Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Gary] Demons - fallen angels, minions of Satan, evil spirits - they've been a source of fascination and fear from antiquity. Demons, and their influences on human beings, are a perennial theme in books, movies, even video games. Do demons really exist? Can they interact with you and me? You know, all of us need to connect to something spiritual in our lives. Is it possible that this need for spiritual meaning can lead you to unspeakable evil? On Beyond Today , we'll explore the danger in “Dabbling with Demons.”[Announcer] Join our host, Gary Petty and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today ![Gary] As a pastor, on a number of occasions, I've gone through a scenario that's something like this:A parent comes to me, I'll call her Beth. She is very distraught because her 14-year-old son is showing anger issues. He is distraught. He is angry - almost violent! She talks about how he has an obsession with heavy metal music that have messages, containing messages of anger, of violence, even of rape. So we talk about it some. She says in his room he has a giant poster of a bloody scene from a horror film.We talk about what she can do to connect with her son and have a relationship with him. Beth explains that she is doing that; that one of the things that she does in order to bond with her son is regularly, the two of them go to see horror films, especially ones about demonic possession.She explains how that she finds this humorous. Her and her son laugh a lot during the movies. They find it as sort of a comic relief. I tell Beth, you know, this is one of the reasons why you are having trouble with your son. Part of this anti-social behavior, this anger, is being fed by both the music that he listens to and the movies that you are actually going with him to see. But you know Beth is sure that this isn't part of the problem.She explains how they both laugh at the scenes of this demonic possession. Once again, she simply sees them as comic relief. Parents like Beth, by thinking that demons can't touch their lives, are sowing the seeds of spiritual and emotional ruin in their children's lives.Now you know on the other hand, there are Christians who claim that demons are responsible for all the problems in life. They are told if you are an alcoholic, pray in the name of Jesus and cast out the alcoholic demon. If your boss is treating you badly, cast out the demon. If your car is broken down, lay hands on the hood and cast out the demon.You know, neither of these extremes deals with what the Bible teaches about demons. So today, let's look at what the Bible teaches.Now in discussing this subject, the first question we have to answer is: What is the spirit realm? As human beings we all experience life physically through our senses, right? Sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch. But we also possess intelligence, consciousness, emotions and creativity which gives us the ability to experience something more than just the physical.All of us struggle with an inner need for a “spiritual” connection, right? You do. I do. That's why you search for answers to: Is there a God? Why am I here? Are aliens real? Are we the only ones in the universe? Can I communicate with spirits?You see, the desire to understand the spirit world - the paranormal, the supernatural - that's why there is such a widespread fascination with demons.This need that we have, and we need to face it—you have it, I have it. The need to connect to the spirit world is based in fear and a desire for purpose. It is what leads people to the very real, and very evil realm of demons. It is what drives teenagers, like Beth's son, to horror films or others to see demons hiding, you know, just in everyday happenings.So this brings us to a second question: Who and what are demons? Now there is a source that tells us.According to the Bible, before God created the physical universe He created intelligent, conscious, spirit beings - not comprised of physical atoms like you and I. The Bible calls these spirit beings, they are called angels. They live in the spirit realm. Now, this is a realm outside of the material universe and yet they interact with the physical. According to the Bible, one of these angels, a powerful archangel named Lucifer, decided that he - yes, he - should rule the universe, not the Creator God.What I am telling you is the true story of the greatest cosmic battle in history. This is so much greater than what science fiction could even make up because it explains why a good God can exist and yet, the world that He created, it contains such evil. The prophet Ezekiel tells how this great angel was a majestic creation of God. He was a beautiful, creative, intelligent being, and according to the prophet Ezekiel, he was both at the throne of God at one time and he was in the Garden of Eden (Ezekiel 28:12-14 12 Son of man, take up a lamentation on the king of Tyrus, and say to him, Thus said the Lord GOD; You seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13 You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of your tabrets and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day that you were created. 14 You are the anointed cherub that covers; and I have set you so: you were on the holy mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the middle of the stones of fire. ×).The prophet Isaiah adds to the story and tells how Lucifer actually tried to overthrow God (Isaiah 14:13For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:×). He tried to overthrow his Creator! A war for the ownership of the universe - the ultimate battle between good and evil - and in this great conflict, Lucifer, became Satan - the lord of evil, the adversary of God. And here is what is really important to understand as we discuss this topic today, he convinced other angels to follow him in his rebellion.At the very end of the Bible, in Revelation 12, the apostle John saw a vision of what he described as a dragon who drew a third of the stars and threw them from heaven to the earth (Revelation 12:3-4 3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns on his heads. