In some Christian circles today there is a huge emphasis on the demonic realm and “deliverance” ministries. There are books written, sermons preached, conferences attended and spiritual away weekends devoted to the subject.
TB Joshua is a so-called prophet of God in Nigeria. A large part of his ministry is exorcism. This “man of God” lays his hands on the faithful and rebukes the demons. There is the usual vomiting, crying and falling. He exorcises the demons of alcoholism, depression, poverty, sickness and whatever other bad spirit you may unknowingly have.
I was in a car accident when I was 10 years old and as a result walk with a bit of a limp. A few years ago a well-meaning Christian asked if he could pray for me. I agreed as prayer is always a good thing. However, in his prayers he attempted to rebuke the Spirit of infirmity in me and demand my healing from God. I stopped him mid-prayer and said thanks but no thanks.
As I mentioned in a previous post, one of our dogs died last week. Charlie, a dachshund, slipped a disk and started going paralysed and we had to have him put down. We were devastated. And even though Charlie was only a dog, I found myself asking, “Why did God allow this to happen? Charlie wasn’t a bad dog! Why not cause bad dogs to slip a disk? Why did he do to deserve it? What did we do that God is punishing our dog?”
Many in our church have suffered greatly, losing loved ones, parents, siblings, friends and even children. We have all seen the suffering caused by disease, death and disaster. Because we are created in the image of God, we instinctively know that there is something wrong with our world and this is not how it’s supposed to be. Perhaps the most common question people have is, “Why does a good God allow suffering and sorrow and slipped disks? Why do bad things happen to good people?”
Ephesians 4:26-27 says, ‘“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.’
The word “devil” only occurs again in this letter in 6:11 in the context of spiritual warfare against the “powers”. Paul, the author of Ephesians, believed that the “powers” were closely associated with the “devil”. Although the believers had been raised with Christ and seated in the heavenlies (2:6) they were still engaged in a struggle with the “powers” (6:12). 4:26-27 provides an example of one of the devil’s strategies (6:11) and how this warfare was to be fought against by believers.
In recent years scholars have taken more seriously the influence of Jesus of Nazareth on the apostle Paul’s thinking. You might think this connection was obvious, but in the world of “biblical” scholarship nothing is obvious. Evangelical scholars contend that the greatest change in Paul’s thinking was brought about as a consequence of Paul’s vision of Christ on the road to Damascus. Paul’s conversion took place after he saw Jesus who “appeared” to him on the road to Damascus (1 Corinthians 9:1, 15:8). Paul describes his conversion as a revelation of Jesus the Messiah (Galatians 1:12). The risen and exalted one appeared to Paul accompanied by the radiance of his glory. Paul was convinced that Christ Jesus was YHWH’s (LORD’s) promised Messiah who would inaugurate the long-awaited kingdom of God. Paul did not abandon his monotheism when he became a follower of Jesus; rather Paul’s monotheism was “recast to include Jesus within the divine identity”. Paul resolutely maintained that the one God had revealed himself in Jesus.