“Father, we’re grateful for this morning. We’re thankful for a new year, new beginnings. We pray You will be with us in 2020. Thank You for getting into the New Year with the new decade. It’s exciting to look back at the things You’ve done in and through us, and I just ask that trend and pattern would continue so that we could be those that abide in Your Vine and consequently bear much fruit. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.”
God’s people said, “Amen.”
Open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 6:19 as we continue our study on the doctrine of angels. Having looked at the good angels and Satan, we’re now taking a look at the third of the angels that fell with Satan, which gets us into a whole subject of demonology. Once we’re finished with that, then we’ll be looking at the Genesis 6 controversy. Then the series will have come to an end, believe it or not.
Here’s our outline for demonology. We’ve look at the existence of demons. Clearly, they’re spoken of Old Testament and New Testament. We’ve looked at the origin of demons. Probably the best-case scenario is that they are the one third of the angels that originally rebelled with Lucifer.
From there we looked at the personhood of demons. I know the new Star Wars movie is out, but it’s important not to look at our adversaries through the dark side/light side paradigm. We’re not dealing with the dark side—some kind of impersonal source of energy; we’re dealing with actual beings that have all of the elements of personality. In fact, personal pronouns are used to describe demons—just as they’re used to describe any human being or person in the Bible.
From there we looked at the characteristics of demons. We saw that virtually every vile term you can think of in the Bible is used and applied to demons.
Then we looked at the powers of demons, and we saw that they have tremendous powers—far greater powers than ourselves. Although, as created beings they don’t have as much power as God. When you understand the powers of demons, you understand the necessity of defending oneself against demons through the resources of God, which we’ll be speaking of in this series.
From there we looked at the works of demons—all the things that they do—including the fact that they allow people to traffic in the occult. Meaning that they allow people to experience supernatural power themselves.
From there we got into the whole subject of demon possession because the Bible very matter-of-factly speaks of demon possession. We’re going to continue with demon possession today. Last time we were together we looked at the definition of demon possession: how one or more spiritual entities (called demons) inhabit a person, thereby taking total control of the victim.
Is there a cause of demon possession? The Scripture really doesn’t tell us, but there is insinuation in the Bible that sometimes people can open the door to being victimized by demon possession through their dabbling in the occult.
Then we gave what I think is a very important balancing statement, that the Christian doesn’t just have one enemy, but how many? Three—the world, the flesh, and the devil. Even if Satan had no influence over your life at all, you would still do evil things.
In fact, in our study in the Book of Revelation in the second session, we’re going to see an example of that. Satan is bound during the thousand-year Kingdom; and yet the same rotten proclivity of man continues, and he still rebels against God at the first opportunity.
Flip Wilson said, “The devil made me do it!” That’s not biblical, because we have the flesh to contend with—the fallen nature—the world system—and also Satan himself. For whatever reason, when you get into the subject of demonology—demon possession—people go to an extreme and they want to find a demon behind every bush kind of thing. And that’s not what the Bible presents either.
People are saying, “There is no such thing as the activity of demons today.” Or they’ll say, “Every evil thing that happens is demonic. My coffee machine didn’t work this morning; obviously a demon did that,” etc. As you know, you want to stay out of the extremes! The truth is usually in the middle somewhere. And that’s what the Bible presents: three-dimensional warfare.
From there we completed looking at the characteristics of demon possessed people from many verses, but primarily Mark 5. And we saw last time that demon possessed people can be characterized by 10 manifestations.
What we’re getting into this morning is an important subject: demon possession and the believer. Clearly, the Bible talks about demon possession of unbelievers—that’s not in dispute. But the question sometimes comes up, “Can an authentically born-again Christian—whose body is a temple of the Holy Spirit—be possessed by a demon?”
The short answer to that is, “No. That cannot happen! Not the way it’s described in Mark 5.” Why is that? We opened up to the right verse, didn’t we? 1 Corinthians 6:19. Our body is the temple of the what? Holy Spirit. Once a person trusts Christ, the miracle of regeneration takes place where the Holy Spirit comes into the life of the believer and dwells there.
