Satan

Satan

What does the Bible say about Satan, and what do Christians believe about him? Not only is this an important biblical doctrine, but it has also been used to determine if someone has a biblical worldview. Kerby Anderson explains the basics about Satan, how he catches us in his snares, how to resist his temptations.

The Barna Group has found that a very small percentage of born again Christians have a biblical worldview. They define a “biblical worldview” as having the following six elements: “The Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.”{1}

Various surveys (including the Barna surveys) show that many Christians think that belief in Satan is optional. After all, they argue, if I believe in Jesus that is enough. But if you believe that Jesus was God then you have to believe that Satan exists. Satan is mentioned in the Gospels twenty-nine times. And in twenty-five of those references, Jesus is the one talking about Satan.

Download the PodcastIt is also worth noting that Satan is mentioned many other times in the Bible. Satan is referred to in seven Old Testament books and every New Testament writer talks about Satan. Belief in Satan is not optional.

When Satan is discussed in the New Testament, he is identified by three titles. These three titles describe his power on earth and his influence in the world:

1. Ruler of the world – Jesus refers to Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). This means that he can use the elements of society, culture, and government to achieve his evil ends in this world. That doesn’t mean that every aspect of society or culture is evil. And it doesn’t mean that Satan has complete control of every politician or governmental bureaucrat. But it does mean that Satan can use and manipulate the world’s system.

2. God of this world – Paul refers to Satan as “the god of this world” who “has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan sets himself up as a false god to many. His power over religion and the ability to promote false religions keeps people from know the true gospel.

3. Prince of the air – Paul reminds Christians that they were dead in their trespasses and since in which they “formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air.” Satan is the prince of the air and thus controls the thoughts of those in the world system. The Bible says: “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). So we should not be surprised that we find ourselves in the midst of spiritual warfare.

How Did Satan Fall?

The Bible doesn’t say much about Satan and his fall. There are two passages in Scripture that many believe does describe Satan’s fall but not all theologians are convinced. These passages are Ezekiel 28:11-19 and Isaiah 14:12-19.

Ezekiel predicts the coming judgment of the Gentile nations and refers to “the prince (or leader) of Tyre” and then later to “the king of Tyre.” These do not seem to be the same person. The first is obviously the earthly leader of the city Tyre. Ezekiel is predicting his ultimate downfall and the destruction of his kingdom.

The person referred to as the “king of Tyre” seems to be a different person. He has “the seal of perfection” and was “blameless.” He is described as “full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” It also says that he was “in Eden, the garden of God.”

It appears that the “king of Tyre” describes Satan who was serving God as an angel. The passage further says that Satan was “lifted up” because of his beauty which many commentators suggest mean that he was the greatest of all of God’s creations. But he sinned. This passage says “you sinned” and “you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.”

Another passage that appears to be talking about Satan is where the prophet Isaiah is predicting that God will bring judgment against Babylon. The first part of chapter 14 (verses 1-11) is directed at the king of Babylon. But many theologians and commentators believe that the subject changes in the next section (verses 12-19) because it focuses on the “star of the morning.”

It worth mentioning that the “star of the morning” in verse 12 could just as easily be translated “the shining one.” That connects with Paul’s statement that Satan is an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). The passage also says that he has “fallen from heaven.” It seems like we are not talking about the Babylonian king but actually talking about Satan.

If this passage is talking about Satan, then it tells us more about his motivations that led to his fall. Five times in this passage we see the phrase “I will.” He is prideful and wants to achieve a position “above the stars of God” (Isaiah 14:13). He also sought to be “like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). And he wanted to “sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north” (Isaiah 14:13). Each of these desires tells us more about his motivations.

From this passage we discover three things about Satan. First, Satan wanted to be superior to creation. Second, Satan wanted to be superior to the Creator. Third, Satan wanted a superior place to rule all of creation.{2}

What Do We Know About Satan’s Character?

