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About Doctrines


Romans 8:38
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, NASB

In the above verses both John and Paul place a strong pointers at the powers of darkness. Spiritual warfare is a fact of life and an ongoing condition for the Christian, as well as the rest of the world. Paul returns to this theme of spiritual warfare at 13:12. Of course, his strongest statement on spiritual warfare comes in Ephesians 6:10-18.

It should be noted that as used in the New Testament, the idea of spiritual warfare incorporates more than just our battles against Satan. It is used of the Christian's ongoing conflict and battle with the world, the flesh or sinful nature, and the devil and the demons, especially as they entice us to sin (John 15:18-19; Gal 5:16-17; Eph 6:10-12; 1 John 2:15-17).

In the opening chapters of Romans, Paul argues that man is inherently sinful. This condition exists separate and apart from any outside influence. Yet, we know there exists such an outside influence, Satan and his demons. At the end, the book of Revelation records the conquest of Satan, his imprisonment for a thousand years, his rebellion upon being loosed, and his final casting into the lake of fire. The serpent was present in the Garden of Eden and tempted Eve to sin. Satan has always been present, exacerbating man's sinful state.

The Hebrew word "satan" means adversary or accuser. This meaning is reflected in Revelation 12:10 above. A picture of Satan the adversary and accuser is found in the book of Job. In fact, whenever Satan is used as a proper name, the Hebrew has the article, as in "the adversary" or "the Satan" (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7). In the New Testament it is used as interchangeable with the Greek diabolos, "devil." The two terms clearly represent the same adversary.

The Hebrew satan occurs eighteen times in the Old Testament (14 of those in Job). As indicated by the reference to the use of the definite article, there is some question as to whether the term is a proper name or a title. The Greek has simply imported the Hebrew. Satanas occurs thirty-six times in the New Testament. Twenty-eight of these times it is accompanied by the definite article. Obviously, our English merely makes the name a loan word from the Hebrew and Greek.

Satan is also called "the dragon," "the old serpent" (Rev 12:9); "the prince of this world" (John 12:31); "the prince of the power of the air" (Eph 2:2); "the god of this world" (2Cor 4:4); "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph), and "Beelzebub, the prince of the devils" (Matt 12:24). Peter refers to him as a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8).

Diabolos ("devil") is not found in the Old Testament. It is found thirty-four times in the New Testament and carries the meaning one who is a slanderer. The "devil" becomes an evil adversary of God.

The general teachings of Scripture appear to make Satan the ruler of the principalities and powers. Jesus calls Satan "the prince of this world" (John 12:31). The actions of the Cross will result in Satan having no hold on Christ, primarily because Jesus was without sin (John 14:30). Thus, Satan stands condemned at the bar of God's judgment (John 16:11).

While unbelievers are pictured as being related to Satan as their "father" (John 8:44), believers need to resist the devil (James 4:7) and exercise great care in their life style (i.e., 1 Cor 6:18; Eph 4:26). It is clear that Satan incites all to sin, but since the believers are indwelt and led by the Holy Spirit, they need to be especially careful not to allow Satan a foothold in their life.

The New Testament makes it clear that demons are another fact of life. They are assumed to exist and no effort is made in Scripture to prove their existence. It is generally assumed they are the fallen angels (1 Peter 2; Jude) pulled from heaven by Satan (Rev 12:4). There are only two references to demons in the Old Testament (Deut 32:17; Psalms 106:37), but the presence of evil spirits is found in other references (i.e., Jud 9:23-24; 1 Sam 16:16-17). Since the Old Testament viewpoint is almost always on God's sovereignty and control, the demons and evil spirits of the Old Testament are subject to God's control. They appear "non-malicious" when compared to the New Testament references. On the other hand, when Satan is included with the demons, the story of Job demonstrates the evilness of these beings.

Satan is the devil, while his underlings are the demons. Their presence in the spiritual battle of men is evidenced by the frequency of their references in the New Testament. The Greek daimonion, demon, occurs some 60 times in the New Testament with 50 of these occurrences coming in the Gospels. A second word used to describe demons is pneuma, which properly means spirit. In the context of its descriptive adjectives it is used 52 times as demons. The descriptive adjectives include "unclean" and "evil." The Greek word for angels, angelos, is used 7 times of the demons. A fourth term, daimon, which is the classical Greek for demon, appears only in Mark 8:31.

The frequency of usage and the number of examples present in Scripture demonstrates that the evil spirits exercise control over human. Several terms are used to describe this demonization of humans. Examples are found in Matthew 4:24; 8:16, 28, 33; 12:22, 43-45; Mark 1:32; 5:15; 7:25; Luke 7:33; 8:29; 13:16; John 7:20; 8:48; 10:20-21. This is not a complete list. The symptoms of being under demonic control include muteness, blindness, self-inflicted wounds, crying, convulsions and seizures, dwelling in unclean places, going around naked, and divination. The symptoms cover the physical, social, and spiritual realms. On the other hand, please remember that such symptoms do not, in and of themselves, clearly demonstrate demonic possession or control.

It is clear that believers are not immune from demonic attack. This helps us to understand Paul's frequent admonitions to put on our spiritual armor. The manner of influence and control is different however. Believers are owned by God, so they can never be "owned" by the demons or Satan. However, believers are clearly subject to the influence and control of the demons. Examples such as false doctrines and teachings (1 Tim 4:1; 1 John 4:1-4) and false miracles and wonders (2 Thess 2:7-11; Rev 16:14) demonstrate some of the methods of such control. Paul speaks of being buffeted (2 Col 12:7). Other examples of such physical attack are found in Matt 26:67, 1 Col 4:11, and 1 Peter 2:20. We cannot be certain as to the method of such attacks for Scripture provides us with no detail.

One issue in this battle is the ability of a believer to be possessed by a demon. The debate involves, primarily, the issue of possession and indwelling. Since the Holy Spirit indwells the believer, the argument is that the Holy Spirit and Satan or his demons cannot both possess a person. There is a great deal of theological logic to this position. However, we need to understand that the Greek term translated as "demon possessed" or "demonized" does not carry the same connotations of possession with ownership as does the English usage. The believer is owned by God and can never be owned by sin or Satan. This is Paul's entire argument in his examples of slaves and masters. God is now the Master of the Christian. This is not to suggest, however, that a believer cannot be temporarily subject to the control of a demon. Whether this means to be possessed becomes an irrelevant issue. And, even if such possession were possible, the believer must remember that

He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world
(1 John 4:4 NKJV).

God wins!




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