Day 6 in Israel

It’s hard to believe that day 6 in the Holy Lands is coming to a close. Here is a summary of our day:

1) We started by going to a private location right by the Sea of Galilee for a worship service just for our group. This might have been my favorite part of the day. Pastor Jeff and I shared the story of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee. Many people in our group have had their fair share of trials over the past couple years and it was super comforting to focus on the fact that we never need to be fearful because Christ is with us. “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” -Matthew 14:27

2-Next we went to Tel Dan. Dan is right by Lebanon and in this city are the remains of the high places that King Jeroboam set up. High places were places that the Jews would go and worship false gods. Jeroboam set these high places up because he did not want the Jews to head south to Jerusalem to worship at the temple. If they traveled to Jerusalem they might stay there and he would lose his kingdom (kingdom was divided at this time).

3-Then we went to Caesarea Philippi. This was another city that Herod the Great had constructed. To say that Herod was ambitious would be a huge understatement. It was a city filled with false gods and idolatry. It was in this city that Jesus told Peter he would build his church and the gates of hell would not overcome it.

4-Then we headed back south towards our hotel in Tiberias. On the way to Tiberias we traveled through the Golan Heights. Golan Heights was captured by Israel during the Six Day War in 1967. We also had terrific views of Syria, Lebanon and of course Israel.


I wish I could live here for a year or two. Seriously. I would love to really immerse myself in this culture to learn what makes it tick. There is so much history, culture, political intrigue and I would love to learn all about it. Maybe New Life will arrange for a year long sabbatical for Marcie and me in Israel. 😉

Everything points to Jesus. All the history, all the cities, all the archeology points to the fact that the Son of God left heaven and moved into this Middle Eastern neighborhood. This place screams “Jesus” yet so many here don’t know him personally. Would you join me in praying that all the people here would come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?

The life blood of Israel, the Jordan River. The Jordan River starts from the snow on Mt Hermon and flows south all the way into the Dead Sea. In this River John the Baptist baptized Jesus.
This massive rock is in Caesarea Philippi. It might have been the reason Jesus made the reference to Peter being the rock the church would be built upon.
This is a picture of Syria from Mt Hermon.
I found a place to get a bigger cup of coffee. Thank you for praying for me!
Notes from our worship service this morning by the Sea of Galilee.
An Israeli tank being transported while we were traveling on the bus.
Here is a directional sign that shows how far it is from Mt Hermon to Washington DC…kinda weird.
This was the place by the Sea of Galilee where we had our worship service.

Day 5 in Israel

Day 5 is coming to a close. Here are the places we visited and some of my observations.

1-Capernaum. This was the place where Jesus spent most of time once he turned 30. It is a beautiful location right on the Sea of Galilee. Here we saw the location where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount.

2-We took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. So many stories are tied to the Sea of Galilee which means it was pretty special to be out there on a boat.

3-We visited the site of the feeding of the 5000. Luke 9:10-17.

4-Magdala. This was the hometown of Mary (Magdalene). The more you reflect on the life of Mary Magdalene the more you are amazed by her love and devotion of Jesus. Jesus exorcised 7 demons out of Mary and the result was a woman who was willing to follow him wherever he went. She was there at his crucifixion and his resurrection.


The archeology and all the discoveries strongly affirm the validity of God’s Word! I mean this has to be a huge takeaway from visiting all of these sites. No doubt about it these sites increase our faith in the trustworthiness of God’s Word.

It is neat to think about Jesus walking all over Galilee loving people and setting them free from all kinds of bondage. Luke 4:18 seems like a perfect verse to describe what I am thinking, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”

Taking the last observation one step further. Jesus loves sinners. The misfits. The people who live out of the spotlight. The whole trip is really a reminder of God’s unwarranted grace, mercy and compassion for people like me.

Church on Mount of Beatitudes
View from our boat on the Sea of Galilee
Flag of Israel on our boat. The cross is a reminder of what it’s all about.
In one of the gift shops
The home of Peter
Synagogue in Capernaum (right next to Peter’s home)
Synagogue in Magdala. Hometown of Mary Magdalene. I would like to have a cup of coffee with Mary one day and listen to her testimony!
Statue of Mary Magdalene giving Jesus a piece of bread
Please pray for me as I deal with this ongoing tribulation.

