In the perfect world that God has created, the presence and continuation of forces of darkness is baffling to us, for these oppose His kingdom in every way. God does use these very satanic agents to test believers’ faith, enforce vengeance and lead people to faith. We are surrounded by these forces all around as also within us and God as a loving Father desires us to be victorious over these. But is it possible to do this?
Sin and darkness – The Scripture identifies our sinful nature from birth when King David said, ‘I was brought forth in inequity, and in sin my mother conceived me’ (Psalm 51:5). This does not mean that David’s conception was through an act of sin or babies are born sinners. No person is a sinner till God’s spiritual law is violated for ‘whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness’. Sin is an act through thinking or actual commission and all are born with the capability to sin. God created light by revealing the light of His Divine glory and separated this light from darkness implying therefore that darkness is not absence of light but some independent identifiable entity.
Beyond the physical realm, light in the Scripture represents spiritual enlightenment and truth, what is pure, good and holy. Darkness on the other hand is of devil and all that does not want to come out in the open for general scrutiny. In this sense then coming of light does not mean total absence of darkness, for it remains looking for an opportunity to overpower and take charge.
But two questions arise about this. First, But where did this darkness come from? Lucifer (Satan) was thrown out of heaven after his rebellion, for he was created to be ‘the morning star’ that points to the greater light that is visible during the day (Isaiah 14:12). Since God’s presence was not manifested on the earth and Holy Spirit was also ‘hovering over the waters’, darkness abounded with the devil. It has been scientifically proved that darkness also is accumulation of a very large source of energy and has the potential to overtake and destroy all that comes in contact with it. After the fall, what was outside man and had no control over him, because of separation from the light, came within them and gained rightful control. God clothed Adam and Eve, which was not only about physical covering but spiritual covering of light of God’s glory, and this was finally restored by Lord Jesus (Genesis 3:21). Earlier man had nature of God ‘being in His Divine image and likeness’ and a nature to do good only but sinful evil nature that entered made him captive to do evil. Apostle Paul, the chosen evangelist and Bible scholar, admitted this control, ‘what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do’ (Romans 7:15).
Second, is darkness all about evil only? – Lord Jesus told the disciples that ‘the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Matthew 8:12). This verse implies that there are different types of darkness and Scripture identifies three types. First, thick darkness – This is heavy darkness or ‘alatah’ darkness that came when God made His covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:17). It precedes dawn or dusk, a time to plan the day or meditate upon what is needed to be done and ‘alatah’ is connected to meditation and reflection and there is no connection of evil with this.
Second, darkness that can be felt ‘choshek aphelah’– This is the darkness of the ninth plague in Egypt and is supernatural, ‘darkness that can be felt’ (Exodus 10:21-22). This is like the darkness that covered the earth from mid day for three hours till the death of Lord Jesus Christ on the cross (Luke 23:44). Greek word ‘skotos’ is used for this, meaning darkness either physical or moral and is sinful with its certain results. This is darkness filled with terror, fear and likelihood of presence of demonic beings, for it concerns those who are outside the protection of God. This is darkness of evil and wickedness.
Third, Thick darkness or dark cloud of God – Moses entered this ‘araphel’ thick darkness or cloud on the mountain ‘where God was’ and the darkness was caused by water and lightning and thunder were coming from the cloud (Exodus 20:21). Water is for cleansing and purification and electrical discharge of lightening is about energizing. This araphel darkness precedes cleansing and purification and the ‘Law of God’ was given by God to Moses from within the cloud for purification of mankind from sin.
Four, Outer darkness – Lord Jesus taught of the outer darkness (Matthew 8:12) and it is ‘exoteros skotos’ which is outside the limits of the lighted place, or the Messiah’s Kingdom. In Hebrew it is termed as ‘chashke bria’ meaning void of light or separation from light. But it does not necessarily mean lack of illumination only; it can also be a spiritual void with no spiritual or God’s Light. The ninth plague darkness is ‘chashke’ and like the outer darkness, it is created darkness. Once God removes His Divine presence or His Light, ‘chashke bria’ gets created. The horror of hell is not so much the fire and brimstone but eternal ‘chashke bria’, the darkness or the void of God’s absence.
The cherubs continuously sing before God’s throne, ‘holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Hosts’ (Isaiah 6:3). Apostle John reveals the message heard from Lord Jesus, ‘God is light and in Him is no darkness at all’ (1 John 1:5). Sin causes darkness and ‘chashke bria’ gets created for God withdraws His presence and sin takes charge. Satan can only bring temptation but cannot sin on my behalf, that has to be done by me only. The very first verse of the Book of Psalms provides the key to living separated from sin and darkness, ‘Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful’ (Psalm 1:1). This is the way to live a righteous life.
Procedure of demonic attack and control – It is generally felt that sinful deeds open the door for the demonic spirits to gain control over an individual. Lord Jesus has taught, ‘everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart’ (Matthew 5:27-28). Thus a sinful thought amounts to a sinful deed and that is where one must put a stop before the act is committed. During the temptation of Lord Jesus all the three attempts of Satan are to start an evil thought process outside of God’s will (Matthew 4:3-10). First about food for a very hungry Lord; second, about proving to all in the Temple about His status when the angels would have saved Him and finally the shortcut to establish His kingdom, all would lead to sin.
The moment Eve ‘saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasing to the eyes’, the serpent would have been giving a commentary about the usefulness of the fruit for them (Genesis 3:6). Sin is not a yes or no occurrence, it starts with thoughts and progresses towards action. One cannot commit a sin without first thinking about and planning to act. We are warned, ‘Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own evil desires and enticed’ (James 1:14-15). Sinful thoughts open the door but the real entry for the devil is made available only once the act is committed. Thereafter the demonic spirits have to be cast out by denial of right of stay through confession, repentance and seeking forgiveness. But repeated sinful living would allow the evil spirit to return.
