From Jim McGuiggan... What about demons?

What about demons?

As you'd expect there's a mass of material on angels and demons and much of it is a rehearsal of what ancients believed and wrote. It must all be taken into account because it does (and should) affect how we read the scriptures but most of us don't have the time, energy, interest or ability to weigh the evidence with any degree of expertise. And while it's obvious that some of the background is important, in various ways, it's also clear that much of it is as fatuous as our own modern stuff. (The kind of stuff you see in the rash of television shows about ghosts, demons, angels and the like as well as some religious books that claim to be echoing the biblical witness and aren't.)
Demons are said to be “unclean spirits” (Matthew 10:1 and Mark 3:15 ). Angels are “spirits” also and some of them are said to be allies of Satan (Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 12:7). We call angels “angels” not because they're “made of” a certain kind of “stuff” or substance but because they are messengers and presumably they were all originally servants of God. The word “demon” was used in ancient Greek to speak of what was supernatural, a god or goddess, something divine or the spirit or essence of someone. It could be either good or bad. But when we come to the New Testament the central thrust is this: a demon is an evil spirit that expresses opposition to God and his reign and often shows that opposition (in the Gospels especially) by injuring humans. Angels can be good or evil but in the Old and New Testaments demons are invariably evil.
Where do they get their power? What is true of angels is true of demons. As the crucifixion of Christ is at one and the same time God's holy work and man's sinful act so demonic activity is at one and the same time their satanic work and God's redemptive activity. If you ask me how human hurt carried out by evil beings can be God at work redeeming I'll ask you to read again what I've said earlier [in these pieces] on Assyria and others. If God can use Nebuchadnezzar, Asshurbanipal and the Pharaohs of Egypt for redemptive purposes he can use Stalin, Hitler and demonic beings.The sinful choice remains with the humans and demonic forces. That God uses their sin for good purposes is no glory to them.
There's little point about being impatient with statements like this because it's the truth whether we like it or not. Until we come to terms with the truth that God sustains the existence of evil beings as well as good beings we'll have no peace. Evil beings are evil beings because they choose to be and God holds them responsible for their evil but in the meantime he keeps them alive and uses them to serve his holy and redemptive purposes. Have you seen the fearful passages like 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 and 1 Kings 22:19-23 where Micaiah describes in a picture the truth he tells in 22:23? Whatever we are to make of them it would be a mistake not to take them seriously and it would be a mistake not to allow God to claim he is behind it.
Then there's that startling text in Psalm 78:49 (LK 77:49) where the Greek text has God sending against Egypt a band of “evil angels”. This should warn us that an angel may be called “evil” either because he is himself intending to be sinful or that it is called “evil” because it brings calamity (see the NIV and RSV). A satanic angel would be malicious in intent so that his act from his standpoint is evil. Nevertheless he might be furthering the will of God so that from God's angle the event is holy and righteous because that's God's motive and purpose. See above on 2 Corinthians 12:7 and other texts.
think demons are personal beings that are part of the rebellious forces that seek God's hurt by spreading their malice and error throughout the creation. [This conviction needs to be tested.] I think that at the time when God became incarnate in Jesus Christ God gave [and "allowed"] demons added power to underscore the arrival of God's reign in Christ. The tangible entrance of demons into human affairs matched God's tangible entrance into human affairs. I think God did this to demonstrate in public his reign over the invisible powers that work their evil to humanity's loss. God at his most vulnerable (in weakness) confronted the unclean and destructive forces at their most powerful and dismissed them with a word (compare Matthew 8:16 and elsewhere).
