The Compartmentalized Church


The apostle Paul has addressed some interesting problems in the church at Corinth. First, he warned the parishioners to put a stop to the divisions among them. The people of the church were divided because of spiritual pride. This was breaking the church down from a unified body with one purpose to a fractured group who disagreed over who had the “full revelation” of God’s truth.

After addressing the issue of division, Paul goes on to address the issue of existing sexual immorality in the church. He cautions the church against false teachings of “greasy grace” and the folly of compartmentalizing the spiritual and physical. He reminds them that Jesus lived, died, and rose in the flesh and has dominion over every area of life, not just the spiritual.

Later, Paul addressed the issue of lawsuits among believers. He rejects the use of secular magistrates in judging disputes among the believers. He then reminds the believers that lawsuits among them are a reflection that they have forsaken the law of love in favor of selfishness.

Now, Paul revisits the issue of sexual sin. And, that’s where we will pick up.

Paul begins his teaching by repeating a couple of spiritual slogans used by the Corinthians.

The first is, “All things are lawful for me”. This slogan was intended to reflect the believer’s freedom in Christ. Paul didn’t dispute the statement. It is true: believers in Jesus Christ are not justified by some type of behavioral system. But, the Corinthians were using this as a form of “greasy grace”; believing that the grace of God covered their continued life of sin. Paul gives them a couple of principles to balance out this truth and correct their error.

  1. All things are not beneficial for me.

While something may not be a violation of scriptural truth, it could be that it is not profitable or healthy for me, or conducive to a godly life in Christ Jesus. If it is keeping me from being a healthy, biblical believer, it is not helpful and should be avoided.

  1. I will not be brought under the control of anything.

Some things may not be restricted by the Bible but, by being involved with them, I come under their control. Jesus is to be my Lord – not anything else. If it takes control from Jesus, avoid it.

The second slogan used by the Corinthians was, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”. This slogan was used by the Corinthians to justify the compartmentalization of the physical and spiritual. Their point being that the spiritual and the physical are separate and you can’t expect the physical to be controlled by the spiritual. The physical does its thing and the spiritual does its thing and if you’re a believer in Christ, it doesn’t matter how you live physically, the spirit is united with Christ.

The Corinthians were actually using this belief to justify the continuance of sexual sin in their lives.

Paul’s response?

The body is not for sexual immorality.

Sexual Immorality?

Porneia – promiscuity of any type; whoredom. Equated with idolatry. From the root word that means, “to sell off your purity”.

Paul tells the Corinthians that the Lord owns the body – He purchased it by His blood. The physical body is set aside to worship God. Jesus’ body was raised from the dead and the same power raises our body above the control of actions that lead to death.

By faith in Jesus, we have become a part of the body of Christ; members of His body and are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

All sin is destructive to the perpetrator, but sexual sin is devastating because of its consequences. Notice, I didn’t say it was harder for God to forgive, but because of how God created sexual relations, sexual sin can have dramatic effects.

Why is sexual sin so devastating?

  1. Because it tears at the person’s identity.
  2. Because it attacks the deepest level of our emotional makeup.
  3. Because the rejection it can produce feels “total”.
  4. Because it undermines the deepest human relationship-marriage.
  5. Because it creates an appetite that only further unnatural behavior can satisfy.
  6. Because it opens us to the spiritual corruption of others.
  7. Because it assaults the pure lordship of Jesus Christ in your life.
  8. Because it destroys your witness.
  9. Because it can transmit physical disease and create unsupported life.

Your physical freedom from sin is proof of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

Any other type of life is a life lived outside the lordship of Jesus.

Compartmentalized lives destroy the witness of the church and provide a platform for Satan to overcome those who should have him under their feet!

Church 101 – Division!