The Bible tells us a great deal about Satan through the various names that are given to him. Let’s begin by looking at the name “Satan.” In Hebrew the name means “adversary.” He is opposed to God and His plans. And Satan is also opposed to God’s plan in our lives. If we are to be successful in spiritual warfare, we must understand that he is our adversary. This characteristic of Satan is significant. The Old Testament uses this name for him eighteen times, and it is used thirty-four times in the New Testament.

Another common name for Satan is “the devil.” This name in the Greek is diabolos and is derived from the verb meaning “to throw.” The Devil throws accusations and lies at us. This is a significant part of spiritual warfare. He accuses believers while he slanders and defames the name of God. This name occurs thirty-six times in the New Testament.

There is one passage in the New Testament that uses both of these names for Satan. Peter warns believers about Satan who is an “adversary” and “the devil” who is on the prowl like roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). He is a formidable adversary that believing Christians should not take lightly.

Satan is also known as the “tempter.” He tempts us to follow him and his evil ways rather than follow God’s plan for our lives. When he appears to Jesus in the wilderness, he is referred to as the tempter (Matthew 4:3). Also, Paul refers to Satan as “the tempter” (1 Thessalonians 3:5) and thus illustrates one of the key characteristics of Satan: he tempts humans to sin.

A related name is “serpent.” Satan took the form of a serpent to tempt Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Paul talks about Satan tempting Eve due to his subtle tempting and craftiness (2 Corinthians 11:3).

In addition to tempting believers, Satan is referred to as the “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10).

Satan is also called “the evil one” both by Jesus (John 17:15) and John (1 John 5:18-19). Satan can control the world system, but believers are given the power to resist his temptations and evil designs. Satan is the source of much of the evil in the world, and that is why believers must reckon with his impact and content with spiritual warfare.

We also see his power in the names that describe his dominion. He is described as “the god of this world” in 2 Corinthians 4:4. He is also called “the prince of the world” (John 14:30) and “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). And he is known as “the ruler of the demons” in Matthew 12:24.

How Are We Caught in the Snares of Satan?

The Bible teaches that Satan can capture our minds and divert us from God’s purpose. This is called a snare. In certain biblical passages (for example, Psalm 124), we read about fowlers and the use of snares. They would capture birds by spreading a net on the ground that was attached to a trap or snare. When the birds landed to eat the seeds spread out, the trap would spring and throw the net over the birds.

A snare could be anything Satan uses that entangles us or impedes our progress. It could be roadblock or it could be a diversion. A wise and discerning Christian should be alert for these snares that can prevent our effectiveness and even ruin our testimony.

The character of Satan gives us some insight into his methods and techniques. James gives us a perspective on this by telling us that when we are tempted we should not blame God. Instead we should understand the nature of temptation and enticement. “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).

James shows that temptation toward sin in usually a process rather than a single act. We are tempted and then carried away and enticed by our own lust. Like a fisherman who tries to catch a fish using bait, Satan tries to entice us by placing before us something that will cause us to be carried away. Then when lust has conceived, we do it again, and eventually experience death.

Satan is not only the tempter, but he is a subtle deceiver “who deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). Jesus warned that there will be “false Christs and false prophets” who will “show great signs and wonders.” They will be so convincing that they “shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).

Paul teaches that Satan disguises himself as an “angel of light” and his demons transform themselves as “ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Satan’s main strategy is to lie. Jesus said concerning Satan, “When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). Paul prays that Christians would “no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Ephesians 4:14).

How Did Jesus Resist the Temptations of Satan?

How can we resist Satan’s temptations? We can learn some valuable lessons about how to deal with spiritual warfare by watching how Jesus was able to resist the temptations of Satan (Matthew 4; Mark 1; Luke 4) in the forty-day Temptation. The Bible records three attempts by Satan to get Jesus to act independently of His Father’s will for Him.