Day 4 in Israel

We have had a full day and have also moved to a new hotel, Leonardo Hotel right on the Sea of Galilee. How cool is that!

Here are the sites we visited today:

1-Caesarea by the Mediterranean Sea. Here we saw the other palace of Herod the Great. Visiting here you realize the tremendous influence that Herod had on this region of the world during the days of Jesus. Herod was responsible for the development of multiple cities and was a brilliant man. Yes, he was a man of influence but he was also very evil.

2-Mt. Carmel. This is the location where Elijah called down fire and God burned up the altar in a competition with the false gods of Baal and Asherah.

3-Megiddo. This is the place that many people believe the great battle of Armageddon will take place in the future. See below for more thoughts about the end times…

Revelation 16:12-16 describes the battle of Armageddon, “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. . . . Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” I personally believe this will be a battle that takes place near the end of the tribulation.

4-Nazareth. This is the hometown of Jesus Christ. Today there are about 85,000 people living in Nazareth. It is fascinating to think about Jesus living every day life in this remote out of way place. I do look forward to seeing him one day!

Herod’s amphitheater in Caesarea.
Mediterranean Sea.
Herod’s aqueduct. Amazing engineering!
View from Mt Carmel.
Statue of Elijah on Mt Carmel
Abraham was our tour guide. He is a Palestinian Christian.
The Leonardo Hotel right on the Sea of Galilee. This is the second hotel we have stayed at.
Group picture from The Precipice in Nazareth.

Observations? I would say that is a sobering moment to walk around a place where you believe there will be such a horrific battle (Armageddon). As Christians we have much work to do before Jesus returns but of course it is a terrific comfort to know that King Jesus wins.

I would also say that the fact that our tour guide is Palestinian is messing with our heads quite a bit. He is a Christian but his Palestinian opinions come out frequently. In some ways I think this is good for our group. It will force us to consider other views when it comes to the history of the Middle East. I want to be open to having my world view expanded from my time in Israel.

Day 3 in Israel

Day 3 here in Israel is winding down. We went to:

King Herod’s castle-Learned all about King Herod and we were able to walk through the remains of his castle. His castle is on the West Bank just a little south of Jerusalem.

The Shepherd’s Field-This is the place where the angels told the shepherds the good news of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Church of the Nativity-This is a church and inside the church you can go see the location of Jesus’s birth.


1-What a great group of people I am traveling with! Everyone has a good attitude and they are eager about getting out and exploring the Holy Lands.

2-Our tour guide is a Palestinian Christian and so we are hearing everything from a Palestinian perspective. In some ways this is good because it is really forcing us to think about Israel/Palestine relations in a new way.

3-It is amazing to think that so many people are still traveling to Israel because of this one man, Jesus Christ. There is no doubt about the impact Christ has had upon all mankind. People are flocking here to see the place where Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected.

Breakfast with the crew
The living quarters of King Herod
The site where Jesus was born
Church of the Nativity (built on the location of Jesus’ birthplace)
The size of their coffee 😢
A painting for sale for $6000.00
The West Bank (right outside of Herod’s castle)

Going to dinner soon. Looking forward to traveling to Galilee tomorrow morning.

Day 2 in Israel

Day 2 is about to wrap up here in Israel. Here are some of the places we visited today:

Jordan River where they believe Jesus was baptized. I had the honor of baptizing Jamie!

Dead Sea. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah took place near the Dead Sea. Many of us got in the water and we can confirm that it is indeed very salty.

Qumran. This is where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947.

Jericho. The oldest inhabited city in the world.

Couple observations:

1-We are staying in the Angel Hotel in Bethlehem for the first three days. At about 5:30 am this morning we could hear the Islamic call to prayer going out over the city. For me personally it was a reminder of the intense spiritual battle that is still taking place in these holy lands and around the world.

2-God works in small out of the way places (and people)! When you travel around these cities you can’t help but wonder why God chose this land to start the Christian movement. Perhaps Deuteronomy 7:7-9 gives us the answer, “The LORD did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath He swore to your forefathers that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.” I guess it is a good reminder that works in and through people and places that you and I might never expect. I would think part of it has to doo with God getting the glory and not us.

