Is Demon Possession Possible today? pt2

IN LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE, I showed through scripture how demonic possession is no longer possible today. For the sake of review, let me remind you of two references that deal with the binding of fallen / sinful angels. “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;” [2Peter 2:4]. And in Jude 1:6 “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” Demons (fallen angels) are bound, awaiting the judgment.

Now we turn our attention to the verse in 1Peter 5:8; “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” What is being taught by this verse?

Before we proceed, let’s not undo the previous truth; DEMON POSSESSION IS NOT POSSIBLE TODAY. Zechariah 13:2 prophesied it, and the New Testament confirms it. So whatever 1Peter 5:8 teaches, it cannot include the demonic possession of one’s person.

THE TRUTH ABOUT SATAN

We first read of Satan in the book of Genesis. There is no information given about his origin, but the Bible displays his working throughout. He is called the “adversary” in our passage and seeks to supplant the authority of God [Luke 4:7]. He is a liar, and the father of lies [John 8:44]. 1John 3:8, says that the devil sinned from the beginning and has been condemned [1Timothy 3:6].

Satan is also called the “god of this world” [2Corinthians 4:4]. “World” as used in this context is speaking about people who are separated from God, people who are doing what is right in their own eyes and not following the will of God. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1-2, that He (Christ) has made alive…those who previously had walked according to the course of the world. To walk the course of the world (Satan’s playground) is to follow Satan’s example of rebellion and disobedience toward God. Verse 3 points out that these in the world, “once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath...” This condition fits the description of the progression of sin in James 1:14-15.

Just as knowing God’s truth can set one free from sin [John 8:32], “He that committeth sin is of the devil” [1John 3:8]. Although Satan is a real being, HE CANNOT IRRISISTABLY CONTROL MEN. We act as his agents when we seek to do as he does, to pervert, corrupt, depart from or misrepresent the word of God [Mat 16:23; 2Corinthians 11:3; Galatians 1:6-9; 1Timothy 4:1-3].

Just as modern day Nazi’s or Marxists act as agents for their long dead leaders, so too those who wish to follow the workings of Satan. Because they don’t have a love for the truth, “God will send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie” [2Thessalonians 2:9-12].

Satan doesn’t physically possess anyone today. He has always been limited, [Job 1:12, 2:6; 1Cor 10:13]. Lies and all evil was introduced into this world by Satan, and this disease of sin is spread by wicked men who are “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” who will lead astray the gullible [2Timothy 3:2-6].

God’s people can resist the devil [James 4:7], and the Omnipotent God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability [1Corinthians 10:13]. It is the gospel of Christ, the word of God, that is our defense against Satan’s teachings. Jesus combated Satan with “it is written” and we also have the same weapon in the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” [Matthew 4:4; Ephesians 6:17]. We are instructed to withstand the devil by faith [1Peter 5:9] and we know that faith comes by hearing the Word of God [Romans 10:17].

God is great, and His love is so great that He gave us His Son, to free us from sin, and “deliver us from this present evil world” [Galatians 1:4].

— Spencer

Are we A Strong Congregation?

3-09-15 Eph 6_6

What do you look for in a strong congregation? The scriptures teach that a congregation is made up Christians in a local area who assemble to worship and to work together. Revelations 3:1 calls the church in Laodicea dead and in 3:16 is lukewarm. None of us want to be in dead or lukewarm congregations, so what sets apart a strong congregation from a dead one? 

They Love God

The first and foremost characteristic of a strong congregation is when it’s composed of Christians who, “…love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” [Mark 12:30]

The most powerful and effective motivation to obey God’s word is a sincere and deep love of God.

They Love God’s Word

A strong congregation loves God, therefore also loves His word. When I speak to “religious” people, one thing I notice is the lack of knowledge of God’s word and His patterns.

Weak congregations are short on giving; “…attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” [1Timothy 4:13] Strong congregations consider FIRST what the will of the Lord is from His divine Word, for it is the truth; [John 17:17]. This enables them to worship in truth [John 4:24], Teach the truth [1Timothy 1:3] and do His work according to the divine pattern [Ephesians 4:12]. 

They Rejoice in the Lord

When a strong congregation loves God and His word, they will rejoice despite the difficulties that come from living on this side of the Judgement.

