Monday, July 17, 2017
We have a treasury of excellent hymns, lying in a chest in an attic. Bring them down. This is not a matter of prescribing one style for everyone. There are two reasons why. The first is that those hymns we no longer sing represent a wonderful variety of styles already. There are the straightforward American revival hymns (“Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross”). There are haunting Irish folk melodies (the tune “Slane” for “Be Thou My Vision”). There are the poignant Negro spirituals (“There Is a Balm in Gilead”). We have medieval plainsong, featuring some of the oldest extant melodies (“Creator of the Stars of Night”); harmonization or Renaissance melodies by Johann Sebastian Bach (“Jesus, Priceless Treasure”); melodies specifically written for fine religious lyrics (“Lux Benigna” for Cardinal Newman’s “Lead, Kindly Light”); lilting melodies from the Scottish tradition (“Saint Columba,” “Crimond,” and “Evan” for “The King of Love My Shepherd Is”); the powerful shape-note hymns from Appalachia; French carols; English anthems for the Church militant; texts whose authors range from the Church Fathers to the pious blind poet Fanny Crosby; melodies from the time of Ambrose to the beginning of the twentieth century, from every single nation in Europe. If someone rejects all of that, it is not because he does not appreciate “the” style. It is because he has a lust for destructiveness or because he does in fact want one style to prevail, the style of the jingling show tune, a style that has no place in the liturgy.
Some church choirs with a chokehold on the music protest that it takes them many long hours to learn a new hymn. That would be true only if they were singing in harmony, and most do not. It should take only a few minutes for anybody, in the choir or not, to learn to sing a new melody. The old hymns were written precisely for congregational singing. You do not have to be Beverly Sills or Mario Lanza to sing them. They are waiting; just as if there were a great wing of a castle that no one every entered anymore, filled with works of art by the masters. No doubt a painting of the Prodigal Son by Murillo or Rembrandt reveals its secrets only gradually, so that you can look at it for the fiftieth time and notice something that you had seen but taken for granted, such as why Rembrandt’s prodigal has a shaved head, or why there is a little white dog in mid-leap after Murillo’s prodigal, wagging his tail for joy. But those great works also appeal to us immediately, impressing us with their beauty and suggesting that there always will be more, and more, to see and to learn and to delight in. The great hymns are like the paintings in that way. They give us riches at the outset and yet have more and more to give, in abundance.
Anthony Esolen, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, pg.39-40
Saturday, July 15, 2017
Drab is a favorite color in our day; its companion is garish. I defy any of my contemporaries to name one style of public building or style of dress or form of popular entertainment that is not now either drab or garish. Our churchmen, no better educated than anyone else in the humanities and the Christian heritage of art, architecture, and music, have gone along with the movement, mostly drab, but sometimes garish, as witness the big childish banners blaring out a favorite comforting verse (never “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God”), the glad-handing ceremonies of greeting and peace-wishing, the rock bands in the sanctuary, big screens like stadium scoreboards to flash the mantras of the songs, and the smiling Protestant minister in jeans, or the Catholic priest with a jowly smile, far more comfortable joshing with the attendees than praying with the people who are, as he is, as well as we all are, on the inevitable journey to the grave and in dire need of the grace of God.
Anthony Esolen, Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, pg.35
Thursday, July 13, 2017
I’m still on a project of going through my apologetics file cabinet and cleaning out obsolete materials (it’s an arduous process). This morning I came across a paper on which I typed this:
The following information is from notes gleaned circa 1990 from a television show about the Willow Creek Church. The program extolled the virtues of this “church.”
The paper had tear-off edges with holes that fed through the old Epson printer I had when I first moved to Iowa in December 1995 but got rid of within a year. So apparently I had found my notes and wanted to type them to keep on file on the old floppy disc.
At any rate, I thought I’d share what the TV program (a “news magazine” in the Chicago area) had to say about Willow Creek, which was fairly new in their huge facility at the time, to show the bad ideological seeds which were sown for this mega-church.
Bill Hybels did a door-to-door survey to find why people stay away from church, and that resulted in Willow Creek. People need to be entertained, anonymous, and considered as guests.
