The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. — 1 Timothy 4:1
There is a Buddhist temple in Lanzhou, China, a city of 3.6 million people, located in East Asia just south of the Gobi Desert. We entered the courtyard of the temple not really assuming anything. The place was absolutely beautiful. The colors, the carvings, the sculptures, the architecture were works of art. There was a hand-carved wooden cart (like a small wagon) in the courtyard in which incense was burning.
The wife of one of our group refused to go into the temple. She had been there before and felt an evil presence she could not explain.
I thought to myself, “She has a great big, overly active imagination.” Seeing, however, how serious she was, I decided to keep quiet.
About two years later Margie said, “Let’s go back to New Orleans, it’s been some time since we were there.”
Two days later, we were in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Nothing on that warm spring day particularly piqued my interest except beignets and Andrew Jackson’s statue. I climbed the steps up onto the levee and could not keep from wondering, “Why would anyone build a city ten feet below the Mississippi River water level?”
We were walking down a narrow side street and I saw a store selling voodoo and witchcraft items. I said, “This looks interesting; let’s take a look.” Against her better judgement, Margie agreed and we went in.
When I walked in, I felt a chill go through me. Now, let me be clear, I had never thought of the occult as reality. However, and this is a big “however,” I felt something very strange; it was like an invisible presence. I said to Margie, “I’ll just wait outside.” I almost tore the door off getting out of there. This was something I could not rationalize.
Standing on the street, I thought of the woman in the temple in Lanzhou. Was there really something there? Was there a presence in that store? I will never be able to answer that question; only speculate. The Bible does indicate there are such things as demons. People today often think the demons mentioned in the Bible were simply because people at that time did not know about short circuits in the brain and chemical imbalances.
Matthew 8: 16 “That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.”
So, is it all a runaway, overactive imagine or is it real? You decide.
We had an experience with a woman in Sturgis, South Dakota at the motorcycle rally concerning demons. She claimed a demon leapt out of a mirror and tried to possess her. She also claimed she saw her dead grandmother in a mirror and talked to her. Margie tells a story of a group discussion she was in with the woman. When she looked around from the front of the room everyone else had vanished.
2 Corinthians 2:11 “In order that Satan might not outwit us, for we are not unaware of his schemes.” As this verse tells us, Satan blinds us to his existence. I’ve heard said that his greatest lie is to convince us he does not exist. If that is the case, the existence of his demons would be equally obscure.
Christians, of course, believe in the supernatural. Most any religion is some type of an adherence to a supernatural concept. The whole idea of an omnipotent, omniscient spiritual god is beyond the realm of human or earthly understanding and is accepted by faith (John 20: 29).
What is actually real and what is make-believe? From childhood many of us have been influenced to believe in some supernatural concepts. These teachings are obviously influenced by parents and other teachers. I find it amusing and hypocritical for anyone to teach or believe their spirits are real and all the others are non-existent. Real or not, they are real in the mind of the believer.
I saw a little boy in the village of Laconi just out of Mombasa, Kenya. I noticed he had small scars all over his chest and stomach. When I asked what caused them, I was told the witch doctor had cut him and inserted a bamboo tube to let out the evil spirits. Whatever his illness was, the method must have worked because he appeared very healthy except for the scars.
In working missions in Africa, South America and in the islands, I have realized, whatever is real to the individual is truth and has a definite influence on their lives. Perception is reality to the individual. People have been known to die because a witch doctor cast a spell or curse upon them. We, in many cases, do not recognize the effect one’s mind has on physical health.
I have come to believe, on any given day, the way I feel is determined by the condition of my mind. If my mind is not in high gear and thinking positively, I’m destined to feel bad the entire day. Christians believe, the Holy Spirit speaks to us in various ways and is a definite influence in our lives. That spiritual presence, Biblically speaking, does exist if we will only embrace it.
Acts 17: 22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ Hill, and said, “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too (also) superstitious.” Superstitious comes from the word supernatural. Such words connect us to a realm of reality we do not understand and in many cases, prefer not to address. Must we regard the reality of a supernatural influence in our lives? Biblically speaking, the answer is unequivocally, “yes.”
Genesis 3: 15 “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; you will strike his heel, but he will crush your head.” This is the good news. When Jesus walked out of the tomb, resurrected and alive, He crushed the head of Satan once and for all. He crushed the penalty of sin for all mankind and all He asked is that we believe. That belief is supernatural and based on faith (Ephesians 2: 8).
To be spiritual is not to believe in lingering spirits of the deceased here on earth. There is no scriptural evidence of lingering or earth-bound spirits. Several Bible references to demons indicate those as reality but those are not departed humans.
Practitioners of most religions embrace the reality of a spiritual world. To deny the existence of demons or spirits is contrary to the basic concepts of any religious faith. In that Christians believe eternal life is real we must embrace the existence of the spiritual realm. Without a spiritual connection we cannot accept the reality of a resurrected Christ Jesus and the salvation He offers by a simple belief in Him.