Yesterday, I met with a young Christian man who had resisted months of recruiting pressures from a Satanic cult. He had some questions on the nature of demons. As I reflected on our conversation, I realized that the practical concepts that I was teaching him on sin & demons are basically unknown to most church goers. In fact, the situation today is even worse than that; not only do Christians (in general) not understand sin & the drama that is involved around sin, but they are accepting deceptions such as: “It is a sickness, not sin.” By this last statement, I am not saying Christians realize how shallow their understanding is…no, I expect most are quite confident they understand things. And in some churches, great pretensions of having mastered sin are being made; but this message is not about teaching pretensions but honesty.
MADNESS IS IN THE HEART (ECCL 9:3). Sin & its madness are in the heart (LK 6:45)—the Word uses the term “heart” for that which is deep in one’s being, the will, the mind, & the conscience of a person. A rich man does acts of commission (crimes against humanity) and acts of omission (neglects to use his wealth to help others)…but the common thread here is whether it is by commission or omission, both are choices. Our minds guide our choices and have a big role in sin. What motivates our minds?
MY EPHIPHANY. My natural man before accepting Christ included a melancholic propensity to fall into depression & self-pity. One day the Holy Spirit convicted me of this great self-centered sin which is a lack of faith. I realized the enormity of this sin, and tearfully asked God to forgive me. I did not want such a great sin in my life. (And yes-depression is usually a sin—not a sickness, in spite of what the confused sinful World teaches.) When I was cleaned up from this sin, I began to notice that demons of depression were hanging around—usually from behind—waiting for me to willfully open a portal up for them to quickly jump back in and take up residence again! This was quite a revelation, for until then I had never had any awareness of demons. When one is dirty one’s whole life, one doesn’t realize one is not clean. I hardly do this episode justice as there is so much more that can said as well as lessons to learn from it. What I want to explain further is: our will is involved in sin, sin is a choice, and there is a demonic element involved in sin.
SATAN “LED CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE” (EPH 4:8) & EVEN CHRISTIANS GET LOCKED INTO SIN. Devout men who have worked hard to understand sin have realized that a man will fall into a passion that locks him into doing something sinful that he really on some level did not want to do. If one wills to be angry, demons of anger enter & take up residence. They will help insure that the victim’s behavior is locked into anger. An act of anger can lead to the person becoming an angry person. An act of murder or theft can lead to that becoming a way of life…because the demonic element that is allowed in will lock the person into it. Cain was offering sacrifices to God, but he opened himself up to spirits of anger & murder. He never regained freedom from these. His descendants formalized these sins into their traditions and codes.
NOTES ON THE FIRST SIN. The account of the original sin in the Garden actually provides us with key points in understanding what happens when we sin. God had provided all Adam & Eve needed—likewise, we also are provided for, whether we can recognize God’s provision or not. So their sin was not out of necessity, but was a willful choice. The role our will and our choice plays in sin is often quite obscure. Adam had a choice to listen to God, and a choice to obey Him, or not. (By the way, the drama of sin is that it has all kinds of consequences, sometimes I hear Christians complaining about negative circumstances, evidently forgetting that the consequences of a single bad sinful choice can domino & multiply for generations.)
Next we note that in GEN 2 there was an evil intelligence promoting Adam & Eve’s bad choices. God has set things up so that evil will not prevail in our lives, unless we somehow will it, that is, to allow it by willing it. If we chose not to have it in our lives, it will be gone. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”(A) This is so true. At one point, Christ merely said, “Away with you Satan!”(B) Another time: “Satan get behind me.”(C) The power of the light side—Almighty God—over the dark side is no comparison…like shining a small flashlight into the dark. The light instantly overwhelms the dark. If we don’t hide the light of God, it will naturally shine forth, for instance, a city on a hill cannot be hidden.(D) What if Eve or Adam had said, “Away with you Satan!”? Their choice to listen to him, was opening their will to his deception. Demons of deception had a right to enter them. And sure enough, their choices showed that their clear thinking had been clouded. We often unwittingly have already allowed the enemy key positions in our mind BEFORE we realize the temptation or spiritual problem. Revelation of the method and other things the enemy does are in part calculated to cause us to line our will up to some demonic agenda. We unwittingly give the enemy ground before we realize it.
RENEW YOUR MIND. The Word of God repeatedly explains that we need to cleanse our mind, renew our mind, become a new creature in Christ and so forth. When we are taken over by the Holy Spirit, demonic spirits don’t want to hang around. This is why new converts are often initially cleaned of sinful habits automatically without effort. The Hebrew scriptures describe this prophetically as “circumcision of the heart” and it is why OT circumcision was a picture of the new birth by the Spirit.
In Romans chapter 7 it describes the power of sin as like a law (called the “law of sin”) that captures a man. This powerful “law of sin” “lives” in us (ROM 7:20), is “present with me” (7:21), and “in my members” (7:23). Our minds do much out of habit. We have habitual thinking—and before we give our lives to Christ, we have habitual sinful thinking that allows demons to live & direct our minds. (The World’s “great thinkers” don’t even give a moment thought to their sins & sinful thinking.) If we don’t erase all the old habits of thinking, after we give our lives to Christ, guess what?, our old habitual thinking will pull the same old demons back in. The whole drama makes it seem as if sin lives in us. Yes it does demonically and in the old ruts of thinking, the old paths of sinful thinking that need to be erased. But behind all this sin, is our freedom of choice, our will. It is why the Christian wants the Holy Spirit: “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”(E) This is not just Christianese word mumbo-jumbo, but the essential mechanism to keeping the demonic influences out. One has to anticipate when one will be weak and perhaps give into wrong thoughts. The battle with the sin of adultery is lost when one thinks of it in a positive way, and thereby one’s will has opened itself up to demons of lust. That is why we Christians are warned to anticipate spiritual danger & pray.(F) “Cleanse thou me from secret faults…let them not have dominion over me…” PS 19:12-13
FINAL THOUGHTS. In the text of Deut., the primary sin discussed is choosing other gods rather than choosing Almighty God the creator. Choice. Sin is a function of the will, and is a choice. And those choices become habits and traditions…& perhaps even laws. True freedom is the ability to make good choices, i.e. not sin. Satan through sin takes people captive. Some are deceived that they can make some sort of peace with the demonic forces that lock them into sin. They make provisions “for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof”.(G) Feeding the demonic, only increases their power, and makes the paths of poor choices a deeper rut in the mind. Further, many Christians have no strategy to prevent sin. They have little understanding of how our will can unwittingly permit demonic spirits to enter us & lock us into certain behaviors. They have no idea how our ruts of thinking need to be bulldozed into oblivion, and new ways of thinking replace them if we are to have a chance to beat sin. While lots of talk is given to freedom, our worst enemy when it comes to true freedom is often ourselves, for true freedom is the ability to make good choices.
(A) JAS 4:7 (B) MT 4:10 (C) MT 16:23, MK 8:33, (D) MT 5:14-15 (E) GAL 2:20” (F) 1 PTR 4:7 (G) ROM 13:14