As an adult, my absolute favorite season is fall. What I love about this time of year is its welcoming of cooler, crisp weather…weather that I’ve longed for as the hot, sticky summer lingered into what felt like…forever. I’m entranced by the beauty that unfolds as the leaves begin to slowly turn vibrant colors, and the once-humid air of spring and summer loses its grip. The smell of apple desserts begin to permeate the kitchen in September, giving way to the baking of pumpkin treats in October.
But there’s also a dark side associated in particular with the month of October that falls on the 31st. Every store has their shelves packed hoping to catch your eye with various spooky, fear-invoking items meant for…’fun’. Everything from ghastly ghosts, to wicked witches, and of course…evil spirit costumes like devils and demons. All these items hang in clear view, in the hopes you will revel in the fantasy of pretending to be one of these characters. Somehow the playful idea of dressing up as a villainous creature is meant to entice us enough into making a purchase.
In the book of Exodus, Isaiah, and Psalms (to name a few), the Bible tells us numerous times to “fear not”. Yet every year at the end of October we as a society welcome the notion of enjoying the concept of fear. But when we turn the pages of the New Testament, we learn that many in those days were living amongst demonic attacks, that were far from enjoyable, or ‘fun’. These poor individuals who suffered at evil’s hand would never have understood today’s need in society, to embrace or welcome in, what they desperately would have sought to be rid of. Their terrifying situations didn’t allow for the simple removal of a rubber mask, or the disrobing of a gruesome design printed on fabric that they elected to tie around themselves. They were shackled to fear’s grip, with no way of escape from the torment of what dwelt inside of them. What we revel in as ‘fun’ on the playful day of October 31st was not fun and games for them. Evil was taken with much more seriousness in the days in which Jesus walked the earth.
In the book of Luke, chapter 4:31-36, we learn of Jesus having gone to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, where He taught like no other teacher the crowds who listened to Him had ever heard. He spoke boldly and with the dominion that came with being God in the flesh. His knowledge of the scriptures, coupled with His great authority often amazed his audiences. Yet there in the synagogue, that authority would be openly tested when a man possessed by an impure spirit (a demon), was present. In front of the mass of people, the spirit cried out loudly at Jesus, telling Him to “go away“. The boisterous voice of the spirit wanted to know something particular; “Have you come to destroy us?” Then it addressed Jesus with His worthy, yet accurate title by saying..”I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” Jesus sternly told it to “Be quiet!“, while instructing the spirit to come out of the man. The demon then threw the man down in front of the people, without any injury to the man. The astonishment of Jesus’ authority stunned His audience.
Then again in Matthew 8:28-32 two demon-possessed men were stopping individuals from passing them due to their violent outbursts. But Jesus stepped into the scene and the possessed men inquired as to what the “Son of God” wanted with them. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” They then begged that if the Lord was to cast them out of the men they were occupying, that He cast them into a herd of pigs.
People living in those times had grown to accept demons as being a very ugly and scary part of a world they had no control over. They never knew if at any time a demon would choose to possess them. Demons and demonic forces were far from pretend, and no one would have elected to have one enter them, or dress in a costume of their likeness. These individuals were powerless over those spirits who entered into people, and they knew that no one else held the power to be rid of them either.
Except the Son of God.
Both these stories beautifully illustrate the power of demonic spirits and the seriousness of their evil. The only power over demonic spirits is the Lord’s power. Even demons must obey His command. They know what awaits them in the end (as does Satan), yet they asked Jesus in the book of Matthew 8:28-32, if they would be tortured prior to their impending demise, as referenced in Matthew 25:41
Jesus holds immense power as we’ve seen revealed through scriptures time-and-again, including the power of His name. In Luke 10:17 we learn that Jesus sent out a large number of people in His name to heal others in many towns. “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
But here’s a thought…what if evil wasn’t just an isolated concept in the New Testament? What if evil spirits really do exist on our earth today, (and have, since Satan rebelled) like God’s Word tells us? What if you inadvertently invited evil to your home, and it wasn’t funny or ‘pretend’ after all?
