“Everyone has their demons.” You’ve likely heard that phrase or even spoken such a phrase, but have you thought about what it means? The implication is that each individual has temptations or dark proclivities that threaten to destroy or corrupt them. It’s actually not a theologically inaccurate assessment of the human condition, though we need not appeal to supernatural agencies to explain our darkness and moral weakness. As we read in James 1:14-15 “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” So if I need not invoke demons to explain my moral failings, a good question is what role these spiritual agencies play in our world. What do demons do?
Christians often commit one of two errors when trying to understand or approach the spiritual agencies known as demons. One error is to pretend as if no such thing exists. There are those in churches that dismiss the whole notion of evil spirits as medieval superstition: embarrassing ideas that ought to be hidden from Christian theology or discussions. The goal of such people is often to skip over biblical texts that clearly teach demonic possession, oppression, or demonic activity as though they were all metaphors for something more spiritually palatable. But some Christians go the opposite direction: attempting to assign demonic agency to every alteration in personal or world trajectory. If they get the flu, it was because they are being attacked by demons; if the car won’t start it’s because other-worldly forces are actively seeking their downfall. Between these two positions, it seems one isn’t taking demonic power seriously while the other is taking it very seriously, but I would suggest that neither is actually taking demons seriously. One is committed to ignorance and the other has created a cartoonish delusion: both are committing dangerous errors of ignorance; too extreme in their understanding to perceive reality accurately. So what are demons and what do they do? What have the scriptures indicated about these beings and their impact on our lives? These are the questions among many others that we’ll seek to answer in our time together this week as we continue our discussion of the supernatural realm by examining what the scripture teaches regarding “Demons”.