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Understanding Demonic Oppression

When the Coronavirus began to spread throughout the United States back in March of 2020, relatively unknown doctors became instant celebrities. While Dr. Anthony Fauci received most of the attention as the media’s darling, Dr. Oz was a regular guest panelist on cable news and talk radio. Depending upon their area of expertise or practice, these physicians tried to educate the general public on understanding the dangers of COVID-19. Although their advice varied, I learned the best way to stay healthy involved getting 7-8 hours of sleep and staying hydrated daily.

And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom last? For you say that I expel demons with the help of and by Beelzebub. 19 Now if I expel demons with the help of and by Beelzebub, with whose help and by whom do your sons drive them out? Therefore they shall be your judges.20 But if I drive out the demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has [already] come upon you, Luke 11:18-20.

When it comes to understanding demonic oppression, one of the best sources comes from a first century doctor named Luke. Beside his daily practice, this man sought to become a historian. As Luke began to hear about and see miracles that defied science, eagerness to record these details inspired two books. During a personal account with Jesus, Luke details a powerful spirit referred to as the strongman. Within this parable, Jesus suggests that a person freed from demonic oppression is not completely safe, Rather, if these individuals are careless, reverting back to former sinful practices, demons can return with more powerful tormenting spirits.

When the strong man, fully armed, [from his courtyard] guards his own dwelling, his belongings are undisturbed [his property is at peace and is secure]. But when one stronger than he attacks him and conquers him, he robs him of his whole armor on which he had relied and divides up and distributes all his goods as plunder (spoil). 23 He who is not with Me [siding and believing with Me] is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me [engage in My interest], scatters. 24 When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it roams through waterless places in search [of a place] of rest (release, refreshment, ease); and finding none it says, I will go back to my house from which I came. 25 And when it arrives, it finds [the place] swept and put in order and furnished and decorated. 26 And it goes and brings other spirits, seven [of them], more evil than itself, and they enter in, settle down, and dwell there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first, Luke 11:21-26.

In a chapter to the Church at Rome, Paul reveals his own demonic oppression, experiencing periods where he was unable to control his body, Romans 7:15-18. This baffling ordeal left Paul scratching his head, unable to break free from sinful desires. Beside Galatians 5:16-18, Romans 8:5-8 highlights an external battle that occurs within everyone’s soul. While many try a form of teetotalism, the practice of complete abstinence, Jesus reveals that certain spirits can only be removed via prayer, Mark 9:26-29. Although the book definition of demonic oppression is the work of evil spiritual forces that urge us to sin, deny God’s word, feel spiritually dead, and to be in bondage, few see this for what it is, Ephesians 6:12. While I’m not an expert on this topic, there is a lot more to life’s decisions than the “devil made me do it.” Thus, further study the Bible if you want to fully understand demonic oppression.

by Jay Mankus

When Healing is Complicated

Teetotalism is a term related to the Bible that is rarely spoken today.  This word refers to a strict adherence to the Old Testament.  By the first century, Pharisees and other religious leaders added several human stipulations to existing laws.  One of these limitations prohibited individuals from physical exertion on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.  Subsequently, any type of exercise could be construed as breaking the law.  This interpretation prompted the zealous to avoid going out of their way to help someone on Saturday, even if it meant healing or saving a life.

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.  The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, John 5:7-8.

This is the dilemma which confronted Jesus every week, to heal or not to heal.  Despite public pressure to conform to these man made regulations, Jesus fulfilled the will of his heavenly father.  In the passage above, a man had been an invalid for 38 years.  Visiting a healing pool, these waters were believed to have mystical powers.  Those who had been cured, healed or set free from physical infirmities gave credit to angels who came down to stir the waters.  The first person to enter the pool was healed.  Unfortunately, this invalid was never fast enough, sitting and waiting, year after year, watching others become cleansed and made new.  The sight of this pitiful man inspired Jesus to have compassion, reach out and perform a miracle.

And so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”  But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk,’ ” John 5:9-10.

In the passage above, you can see how teetotalism blinds someone’s perspective of God.  Instead of rejoicing with this fully healed man, religious leaders were trying to discover who brought the Sabbath rules and why.  This mindset doesn’t make any sense, especially in the sight of an amazing miracle.  Nonetheless, human traditions created by powerful leaders attempted the steal the joy on this special occasion.  Today, similar rules have been established by government officials.  Whether it’s prayer, reading the Bible or sharing your faith, you have to consider the cost.  To heal or not to heal, to help or not to help and to pray or not to pray?  In the end, if your heart is in the right place, you will follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit by fulfilling God’s will for your life on earth.

by Jay Mankus

Blind and Toothless

Jewish law detailed in the Old Testament is clear and concise.  “An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth annd life for a life” doesn’t leave any grey area.  Yet, when asked about his opinion on biblical law Gandhi provided a classic quote.  “If this law was applied literally everyone would be blind and toothless.”

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, John 1:17.

Today, lawyers have crafted escape clauses and discovered loopholes to help clients avoid punishment.  When you combine this with activist judges who view the United States Constitution as a living documents, law now evolves as society changes.  This lack of consistency often results in chaos within classrooms, communities and work places.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet,” Romans 7:7.

