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Tag Archives: demons

The Exorcists in the Bible

The 1973 film the Exorcist is a classic horror movie that will scare the hell out of you. Adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel, a mother notices dramatic and worrisome changes in the behavior and physical make-up of her 12-year-old daughter. This storyline sets the stage for an exorcism conducted by two priests. Although this fictional scene may seem unbelievable today, the supernatural power exhibited by demons and evil spirits is consistent with that found during an exorcism gone wrong in the Bible.

Then some of the traveling Jewish exorcists also attempted to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I implore you and solemnly command you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches!” 14 Seven sons of one [named] Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this, Acts 19:13-14.

During Paul’s third missionary journey, God enabled Paul to perform extraordinary and unusual miracles. Just as followers of Jesus gathered around to touch the edge of his cloak, Matthew 9:20-22, aprons, handkerchiefs and towels touched by Paul were used to heal the sick. As bystanders watched in awe, 7 brothers decided to imitate Paul’s teaching, performing exorcists in the name of Jesus and Paul. However, during one encounter with a demon possessed man, an evil spirit attacked all 7, ripped their clothes off as each exited a house, running for their lives buck naked.

But the evil spirit retorted, “I know and recognize and acknowledge Jesus, and I know about Paul, but as for you, who are you?” 16 Then the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they ran out of that house [in terror, stripped] naked and wounded. 17 This became known to all who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified and exalted, Acts 19:15-17.

College professors and public school teachers often refer to the Bible as out of date, not relative in today’s progressive culture. Yet, the passage above unveils a glimpse of the supernatural powers that exist in the spiritual realm. During my last few years at the University of Delaware, I was fortunate to meet and hear missionaries share their experiences living within third world nations. One guest speaker talked about America becoming spiritually dead, numb to the idea of demons, evil spirits and powers of darkness. Perhaps, the armor of God is included within of Ephesians 6 as a reminder to the 7 sons of Sceva who were from Ephesus to prepare skeptics for the schemes of the Devil. If you don’t take this threat seriously, you too could be caught off guard like these exorcists in the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

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Demonic Influences on Mental Health

Whenever people hear accounts of curses, demons and evil spirits, there is a hesitancy to believe these stories.  Perhaps, unrealistic movie scenes or television re-enactments have placed doubts into human minds.  Unless you are an eyewitness to one of these supernatural events, demonic influences on mental health isn’t even considered.  However, if curses, demons and evil spirits are real, their impact on mental health would explain many unsolved questions.

They came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, and the man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with chains. For he had often been bound with shackles [for the feet] and with chains, and he tore apart the chains and broke the shackles into pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue and tame him. Night and day he was constantly screaming and shrieking among the tombs and on the mountains, and cutting himself with [sharp] stones, Mark 5:1-5.

An estimated 2 million Americans practice some form of self-injury.  During my final year of teaching high school, I became aware of the practice of Self-Mutilation.  According to an article on the Daily Dot, Emo music and it’s impact on teenagers has been overlooked in America’s growing mental health crisis.  Apparently, this new age disco like music is playing a role in tempting depressed and lonely souls to continue cutting their bodies.  If you take the passage above as a case study, it’s possible that demons are the force behind modern self-mutilation.

And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it.” Cain talked with Abel his brother [about what God had said]. And when they were [alone, working] in the field, Cain attacked Abel his brother and killed him, Genesis 4:6-8.

The passage above sheds light on what happens inside the human brain as individuals contemplate what they are going to do.  In this case, God has a private conversation with Cain as he wrestles with jealousy within his heart.  Cain is frustrated that his occupation as a farmer is much harder than Abel’s position as a shepherd.  Subsequently, a spirit of hatred seizes this opportunity to consume Cain’s vulnerable heart.  In the end, this evil spirit persuades Cain to do the unthinkable, murder his younger brother.  While those who commit crimes today are usually imprisoned, demons and evil spirits flee the scene without blame or getting caught.

