Darrow Miller and Friends

The Habitation of the Demonic (includes audio and video links)

  1. Understanding the Times and Seasons
  2. Gothic Images from Today’s Culture
  3. The Three Worlds of Evangelicalism
  4. The Need for Symbols
  5. The Wilderness
  6. Evil Dwells in the Wilderness
  7. The Habitation of the Demonic (includes audio and video links)

On October 7, 2023, Hamas and other terrorist organizations carried out a surprise raid on the nation of Israel. More Jews were killed on this day than at any time since the Holocaust during WWII.

It is estimated that 1000 Hamas fighters systematically attacked 50 Israeli sites including military bases, towns, farming communities and a music festival. They killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians. Their targets were babies, children, young people, the elderly, and entire families. The jihadis shot, stabbed, and butchered people with axes. They brutalized women and girls[1]. They sadistically burned people alive[2], slit the throats of children in front of their parents and baked a baby in an oven[3]. This is barbarity at its worst. Scottish poet Robert Burns used a phrase in a 1784 poem that aptly describes this atrocity as “man’s inhumanity to man.”[4] This phrase can also apply to the Holocaust of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis, Mao’s China and Stalin’s Russia. It is estimated that these men either executed, starved to death, or gassed millions each. Mao is estimated to be the greatest murder (some estimate between 70-80 million), Stalin (35-49 million), and Hitler (11-12 million, including 6 million Jews).

This is recognized by most people as pure evil. But where does pure evil originate? Does it not originate from the demonic realm? At what point does this inhumanity we deem evil become demonic? Have we not crossed a threshold here into the demonic invasion of institutions and individuals? For those of us who have been educated into the Western naturalistic mindset, this blog will challenge us and make us feel uncomfortable. For those who grew up with an animistic worldview this blog will likely make sense and seem obvious.

While we recognize that God is still sovereign and working behind the scenes, if we take an honest look at what is happening in the world, we see that we live in a time when evil is growing in strength in much of the world. While we can see God’s hand at work in some parts of the world to bring people to faith in Christ at large in the West, people are turning from God and the Judeo-Christian worldview to atheism, pagan spirituality, and postmodernism. Christians are often decreasing their commitment to truth, faithfulness, and personal righteousness. These trends will lead to more opportunities for the wasteland and the evil one to invade human institutions and individuals.

Here Jesus’ parable about the wheat and the tares applies (Matthew 13:30). The wheat and the tares are growing in the same field side by side. The tares—the people who belong to the devil—are growing in strength and influence, sometimes they seem to overwhelm the wheat. At the same time the wheat—the sons of the kingdom of God—are also growing in strength and maturity. Thus, the sons of the Kingdom do not need to despair, but to remain vigilant, because we know that God is sovereign, and that Christ defeated Satan at the cross (Col. 2:15; Hebrews 2:14-15} and death itself in the resurrection.

I will note that there are many people who lack wisdom and are doing evil acts with tacit consent, following those leaders who are intentional in leading the masses into demonically inspired acts. Without a Biblical immune system, it’s very hard to resist the ideological onslaught that most people endure on a daily basis. These people are swept up into something they don’t yet understand. It does not, however, make them innocent; all people need to be aware of what is going on in the culture around them and be wise in their response.

Father Chad Ripperger, a Roman Catholic priest and exorcist, says that human beings, like our first parents, “stepped out… from the authority structure [laws and ordinances] of God and stepped underneath the power structure of Satan.”

Satan’s power structure does not honor humans as made in the image of God. Satan’s power structure makes no room for civility. It is all about the Darwinian survival of the fittest and complete domination of an individual or group over others. When we see a manifestation of barbarity such as October 7th, we can certainly surmise that the roots of such acts are demonic.

As an example, Islamic Jihad terrorist Manar Mahmoud Muhammad Qasem recognized that when he brutally attacked an Israeli family on October 7th, “Satan took over me…”

When we live in a post-truth, post-moral culture, without guardrails for a civilized society, we have no cultural immunity to the demonic. All that is left is what Darwin’s Theory of Evolution understood: the survival of the fittest or raw power. This is the fruit of demonically driven ideas. Ephesians 6:18 states, “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.”

It is important for us to understand that while we wrestle with the manifestation of evil in the realm of flesh and blood, the battle originates in the heavenly places. There are evil powers and spiritual forces in the heavenlies who initiate and invade individuals and institutions here on earth.

Let us now examine how the demonic invades first human institutions and then individual human beings.