I think it's clear enough that the Old Testament knows nothing quite like “demon possession” as it's seen in the Gospels. There is talk of demon worship as it is seen in the worship of gods and idols (Deuteronomy 32:17; Leviticus 17:7; Psalm 96:5 (LXX, 95:5 and “demons”). While demons are still a force to be reckoned with after the personal ministry of Christ two things need to be said about it. One, there is not the same intensity about the subject, that is, it doesn't jump out at you from everywhere as it does in the Gospels. Two, the miraculous and healing activity of the apostles and early church was seen as an immediate continuation of the ministry of the risen and glorified Lord (compare Acts 1:1; 2:33 ; 3:6 and elsewhere). I say that to make the point that the public confrontation between the vulnerable Lord and the powerful demons was still being seen. And I say that to say that it would appear that “demonic possession” was less visible and less “in your face” as time passed.
And what was demon “possession”? Demon possession was a starker exhibition of the influence of demonic beings/forces in human affairs. They've always been around but they haven't always been as visibly oppressive as they were during the personal ministry of Jesus. Paul insisted there was only one God and that gods are non-existent but he did say that to worship idols and non-existent gods was to fall in line with demons (1 Corinthians 8:5-6 and 10:19-21). To do that was to eat at a table with demons, though he isn't suggesting that demons became visible there or that the worshipers consciously meant to eat with demons. Lies and unholiness brought them into contact with demons but it wasn't marked and visible as it was in the Gospel records.
So what was demon possession? It might mean that demons actually entered into the bodies of the victims or it might mean that so powerful was their influence on them that they took over their bodies and minds without actually getting inside their bodies. Satan entered Judas but there's no compelling reason to think he took up residence in him or entered into his body the way we would enter a room.
Is demon possession possible today? If we mean do demons literally enter the bodies of people today and live in them I don't know they ever did; but I don't think the answer matters a lot. If evil beings can influence us to do evil things while literally outside us then it doesn't matter if they can get inside our skin.
I think the stark and visible manifestation of demonic forces was a passing phase of their activity confined to the period when God visibly showed himself in weakness. Has Christ defeated demons? Utterly and eternally! See Colossians 2:15 on the defeat of the powers.
But are there not texts that seem to plainly say that demons actually became embodied in people (see especially Mark 5:8-13 and the use of words like “in” and “out”)? Yes, there are texts that look that way and it may be that we are to understand them literally but words like “in” or “under” or “into” often function not as spatial realities but relational realities.
Christ's followers are said to be “in” God and God “in” them. God is said to “dwell in” them, but I'm not sure that we're supposed to think that the triune God has literally taken up bodily residence in each one of them. Penitent believers are said to be baptized “into” Christ but I'm sure we aren't to think they literally take up bodily residence in him. (I'm acquainted with the truth about a “corporate” Christ but that's another discussion and another area.)
Here's what I think. At some time in the past there was a sinful rebellion against God in the world beyond the human. Spirit beings revolted against the Holy God and so we had angelic beings and demons headed up by Satan. That moral infection which permeated them was brought to humans and they eagerly embraced it and have been spreading it ever since. This human rebellion has the same quality as the super-natural rebellion and finds its inspiration and model there; hence it is demonic and satanic. Their demonic models trigger the hurt and loss that humans experience (though the guilt is ours and ours alone--demons and wicked angels have their own problems).
When humans reject God and follow evil they are esteeming Satan and demons above and against God (compare 1 Corinthians 10:18-21). When they reject truth and embrace palatable error they embrace doctrines of demons (see 1 Timothy 4:1 and compare 1 John 4:1-6).
I think that a tangible entrance of demons into human affairs matched God's tangible entrance into human affairs. I think God did this to demonstrate in public his reign over the invisible powers that work their evil to humanity's loss. I don't believe that the demons came and went simply on their own accord and I think their visibility in the Gospels was a God-ordained and stark manifestation to signal the arrival of God's reign in Jesus Christ. That's what I think!
I think that those who take it on themselves to speak like oracles about the presence of demons in people need to realize what a very serious injury they may be doing to people already drowning in the moral struggle. Already vulnerable people can be driven over the moral edge if they think they are controlled by demons. And sinners can be led to despair and others can be led to place the blame for their sin where it doesn't belong.
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