Service is calibrated, choreographed. Opening like a variety show. Audience enjoys the performance. Each “show” takes three weeks to write and rehearse.
Worship is safe, controlled, comfortable. No strict emphasis on rigid morality.
“Our target” is the “marketplace person . . . Corporate culture.”
Culturally respectable, blends into surrounding environment.
Sophisticated packaging: Music, then mini-drama.
The building was designed to be inoffensive -- no religious symbols so as to frighten or intimidate people. Looks like a corporate office complex.
Free market means competition to draw the crowd.
The pastors are called the “Management team.” The program is called a “product.”
Yuppies are corporate people so you have to make them feel at home. Packaged orthodoxy; everything is corporate language. Marketplace person needs marketplace terminology.
“Post Christian” culture needs addressed as a separate culture. “Demand a catering to popular tastes.”
People need respectability and recognition; being part of a “big success story” at Willow Creek. It’s reassuring to be a part of it: “Our church is bigger than anybody else.”
During this time of my life I was attending an LCMS Lutheran Church and my apologetics ministry was probably 95% about cults, while I was just beginning to study the Word of Faith stuff. A fellow controller attended Willow Creek, and through him was the first I heard of the place. However, it was difficult to believe he was a Christian because of his behavior and worldview, so when that TV show was advertised I wanted to watch it to see what W.C. was all about. And watching that show explained everything about my co-worker. I was shocked that such a “church” existed, and from then on I started studying more and more non-cult false teachings and false teachers.
Willow Creek’s philosophy has only gotten worse over the years, as they have spread their ideology across the country. Bad seed has grown very rotten fruit.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Warning of Error. Well worth reading.
A very good defense of an often-raised criticism of the Bible.
Excellent history lesson on the Reformation!
Be a watchman on the wall.
You have to read it to believe it. When T.D. Jakes’ and Joel Osteen’s “ministries” are involved, it has to be bad.
I’ve been saying for a long time that Francis Chan is not a teacher/pastor anyone should be following. The news now proves my warning to have been correct.
The Church of England spirals into apostasy.
Tim Keller’s church — need I say more? Although I disagree with the article’s calling it “effeminate” because I think it’s just ballet, I still think it is inappropriate to have entertainment at a worship service.
Popular Christian music groups teaching heresy? YES! Excellent article exposing CCM for what it really is.
An excellent example of the rank idolatry by the Roman Catholic Church and their worship — YES WORSHIP — of Mary.
“Practicing Christians” are too accepting of evil ideologies! Real Christians should know better.
Patricia King is one of the worst false prophets/teachers out there, and this is an example of why she is to be avoided at all costs. She speaks nasty lies.
Monday, July 10, 2017
I’M BACK! Well, a wee bit of a return. My computer problem wasn’t solved so it will be down again as another tech guy goes after it tomorrow. But I thought I’d let you know a personal story about what’s been taking a lot of time this past almost two weeks, and it is a story of our cats
We’ve always had cats since we married 41 year ago. Jill had 5 cats at home when I met her, and after I had been out of the Army for 9 months in December 1975 I took in a 6-month-old Siamese/Angora mix who I named “The Baroness.” A fellow worker had too many kittens and was looking for homes! That same month I moved from my furnished apartment to an unfurnished townhouse where I planned on bringing my bride home to 8 months later (had a lot of furnishing to do!).
Jill told me I needed a friend for the Baroness, so in April 1976, while on a garage sale date looking to furnish my apartment, I got a kitten at house with a new litter. He was a few weeks old, and black. Before I came up with a name Jill was visiting with me when I had the kitten outside playing and getting covered with dandelion seeds, so he became “Dandelion.” Unfortunately, while we were on an overnight visit to family in mid-August (a couple weeks after we married), we returned to find him near death; the vet said he had distemper and it was too late to save him.
In September we got a 10-week old kitty from the animal shelter; he was black with white paws and belly, and Jill named him “Bobby Sox.” In January 1979 when we moved from Ohio to the Chicago area and rented a townhouse, we were only allowed one pet. Since Baroness was the one I had the longest, we sadly gave Bobby Sox away. (Five months later we bought a house.)