Paul warned the early Christians that life was tough, and not many others had a more difficult time than he. The Lord teaches, through Paul, to be content regardless of circumstance. [Philippians 4:11-13] The Lord also taught us to be prepared for trials that every Christian will face and to rejoice. [James 1:2; 1Peter 4:12] 

It is Growing and Working

Every congregation has folks that are at varying levels of their maturity. There are new converts, babes in Christ, some more mature, some struggling and overcoming sins and still others that are strong in their faith. [1Corintheans 8:12-31]

All of them, doing their own part in the body [Ephesians 4:11-12], are growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord [2Peter 3:18], so that the body grows [Ephesians 4:16], always abounding in the work of the Lord. [1Corintheans 15:58] 

It Follows the New Testament Pattern of organization

A strong congregation is striving to attain and to follow the New Testament pattern for its organization. [Philippians 1:1]

They have or are qualifying men to oversee as elders [Acts 20:17; 1Timothy 3:1-7; 1Peter 5:1-2], doing the same regarding deacons to serve under elders, [1Timothy 3:8-13]. In whichever state, the strong congregation has faithful men to see that the work of the Lord is accomplished never losing sight of the ideal. 

They’re Proactive

The strong congregation never waits. It continues to be zealous for good works [Titus 2:14; Revelations 3:19]. They want to be found doing and increasing in the Lord’s work [Matthew 25:14-30], never burying their talents or content with just getting themselves to heaven, because they want to others to be saved also [2Timothy 2:2].

What About the Church in Borger?

I bet, that as you read this article, you were also thinking about our congregation. I believe that we have a strong congregation. Perhaps not like the church in Smyrna which the Lord had nothing negative to say [Rev 2:8], but one that has the ability to overcome what is lacking [Revelations 2:7].

I feel that we are strong because we love God and His word, we rejoice and help each other during difficult times. We all desire for the truth to grow in Borger and that folks respond to the Gospel. I am grateful to you and to God for this local congregation.

That’s just my opinion, but what do you think? If you were to rate our congregation on a scale of 1-10, what number would you give us? If it’s not a 10 for being the best, why not? More importantly, what are you doing to change it?

Outsmarting God, so we can continue to sin

W.C. Fields once told someone who caught him reading a Bible that he was “looking for loopholes”

This seems to be the approach to Bible study among denominations, and I fear among some Christians. Sin has crept into the religious world disguised as “enlightenment” or “modernism”. Folks are tearing down the Bible by calling it “out dated” or “mythical”, AND THIS IS AMONG THOSE PROFESSING TO BE CHRISTIANS!!

I recall a friend that was invited to speak at a denomination about Noah’s ark and the flood. Moments before giving his presentation, the pastor of that denomination pulled him aside and said, “Just so you know, we don’t believe those events to be literal, nor the first 11 chapters of Genesis.”

Is it any wonder that many of the major denominations no longer teach the commands of our Lord, allowing all sorts of sinful behaviors to be allowed to exist inside their churches?

It should also be no surprise that they’ve changed the commands of God and are now teaching for doctrine the commands of men by allowing women preachers, organizations that deprecate the work of the church and many other innovations. Calling these changes “fitting in to the times” or “expedients” to reach out to the world.
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. [Mt 15:9]

We all know, and are on the watch, for those outside of the body to attack the validity of the Bible, but we need to be on watch for those who are INSIDE the body doing the same. Paul warned us that wolves would enter the church…..
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. [Ac 20:29]

Where did Paul come up with this? From Jesus the Christ our Lord Himself. He warned us, even before the church began, that there would be those among us that would attempt to destroy us.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. [Mt 7:15]

Jude had the very same warning;
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [Jude 1:4]

Please brethren, understand that I am not pointing my finger at any of you in particular. Nor am I suggesting that this is going on here. I simply write this as a warning for us as I witness what is happening among the denominations. It’s for this reason that we are involved in a study on “How to determine Scriptural Authority”.

