Iâ€™d just as soon not deal with this subject or deal with the personification of evil that this monstrous fallen angel takes, but today, at the pinnacle of the worldâ€™s modernity and mindboggling technology, this being draws the attention of the head of the worldâ€™s largest church, the pope.
Just this week Pope Francis, who has frequently alluded to the Devil in his homilies since being elected to succeed Benedict XVI last March, in a homily this week (May 5 2014), he said that the Devil was behind the persecution of early Christian martyrs, who were murdered for their faith. The â€œstruggle between God and the Devilâ€ was constant and ongoing,â€ he said.Â
Nick Squires, writing in The Daily Telegraph, a daily morningbroadsheet newspaper, published in London and distributed throughout the United Kingdom and internationally, penned:Â
â€œThe decline of religious belief in the West and the growth of secularism has â€œopened the windowâ€ to black magic, Satanism and belief in the occult, the organisers of a conference on exorcism have said. The six-day meeting in Rome aims to train about 200 Roman Catholic priests from more than 30 countries in how to cast out evil from people who believe themselves to be in thrall to the Devil.
The conference, â€œExorcism and Prayers of Liberationâ€, has also attracted psychiatrists, sociologists, doctors and criminologists in what the Church called a â€œmulti-disciplinaryâ€ approach to exorcisms. Giuseppe Ferrari, from GRIS, a Catholic research group that organised the conference, said there was an ever growing need for priests to be trained to perform exorcisms because of the increasing number of lay people tempted to dabble in black magic, paganism and the occult. â€œWe live in a disenchanted society, a secularised world that thought it was being emancipated, but where religion is being thrown out, the window is being opened to superstition and irrationality,â€ said Mr Ferrari.
Remembering â€œThe Exorcistâ€
Before you envision a 12-year-old girl doing a 360 degree head turn while projectile vomiting bile on a priest, consider that most â€œexorcismsâ€ donâ€™t involve such things, and theyâ€™re conducted by every day people who walk with Jesus, and not necessarily Catholic priests, wielding huge crosses and a containers of holy water. Thanks to Peter Blattey, author of The Exorcist, most people think in terms of the Linda Blair images. Before my Catholic readers start to write me a rebuttal, let me say, thank God for the Catholic priests who battle the enemy of our souls.Â
Most churches are still not getting it. Whereâ€™s thereâ€™s human flesh in control, demons show up, either to take charge over an area of a personâ€™s life or to possess, which incidentally is extremely rare. One of the older well known deliverance ministers in our city, Bill French, once told me that out of the 8,000 deliverance sessions he had done, only three people were possessed. And this was probably 15 years ago. Bro. Bill probably knows more about this subject that most people would care to think about or not think about.
Churches need to understand that, yes, Christians struggle against many psychological disorders that are rooted in an area of life that has been opened by them or through some other means that allows demonic oppression. Often, rather than helping these folks with the power of deliverance, they send them to psychiatrists, who give them cognitive therapy and pills to cope with problems. Iâ€™m not writing this to belittle psychiatric help, believe me, and sometimes anti-depressive medication can really help, etc., but our churches need to understand the power of Jesus Christ to defeat evil that is harassing their members!
Letâ€™s face it. The media love any kind of sideshow, and they overdo the whole thing about the fear of the occult and Satan. In horror shows, evil usually seems to win over good, in most cases, which is absurd! Jesus stripped Satan of his power on the cross and made an open display of it.
The devil is naked
In my book, Deeper Water for Thirsty Souls, I explained how Satan is like the Wizard of Oz, or â€œthe man behind the curtain,â€ a weakened little old man, who used fear to intimidate Dorothy & Co to do his bidding:
Like the Wizard of Oz, whose real name was Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmanuel Ambrose Diggs, Satan has many names: Beelzebub, the devil, the prince of the power of the air, the god of this age, the kind of death, the prince of this world, the ruler of darkness, leviathan (one who dwells in the sea of humanity), Lucifer (light-bearer, shining one), the dragon, the deceiver, Apollyon (destroyer), Belial (vileness, ruthlessness), the wicked one, the tempter, the accuser of the brethren, an angel of light, a liar, a murderer, the enemy, roaring lion, to name a few.
And like the Wizard of Oz, Satan has two weapons: fear and lies. If he can cause fear by taking away the truth from peopleâ€™s minds (the Word of God), he â€œwins.â€ But Jesus exposed him, wrecked his plans and schemes, and for all who wholly trust in His amazing grace, there is consistent victory.
