Demons and the Problem of Evil
Dr. Valson Abraham
Demons are real.
Many times, I have encountered them in my ministry. I have heard the testimonies of other people who have encountered them. I have personally cast them out of possessed people and seen the dramatic transformation that took place afterwards.
Demons are a difficult and disturbing subject for many people. For this reason alone, it is easy for many people to dismiss it. Those with secular mindsets think belief in demons is a return to primitive thinking. They say demon possession is really a form of mental illness. But I have seen too many instances where “mental illness” does not explain what is happening.
The West often ignores the power of Satan, but many Indians know the blatant power of demons all too well. Many people in India feel they can do little more than make offerings to them and hope to placate their unpredictable ways. To them, evil often seems more powerful than good, and it is a permanent part of life.
In His earthly ministry, the Bible tells us, Jesus Christ spent much of His time in casting out demons. In Acts 10:38, we read, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were OPPRESSED OF THE DEVIL.” 1 John 3:8 says, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, THAT HE MIGHT DESTROY THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL.”
Many people try to explain these passages away as mere figures of speech, but there is nothing in the surrounding verses of these passages that dilutes these clear words. As uncomfortable as these words are to some people, the writers meant his readers to take “the devil” literally.
Jesus has not changed. Jesus’ mission has not changed. These words, part of inspired scripture, do not merely reflect the superstitions of peoples 2000 years ago but they tell us of a very real problem that continues to this day, even in this age of science and technology. We laugh at it or ignore it at our peril and prevent others from receiving help.
In a real sense, demons and demonic possession are manifestations of the problem of evil that plagues humanity.
Many people in India say that the problem of evil involves karma and the cycle of rebirths. Others reduce the problem of evil to human dimensions, solved by political and social reforms, and better education. But political and social reform only deals with symptoms. We can deal with evil only when we get to its cause.
The apostle Paul tells us, “Our struggle [against evil] is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
The Bible tells us that the root of evil lies in the wiles of Satan and his fallen angels. Evil is not just an impersonal force. The power of evil is stronger than the power of human beings. But Satan is no match for God. Part of the Good News of the Bible is that the problem of evil had a beginning, and it also has a final end.
The Bible tells us that God created man and woman in His image to glorify Him. They were perfect in every way. But Satan aspired to usurp God’s place. He rallied at least one-third of the angels to his side. They became the demons so feared by many Indians today. Satan couldn’t attack God directly, so he did it indirectly by tempting and tormenting the creatures who most resembled God.
In Satan’s mind, the fall of humanity would discredit God’s created humanity before the angels of heaven. Because of His holiness, God would have to wipe out all human beings and admit His creation of them was an abject failure. Then God’s glory would be corrupted, and the universe thrown into chaos.
But Satan made a fatal miscalculation. Though he knew of God’s holiness, he knew nothing about God’s grace. He did not know the Holy Trinity’s redemption plan before time began. He never dreamed that God would incarnate Himself in Jesus Christ to reconcile the world unto Himself. He did not know that God’s eternal plan would reconcile fallen human beings to Himself and display His glory through redeemed humanity in ways never seen before.
Part of God’s plan was the Great Commission
by which God’s redeemed “new humanity”
would take the gospel to every people group on earth before His Son would return and bring final judgment. Satan probably scoffed, thinking he could foil this plan by blinding the redeemed humanity to their privileges and to their God-given task through lies and distractions.
But the scriptures make clear that Satan and the powers of darkness will lose. The gospel will be preached to all peoples, and God will establish His kingdom on earth. He will slay the “lawless one” with the breath of His mouth and bring an end to the rule of Satan and the problem of evil.
Martin Luther writes:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
In the meantime, we as God’s children are to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
That whole armor of God includes:
The belt of truth
The breastplate of righteousness
Feet covered by the “preparation of the gospel of peace.”
The shield of faith to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one [Satan].
The helmet of salvation
The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God
Time and space makes it impossible for me to describe the deeper meaning and purpose of each of these pieces of God’s armor, but I highly recommend for you fuller treatments of the subject in such books as “The Full Armor of God” by Larry Richards, or “Spiritual Warfare by Ed Murphy
We face the powers of darkness in many forms, but let us remember that the power of Satan and his demons have already been defeated at the cross of Jesus Christ. History is under the ultimate control, not of Satan and the demons, but of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is good news to every person in India and to other people on the earth who suffer daily from the torments of the devil and his angels. This good news is part of the Great Commission.
Let us work and pray toward fulfillment of the Great Commission. Let us work as salt and light in the world to free the world around us from the works of the devil. Let us pray for revival in ourselves and in our churches, and awakening throughout the world to hasten the Great Commission’s fulfillment. On that day, God will receive glory and He will glorify us.
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Father God, I thank you that you have already defeated Satan, his demons and the power of evil through the cross and resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ. I praise you for already setting me free. Now help me to live in the reality of the freedom you have already bestowed upon me. Help me to join with others to bring this Good News to everyone who awaits the freedom only you can give. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.