Well, the Baroness was alone for too long — it wasn’t until October 1982 that we got another 6-week old kitten — a calico (Jill’s favorite kind). This one came from a family whose child was going to the same pre-school as our daughter, and whose cat recently had a litter. As soon as we got her home she sat on the cedar chest in front of the window and watched the birds, so her name became Audubon.
In July 1987 the Baroness was suffering from kidney failure and had to be euthanized at 12 yrs old. Very sad, and now Audubon was alone.
Since Jill wanted another kitty as a friend for Audubon, on our anniversary the next year we went to the animal shelter to find one. We came home with two, both about 6 months old; a big furry, gray and white guy with a roaring purr (who we named “Thunder”) and a dainty girl with colors much like the Baroness (and she was named “Silk” because it was our silk anniversary). Thunder and our son David (almost 7 at the time) became best friends, and those two were inseparable until David married and left home 13 years later.
Audubon had a long history of respiratory problems. On Veteran’s Day 1990, while I was at work, she curled up on the sofa with Jill and stopped breathing. So we now had just Thunder and Silk.
In December 1995 we moved to Iowa. Silk began having lots of urinary infections and problems with lots of visits to the vet. One day in the summer of 1997 we found her curled in the garden dead. Thunder was now alone.
Valentines Day 1998 we went to the animal shelter to find a friend for Thunder and we brought home a 6-month-old male with black paws and bib. Jill named him “Moonshadow” because he followed us all over and his bib looked like a moon in the night sky.
Our next kitty was another calico, who was really our daughter’s cat, which she got from a friend. She was just a few weeks old when Emily got her in June 2000, which now gave us a trio again. Her name was Marigold.
When Emily left home in October 2001 she took Marigold with her. Jill had really loved that one (she loves all her kitties, but has special affections for calicos), and wanted a calico of her own. It was another year before we got Autumn Grace, who was truly a gift from the Lord. Jill wrote about how we got this precious kitty, if you care to peruse her article. The funny thing was that Autumn became in charge of the two boys!
By the time Thunder was 20, he was mostly deaf and had some cataracts, but he was otherwise healthy and a lap kitty. Sadly, he took ill late one evening and, before we could take him to the vet the next day, he died of kidney failure, just three months shy of his 22nd birthday. Ironically, he died on our son’s birthday in 2009.
Within the next year or so Moonshadow began having medical issues and had to be treated for thyroid problems. While he was still a happy cat, his issues became more and more difficult to treat until we had to euthanize him in August 2012 (1 month shy of 15 years old), leaving Autumn Grace all alone.
Jill wanted to get another kitty, but with all the expenses of Moonshadow I wanted to put it off. As time went by we were afraid a new kitten would change Autumn’s personality, and she was such a sweetheart we didn’t want that. She was a kitty who always slept with us after putting us to bed, and would wake us up in the morning. She was the most lovable cat we’ve ever had, so when she became ill the late evening of June 28th, we were concerned. She seemed to recover somewhat but in the morning she wasn’t doing good so we took her to the vet, who decided to do tests and keep her overnight.
The morning of June 30th the vet called with bad news. Autumn had a bowel obstruction, and her liver and kidney functions were decreased. The vet said she could operate to see what the obstruction was (felt it was a tumor) but wasn’t sure at her age (2 months shy of 15) if she’d survive the stress of the surgery, and if she did survive, she couldn’t guarantee any outcome without knowing exactly what the blockage was. We went to the vet’s and looked at the X-ray and did more consultation. She had Autumn sedated for the pain. We decided that the best course of action was to euthanize her, and that was the hardest decision ever. We really, really loved that one, and a lot of tears were shed over the next few days. For the first time in 41 years we had no kitty to come home to.
We decided that we needed a kitty, but we also knew we couldn’t replace Autumn Grace, since no kitty ever had such a personality. We also decided that we’d have to get two so they could be friends. So last Thursday, the 6th, we went to the animal shelter and took home the only kitten they had (10 weeks old), a really pretty black and white male. What to name him was the topic of conversation on the way home. It didn’t take long, though. You see, Jill had seen a PBS show about Wolverines early last year, and then last summer on our trip to Yellowstone she saw a book about Wolverines, which we didn’t buy and she wished she had; but I later got it for her for Christmas, and she has been reading it. Wolverines have huge paws with long claws, and this little kitty has big paws and long claws, so his name is Wolverine. He’s a bundle of joy.
