The Gospel Coalition website posted a story about a recent survey. It found that a slight majority of people actually do believe that Satan is real and that demons can possess people. If you’re a Southern, born-again, Republican black woman in her 50’s with a post-graduate degree, you’re especially likely to believe that. Good. If we don’t think Satan exists, we aren’t looking for his influence in our lives. We aren’t wary of being manipulated by him. And we won’t pray against him. Those who know he’s out there will be stronger Christians for it. Just like those amazing Southern, born-again, black women.
I came across two verses in the Old Testament which refer to God sending evil spirits upon people. The first is
“God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech that the crime done to the 70 sons of Jerubbaal [Gideon] might be settled and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who aided him in the killing of his own brothers.”
And the second is 1 Samuel 16:14
“But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him.”
Some translations actually say “evil spirit” instead of “distressing spirit.” Does that mean God will send evil spirits into our lives? No, not necessarily. But He might allow evil spirits to get to us if we are constantly sinning. Both Abimelech and Saul had it coming. They were severely disobedient to God and His laws. They didn’t run from evil. They didn’t fear God.
My MacArthur Study Bible notes that God allowed these evil spirits to torment Abimelech and Saul because of their considerable sin. It says, “There are several NT occasions where God turned people over to demons or Satan for judgement (see Acts 5:1-3; 1 Cor 5:1-7; 1 Tim 1:18-20).”
Yikes. This is pretty heavy motivation to keep on the straight and narrow and to listen to my conscience. There’s demons out there and I don’t want them getting through my hedge of protection.
For Further Reading:
I mocked up a possible book cover for my as-yet-unfinished novel, The Book of Rodney: Satan Sometimes Brings Cupcakes. What do you think? Those are red velvet cupcakes, by the way.
Don’t you hate it when a miserable guest shows up and ruins a party? That’s how the angels at the convocation in heaven (described in Job passage, below) must have felt when Satan barged into the meeting. I’m amazed that God gave the devil an ear, but He did. I have to figure, if Satan is our adversary, then he appears before God in a heavenly courtroom quite often to accuse us of our sins. Of course, the ruling is always the same: Jesus died to forgive that sin–case closed!
“Now there was a day when the sons of God (angels) came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it’.”
I knew that Satan fell from heaven (or was kicked out ignominiously), but I never knew what kind of an angel he was. See my post on Orders of Angels for more info on the different kinds of angels and demons out there. I figured he might have been second in command or something. Isn’t it always the generals who lead the coups? Then I came across this passage in Ezekial. (FYI: Ezekial is a great read, full of supernatural visions and creatures.) Ostensibly, it’s describing the king of Tyre, but my study bible notes that this passage also applies to Satan.
“You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; . . . You were the annointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, ‘Till iniquity was found in you. By the abundance of your trading You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing, Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones, Your heart was proud because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground.”
Say what? Satan is a Cherub? Not the fat-baby-with-wings kind, but the kind of angel with four wings, eyes all over, and wheels for feet. Wow. That means he’s outranked by both Seraphim and Archangels. He was way down the authority ladder, but he still wanted to rule. Check out the ego on that guy. I guess that’s why we say that pride goes before the fall.