It was late at night on January 6th, many, many years ago. I was living on the west coast of the U.S. as a single parent at the time. I had been a Christian at this point for more than enough years to know and apply God’s truth to my life, but I unfortunately wasn’t as spiritually mature and as well-versed as I should have been. This was a big night for me, because the following day I had an appointment to meet with the Head Director of a large well-known Christian organization. This meeting had been scheduled for roughly two weeks, and what I was going to share with the Director would reveal an unfortunate truth to him. Truth of ungodly evil acts perpetrated by an individual who misused the authority the Director had given him.
I had prayed and knew I had the Biblical responsibility to be forthcoming in love and with integrity. The hard part about this disclosure was that though deception had lured me in at first, I too, had also played a part regarding this ugliness. I had to humbly apologize for my participation in what I would be sharing with him. Yet despite the humiliation it might bring, and concern about his reaction, I had peace about this important engagement.
As I laid awake late that night in my bed prior to my morning meeting, I suddenly felt a very fearful presence standing next to me. The intense evil it radiated confirmed for me that it was neither of my two daughters who were fast asleep in a room down the hall. It was a wicked presence that carried with it a sense of authority, and it evoked fear. Deep, dark fear.
I laid there in a ball with my head securely braced on my pillow, covers tightly pressed over my face. I hadn’t had time to fall asleep yet, so I knew this wasn’t a distasteful dream. The whereabouts of its strong presence was made known through each step it took, as it walked slowly and methodically around my bed. I could feel its stern stare as it paced. God revealed to me, though my eyes were tightly shut, that this being was tall in stature, clothed in solid black, and did not have the appearance of a human.
I found it to be no coincidence that this ‘being’ elected to appear in my room on that particular night…the night before I was to expose evil for what it really was. I had never in my life experienced anything so grim and fearful as this. I didn’t know what to do or say while hiding my head fearfully under my white duvet bedding. And then, a memory immediately popped into my mind.
When I was a little girl, there was a short season of time that my mother attended a Bible study, where she learned how to properly apply the powerful name of Jesus. She shared with me that just the mention of Jesus’ name, commands authority over evil spirits. (as referenced in Luke 10:17)
So while I laid huddled under the covers, shaking like a leaf, I started speaking to God in my head. I asked Him to give me the strength to speak with authority, using His powerful name. Then I mustered up the courage He provided, and sat up instantly with a voice of authority stating, “Whatever you are, in the name of Jesus, you must leave my home!“
The fear remained inside of me until the phrase, “in the name of Jesus” came out of my mouth. At that very moment I was at peace, and my room no longer had evil pacing aggressively around my bed. Though the dark presence came at me with a ‘sense’ of authority as it walked angrily around my bed, there has never been, nor ever will be, authority higher than the authority of the Lord Jesus!
What I didn’t know at the time of this encounter, was that the disclosure I would provide that following morning would lead to an uncovering of sinister actions that went even deeper than I had ever known. But the information that I furnished, allowed the organization to appropriately deal with what their further investigations brought into the light.
Does fear ever hold you in its grip? Do you ever find yourself guilty of minimizing, fear-inducing things, such as haunted houses or certain costumes that represent evil? As believers we’re called to “fear not”, and certainly not to entertain activities that invite fear into our lives, or the lives of others. I’ve never encountered another evil presence like that one, those many years ago. I strive now to make good honorable choices that don’t welcome evil things to my door anymore.
During the month of October (in particular), as Christians, let us not forget that evil spirits are VERY real and not just a theoretical concept. God does not want us to minimize evil or participate in things that would provoke it. Yet we can also rejoice during that month in knowing we serve a big God who’s name alone, has the power to cast out demons and evil spirits. Who by His love and grace, lifts us from paralyzing fear…today, and everyday.