Robert Jeffress - What Every Christian Should Know About Angels and Demons - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". In the heart of every person, regardless of what they believe, there's an invisible battle raging. The battle is between heavenly forces and demonic forces, and neither side is willing to give up the fight. Today, I'm going to talk about the presence of demons and explain what they can and can't do to those who are believers in Jesus Christ. My message is titled, "What Every Christian Should Know about angels and demons", on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
It was the 19th century French priest, Pierre De Chardin, who said, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spirit beings having a human experience". Now, I know technically that's not 100% accurate. The Bible teachers we are both human and spiritual beings. But don't miss the point. The priest was saying there is a whole other realm of existence that, though invisible to us, is very real. It is the realm where God and Satan, demons and angels exist. It is a world that although is invisible to the naked eye, it impacts our lives every day. It's the spirit world. And last time in our series on the ten basic core beliefs of historic Christianity, we began looking at what every Christian needs to know about the spirit world. Last time, we talked about what every Christian should know about angels. Angels, our heavenly allies, God's servants.
Now today we're going to switch our attention to another kind of angels, fallen angels, our spiritual adversaries that we call demons. Now, as I said last time, there is no single verse in the Bible that says demons are fallen angels who followed Lucifer, the chief angel in his rebellion against God, but there are plenty of Scriptures you can piece together to come to that conclusion. The Bible talks about the devil and his angels. And so because they are fallen angels, they share many of the characteristics of the heavenly angels. So, it would be redundant for me to go through each of the characteristics of heavenly angels and apply them to demons.
So, instead, what I'd like to do is look at one account in the Bible that shows the characteristics of demons better than any other passage. It's found in Luke chapter 8, verses 26 through 39. It's one of the accounts of Jesus' interaction with demons. Remember Jesus and his disciples had finished in Galilee, and they got in a boat to sail across the Sea of Galilee. Now, if you've been on the Sea of Galilee, like some of us will be this coming spring, we'll take a boat rid on the Sea of Galilee, you quickly discover it's really not a sea. It's a lake. It's more like going across White Rock Lake. But they called it the Sea of Galilee. And so they made the journey from Galilee to the other side, which was the land of the Gerasenes. And Jesus met a man there who was being tormented by many demons.
And notice the characteristics of these demons that we derive from this passage. First of all, demons have intelligence. When they saw Jesus, they said, "What have we to do with you, the Son of the Most High God"? They immediately had the intelligence to recognize Jesus for who he was. Demons, by the way, are theologically orthodox. In fact, they believe the Bible more than some liberal seminary professors. They believe that Jesus really was the Son of God. And may I take this moment to say believing the right things about Jesus is not what gets you into heaven. I mean, the demons are very orthodox. They believe that Jesus is the Son of God. They believe that he died on the cross for the sins of the world. They believe that he rose again on the third day.
In fact, they believe those things more than you do, more than I do, because they were eyewitnesses to each of those events. Believing the right things do not get you into heaven. Remember what James said in James 2:19? He said, "You believe that God is one. Congratulations. The demons believe that, too, and they shudder. Literally, they tremble". You can believe Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross for the sins of the world and rose again on the third day, and still go straight to hell. No, it's not just believing a set of facts about Jesus. It means believing that Jesus is your Savior. It means there comes that point in time when you kneel before a holy God and say, "God, I know I'm a sinner, I know I deserve eternal hell, but I believe in all my heart that Jesus died for me, and I'm trusting in him and him alone to save me from eternal death". And the Bible says when we say that to God, and we mean it, God declares us not guilty. We are righteous in his sight. No demon has ever done that before. But demons have intelligence.
Secondly, demons have emotions. They feel things. In this passage, it says that they begged Jesus, "Don't send us out of this man and back into the abyss". What is the abyss? Scholars debate this. Some people believe it's just the hangout for demons today. It's where they dwell. And we find in Scripture in Revelation 9 and other passages that in the end times, groups of demons will be released from the abyss. Some people equate the abyss with Tartarus, another name for hell that's found in 2 Peter 2:4, that this is a place of special judgment for a special group of fallen angels who committed a heinous sin of cohabitating with human beings, and they are being held right now in this horrible place. We can't say with certainty where it is, but here's one thing we do know: it is such a horrible, horrible place that the demons begged Jesus not to send them to, and it's just a taste of what the lake of fire, the final judgment place will be for the devil, his angels, and every human being who has not received God's forgiveness through Christ. They had emotions.