$5.00 for a camel ride
Mediterranean food. I really like it.
Jamie getting baptized in the Jordan River
Qumran. This is the cave where most of the scrolls were found.
Qumran. Explaining the discovery of the scrolls.

Tomorrow we will spend time visiting the cave where Jesus was born, the Shepherd’s field where angels proclaimed the good news of Jesus’ birth, and a few other places.

Day 1 in Israel!

As I type this I am getting ready to go to bed at Angel Hotel in Bethlehem. It has been a long day of travel.

Sioux Falls to Chicago

Chicago to Frankfurt

Frankfurt to Tel Aviv

All the travel plans worked out nicely and we all arrived safely.

Found out today that the gentleman (Abraham is his name) who is our tour guide is a Palestinian Christian. He takes his job seriously and we are anticipating an excellent tour of the Holy Lands with him.

Abraham told us that over 70% of the Jews in Israel are secular. This of course makes us sad because we would love for all people to know how amazing Jesus is.

I am so tired and looking forward to getting some rest. I will post every day that we are here in Israel.

I’m headed to Israel

Monday I am getting on a plane and flying to Israel! I am going with about 20 people from my church and a few others as well. Life has been crazy busy so it was not until this week that I had the time to really begin to get excited about the trip.

I will be gone Oct 17-27.

Monday-fly to Israel

Tuesday-Arrive in Tel Aviv

Wednesday-Jericho and Qumran

Thursday-Herodian and Bethlehem

Friday-Caesarea, Mount Carmel and Tel Megiddo

Saturday-The Galilee

Sunday-Tel Dan, Caesarea Philippi, Golan Heights and Bethsaida

Monday-Cana, Nazareth, Samaria and Jacob’s Well


Wednesday-Jerusalem again

Thursday-return home

I will definitely be sharing photos, videos, insights and ways that God used it my life and the lives of others.

Sea of Galilee

God’s Super Apostles (New Apostolic Reformation)

In Matthew 7:15 Jesus commanded us to be watching for false prophets that would come in and act as “ravenous wolves” and harm the church. This is why I am thankful for Holly Pivec and R. Douglas Geivett’s book, “God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement.”

In summary, the book is arguing that there are many dangers of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) that we need to be aware of. You may not have heard of NAR but there is little doubt in my mind that there are people around you who have been impacted by its teaching. Here is a description from page 4 of what NAR is all about:

“In short, NAR is a global movement with an agenda to bring back apostles and prophets to the church-apostles like Peter and Paul and prophets like Moses and Elijah. NAR leaders claim that God always intended for apostles and prophets to govern the church, not only the early church, but the church during each generation. Yet their rightful place has been neglected by Christians for centuries. Instead of apostles and prophets, today’s churches are usually governed by pastors and elders. NAR leaders call their new movement apostolic because they claim to be restoring apostles and prophets to the church. And they call it a reformation because they say it will completely change the way church is done-and its effects will be greater than the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation.”

As you begin learning about NAR and what is going on in this movement the concerns only grow from there. One NAR leader (you can hear this in the interview below) claimed that Jesus took him into heaven, told him that he was going to be raised up as one of 35 end time apostles. Not only that but that these end time apostles would have the power to call down the curses and plagues from the book of Revelation upon the earth. By the way…this should trouble you.

I would encourage you to buy the book. YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY LISTEN TO THIS INTERVIEW that Alisa Childers does with the Author (Holly Pivec). It will blow you away! Trust me!

Best Ways To Approach Sunday Morning At Church

I love Sunday morning. As a pastor I thoroughly enjoy preaching the Word of God, praising God through corporate worship (singing), and fellowshipping with my brothers and sisters. It is clear in Scripture that gathering together as the church is important for our overall spiritual health. With that said, how can we make gathering with our church family the best possible experience for us and others? Here are eight suggestions:

ONE: As Pastor Dean Inserra likes to say frequently, “Sunday morning church is a Saturday night decision.” Don’t wait till Sunday morning to make the commitment to go to church. Determine ahead of time that the best way to spend your Sunday morning is by going to church and worshipping God with your brothers and sisters in Christ. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” -Hebrews 10:24-25

TWO: Before you show up on Sunday morning pray that the Holy Spirit is at work in a powerful way during the worship service. Charles Spurgeon is the one who said, “Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscle of omnipotence.” Prayer will not only make a difference in how others are impacted by the church service it will also prepare your heart for what God wants to do.