1. Challenged God’s provision – Satan first challenged Jesus to turn stones into bread (Matthew 4:3). The Bible tells us that Jesus was very hungry after fasting for forty days. While Jesus had the power to do so, He resisted because it was His Father’s will that he fast in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights.

Instead Jesus quotes a portion of Deuteronomy 8:3 back to Satan. “But He answered and said, ‘It is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).

2. Challenged God’s protection – Satan next took Jesus into “the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple” (Ma­tthew 4:5). He then commanded Jesus to throw Himself down in order for the angels to protect Him. In other words, Satan wanted Jesus to take His protection into His own hands and no longer trust in God’s protection. Notice that Satan even quotes Scripture (Psalm 91) to Jesus (Matthew 4:6) in order to tempt Him.

Jesus, however, quotes a portion of Deuteronomy 6:16 back to Satan. “Jesus said to him, ‘On the other hand, it is written, you shall not put the Lord your God to the test”” (Matthew 4:7).

3. Challenged God’s dominion – Satan then took Jesus “to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Matthew 4:8). And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9). Satan would give Jesus rule and dominion over all that the world could provide if he were turn away from His mission to save mankind and worship Satan.

Notice that Jesus did not challenge Satan’s claim that he had the kingdoms of the world to give to Him. After all, Satan is the “prince of this world” (John 12:31). But instead Jesus said to him, “Go Satan! For it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only” (Matthew 4:10).

As believers we should remind ourselves that Satan is a defeated foe. Jesus tells us that “the ruler of this world has been judged” (John 16:11). But his influence is still felt. Jesus also refers to Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31). John tells us that “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). And Peter reminds us that “the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The good news is that “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Notes

1. “Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians over the Past 13 Years,” March 2009, www.barna.org.
2. You can find more information about Satan, demons, angels, and spiritual warfare in my book A Biblical Point of View on Spiritual Warfare (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2009).

© 2011 Probe Ministries

 

See Also
Probe Answers Our Email: Angels and Demons

 


Are Ghosts Real?

The morning program on a Dallas radio station recently featured a story about one of the show personalities going to a “ghost hunt” at a supposedly haunted hospital. The staffer came back with video of a flashlight turning on and off by itself. She went as a skeptic but came back as a believer.

In ghosts.

She offered her perspective: we all go to heaven or hell, but some people get delayed on their way to their final destination. The discussion opened a stream of callers eager to share their “knowledge” about ghosts, such as the woman who has slept in cemeteries to learn about spirits. “Sometimes children don’t know they’ve died,” she assured the radio audience.

Are ghosts real? How should we think about ghost hunting and anecdotes of people seeing disembodied spirits? My grandmother reported that she had seen her late husband walking through the living room years after he died; what do we do with stories like that?

It really doesn’t matter how we feel or what we think—the only thing that matters is what God has revealed to us about the spirit world. And there is no room in a biblical worldview for the spirits of dead people wandering around, stirring up mischief or playing with flashlights.

The Bible says that “It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). That means heaven or hell. The apostle Paul wrote that for the believer in Christ, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). In chilling language, Deuteronomy 18 forbids any kind of dabbling with the occult, which the pagans already living in the Promised Land indulged in, and which God absolutely prohibited:

“When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations.
There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,
or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.
For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you.” (vv. 9-12)

Ghost-hunting is seeking occult encounters, which is the domain of evil spirits, and God warns us to stay far away from all of it.

But people, lots of people, have reported seeing something. How should we interpret seeing those who have died, and inanimate objects moving of their own accord? I would suggest that this is all the work of demons, evil angels who have rebelled against God. God’s word tells us they masquerade as something other than what they are; Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, and his servants disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Devils lie and deceive. It makes sense that they would deceive people by appearing as ghosts and impersonating dead people. Whether they terrorize the living through fear or just distract us from what is true and good, it’s all the work of God’s enemy.

