Jesus spent much of His time healing the sick. He also cast out many demons and forgave sins. All were examples of His mission to set captives free and crown them with dignity and righteousness.
We would be wrong to assume that the demonic presences that were around then are not here today or that certain people are not held captive by their influence, just as they were in Christ’s day. Captivity to double-mindedness, contrariness and living from offence are evidence of their presence, as are addictions like workaholism that makes people slaves of their church or their career. I’m saying ‘it’s not just you.’ Leave the supernatural out of your reckoning and you’ve gutted your Christian life entirely.
A dissolute life; a constant refusal to heed the voice of the Holy Spirit; an attitude of pride and intellectual arrogance or even a quiet stubbornness and a smug attachment to unscriptural beliefs is an invitation to demonic influence – influence that remains dormant until challenged by the testimony of truth-tellers and those who give the testimony of Jesus. The spirit of prophecy penetrates accumulated rationalizations and confronts people with TRUTH.
We live in the same world as Jesus did but with a different worldview. The rationalist/materialist mind-set has not made demons disappear. But it has made them almost invisible. It has enabled them to insert themselves into oppressive mind-sets in the church and in governments. Their influence is seen in the porn industry, hierarchical religion, the specious doctrine of ‘covering’ and the excesses of the capitalist system. Anything that is deceptive, exploitative and amoral is not only evil but the habitation of unclean spirits.
‘He gave a mighty shout: "Babylon is fallen--that great city is fallen! She has become a home for demons. She is a hideout for every foul spirit, a hideout for every foul vulture and every foul and dreadful animal’ Rev 18. 2 NLT.
Don’t fall for the illusion that demons are bottled up in that compartment of life that you call ‘the Bible’ or ‘religion.’ Demons are present wherever there is oppression, bondage and chaos. They remain hidden until some reform is attempted. Then they manifest not as monstrous apparitions but as vociferous and sustained opposition to the removal of oppression and injustice. A recent example of this in Australia can be seen in the attempted reforms of the poker-machine industry.
Demons love to bind us into the old creation when we are of the new. If Satan cannot kill us He will retard us. If he cannot prevent new life he will strife to see that we live in some degree of lesser life. Christ is life. All forms of un-life are of the pit.
It should be obvious that where Christianity is careless of Christ it comes under the influence of the anti-christ spirit. Wherever lip service is paid to the name of Christ yet there is a marked distaste for His person, the antic-christ spirit holds court. It is greatly angered when Jesus appears in the flesh of His people to provoke spontaneous worship, colouring outside the lines of conformity or the healing of the sick and casting out of demons. It hates nothing so much as the manifestation of Christ’s miraculous power – which to it is a death sentence.
The spirit of anti-christ does not mind how charitable or missionary-minded people are. But it fights to the death against life in the Spirit of Christ and the manifestation of His limitless power. A major stronghold of demonic oppression today is the binding and blinding of God’s people in Old Covenant mind-sets. The reason for this is that an Old Covenant person cannot represent the Kingdom of God. Well, such a person can manage to exhibit pieces of religion. But representing the gospel of the Kingdom with its life and authority is quite another thing.
The demonic will manifest its opposition through people whenever God’s people are on the verge of entering a new realm of freedom in Christ or a new level of dignity and honour as God’s daughters and sons. We all do well to know what spirit we are of.
The religious spirit loves to frame dullness and bondage in terms of honour to God. It will do this using weapons of tradition, identity and even the Bible. One of the most comfortable couches on which the religious spirit can rest is an identity based theology –where a denomination claims to possess something in addition to Christ that sets it apart or some variation on the doctrine of the apostles that robs the cross of its power.
‘But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!’ Gal 1.8 NIV.
Political spirits find a congenial living space in political pastors who inhabit political churches and political denominations. Here the agenda is to please the factions of the church and to maintain the status-quo as the means of maintaining power and control. It was so when Jesus was here and in many places it is so today. The mouth-pieces of these spirits do not so much contradict the revelation of Jesus. They release clouds of doubt to multiply confusion. Those most vulnerable to the resulting chaos are those whose relationship is to church rather than the person of Jesus.