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. ×). Now in the Bible, a dragon is a symbol of Satan while stars can sometimes symbolize angels. You see, Satan influenced a third of the angels to follow him in his rebellion against God. Now think about this. He convinced these angels who had been at the very presence of God that he had a better way than God did.So what are demons? Well the angels that followed Satan are what we call demons. They are intelligent beings, with creative abilities, and free will, but they now live in a state of angry, violent rebellion against their Creator. You see, in their choice they traded peace for violence, love for hatred, good for evil.God originally had showed angels - His creations - His way of love and peace. He allowed this - understand. He then allowed Satan to present his ways to other angels - Satan's ways. And because of free will, this gift that God gives us, a third followed Satan. Now think about this, God showed love and peace to the first human beings. He then allowed Satan, the serpent of Genesis, to present his ways to Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve unfortunately chose selfishness, greed, hatred, suffering and death. The world that you and I live in, it's a product of Satan's rebellion and demonic influence on humanity ever since the Garden of Eden till now.So this raises a very important question we need to really think about. If demons are real, how do demons interact with human beings? Should parents like Beth be concerned about the movies their children watch? On the other hand, should Christians worry that it was a demon who made their tires go flat?Well, one of the ways that we can answer these questions is by looking at the ways that demons interact with human beings. One of the ways demons can interact with human beings is through people who claim to contact the dead.Now it is, of course, we know this that many of the events passed off as spirit contact with the other world, they are faked. Harry Houdini, the famous magician, spent 30 years investigating séances and people who claimed to channel spirits. He concluded that all spiritualism is faked. And most of it is.But you need to understand that while much of the occult and contact with the “other world” is faked, there are some aspects that are very real and they originate in frightening evil. Not something to play around with.The ancient world was steeped in witchcraft, and superstition, and mediums and black magic. In Deuteronomy, God told His people - the ancient Israelites, He said to them, ” There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through fire, (This is talking about actual human sacrifice of babies. But notice other things that he makes in this list) or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who call up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12 10 There shall not be found among you any one that makes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. 11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 12 For all that do these things are an abomination to the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD your God does drive them out from before you. ×).Important words. These concepts are directly against the God of the Bible. Now, before we continue to explore how demons actually interact with human beings, let me tell you about this free study guide that we are giving you today that can help you understand the reality of Satan and his influence on our world.It's called: Is There Really a Devil? Understand this: Satan wants to convince you that he and the demons are myths. He wants you to believe that you can't be influenced. Well just look around you. You can see the influence of evil everywhere .Well this study guide answers questions like, did God create the devil? And covers important topics like Wicca, mediums and how you can counter Satan's deceptions with the very power of the living God .To order your free booklet, Is There Really a Devil? call: 1-888-886-8632. That's, 1-888-886-8632. Or, you can read it online immediately on our BeyondToday.tv website. Or, write to us at the address shown on your screen throughout the program.There's a fascinating story in the journeys of the apostle Paul that shows us something about how demons can interact with human beings. Have you read this story? Paul, and his traveling companions, who included Silas and Luke, were teaching in the city of Philippi. We pick up the story in the book of Acts: “Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour” (Acts 16:12-18 12 And from there to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. 13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spoke to the women which resorted thither. 14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul. 15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she sought us, saying, If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. 16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show to us the way of salvation. 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. ×).It's interesting, this Greek word that's translated “divination” in English. It come from the word puthon. It's where we get the word in English, python. It goes back to the concept in ancient Greek mythology that the god Apollo killed a python, a giant snake or a puthon , a giant snake at Delphi. Now if you know anything about Greek mythology - Delphi, there was an oracle there. Where people would go and this priestess would tell them their fortune. And this was for hundreds of years the center of worship in ancient Greece, where people would go and they would get these messages from the gods. Divination - lots of people put stock at that time in this concept of the spirit of divination, the spirit of puthon - the spirit of the serpent.Now the power that this girl possessed, it was very real. She was under the influence of a demon. Paul and his companions ended up in trouble for doing this good deed. The story continues in Acts: “But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities” (Acts 