I want to take a moment to talk about the demonic. That may not be a popular thing to do nowadays. Please do not think I lost it. In our day people feels uncomfortable talking about this, but we need to.
C.S. Lewis said in his preface to The Screwtape Letters: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”
We need to have a balanced, healthy appreciation for the demonic. Let me offer a few reasons why I think this.
First, the gospels differentiate between disease and demonic. The writers of the gospels differentiate between things like paralysis, leprosy, fever, etc. and demonic activity.
Second, the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” and numerous similar passages appear throughout the Bible. If the Bible sees our primary struggle as one of a spiritual nature, ought we?
Third, belief in the demonic helps make sense of the Biblical narrative of redemption. Adam and Eve obeyed the Serpent (Genesis 3), who is later identified in the Bible as Satan himself (Revelation 20:2). They obey him instead of God and subjected themselves and all their progeny to Satan. Thus, Satan is called the prince of this world (John 14:30).
Fourth, while in the West the demonic is both largely ignored or made fun of, in most of the rest of the world, even today, there is a basic belief in demonic forces of evil.
Fifth, we are whole beings. Just as psychological states can have a physical impact on us, we ought not make sharp distinctions between the physical, psychological, or the spiritual. There may be more overlap than we think.
Sixth, the modern Western worldview that precludes the demonic divulges a narrower worldview than that of those in Jesus’ day. They were just as open to medical remedies as to spiritual solutions. Today, we make much of the medical but little of the spiritual.
Seventh, Jesus himself believed in the demonic. As we will see next week, he is the reason we need not fear it.