 

Institutions

The spiritual realm impacts the physical realm by manipulating culture. In his book Communicating Christ in Animistic Contexts, missionary and missiologist Gailyn Van Rheenen makes this profound observation:

… the systemic view [of spiritual warfare] sees the powers as personal spiritual beings who are actively impacting the socioeconomic and political structures of societies. These powers have established their own rules and regulations that pull cultures away from God. The elementary principles (stoicheia) spoken of in Pauline writings (Gal. 4:3; Col. 2:8, 20 nasb) are an example of this. …stoicheia are illustrated by legalistic observances of the law, worship of angels, and returning to pre-Christian animistic practices. Stoicheia within these contexts are the demonic contortions of human society. The powers, although personal spiritual beings, have invaded the very fabric of society. Thus, even Christian institutions reflect these demonic influences when the powers invade human institutions. (p. 101)

Let us examine Van Rheenen’s assertions one at a time.

(1) First, the Bible is identifying personal spiritual beings when it references “principalities and powers in heavenly places.” These are not some type of impersonal “energy force.”

(2) Second, these demonic forces do not remain in the realm of the heavenlies. They are active in impacting physical institutions here on earth. They invade the social, economic, and political structure of a society. For instance, think of hospitals and physicians who swear by the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm,” yet killing babies in the womb or mutilating perfectly healthy children’s bodies for a profit. These doctors are deluded by the forces of evil into thinking that they are doing something within the bounds of their oath!

Think of librarians shelving books that promote immoral lifestyles for children. Think of Drag Queen story hour where men dressed in drag are reading books to toddlers and young children pushing transgenderism and the LGBT agenda. Think of a state education system that promotes atheism and a spiritually and morally vacuous universe.

Think of the Hamas political leaders in Gaza enslaving their own people, teaching their children in school to kill the Jews and instituting the barbaric attacks on Israel with the intention of exterminating Jews “from the river to the sea.” These people, under the influence of demonic forces, are setting up entire systems to perpetuate evil in the world.

(3) Third, these powers have established their own counterfeit laws and ordinances that pull cultures away from God. Think of what is going on in the United States and Europe today. Nations that once strived for freedom and justice under God’s ordinances have now turned their backs on God and his order to worship man, or creatures, and follow the counterfeit order of Satan that leads to chaos and death.

Many, if not most of our political and policy battles raging in Europe and the United States cannot merely be encompassed in political and economic terms. They can only ultimately be understood and countered at the cultural and spiritual level.

As Isaiah 5:20 reminds us, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

The demonic powers influencing our institutions are convincing the masses that what is EVIL is actually GOOD! This ought to stir the church to its core but too often we are deluded into thinking that only the “spiritual” things matter, and we should not be too concerned about culture and what is going on in the world around us.

(4) Fourth, the major tools that the demonic use to invade institutions are the rudimentary principles, the basic building blocks–stoicheia–the ABCs of culture. These are lies at the level of culture. Here are a few of these lies: men are superior to women; human beings are merely animals; work is a curse; nature is the only thing that is real; ignorance is a virtue; resources are physical things in the ground, and they are limited. These lies—building blocks—are the directives that the demonic uses to control and breakdown a society. When these lies take root in cultures, the demonic has literally invaded the very fabric of society.

(5) Fifth, Van Rheenen argues that through culture, the demonic can impact and impoverish the church. For example, the demonic convinces the church that her only mission is to do the “spiritual work” of leading people to Christ and getting them involved in church. If there is any discipleship it is done only in the areas of the “spiritual disciplines.”

In contrast, when people come to Christ, they ought to be discipled at the level of culture and engage in the marketplace and public square as good citizens, competing in the national discourse and building a culture worthy of God’s nature.

A society and its economic, political, social, educational institutions, etc. will either freely live under God’s ordinances and authority structures, which will lead to a free, just and well-ordered society or they will live under the disorder and chaos that result from Satan’s invasion of the basic institutions of society. The consequence of rebelling against the Creator of the universe and His ordinances is to create the wasteland in which we live today.

It is quite simple, the political and cultural players in society can be divided into two basic camps: those who have put their trust and lives in the hands of the Living God and those who have bet their lives on the idea that God does not exist.

As a rule, there are those who are “people of the book,” both Jew and Christian who attend church or synagogue and who understand that absolute Truth and a moral universe exists. These folks tend to think there are things worth conserving and worth fighting for and subscribe to Biblical principles like the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death, the dignity of women, freedom, and justice to name a few.

On the other hand, there are those souls who have consciously turned away from God, who deny objective truth and deny that we live in a moral universe. These folks are avidly against the Biblical foundations of Western civilization and usually believe that people are dispensable at any phase of life. Again, the wheat and the tares are wrangling for cultural territory.

