Demonic Possession and Oppression

This film was done by Scott Derrickson who is a well-known believer in Hollywood.

What do Christians believe about demon possession and oppression?

When a person is possessed by a demon, he or she has an actual demonic being inside who is controlling the person’s mind and certain bodily functions. When a person is under demonic oppression then he or she is under heavy spiritual attack, but the demonic being is not actually in the person or controlling the person. Christians typically believe that non-Christians can be oppressed or possessed, but Christians can only be oppressed. The reason for this belief is that when someone becomes a Christian, God sends the Holy Spirit to live inside a person, and no demonic being can reside inside someone who already has the Holy Spirit living in them. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and he is the seal marking believers as belonging to God.

What does the Bible say about possession?

Acts 16:16-18 reads, “As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.”

Paul met a girl who was possessed and she was able to tell fortunes through the demonic possession. Most occult practices can be attributed to some form of spiritual darkness and often the practices are accomplished through possession.

Mark 5:1-2 states, “They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.”

Here Jesus encounters a man who was possessed and the evil spirits caused him much pain and he inflected many self-wounds.

What does the Bible say about oppression?

In Ephesians 6:12 we read, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

1 Peter 5:8 states, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

In these two verses we learn that demonic beings are at war with us and that they seek to destroy those who desire to serve the Lord.

Conclusion:

Many people have never seen someone possessed by a demon, but possessions do still occur. I believe that many mental health patients are possessed by demons. I also believe that many Christians face demonic oppression because the enemy (the devil) does not want Christians doing good things for the Kingdom of God.

While some may deny the existence of the demonic and argue that there are rational explanations for things attributed to evil forces, that is not always the case. I actually know someone who believed he was possessed and he has shown me things that I do not believe have rational explanation. I also know pastors who have dealt with demon possession and exorcisms. One person I know was asked to visit a girl with a demon and when he went to see her (she was about 12) 4 grown men could not hold her down.

Through my studies I have determined that the only real solution to bringing the demonic out of someone is for the person to accept Christ. Otherwise, the demon will come back and the person’s latter state will be worse than the first. If someone is not willing to turn to the Lord and give his or her life to Jesus, it is not wise to cast a demon from that person.

Spiritual Warfare

What does the Bible say about Spiritual Warfare?

Ephesians 6:11-12 states, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

and

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 states, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

From these two passages we are told that spiritual forces of evil attempt to destroy our fellowship with God. The schemes of the devil are meant to draw us away from the Lord. But God gives us power so that we may overcome our own temptations as well as attempts by demonic forces to break our fellowship with the Creator.

This of course means that we as Christians do believe in spiritual beings such as demons and angels, and it means that we believe that evil spiritual beings attempt to thwart our abilities to serve God in how we live.

What kinds of temptations do you struggle with? In what ways do you feel attacked?

When a religious experience can easily be explained as a natural occurrence, it is likely that the experience is not actually a religious experience. When the occurrence cannot be easily explained it is more likely a true religious experience.

Every time we drive over a nail and get a flat tire, it is not likely to be the result of spiritual warfare. We live in a fallen world where bad things happen. When we believe God is convicting us to share our faith with a friend or family member but every planned opportunity we get is thwarted by something that rarely occurs, then perhaps we need to pray and ask God to break the stronghold.

What are your thoughts on Spiritual Warfare?

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is something that all of us must deal with.  If you are a teenager, you may think that peer pressure ends when you leave high school, but it does not.  It follows you to college, it follows you to the office, and into the friendships you make in your young adult life.  The answer to peer pressure is not to give in, and it is not to break away from your friends.  Instead, it is to discover who you are.

What does the Bible say about peer pressure?

1 Corinthians 15:33 states “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

Paul says this in reference to false teachers who are trying to corrupt the teachings of the church, but it is an applicable statement to anyone who is attempting to lead someone away from the truth and to do something contrary to how one should think and live.

Proverbs 13:20 reads: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

Any time we attempt to follow people who are not acting wisely we tend to have negative consequences.

Conclusion:

When you learn who you are, it will be easier to stand strong in your convictions, because you will know what you believe, why you believe it, and you will be more inclined to live according to those beliefs.  Instead of being pulled and swayed by the crowd, take choose to listen to wise council and seek to make wise choices even when those around you encourage you to do foolish things.

Women’s Rights and Equality

What does the Bible say about women’s rights and equality?

First, in Genesis 1:26-28 we read, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Here we find humans being created in the image of God. It states that we are created as male and female but that we both bear God’s image. From this we can deduce that our being made in the image of God is not so much of a physical thing but something that has to do with our character.

In Galatians 3:8 Paul states, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

In this passage we learn that we are all equal in salvation. Men are not more saved than women.

Thus, God created humans in his image, views them as equally valuable, and equal recipients of his grace.

The Bible suggests throughout that there are certain characteristics or traits that are gender specific and in modern science we see certain traits that also seem to be gender specific.  While our gender is important to our identity and while we should embrace our gender, gender does not dictate every aspect of our lives or determine what we can accomplish in life.

The Bible also states that the worker is worthy of his wages. Equality with regards to women’s rights in the United States now focuses primarily on equality in the workplace.

I believe that people should be hired to do jobs because they can do them, not because of their race or gender, however, regardless of their race or gender, they should be paid for their abilities. Thus, it is wrong to pay someone less for being a minority or being a female. While we need to do a better job of paying women equally with men in America, it is not the most significant issue facing women today. (To learn more about pay standards in the U.S. visit this site: http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/womens-earnings-and-income or this site http://www.iwpr.org/initiatives/pay-equity-and-discrimination).

The biggest problem today is how women are still treated in some other societies. In many societies women are still forced into marriage as children. They are not given equal political rights, they are forced into sex trafficking, and women in some places have very little representation when faced with physical abuse.

If we are all in fact created in the image of God, then we all need to be equally respected. What can you do to ensure that you treat people of the opposite gender with the respect you feel that you deserve?

Human Rights Watch has a number of interesting articles on women’s rights. It currently has a big emphasis on the rights of women who are still caught in the middle of the war in Syria: http://www.hrw.org/topic/womens-rights

To see a timeline of women’s rights in the United States, visit this link: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenstimeline1.html

A Christian View of Education

In the Bible, we are told to love God with all of our minds (Deuteronomy 6). From this the ancient Hebrews believed in educating their children about their beliefs in God. However, many of their beliefs about God extended to how to live in a relationship with God. Thus, much of what they taught helped children learn how to live virtuously.

Since philosophers such as Plato started the first schools, the goal was wisdom. Wisdom is another huge theme in Scripture. It can be argued that wisdom is equivalent to skill in living. Wise people make good choices and weigh the consequences of their choices prior to making them.

In order to be wise, one must also have knowledge. Knowledge comes from rightly understanding a subject. Right understanding comes from truth. If one believes something that is not true, then the person has a false knowledge of the subject.

Thus, the purpose of education is to teach people the knowledge they need in order to help them become wise so that they can live a more well-rounded life.

More education does not always translate into more money, but education should help students become better human beings. As we learn more, we should glorify God with the knowledge we have received.

All of us have more to learn. Learning is a lifelong process thus we should always be learning more so as to continue loving God with all of our minds.

Questions, comments, challenges?