Tag Archives: spirit

Demons: Can We Still Believe in Them?


In 1998, four psychologists interviewed twenty hospitalized psychiatric patients from the Hebei province in China.

Chinese physicians diagnosed these patients as hysterical.

The patients, however, believed their bodies were .

In other words, possessed.

Samples of Spirit Possession

One woman spoke of her dead aunt walking through her house as “a white person, but without a head.”

At times she actually believed the spirit occupied her body.

Another women–a 40-year old peasant women with five children and a Buddhist background–complained of chronic possession (some one suggested by a turtle) in which she blacked out and couldn’t remember the episode.

Here’s the million dollar question: Are these patients really possessed? Or severely psychologically disturbed? Let’s explore.

Dismissing the Doctrine of Demons

In today’s world, belief in demons is usually brushed aside as primitive–in company with elves and a flat earth.

In fact, one of the conclusions from the study above was that individuals who lacked education were more susceptible to folk beliefs.

They also raised the question of “whether the possession experience is a socially sanctioned mechanism that allows individuals in an oppressed social role to act out intolerable socio-psychological conflict.”

Both interesting points. Then this shouldn’t come as a surprise: While possession is a common experience in many cultures, in Western industrialized cultures such experiences are not the norm.

As Christians, then, what are we to do when skepticism about angels and demons is contrary to biblical testimony? Let’s see.

Biblical Testimony to Demons

Satan appears in the first book of the Bible and his activity doesn’t let up until Revelation.

And while demonic activity is somewhat subdued in the Old, the frequency of demonic appearances increases during Jesus’ ministry.

We even have a demonic proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah.

But outside the biblical assumption of demons, we have other reasons to affirm their existence.

  • Science ultimately can’t answer this question. Science seeks to observe and describe natural phenomena. Like it’s inadequacy in answering questions of morality, science isn’t fit to answer the spiritual.
  • Purely natural explanations of evil in this world are not adequate. The horrors of the  or a mother roasting her child in an oven imply a powerful force at work–not a mere chemical imbalance.
  • Learn from the broader sweep of history and culture. When you explore the cultures in Asia, Africa, Haiti and the Pacific Islands, you see a belief in evil spirits is a deep part of their culture. We need to respect that native soft knowledge. They may be on to something our science can’t reach.

In the end, this topic deserves a LOT of sensitivity. We certainly don’t want it to lead to uncritical views on demons. Nor do we want to open the door to bizarre practices of extreme individuals or groups.

Instead, we need to carefully craft a complete view of reality–one that balances both the natural and spiritual.

C. S. Lewis warned in the Screwtape Letters that we can give the topic too little attention–and too much attention. Both are mistakes.

The goal is to seek balance. Let me know what you think.

By the way, got a question you’d like me to answer in a post? Email me.

The Trick to Finding Your Spiritual Gift

How do you know your spiritual gifts? Our understand what they are? It doesn’t really matter if you’ve defined your gifts. It’s something else.

The moment you become a Christian God gives you a marvelous gift–the Holy Spirit.

In other words, the moment you believe…God comes to live in you.

He becomes your guide, teacher and power supply for everything you will do for the glory of God.

That’s true for every Christian.

The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts

And since the spirit of God lives in us, the New Testament teaches us to behave in certain ways towards the Holy Spirit.

For example, we are encouraged to walk, to live, to be filled, to pray, to manifest the fruits of the Spirit and to use and exercise the gifts of the Spirit.

We are also warned not to grieve, resist or quench the Spirit.

The Christian life is a Spirit-dominated existence. A Spirit-directed existence. A Spirit-controlled existence.

And when we allow the spirit of God to dominate, direct and control our lives, marvelous results occur. Here are six:

Holiness. Constant sanctification.

Joy. Constant satisfaction and contentment.

Liberty. Constant sense of freedom from danger or anxiety.

Confidence. Constant sense of reliability and courage.

Security. Constant sense of protection and favor.

Victory. Constant sense of strength.

But there’s one more: ministry–a constant service to the body of Christ.

An Other-Minded Approach

A Spirit-dominated, Spirit-directed and Spirit-controlled life results in personal benefits, yes, but also in corporate benefits as well.

When we are dominated by the spirit, we are naturally able to serve others. It’s an other-minded approach.

See, when you walk in the spirit of God, your gifts are ministered to me. And as I walk in the spirit, my gift are ministered to you.

As we live and move and have our being in the Spirit, the spirit of God operates through us so we serve the body of Christ and radiate his glory so that people will see and believe.

This is subduing the earth. And it’s crucial. Especially when it comes to finding out your spiritual gifts.

How Do You Know Your Spiritual Gifts?

Frankly, that’s not the issue.

It doesn’t really matter if you’ve defined your gifts. What matters is that we walk in the spirit.

The trick to finding out your spiritual gifts is not defining them and then doing them…but simply getting on your knees and begging the Spirit to dominate, direct and control you…

And if you do that, then he will do what he will do and you can eventually look back and say, “Oh, now that’s what I do.”