Saturday morning Jill called the shelter and asked if they had any more kittens yet and, with an affirmative answer, we headed up there (half-hour drive). They had five; four males and one female. The female, 9-weeks old, was tortoise-shell, and she was too pretty. So she became Wolverine’s sister. Jill had a unique name for her; she had said if she ever got another girl kitty she would name it “Zuzu’s Petals” (and I’ll let you figure out where that name came from). These two have been so much fun to watch playing!
This morning we took both to the vet, as required by our adoption contract. Wolverine had lots of ear wax and an ear infection (which explained why his ears were bothering him) so he also got an anti-biotic. But Zuzu has ear mites on top of ear junk. So the vet kept her to sedate her for clearing the ears and then gave her a treatment to rid her of the mites. They are both now back to chasing each other.
We still sorely miss Autumn Grace.
The new kids, Wolverine and Zuzu's Petals:
Monday, July 3, 2017
While there have been views promoted in the Church over the centuries both for and against military service, overall the attitude had been favorable — or at least not against it. Several years ago I posted an article about war and killing, and you might look there for a good place to start on this topic.
The Religion Analysis Service puts out a quarterly apologetics letter, titled “The Discerner.” The first issue this year (Vol.37/No.1) has a very good article about the teachings of early Christians and war, as they relate to the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and military service. This current post is for highlighting early teachings of the Church as examined in “The Discerner.”
To begin with, I am going to heavily cite The Discerner’s article, Jehovah’s Witnesses, War, and Neutrality, Part 5, by Steve Lagoon, along with citations he provides from early Christian sources. My intent is to demonstrate that military service in and of itself is not taught against by the Christian faith, nor is it against God to participate in military service. Citations from Steve Lagoon will be in blue, while citations from early sources he cites will be in maroon.
As one would suspect, the actual picture of the early Christian view toward military service is much more complicated than the simplistic and misleading picture portrayed in Watchtower literature.
Certainly, there were many Christians in the early church that did indeed oppose military involvement. However, their reasons for resisting military service were different from the Watchtower’s view, either because they were pacifists or because they rejected the idolatrous acts that were sometimes required of soldiers.
In neither of these cases is neutrality the issue, and in fact most Christians in the early church were patriotic toward the Roman Empire.
Further, despite the impression the Watchtower seeks to create, there were in fact many Christians in the early church who not only did not object to military service, but willingly served in the Roman military. . . .
It will be most instructive to consider a fair and comprehensive summary of the early Christian view of military involvement by Church historian Louis Swift:
There were two sides to the issue. The most vocal and the most articulate side was pacifist. In this school Tertullian, Origen, and the early Lactantius stand out as the most reflective and persuasive writers…they leave no doubt that for them violence of any kind is incompatible with the demands of the Christian faith. The other side is non-pacifist . . . It appears, then, that these examples from Scripture were being cited by some as reasons for not following a strictly pacifist line of thought, and the very fact that Tertullian speaks at length about the moral dimension of military service is evidence that the whole issue had not been settled in the Christian community. . . .
Swift provides a balanced assessment of Tertullian’s views on military service:
He [Tertullian] is the first Church writer to wrestle with the issue of military service in a concrete way, and his attitude toward Christian participation in war is anything but sympathetic. It is fair to say that he is the first articulate spokesman for pacifism in the Christian Church . . . If he takes a rather trenchant position against Christian participation in war, he is not always consistent on this point. Thus, in his Apology, which was written around 197 A.D. and which is a plea for fair treatment of the Christians, a certain amount of ambiguity is create by the pride he takes in the spread of Christianity even to the camps. . . .
Swift then provides the most telling comment from Tertullian:
Thus we [Christians] live in the world sharing with you the forum, the market, the baths, the shops, the factories, the inns, the market days and all other commercial activities. We, no less than you, sail the sea, serve in the army, farm the land, buy and sell (42.2-3).