16:19And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace to the rulers,×).Some people will actually make money by selling evil. And you need to remember that when your children argue that contacting spirits through an Ouija board is just a game - mom, come on! Or watching movies about demons is just harmless entertainment, something to laugh about. Or listening to angry music containing messages about violence and rape - well that's just a matter of musical taste. Don't support evil by financing it!The evil of demonic influence is real! And it is angry, and it is violent and it is against the Creator God.Now, when I say this, I don't mean that you need to go through life in fear of demonic possession. Demons usually only control troubled minds or people who invite such influence.Now, there is another way that demons do influence people. And I have to admit that many times Christians don't want to talk about this because, well we just don't want to be accused of being prejudiced or maybe of some kind of hate speech. I mean let's face it, we live in a society where the worst thing you can call somebody is prejudiced. But Christians - the people of this Book, the people of the Bible - are supposed to declare the truth of the gospel in a world ruled by Satan and the demons.In 1 Corinthians the apostle Paul is writing about pagan idolatry. And he lived in a world full of paganism and he makes this remarkable statement. Listen to what he says: “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons” (1 Corinthians 10:20But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that you should have fellowship with devils.×).Everywhere Paul traveled in the Roman Empire he saw statues and temples to Jupiter, and Apollo, and Isis, and Aphrodite and a host of pagan gods and goddesses. He realized something very important here, that the religious feelings that people had - and they were real, these feelings were real that they had when they worshipped these idols - it actually deceived them from knowing the true God. It's really interesting, one time while Paul was visiting Athens in Greece, he cried out to a crowd of pagan philosophers that he was there to tell them about the UNKNOWN GOD (Acts 17:23For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, him declare I to you.×).You know the same is true today. The idolatry of Hinduism or Buddhism, and even Christians who use idols, is a deception of the demonic world, not true worship of the God of the Bible. I know that sounds harsh. I know it sounds prejudiced, but you know, it's what the apostle Paul taught about paganism.You see, one of Satan's greatest lies is that all religious paths lead to God. It's just not true.So what can we conclude? Should Christians live their lives in fear of demonic possession? Are demons to blame for the little frustrations in daily life?Well, the answer to both of these questions is no. Demons can't take the free will from a healthy mind who is in relationship with the Almighty God. Satan lives in a delusion and he has convinced the demons that somehow they are more powerful than God. And no, demons aren't the cause of all of life's difficulties. You and I live in a physical world and frustrating things happen - and yes, bad things happen to good people.But the danger of dabbling with demons is much more subtle.Let's go back to Beth and her teenage son and we'll just call him Simon. Simon wasn't demon possessed, he was frustrated. He was angry. You know I remember counseling with a couple of young boys, young teenagers in similar situations. They were angry over things happening in their family. They were angry over school issues. I remember one case, a young man was afraid of going out in his neighborhood because of violence, because of gang violence.Instead of helping Simon understand his spiritual nature by leading him to God through both teaching and personal example, Beth tried to participate in his world of anger and rebellion. You see instead of bringing Simon into the light, Beth followed him into the darkness. And the result was his fears and anger were aggravated by the demonic themes in the movies that he watched, even the music that he listened to.The apostle Paul called Satan the “prince of the power of the air…” (Ephesians 2:2Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience:×). Just like what Satan did with the angels, he wants you to accept that his way is better than God's way. Now remember his way is based in selfishness - a dog-eat-dog survival of the fittest. It is to take what you want, when you want and how you want because you deserve it, and you don't care about anybody else. And it ultimately creates anger, and bitterness, and hatred and violence. You see all these are aspects of Satan's character. The exact opposite of our Creator God.One of the greatest deceptions Satan has been able to pull off is that we think - especially in our enlightened world today - that we're immune to the effects of raw sexuality and violence in entertainment. We're immune to these demonic pictures and the way that can affect our minds.Well let me tell you something, this is the truth. God wants you to accept His way. You Creator God wants you to accept His way. He is giving you a choice. It is a way of love and peace that leads to obedience to God as your Father because He knows what's best. This cosmic battle is being played out in the movies you watch; the websites you visit; and even the music you listen to. Guard your mind, by refusing to dabble with demons.Now, when you order our free Bible study aid, Is There Really a Devil? we'll also send you a free subscription to, The Good News magazine . Six times a year you'll receive articles on subjects that will change your life - like how to make sense of world events in light of Bible prophecy - how to have a deeper relationship with God - how there are biblical Holy Days that teach us about Jesus Christ , and no, they aren't Christmas and Easter.On Beyond Today we provide all our materials absolutely free of charge, thanks to the generous support of the members of the United Church of God and from viewers