By the way, how long is the Holy Spirit in us for? Forever! Our age of time (our dispensation) is very different than the Old Testament where the Spirit departed from Saul (1 Samuel 16:13). That scenario cannot happen today.
David—in Psalm 51:11, a thousand years before Christ—said in prayer to God, “…do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” Now, that was a prior dispensation. The age of the church is different; Jesus, in the Upper Room, revealed the rules for this present age. And He specifically said that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will be in you forever.
In John 14:16-17 the disciples were very panicked about the announcement that Jesus was leaving. In the Upper Room Discourse He begins to tell them [paraphrasing], “It’s actually advantageous to you that I’m leaving. Because when I leave, the Paraclete—translated sometimes ‘the Helper’ or ‘the One Who comes alongside to assist’—will come in My place.” And He will not be on you (as was the case in the Old Testament age); but it says there in verse 17 that He “will be in you.” That’s a radical change!
And He will be in you for how long? It says, in verse 16, forever! He says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper [that’s the Paraclete], that He may be with you forever…”
Now, these Jews were with Christ in the Upper Room—11 saved men. Judas, the only unsaved person, had left the room a chapter earlier. No doubt, that was a statement that blew their minds because they knew nothing about that. They knew about the Holy Spirit coming upon people like Saul and David temporarily, but they didn’t know anything about the Holy Spirit coming inside someone. And they certainly didn’t know anything about the Holy Spirit being inside someone forever.
Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him…” In other words, they knew about the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is evident in the Old Testament very clearly. The Holy Spirit shows up as early as Genesis 1:2 with the Spirit moving on the waters. So don’t get the idea that the Holy Spirit is not revealed in the Old Testament; He’s revealed all of the time.
What Christ is announcing is a new set of rules that are now going to take place in the age of the church, beginning on the Day of Pentecost. Where this Spirit—Whom they knew—was actually going to be inside of them and was actually going to be inside of them forever.
The whole context of the 1 Corinthians 6:19 passage is sexual immorality and sexual sin. It had to do with the Corinthians going into the Greco-Roman system and participating in sexual relations with prostitutes. That’s how you did religion back in the Greco-Roman world. The Corinthians, as Christians—keep in mind—as believers, were going and doing this.
Paul doesn’t say, “You guys must not be Christians if you’re going to do something like that!” He doesn’t say, “You must’ve lost your salvation!” What he says is, “Do you not know—it’s a knowledge problem—that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” He’s articulating what Jesus announced in the Upper Room, that the Holy Spirit is inside of you forever. And he says, “Every time you join yourself to a prostitute sexually, you’re bringing the Holy Spirit into that particular sin!”
That becomes a pretty powerful motivation for holiness in the Christian life! That when we participate in sin as Christians, we’re dragging Jesus Christ—the Holy Spirit—into that particular sin. So that becomes a very powerful moral injunction concerning this Holy Spirit Who is in us forever.
You say, “What does this have to do with demon possession?” Well, it’s very simple! This is why a Christian, I don’t think, can be demon possessed; because I don’t think Satan and the Holy Spirit would make very good roommates. I don’t think Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is in a joint tenancy relationship with the demons, see that?
So, I do think it’s an impossibility for a Christian today to be demon possessed. That’s why you have all of these kinds of statements in the Bible, such as 1 John 4:4 which says, “…greater is He who is in you…” Now why would John say that? Because John, who wrote John 14:16-17, was in the Upper Room to hear Jesus make this statement sixty years earlier.
In fact, in the Upper Room, Jesus made a promise that the Holy Spirit is going to bring all of these things one day—speaking to the 11 saved disciples—to your remembrance. That’s why we have the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. At least Matthew and John were written by individuals who were there when Christ was making these statements in the Upper Room sixty years earlier. That’s why John is unpacking these statements sixty years later in his little book called 1 John. He says very clearly, “…greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”
So, “Can a Christian be demon possessed?” I think the answer to that is “No,” based on the fact that the body of the believer is now the temple of the Holy Spirit. Beyond that, there are some other reasons I don’t think a Christian can be demon possessed. The Bible makes no references whatsoever—that I know of—to a Christian who is demon possessed.