An Answer to the Problem

And that is the answer to this problem. We must study our Bible.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [2Ti 2:15]

A diligent study of our Bibles is essential for us get to heaven. Let us read the next few verses….
16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

Did you see it? Without study we are susceptible to error, which increases ungodliness and potentially overthrows our faith. Losing your faith, your salvation, can occur by letting someone lead you away from the truth. If anyone tells you that you can never lose your salvation, that person is one of those wolves.
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation; [Heb 2:3]

Let us shun (take no part) in profane (wrong) and vain (foolish) babblings (fruitless discussions). We must be diligent to present ourselves approved to God. I didn’t bring this up, He did.

He is the one that commands us to rightly divide the word. [2Tim 2:15]

He is the one that commands us to observe all things that the Lord has commanded. [Mat 28:20]

He is the one that said add to your faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and Love. [2Pet 1:4-11]

And He is the one that said…
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; [Heb 5:9]

 

spencer is the evangelist for the Franklin St. church of Christ in Borger Texas

Do we need AUTHORITY?

Authority, having permission, should be of primary concern for us in the church. We recognize the need for it in other areas of our lives, ie, work, police, government. Imagine if our children acted toward us at home as we do towards the Lord in the church. If there are no guidelines, then anything goes, so to in the church.

GOD REQUIRES IT

  1. Col 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
  2. 1Pe 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
  3. Ac 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
  4. A DIFFICULT VERSE – Mt 7:21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
    1. NOTICE: These are believers, doing things “in His name” but obviously without His permission. vs 23

 IS SINCERITY ENOUGH?

  1. IGNORANCE IS NO EXCUSE – Ac 3:17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. 19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
    1. Mr 12:24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?
    2. Ho 4:6 ¶ My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
    3. Pr 14:12 ¶ There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. [Gen 6:5; Jer 10:23]

CANNOT GO BEYOND HIS WORD

  1. DO NOT ADD OR REMOVE – De 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. [Rev 22:18, 19]
  2. TO DO GOOD OR BAD – Nu 24:13 If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the LORD, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the LORD saith, that will I speak?
  3. EXAMPLES OF DISOBEDIENCE – Ro 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
    1. Nadab & Abihu – Le 10:1-2
    2. Moving the Ark – 1Sam 6:3, 4, 6, 7

THE WORD OF GOD SAVES

  1. 2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
  2. Joh 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
  3. REJECTING AUTHORITY – Jude 1:7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. 8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.

According to scriptures, the Word of God, we need permissions for our actions. Permission or Authority to do things, whether they be in the church or out. As Colossians 3:17 says; “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

How to start a church

What if there were no church in Borger, how would you start one?

I knew of a man that became a Christian. The way that he learned the truth was very motivational. He had suffered a debilitating accident which caused him to search for meaning. He began reading his bible. Upon completing the Old Testament, he said, “I’ve got to learn how to serve God, but I’m going to finish reading the Bible first.”

After completely reading the New Testament he said, “I’ve got to do be saved.” He then began seeking Christians. First he looked to the largest “church”. He was immediately disappointed because what he found didn’t match what he had read about in the Bible.

So he continued visiting churches, Baptists, Methodists etc. All along the way he kept asking the people at these places, “why do you do what you do and how do I get saved?” Their answers disappointed him, for they were unable to give an answer that matched what he had read in his Bible.

Then one day he responded to a newspaper ad offering a Bible correspondence course to people that wanted to study the Bible. He completed the course and was very excited because everything taught was completely consistent with the Bible that he read.

After the completion of the course, he invited the man that sent him the course to his home and asked to be saved. He already knew what to do, He believed, confessed Jesus to be the son of God, repented and wanted to be baptized for the remission of sins. [Romans 10:14, John 11:24, Luke 13:3, Matthew 10:32-33, Mark 16:15-16, 2Peter 2:20-22]

Because there was a group of Christians that met in his area, he began assembling with them until the day he passed from this earth.

What if there wasn’t a church in Borger?

What if he had read the whole bible, learning to obey the Gospel yet finding nowhere to worship as God had commanded? [John 4:24] How would he go about starting a New Testament church? Certainly he must find others of ‘like precious faith’. [2Peter 1:1] He would have read, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” [Matthew 18:20]

He would have either found them or taught them. Then what? Now that there are 2 or more, what do they do next? Certainly they have learned to serve the Lord, [Colossians 3:24] but how would they worship? [John 4:21]

You study the Bible.

