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S.A.N.S. Episode 268: Believe

Believe is one of those words that can serve as a stumbling block if your words aren’t backed up by actions. Anyone can believe when you’re winning in life, experiencing more victories than losses. Yet, when bad things happen to good people, following the advice of Journey’s classic song, “Don’t Stop Believing” isn’t easy.

But someone will say [to you then], You [say you] have faith, and I have [good] works. Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good] works [of obedience] will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe and shudder [in terror and horror such as [a]make a man’s hair stand on end and contract the surface of his skin]! – James 2:18-19

Today’s song is a collaboration, part of the Fearless Soul Collection. When I first heard this song on You Tube, I was reminded by words written by Jesus’ earthly brother. While demons believe in God, these fallen angels rebelled from God, following the arch angel Lucifer. In view of this passage, may your belief in God result in actions in the form of spiritual fruit.

by Jay Mankus

A House of Horrors

As cable and streaming services continue to feature horror films this month, the Bible contains a villain unlike any depicted by Hollywood. The backstory of this man from Gerasa comes to the surface as Jesus asks a series of probing questions. Apparently, this man left home as he was afraid that he might hurt his wife or children. Subsequently, he moved out to live alone in a series of catacombs.

They came to the other side of the sea to the region of the Gerasenes. And as soon as He got out of the boat, there met Him out of the tombs a man [under the power] of an unclean spirit. This man [a]continually lived among the tombs, and no one could subdue him any more, even with a chain; Mark 5:1-3.

According to John Mark, this man exhibited uncontrollable fits of rage, possessing supernatural strength. Sensing some sort of demonic possession, Jesus doesn’t stop his inquiry until discovering this man’s spiritual condition. Based upon the context of Mark 5:13, this Legion which spoke to Jesus was like something out of the Exorcist. The actual number of demons inside this man was two thousand.

For he had been bound often with shackles for the feet and [b]handcuffs, but the handcuffs of [light] chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he rubbed and ground together and broke in pieces; and no one had strength enough to restrain or tame him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always [c]shrieking and screaming and [d]beating and bruising and [e]cutting himself with stones, Mark 5:4-5.

The number of demonic influences living inside this man is incomprehensible, even for Hollywood. Nonetheless, this sets the scene for one of the most memorable exorcisms in the Bible. Mark spends a total of 20 verses on this man living in a house of horrors, waking up from nightmares in a graveyard. Yet, in this story, there were no human murders, just a herd of hogs that drown in the Sea. This account reveals how Jesus can transform one man’s house of horrors into a peaceful sleep and in his right mind.

by Jay Mankus

Under the Power of the Evil One

Whether you receive your news from cable, social media or local television, current events suggest that the world is falling apart. Beneath the surface, there are spirits of anger, hatred, and rage that result in chaos, violence and war. New Testament authors in the Bible point to a supernatural force that incites unknowing individuals toward evil acts. The apostle Paul provides a scapegoat: the fallen angel Lucifer.

We know [positively] that we are of God, and the whole world [around us] is under the power of the evil one, 1 John 5:19.

One of Jesus’ disciples makes a powerful declaration in the passage above. Members of the body of Christ know God without a doubt, absolutely through a daily personal relationship. Whether you fellowship with other believers, pray or study the Bible, faith results in spiritual clarity. Meanwhile, anyone who does not seek God end up falling under the influence and power of the evil one.

In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God], Ephesians 2:2.

The apostle Paul points to the Devil’s past. the archangel Lucifer who was kicked out of heaven. Despite losing his eternal destiny in heaven, this prince of the power of the air maintains his angelic powers. Ezekiel 28:14-15 details that 1/3 of the angels were banished from heaven along with Lucifer. These fallen angels now serve the Devil as real spiritual demons. This is the powerful force that is present on earth which corrupts human beings who aren’t strong enough to resist the power of the Evil One.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode103: Whom Shall I Fear?

Chris Tomlin has slowly become the Michael W. Smith of modern-day Contemporary Christian Music. You don’t have to go far to recognize Tomlin’s popularity as fans have purchased over 7 million records. Today’s featured song is a remake of a popular church hymn Whom Shall I Fear? This open ended question serves as a reflection to consider God’s promises and power to protect you from harm.