THREE: Show up a little early. Being late to church causes us to feel rushed and grumpy. Definitely not ideal when you want to experience the power of the Spirit in your life.

FOUR: Be on the look out for new people at church on Sunday morning and go out of your way to make them feel welcome. Say hello. Invite them to sit with you. Get crazy and invite guests out to lunch after church!

FIVE: Sing loud and from your heart! You are going to be singing about the most amazing truths in all the world (Jesus, the cross, grace, forgiveness). People get loud and emotional at sporting events, why not at church? We have so much to be thankful for as believers in the Jesus Christ.

SIX: At the end of each sermon ask God what he wants to say to you through the proclamation of the Word. We run the serious risk of wasting our time if we fail to ask God what he wants to say to us and how we should respond after each sermon. Can you even imagine how powerful it would be in your life if every Sunday you were changing your life based on what you sensed God was telling you? “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” -James 1:22

SEVEN: Moms and dads, let’s model for our kids the joy of gathering with our church family. Do our children see in our lives how much we love worshipping with other brothers and sisters on Sunday? If there is a lack of joy in our lives about gathering with our church family let’s ask God to change our hearts. “I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord!” -Psalm 122:1

EIGHT: Invite friends, neighbors, and colleagues to church. Research has shown that many people would actually attend church if someone they know personally invited them. I know, we are called to live as missionaries in everyday life. But that truth should not keep us from inviting people we know and care about to join us for church.

What The Bible Teaches About Spiritual Warfare

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” –C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters

Are you aware that you are in a spiritual battle every single day of your life? 1 Peter 5:8 makes this fact crystal clear, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Peter is telling us that the devil and his demons are active in our world today and they are constantly working against God and his adopted sons and daughters.

So there is a spiritual battle going on, how do we live in light of this biblical truth? First of all let me say that there are two extremes we should avoid.

ONE: Overlooking The Influence of Satan And Demons In Our World Today

I think that many Christians are going through everyday life completely unprepared to engage successfully in the spiritual battle that is all around them.

What happens to a Christian when they overlook the spiritual battle they are in? Christians will lose their sense of urgency when it comes to living for God in everyday life, they will get stuck in sinful habits, they lose their zeal for evangelism, they start going through the religious motions instead of really seeking hard after Christ. But If I had to pick one primary indicator that a person has lost sight of the spiritual battle it would be prayerlessness.

“Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” -Samuel Chadwick

But there is another extreme that we need to be aware of and avoid.

TWO: A Demon Behind Every Problem

Perhaps you recall Kenneth Copeland standing in front of a camera and declaring that in the name of Jesus he had the power to “execute judgment” over Covid. Copeland went on with a lengthy prayer and declared that Covid “was over” in the United States of America. HERE is the 2 minute video if you would like to watch it.

We know that Copeland’s declaration did not work because Covid continues making people sick to this day. One thing we should have learned by now is that Copeland is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I found THIS insightful article that goes into detail regarding many of the false beliefs that Copeland holds to and teaches to others.

We should dismiss Copeland as a false teacher, but what about this idea that behind Covid and many other problems we face there is a demon? Are there demons of addiction, tobacco, alcohol, prayerlessness, anger, greed, laziness, and lust? I will do my best to answer this question from Scripture.

Why Are These Two Extremes So Problematic?

I have already answered this question when it comes to overlooking the influence of demonic activity in life. But what is the danger of seeing a demon behind every bush? Let’s take anger for example. If you are battling anger and a Christian brother or sister tells you that the real problem is a demon it is going to have massive implications regarding how you go about dealing with your issues. If you believe there is a demon of anger that is at the root of your problem you might come to the conclusion that naming your demon and speaking to your demon in Jesus’ name is the key to spiritual victory. Why is this bad? First of all Scripture never teaches us that behind every sin there is a corresponding demon. What makes it even worse is that this way of thinking about spiritual warfare begins to alleviate the Christian from their own responsibility in the sanctification process. What the Christian needs to do is ask for forgiveness, pursue repentance, fill their minds with the truths of Scripture and believe the gospel truth that they are a beloved child of God.