Lord Jesus while teaching about casting out of demonic spirits from someone, told that the evil spirit ‘goes through dry places, seeking rest; but finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’. And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept and in order’ (Matthew 12:43-45). And he returns with seven more spirits more wicked than himself and the ‘last state of that man is worse than the first’. In this case the evil spirit goes out of a madly immoral man of its own accord without releasing the victim fully, probably looking for another victim. Since the demons joy lies in ruling a human mind, he finds little joy when not leading someone into sin and only man is a suitable place of living for the demonic spirit. The demon claims its victim as ‘my house’ declaring ownership and finds it empty on return. It is only Divine force that can keep it out and the returning evil causes much more misery. If we are filled with Lord Jesus, after being born again by the Spirit of God, then we are not empty.
We have seen various movies where Satan is portrayed as the most evil looking creature but the Holy Bible does not show him as ugly looking. While describing the devil, the Word of the LORD declares, ‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty’ (Ezekiel 28:12). Since he was the first to be created, his beauty and wisdom is perfect and the best way that he uses to tempt us is through our own close friends arousing little suspicion Apostle Peter on hearing Lord Jesus’ words about His ‘suffering, death and resurrection’ took Him aside ‘to rebuke Him’ (Matthew 16:21-23). Lord Jesus immediately recognized that the devil was using him and He ‘said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men’.
Ahab, king of the northern kingdom, sought the word of God from his prophets about attacking Ramoth Gilead and all assured him victory (1 Kings 22:19-22). Micaiah, the prophet not only told about defeat but also about Ahab’s death in the battle. On being asked about the difference between his and other prophets’ message, he told that the LORD had sought someone from the host of heaven to persuade Ahab to go up to Ramoth Gilead and fall there. Then one spirit told God about his planned way of doing it by being a lying spirit in the mouth of all prophets of the king. THE LORD accepted this and permitted it to go and do so. Sometimes God may use an evil spirit to pour out His wrath on people.
Why do we lose out to demons? – Apostle Paul while teaching about nine gifts of the Holy Spirit, lists ‘discerning of spirits’ as one of these gifts (1 Corinthians 12:10). These gifts are given as per the will of the Holy Spirit and for the ‘benefit of all’ and not for any one individual. This gift of discernment is like a curtain being pulled back by the Holy Spirit to permit a look into the spiritual realm to see, feel, or smell the demons in the person they are residing in. Apostle John warns all believers, ‘not to believe but test the spirits, whether they are of God’ (1 John 4:1). We need to seek all these gifts while using effectively those that are already given.
Moses, Joshua, David and the Apostles moved successfully in the world with God’s promise of neither leaving nor forsaking us. A Jew wears ‘yarmulke’, the cap on his head, to keep reminding himself that he is always in the presence of God and his actions must be governed by this fact. Prophet Elijah introduced himself to king Ahab, ‘As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand’ and then proceeded to proclaim a famine for three years (1 Kings 17:1). His strength and authority flowed from standing in the presence of the LORD. Likewise the angels of God stand in His presence and are empowered by Him. Lord Jesus has promised all believers to be with them ‘even to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20). But we forget this and walk in our own strength and power to be overcome by the devil and his demons.
How do we get defeated by demons? – Job suffered the loss of all that he had, his sons and daughters and was afflicted by ‘painful boils’ all over his body (Job 2:7-9). His wife unable to bear that condition of her husband cried out to him, ‘Curse God and die’ or to give up the fight insinuating it to be beyond him. Job could instead thank God and give up being a righteous person or keep fighting. Invariably fear takes over our thoughts and the devil leads us deeper into despair till we finally give up the battle altogether. How many times a doctor or a nurse discuss the condition of a seriously sick person in front of him and even pass very negative comments about his prognosis thus creating fear psychosis in him. A case was recently in the news about a nurse commenting about a corona afflicted patient while caring for her, that she will live only a day or so and next morning the patient died for she simply gave up the fight by accepting the nurse’s word. Satan uses such tricks to instill fear and then defeat/control his victim.
The devil is depicted to come as a roaring lion, seeking whom to devour but we are to resist him, steadfast in the faith (1 Peter 5:8-9). Lord Jesus has ‘disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it’ (Colossians 2:15). Satan knows that he has no authority over a believer and roars by creating all sorts of lies about himself as if he is omnipotent and omnipresent. Scripture provides the answer for fighting the forces of evil, ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. draw near to God and He will draw near to you’ (James 4:6-8&10). And finally ‘Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up’ for then He gets into the battle to ensure our victory. A Cherub is a mighty angel with six wings, with two he covers his face and with two his feet and only two wings are used to fly (Isaiah 6:2-3). Before God’s throne and in His Divine presence the Cherub considers himself worthy of nothing and does not tire of glorifying God.
Satan offered ‘all the kingdoms of the world and their glory’ to the Son of God if He would fall down and worship him (Matthew 4:8-9). Many people do fall to the temptation and then willingly cede control of their lives to the forces of darkness.
Satan sought the disciples to ‘sift them as wheat’ and Lord Jesus prayed for them that they remain steadfast in faith. The devil has no right on a believer for we have been redeemed by the Lord and the only way for him is that we surrender ourselves to Satan and his demons. We are already victorious in Lord Jesus, who is seated in full glory on the right hand of God the Father in heaven with all authority and power. We have to just remain in that state of victory!