“Christianity Could Not Possibly Be True” by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


“Christianity Could Not Possibly Be True”

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

What did atheistic author Mike Davis allege was the “smoking gun” that proved to him once and for all that “Christianity could not possibly be true”? What “sealed the issue” and led him to believe “Jesus was wrong...and no more deserving of our belief than any other guy”? When did the case against the Bible and Christianity become “closed”? In chapter one of his book, The Atheist’s Introduction to the New Testament: How the Bible Undermines the Basic Teachings of Christianity, Davis explained that Matthew 24:34 was the deciding factor.
In Matthew 24:34, Jesus stated: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” According to Davis, since “Jesus tells his listeners that the judgment day will come before the generation he’s speaking to passes away,” and since that generation passed away 1,900 years ago, Jesus “could not have been divine” and the Bible is “untrustworthy” (2008, pp. 1-2). In actuality, what Davis confesses ultimately “proved” to him that the Bible and Jesus are unreliable is nothing more than a misinterpretation of Scripture. Jesus was not mistaken in His comments in Matthew 24:34—Jesus’ generation did not pass away prior to witnessing the things Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:4-34. But, Jesus did not foretell in those verses what Davis assumes He foretold. Davis and many others believe that, prior to verse 34, Jesus was describing events that would take place shortly before Judgment Day at the end of time. The fact of the matter is, however, Jesus was prophesying about the coming destruction upon Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and not the final Judgment.
When the disciples went to show Jesus the temple buildings (Matthew 24:1), Jesus said, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (24:2). Later, when Jesus was on the Mount of Olives, the disciples asked Him three questions, beginning with “when will these things be?” (24:3). In verses 4-34, Jesus revealed several signs that would indicate Rome’s destruction of Jerusalem, including the temple, was near. [NOTE: “The fall of the Hebrew system is set forth in the sort of apocalyptic nomenclature that is characteristic of Old Testament literature, e.g., when the prophets pictorially portray the overthrow of Jehovah’s enemies (cf. Isaiah 13:10-11; 34:2ff; Ezekiel 32:7-8)” (Jackson, n.d.); cf. Matthew 24:29-31; see Miller, 2003.] In verses 35-51 (and all of chapter 25), Jesus answered the disciples’ last two questions: “what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). To summarize, in Matthew 24:4-34 Jesus foretold of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, while in 24:35-25:46 He commented on His future return and final Judgment of the world.
How sad it is that so many atheists and skeptics believe they have disproven the Bible and Christianity, when, in reality, they have simply twisted the biblical text to mean something God never intended (cf. 2 Peter 3:16). The fact that Mike Davis highlights Matthew 24:34 as the verse that once and for all proved to him the Bible is unreliable should tell us something about the extreme weakness of the skeptic’s case against Christianity.


Davis, Mike (2008), The Atheist’s Introduction to the New Testament (Outskirts Press: Denver, CO).
Jackson, Wayne (no date), “A Study of Matthew 24,” http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/19-a-study-of-matthew-24.
Miller, Dave (2003), “There Will Be No Signs!” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1838.

From Mark Copeland... Binding The Hands Of Jesus (Mark 15:1)

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                   Binding The Hands Of Jesus (15:1)


1. In Mk 15:1, we are told the enemies of Jesus bound Him and sent 
   Him to Pilate...

   "Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a 
   consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; 
   and they bound Jesus, led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate."

2. As we read this, it is easy for our hearts to be filled with 
   sadness, and even with a touch of righteous indignation for that 
                                           crowd that bound Jesus in such a way

3. And yet, there are few today who are not guilty of binding the hands of Jesus in a figurative way!

[To see what I mean, consider some of the various ways we can be guilty of"Binding The Hands of Jesus" today...]


      1. Today, through His gospel, He pleads with all<< Previous | Index | Next >> to take advantage
         of His vicarious suffering
      2. He does not want us to suffer for the guilt of our own sins
      3. In truth, then, His "tender invitation" of Mt 11:28-30 is still
         being offered today

      1. The hands of Jesus are bound!
      2. There is no way such a person can then receive the benefits of
         Jesus death!
      3. For him or her, the death of Jesus was in vain!

      1. It will be...if you do not obey the gospel of Christ - cf. Mk 16:15-16; Ac 2:38
      2. And if so, you will one day have to face His righteous
         indignation! - 2Th 1:7-9

[But even those who obey the gospel can be guilty of "Binding The Hands Of Jesus".  How...?]