We not only live in a fallen world, we live in a war zone where we walk around as targets of the enemy, whether we recognize it or not. Paul wrote that we struggle against the powers of this dark work and against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). Part of that spiritual war is the strategy of terrorism or distracting us by things like counterfeit ghosts and the movement of physical objects by unseen but real spirit beings who can manipulate the physical world.

When I think about the radio listeners who called in to offer their “knowledge” about ghosts, I found myself thinking about the critical-thinking “Killer Questions” that we ought always be using as a filter for what we read, see and hear. Especially “Where do you get your information?” and “How do you know that’s true?” Someone who sleeps in a cemetery to gain information about the spirit world may well be receiving information from “the other side,” but how accurate and trustworthy is it? Why should she believe everything the spirits are telling her? What kind of spirits are feeding her “facts” about how things work in the spirit realm?

I am grateful for the trustworthiness and reliability of God’s word that tells me how to think about ghost-hunting and ghost-busters. It’s about messing with demons pretending to be something other than what they are. (In my angel article Angels: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, I call them “ugly angels”) That’s why He forbids us to dabble with anything dark and occult. He wants to protect us because He’s a good, good Father.

 

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/are_ghosts_real on January 27, 2016.


“Are Aliens Really Evil Angels? Why Did They Take the Book of Enoch Out of the Bible?”

I was just wondering if so-called aliens are evil angels from the old times, or where do they fit into God’s plans. I already know they have been here since the beginning of time and they are behind this new world order supporting the devil. I figured out that myself and the people are working for them and cover up lots of stuff in exchange for weapons and greed but in the end they will be the fools. Just wondering if I’m right and why did they take the Book of Enoch out of the Bible—what else are they hiding? They’re trying to fool people into thinking they’re God, but they hold a more insidious agenda. People need to know the truth! Am I right or wrong?

Thanks for writing to Probe.

1. We suggest that aliens actually do not exist, but demons (evil angels) successfully role-play aliens to deceive people. Satan has been a deceiver since he first approached Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the evil angels who rebelled along with him have been deceiving people ever since.

We have a couple of articles on aliens you may find helpful to shape your understanding on aliens from a biblical perspective:

UFOs and Alien Beings: A Christian Response

Are We Alone in the Universe? A Biblical View of Aliens

2. The Book of Enoch was never IN the Bible, so it was never taken out. One of our theologians answered a question about that book here: “What Can We Know About Enoch?”

Since you are curious about what is true (good for you!), let me encourage you to read this short answer to the question, “How did the Church Recognize Which Books Were Inspired by God?”.

I hope you find this helpful.

Sue Bohlin

Posted 10/07/13
© 2013 Probe Ministries


Don’t Believe Like the Demons Believe!

Nov. 11, 2012

One of our pastors shares a favorite story: a young man in Sweden, while trying to get rid of the watermark on his trial software so he could use it illegally, did some online research that led him to a YouTube film clip from our church (Watermark Community Church) making the case for waiting to have sex before marriage. The twenty—something had never heard of such a thing, and while it sounded crazy to him, he continued to watch more clips, which intrigued him further, and he did more research that led him to the conclusion, “Wait a minute, there’s something really different about these people.”

So he called the pastor. From Sweden. “Hey man, I don’t know your God, never heard of your Jesus, but I want to know Him. I’ve been tracking with you guys online, watched a ton of sermons, and I want to know that God.” J.P. led him to the Lord, and he trusted Christ over the phone in Swedish.

He called again some time later. “Hey, we always go out and get drunk, and I’m having a hard time doing that all of a sudden. Yeah, we always pride ourselves on taking some girl home that we don’t know, and all of a sudden that doesn’t feel right to me. What’s wrong with me? This isn’t any fun anymore. Something happened!”

That’s what lifechange looks like. That’s the kind of transformation that happens when someone puts their trust in Jesus Christ and surrenders their heart and their life to a new kind of supernatural God—life. The New Testament talks about two kinds of life—the merely physical, and the supernatural, eternal, abundant life Jesus said He came to bring us (John 10:10). This eternal life invades our merely physical life.