In fact, we throw around this phrase “demon possessed.” That’s not even in the Greek text. The Greek text is “demonized”; it’s translated “demon possessed.” But you have many examples of unbelievers being demon possessed or demonized. You have no examples anywhere in the Scripture of a Christian, who has the Holy Spirit inside of them, being demonized or demon possessed.
Beyond that, you have no biblical references in the Epistles. You say, “What are the Epistles?” I used to think the Epistles were the wives of the Apostles. The Epistles are the letters. Paul wrote 13 of them. Then there’s what you call the eight general letters. And if that weren’t enough, we’ve got seven letters to seven churches in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 2 and 3). This area of the Bible called the Epistles is the part of the Bible that directly governs us.
One of the most important things to learn, as you become a Bible student, is that all Scripture is for us, but not all Scripture is about us. We don’t get our definition of how the Holy Spirit operates today from David’s writings in Psalm 51. Because David, in Psalm 51, was writing in a prior age where the rules were different. He was writing during a time period when the Holy Spirit did not come in but upon people and could leave people. So, that’s not what we call normative today.
If you want to discover what is normative today, you have to give your mind to the Epistolary literature. You’ll notice that when a lot of people get into the subject of demonology, they don’t draw that line of distinction for people, and that’s why there’s so much confusion today. But in the Epistolary literature you have no instructions whatsoever concerning how to cast a demon out of a Christian. You would think that if a Christian can be demonized, there would be some kind of instruction like, “Do A, B, C, and D to get the demon out of that particular Christian.” And the absence of such instruction indicates—along with the body being the temple of the Holy Spirit—that a Christian cannot be demonized, or demon possessed. So can a Christian be demonized? No! Because your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Number two—in the Epistolary literature there is no reference to a Christian being demonized. Number three—in the Epistolary literature there are no instructions regarding how to cast a demon out of a Christian.
Now let me just say one thing. I really wasn’t sure where to bring this up, but a lot of people have asked me about this. I want to toss it in here because it’s indirectly related to what I just said. There’s nothing in the Epistolary literature concerning how to get rid of (for the Christian) what is called today generational curses.
There’s a doctrine that’s become very, very popular today on this whole subject of generational curses. Basically, what they’re talking about is, “Yeah, you’re a Christian—you’re born-again—but you still have a proclivity to sin. Maybe you have a proclivity towards alcohol or drunkenness, and the reason you have that is there is someone in your family tree who gave into that sin.”
So this generational curse has been passed down, if you will, through the family tree. “And even though you’re in Christ, you’re still going to struggle with that particular sin until you get that generational curse removed.” Have you guys heard this teaching and doctrine?
It’s always marketed as, “You have to come to our conference and buy our literature and go through our healing service to get rid of this generational curse. And if you are in Christ and this has never happened to you, then you’re going to continue to struggle with that all of your life.”
The reality of the situation is that the Bible—particularly Epistolary literature—knows no such doctrine! The Epistles say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed [in other words, it’s already happened] us with [how many spiritual blessings?] every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)
Notice that these are accessed in Christ! In other words, once you trust in Christ, you go from being a spiritual pauper to being spiritually wealthy—your account is maxed out! If you go before God and you start to beg and plead with God, “God bless me?!” God is looking at you saying, “What else do you want? Your bank account, your assets, your holdings are totally maxed out!” God says, “I don’t have anything else to give!”
You’ll notice that this verse doesn’t say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ… BUT there’s one thing you lack; make sure to get rid of that generational curse.” It doesn’t say that! Whatever was happening genealogically or hereditarily or in the family tree, that has now been cut off through your new position in Christ Jesus.
Go over to the Book of Colossians for minute. You’ll remember that Colossians and Ephesians are written around the same period of time. Colossians 2:10 says, “and in Him you have been made complete…” It doesn’t say, “In Him you have been made almost complete. Now go to the right meeting, read the right book, and get rid of that family curse.”