      1. This transformation involves a renewal of the mind - Ro 12:1-2; Ep 4:20-24
      2. Through study and meditation upon the Word of God - 1Pe 1:23-2:2; Php 4:8

      1. We do not "receive with meekness the implanted word..." - Jm 1:21
      2. Thus we "bind the hands of Jesus" that we do not change!

      1. We are, if we neglect to study the Bible on our own!
      2. We are, if we fail to take advantage of opportunities to study
         with others!

[Neglect the transforming power of the Word of God, and we are just as
guilty of "Binding The Hands Of Jesus" as were those who delivered Him
to Pilate! We can also bind the hands of Jesus...]


      1. He became man for this very purpose - He 2:17-18
      2. He’s made it possible for us to boldly approach the throne of
         grace in prayer - He 4:14-16
      3. As our high priest...
         a. He is able to save those who come to God through Him - He 7:25
         b. He "ever lives" to make intercession for us - ibid.

      1. Jesus cannot be our high priest, our intercessor!
      2. Figuratively, we’ve taken the "praying hands" of Jesus and
         "bound" them behind His back!

      1. If so, what a travesty this is!
      2. For here is Jesus...
         a. Who "lives" to intercede for us
         b. But Who can’t, because we prevent Him from doing so by our
            failure to pray!

[Another way to be guilty of "Binding The Hands Of Jesus"...]


      1. As His body, we are individually members of one another - 1Co 12:27
      2. As members of one another, we are to care for one another - Ep 4:15-16
      3. It is through such "mutual edification", that Christ provides
         much of His help for the members of His body!

      1. Just as our physical head can do little if our bodily members
         fail to follow its leading, so it is with Jesus and His church!
      2. Jesus could do so much more for His members, if only more of
         the members did their part!

      1. That by failing to do our part, we "handicap" the body of
      2. That because of neglect or apathy...
         a. Either the whole body of Christ suffers
         b. Or others are forced to do "double duty" in order to make up
            the difference?

[Yes, there are many ways we can be just as guilty of "Binding The Hands
Of Jesus" today as were the religious leaders who delivered Jesus to
Pilate!  But consider just one more...]


      1. Consider Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:15-16; 1Pe 2:9
      2. In every case of conversion recorded in Acts, Jesus used a
         disciple to tell the good news
      3. Jesus works the same way today!

      1. We have "bound the hands" of Jesus once again!
      2. We hinder Jesus from telling others of His wonderful grace!

      1. Every day, countless souls die with no hope of eternal life
      2. This need not be, if more made sharing of the gospel the
         primary concern in their lives!
      3. Sadly, in too many cases the primary concern of Christians is
         the pursuit of pleasure and acquisition of worldly treasures!


1. Yes, one does not have to literally "bind the hands of Jesus" to be
   guilty of the same sort of offense that we read about in Mk 15:1; as we
   have seen, there are many other ways as well!

2. Why not today, resolve to "loose the hands of Jesus" so that in us
   and through us He may accomplish His full desire?  Which is...
   a. To save us!
   b. To transform us!
   c. To use us!

               Christ Has No Hands But Our Hands
                  ~ By Annie Johnson Flint ~

     Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work today
     He has no feet but our feet to lead men in the way
     He has no tongue but our tongue to tell men how He died
     He has no help but our help to bring them to His side.

     We are the only Bible the careless world will read,
     We are the sinner’s gospel; we are the scoffer’s creed;
     We are the Lord’s last message, given in word and deed;
     What if the type is crooked? What if the print is blurred?