One real life example of the danger of naming evil spirits is told by Eddie Ssemakula (in the brief quote below friends of Eddie were trying to explain to him why he was still not married):

“At some point someone told me that extended singleness results from a specific division of ‘spirits.’ These spirits, I was promised, can be ‘interrupted by the power of Jesus’ blood.’ Only then, it was claimed, will you be released from the ‘bachelor curse’ of your longtime unmarried uncle or auntie. But this is not all. If things turn out well before the altar and you get engaged, you must cleanse your prospective marriage of potential curses. In other words, part of the pre-marital journey involves necessary ‘deliverance,’ and the pursuit of a ‘cleansed spouse.’ And when things get messed up in marriage, the solution is – you guessed it – investigate the ‘spirit’ behind your difficulties. The whole project is absurd.”

Allow me to share with you a much better way to think about spiritual warfare.

A Biblical Way Of Dealing With Spiritual Warfare Is Found in Ephesians 6

We need to be careful about taking a text or two from Scripture and developing an approach to spiritual warfare. We need to consider the whole counsel of God’s Word. Brian Borgman and Rob Ventura write this in their book “Spiritual Warfare”:

“Doctrinal excesses like those just described often led to an imbalance in the Christian life that magnifies one aspect of biblical truth to the minimization of exclusion of the rest of Scripture. These imbalances often result in the eclipsing or ignoring of such biblical truths as the believer’s responsibility for his or her own actions, remaining sin in the Christian, the character-changing power of the Spirit, and the centrality of the gospel. The danger here is not that we might neglect spiritual warfare but that we develop a truncated view of the Christian life in which we wrongly blame Satan and his demons for every problem we face. If we are to live sound and stable lives and believers, then we desperately need a biblically balanced understanding of spiritual realities and the spiritual warfare to which God calls us. Anything else will be disastrous.”

In Ephesians 6:10-20 the apostle Paul gives us the clearest teaching in all of Scripture as to how you and I should proceed when it comes to the spiritual battle that we are all in.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and shaving put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I gam an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

What is this armor that we are to put on and fight this spiritual battle?

1-Putting on the whole armor of God means to put on Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 4:24 and Colossians 3:10 we are told to put on a new man and that new man is Christ. Are you learning more about Jesus and drawing closer to him?

2-Stand and gird your waist with truth means the truths about God found in his Word. We can’t stand against the lies of the evil one if we don’t know the truth. Are you living y God’s truth or have you begun to believe the lies of the evil one? What is going on inside your mind these days?

3-The breastplate of righteousness is embracing the truth that we have been declared righteous by God through faith in Jesus Christ. When we stand on the righteousness that we have in Christ we do not fall into feelings of condemnation, shame and self-hatred. Are you reminding yourself who you are in Jesus Christ? Is your primary identity as a redeemed child of God?

4-The shoes for your feet and the readiness given by the gospel of grace means that we are to fight against the evil one and go into the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. We are to live in the truths of the gospel and proclaim the gospel to the lost and dying world. Are you delighting in the gospel? Are you sharing the gospel with others?

5-The shield of faith means that we fight against the evil one by believing in God and his Word. Are you giving your faith a chance to grow by reading and standing on God’s Word?

6-The helmet of salvation is the mental assurance that we are secure in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Are you finding joy in the fact that you are born again?

7-The sword of the Spirit is pretty clear because verse 17 also tells us that it is the Word of God. Are you reading and meditating upon the Word of God?

8-Praying at all times in verse 18 is all mentioned as a key when it comes to winning the spiritual battle. “The primary way to overcome Satan is on our knees.” -Derek Prime and Alistair Begg. Is your prayer life deepening and growing?

Please don’t miss this, in this passage Paul is telling us as believers how to overcome evil. So what does Paul tell us to do? Paul is telling us that the primary way we win the battle against evil and grow spiritually in through what we might call spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines mentioned specifically in this passage are knowing and using the Word of God, prayer, faith, embracing your identity in Jesus Christ.