There is no such thing as a generational curse! There is such a thing as the law of sowing and reaping. For example, if someone who is pregnant gets involved with drugs, they can harm their child—the child within them. That can happen! But that’s not what we would call a generational curse or a family curse. That’s just the reality of sin which affects innocent people—that’s the nature of sin.
Sometimes that kind of scenario could happen, and I think that’s a completely different category than the generational curses that people are speaking of today. In other words, I’m trying to communicate that you should not feel some kind of compulsion or need as a Christian that what you have in Christ isn’t quite enough.
If anybody is making you feel that way, they’re directly contradicting Colossians 2:10, which says you’re complete in Christ. And they’re directly contradicting Ephesians 1:3 which says you’ve already been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
So, what you need to do as a Christian when you struggle with sin—and we all struggle with it—is you need to get in touch with the resources that you already have in Christ. You don’t need another resource! What you need is to become familiar with the resources that are already there.
It’s a lot like… You read these stories of homeless people living in boxes underneath bridges, and the story comes out in the newspaper that their Uncle Joe or Uncle Harry left them millions of dollars. Yet they’re not aware of it, and they’re living in poverty when, in reality, they’re fabulously wealthy. If you can get that image in your mind, that’s what it’s like for the average Christian today who is struggling with different things.
It’s not a lack of resources that are yours; it’s a lack of being familiar with those resources and accessing those resources moment by moment. And as we begin to access those resources, you’ll discover that God has given you everything you need to say “No” to the sin nature.
It’s not a family curse that’s bothering you; it’s the old nature which you still have. And you’re going to have it until death, glorification, or the Rapture—whichever comes first. As long as you’re in this body, you are going to have struggles with the old nature.
But now you have a new nature—that’s why there’s a struggle. And you have new resources which will allow you to overcome that old nature. That’s really what Christians need: they need to understand their wealth in Christ that’s already been provided; they need to become familiar with it. That’s why Paul says when he’s writing to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?”
That’s the problem with your modern Christian: they don’t know! They don’t have enough information. And not only do they not have the information, but some of us sometimes have the information but we just choose—because we like sin—because sin is fun…for a season. Yes, you heard that from me: sin is fun for a season.
Sin does a great job marketing itself as enjoyable—which it is. What it doesn’t tell you is how brief the enjoyment is. And it doesn’t tell you the consequences that will come into your life as a Christian as a result of going back to sin. But when that old nature rears its ugly head, you don’t need to feel like the reason that old nature is inside of you is because you’ve got a family curse you never got rid of. What you need to understand is that’s the normal posture in three-dimensional warfare. God, particularly in the Epistles, has given us every single tool at our disposal towards saying “No” to that sin nature and yielding, instead, the members of our body unto Christ Jesus.
That’s a diversion into generational curses. But the point I was trying to make is that I don’t think a Christian can be possessed by a demon for reasons I’ve articulated. However, can a Christian be oppressed? Not taken over by demons, but can a Christian be oppressed by demons? I would categorically say, “Yes, that can happen!” I would even say this: most Christians are oppressed by demons. They just don’t know how to handle the situation because they’ve never been taught the principles of three-dimensional warfare.
The Old Testament and New Testament teach very clearly that a Christian can be oppressed. What I mean by “oppressed” is influenced. Not taken over and subjugated, but influenced—misdirected—by the realm of the demonic. Old Testament and New Testament teach this.
1 Chronicles 21:1 talks about how David was moved by Satan to number the troops of Israel. I understand there are different rules in the Old Testament than in the New. But David was not being possessed; he was being influenced to do something that God didn’t want him to do. The language there is very strong—David was moved by Satan to number the troops of Israel.
Move into the New Testament. I acknowledge that this too is before the Day of Pentecost, but I think Peter was very much influenced by Satan. Because Jesus began to make statements that Peter had never heard before up in Caesarea Philippi (up north), and He began to talk about how the Messiah had to suffer and die and rise on the third day. And that did not fit the Jewish expectation of a Messiah.