     What if our hands are busy with other work than His?
     What if our feet are walking where sin’s allurement is?
     What if our tongue is speaking of things His lips would spurn?
     How can we hope to help Him or welcome His return?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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From Gary... Bible Reading January 30

Bible Reading  

January 30

The World English Bible

Jan. 30
Genesis 30

Gen 30:1 When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister. She said to Jacob, "Give me children, or else I will die."
Gen 30:2 Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, "Am I in God's place, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?"
Gen 30:3 She said, "Behold, my maid Bilhah. Go in to her, that she may bear on my knees, and I also may obtain children by her."
Gen 30:4 She gave him Bilhah her handmaid as wife, and Jacob went in to her.
Gen 30:5 Bilhah conceived, and bore Jacob a son.
Gen 30:6 Rachel said, "God has judged me, and has also heard my voice, and has given me a son." Therefore called she his name Dan.
Gen 30:7 Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid, conceived again, and bore Jacob a second son.
Gen 30:8 Rachel said, "With mighty wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed." She named him Naphtali.
Gen 30:9 When Leah saw that she had finished bearing, she took Zilpah, her handmaid, and gave her to Jacob as a wife.
Gen 30:10 Zilpah, Leah's handmaid, bore Jacob a son.
Gen 30:11 Leah said, "How fortunate!" She named him Gad.
Gen 30:12 Zilpah, Leah's handmaid, bore Jacob a second son.
Gen 30:13 Leah said, "Happy am I, for the daughters will call me happy." She named him Asher.
Gen 30:14 Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother, Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, "Please give me some of your son's mandrakes."
Gen 30:15 She said to her, "Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son's mandrakes, also?" Rachel said, "Therefore he will lie with you tonight for your son's mandrakes."
Gen 30:16 Jacob came from the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, "You must come in to me; for I have surely hired you with my son's mandrakes." He lay with her that night.
Gen 30:17 God listened to Leah, and she conceived, and bore Jacob a fifth son.
Gen 30:18 Leah said, "God has given me my hire, because I gave my handmaid to my husband." She named him Issachar.
Gen 30:19 Leah conceived again, and bore a sixth son to Jacob.
Gen 30:20 Leah said, "God has endowed me with a good dowry. Now my husband will live with me, because I have borne him six sons." She named him Zebulun.
Gen 30:21 Afterwards, she bore a daughter, and named her Dinah.
Gen 30:22 God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her, and opened her womb.
Gen 30:23 She conceived, bore a son, and said, "God has taken away my reproach."
Gen 30:24 She named him Joseph, saying, "May Yahweh add another son to me."
Gen 30:25 It happened, when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, "Send me away, that I may go to my own place, and to my country.
Gen 30:26 Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me go; for you know my service with which I have served you."
Gen 30:27 Laban said to him, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, stay here, for I have divined that Yahweh has blessed me for your sake."
Gen 30:28 He said, "Appoint me your wages, and I will give it."
Gen 30:29 He said to him, "You know how I have served you, and how your livestock have fared with me.
Gen 30:30 For it was little which you had before I came, and it has increased to a multitude. Yahweh has blessed you wherever I turned. Now when will I provide for my own house also?"
Gen 30:31 He said, "What shall I give you?" Jacob said, "You shall not give me anything. If you will do this thing for me, I will again feed your flock and keep it.
Gen 30:32 I will pass through all your flock today, removing from there every speckled and spotted one, and every black one among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats. This will be my hire.
Gen 30:33 So my righteousness will answer for me hereafter, when you come concerning my hire that is before you. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and black among the sheep, that might be with me, will be counted stolen."
Gen 30:34 Laban said, "Behold, I desire it to be according to your word."
Gen 30:35 That day, he removed the male goats that were streaked and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white in it, and all the black ones among the sheep, and gave them into the hand of his sons.
Gen 30:36 He set three days' journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob fed the rest of Laban's flocks.
Gen 30:37 Jacob took to himself rods of fresh poplar, almond, plane tree, peeled white streaks in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods.
Gen 30:38 He set the rods which he had peeled opposite the flocks in the gutters in the watering-troughs where the flocks came to drink. They conceived when they came to drink.
Gen 30:39 The flocks conceived before the rods, and the flocks brought forth streaked, speckled, and spotted.
Gen 30:40 Jacob separated the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the streaked and all the black in the flock of Laban: and he put his own droves apart, and didn't put them into Laban's flock.
Gen 30:41 It happened, whenever the stronger of the flock conceived, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the flock in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods;
Gen 30:42 but when the flock were feeble, he didn't put them in. So the feebler were Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's.

Gen 30:43 The man increased exceedingly, and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys.