Sunday morning at church should be a time of inspiration and motivation. Two weeks ago, on a rare weekend home with the family, it was a time of frustration for me. My hopes were high when the pastor announced he’d be speaking on Ephesians chapter six, “The Armor of God.” The church is evangelical, a market-driven, slogan-heavy, offend-no-one kind of place. Even so, how could they compromise Paul’s teaching about the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, the Word of God. I was suckered in even further, when the pastor declared, “Spiritual warfare is real. We’re in a war with the devil, and we need to be prepared to fight.”
I wondered if this church had undergone an epiphany of revelation about demons and the devil. Then, the pastor laid down the ground rules: “In all my years of ministry [30 or so] I’ve never encountered a demon, but I have been confronted by demonic systems of belief.” He assured his listeners that no Christian could be possessed by demons. I expected that. He added some Calvinistic flavor, by pointing out the “concurrency” between “personal choice” and “election.” (Students of our School of Exorcism will recognize this biblical slight-of-hand; if you are elected by God to be saved and have no choice in the matter, it stands to reason that God would not “elect” someone with demons, so if you are a Christian, you can’t have demons.)
So, if he’d never run into a demon, why teach spiritual warfare and the armor of God? The pastor explained that our fight isn’t against Satan and his demons but against a “satanic system of belief.” He moved from the concrete of real demons and a real devil to the philosophical abstract of a system of satanic belief. Very clever. No need to resist, rebuke, or cast out demons. According to this pastor, a Christian only needs to “by faith put on the armor of God” and all resistance of evil will go away. I give this pastor credit for such a clever means of denying the existential reality of the demonic and summarily dismissing deliverance.
There are so many fallacies here I can’t begin to list them all: 1) the example of Jesus who cast out demons, 2) the witness of exorcism in the apostolic age, 3) the testimony of early church fathers regarding confronting real demons, and 4) the present-day witness of deliverance ministries. Our ministry is now approaching 1,000 graduates of our International School of Exorcism. These mighty men and women of God face, almost daily, a reality this pastor denied in a message preached to a congregation of thousands!
In summary, this pastor’s thesis was that spiritual warfare is a battle only in the mind, a victory against an ephemeral essence of immorality, not a struggle against real, evil entities intent on the destruction of believers. What I learned in church that Sunday is that there’s more than one way to deny the demonic. You don’t have to be an atheist to dismiss the devil. You can espouse a politically correct theology that relegates all the devil does to a conceptual notion, a theoretical concept of evil that wafts in the wind, posing no real threat — if you’ve been elected to be saved. But I remind this pastor that James 2:19 tells us that the demons do believe in deliverance and they tremble at the thought.
An encouraging word: Don’t Be a Liar
Who is a liar? That question can be asked of many these days, from Hollywood to Congress. Politicians on both sides constantly stretch the truth to fit their agendas. We now know that many of the most powerful people in Hollywood were living a lie, pretending to be upstanding while privately accosting, even raping, women (and men)! The ultimate test of lying is defined in 1 John 2:22: “Who is a liar, but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ.” People may lie about many things, but the most egregious falsehood is refusing to acknowledge the deity of Jesus. You can get through life telling little white lies, but you can’t get to heaven by refusing to confess that Christ is God.
11 Bob Larson has trained healing and deliverance teams all over the world to set the captives free and Do What Jesus Did® (Luke 4:18). You can partner with Bob and support this vision to demonstrate God’s power in action by calling 303-980-1511 or clicking here to donate online.