Demons cannot hide when the glory and power of Jesus is declared. They are exposed today as they were in Jesus’ day. Yet it’s amazing the number of professional religionists who believe in demons in principle but never in practice. Should a demon manifest in a particular situation as it did in my daughter’s school some years ago, there’s a panicked scramble to define what happened in psychological terms rather than in the terms simply described in the Bible. Unfortunately the witness of such churches is exercised in natural terms rather than in supernatural power - which means that it too can represent a form of church but never the Kingdom of God.
Such assumptions are themselves evidence of demonic influence. Demons have access to human minds and can insinuate thoughts that keep people vulnerable weak and captive. They intensify and multiply thoughts that are religious, fearful or dismissive of their existence and influence. The Bible indicates that those not filled with the Spirit of Christ are vulnerable to being filled with spirits that are not Christ. Religious spirits are undoubtedly the most wide spread and influential spirits in the Western Church. They live to keep people bound to religion and insulated from Jesus, the real source of authority and power.
But Jesus came to set captives free. He is still doing it, drawing people to Himself and into His light. Jesus transforms captives into kings. In Jesus we are His priests and kings called to minister and reign on the earth - after the second coming. No. Today. Today if you hear His Voice do not harden your heart. Open it and let the King of glory come in!
‘And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel’ Matt 9.33 NIV.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. When people are bound in false doctrine we must assume that there is another spirit involved. But to see things as they are we must have the same mindset as the Bible and of Jesus.
Deny the supernatural and we have no real category for dealing with spirit. Where there is no spirit, there is no vision - but there is religion of a mechanical kind. Adventism posits a bifurcated realm of rationalism/materialism versus the supernatural. Versus the supernatural in that Adventism believes in God. It is the product of Ellen White’s visions. (It’s hard to get anything less supernatural than a vision.) Yet mechanical and material in the sense that Adventism is heavily tainted with logical positivism, as one might expect being soaked in a climate of law. It’s not that there is no place for spirit and the supernatural. It’s just that this is in heaven or far off in ‘Jesus’ Day,’ in the ‘island fields’ or somewhere else. But definitely not now! Maybe there is one exception. Unless one is so desperately ill that an ‘anointing’ is called for, which is generally recognized by the more astute as the kiss of death.
‘For He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes’ Matt 7.29 NIV.
Jesus had authority, not as the scribes. All Believers have similar authority if they are living in the new covenant life of Jesus instead of the disabilities of Adam. Adventists are not big on authority in the manner in which Jesus wielded it. More acquainted are they with the authority of the scribes than the kind Jesus wielded over sickness and demons. I had never heard of the word cessationism when I was at College. We assumed that the age of miracles had passed. But anyone who has had some association with Spirit-filled Believers would know that this is not so. Cessationism is the air Adventism breathes. There are those who would advise us to have no interest in those who emphasize experience. Clearly they want us to continue to subsist in an experience where the absence of God is the norm. There is a reason why healing and signs are seen among those who expect and practice them. It’s called belief.
In Adventism, humans are held to have no spirit. This means that the incarnation of the Spirit of Christ in human flesh is more a notion than a reality. And more so because they are into law rather than Spirit. Never mind that the letter kills. The key reality for these Believers is not the Spirit of Christ. It is the law which one may ascertain by reading the Bible, discovering the meaning and putting it into practice by means of the will and assorted acts of self-abnegation and self-discipline. In the religion of Ellen White you think, eat, do and Sabbath your way to heaven.
I worked with a teacher whose focus was on students being ‘thinkers.’ Their evidence of maturity would be seen in their ability to think their way into the ‘inherent and indisputable logic’ of their Adventist belief system. Adventists belief they have ‘the truth.’ Truth is what Adventists believe and teach. Not what the Bible says or what the Body of Christ teaches.
The teacher didn’t say this but to the Adventist there is great merit in being ‘a thinking person.’ The inference is that if all Christians were thinking persons they would all be Sabbath-keepers and Adventists. Adventist belief is consistent with itself because it is a closed system. It is verified internally by the inter-locking logic of its beliefs that are in turn supported by the claim to revelation. Adventist doctrine is supported by its Ellen White version of the Bible. This is not an official Bible. It is the assumptions and view-points that may be called the Ellen White lens. None of these beliefs can stand on their own. Neither can they be supported by scripture is un-massaged by Ellen White’s assumptions. Yet because of ‘the package’ it can appear to these Believers that they have the right answer for everything. Unless they dive into the river that is Christ it is very difficult for these veils to be removed.