set apart for Himself.
We are more than conquerors in Christ.
Should we as Christians fear the devil? Absolutely not. There are two things that demon fearing teachers err on when it comes to the devil. They teach that we should be afraid of demon possessed items and curses and they teach that we should speak commands to the devil. If find irony in this as well. Even so, we are never given the power to command Satan. Jesus had the power to command Satan to ‘get behind Him’, but we do not. We submit to God and allow Him to fight our battles.
A primary fault in the ‘demon doctrine’ is that they seek for evil in the hope to defeat it and teach others to look for evil all around them. Where do we find this in scripture? We are never commanded to hunt Satan down nor does the Bible ever give him the glory that these teachers do. Satan is a defeated foe. Spiritual warfare is fought in the battle ground of temptation verses submission to God. The world has no concept of submission to God, therefore the battle is always the hottest when we are going against the gates of hell. Keep in mind that even the gates of Hell cannot prevail because Jesus opens the door that no man can shut when the church is obedient to Him (Revelation 3:8).
What a travesty it is when a Christian allows their faith to be overthrown and believes that Satan has the power to overthrow God’s promises with a curse. My home cannot be cursed if I am submitting and living obediently to God. I have the promise that God’s blessing is mine. Look at the promise of Psalm 128:
1 Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways.
2 When you eat the labor of your hands, You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine In the very heart of your house, Your children like olive plants All around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD.
Are we so foolish to think that Satan has the power to revoke this promise with a curse? Let every witch, Satanist and occultist on the earth curse every object in my house. I stand upon the promises of God and He is able to bless any curse. When God’s people were met with those who wished to curse them as they inherited the Promised Land, God said, “but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loves you.”
Wow! What can we say to this other than, If God be for us, who can be against us? Look at these wonderful passages:
1 John 4:
4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
If Jesus is your Savior, you are an overcomer and He is greater than anyone or anything in the world.
36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Are you in Christ? If so, you are more than conquerors through Him! How can someone who is more than a conqueror be defeated by anything? It is not us, but the Spirit of God who works within us and accomplishes His will. If we are surrendered to Him, His strength is made perfect in our weakness and He is able to more than we can imagine.
Do you believe a curse or a demon can separate you from the love of God? Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Not angels, principalities, powers or anything present or to come can take us outside of the love of God! What a promise. We as Christians live in hope and thanks be to God that we don’t have to live in fear of any curse or any scheme of the devil. We don’t live in fear, but as the Bible states, the Christian is bold as a lion and it is the wicked that flees when no one pursues. We are bold because we stand upon the promises of God. The wicked live in fear because they have no foundation or strength outside of themselves. Look at this final passage from Psalm 91:
14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”
Have you set your love upon God? If so, all things are of God and He will satisfy you, deliver you and honor you. Salvation is revealed by God to those who love Him. All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. No power in heaven or hell can challenge this or any of the promises of God given to those who obey God out of love. Satan was defeated and disarmed on the cross (Colossians 2:13-15), therefore we have nothing to fear and all the hope of eternity if we are in Christ.
I will conclude with some passages to consider when the confidence of the Christian is challenged by those who fear the devil.
-The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1).
– There is not a principality, power in earth, power in heaven nor any angel (including demons) that can separate me from the love of God. (Romans 8:38).
-Greater is He who is in me that he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4).
-I am more than a conqueror in Christ (Romans 8:37).
-Even though I stumble, I will never be cast down because God upholds me with His hand.
-Satan and all principalities were disarmed on the cross of Christ (Col 2:13-15)
-I am blessed because I set my love on God (Psalm 91:14-16)
-Do not be afraid (John 14:27)
-Do not let your hearts be troubled (John 14:27)
-A true follower of Christ has peace (John 14:27)
-God’s peace is what guards our heart and mind (Phil 4:7)
-Even in trouble, a Christian will have peace that goes beyond our comprehension (Phil 4:7)
-In Christ we will have peace even though we will have tribulation in this world (John 16:33)
-Victory to overcome the world is found in faith alone (1 John 5:5).
-We can be of good cheer even in a world of trouble (John 16:33)
-Our faith in Christ credits us with righteousness regardless of any curse (Romans 4:4-5, Romans 9:30 and many other passages)
-We are credited with the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor 5:21)
-We cannot be justified by the law, only by faith (Gal 2:16)
-Even though many are all around us who reveal the spirit of the Antichrist, we have overcome them (1 John 4:4)
-Whatever is born of God overcomes the world (1 John 5:4).
-No one can curse those God has not cursed (Numbers 23:8).
-God will turn the enemy’s curse into a blessing (Deuteronomy 23:5).
-We blessed or curse based on our response to God (Deut 11:26-28).
-If we obey God diligently, every part of our life will be founded on God’s blessing (Duet. 28:1-9).
-A faithful man will abound with blessing (Prov. 28:20).
-Those who trust in God can rejoice because God defends them (Psalm 5:11).
-God blesses the righteous and surrounds them with a shield (Psalm 5:12).
-Satan must get God’s permission to afflict those shielded by Him (Job 1:9-10).
-We are blessed when we set our hearts on our journey to heaven (Psalm 84:5).
-A man who fears the Lord will have a blessed family (Psalm 128:1-4).
-Jesus redeemed us from the curse (Galatians 3:13).
-The children of the righteous are blessed (Psalm 37:25-26)
-Jesus sets the prisoners free from sin (Romans 6:18, Luke 4:18)
-God gives hope (Romans 5:1-5).
-Even in tribulation, a Christian rejoices in hope (Romans 12:12).
-A Christian abounds in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
-A Christian labors in hope (1 Corinthians 9:10).
-A Christian is commanded to abide in faith hope and love (1 Corinthians 13:13)
-God’s perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18)
-We should remain steadfast in the hope of the gospel (Col 1:23).
-Our hope is the anchor of our souls (Hebrews 6:19).
-Hold fast to hope without wavering (Hebrews 10:23).
-Protect your mind, be sober and rest on hope (1 Peter 1:13).
-Our hope is a witness to the world (1 Peter 3:15).