Demons and the War for Our Souls
Dr. Jim Denison
This Tuesday we will observe an ominous day, not to be repeated for a hundred years. It will be June 6 in the year 2006; by numeric identification, the date will be 6-6-6. The number brings back bad memories.
My junior year at Houston Baptist University, I was standing in line to receive my student ID card. I had been teaching the Book of Revelation where I was youth minister, and was aware that 666 is the “mark of the beast” in Revelation 13. I was struck by the amusing thought that someone at Houston Baptist University would that year receive the ID number 666. He or she would have to give that number at chapel for attendance, write it on multiple forms, and use it all year long. I paid no attention as the person in front of me was given the ID number 665. But I’ll not forget the shock on hearing “Denison: 666.” I wanted to run out to see if I’d grown horns and a tail. Going to chapel, I’d call out “mark of the beast,” the person would write down 666, and everyone would stare. This fact may confirm questions you’ve had about me all along.
It didn’t help that the movie “The Omen” came out that year. It was all about Damien, the Antichrist, and the 666 tattooed on his scalp. Now the movie has been remade and will be released this Tuesday, on 6-6-06. I don’t think I’ll go.
The movie is fiction, but the battle is real. We have rejoiced in worship that we will spend eternity in paradise. But we’re not there yet. We’re in that era between D-Day and V-Day. At Christmas, the One who brings victory landed on the shores of Normandy. This was the beginning of the end. But 15,000 soldiers died on the Western Front between D-Day and V-Day. Ironically, D-Day was June 6, 1944, observed this Tuesday. V-Day in Europe was May 8, 1945. If the Allies had not continued to fight for the eleven months between the two, the victory would not have been won.
Until we get to heaven, we must do battle on earth. You’re in the conflict this morning. There are Nazi spies all around you. At least one is assigned to you today. How are you being attacked? Are you battling discouragement, gossip, lust, anger, hatred, bitterness, guilt, despair? We all are. We’re all in the same conflict. How will you win the victory?
Understand your battle
An African proverb says, “When elephants fight, the grass always loses.” In the realm of spiritual warfare, Christians are the “grass”: “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
In our text we find this battle enacted through remarkable and powerful language. On one side of the battle stands our Heavenly Father, the Creator and Ruler of the universe, the Lord of all that is. Our God who so loved us that he sent his Son to give us eternal life with him in heaven.
On the other stands “the accuser of our brothers,” Satan himself (Revelation 12:10). His very name means “accuser.” He is “filled with fury” that he has been defeated in heaven, so he has brought his battle to “the earth and the sea” (v. 12), to you and me.
He “pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child” (v. 13), a reference to the believing community, or Mary and her persecution under Herod, or both. But she was protected from the serpent. So he “went off to make war against the rest of her offspring–those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (v. 17). That’s you and me. We are the “grass” in his battle against the Lord.
And so God warns us, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). His foot soldiers are his demons. We need to know about them, because they’re after us. They are the means by which the dragon has come to “make war” against you and me today.
According to the Bible, a “demon” is a created spirit being, a kind of angel. These beings sinned with Satan in heaven, and so are commonly called “fallen angels” or “unclean spirits.”
Satan is now their ruler (Matthew 12:24), and he has organized them into his army of evil (Ephesians 6:11-12). God created hell for them, where they will be with Satan forever: “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
You are engaged in a battle with demons today. They are the soldiers of the enemy in the battle for our souls and world. They are attacking you and me right now.
Know your enemy
The Bible teaches five important facts about demons. First, demons are real. Most Americans don’t believe they exist. Most Americans are deceived.
Demons were real to Jesus. Six times in the gospels we find him casting them out of suffering, demon-possessed people. Mark 1:34 says that Jesus “drove out many demons.”
They were real to the early Christians. Acts 5:16 records this scene from their ministry: “Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.” Peter and Paul both exorcised demons personally.
Second, demons are evil and unclean. The Bible often calls them “evil” or “unclean” spirits. Demons are filthy, both physically and morally. Wherever you see demonism you find filth, rubbish, and sin. It’s no accident that with the rise of Satanism and the occult in America we also have the rise of drug abuse, pornography, child abuse, perversion, and obscenity.
Third, demons are stronger than we are. In Mark 5 we meet a demon-possessed man, so strong that men could not bind him even with chains (vs. 3-4). Fragments of their attempts lay all around the tombs where he lived, stark reminders of the impotence of human ability against the forces of darkness. We cannot defeat their temptations in our ability. But we don’t have to.