The church of Corinth was a gifted but weak church. Thankfully, reading about the church at Corinth gives us some insight into how to handle difficult situations we face in today’s church. One of the  problems faced in Corinth was the matter of divisions. Members of the church were having disputes with one another. We are not told what manner of disputes these were, but it’s really not hard for us to believe that they were happening. We have already seen that the seed of self promotion was active in the congregation. Self promotion was causing divisions in the church as a corporate body so it is not hard to see that such an attitude would also cause division among individuals.

Christians are not immune to disagreements. You can look at the current status of the “church world” and see that clearly. Even in the best of circumstances, we will not always agree on every point. But, the spirit in which we handle these differences sets us apart from how disagreements are handled in the world.

Paul was blown away to find out that believers – fellow church members were engaging in lawsuits against one another in the secular court system. Paul brings out several points that we should always remember when we encounter disagreements and disputes in the Body of Christ.

  1. Wrongs among believers are to be judged in the church.

As stated earlier, the Corinthians Christians were taking their disputes before the secular court system for judgment. It is inevitable that there will be disputes among believers, but when they occur and cannot be resolved, the church is the place where these disputes are to be mediated and judged.

Paul had just issued a decision regarding a dispute with a brother over a sexual sin. His call to the church to exercise judgment is a reminder of Jesus’ words:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-17

In our society, tolerance is considered the highest virtue. Yet, Paul the apostle, following the leading of our Savior declares the church the legislative agency – declaring what is right and wrong in society. 

  1. Differences should be judged by wise and mature leaders.

Paul confronted the Corinthians use of unbelievers to decide their disputes. He says that those outside the church are viewed as least esteemed by the church to decide matters correctly due to their ignorance of the motives of judgment, their ignorance of the scriptures and their lack of knowledge of the goals of discipline. He calls for the wise in the Spirit to be used to judge disputes among believers.

  1. We are to protect the testimony of Christ and His church.

The Corinthians had a way of compartmentalizing their faith. They believed that the Spirit and the physical world had little in common and couldn’t mix. Many didn’t believe that Jesus actually lived in the flesh and died a physical death, but just appeared to do so. Since the physical and spiritual can’t interact, then “the flesh does its thing and the spirit does its thing”. They used this to justify their belief that they were Christians while living sinfully in the flesh.

Jesus came in the flesh and died in the flesh and rose in the flesh. Your physical deliverance from sin is walking proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ! Living in the flesh contradicts the reality of Christ. First and foremost, we are to glorify Him! Fleshly living reveals that we have not been resurrected from our old way of life.

  1. We are to consider other’s interests above our own.

We don’t live for ourselves. nother believer, who do we choose? When one is blessed, we are all blessed!

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:1-8

When it comes to you or your brother, who do you choose?

  1. We should be willing to be cheated and wronged rather than destroy each other.

Paul called it an utter failure to sue one another. He said that being wronged is preferable to cheating or wronging a brother. Those who live in an unrighteous way will not inherit the kingdom of God because the kingdom of God has no part in them. You may have lived this way before salvation, but when you receive Jesus, you die to sin and receive the Holy Spirit which changes who rules you. If you are under Christ’s dominion, it will be reflected in your behavior and passions, especially toward your neighbor!

Selfish living cannot be sanctified by espousing faith in Jesus. To live – to love like Christ means putting other’s interests before your own.

 

Church 101 Again!


The church in Corinth faced many problems. Remember the list?

  1. Division
  2. Sexual sin in the church
  3. Lawsuits among the members
  4. Questions about being married to an unsaved spouse.
  5. The role of the sexes in the church.
  6. Questions about giving.
  7. Questions about how far is too far into sin.
  8. The proper use of spiritual gifts in the services.
  9. Questions about the return of the Lord.

The apostle Paul founded the church at Corinth. A delegation came from Corinth to ask Paul’s direction on the issues listed. It is interesting to me that the issues of division, sexual sin and lawsuits among the believers were not in the letter sent by the church. These Paul learned about through eyewitness accounts.

Let’s look at an issue that Paul heard about from members of the church.