Whenever someone is caught breaking a rule, knee jerk reactions tend to reply with something like “I didn’t know.”  The purpose of rules is to prevent individuals from using the amoral card, not informed on right from wrong.  Yet, laws without grace breeds teetotalism, the point Gandhi eludes to above.  Therefore, two things are necessary to avoid a blind and toothless society.  First, slow down long enough to read, reflect and meditate on the Bible.  Then, when you go beyond the boundaries God has set, confess, repent and turn to God in prayer for forgiveness, grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

A Cure to the Second Glance

Every month I receive a hundred or so comments on posted blogs.  The one which has received the most feed back is the Second Glance.  Inspired by the Casting Crowns’ song Slow Fade, this devotion eludes to the temptation to go beyond appreciating beauty toward lust.  While reading the book of Job today, I believe I have stumbled upon a cure to the Second Glance.

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman,” Job 31:1.

In the midst of struggling to comprehend God’s hand in the death of his children and a deteriorating body, Job changes his attention toward devotion to his wife.  As part of a wedding vow or personal commitment to his spouse, Job promises to avoid taking a second glance at other women.  Although this may seem old fashion, I’m sure this decision prevented another woman from interfering with his marriage.

If my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, then may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted, Job 31:7-8.

Depending upon your personality, spheres of influence and upbringing, everyone has a different way of dealing with situations.  Free spirits are vulnerable to becoming loose canons, expressing whatever comes to their minds.  Meanwhile the disciplined are often rigid, strict and practice teetotalism, zealous in the enforcement of rules.  Most people fall somewhere in between, a hybrid of sorts.  Yet, in the end, it comes down to a will to love.  The passage above details the passion necessary to fight the urge to take another peek.  If you are truly set on overcoming lust, add accountability, Bible Study and a will to love to your daily prayers and routine.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Rules Without Reason

As a former high school teacher, I spent ten years hearing teenagers complain about rules without reason.  While students enjoy testing a teacher’s limits, pushing the envelope as far as possible, these complaints aren’t without merit.  Sometimes I established rules that didn’t make sense.  Following a methods course in Classroom Dynamics, I began to see the error of my way.  Thus, I started to alter, change and eliminate any rules without reason.

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? – Luke 14:28

Unfortunately, the government not only thrives on creating rules without reason, new legislation often provides positions to enforce these new policies.   While cell phone and texting laws are practical, some states have made it illegal to eat and drive.  In fact if you want a big gulp from 7 Eleven, local officials are trying to prevent individuals from purchasing anything over 24 ounces.  It’s no wonder that Frank Baum wrote the Wizard of Oz to illustrate the empty promises made by the United States government.  Perhaps, a candidate in 2016 will run on the platform of ending rules without reason.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God, Romans 13:1.

The government is not the only culprit, as the church is not far behind, relying on theology written several hundred or in some cases thousands of years ago.  In an attempt to force a congregation to adhere to a denominations’ beliefs, teetotalism can surface.  This stringent enforcement contradicts free will, resulting in members feeling like they have the power to police others in the church.  Perhaps, its time to exchange religion for a personal relationship with God.  In doing so, the grace of God will flow as rules without reason are replaced with faith.

by Jay Mankus

Teetotalism in Religion

As dictionaries are updated annually, important words from history are fading from the forefront.  Instead, slang, tech terms and pop culture is redefining societies vocabulary.  One of these obsolete words is teetotalism, a stringent form of following the rules.  Islam or Muslims  is one of the few faiths which practice teetotalism in adherence to the 5 pillars.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28.

In his classic book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis addresses teetotalism in a chapter called The Cardinal Virtues, values that anyone can possess.  Lewis suggests that initially, teetotalism was a form of temperance, going the right distance and no further.  Like anything in life, context, time and understanding alter the meaning of words.  Thus, teetotalism in the context of religion is merely knowing the boundaries between the right and wrong and failing to cross over this line.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, Matthew 11:29.

However, when faith is limited to an adherence to rules, meaning can be lost like Pharisees who strayed from God’s commands.  Rather, Jesus doesn’t care what you wear to church on Sunday; only that you come as you are, ditching the facade the fake put on.  Once souls reach the understanding that you can’t do it on your own, Romans 6:23, spiritual hunger is conceived.  Free will enables hearts to wait until they are ready.  When this day arrives, believers won’t have to rely on teetotalism anymore.  Instead, a desire for biblical truth will prompt individuals to pray, read the Bible and worship the Lord 7 days a week.

by Jay Mankus

 

Addicted

When I taught high school for 10 years, there were many days when I forgot to eat or simply didn’t have time to.  Thus, when a friend from church convinced me to start fasting, the transition was easier than I thought.  During my final semester of teaching, my body became use to just one meal a day per week, with 4 meals on the weekend.  Although depression had something to do with this, I lost most of my cravings for food.

Eight-teen months later, I find the opposite to be true.  While depression is still a factor, my body has become addicted to certain foods.  During a 3 day fast I attempted earlier this week, my body went through severe withdrawal on day 1, leaving me miserable with a high fever.  Based upon books I have read, toxins within my body were reacting to their lack of food supply.  Instead of toughing it out, I broke my fast after 24 hours, disappointed by my weakness, Matthew 26:41.

Maybe this is why the apostle Paul goes to extreme measures in his letter to the church in Corinth.  According to 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, fasting requires the mindset of an athletic who goes into strict training.  Sometimes the only way to overcome bad habits, temptation and a weak flesh is through a teetotalism mentality.  When there is a will, there is a way to overcome addiction.  May your battle with the world’s obstacles lead you to lean on God’s compassion, forgiveness and mercy to press on, praying for victory over the giants in your life.

by Jay Mankus

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