Thirdly, they have a will. They have a will. They proposed to Jesus an alternative solution. If he's going to cast them out of the man, they say, "Send us into this herd of swine. Let us reside in this herd of pigs, so that we might have someplace to indwell". And so Jesus agrees to that. He sends the spirits into these swine. And one way you know they are possessed is they start acting in a maniacal way; and as a herd, they run over the cliff and fall into the sea and drowned, because they had been possessed by demons. This is the first instance in the Bible of deviled ham. You find it... no, no. Just seeing if you're praying attention.
Now, they have a will. They proposed a solution. And finally demons have names. They are real beings. This chief demon and this man identified himself as a man, a demon named Legion. A Roman legion was 6,000 soldiers. So, apparently, this demon had authority over a group of demons. There is a hierarchy of demons just like there is a hierarchy of heavenly angels. Now, it's easy to read passages like this, and critics of the Bible will say, "Oh, demons, they're not real. They are just crude, first century attempts to explain what we sophisticates know is mental illness, like schizophrenia and psychosis. They didn't know about any of that, so they just talked about demons".
Well, if that's true, then remember Jesus interacted with demons. He talked to demons. He commanded demons. If he was talking to imaginary beings, then Jesus should've been locked up in a mental asylum. He was out of his mind. No, demons are real, and people who ignore the reality of demons do so to their own hurt. Demons are real, and they have a very real plan to destroy your life, as we'll see in just a moment. Well, if they are real, what is their agenda? Well, with unbelievers, demons attempt to lead unbelievers astray, to keep them from accepting Christ as Savior. In the Old Testament, there are only two references to demons, in the Old Testament, and both references say that demons are behind false gods.
For example, in Deuteronomy 32, verse 17, Moses said, "They," that is the Israelites, "sacrificed to demons who were not God; to gods whom they have not known, new gods who came lately, whom your fathers did not dread". When the Israelites finally got into the promised land, what did they do? They started worshiping the gods of the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. Instead of influencing the Canaanites to worship the true God, the Canaanites influenced God's people to worship false gods. And so the Israelites offered sacrifices to demons.
Now, you think, "Now, wait a minute. What Jew would offer a sacrifice to a demon"? That's the point. They didn't know they were offering sacrifices to demons. They thought they were offering a sacrifice to an alternative god like Molech, or Asherah, or Baal, but the Bible is telling us, "Behind every false religion, there is a demonic spirit". False religions, other religions, other than Christianity, are an attempt by demons to lead people away from the truth. That means behind Allah, behind Krishna, behind the gods of false religions, there is a demon who is using that false god to solicit people into eternal death. And we see that.
And I mentioned last week in 610 AD, the prophet Mohammad, who is a false prophet, a pedophile, he says he had a vision from Gabriel, and Gabriel gave him a series of visions that became the Quran. And we say, "Oh, that's just another way of looking at God. That's just another equal religion to Christianity". No, the Bible says. Islam is a religion from the pit of hell. It is a deception of God that has led hundreds of millions of people away from the truth. Or in 1827, Joseph Smith says the angel Moroni, which I guess means moron, the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith and delivered to him the gold tablets, he says, which became the basis for the Book of Mormon, the Book of Mormon. And we say isn't that beautiful? The Mormons are such wonderful people. No, they are deluded people. Mormonism is a cult. It is a false religion that is leading hundreds of millions of people away from the true God and the only way to heaven. That's what the Bible says.
All false religions behind them have a demonic element to it. But even a more insidious way the demons lead people away from the truth is by taking Christianity and changing it just enough where it is no longer the gospel. There are elements of the Christian church today, denominations, other groups that have taken the gospel and polluted it. They've added to it, to where it is no longer the gospel.
You had that happening in Paul's day. There was a group of false teachers named the Judaizers who came into the churches at Galatia, and they said, "Oh, we revere Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Son of God. He died on the cross for the sins of the world. Yes, we believe that. We believe in the reality of Christ's death, but we don't believe in the sufficiency of it. To become a Christian, to be saved, you do need to trust in Jesus Christ, but that's not enough. You need to," they said, the Judaizers, "keep the Old Testament laws. You need to be circumcised". And they added, and added, and added, and added to what you must do to be saved.
How did Paul take that kind of teaching? What did he say about it? In Galatians 1:8, he says, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, that person is to be accursed". That word "accursed" is anathema. Literally, it means to be damned. Any religious person who says the death of Christ is not sufficient, it is the death of Christ and something else, is a heretic and should be sent to hell forever and ever and ever.
Now, what we're talking about are not just minor doctrinal disagreements. Anything added to the name of Jesus Christ and his work on the cross is heresy, and that's what deludes and confuses so many people. And they say, "Well, this religion, this church, it believes in Jesus. It believes in the cross. It believes in the resurrection". But it's not the gospel. Listen, the gospel of Jesus Christ is that, well, you heard it, it is finished. It was done on the cross. When Jesus died for our sins, he said, "Tetelestai, paid in full".