I’ve been engaging in an email conversation with a dear man who is wondering why he hasn’t experienced any lifechange stories like the new Swedish Christian. When I asked his understanding of what it means to be a Christian, he indicated he had prayed a prayer that Christians had told him to pray. But nothing had happened, nothing had changed. In decades. When I asked him who he thinks Jesus is, he said whoever Christians told him He was. He’s now considering that all this time, he hasn’t been a Christian after all, and I think he’s right.

His dilemma illustrates a heartbreaking truth: there are a lot of people who think they are Christians because they have prayed a prayer or they mentally assent to some spiritual truths. But then they don’t see anything different in their lives, because they have been offered a false gospel of “say this prayer” or “believe these things” and they think they’ve got their going—to—heaven ticket punched. But they continue to live the same way, simply adding Jesus to their mental cubbyholes, ready to call on Him at the moment of death.

The people who saw radical changes in their lives in the New Testament were those who opened themselves to being invaded by Jesus Christ’s startlingly different, supernaturally powerful eternal life. As the true gospel spread, fueled by God’s Spirit manifested through Jesus’ lifechange in these people, the world was changed forever. I love how Dallas Willard writes:

So, C.S. Lewis writes, our faith is not a matter of our hearing what Christ said long ago and “trying to carry it out.” Rather, “The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and thought, His Zoe [life], into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.” (The Divine Conspiracy, San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1998, p. 20)

Why do so many people not experience the kind of lifechange of our Swedish friend? I respectfully (and, to be honest, somewhat fearfully) submit that their belief is that of demons. They believe the same thing the demons subscribe to, but it’s not a saving, life—changing kind of faith. Biblical faith is about trusting our entire self into Jesus’ hands, not merely nodding in intellectual assent or saying the words of a prayer. James 2:19 says, “You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that—and tremble with fear” (emphasis mine).

“I believe in God.” So do the demons.

“I believe Jesus is God’s Son.” So do the demons.

“I believe Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world.” So do the demons.

“I believe Jesus rose from the dead.” So do the demons.

What the demons don’t do is repent, turning 180 degrees from going their own way to surrender to Jesus, receive His love, and follow Him in obedience. They don’t entrust themselves into Jesus’ care. They don’t receive Jesus into the core of their being (John 1:12), as a response to Jesus drawing them into the core of His heart.

But we can. We must.

Biblical Christianity is about relationship. The Father, Son and Spirit invite us into Their circle of mutual love and affection, glory and grace. Jesus made it possible for us to be reconciled to God by taking our sin, that horrible barrier to relationship with His Father, out of the way at the cross. Biblical Christianity—being “injected” with eternal life—is SO not about mere intellectual assent or praying a prayer. It’s about surrendering to an amazing love and an amazing relationship.

Make sure your faith is about trust, and surrender, and joining the circle of God’s family. Make sure your faith is so much more than what the demons believe!

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/tapestry/sue_bohlin/dont_believe_like_the_demons_believe


Watching Dr. Phil Through a Discernment Filter

Dr. Phil and Robin McGraw

I like Dr. Phil (McGraw), the host of one of TV’s top-rated daytime programs, but it’s essential to keep a biblical discernment filter in place when watching his show. Last week I winced to see that his producers had talked him into bringing a couple of self-proclaimed psychics onto the program. Dr. Phil calls himself “a skeptic but not a cynic,” and he took the bait.

His audience was wildly appreciative of the topic and his guests. In fact, Dr. Phil displayed a stack of emails at least a foot and half high from people anxious to contact “the other side.”

Unfortunately, his wife Robin was one of the “believers” most excited to have the psychics on the program. One of the guests, who calls herself “an intuitive,” did a reading for Dr. Phil in their home. She also met one-on-one with Robin, who had high expectations of the reading.