There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love [g]turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear [h]brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection], 1 John 4:18.

Fear of one of those inner demons that often results in nightmares. Yet, fear can come in the form of peer pressure, especially in this age of virtue signaling and wokeness. However, the apostle Paul reminds his readers that the Holy Spirit is greater than fear, 2 Timothy 1:7. As Christians develop and mature in the love of Jesus, this knowledge can and will expel every trace of fear. Enjoy Chris’ song.

by Jay Mankus

Undoing the Works of the Devil

One of my inspirations to become a youth pastor and high school Bible teacher was to help teenagers avoid the same mistakes that I made when I was their age. Perhaps, this desire was a form of penance to undo the works of the Devil from my younger years. I spent a majority of my adolescence indulging my sinful nature to bring me pleasure. Meanwhile, to those little children who were watching, I set a poor example on numerous occasions.

But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity. And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate, Genesis 3:4-6.

One of the comments Jesus made about adults who corrupt innocent children was to tie a millstone around their neck and throw them into the sea to drown. The imagery of this story in the Bible put the fear of God into me. This combined with a reoccurring nightmare about dying as a child set the stage for God to begin to move me away devilish acts. Like most teenagers, I was a slow learner who couldn’t quite put all the sinful habits of my past behind me.

[But] he who commits sin [who practices evildoing] is of the devil [takes his character from the evil one], for the devil has sinned (violated the divine law) from the beginning. The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil [has done], 1 John 3:8.

When you do give into that demon on your shoulder whispering evil thoughts into your mind, confession is your best option, James 5:16. This doesn’t mean when a similar urge returns that you’re safe. Rather, one of Jesus’ former disciples compares the Devil to a predator seeking to prey on isolated and weakened Christians, 1 Peter 5:8. If and when addiction or bad habits get the best of you, this is when you need to wrestle with your flesh to break free, Galatians 5:16-18. If you want to undo the works of the devil in your life, your have to put to death that sinful mindset by taking your thoughts captive, 2 Corinthians 10:5-6.

by Jay Mankus

Freedom as a Pretext for Wickedness?

A pretext is given in justification of a course of action that is not the real reason. Whenever you are caught in the act of wrongdoing, the creative will come out with a logical excuse right off the top of their head. While watching an episode of Cold Case Files, one serial killer blamed a Succubus; a female demon. Similar to a child whose is caught by a parent, “the Devil made me do it” is a common rationale to explain irrational behavior.

[Live] as free people, [yet] without employing your freedom as a pretext for wickedness; but [live at all times] as servants of God, 1 Peter 2:16.

In a letter to the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul explains that everything is permissible via freewill, but not everything is beneficial, 1 Corinthians 6:12. A few verses later, Paul uses a prostitute to introduce the concept of soul ties. Whenever human beings participate in any sexual act, a bond is formed. Instead of waiting for marriage to consecrate sacred vows made by a couple, temporary pleasures are gratified by giving into temptation.

And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. 16 The people answered, Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods; Joshua 24:15-16.

Following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, there were several religious cults that arose. Some of these groups cheapened God’s grace by professing the more you sinned, the greater God’s grace will be poured out upon you. This likely explains the words in Hebrews 6:4-6 as freewill was being used as a pretext for wickedness. Rather than follow the trends in today’s progressive culture, God wants more leaders like Joshua who aren’t afraid to take a stand by faithfully serving the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

What Makes Demons Tremble?

Over five billion copies of the Bible have been sold worldwide. This book is a great resource for history, faith, and religious practices. Yet, the Bible contains details of what will happen in the last days on earth. The book of Revelation refers to seven tribulations that lead up to the battle of Armageddon, Revelation 16:14-16. The conclusion of this war is what makes demons tremble.

You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe and shudder [in terror and horror such as [a]make a man’s hair stand on end and contract the surface of his skin]! – James 2:19

If you follow current events by watching cable news or reading articles on various sites, not much makes sense. Criminals in many states are being released from jail without bail on the same day only to commit similar or more violent attacks on law abiding citizens days later. This trend has spiraled act of control resulting in numerous unnecessary deaths if these criminals were punished for their first violent offense.