That, my friend, is the trick to finding out your spiritual gifts. Make sense? And can you think of any other benefits that result from a Spirit-dominated life that I haven’t listed? Let me know.

Seven Religious Movements with a Weakness for Prophecy

Perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of the Charismatic-Pentecostal movement is their claim to new revelation from God–the claim that God is still speaking to them.

The claim that “Jesus told me.” Or “The Lord told me.”

This thirst for supernatural experience with God and fresh word from God is not anything new.

It has quite a historical past.

In fact, it goes back to the very early stages of Christianity and continues until this day in movements that have a soft spot for the subjective.


Montanus–a second century prophet–claimed he wrote the word of God. That he spoke the word of God. He claimed to have the final revelation of the Holy Spirit. This implied that something could be added to the teaching of Christ and the Apostle.

In other words, the Bible wasn’t sufficient.

Montanists also expected the imminent Second Coming of Christ. This belief, while not confined to Montanists, took a special form that gave their activities the character of a popular revival.

They also believed–via their prophets–that the heavenly Jerusalem was soon to descend on the Earth in a plain between the two villages of Pepuza and Tymion in Phrygia.

Roman Catholicism

Why do they believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary? Where do they find the immaculate conception? Where do they get praying for the dead? Purgatory? It doesn’t come out of Scripture. Comes out of their , a tradition equal in authority to Scripture.

It was decided by the church, the pope or the council. Not God’s word.

So, where does the Bible end? It doesn’t. Popes and councils can still bring in new doctrines. Individuals can have new revelation from the Holy Spirit. There is no end to it.

Neo Orthodoxy

This theology believes that the Bible is NOT the objective word of God, but the subjective. It’s like saying God is marching up and down Scripture waiting to make the words come to life when someone reads them.

Neo-orthodox theologian  said that the spirit of God is imprisoned within the covers of the written Bible and he is released in your experience. Mystical. And God is giving new revelation.

Another neo-orthodox theologian, , said the Bible is not the last word. God has more to say. In other words, the inspiration of the Bible depends on subjective experience.


A flesh and bones God. Universal resurrection. Jesus as the spirit brother of Lucifer. Where do you suppose they got these doctrines? Not from the Bible…

But from the Doctrine of Covenants. And The Pearl of Great Price. Where did these books come from? Joseph Smith said they were personally given to him by God.

Christian Science

Mary Baker Eddy–the founder of this cult–is considered the revelator of truth for this age. Her revelations come from God in addition to Scripture. This was written about Christian Science in the July 1975 : “Because it is not a human philosophy, but a divine revelation the divinity based reason and logic of Christan Science necessarily separates it from all other systems.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses Salvation by works. Negating the grace of God though Christ. Claim Jesus was a created being–not God’s son. How did they get this? They . Directly.

World Wide Church of God

This organization got it’s start from a vision by Mrs. Armstrong. An angel laid out the whole system for Mrs. Armstrong. She told her husband–Herbet W. Armstrong–and a new cult was born.

Listen. I do believe that the . Empowers us.

However, he doesn’t speak to us in audible words. He doesn’t give us specific commands. He isn’t breathing out anymore revelation.


Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Once for all. It was done. And the canon was closed.

Here’s the bottom line: You don’t need new revelation for directoin of your life. The Spirit will do that. And you don’t need new revelation for the virture of your life. The .

So, the only reason behind extra-biblical prophecy is so Satan can pollute the clear stream of Scripture and confound and confuse the otherwise discerning leading of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Does God Have a Body?

Where you take the Name That Heresy quiz to learn more about the doctrine of God as spirit.

Let’s play a game. It’s called “Name That Heresy.”

Here are your clues:

1. God has flesh and bones as tangible as man’s.

2. He is limited in what he knows, can do and can be.

3. He is only one of many gods.

4. He at one time was not God.

5. And because of his flesh and bones, he can’t be everywhere at all time.

Got any guesses?

If you guessed Mormonism, you’re right. This is exactly what current Mormon doctrine teaches about God.

A Heretical View of God?

So, why is this heresy? Let me explain.

Mormons rely on three sources for their doctrine of God: inspired scripture, Joseph Smith’s words and Mormon leaders.

For instance, the  taught there is more than one God.  preached that Adam was the God of this world. And  reasoned that man’s basic intelligence is as old as God himself.

Moreover, Mormons teach that all three sources carry equal weight when it comes to describing the existence and attributes of God.

So, Mormons believe God has a flesh-and-bones body. But this is wrong.

The Orthodox View of God as Spirit

So, what does the Bible say about God as spirit?

The orthodox description of God is that he is invisible, which implies God is without body. Just spirit.

No one has seen God at any time. 

For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 

In addition to biblical authority, we also have historical proof that God is a spirit.