Christians in the Early Church Did Serve in the Roman Military
One of the greatest Church historians, Philip Schaff, summarized the period this way:
In regard to military and civil offices under the heathen government, opinion was divided. Some, on the authority of such passages as Matt.5:39 and 26:52, condemn all war as unchristian and immoral; anticipating the views of the Mennonites and Friends. Others appealed to the good centurion of Capernaum and Cornelius of Caesarea, and held the military life consistent with a Christian profession. The traditions of the legio fulminatrix indicates that there were Christian soldiers in the Roman armies under Marcus Aurelius, and at the time of Diocletian the numbers of Christians at the court and in civil office was very considerable.
Another highly regarded church historian, Kenneth Scott Latourette stated:
Indeed, in its earliest days the Church seems to have regarded with complacency the baptism of soldiers and not to have required them to resign from the army. Coolness towards the enlistment of its members in the army appears to have brought no very marked embarrassment to the Church . . . To most Christians, however, at least in the first three centuries, the ethical problem involved in military service was not an issue.
It seems that the major problem with military service during the first few centuries was the frequent requirement for Caesar worship. In this case the individual would end up either resigning from the military (if possible) or was executed for his faith. Steve Lagoon’s article gives two such examples:
Marinus, who was beheaded ca. 260 AD, had been in service for long enough to warrant promotion to the rank of Centurion. The eve before his promotion a rival denounced him as being unfit for promotion due to his Christian faith. Marinus was given the chance to recant his faith, but he refused.
Julius, another veteran legionnaire in 303 or 304 AD, was confronted with new orders from the emperor that all troops must sacrifice to pagan deities. In a long dialogue with the prefect Maximus, Julius defended his loyalty without the need to sacrifice to idols, having served for 27 years in seven campaigns and was considered an excellent warrior, with never a fault found in him by his commanding officer. Since Julius refused to deny his God, and refused to participate in the idol sacrifices, he was beheaded.
The point of this article is two-fold: (1) to demonstrate that the early church did not see serving in the military to be against the Christian faith, and (2) to demonstrate that the Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot be trusted when it comes to teaching about military service — any more than they can be trusted with any other teachings about the Christian faith!
Friday, June 30, 2017
Ecumenical vs Evangelical. Thought-provoking. Continuing in this vein, read Idolatry, Demons, and Ecumenism.
How do they [blaspheme the Holy Spirit]? By attributing to the Holy Spirit words that He didn’t say, deeds that He didn’t do, and experiences that He didn’t produce, attributing to the Holy Spirit that which is not the work of the Holy Spirit. Endless human experiences, emotional experiences, bizarre experiences, and demonic experiences are said to come from the Holy Spirit. Visions, revelations, voices from heaven, messages from the Spirit through transcendental means, dreams, speaking in tongues, prophecies, out-of-body experiences, trip to heaven, anointings, miracles – all false, all lies, all deceptions – attributed falsely to the Holy Spirit. Read the rest, by John MacArthur.
Why we can’t forgive ourselves. Good response to those who are always saying, “I just can’t forgive myself.”
Another good article on who the real Pharisees are.
How VBS has driven too many from the Church. I remember my pagan mother sending me to VBS, where I learned nothing of eternal consequence.
More about Debi Pearl’s false teaching supporting spousal abuse. Oh, and her husband Michael is right in there with his own dangerous teaching. I love this great response to Michael.
Verse mapping — another false teaching which is new to me. Where do people get such nonsensical ideas?!?!?!
The Osteens never met a Bible verse that they didn’t twist.
Another example as to why Matt Chandler is not qualified to be a pastor: he continually demonstrates his lack of discernment.
An old “hymn” that really, really, needs to be trashed!
Who or what are they worshiping here?
Bethel Redding teaches “Firestarters,” a course to “activate” your prophetic gift. You too can become a prophet there for only $395. Nothing like cranking out more and more false prophets to blaspheme God.