And angels who did not keep (care for, guard, and hold to) their own first place of power but abandoned their proper dwelling place—these He has reserved in custody in eternal chains (bonds) under the thick gloom of utter darkness until the judgment and doom of the great day. [The wicked are sentenced to suffer] just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the adjacent towns—which likewise gave themselves over to impurity and indulged in unnatural vice and sensual perversity—are laid out [in plain sight] as an exhibit of perpetual punishment [to warn] of everlasting fire, Jude 1:6-7.

This is not how the Bible works. According to Matthew 12:36-37, there will be a day of judgment where you will have to give an account for everything you have done on earth. Individuals who have had near death experiences have explained this as watching a movie about your life containing the good, bad and ugly moments. After dying, everyone will be judged by God. This is what makes demons tremble.

by Jay Mankus

The Spiritual Dimension

There are 30 passages in the Bible that refer to a spiritual dimension. The most famous occurs in Ephesians 6:12 where the apostle Paul unveils what is out of sight to human eyes. This dimension is transcendence toward something more than what is apparent in the experiences of other dimensions. According to Paul, what lies beneath the surface is an ongoing spiritual battle between powers, rulers and spiritual forces.

Now there was a day when the sons (the angels) of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan (the adversary and accuser) also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, From where did you come? Then Satan answered the Lord, From going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it. And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who [reverently] fears God and abstains from and shuns evil [because it is wrong]? Then Satan answered the Lord, Does Job [reverently] fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have conferred prosperity and happiness upon him in the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face, Job 1:6-11.

Although it’s not the first, Job was the first completed book in the Bible. Since chapter 1 references living in the land of dinosaurs, Job likely lived prior to the biblical flood mentioned in Genesis 7. Following a brief introduction, Job is made aware of what lurks out of sight. Whether through prayer or a one on one conversation with God, Job’s spiritual enemy is brought to life. Lucifer is described as a diligent traveler of the earth, seeking to steal, kill and destroy human souls, John 10:10.

But someone will say [to you then], You [say you] have faith, and I have [good] works. Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good] works [of obedience] will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe and shudder [in terror and horror such as make a man’s hair stand on end and contract the surface of his skin]! – James 2:18-19

In the middle of the first century, Jesus’ earthly brother writes about demons. Based upon Christian historians, James did not come to faith until after Jesus rose from the dead. While there is no mention of a private conversation with his big brother before ascending into heaven in Acts 1, James was aware of demons. Despite their tricks, demons know the fate that await them, Jude 1:6. While you’re current struggle may not be obvious to you, don’t be surprised if there is a spiritual element to what’s going on in the world today.

by Jay Mankus

A Biblical Look into the Mind

In the hours immediately following a mass shooting, law enforcement searches homes, computer devices and social media to see if any clues can explain these tragic events. While some motives may include revenge or terrorism, most investigations turn up signs of mental health problems. When individuals stop taking their medication or reach a breaking point, one stressful situation can push souls over the edge, acting upon the whispers and voices of evil in their head.

Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever], Romans 8:6.

Apparently, the apostle Paul received a revelation about the human mind detailed in the passage above and below. The flesh has a mind of it’s own, placing individuals in direct conflict with their conscious. As people act upon, behave and respond to their own impulses, this seems natural and normal. Yet, Paul warns readers that daily decisions made in the flesh prevents the Holy Spirit from providing spiritual insight. If people aren’t careful, you might find yourself overwhelmed by all the miseries which arise from sin.

[That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot. So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him, Romans 8:7-8.

Just as professional caterers attempt to persuade customers to return to their establishment, the Devil works behind the scenes each day to ensure that souls become addicted to various sins. While appetites vary from person to person, demons are assigned accordingly based upon your own weaknesses. These two verses in the Bible highlight the spiritual dimensions of America’s mental health crisis. Until individuals are made aware of this internal tug of war, peace of mind is unachievable. May this blog help those living in bondage, enslaved by addiction find freedom through a personal relationship with Christ, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

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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