â€œWe wrestle notâ€¦”
In Jesusâ€™ day when people wrestled, they were naked, so no one could grab anotherâ€™s clothes to get a hold on him. Jesus didnâ€™t wrestle, either â€“ He totally stripped Satan of his clothing of power when He defeated him on the cross:
â€œHaving disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in itâ€ (Col 2:15).
â€œHe stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.â€ (Col. 2:15 The Message)
It didnâ€™t take three falls!
Satan is naked! However, even in this state, no human is any match for this fallen angel. But Satan is no match for the Lord Jesus Christ! He is no match against the truth of Christ. He is no match for Godâ€™s righteousness. He is no match for Godâ€™s peace. He is no match for Godâ€™s salvation. He is no match for Godâ€™s faith in us. He is no match for Godâ€™s spoken Word. Satan is no match for Jesus!
When Jesus lived on the earth He overcame Satan by the armor of God! â€œThe man behind the curtainâ€ has been found out!
â€œA shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2The Spirit of the Lord will rest on himâ€”
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lordâ€”
3and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
5Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waistâ€(Isa. 11:1-5).
I repeat Satan has two weapons: fear and lies. And of course, he loves ignorance, especially if it comes in the form of â€œintellectualism.â€
â€œBut we reject shameful cover-ups and we do not walk in craftiness, neither do we deny the word of God, but we display our souls in the revelation of the truth to all the minds of the children of men before God.3But if our gospel is covered up, it is covered up to those who are lost,4Those whose intellects The God of this world has blinded, because they do not believe, lest the light of The Gospel of the glory of The Messiah, who is the image of God, should dawn upon themâ€ (2 Cor. 2:2-4 The Aramaic Bible in Plain English).
Speaking of intellectualism, at the bastion of American intellectualism, Harvard University, a group of students has elected to hold a black mass, which celebrates and worships Satan:
Catholic Church Condemns Black Mass
Mass Reenactment At HarvardÂ – http://boston.cbslocal.com/2014/05/08/catholic-church-condemns-black-mass-reenactment-at-harvard-university/
CAMBRIDGE (CBS) â€“ A reenactment of a Black Mass celebrating Satan is scheduled to take place at Harvard University on Monday evening. It has outraged the Catholic Church, but the group holding the event says itâ€™s educational.
The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club is hosting the Satanic Temple from New York. The Black Mass is scheduled for Monday night in the basement of Memorial Hall.
â€œItâ€™s kind of troubling especially to Christians, but at the same time if theyâ€™re doing it for academic inquiry. This should be a safe place,â€ said Misan Oteri, student.
â€œIt is still heavily offending a group. And, whatâ€™s the purpose?â€ student Farhad Dokhani said.
â€œEducational purposes definitely give you a reason to look into anything,â€ student Laureen Brady said.
The club released the following statement:
“We are hosting a reenactment of a historical event known as a Black Mass. The performance is designed to be educational and is preceded by a lecture that provides the history, context, and origin of the Black Mass. While a piece of bread is used in the reenactment, the performance unequivocally does not include a consecrated host. Our purpose is not to denigrate any religion or faith, which would be repugnant to our educational purposes, but instead to learn and experience the history of different cultural practices. This performance is part of a larger effort to explore religious facets that continue to influence contemporary culture.”
The Archdiocese of Boston wants Harvard to put a stop to the event saying:
“The Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Boston expresses its deep sadness and strong opposition to the plan to stage a â€œblack massâ€ on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge.
For the good of the Catholic faithful and all people, the Church provides clear teaching concerning Satanic worship. This activity separates people from God and the human community, it is contrary to charity and goodness, and it places participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil.”
In a recent statement, Pope Francis warned of the danger of being naÃ¯ve about or underestimating the power of Satan, whose evil is too often tragically present in our midst. We call upon all believers and people of good will to join us in prayer for those who are involved in this event, that they may come to appreciate the gravity of their actions, and in asking Harvard to disassociate itself from this activity.
In response to the Black Mass the archdiocese is holding a holy hour starting at 8 p.m. on Monday at St. Paulâ€™s Church, which is also the Catholic Church at Harvard.
Harvard University says it supports the rights of students and faculty.
Wow! Donâ€™t you just â€œloveâ€ academic rights with such an â€œintellectualâ€ bent?