Thursday, June 29, 2017
Many people have been taught to believe that Christians can be demon-possessed, and the whole “deliverance ministry” makes money on this fraudulent teaching. Bible verses teaching against the idea of demon possession are plentiful: John 10:28; Col. 1:13; Col. 2:15; 2 Thes. 3:3; Heb. 2:14-15; James 4:7; 1 Pet. 1:5; 1 John 4:4;1 John 5:18;
Here are some quotations I’ve gathered from various teachers on the subject of demon possession and the Christian:
Every Christian is faced with daily temptations from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Paul wrote that we do indeed have a struggle against various spirits (Eph. 6:12). Therefore, to some degree, every believer is harassed by demon spirits. That is normal, and it is our responsibility to resist the devil and demons by faith in God’s Word (1 Pet. 5:8-9). When we believe and act upon what God has said, that is resisting the devil. …
We must recognize that as free moral agents, we can think whatever we want to think about. If a believer continually chooses to listen and yield to the suggestions of evil spirits, he can certainly open his mind to being oppressed, which is simply a state of being more receptive to, and more dominated by, wrong thoughts. …
It is a fact that there is not a single example in the New Testament of any Christian being possessed by a demon. Nor is there any warning addressed to Christians about the dangerous possibility of their being inhabited by demons. Nor is there any instruction regarding how to cast out demons from fellow-Christians.
The truth is that as Christians, we don’t need demons cast out of us – what we need is to have our minds renewed upon the Word of God. That is scriptural…(Rom. 12:2).
Once our minds have been cleansed of the old thinking patterns and have been renewed with the truth of God’s Word, then we can gain victory over sinful habits and live in a consistent Christ-like manner. The truth is what sets us free (John 8:32). We are transformed as we renew our minds, not as we have all the demons exorcised!
David Kirkwood, Modern Myths About Satan and Spiritual Warfare
…Can born-again Christians be inhabited by demons to the extent where deliverance is attained only by exorcism? This is the true question now dividing many Bible believers.
An increasing number of prominent Christians are reportedly changing their minds and answering Yes to the question…. The reason they are changing their minds is not because of a new understanding of Scripture. It is because of their own personal experiences. They have become involved in exorcising demons from people whom they are convinced are truly born again.
I believe the crux of the issue reverts back to the question, “What is a Christian?” I personally do not believe truly born-again Christians can be so inhabited by demons necessitating an exorcism. I see the problem as basically soteriological, that is, relating to the doctrine of salvation. …
I strongly believe that there are thousands of people in evangelical churches who are utterly confused concerning the nature of saving faith. It is very possible that these professing Christians are the ones being currently delivered from inhabiting demons. If this is the case, then following their deliverance they should be immediately and properly evangelized….
The lordship of Christ over his children implies his rule and reign. In Scripture believers are represented as entering into his kingdom at the time of their regeneration. At the same time they are represented as being delivered from the kingdom of Satan – Christ “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13; also Heb. 2:14, 15). And the Christian is declared to be “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (1 Peter 1:5). …
True, born again believers are represented as not being “touched” by the evil one because “he that is begotten of God keepeth himself” (1 John 5:18; also John 10:28). Believers persevere and do not give themselves over to demonic possession, by God’s grace. Believers are assured of victory because they are children of God, and the “seed [of God] remaineth in him’ (1 John 3:8-10). If Christians can be inhabited by Satan’s angels then they are actually the temple of God and of Satan at the same time. Paul asked, “What concord hath Christ with Belial?…for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people’ (2 Cor.6:15, 16).
The teaching of Jesus in Matthew 12:43-45 is pivotal in understanding demonic possession and re-inhabitation. Demons can leave a person and return with greater severity when the demon perceives the person’s life to be “empty, swept, and garnished.” If Jesus had not been enthroned as Lord and Savior in the person’s life, he or she is inhabitable by satanic forces. Moral reformations, professions of faith, and spiritual activity are like cleaning a house. Unless those activities lead to the powerful, regenerating presence of Christ in one’s life, the person is susceptible to further demonic control. Where Christ is, the house is not “empty,” and Satan cannot inhabit it.
The fact that so many involved in deliverance work deal only with Christians is distressing. The profession of these believers must be carefully tested and proven. I would recommend that no one inhabited by a demon be accepted as a born-again believer. To do so is to relinquish cherished and certain doctrines concerning the Christian’s perseverance and preservation. It is a denial of Christ as both the Savior and Lord of his children. It is yet another evidence of capitulating to phenomena, rather than accepting God’s Word.
