Have you ever met someone who describes themselves as ‘spiritual’ but they don’t go to church or read the Bible.  What does being ‘spiritual’ really mean? Is there a kind of ‘spirituality’ in the secular world?  Do non-believers have a ‘spiritual’ life?  Is ‘spirituality’ always positive?  Are there real, negative spiritual forces operating in the world and can they influence Christians? There is a great deal of confusion in the Church about these questions and it is hindering us.  Just as ignorance of germs in the microscopic world can make us sick,  ignorance of the Biblical spiritual reality can make us sick as well.gods-love-18-638

The Bible tells us about a ‘spiritual’ slave girl; “Once when we [Paul and friends] were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.”  (Acts 16:16)  We also read about a powerful sorcerer who wanted to buy the Holy Spirit; “When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, ‘Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’”  (Acts 8:18,19)  Spirituality can be lucrative and the motives involved in it aren’t always benign nor are all spirits involved benign.

Jesus cast out demons from people who due to their demonic possession were ‘spiritual’; “For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.”  (Luke 8:29) The Gospels tell us that even little children could be possessed;  “When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit.  ‘Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,’ he said.  ‘I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again.’ Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him.”  (Mark 9:25,26)  In the days of Jesus and the apostles – the spiritual world could be a dark oppressive reality and that hasn’t changed today.

Indeed the Bible tells us that without the Gospel, Satan and spiritual destruction is the default in our reality; “We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). There are two camps in this world – those of God and those who are not;  “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”  (2 Corinthians 4:4,5)  People who don’t believe the Gospel are blinded to their true ‘spiritual’ state.  Satan is active in our world; “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” ( 1 Pe 5:9)  Peter is warning the church here not the world.  We as Christians can be half-blinded when we don’t accept the entire spiritual reality of our world.

It is not enough to simply say the sinner’s prayer without living it out.  Without Jesus as Lord and Saviour in our life, Satan has control over those areas where Jesus doesn’t rule; “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,  in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”  (Ephesians 2:1-3) DON’T EVER MAKE THE ASSUMPTION THAT THE   WORLD IS SPIRITUALLY NEUTRAL!  If you’re not a child of God, you’re a child of wrath.  If you are not completely surrendered to His Will, you surrender to the devil the territory that you hold back.  And this is where torment enters into a Christian’s life.

This is a very sobering thought.  There is no fence sitting in the spiritual world – and we are all spiritual – atheist, Christian or pagan.  Only born again, Bible believing, and Holy Spirit filled Christians are ruled by Jesus – the rest live under the authority of the devil.  This is what the Bible tells us.  Partial surrender to Christ allows the devil to torment us on those grounds we cede him authority.

Can Christians be influenced by the devil?  Can Christians be devoured? Recall 1 Peter 5:8!  Yes, when we give authority to the devil over certain areas in our lives.  Do you hold a grudge, watch porn (sometimes), gossip, slander, lust for flesh or possessions, idolize people or your children or celebrities, dabble in astrology or ‘white magic’?  This is more common among Christians than we like to admit.  Are you angry, bitter and depressed and wonder why life has been such a raw deal? Are you afraid, anxious and pessimistic about life?

As Christians we should be jumping with Joy influenced by the Holy Spirit’s affirmation of our status as children of God, yet this isn’t the daily reality for many professing Christians.  Why?   An uncomfortable answer to this disconnect is that as a Christian you have opened yourself up to demonic oppression by giving the devil authority in certain areas of your life.

The Bible tells us; “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15,16)   What do you elevate higher than God in your life? When you uplift the world higher than Jesus you provide a possible platform for demonic oppression.

This oppression kills your joy and it can eventually make you emotionally and physically ill.  The pursuit of purity for holiness is a good message.  But I say a more pressing problem for many Christians is dealing with the demons in their lives even if modern Christianity balks at the idea of the demonic.  Sometimes, purity is necessary not to make us holy but to take the demon off our back!

Life for too many Christians involves sustained ‘oppressiveness’ in the sense of a  heaviness of heart along with dealing with all the  modern lifestyle ailments (diabetes, heart disease, obesity etc.). As Christians we allow magical thinking to wrap a warm fuzzy blanket around the stark spiritual reality of oppression.  We don’t take demons, witches or sorcery seriously today.  If we don’t talk about demons then they don’t exist.  If demons don’t exist then they can’t torment us or make us sick.  There must be some other cause to explain those persistent problems that medicine, surgery or therapy can’t seem to cure.  Yet the Bible tells us these spiritual forces are not only active but  forceful in our world.

We elevate medical doctors, psychologists and therapists over the healing power of the Cross.  Jesus can save our soul but only doctors, medicine and psychology can  heal our body and mind.  Contemporary theology  has cut our faith in half.  We accept Jesus‘ work on the cross for salvation  – the first half of Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities,” – our sins are forgiven.  But we can’t accept the last half of Isaiah 53:5;  The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”  We can’t seem to accept Jesus’ finished work on the cross for healing.  Our faith is cut in half because the Gospel we believe is cut in half.

How did this happen?  I believe it is because we have ignored half of the spiritual reality that the Bible teaches.   We love the idea of heaven and going there when we die. We accept the warm fuzziness of good angels ministering to us (Hebrews 1:14) but balk at Satan being the god of this world.  We don’t want to think about the dark angels who were expelled from heaven along with Satan’s (Rev. 12:7-9).  Where do you think those guys are now and what do you think they’re doing?   Our fear of man is greater than our fear of God.  We will accept half a Gospel in order to be accepted as modern rational people by the world.  Most people think you’re crazy if you speak of demonic.  We elevate worldly thinking over a Biblical world view and pay the price for it because it compromises our spirituality – our walk with the Holy Spirit.  This has been going on since the Renaissance where being accepted as an ‘evolved’ rational thinker became something to lust after.

Yet Jesus actively portrayed the Gospel  as a package deal – salvation, healing and well-being.  He confronted the Pharisees with this package deal; “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk?’ But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on the earth to forgive sins…” He said to the paralytic, ‘I tell you, get up, pick up your mat, and go home.’”  (Luke 5:23,24)  Faith in Jesus Christ empowers us to be healed (and heal) as well as saves our souls.  Remember that Jesus has promised that we, His disciples will do greater works; “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”  (John 14:12-14)  If we are His disciples, we will do these works of healing through belief, faith and prayer.

Sadly we have been steeped in half a Gospel for so long that living half the Gospel is normal.  All too often we grit our teeth and limp through life –  dying to go to heaven.  That’s not was Jesus came for; “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  (John 10:10) The half-truth of the half Gospel is the devils best lie in our modern world. Don’t you think the devil has gotten away with it for far too long.  It’s time to stop living half a life.

How do we get back to living a full Christian life rather than the anemic ‘waiting for heaven’ struggle that far too many of us settle for?  Finding our way back means becoming steeped in God’s Word, searching and learning to listen to the Holy Spirit. As well as learning to walk by the Spirit and not by sight.  It can be done and in Christ Jesus – you can do it if you’re willing to let the Gospel rule in your life.

You can be His disciple!