You know the story. Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Him (if you can imagine doing such a thing). Jesus addressed the force that was motivating Peter’s statement in Matthew 16:23 and He said, “Get behind me, Satan!” So that would be another example of someone not being possessed but oppressed (or influenced)—in this case by Satan.
Now, it’s easy to dismiss all that and say, “That’s all pre Cross, pre Pentecost.” But the pattern continues post Pentecost where you have other examples of believers being what I would call “oppressed.”
When you go to Acts 5:3-4, you see the example of Ananias and Sapphira. Now we’re in the Church Age, Acts 5. The Church Age started in Acts 2. What does it say there in Acts 5:3-4? “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart…” The Greek word for filled there is PLEROO, which is the same word used in Ephesians 5:18 concerning the fact that we are to be filled—be ye filled—with the Holy Spirit. Be ye continuously filled with the Holy Spirit.
The same Greek word is used to describe what Satan now is doing to Ananias and Sapphira. “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
You know the story of Ananias and Sapphira. They had property and they sold it. People misinterpret this all the time; God is not upset at Ananias and Sapphira because they didn’t give all of the proceeds of the sale to the church. Because he says right there in verse 4 [paraphrasing], “You were free to do whatever you wanted with the property.”
The Marxists and the social justice people misuse this constantly; they make it sound like God is against the ownership of private property. That’s not what the passage is saying. If you look at verse 4, what is God upset about? They stood before the church and told everybody, “We gave all of the proceeds of the property to the poor.” When, in fact, they had not. So, they lied—or they misrepresented their level of generosity.
One of the things to understand here in early Acts is that we’ve got a newborn infant—the church. And you know how viruses can damage a newborn infant. You know how a newborn infant is vulnerable to viruses. It was the same of this new spiritual man that came into existence on the Day of Pentecost. So, God dealt with it very dramatically by exercising what I would call maximum divine discipline. In other words, He took Ananias and Sapphira home early. They were slain in the Holy Spirit, so to speak. Which is kind of funny because I’ve run into a lot of Christians that want to get slain in the Holy Spirit—not me!
The temptation in this passage is just to say, “Well, they weren’t Christians!” But look at verse 11. “And great fear came over the whole church…” The church was afraid now, which was why God did what He did here in terms of maximum divine discipline.
If God had struck down an unbeliever, I don’t think the church internally would be afraid. What’s the big deal if an unbeliever is struck dead? But look here—one of our own has been struck dead! So this had a natural purifying effect on the practice of the church, and this is how God kept His new infant virus-free at a very important transitional time where this infant was vulnerable to viruses.
The fact that these are believers, the fact that Satan filled their heart, the fact that the same Greek word PLEROO is used here which is also used to describe the filling of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s life, to me is very clear evidence that a Christian cannot be possessed. But they can be influenced by the realm of Satan or the demonic.
Flip over to 2 Corinthians 12:7. We’re now into the life of the Apostle Paul, and Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh. And what does he say about that thorn in the flesh? By the way, he looks at this thorn in the flesh as a gift! It’s a different way of looking at suffering, isn’t it? It kept him humble because Paul had been caught up to the third heaven, and he heard things that other people don’t hear. Think if you knew a bunch of things from God that not everybody else has. Wouldn’t that inflate your ego a little bit?
He says, “…to keep me from exalting myself, there was given [DIDOMI in the Greek—a gift] me a thorn in the flesh…” And in the process of describing this thorn in the flesh, he says in verse 7, “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh…”
No one knows what that thorn in the flesh was. Some think it was malaria. Some think it was declining eyesight. Some people think it was loneliness. My own view of it? It was probably the whole Corinthian church harassing him every time he tried to teach them anything—they were always in rebellion against him. But I don’t know that for sure. That’s my own private revelation—how’s that?
I know this much—a thorn hurts! That’s the nature of a thorn! In fact, the word “thorn” is probably not even the best translation! It’s probably better translated, “a stake stuck into somebody.” Stake—not Longhorn or Sizzler. This is Texas; we’ve got steak houses within driving distance—walking distance! Multiple steak houses! I take advantage of them quite frequently, but we won’t go into that. And thank you for all the gift cards, by the way; they’re going to good use!
