Satan sometimes hides in plain sight. He may even use the guy sitting next to you in church.
Hollywood has portrayed satanic influence as being so shockingly weird and abnormal that you can’t miss it. This has been such a disservice to the discussion of spiritual warfare. Satan oppressing someone can be as subtle as the silent growth of cancer inside the body.
We will start in Mark with our next encounter:
They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.” (Mark 1:21-28 NIV)
Isn’t it interesting that this man sat in the synagogue, Sabbath after Sabbath, and no one seemed to notice he was oppressed demonically? Or were the people too afraid to say anything? Or did they sense something was wrong, but felt powerless to do or say anything?
As you grow in the knowledge of Him, you will become more sensitive to Satan’s influence over someone. This person may come to your church Sunday after Sunday, and you sense something malevolent is going on. So, what to do? Pray! Then, pray again: pray for that person. Pray as to what you should do. Pray for the leadership of the church for their discernment. Pray about what to say and what not to say.
The saddest part about demonically influenced people is the underlying emptiness in them. They may love the Lord, but because they haven’t surrender all the areas in their life, Satan has a stronghold that he exploits regularly. Prayer is the answer. Prayer is always the answer.
Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him. (Mark 3:11-12 NIV)
Interesting how the demons immediately understood who Jesus was.
The Pharisees caught on early who Jesus claimed to be.
The High Priest, at Jesus’ trial before the Jewish high court, demonstrated that he fully understood the claim Jesus was making about Himself, that of being God’s own Son.
Interesting how Jesus’ enemies got it so easily, and yet the ones He came to save did not. How sad:
Jesus’ ministry is a direct fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-2. He is telling John and his followers that the ministry is validated by the works He is doing. John’s question is legitimate, and Jesus does not mind the inquiry.
The Kingdom of God is not filled with sickness, demons, death or poverty. Jesus established that in His ministry. Now, in His name, we are working for this Kingdom where He is Lord. We are trying to put the prince of this world out of a job. We do it, like our Lord, one person at a time.
The glorious Day is coming where a new heaven and new earth will be created and Jesus’ Kingdom will reign supreme. But until that Day, we keep working.
Again, think of D-Day. The Allied forces had to take one beach, one village, one region, one country at a time until the Nazis were utterly defeated. Even in this imperfect world, the Allies realized that the only way to remove Nazism was to conquer it completely. That took a long time, many lives and lots of blood, sweat and tears.
We are in a war. We must take one beach, one village, one region, one country at a time until the world has heard of Him. Slow, yes. Rewarding? Yes. Hard? You betcha. We follow Him and His orders, for we are empowered with His Spirit. We fight in the knowledge that He has won, despite the lies coming from the other side.
The next encounter comes through a parable of the sower:
This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. (Luke 8:11-12 NIV)
Trust me when I tell you: As soon as you hear the Word, here come the birds. Either going to church or leaving church (or both!) you will get into an argument with your spouse/your kids/the neighbor, get distracted, run out of gas…all sorts of annoying things to prevent the Word from taking root and bringing forth fruit in your life.
So, what to do? Keep sowing. Keep praying. Satan is not all-powerful:
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:4-6)
Keep fighting the good fight, soldier.