“There were two events that I found to be very profound in his life,” she explained later. “One, I did not know him then, but one I was a part of with his mother. And I even mentioned it to him before the reading. I said, ‘OK, will you really believe and be open if she brings up even one of these two events?’ – and she brought up both events.”

What disappoints me is that although both Dr. Phil and Robin, who has been a speaker for the Women of Faith conferences, confess themselves to be Christ-followers, apparently they are more concerned about what makes for good television than what makes for a disciple of Jesus. And this is why Christians need to filter all media through a discernment grid consisting of what God says.

Check out how God prohibits His people from engaging in any and all occult practices of the surrounding pagan cultures:

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, you must not learn the abhorrent practices of those nations. There must never be found among you

  • anyone who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire,
  • anyone who practices divination,
  • an omen reader,
  • a soothsayer,
  • a sorcerer,
  • one who casts spells,
  • one who conjures up spirits (Hebrew: “asker of a [dead] spirit”),
  • a practitioner of the occult (Hebrew: “a knowing one; a familiar spirit”),
  • or a necromancer (Hebrew: “seeker of the dead”).

Whoever does these things is abhorrent to the Lord and because of these detestable things the Lord your God is about to drive them out from before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God. Those nations that you are about to dispossess listen to omen readers and diviners, but the Lord your God has not given you permission to do such things. (Deut. 18:9-14)

The psychics on the Dr. Phil show purported to give messages to the living from the dead. They promised they knew nothing of the audience’s private matters, yet came up with some staggering details that resonated with the loved ones left behind. That included Robin.

So what’s going on if it’s not what it appears to be—the dead communicating with the living through a medium?

The reason God prohibits any form of the occult is because it means dabbling with demons, and that is horribly dangerous spiritually. If psychics receive knowledge they can’t possibly know, it’s not coming from the dead. The Bible makes no provision for any communication between the living and the dead (with two exceptions; you can read about that here). But demons know all kinds of information about people, and they can feed it to their puppets.

For example, when the McGraws discussed private issues before the reading, of course demons were listening to that conversation! Is it really so surprising that the psychic, who explained that she opens herself to the spirits to receive what they want to tell her, received information from evil spirits?

Viewing life through a biblical discernment filter means that sometimes we’ll see things that makes us moan, “NOOOOOOOOO!”

 

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/tapestry/sue_bohlin/watching_dr._phil_through_a_discernment_filter
on Jan. 17, 2012.


Don’t Wish Me Luck

Dec. 6, 2011

A Christian high school in the Chicago area displayed a disturbing message for one of their teams on their marquee: “Good luck in the State Finals!” I knew they were wishing them well, but unwittingly, the message writer had bought into an unbiblical worldview.

There is no such thing as luck!

The concept of luck is an animistic belief, which is the core of folk religion worldwide: a belief in the unseen world that is populated by various kinds of spirits such as the spirits of the dead (ghosts) and nature spirits, as well as unseen supernatural forces: fate, the “evil eye,” magic, witchcraft, impersonal energy forces (“chi”) . . . and luck.

People think of good luck as a supernatural force that has to be attracted, or coaxed (“Come on, double sixes!”), or somehow manipulated to work for us. And bad luck is an unseen negative force that we need to protect ourselves from. So people put their trust in sacred or magical objects and actions in hope of manipulating this supposed force of luck.

When I was young, I wore a “miraculous medal” on my watch, a charm that I believed would keep me safe. I see rosaries hanging from rear view mirrors for the same purpose. Then there are magic/sacred items thought to bring luck: a rabbit’s foot, a horseshoe, a four-leaf clover. Lots of people scheduled weddings and other events on November 11 of this year (11-11-11) in the belief it would bring them luck. (One woman on the Dr. Phil show was planning to marry for the eleventh time on 11-11-11 because she thought it would bring her luck after ten bad marriages! Wisely, Dr. Phil told her she didn’t need luck, she needed pre-marriage counseling.)