like you. We welcome you to partner with us to help reach more people with God's truth. Write to us today, or go online at BeyondToday.tv —where you'll find a list of United Church of God congregations in cities around the world . We welcome you to come visit with us.Now, to order Is There Really a Devil? and The Good News call: 1-888-886-8632. The number again: 1-888-886-8632. Or, you can write to us at the address shown on your screen which will show throughout the program.Now of course, you can read Is There Really a Devil? and The Good News online right away by simply going online to BeyondToday.tv . And, remember to join us throughout the week at our website for BT Daily - videos that give additional analysis and help you understand prophecy, the Bible and God's plan for your life.We've been looking at the reality of demons- who they are - and the effects on your world. Do demons really exist? Can they interact with you and me? Well Darris McNeely and Steve Myers have joined us to discuss further the danger of dabbling with demons.[Gary] You know guys, some people might watch this program and say, oh you are overreacting especially when you are talking about evil, and entertainment and music. Are we overreacting?[Darris] No. No, we are not overreacting at all, Gary, whenever we talk about this subject and compare it to a person and their real purpose in life. The problem is what you stated, and that is that spiritism, demons, the occult, have become an enmeshed part of our entertainment in our world today. And as a result, that then excites us. It scares. It frightens a little bit. But, it entertains people which is playing right into the deceptive hand that Satan deals out for people. And, really works to hide God's plan, God's purpose from people's lives to keep them from understanding what this world is about and what their part and place in it really is. We are not overreacting, nor should anyone who even gets close to this subject.[Steve] Don't be taken off guard. I think that's a big thing because if you think we are overreacting just imagine what happened to God's angels. God created those angels and Satan got in there and took a third of them with him. And so they understood, at least at some level, who God was, what He wanted, what His plan was and yet this evil being was able to divert them away from the truth, from God's way. And so if we take this too lightly, we better be careful where we end up.[Gary] I know as pastors, you've had parents come to you with issues of, especially teenagers who are just obsessed with demons and demonic films and games. What advice do you give them?[Steve] God says train up your child. Train him up in the way that he should go. And I think it's, it goes with everything else. Today, it seems like so many parents are overly protective when it comes to physical things. We put on the helmets and the pads and all these kinds of things so our kids don't hurt themselves. But do we think just as much about the spiritual side of things? We need to protect our kids spiritually too. So what are they getting into and what could really hurt them? Step up and be a parent, and protect your kids spiritually as well![Gary] Years ago I heard a minister say that when you look around the world you see Satan's fingerprints on everything. Well the good news is that the rule on Satan and his demons over humanity is coming to an end. That is the message we bring to you every week on Beyond Today .Remember our free offers today: Is There Really a Devil? and our magazine, The Good News . Call: 1-888-886-8632 or go online at BeyondToday.tv for your copies. Or, you could write to us at the address on your screen.What you've heard today is not a myth; it's not fantasy. It's real. It is the truth of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. This isn't make-believe. It's not a game. It's your life. It could be your eternal life. This is that important.You may be one of our regular viewers, and have requested much of the free literature that we offer . For that, we really want to thank you. And we thank you for the support you give us to keep this program on the air. We will continue to provide all of our material free of charge.But here's an important question, what will be your next step? What are you going to do with the biblical understanding that you're receiving? I mean, are you changing how you live? Are you changing what you believe so that it matches up with what the truth of Jesus Christ, the Bible and the Father in heaven? Are you doing away with non-Christian, non-biblical holidays and traditions? Are you attending with a church that keeps the Sabbath day holy?Well stop putting off change. Make a commitment to God for the sake of your life. Change starts now.Now, we would be happy to hear from you. We have more than 200 congregations in cities across the United States, plus dozens more throughout Canada, and in all major cities in Australia - not to mention other countries around the world . We have qualified pastors and counselors who would be happy to help you in your Christian journey as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Go to our website and click on the “Contact” tab . You'll find a congregation that is near you someplace . And then call one of our pastors and just share your story. Tell him about what you are learning because we are here to help you.Demons are real. They are angels who followed Satan in his rebellion against God. They are terrifyingly evil. But you don't have to fear them. Draw close to God and Satan and his demons will flee from you.Satan will continue to influence humanity in his way of violence, greed and selfishness. But his time as ruler of this world is limited. Here's the good news - God is sending Jesus Christ back to remove Satan and set up God's Kingdom on earth. Always remember, in the end Satan loses - God wins.So join us in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today , I'm Gary Petty. Thanks for watching.[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today's program, go online to BeyondToday.tv . Please join us again next week on Beyond Today !