 

Individuals

The American reporter Bari Weiss interviewed the Israeli Arab Lucy Aharish. Lucy and her family lived in the small city of Damona, an all-Jewish town. They were the only Muslim family there. When she was five years old her family drove to Gaza to visit relatives. While on the trip they were accosted by a jihadist who blew up their car. She described the unfolding scene to Weiss:

And I saw the evil in the terrorist’s eyes. I saw him looking directly into my eyes before even – like when he saw a five-year-old and a three-year-old, and he saw a pair of parents sitting in a car, and he knew that he’s going to burn them alive. He knew and he did it [blew up their car] without even thinking. So, this evil that we saw on October 7th, is not something new, it’s not just wow! It happened on October 7th. No! It was there.

What can possess a terrorist to do such things? What was in the mind of Yahya Sinwar, the mastermind behind the October 7th attack? Social Psychologist Dr. Liraz Margalit offers an explanation:

There is no other way to understand this person without understanding the psychopathy that defines him. The cold and precise planning, that strategic deception that was planned years ago, and the attention to the details of the massacre. These all paint a picture of a cold and calculating strategist, without the ability to feel empathy, guilt, or shame. In order to plan such a ruthless and precise operation, one needs to completely disconnect from all human emotion. This detachment cannot be done by a normal person.

This is about people who are completely indifferent. Therefore, they do not feel emotions of guilt, fear, or obsession. But there is one thing that does affect them and that is the loss of control and power.

In these two instances, we see the likely demonic invasion of individuals. How else could someone intentionally blow up a car full of innocent people including children? How else could a person such as Yahya Sinwar carry out such brutality on a mass level?

Perhaps it is this heartless psychopathic personality that leads to the demonic manipulation of a human being. We know that one of the gateways of demon possession through the spiritual realm is the occult. Another gateway may be through the physical realm of drugs. The thing that these have in common is a disorder of the soul. When enough people are disordered in their soul this will certainly lead to disorder in society. And we know that God is a God of order and not disorder who brings the clarity of Truth to bear on cultures and individuals. When we see such chaos, destruction and disorder we must suspect the wickedness of Satan is behind it.

In the next blog we will look at Nathan Stone’s third symbol: Christ the Warrior King. Having just read about the demonic invasion of institutions and individuals, it may feel overwhelming to you. But as stated above, we who are wheat are in no need of fear. We know how history will end. And we also know our commission as the ambassadors of Christ.

We are the church and our Lord Himself has stated that the gates of hell shall not prevail against us.

This is reality no matter what things look like today. We are to live in the world we now see according to what we know is true in the unseen world. Our lives revealing in the now, the not yet of the coming of the kingdom of God. We are stewards of the kingdom of God in our own lives, in our marriages, our families, our neighborhoods. We are cultivators of these Kingdom gardens. As we are faithful to take Christ at His command to “Seek FIRST the Kingdom and His righteousness,” we will see the vestiges of goodness, truth and beauty grow around us. We tend the garden now, looking forward with steadfastness, immovable, because we know that in the end, Christ Himself will return and consummate the arrival of the Kingdom in all its glory and perfection.

The big fancy word that describes this concept is a proleptic life–”to anticipate before.” To live a proleptic life is to live in the reality of the future. In other words, we are to live as if the future were present in the world we now see, according to what we know is true in the unseen world. We are to frame out our understanding of the story through the lenses of the Bible, not the dreadful news or even the reality of the demonic in the wilderness. We are to live in the reality of the cross, the resurrection, His ascension, and His certain return at the end of history. We are to be filled with a living hope because of this story we now steward in our daily lives. This reality must always swallow up the temptation to be hopeless.

Satan is a defeated, retreating enemy. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you … I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Hell’s gates are defensive, and will not prevail against the onslaught of Christ and His church.

In this time of Satan’s retreat, he can still make trouble but make no mistake, he is a defeated foe. In order to know the true nature of our battle, we must understand and respond to the fact that the demonic can invade institutions and individual lives. And our response must not be to go into hiding, but to consciously follow Christ, the Warrior King to the very gates of hell.

Jesus Christ conquered Satan at the cross. He triumphed over death in his resurrection. He went to his death on the cross as the Lamb of God and was resurrected and ascended as the Lion of Judah – the Warrior King.

 


[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-67629181

[2] https://themedialine.org/top-stories/evidence-on-display-at-israels-forensic-pathology-center-confirms-hamas-atrocities/

[3] https://www.jta.org/2023/10/31/israel/an-israeli-first-responder-recalls-tending-to-the-body-of-a-baby-burnt-in-an-oven

[4] Burns, Robert. Poem: “Man Was Made To Mourn.” 1784.

 


 

I recently had the opportunity to give a presentation on this blog series. Check it out below in audio or video format!

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About 
Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).

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