This whole ordeal makes one wonder if Harvard would openly support the right of Christians to hold a rally to support pro-life? or worship Jesus openly on campus for the entire world to see?
Inequities for believers
Daily, I read where simple Christian beliefs are being denied or labeled â€œcontroversial.â€ Recently, an evangelical Christian actress said she believed in submitting to her husband. Youâ€™d have thought she had spoken total heresy â€“ a firestorm she created! “Full House” star Candace Cameron Bure, sister of Kirk Cameron of Growing Pains fame, didnâ€™t say all women should follow her lead. She said she submits to her husbandâ€™s headship, which is what the Bible teaches. Holy matrimony, Batman!
Hereâ€™s another example of â€œintellectual freedom and academic exercise.â€ Renowned surgeon, Dr. Ben Carson, former head of the neurological department at Johns Hopkins, was disinvited to give the commencement address at his university because his Christian views ran aground with the medical students there. Freedom of speech? For whom?
And lest anyone forget the blowup when Chick-Fil-Aâ€™s president and COO of the company, Dan Cathy, said nothing against homosexuality except that it was inconsistent with biblical doctrine! Many people, including the mayor of Chicago, screamed, no fair! Chick-Fil-A isnâ€™t welcome in this city! In response, literally, thousands (millions?) of Chic-Fil-A supporters plopped down their cash at the restaurant on â€œcelebrate Chick-Fil-A dayâ€ in support of the people who â€œcreated the chicken sandwich.â€
Do you think we have a little double standard here? I could go on with many such examples.
The pope is right. When people turn from the gospel of truth, it creates a hole in society that is a downright invitation for evil to fill the gap. C.S. Lewis called occult involvement â€œa lust for power.â€
An earth ruler dethroned!
Because Adam fell, Satan ruled the earth. He boasted to Jesus that he could give it to Him, if He would only bow down and worship him. Jesus didnâ€™t deny that the â€œprince of this worldâ€ (1 John 12:31) indeed held the title deed to the planet (Matt. 4:8-10), but replied, â€œBeat it, Satan!â€ He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from the Book of Deuteronomy: â€œWorship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.â€
Satanâ€™s attempt to get Jesus to disobey His Father through temptations was nothing short of circumventing the Lordâ€™s mission of dying on the cross to defeat sin in us, and Satanâ€™s power over humankind. Had Jesus yielded, He wouldnâ€™t have been sinless and thus a perfect substitute in the Fatherâ€™s Eyes for our sins.
The last attempt in the Last Days
So we come down to the last attempt for Satan to attempt one more shot at ruler ship and receiving worship from humans. You think not? Revelation 9:20 says so:
â€œThe rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood–idols that cannot see or hear or walk.â€
Note that the people in the Last Days worship demons. My guess is people will be so deceived that worshipping evil will be â€œnormal.â€ Satan has always wanted worship any way he could get it. In the Old Testament, he used idols through which demons operated. Nothing had changed; in the New Testament period the Apostle Paul warned about â€œfellowshipping with demons.â€ Many believers in the church at Corinth were still following their old ways and buying food in the marketplace that had first been offered to idols as a sacrifice. Paul says the idols themselves were nothing, but the spirits behind the idols were being placated.
â€œWhat do I imply then? That food offered to idols is [intrinsically changed by the fact and amounts to] anything or that an idol itself is a [living] thing? 20Â No, I am suggesting that what the pagans sacrifice they offer [in effect] to demons (to evil spiritual powers) and not to God [at all]. I do not want you to fellowship and be partners with diabolical spirits [by eating at their feasts]. 21Â You cannot drink the Lordâ€™s cup and the demonsâ€™ cup. You cannot partake of the Lordâ€™s table and the demonsâ€™ tableâ€ (1 Cor. 10:19-21 Amp).
Our God is always truthful (John 14:6) â€“ He never deceives us. However, when evil abounds, as it does currently and even worse before Jesus returns, God will send a deluding influence on people who donâ€™t love the Truth so they believe a lie:
â€œThe coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickednessâ€ (2 Thess. 2:9-11 NIV).
The context is that of the overwhelming presence of the antichrist spirit â€“ the spirit that opposes Christ, who is LORD of all. Our governments and other organizations are failing very often because they oppose Christ. We think â€œbeing fairâ€ is allowing everyone who claims some kind of god (little g) should have equal time with Jesus Christ. This is repulsive to God! And we wonder where God is when tragedy and lawlessness strikes at the heart of America?