Three Historical Proofs God is Spirit

You and I should understand, said  in his , that God is not walled off in heaven by a boundary.

 said that “God is a Spirit, not pervading matter, but the Maker of material spirits and of the forms that are in matter; He is invisible, impalpable, being Himself the father of both sensible and invisible things.”

And  argues that matter crowds out other matter from the space it occupies. So, “That which is impenetrable obviously is not ubiquitous.” Instead, because he is spirit, God penetrates and inhabits all material bodies.

Now, someone might argue, if you take Calvin, Tatian and Dabney at their word, you are falling into the same trap that Mormons fall into when they exalt the words of their leaders.

There’s one major difference: We don’t believe Calvin, Tatian and Dabney because they speak. We believe them because their words align with Scripture.

Philosophically, It Makes Sense That God Is a Spirit

You and I have potential to change. Just like dirt. Just like parents. Just like suns. God, on the other hand, can’t change.

He cant’ change because he is self-existent. Thus, he can’t be made of matter. Dirt, parents and suns are imperfect because they are made of matter.

In a lot of ways, you might think there isn’t any difference between an  and a dead god.

But there is a difference.

For one, He’s personal.  “God, therefore is not to be thought of as being either a body or as existing in a body, but as an uncompounded intellectual nature….” That intellectual nature is how he relates to us.

Furthermore, God is infinite and simple, without parts or units. Infinity and simplicity imply spirit.

Finally, God is beyond the universe, time and space. He is eternal. And if he is eternal–not limited by time–he is an invisible spirit.

The universe, on the other hand, is visible, bound by time, space. And dying.

Beyond the Laws of Thermodynamics

God created the universe in a perfect state. But after the Fall, the universe started to decay. The  support this.

The first law of thermodynamics says that energy is not made. The second law of thermodynamics says we are running out of that energy.

Matter is subject to the second law of thermodynamics–pain, decay and death. God, because he is spirit, is not subject to pain, decay and death. But to say God is flesh and bones is to subject God to pain, decay and death.

Now, James says that man is . And Jesus Christ, who was flesh and bones, is the image of God. So how does the New Testament see man as in God’s likeness if God doesn’t know pain, decay or death? The following paragraphs explain.

The apostle Paul, when speaking about the resurrected body in , says:

The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

: “Paul is not contrasting a fallen body with a redeemed body, but a natural body with a spiritual body.”

Our flesh and bones will be buried so that our spiritual, incorruptible, bodies may blossom in the image of God–the heavenly spirit.

Why Should We Care That God Is a Spirit?

American Methodist theologian  said we scorn this doctrine when we disobey the –do not worship idols. You you can hear the full meaning in Jesus’ words: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and truth.”

In other words, if flesh and bones is all there is, then we have nothing to compare ourselves to and rise above pain, decay and death. Man becomes the true measure of man, the idol that we worship.

Blatant sin.

To avoid this we have to look on God as Martin Luther did: “In a word, God is an inexpressible Being above and beyond everything that may be said or thought.”

Think about this: If God were flesh and bones, we must relate to him the only way two lovers relate…close proximity at all time.

But Aquinas said we are not excluded from his spirit because of our bodies.

The very fact that he is spirit means he can fill every place. Thus, he fills every being. So, while we may never taste, see, touch, smell or hear God, we see and feel him at work in his creation, especially our minds and spirits.

It’s safe to say that the doctrine of God as spirit explains how God can be the the God who is ever near. Which is perfect comfort in times of pain, decay and death. Wouldn’t you agree?

**Part of The Nature of God series.**

31 Biblical Facts about Man’s Spirit

Given the space I devoted yesterday to spiritual death, I thought I’d follow up today with a post on the biblical case for man’s spirit.

Here we go.

1. Man has a spirit. 

2. Man’s spirit is immortal. [See the heading ]

3. Man’s spirit can be divided from the body and destroyed. .

4. God’s spirit contends with man’s spirit. [Some translations say “abide.”] 

5. Can be sad or vexed to the point a person can’t eat. 

6. Man’s spirit can be encouraged and motivated. 

7. Can be in anguish. 

8. Can turn against God. 

9. Can search for meaning and truth. 

10. Man’s spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. 

11. Can be revived by water or food.  and 

12. Can be faithful and steadfast in the Lord. 

13. Can be rebellious. 

14. Can faint and melt in despair and fear. 

15. Can be reborn. 

16. Can be grieved and troubled and alarmed. 

17. Can be drug down by lethargy and stupor. 

18. Can be fervent. 

19. Can be meek and gentle. 

20. Can be present though the body is absent. 

21. Can be holy. 

22. Can be restless. 

23. Can be filthy. 

24. Can be lifted out of sorrow. 

25. Can be in unity with others. 

26. Can worship God. 

27. Can rejoice. 

28. Can be an example to others. 

29. Leaves body at death. 

30. Can be dead through sin. 

31. Can be made alive in Christ. 

Naturally, this is not an exhaustive list, so…what’d I miss that you think I should include? Looking forward to your thoughts. Brutal and all.