Edward N. Gross, Miracles, Demons, & Spiritual Warfare: An Urgent Call for Discernment
If…we apply the term demonization in its proper scriptural context to mean being controlled by demons, then the question of whether or not Christians can be demonized without God’s permission comes into play. Equally important is the question of whether or not God would even allow his children to become controlled by demons in the first place.
This is critical to the issue of repentance versus deliverance. If we can be controlled, then we are not responsible for our actions other than committing some heinous sin that would prompt the Father to give us over to the control of Satan in the first place. On the other hand, if all our actions are ultimately within our own power, then we cannot blame the devil for our sins or for their consequences. We must blame ourselves and, in humble repentance, ask God’s forgiveness.
While the Scriptures do not offer a single mention of the possibility of true believers being controlled by demons, they do speak clearly to this issue of our own responsibility for our sins and the need for repentance [see 1 John 1:5-10]. Temptation by Satan and/or his demons may afflict us, but so, too, do temptations of our own flesh. In neither case can we say that when we are tempted we are demonized. God has given us the grace to resist temptation from the enemy and from our own sin nature. But it is up to us to exercise our wills in deciding to resist that temptation.
In the case where we may be tempted by the devil we are instructed plainly to “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). When we are tempted by the lusts that war in our members we are told to flee them and to follow after godliness (2 Tim. 2:22)
According to Scripture, it is our own lusts that tempt us. If Satan tempts us it is primarily in those areas that constitute our secret desires for particular sins in the first place. He works on our own areas of lust. If we succumb, the solution is not deliverance but repentance. …
[There is no] question that some who claim to be Christians are demonized at least to some extent. A great number of people in the pews are nominal, not true Christians. But because someone has made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, or has attained leadership in the Church, or can be credited with many good works, does not mean that he or she is a true believer.
In spite of Scripture’s clear teachings on repentance while remaining relatively silent in regards to deliverance, most deliverance ministries deal with those whom they perceive to be Christians rather than with unbelievers. Thus there is cause for serious concern as to whether they even properly understand the definition of demonization or, for that matter, if they understand what constitutes a true believer in Jesus Christ.
The definition of a true believer in Jesus is one whose spirit has been regenerated by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, given at the moment of conversion. He is a saint, set apart from out of the world for the Father’s use. …
The true believer is holy (i.e., sanctified – set apart for God) even if not perfect, just as any vessel used in the service of God is holy yet not perfect. The imperfections will remain until we have put on the new body fashioned after that which the Lord Jesus inhabits as a result of the Resurrection. …
A person who does not grow in the grace of God, but after making a profession of faith continues in spite of instruction from the Scriptures to live according to his own will, has demonstrated that he lacks the faith necessary for salvation and sanctification….
The true believer will receive correction from God’s Word and will submit to the Holy Spirit (perhaps after some struggling), thus exhibiting spiritual growth toward conformity to the image of Christ.
Among the unbelieving there are those who claim Christianity but refuse correction. They continue in sin openly.
There are also among the unbelieving those who claim to be Christians but whose works are motivated by a religious spirit rather than by the spirit of God. These are they who attain positions of leadership through their own volition; their works are not submitted to the will of the Father, but are performed with the expectation that any good work is pleasing to God.
This isn’t to say that true believers do not fall into these traps themselves. But their willingness to receive correction results in their consistently being conformed to the image of Christ. Those who continue in sin without repentance have not been regenerated by God’s Spirit. …
In every case, it is repentance that sets us aright with God and enables us to live the sanctified life. Nowhere in Scripture is deliverance for the true believer established as a requisite to sanctification.
This being the case, how do we address the fact that deliverance ministries attain a degree of success in the apparent casting out of demons from Christians? In view of Scripture alone, we must conclude that these were not true believers, but merely professing Christians who, in their own consciences, would swear on a stack of Bibles that they are true believers. Among them are even pastors and teachers.
