Demons Among Us?

Text: Luke 11:14-28

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

In the New Testament, there are six recorded events where Jesus does battle with people possessed by a demon or many demons. In all six accounts, the person was under the control of an evil spirit, or we could say, “A demon.” These demons exerted a certain amount of control over these people’s minds and even their bodies, causing ailments and physical problems.

Now, we must keep in mind that these encounters in the New Testament were not Jesus coming into contact with the souls of dead people and Jesus was not encountering different gods. And Jesus was not battling some sort of mental illness plaguing these individuals. But instead, Jesus was coming face to face with demons.  These demons were fallen evil angels working under the authority of the chief evil angel, named the devil.

Now, we must keep in mind that beneath all the false religions of the world are demons. That is to say; if you pop the hood of Islam, what you see under the hood is demons lurking in the pages of their Koran. Take a magnifying glass to Hinduism; you find the devil in the details.  Furthermore, beneath all the supernatural hauntings reports of dead souls wandering the hallways of haunted houses are nothing more than demons with their trickery.  Finally, there are times where people are diagnosed as mentally ill, but in reality, they are possessed by a demon.

You see, demons are real, and the devil is real. The devil and his cohorts oppose God and work against God’s children. These demons using their own free will are aggressive, wanting to kill, steal, and destroy your faith and the faith of other Christians.

Your skepticism may be kicking in at this time causing you to say,

“But do these demons ‘really’ still exist today, for we are in the modern era! We are enlightened people, not superstitious like all those people in the Medieval Age! Therefore, isn’t this demon stuff just something that happened a long time ago? Haven’t we grown out of this in the twenty-first century?”

The author C.S. Lewis at the beginning of his book, The Screwtape Letters, says the following,

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about [demons]. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. [The demons] are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

In other words, demons do still exist. However, we humans can make two errors. We can either deny that they exist or we can have an overly unhealthy interest in them and end up playing with fire.

Now, I would assert that disbelieving in demons is a greater cause for worry, for if we go about our lives assuming that they do not exist, we are in essence giving them a free pass – freedom to reign.

But if demons do exist – which they do – why do we not see these exorcisms and battles that we read about in the New Testament. If they do exist, why is it that we only see this kind of stuff in Hollywood Movies? There are two reasons.

First, the devil and his demons disguise themselves as angels of light. The evil one seduces people into his camp by making wicked things look good and good things look wicked. The devil covers evil in attractive garments. He adds sweetener to poison and glitter to sin. Indeed the devil knows that the easiest road to Hell is not the obvious road but the gradual one - the subtle gentle slope without sudden turns and without markers or signposts or warnings.[1]

The second reason why we do not see these battles with the devil is that Christian Pastors often do not talk about it. For example, our missionaries in Africa come into conflict with demons and possessions on a weekly basis. And in America, pastors have had these experiences, but to a lesser degree. In fact, I would say that most pastors have at least one story about a battle with evil. But here is the catch. Pastors rarely talk about these stories. And the reason why? Pastors do not want to give evil publicity. The devil is a liar and a murderer. He is pathetic and evil. His demons are cowards and pathetic as well. Therefore, they are not worthy of being mentioned or talked about in stories. Their stories are not important enough to be talked about from the pulpit.  They are not worthy of Christ’s pulpit. Besides, the stories about battling evil typically lead to an unhealthy interest in evil. We are to be ‘babes in evil.’ We do not go around looking for demons and evil.

So, considering all of this what do we need to know about this subject today?

From our Gospel reading, we learn that demons are real. We learn that they are not on the same team as Jesus. We also learn that they are not good for mankind – they want to destroy us. We also learn that there is no middle ground between good and evil – there is no gray. And finally, we learn that Jesus is stronger – He is the stronger man.

Now, it is true that when you were conceived and born into this world that you were conceived and born under the power of the Devil and the condemnation of sin. However, this is not who you are or where you are now. You are not ruled by the devil dear Baptized Saints, and you are not under sin’s condemnation. Why is this so? At your baptisms, the Strong Man, Jesus Christ, came to you. He crossed the great divide between the kingdom of evil and the kingdom of Light, to rescue you in the mighty waters of baptism. As the stronger man, Jesus declared that the powers of the Devil must be cast aside – away from you – so that room could be made for the Holy Spirit.[2]  

At your baptisms there was a hostile takeover as Christ, the stronger man, came and rescued you from the dominion of darkness, placing you in the kingdom of Light by mighty water-words upon your head and heart.

Now, as children of God’s kingdom, “at every turn we may see the efforts of the devil to dethrone Christ from our hearts. [In fact,] the more earnestly we mean to have the rule of Christ’s love in our lives, the more we shall feel of the devil’s efforts. . . . [You see,] the devil doesn’t much bother with the godless for the time being. They are safe in his bag, so he bends his special attacks on the children of God.”[3]  Yes, the more we cling to Christ, the more the Devil will attack. The more we are shaped and formed by Lord’s Word and Sacraments, the more the flaming arrows will be launched at us. The more that we remain steadfast in God’s Word, speaking the truth in love, the more the world with its prince, the devil, will scorn and slander us.

But do not be discouraged dear Baptized Saints, the devil’s kingdom will come to an end, while the kingdom of God remains forever. Furthermore, the decisive battle between the two kingdoms of evil and Light has already been won by Christ on the cross. Therefore, when the Devil attacks, when temptations arise, and when the world scorns us, we shall fear not. But rather, we will confess,

“Devil and demons, I am not yours. Christ has died for me, I am baptized, I have been bought back, and I am forgiven. You, sly serpent, have been blinded and are muted; shut your face evil one; be gone. I belong to the stronger man, Christ Jesus who was crucified and resurrected.”

Baptized Saints, from faith, we make the sign of the cross, confess our sins unto the Lord, receive forgiveness, and tell the devil and his cohorts to take a hike, for it is Jesus Christ who sits on the throne of our hearts, minds, and lives – now, tomorrow, and into eternity.

The devil and his demons do exist. They want to destroy you. But Jesus is the stronger man, and you commune with the Lord. You are of the kingdom of God. You are His, so nothing, yes nothing, can get between you and your Lord.

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

[1] An adapted quote from: C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters. 
[2] Paraphrase of Martin Luther’s Baptism Rite. 
[3] Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons of Norman  Nagel: From Valparaiso to St. Louis, (St. Louis,      MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2004), 96.

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