Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Demons & Oppression

I probably have no business writing about what I’m going to write about. I haven’t done extensive study in demonology and all of that stuff; I just have had some thoughts recently that have really culminated into a kind of understanding that I want to share.

I’ve said this before in posts, but I really like movies about possession, demons and really just religious themes in general. I like them because they show me perspective on God, even when what is displayed is the opposite. Every perspective on God is a peering into the most important part of another person, as weird or wrong as it may be.

You might say I’ve had a life full of the supernatural. I say supernatural, but such a term is rather loaded. As a Christian, I believe fully that God’s Spirit works within me. This is a rather accepted view in Christian faith. Now, that in itself is “supernatural” because it is a force beyond the physical. In my life though, I admit that things have happened both within my family and to people I’m very close to that go above and beyond even that. I won’t go into lengthy stories, if you desire to know them, holler at me sometime.

I know a lot of people who have “ghost” stories and the like. Some embrace this rather well and some reject it, all within the faith community. The spectrum is quite large amongst Christians as to what really does happen and what is kind of bogus. I’ve already admitted that I feel some of these things happen. Way too many stories from people I trust and personal experience within my family to deny that. Most of the things within my own family are actually quite pleasant stories, not scary or creepy…maybe a little weird but sometimes they are simply comforting.

The point of this post though is to focus on the really negative side of all this. My mind really got on this subject after writing a paper for a class on mental disorders that I’m taking currently. We looked at one of the gospels and wrote about the perspective on sickness and healing.

I chose Matthew. Matthew recounts many, many healing stories, and there is something incredibly fascinating about them. The view of the day was that physical ailment had to do with people’s sin. This is somewhat reflected in the story of Job as well as when people ask Jesus stuff like “Who sinned, this person or their parents?” In Matthew, there is a moving away from such thought. I’ve said it in many posts, but suffering can actually be a privilege to the Christian. Some trials are able to build us up into the people we are supposed to be. However, there’s another side as well. In Matthew, there is a distinct difference from sickness that is purely sickness and sickness that is brought on by a demon. One chapter you’ll read about a mute man who Jesus heals, and another chapter you’ll read about another mute man that Jesus casts a demon out of in order to heal him. The accounts of these events distinguish between the two causes.

I somewhat expected my teacher to use this assignment as a way of saying that perhaps more healing can be explained as the healing of some sort of psychological event, instead of demon possession. In fact, my teacher did the opposite. He said that perhaps today we try to explain too much by physical processes and instead there may be a balance and we should look at evil forces that could potentially be at work.


So, I’ve come up with a very important distinction based on my reading of Matthew. There is suffering in our lives that builds us up and causes us to be better disciples of Christ. This suffering is the result of us living in a broken and imperfect world where there is disease and hurt. But, there is also suffering that is brought on by oppression of evil entities that is in fact meant to break us down both physically and mentally, and make us vulnerable so that Satan can more easily get at us.

I think I’m beginning to notice oppression more and more. Satan tempts us away from God by all of the vices that create a chasm in our relationship with God. There is brutality in the psychological oppression that comes from guilt of addiction to anything unholy. This is one kind of oppression that I see greatly. Sin. Satan is the father of sin and entices us with it greatly.

There’s another type of oppression I’ve seen though, and it is a mix of physical and fear. I have several extremely close friends that have had encounters with dark entities in their life. Several have described this type of entity as a black, shadowy figure or mass. 

I'm not saying this is the image, I'm just saying that it’s a terrifying image. Some have mentioned interaction with this figure from something moving that shouldn’t have to literally being pressed around the chest/heart area by the figure. These kinds of encounters need not always be black shadowy masses. There is variety. But, I have seen this as a theme.

This is where some are like “Yeah! That happened to me/my cousin/my friend/etc.” and some people are like “pshhhhh, get out of here.”

This is honestly where I think that some horror/possession movies get it right. In the movie The Conjuring, famous demonologist Ed Warren (real person by the way) is giving a talk on the process of possession and labels it in stages. The second to last stage he labels as oppression. This is where stuff get’s moved, doors slam, shadowy figures arise, etc. All of these things strike fear into the people who are victimized by these things. This fear leads to all kinds of worry and psychological breakdown. This breakdown leads to what is described as the final stage – possession.

Now, possession is a concept way beyond my knowledge and grasp. But, I feel I can relate to that idea of oppression, because it is so vividly described to me by those I’m close to who have experienced something like this. Oppression and possession are also described in the Biblical narrative, where it is because of possession that a person is being oppressed by some sort of illness. I’m not sure how much possession goes on today, but I do see a good deal of oppression. It is oppression that I focus on.

Now, this isn’t a reason to be terrified. Most bumps in the night actually are trees hitting the window and creaky pipes. But, there are things to be learned from this in my opinion.

Firstly, it’s important to know that this crap is real. Spiritual warfare is happening all around us and so it serves us well to know who’s side we are on, and to truly take up that metaphorical armor of God we’ve heard about in Sunday school. The line from the end of The Conjuring is an actual quote by Ed Warren which reads “God is real, the devil is real, and as humans, our destiny hinges on whom we elect to follow.” Know who you follow, but know that God wins. So, probably best to be on that side.

Secondly, and I’ve said this before, but DON’T DABBLE IN THIS CRAP. This is also a point where I think Hollywood got it right on a couple of occasions. In both The Exorcist and Paranormal Activity (and potentially others, but these two come to mind), everything really hits the fan after they mess with a Ouija board or some other kind of deal. I would not touch one with a 39 ½ foot pole. I won’t go ghost hunting. I won’t cast spells, even as a joke. I won’t go to the special graveyard where weird stuff happens. I WON’T DO IT. YOU CAN’T MAKE ME. I’m fascinated by it, I’ll watch movies about it, but I will NOT participate. I don’t think it is smart in the least. I don’t think Satan can just waltz inside, I think you have to let him in. But sometimes letting him in is simply dabbling with something you don’t have any business messing with. I think even the strong can and are oppressed (for I’ve seen it happen to exceptional people), but that nothing can take hold if the person remains strong in God.

Thirdly, you have to rebuke the crap out of this stuff. In one of my friend’s stories, he was being pushed down by a black, shadowy figure and immediately he sat up, rebuked it in the name of Jesus, saying things by the Spirit within him, and immediately went back to sleep afterwards. THAT IS SO FREAKIN’ COOL! It’s one of most spiritually bad mama jama things I’ve ever heard of. To be at such peace, knowing that God will not allow the enemy to prosper against His servant, to the point where right after one of the single scariest things that could ever happen to a person goes down, he was just able to go right back to sleep…I admire that so stinking much. I told him he’ll have to put it on his resume one day – Accomplishments: I rebuked a demon once.

Rebuking can also mean admitting that you are weak in the face of temptation and asking for the power of God to rule in your life and get whatever pollutant is present to get up and LEAVE. It also means hardcore accountability with the people around you. It’s time we combat the sin in our own lives much more aggressively. We need to rebuke the things that God would not have for us.

So yeah, there are some thoughts. I’m sure it only causes more questions, but hopefully this kind of honesty helps us wake up to the spiritual battle that we are a part of and take a stand against Satan and his agents. Also, know that some of this could be wrong. I do not doubt the experiences of those friends I mention, but my interpretation could be a little off. After all, I cite three movies as examples for a few of the points I’ve used. Perhaps further study will inform me more, but at the same time, I really do believe what I’ve written here. Let this be a stepping-stone to further study.   

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm (Ephesians 6:10-13)

He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:16-17)

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