This might seem a little odd but let’s talk about evil. There are many within the Christian community who would deny the existence of Satan, the devil and demons. They often claim that references to such things in the Bible are myth and not to be taken literally.
I was curious about how many times these words show up in the Bible so I did a little research and this is what I discovered.
Satan is mentioned 58 times in the Bible.
Demons is mentioned 87 times in the Bible.
Evil Spirit(s) is mentioned 40 times in the Bible.
The devil is mentioned 37 times in the Bible.
That is quite a bit! It comes to a total of 222 times. That is not insignificant. Even Jesus talks about such things. Did he teach about these things as if they were figments of our imagination? Not at all. I would go as far to say that Jesus believed these things to be very real and not mythological. (Hint: we should too.)
One would think if the Son of God knew such things were fake, he would just tell us and not perpetuate a falsehood. Yet when Christians dismiss evil personified, they are also dismissing Jesus’ teaching authority and Jesus himself. That doesn’t seem very tenable for a Christian. Even Jesus taught us to pray, “deliver us from evil…”
Over the years, I have talked to other pastors who have encountered unexplained, negative spiritual phenomena and have asked for help. They often comment, “why don’t they teach us this stuff in seminary?!?” Which of course is a very good question. Why don’t they?
Yes, in the world there are people who are encountering bad stuff that is not of human origin. And yes, in my work, I have encountered it too. You don’t often hear about it because people don’t want to talk about it or be judged as weird or worse.
This is nothing like Ghostbusters. This is serious stuff. I do not think for a moment that Jesus is perpetuating myths in the scripture. I also think that evil prefers that people dismiss it as nonsense. There is no better way to operate in secret when people do not think you exist.
Do I think that some of the exorcisms that Jesus performed were more medical related than demon possession? Yes. Remember, the human authors of the gospels interpreted what they saw or reported what they heard from eyewitnesses. Does that mean all exorcisms were health related? Nope.
Do I think that all the bad things that happen in the world have demonic origins? No again. Humans do a pretty good job of doing terrible things without any help from below. However, I do not believe all suffering and misery is of human origin.
Even though Jesus conquered sin and death through His death and resurrection, there is still evil in this world (just look around). It will continue to exist until Jesus returns. Whether we see it or not, there is a spiritual battle going on. Someone wants to save humanity and someone wants to destroy it. Despite what some Satanists think, the devil doesn’t want followers. He wants to destroy and will deceive people for that very purpose including his followers.
St. Paul clarifies the struggle we face in Ephesians 6:12:
For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the principalities (the first thing, the origin of evil in this case), against the authorities (over humanity), against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
What are we to do with this information? Nothing. That’s right nothing. Our calling as Christians is to cling to Christ and Him alone. Christ provides all the protection we need. There is no need to go out and look for evil to banish. As a matter of fact, it is a dangerous thing to do battle with these forces. Seriously. Those who mess around with such things often bite off more than they can chew, spiritually speaking. Instead, continue to grow in your trust of the Lord and God will watch over you.
My prayer for you is that you understand that there is more going on “behind the scenes” than you might think. Be spiritually aware and spiritually awake so that you continue to seek God and not a dangerous dead end.
God bless you now and always,