What the deliverance ministries are attempting to do, therefore, is cast demons out of non-believers, while thinking they are casting them out of believers. …
So the real question is, can a true Christian be controlled by a demon? Does the Lord allow such a thing? The Scriptures say no:… [see 1 Cor. 10:13; John 8:36; James 4:5-10].
These and many other Scriptures tell us that we who are in Christ are free from the control of Satan. Those who are born again by the blood of Christ – who have been washed clean and established in the Kingdom of God by faith can resist the devil. And if we have the choice to resist, then we cannot be controlled. We cannot be demonized.
What we need, then, is constant washing by the Word of God which gives us the knowledge, wisdom and discernment to recognize the evil that besets us. Evil does beset us, but it is external to us; it is not internal, except insofar as our own flesh wars against the Spirit of God within us. This is why we are told to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. But this, again, is a choice we make. …
When we address the issue of true believers we must concede that demonic attacks are possible, not only against those who are disobedient to the will of the Father, but even against those whose lives reflect near-perfect obedience to His will.
In the case of those who are disobedient, such attacks may be permitted by the Father as a means of chastisement. This was the case with the man whose sin of incest scandalized the Corinthian Church, and whom Paul remanded to Satan in order that his body be destroyed that his soul might be saved (1 Cor. 5:1-5) Since chastisement is the manner in which our Father corrects us for unrepentant sin, it should always lead to repentance in the true believer. In that case, since the Father’s purpose has been achieved, the enemy would have to flee and the attack would cease.
In the case of those who are generally obedient, such attacks may be permitted by the Father for the purpose of testing, or to keep us humble, as was the case with Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Here we must rely on His grace to see us through. …
If Christians resist the devil he will flee from them. This, again, is an act of one’s will to surrender to God’s will and to resist sin. To attempt to cast out a demon rather than address the problem of sin will result in the sin remaining. Yet this is the general approach of the modern deliverance advocates. They are treating an imaginary disease and neglecting the real source of infection: the love of sin within the heart of the person. This can only be effectively dealt with through reproof, rebuke, and exhortation from God’s Word, along with prayer and, in some cases, even fasting.
Albert Dager, Media Spotlight Special Report: Deliverance
A Christian – I mean a true Christian, who has submitted to God and His Word – will suffer nothing from demons. For he is mightier than demons. The Christian will suffer nothing, for “the angel of the Lord will encamp around them who fear Him and will deliver them.” [Ps.34:7]
Origen, c.248 A.D.
There is not a hint in the New Testament of the concept of a believer being invaded or inhabited by demons. Something concerning demons so crucial to Christian growth, stability and sanctification surely would be in the Word. …
The fact is, nowhere does Scripture call for “deliverance” when we sin, but rather for repentance, confession and change. …
Christ’s work in the believer makes him a new creature, with a new Father, a new family, a new motivation and internal dynamic. It equips him with an indwelling Comforter who is more powerful than demons. Apart from that belief, the Christian will slip into a practical dualism, with near-equality of God and Satan. … Satan is an external foe. He may harass and tempt the believer, but God has set his limits.
G. Richard Fisher, Personal Freedom Outreach Quarterly Journal, Vol. 8, No. 2
Within Christian circles, there has arisen a new concern for ministries of deliverance. Some of these deliverance ministries have developed a bizarre and radically unbiblical view of demon possession and deliverance.
…There are demons for every conceivable sin. Not only must each one of these demons be exorcized, but there are necessary procedures to keep them from returning on a daily basis. I know of no polite way to respond to this kind of teaching. It is unmitigated nonsense. Nowhere in sacred Scripture is there to be found the slightest hint of this kind of demonic diagnosis. These teachings cross the line into the sphere of magic and result in serious harm to believers who are duped by them. …
If a person indwelt by the Holy Spirit can at the same time be sovereignly controlled by an evil spirit, then our redemption is defeated. … 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 are encouraged to think that we are not really guilty and that we are actually helpless without a minister with special powers of deliverance. This negates the entire biblical concept of sanctification. … Therefore, I say with all urgency that believers must turn away from those who teach such things. Indeed run, for your very spiritual lives.
R.C. Sproul, Pleasing God
Christians cannot be possessed—PERIOD!