The idea of luck as a force to be wielded, much like “The Force” in Star Wars, plays no part in a biblical view of life and reality. But lots of people believe in it anyway, because the majority of people, including Christians, do not think biblically. They are captive to the false ideas of the surrounding culture, one of which is animism.

Animism is a degradation of a true understanding of reality, which has been revealed by God in His word: that God has created things we can see, which are temporal, and things we can’t see, which are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). The unseen spiritual dimension contains both good and evil spirits—angels and demons—as well as the souls of people who have died and now exist either in heaven or in hell. They do not wander around looking for rest. The evil spirits—demons—do have limited power, mainly lies, schemes and deceptions. But God’s power is always greater.

If you’re looking for favor and blessing, don’t hope for luck. Look to the God of grace. He is the source of favor and blessing. And His power is the strongest in the universe, which is why trustful dependence on Him is the best way to tap into that power. Not trying to manipulate it—but asking for it in humility and trust.

Which is why I say, don’t wish me luck. It doesn’t exist.

Ask for God’s blessing instead.

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/tapestry/sue_bohlin/dont_wish_me_luck


God on Trial

Recently my friend, a good and decent man, was on trial because his daughter accused him of sexually abusing her from age five to twelve. His attorney amassed so much evidence of his innocence that he kept saying, “You’ll never see the inside of a courtroom,” but he did. For several years we prayed faithfully for God to vindicate him of these heinous charges, along the way learning of the depth of their daughter’s troubled adolescence. She had accused him of sexual abuse once before, right after her parents committed her into an adolescent psych hospital after some particularly violent behavior, and she threatened them with “You’ll be sorry.” None of the mental health professionals believed her, and even though her behavior and arrests for theft screamed “I am not a truthful person,” she manipulated the prosecutor into painting her as a poor, abused child whose acting out was perfectly justified because of the horrific wounds on her soul.

In the courtroom, I watched this master manipulator at work. Not only did she give a fine performance on the stand, but she got her sister to testify on her behalf, proffering stories of invented violence and meanness from both parents. Her mother and father could identify the incidents she referred to, with some aspects embellished and others that provided context and important details conveniently left out. As I listened to the testimonies, not even knowing yet what had really happened, my spirit was struck with an awareness that only grew as the testimonies went on: we’re seeing a lying spirit at work here.

I was really surprised that my friend’s defense attorney didn’t address these vicious attacks on his character, even though they would have been easy to counter with the truth, so the judge was left to believe that they were true. And I was also surprised that the judge was also left with other wrong impressions because of what I suspect was inadequate defense strategy.

Nonetheless, with pounding hearts as the judge rendered his verdict at the end of the two-day trial, we were relieved to hear him announce “Not guilty.” But first, the judge fixed my friend with an intense look of disapproval and basically yelled at him for being a terrible father and awful disciplinarian, telling him that he thinks he really is the monster his daughter portrayed him to be and that he did do the horrible things she accused him of, and God help him if he did. But there was sufficient evidence of his innocence to justify a “not guilty” verdict, and we thanked the Lord for it.

As I continued to think about this very difficult experience and emotionally charged time, I was struck by how we can easily put God on trial for terrible things we think He did or didn’t do. There is an enemy with a lying spirit, Satan and his hordes of demons, who slander God to us, twisting and manipulating details to make us judge Him guilty of being an unfair or uncaring or impotent or sadistic God who has wronged us. A big part of the problem is that we don’t have all the facts, and we are not hearing the countering truth that answer the lies or the twists that have been offered so enticingly. That’s what is at the root of the problem of pain and evil and suffering in our world: we don’t have all the facts, and we are hearing slanderous lies, many unanswered, from a spirit who hates God and wants us to hate Him too.