Let’s Look At A Biblical Example Of The Apostle Paul Battling Satan

In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 we find the apostle Paul was being afflicted by a thorn in his flesh. We may not know all that we would like to know about this thorn, but we do know that it was from “a messenger of Satan.” What did Paul do? How did he respond to this spiritual battle?

7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What did Paul do in response to this spiritual battle? He prayed to God and asked Him to remove his thorn. Paul also prayed three times and each time the answer from God was no. Was the issue a lack of faith on Paul’s part? I would submit to you that Paul’s faith was incredibly strong! Paul’s response was not aimed at the devil, it was aimed at God. Paul recognized the problem and called out to God in prayer.

Satan, Our Sin Nature, And This Fallen World

As we begin to see that the key to spiritual victory is not primarily about confronting demons we can wonder, if a demon is not directly behind the evil that we see where is it all coming from? There are three main causes of ongoing evil, sin, and suffering in our world. First, Satan and his demons are alive and well (James 4:7). Second, each one of us has a very active sin nature (Romans 7:18). Third, the world that we live in has been infected with sin and is the result of much of the suffering we see all around us (Romans 8:18-22).

Why is it helpful for us to keep in mind that evil and suffering takes place from Satan, our sin nature, and the fallen world that we live in? It keeps us from making the mistake that every problem, every sin, every instance of suffering is directly related to a demonic spirit. R.C. Sproul writes this:

“Satan may be our accomplice in our ongoing sin, but we cannot pass the blame and responsibility for our sin to a controlling demon. We do not have to be possessed by a demon to get drunk. There is enough abiding wickedness in us to do it all by ourselves.”

What About Casting Out Demons Today?

In the gospels we read on a number of occasions that Jesus casts demons out of people. For example, in Matthew 8:28-34 Jesus casts out demons from two different men and sent the demons into a herd of pigs. Now we know that that there are many things that Jesus did that we should not expect to do today. For example; controlling the weather, raising the dead, forgiving sins, walking on water, paying taxes by finding money in a fish (these examples taken from David Powlison in “Safe & Sound: Standing Firm in Spiritual Battles.”) What this means is that we can’t say that because Jesus did something in the bible that we should expect to be able to do it too. That is a huge oversimplification and is simply not true.

Here is where I am at biblically when it comes to the idea of casting out demons. Obviously Jesus cast out demons, his disciples did it, and I believe it still takes place today. I also strongly believe that in some Christian circles there is an overemphasis on Satan, demons, exorcism and seeking spiritual victory by naming the demon behind various sins and mental illnesses.

Here is Dr. Sinclair Ferguson talking about what the Word has to say about spiritual conflict:

“First of all, I think there is a notion around in the evangelical church that demon possession and casting out demons was a commonplace event in Scripture. If I can put it boldly, the truth of the matter is that demon possession and casting out demons is hardly ever referred to in Scripture. It’s very rarely referred to in the pages of the Old Testament and it’s hardly referred to in the New Testament either, outside of the Gospels. So if someone were to sit down, say with a concordance or some electronic method of looking through the number of times demon possession, exorcism of demons, evil spirits are mentioned, and for example, to print them out, I think they would be absolutely astonished by the result. I say that because we live in a subculture, or at least there is a subculture, or evangelical subculture, where demons are being cast out every day of the week and demons are being associated basically with almost everything that goes wrong. There are some amazing stories about how wrong things can be that are attributed to demon possession.”

You can read the whole interview HERE. Ferguson does not say that exorcism never takes place today, but his point is that it should not me our main go to weapon in our battle against the evil one.

Final Thoughts

There is no question that the devil is real, both the Word of God and the world in which we live in testify to this sobering truth. My hope is that we will reject the two extremes (Satan does not exist and a unhealthy preoccupation with Satan) and instead we will immerse our lives in the Word of God, pray in the Spirit, and remind ourselves daily of the righteousness we have based on the finished work of Jesus Christ. As we pursue these spiritual disciplines (it is the spiritual armor mentioned in Galatian 6:10-20) I believe we will have increasing victory over the evil one and we will look more and more like Jesus Christ.

Books I Used And I Highly Recommend To You

Spiritual Warfare: A Biblical & Balanced Perspective by Brian Borgman & Rob Ventura

Safe & Sound: Standing Firm In The Spiritual Battles by David Powlison

Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare by David Powlison