Before we begin, it is important to make one point. The leaders of the church and the members of the church are not detectives who scour people’s lives looking for wrongs to expose. Our relationship with one another is built on love and confidence in the Spirit – not doubt and suspicion. We allow the Spirit of the Lord to work as the agent of change in His house. God will bring to light things that need to be addressed without us following one another in the shadows to expose what is really going on behind closed doors. We have Facebook for that!

The sin that was exposed in the church was that of a sexual nature. A man, possibly a leader was having sexual relations with his father’s wife. Most scholars believe that the woman involved was the man’s stepmother. This type of relationship broke at least one of God’s commands.

Leviticus 18:8 – “The nakedness of your father’s wife you shall not uncover; it is your father’s nakedness.”

This type of sexual sin was even forbidden under Roman law! Paul’s response brings out several points that are useful to us today.

  1. Unrepentant sin poisons the body

Paul uses the Passover celebration to bring home his point about the presence of sin among them. Before the Passover is celebrated, the house is purged of all leaven. All throughout Scripture leaven is used as a symbol of sin. Paul reminds the Corinthians that they are a new creation cleansed of sin by Christ’s sacrifice. He tells them that they should feast on the bread of sincerity and truth. The Greek word for sincerity literally means “judged by sunlight” It alludes to pottery being sold in dimly lit bazaars so to hide the flaws. Intelligent buyers would hold the pottery up to the sunlight to judge its quality.

Paul also warns that unrepentant sin has an effect on the entire church. A little leaven works throughout the entire church. We think our sin affects just us but it doesn’t. It is entirely possible that some of the lack we experience in the church is due to unrepentant sin on the part of its members. Spirituality is a farce when we presume upon God’s grace and get a “word” that blatantly violates God’s direction. Paul said it this way, “Your glorying is not good”.

  1. The church is to administer discipline.

When sin is recognized – when the individuals are aware of what they are doing wrong and insist on continuing in sin the leaders are to administer discipline in front of the entire church.

Hebrews 13:17 – “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”

Remember: the “ecclesia” or church is a legislative body. It has the responsibility to declare and enforce God’s kingdom. Paul stated that when the church is gathered “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” that the church has the authority to act on His behalf.

  1. Sin is confronted at the level it is exposed.

All unrepentant sin affects the church, but confrontation is best handled at the level that the sin is known. For instance, if the unrepentant sin of a member is known only by a small group, it is before that group that it is handled. If the sin is known by the entire church, then it is before the entire church that it is handled. We are not in the business of hurting but correcting. You would not go before the entire school to handle your son’s discipline that wasn’t known by them. But, if his sin was known by the school you would.

  1. Discipline is meant to bring healing.

All discipline is meant to bring repentance and healing.

Hebrews 12:5-6 – “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”

Discipline is administered to do three things:

  1. Bring correction
  2. Protect the testimony of the church
  3. Protect the purity of the church.

Paul stated an interesting point – he said to “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”. What does this mean?

First, it meant to forbid the offender from church attendance and fellowship with the members of the church. Remember there weren’t 100 churches in town during this time. This isolated the person from the blessings of the body. I also believe that it “loosed” the offender to the consequences of their sin.

Matthew 18:15 – 18: “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Forgiveness is immediate but restoration takes time. Don’t confuse a lack of restoration with a lack of forgiveness. For restoration to take place, an understanding of sin and its effects upon the church must be exhibited.

It is difficult in today’s society to make a stance for purity. But, the church should be the one place where its leaders and its people are growing into a lifestyle that mirrors the one of its Savior.

If the church were perfect, the Bible would not speak of correction and discipline. So, remember what happens does not catch God “off guard”. He is working within us to create for Himself a glorious church!

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. It instructs us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions,and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives in the present age, as we await the blessed hope and glorious appearance of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.…Titus 2:11-13

 

 

 

Church 101


 

Studying the Corinthian church of the Bible is like taking a look inside the modern church. Many of the problems encountered there are the same we are facing today in Fort Worth Texas and in America. So, to get the answers to what we are facing let’s take an ancient look inside the modern church.