In the end, my friend heard the precious words “not guilty,” and in the End, God will also be proven to be righteous and true and good. But in the meantime, we need to be aware of the evil work of a lying spirit. And when we hear a lie about God, stand up and speak the truth so people hear the other side of the story. Proverbs 18:17 says, “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.” May we equip ourselves to be able to answer the slanderous lies against our God from “the first to present his case.”

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/god_on_trial
on June 22, 2010.


A New Look at Twilight, Different Conclusion

Twilight book cover

Last year (June 8, 2010) I blogged about Twilight, connecting the dots between the supernatural vampire character of Edward Cullen and Jesus. I suggested that perhaps the reason millions of people so resonate with that character is that what they’re really looking for is the glory and perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ, which Edward appears to manifest in various ways.

Since then, I have read all the books and done months of research. It’s like pulling the camera focus back, back, back. . . . and finding some extremely disturbing details now in our field of vision.

I have now come to a very different conclusion.

I was stunned to learn about how the idea for Twilight came to the author, Stephenie Meyer. She tells this story:

“I woke up . . . from a very vivid dream. In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that A) they were falling in love with each other while B) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately.”

“Fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire”? Consider what vampires are, in the vampire genre that arose in the 1800s: demon-possessed, undead, former human beings who suck blood from their victims to sustain themselves. A vampire is evil. And the vampire who came to Stephenie Meyer in a dream is not only supernaturally beautiful and sparkly, but when she awoke she was deeply in love with this being who virtually moved into her head, creating conversations for months that she typed out (obsessively, she says) until Twilight was written.

When I heard this part of the story, it gave me chills. 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, which is a perfect description of the Edward Cullen character.

Then I learned that “Edward” came to Meyer in a second dream that frightened her. She said, “I had this dream that Edward actually showed up and told me that I got it all wrong and like he exists and everything but he couldn’t live off animals. . . and I kind of got the sense he was going to kill me. It was really terrifying and bizarrely different from every other time I’ve thought about his character.”

I believe that Stephenie Meyer’s dream was not your ordinary dream. The fact that “Edward” came to her in a second dream that terrified her (but she dismissed it and kept on writing), indicates this may have been a demonic visitation. I do believe Twilight was demonically inspired.

But there’s more.

All four books are permeated with the occult. The Twilight vampires all have various kinds of powers that don’t come from God. They are supernaturally fast, supernaturally strong, able to read others’ minds and control others’ feelings. Some can tell the future, others can see things at great distances. These aspects of the occult are an important part of what makes Twilight so successful.

In both the Old and New Testaments, God strongly warns us not to have anything to do with the occult,  which is part of the “domain of darkness” (Colossians 1:13). Twilight glorifies the occult, the very thing God calls detestable (Deuteronomy 18:9). This is reason enough for Christ-followers to stay away from it!

Last year I wondered if Edward was something of a Christ-figure. Now I think this character is a devious spiritual counterfeit to Jesus that has captured the hearts of millions of obsessed fans who are in love with a demonic “angel of light.”

And they don’t know it.

 


 

Note: My article on the Probe website is now online, with much more information than what’s in this blog post: probe.org/twilight

 

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/a_new_look_at_twilight_different_conclusion


“Can Demonic Powers Read Minds?”

Question: Someone said in Sunday School that Satan and the demons can’t read our minds. Where does it say that in the Bible?

There really isn’t a scripture that proves this, just the logic: demons are finite creatures, as we are. They are not omniscient like God. (Consider this: if Satan could read people’s minds, he certainly would have been able to read Jesus’ mind to know how abysmally he would be trounced at the Cross!) Jesus spoke scripture out loud to Satan during His temptation in the wilderness so he could hear it. In the spiritual armor passage of Eph. 6, we are told to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word (rhema, the spoken-out-loud word) of God.

Randy Alcorn has answered this question in an excellent way: “Can Demons Read Our Thoughts?”

Hope you find this helpful.

Sue Bohlin

© 2007 Probe Ministries


Edgar Cayce: The Sleeping (False) Prophet

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