Concerning this thorn in the flesh, look at this, “…a messenger of Satan…” So here’s a great example where God is using Satan for God’s purposes. God keeps Satan around long enough so God can actually use Satan to accomplish God’s goals! Now, we’re going to see a big example of this in our lesson in the second session concerning the Millennial Kingdom.
Paul was tormented—a Christian. “Torment” is a strong word. He was tormented by this messenger from Satan. That is another example I would point to concerning how Christians cannot be possessed but can be harassed or influenced by Satan himself.
Flip over to Ephesians 4:26-27. This is obviously well into the Church Age; the church has been in existence now for three decades—at least—by the time the Apostle Paul writes these words. He makes a statement about anger! Boy, I’m glad we don’t struggle with that today. “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…”
My solution has always been that I want to move to Alaska where I can stay angry! Then they say, “You can only do that part of the year.” But it allows you stay angry more than normal. That obviously is not the meaning; it’s the idea of “Get over it!”
“Be angry, and yet do not sin…” In other words, get over it! How do you get over it? We all are treated unfairly by people; it’s part of living in a fallen world. When we’re treated unfairly, we do what verse 32 says—we forgive as we have also been forgiven.
You don’t need to sit under multiple titles of sermons and read multiple books to deal with some of the basic issues in our lives. You don’t have to submit yourself to tons and tons of therapy. I’m not making light of that, I realize maybe some people need it, but the reality of the situation is you just forgive as you have been forgiven.
If in the year 2020 you forgive people as you have been forgiven by God, you’ll watch the level of anger and bitterness in your life almost disintegrated into nothing! Anger and bitterness cause all kinds of other problems, right? Physical problems…
You say, “Why should I forgive so and so? They don’t deserve to be forgiven!” Well, neither do you! Neither do I! Isn’t it interesting that we bask in the grace of God—which means unmerited favor—and yet we turn around and treat other people with justice. That’s what makes you angry!
When you decide to not let the sun go down on your anger, the level of bitterness in one’s life decreases. And if that happens, Satan can’t use you—because Satan uses Christians. You know the story. Hurt people do what? They hurt other people! Hurt people…hurt people!
If you’ve got all of this angst and anger and bitterness in your life, then Satan is going to use you to vomit that anger out, probably on an innocent party. Because the human body—being—psyche—is not designed to hold all of that stuff inside! It’s going to come out. Tragically, it comes out on the person that you love the most—your spouse, kids, grandkids, parents.
It just has to do with the fact that we’re not putting into practice what the Lord tells us to do here, “Be angry, and yet do not sin…” Then He says, “do not let the sun go down on your anger…” Did you catch the rest of verse 27? Look at this, “and do not give the devil an opportunity [or a foothold].”
Very clearly, there’s no way you can interpret this as being written to non-Christians! And this is not written to believers in a prior dispensation. This is very clearly written to the Church Age believer—which is the section of the Bible which governs us. It says that if you pander to the flesh (in this case bitterness) you’re giving Satan an opportunity—or a foothold—or you’re giving him an opportunity not to possess but to oppress and to influence.
Go to Ephesians 6:12—also written to Christians. “For our struggle…” That’s a wrestling match! If you’re struggling with someone or something, it means that you’re dealing with someone or something that’s trying to influence your life.
Who is trying to influence your life? “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood…” Wow! Nancy Pelosi is not the source of all my problems! Thought she was! “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [then it mentions the realm of the demonic], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Now, if a Christian could not be influenced by Satan, why would it portray our contest against Satan and the demonic as a struggle? The very nature of a struggle indicates that we can be—not possessed but—heavily oppressed or influenced by Satan.
So, when a Christian is influenced by Satan, it typically is a temporary situation. It has nothing to do with a loss of salvation because you have been transferred (Colossians 1:13) out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light—that’s your position. So, we’re not dealing here with the fact that you lost your salvation.