There is nothing you and I can add to the gospel. If there is something we could add to it, how do we ever know if we've done enough? We can't know it. The gospel is the death of Christ alone for the payment of our sins. Demons will try to obscure people to that by either creating a whole false religious system or changing the true gospel just enough to send people to hell. Secondly, demons attempt to harm believers. They have a ministry in the life of believers, as well. If Satan can't rob you of your eternal soul, he'll do everything he can to rob you of your joy, your effectiveness for Christ, your physical life, anything he can steal from you.
In John 10:10, Jesus said, "For the thief, Satan, comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly". "Well, how is that, Pastor, that demons can work in our lives"? Well, first of all, they can work through nature. Ephesians 2:2 says Satan is the prince of the power of the air. I don't understand that, but I do understand that God has given Satan certain authority in this world. That means he has limited authority over natural elements in the world like wind, rain, hurricanes, tornadoes. Remember in Job 1, Satan asked for permission to test Job, and God gave him that permission.
And one of the tests Satan brought into Job's life was a tornado that destroyed his home, and then the roof caved in and killed all of his children. I don't understand that, but I understand even though Satan has limited authority, he is still under God's sovereignty. As Martin Luther said, "The devil is God's devil". Somebody said that Satan is like a junkyard dog on a very long chain. Although his power to destroy is considerable, it's also limited. Nothing can come into your life, my life, that has not been allowed by the Spirit of God. Secondly, demons can work through physical ailments. Now, not all illness is a result of Satan and his demons, but some of it is.
Remember in 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talked about a thorn in the flesh, a physical ailment that he had, and he prayed three times that God would remove it, and God said no, and he identified this thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:7 as, quote, "a messenger of Satan". Satan can use illness to destroy to discourage us and harm us in other ways. Thirdly, demons can work through mental illness. Now, I want to be very careful here. This is very important. Not all mental illness is from Satan, not at all. God created us as body, soul, and spirit. We're all three. We're not just spirit beings, we're human beings, and our physical bodies, because of the fall that we'll talk about next week, it has caused all of our bodies to deteriorate. Do I hear an amen to that?
And not operate in exactly the way God intended it to operate, and that can affect our thoughts and our emotions. Our brain consists of a series of chemical and electrical impulses. And when those chemicals and electrical impulses are not functioning like they should, it can present depression, and anxiety, and other common elements. I remember talking to a friend of mine, who is a Christian psychiatrist. And I said, "Do you think that things like schizophrenia and psychoses are demonically caused"? And she had a very good reply to that. She said, "If they are simply the result of demonic oppression, then why do the symptoms almost always disappear when treated with the right medicine"?
It doesn't matter if it's a Christian or non-Christian. You take the right medicine, those things disappear most times. Why is that? And that's a good point. Sometimes those things are the result of a physical problem that can be corrected by medicine, but there's also a spiritual element that we can't not address. The spiritual world can affect the natural world, including our thoughts and emotions. Let me give you a illustration of that. In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul says, "In all things through prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus".
If you have an emotional problem, like worry, Paul says it's possible for a positive spiritual practice like prayer to affect your physical emotions. If that's true, doesn't it stand to reason there are negative spiritual forces out there that can impact our emotions, as well? We can't discount the world of demons and satanic attack in mental illness, and that leads to another way that demons work, and that is through suicide. You see that in Mark chapter 9. There was a boy who was afflicted. He kept throwing himself into the fire. He started to try to drown himself. He was trying to take his own life, and the Bible says it was because of demonic influence.
It is a natural impulse we have to take care of ourselves, to preserve our life. To want to take our life is a super, above natural response; and in this case, it is a negative spiritual influence that causes us to want to take our lives. Is that a physical problem? Is it an emotional problem? Is it a spiritual problem? You know, somebody has said the body, soul, and spirit are so closely related to one another that if one catches cold, the other sneezes. It's very difficult sometimes to know if it is a spiritual problem or a physical problem.
But hear me, any time you begin thinking, "My life is hopeless, nobody cares about me, I'd be better off dead than alive, I've become a burden to my family," those thoughts do not come from God. It comes from the evil one. John 8:44 says that Satan is a liar, and he is a murderer. It is Satan and his forces who are trying to take your life prematurely. And let me just encourage you. If you have thoughts of suicide, or you know somebody close to you who is thinking about suicide, run, don't walk, to a Christian psychiatrist, to a counselor, to your doctor, who can help you discern what needs to be done.