For such men are counterfeit apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 So it is no great surprise if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, but their end will correspond with their deeds, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

The apostle Paul throws another curveball into the discussion of demonic influences on mental health.  As a fallen angel, Satan knows how to appear as an angel of light.  Thus, you must know that this masquerade continues today, deceiving many Christians and non-believers.  This is why Paul wrote a letter to the church at Thessalonica warning people the test everything that you hear with the word of God, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.  Abstinance from every form of evil must be practiced.  If not, demonic influences will impact your mental health.

by Jay Mankus

 

Recognizing Distractions Early Before It’s Too Late

There is a strange phenomena that occurs when individuals are about to draw close to God.  The apostle Paul points to the spiritual realm to explain distractions, interruptions and unexplained events, Ephesians 6:12.  According to Paul, the devil’s strategy includes three waves.  The first enables certain rulers to rise to power such as judges, kings and political leaders.  This wave is reinforced by worldly forces, areas, regions and territories under demonic oppression where evil is allowed to reign.  Finally, there are spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realm fueled by demons, minions and strongmen to execute Satan’s schemes on earth.

It happened that as we were on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination [that is, a demonic spirit claiming to foretell the future and discover hidden knowledge], and she brought her owners a good profit by fortune-telling. 17 She followed after Paul and us and kept screaming and shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God! They are proclaiming to you the way of salvation!” – Acts 16:16-17

Using this criteria, Luke details an example from Paul’s ministry while visiting Philippi.  While on his way to participate in a prayer and worship service, a slave girl was sent to distract Paul.  Apparently, a demonic spirit recognized that Paul’s missionary team were servants of the most high God.  Just as spirits hounded Jesus, this revealed truth caused a slave girl to interrupt Paul’s message of salvation to Europe for several days, regularly screaming and shouting as Paul tried to preach.  According to Luke, this gradually wore Paul down, annoyed by this constant distraction.  When Paul rebuked this spirit, the owners of this slave girl complained to the chief magistrates, convincing law enforcement to imprison Paul and Silas.

She continued doing this for several days. Then Paul, being greatly annoyed and worn out, turned and said to the spirit [inside her], “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ [as His representative] to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment, Acts 16:18.

While in prison, Paul and Silas could have been distracted by anger, bitterness and injustice.  Yet, prayers of the saints strengthened these men, turning this setback into a golden opportunity.  How you may ask?  Well, Paul and Silas transformed their prison cell into a worship service.  As Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns, a great earthquake rocked Philippi.  When this quake opened the doors to each cell, some would have taken this as a sign from God to escape.  However, Paul demonstrated amazing leadership, convincing all the prisoners to stay put; saving the life of the jailor who was about to kill himself, the fate he would have faced if any prisoner escaped.  These are the blessings that await those who recognize spiritual distractions early before it’s too late..

by Jay Mankus

How to Increase Your Strength

Everyone wants to feel important at some point in time.  In the early stages of life, a desire to fit in will cause individuals to want to become a part of or join a specific group of people.  Whether this is a clique, fraternity, sorority or team, being part of a social setting adds a sense of belonging to lives.  To those embraced by their peers, an inner strength is found as a support system is formed.  This is one way that you can increase your strength.

Jesus did not let him [come], but [instead] He said to him, “Go home to your family and tell them all the great things that the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.” 20 So he [obeyed and] went away and began to publicly proclaim in Decapolis [the region of the ten Hellenistic cities] all the great things that Jesus had done for him; and all the people were astonished, Mark 5:19-20.

During the first century, one man selected twelve individuals to become fishers of men.  As Jesus began to heal, perform miracles and spread a message that became known as the gospel, large crowds followed these 13 men daily.  This popularity inspired new converts to become disciples.  After being freed from a legion of demons, a man begs Jesus to accept and receive him as a disciple.  However, God had another plan for this man’s life.  When you go home and tell others all that God has done to transform your life, your spiritual strength grows as faith is shared.

All those who heard him continued to be amazed and said, “Is this not the man who in Jerusalem attacked those who called on this name [of Jesus], and had come here [to Damascus] for the express purpose of bringing them bound [with chains] before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased in strength more and more, and continued to perplex the Jews who lived in Damascus by examining [theological evidence] and proving [with Scripture] that this Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), Acts 9:21-22.

One of the most radical spiritual transformations occurs in Acts 9.  A religious zealot who persecuted apostles as well as overseeing the killing of Stephen, was blinded by a light from heaven.  This sets into motion a series of events that leads Ananias to eventually heal Saul.  As soon as Saul is healed, Ananias baptizes Saul suggesting a spiritual conversion.  Like the man in Mark, Saul spends at least 2 years convincing Jews in Damascus that Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament.  Like anything in life, the more you do something, the greater your confidence becomes.  Thus, if you want to increase your strength, make it your ambition to share your faith daily.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Wake Up to God’s Greatness

There are plenty of distractions in life.  Extreme circumstances, hardships and trials can make the mentally strong lose sight of God.  As individuals begin to question “why me,” whispers from demons seek to shift the blame toward God.  If you give into anger, emotions or frustrations, spiritual blindness awaits.  Thus, instead of waking up to God’s greatness, roots of bitterness fill disappointed hearts.