So, oppression doesn’t mean you’ve lost your salvation; it’s a temporary situation. And a lot of the time—I would say most of the time—we bring it on ourselves because we go back to the flesh.
Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…” In other words, don’t give into the fleshly impulses for retaliation and demanding justice. Just forgive—verse 32—as you have been forgiven. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other [Why should I do that?], just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
By the way, if you want to see how ridiculous we look when we demand justice from other people when we ourselves have been treated by grace, there’s a whole parable about that which Jesus gave in Matthew 18. It’s about the fellow who had been forgiven a mass amount of money—probably the sum of a million dollars. He found another guy who owed him a few bucks, and he demanded that every nickel be repaid. And when the guy couldn’t repay the loan, he had him thrown into the debtor’s prison.
You see how silly that guy looks? How could someone who’s been forgiven such a great sum hold someone to a standard of justice for a few dollars? And yet that’s what we are—that’s why that parable is there—when we are by nature unforgiving people. And when we are that way, it says very clearly (verse 27 and connection to verse 26), “…do not give the devil an opportunity.”
So, if I go back to the sin nature—in this case anger—Satan now cannot possess me but he can certainly influence me. I mean, there have been a lot of times in our marriage and home life where I’m mad at this person saying all this stuff. I’m mad at the TV. I’m mad at the newspaper. The mail comes, and I’m mad at the mail! And my wife will say, “Just slow down. What’s really bugging you? You’re just mad at everything!”
And, you know, she’s usually right! It’s some other issue that I’m bothered by. Somebody offended me or hurt me in some way. I just haven’t forgiven them as Christ has forgiven me, so I’ve given Satan a foothold. And this anger is coming out all the time. It’s coming out on her. It’s coming out on my daughter—God forbid!
The fact of the matter is that I don’t need to sit under therapy for months and months and months—and years and years and years. I don’t need to go to 50,000 conferences and read a bunch of best-selling books to help me with that. I just need to read Ephesians 4!
Beyond that, I only need verse 32. Just read verse 32! That’s all you need to do! Whoever harassed you or bothered you? Just let them off the hook and watch your emotional well-being improve dramatically. That’s an example of oppression and not necessarily possession.
Look at all of these things we talked about related to the fallen angelic world. That leads us to number eight. If these fallen angels are so powerful, if Satan is as powerful as we’ve described him—as the Bible describes him—how do I defend myself against Satan? I mean, what hope do I have? If Satan is stronger and more powerful than I am, and one third of the angels fell with him—and they’re stronger and more powerful than I am—then what am I supposed to do?
This gets us into number eight—defense against Satan. Those of you involved in sports or the basketball world know that teams who play defense are not just good. To quote Trump, “Not just good, but great!”
I remember the Denver Nuggets in the 1980s. They were fantastic in terms of offense. In that era they had Dan Issel, they had Kiki VanDeWeghe, and they had Alex English. All three of which usually scored 30 points a game—that’s 90 points! And the Denver Nuggets basically averaged, in that era, over 120 points a game.
In fact, there was a game that came on between the Detroit Pistons and the Denver Nuggets. It went into overtime, and the score was up into the 170s, 180s. You can watch this on YouTube if you’ve got some free time. These are things I like to give myself to in my carnal times.
The Denver Nuggets were very enjoyable to watch! But you know what? Even though they scored all those points, they gave up more points than they scored! The other teams would come to town, and, yeah, the Denver Nuggets would get their 120 points, but the other team would get 125 points!
You can have a lot of pizzazz on offense, but if you’re not playing defense, you’re not going to be a very good basketball team. I think the Denver Nuggets were around a 500 team, but they sure packed the fans in concerning their abilities on offense. So your defense as a Christian is a big deal! And God has given us, essentially, some tools at our disposal to defend ourselves against Satan.
Now one of the things I’m very happy about is God is already doing things right now to defend us against Satan. Doesn’t that make sense? I mean, would we be allowed to meet like this? If Satan had his way, he wouldn’t even allow this meeting to take place. Obviously, God is doing something on our behalf in terms of defense.