How did folks do it before us? How did they do it in the Bible? They read and studied it. Paul wrote to the early Christians, “whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ;” [Ephesians 3:4] He also taught people to study the scriptures. [2Timothy 3:15] We can be honorable today, just like the Bereans when they searched the scriptures daily. [Acts 17:11]

Let’s imagine what might have happened, had this small group of people sought to serve God and begin a church in their city.

The Bible our only Guide.

So they read and studied their Bibles. The first thing they did, as a small group of Christians wishing to worship God and to serve him correctly, is to decide to use the Bible as their only guide. To speak where the Bible speaks, and to be silent when it is silent. [1Peter 4:11; 2Samuel 7:7]

Scriptural Worship

Next they asked one another, “How shall we worship Him and what shall we do?” Turning again to scripture they learn that truth is necessary. [John 4:24] They find that Jesus commanded Christians to remember His death by observing the Lord’s Supper. [Luke 22:14-20; 1Corinthians 11:14-34]

Then one of them might ask, “When should we do this remembrance? Should we meet annually, perhaps once a month?” Back to the scriptures they go, seeking the TRUTH of the matter. It is there that they find this passage, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” [Acts 20:7] Since every week has a first day, and there being no additional instruction, they decide to meet every first day of the week, which is Sunday the day following the Sabbath.

While searching the answer to that question, they noted that the passage mentions Paul preaching. Remembering that he also taught to imitate him as he imitated Christ, [1Corinthians 11:1] they recognize that since Christ preached, they must also follow the Godly examples of the scriptures. [Mark 2:2] So they included preaching along with the Lord’s Supper during their worship assembly.

Praying and Singing

So they came together to worship. Then one may have said, “I wonder if we could pray during our worship?” So once again, they return to the scriptures to find permission to pray during the assembly. This answer came quickly, for multiple passages supported the exercise of prayer. [1Thessalonians 5:17, Acts 20:36, Luke 5:16, 1Corinthians 11:23-26]

Another asked about singing. Once again the scriptures showed them they could and should sing. [Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16] Another may have suggested an instrument to aid in the singing, but to their dismay, no command, example or suggestion of an instrument was found in the New Testament worship. They easily found those aids in the Old Testament, but somebody pointed out in the scriptures where it said, “In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete.” [Hebrews 8:13]

By now they have become quite accustomed to searching the scriptures for what they must do. Finding additional passages confirming that they were on the right path. Passages like, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” [Colossians 3:17]

Problems in the church

All was bliss until one of their number had a need for aid. Since the habit was now engrained into their minds for searching the scriptures, they once again sought the advice of the Lord. They found that money was an important aspect of completing the work. They found in the scriptures where the members were commanded to lay aside money for the work of the Lord. That this work included helping needy saints, but also was to be used for spreading the gospel through the support of preachers and edification of the church. [1Corinthians 16:1-4, 2Corinthians 8 & 9, 1Timothy 5:18, Ephesians 4:16; 1Corinthians 14:26; Acts 20:32]

What’s the name of the church?

The church began to grow, for they were doing exactly what the Lord commanded them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” [Mt 28:19-20] They were teaching others, teaching only what was in the Bible from God. There was one more problem that arose, the new comers began asking, “What do we call this church?

It hadn’t yet occurred to them that they might need a name. Again, as they have done for every question thus far, they searched the scriptures for a name. One person suggested they name the group after the founding member, Gus. He would have none of that telling them that he didn’t die for the church. [1Corinthians 1:13] As they searched they found several names. ‘They Way’ [Acts 19:9, 23] ‘Church of God’ [Acts 20:28] ‘church of Christ’ [Romans 16:16] ‘The general assembly and church of the firstborn’ [Hebrews 12:23]. What name should they choose, since so many were found? Then this scripture was read, “Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” [Matthew 16:16-18]

This reminded them of another passage, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;” [Ephesians 2:20] and others [1Corinthians 3:11, Ephesians 5:23, 1Peter 2:6, 7]. After completing a full study of God’s word on the matter, the settled upon the church of Christ.

Everyone was happy, endeavoring for unity in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. [Ephesians 4:3-6] If any other “issues” arose, they would consult the scriptures. When difficulties came, they searched the scriptures. Whatever they did, in word or deed, they did all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. They were just Christians.

Would you like to be just a Christian? You may, if you do what so many others have done and what is shown in the Bible.