“Indeed, at His thundering my heart trembles and leaps out of its place. 2 “Listen carefully to the thunder of His voice, and the rumbling that goes out of His mouth! “He lets it loose under the whole heaven, and His lightning to the ends of the earth. “After it, His voice roars; He thunders with the voice of His majesty, and He does not restrain His lightning [against His adversaries] when His voice is heard. “God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend, Job 37:1-5.

This is what happened to Job prior to the passage above.  When friends accused Job of disobeying God, his defense mechanisms kicked in.  As observers of these events assumed Job was being cursed by God, Job made the mistake of becoming self-righteous.  Apparently, an incoming storm awoke Job to God’s greatness.  The passage above highlights how lightning and thunder magnify God’s power.

Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the [height of the] heavens, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You, [who is Your equal]? 20  You who have shown me many troubles and distresses will revive and renew me again, and will bring me up again from the depths of the earth, Psalm 71:19-20.

The Psalmist uses reflection to help individuals to meditate upon God’s greatness.  For those not distracted by day to day worries, the beauty of creation does not go unnoticed.  Rainbows, sunsets and panoramic views renew and revive souls.  If only people could let go of daily concerns, stress and worries, eyes will be opened to the greatness of God.  My prayer is that America awakes from its spiritual slumber to see and rejoice in God’s greatness.

by Jay Mankus

When Sanity is Restored

The Bible’s authors have a unique way of expressing individuals who make poor decisions.  A common way to explain this behavior is being out of your mind.  Missteps usually begin with momentary lapses in judgement.  When a pattern forms, unsettled minds take souls further away from God than they ever expected or intended.  Anyone who goes off the deep end is often labeled insane.

Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws. Daniel 4:33.

One of the gospel authors blames insanity on demons, Mark 5:1-20.  One man’s condition had gotten so bad that he withdrew to catacombs, living in an underground cemetery.  Jesus refers to his condition as being under the influence of an unclean spirit.  A legion of demons possessed this man, making sanity impossible under his current state.  Yet, Jesus diagnosed this man’s spiritual condition by relying on the Holy Spirit.  After confronting one dominant being, this man was set free.

Now at the same time my reason returned to me; and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor were returned to me, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was re-established in my kingdom, and still more greatness [than before] was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and faithful and His ways are just, and He is able to humiliate and humble those who walk in [self-centered, self-righteous] pridem,” Daniel 4:36-37.

Another disciple refers to a similar account or perhaps the same event.  This time the man once possessed is described as being in his right mind.  This is where sanity is restored as individuals can once again follow and obey their conscience.  The apostle Paul stresses the need to take thoughts captive, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  Make sure this spiritual discipline is exercised so that if you are on the verge of giving into temptation, sanity will prevail.

by Jay Mankus

Evading Demons of Doubt

In the context of war, evasive maneuvers are employed by starship commanders to evade enemy weapons fire. Whenever planes are under attack, these tactics involve a sequence of defensive movements to escape a direct hit. During a scene from Independence Day, Bill Pullman who plays president Thomas Whitmore and former fighter pilot uses evasive maneuvers during an alien attack.

“Now when the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, it roams through waterless (dry, arid) places in search of rest, but it does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it arrives, it finds the place unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and make their home there. And the last condition of that man becomes worse than the first. So will it also be with this wicked generation,” Matthew 12:43-45.

In the spiritual realm, its hard to respond to something that you can’t see. To those who are spiritually awake, the presence of demons can be sensed. However, there are certain steps that individuals can take to evade demons of doubt. The passage above eludes to sweeping your spiritual house clean. This involves setting your heart and mind on things above, not on earthly things. The apostle Paul uses this mental approach to evade demons, scars and ungodly beliefs from your past.

Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God, Colossians 3:1-3.

Yesterday I was talking to a coach during my kids golf match. Unlike most sports, the game of golf can become extremely frustrating. One hole you can look like a professional and the next like you have never touched a golf club before. This mental anguish provides an open door for demons of doubt to creep in. Unless you follow the advice of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 whispers of “I can’t” will bombard your mind. Therefore, if you want to avoid demons of doubt, make sure you take your thoughts captive by making them obedient to Christ.

by Jay Mankus

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