So, the first thing to become familiar with are the things that God is doing—His responsibility. And then there are things that the Bible says we are to do in terms of our responsibility. So what exactly is God doing right now? He’s already doing two things! Number one, He’s exercising a ministry of divine restraint.
Satan—although he’s the prince and power the air—cannot do anything he wants to do. And which book of the Bible am I thinking of? The oldest book of the Bible—the Book of Job—tells us that in Job 1:12. “Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord.”
Job 2:6 says, “So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.” What Satan was complaining about was a hedge of protection around Job’s life. Satan is essentially saying, “If You lower the hedge of protection, I’ll get Job to curse You to Your face.” So God allowed Satan this opportunity. But even when the opportunity was allowed, Satan was on a leash, and he wasn’t allowed to do certain things.
So, the reality of the situation is that right now as I speak—over your life, over this church—there’s a hedge of protection. Satan can’t do whatever he wants to do. And even when that hedge is lowered, Satan has parameters he has to work within. So, God is obviously doing something to defend us against Satan. Which would make sense, because I don’t think we would even be meeting here if that weren’t the case.
Go to 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7. There is where you learn that Satan has certain handcuffs on him. Paul says, “And you know what restrains him now…” Who’s the “him”? It’s the lawless one—Satan’s man of the hour—the Antichrist. The Antichrist himself, which we’re all interested in, can’t even come to power until God removes the restraint.
To make a long story short, I think the Restrainer here is the Holy Spirit through the church. So, the Antichrist cannot come to power as long as the church is on the earth, but once the church is removed via the Rapture, Satan goes to work through a person.
And I think he’s probably always had somebody picked out. Because Satan doesn’t know when the Rapture of the church will take place, so he’s always had a man waiting in the wings. When you look at so many people in world history and see the things that they say and do—and even people today—you say, “Wow, that person would be a tremendous Antichrist!” Because Satan has always had someone marked out.
One of these days, the church will be removed, and Satan will express himself perfectly through a human being. And the Antichrist will do what prophecy says he will do. But you’ll notice that Satan can’t just bring him forth right now because of the Restrainer. Paul says, “And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.”
By the way, that’s where you put your political activism as a Christian. You’re politically active and you vote—not because you’re trying to bring in the Kingdom. You don’t do that because your premillennialist, right? Because you go to Sugar Land Bible Church, and you know that Jesus Himself is going to set up the Kingdom! You do it as the restrainer to slow down the progress of Satan.
See, every time you show up at the polls and you vote biblical values, you have not stopped the kingdom of the Antichrist, but you’ve thrown a monkey wrench into it. All that to say, Satan can’t do whatever he wants to do because God is obviously doing something first.
In 1 John 5:18 John says, “We know that no one who is born of God sins…” Now, in context that’s the new nature. He’s not saying that Christians don’t sin. If he is saying that Christians never sin, he wouldn’t have said back in 1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
John is not making a statement here that the Christian doesn’t sin! What he is saying is the new nature that’s in us doesn’t sin. So when I’m tempted to sin, I know that can’t be God through the new nature inside of me, because the new nature itself has no ability to sin. It must be a scenario where I’m going back to the old nature, which I was a slave to prior to conversion. I’m no longer a slave to [the old nature] because of my resources in Christ. I just go back to that sin nature now because I want to.
He says in verse 18, “We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, [watch this] and the evil one does not [what?] touch him.” So, how do we defend ourselves against Satan? The first thing to understand is that God is protecting us.
Something else God is doing? He’s interceding for us. When you look at these passages—John 17:15, Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25—you discover that right now, as I speak, two Members of the Trinity are praying for you around the clock! Are you happy about that?
I mean, we always feel good when a believer comes to us and says, “I’m praying for you!” That’s a wonderful thing! But let’s up the game a little bit! Right now, two Members of the Trinity are praying for you! We don’t have time to look at the Scriptures—we’ll do that next time.
But in terms of defense, God is already doing things for us in this issue of spiritual warfare. The next time we’re together, we’ll take a look at what we are supposed to do in terms of defense.