A little history and background helps to understand why Corinth is relative to us today.

Paul founded the church in Corinth during his second missionary journey somewhere around the time 50 AD. You can read the story in Acts 18:1-17. Paul came to Corinth after a visit to Athens and stayed in Corinth at least a year and six months preaching and teaching the word of God. Corinth was a wealthy, commercial center – a port city on the peninsula in southern Greece. Corinth was known for its temple of the goddess Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. It is reported that 1,000 ritual priestess-prostitutes served the worshipers in the temple. As a matter of fact, in ancient Greece if you were involved in fornication or sexual sin, they said that you were “acting like a Corinthian”, so Corinth was known for its carnality.

About five years after starting the church, Paul was in Ephesus on his third missionary journey. He stayed in Ephesus about three years, and it was during this stay that he received a disturbing report about problems in the Corinthian congregation. No, you’re right, the church is not perfect! A delegation from Corinth arrived with a letter seeking Paul’s advice on various issues of disagreement affecting the church. Why don’t we jump headfirst into Paul’s response to the reports and his response to the delegation from the church.

The Corinthian church was a spiritually gifted church with poor character. They had several issues that were causing trouble in the congregation:

  1. Division
  2. Sexual sin in the church
  3. Lawsuits among the members
  4. Questions about being married to an unsaved spouse.
  5. The role of the sexes in the church.
  6. Questions about giving.
  7. Questions about how far is too far into sin.
  8. The proper use of spiritual gifts in the services.
  9. Questions about the return of the Lord.

How different are their problems from ours? 

So to begin with, Paul addresses the issue of division in the church.

Guess what?

They were arguing over who was their favorite preacher and teacher in the church! 

You see, each group was trying to prove to be more spiritual than the others. Pride, the sin of Satan had entered into the ministry of the church of Jesus Christ.

In Greek culture, intellectualism was highly valued, so someone who spoke well was seen as superior to others. This “comparing” of the styles and methods of the preachers was causing pride and pride causes division.

Paul tells the Corinthians that, where you find division and competition in the church, biblical wisdom is absent. Their schisms didn’t reveal maturity but immaturity in the Spirit.

If someone is being used by God it is not because he is greatly talented but because he is gifted. The ministry is done by the Spirit of God – men who are used are only tools, each active in their own calling. Each is a gift to the body – a gift to be embraced, not to be rejected.

Paul warns the Corinthians not to lean on wisdom because it was through leaning on wisdom that the world rejected Christ. Their comparison of themselves was actually a sign of spiritual weakness which would lead to the rejection of Christ’s call for humility and agape love.

While they are scrambling for the premier praise and position and promotion, Paul points out the life of the apostles who are being persecuted for their belief in Jesus.

Finally, Paul reminds them that every gift is given to them by God but although they have many instructors, they don’t have many fathers. They are called to imitate their fathers in the faith. Find your spiritual father and stay with him! You can leave a teacher but are connected to a father!

Spiritual pride is still pride and is contrary to the Spirit. Paul says that when he comes, he will not hesitate to use correction on those who are acting in a spirit causing cliques and division.

Good leaders will work in love to correct divisive attitudes and actions. So, don’t be dismayed if your church has problems! Corinth sure did!! When God adds you to a marriage, you don’t just leave it upon the appearance of problems or division. Stay where God added you and you and the church will grow up into God’s character.

Picking up Shingles in the Rain


So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. For in just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. Hebrews 10: 35-39

 

One of my least favorite scriptures in the Word is, “In this world, you will have trouble.” (John 16:33). This scripture is one in which I have seen fulfilled in my life. For instance, I remember a time not too long ago when…….

It was raining and cold. I was out of work. My neighbor hired me to help him replace his roof. After we finished the roofing job, he hired me for clean up. I was picking up shingles and freezing to death in the rain and cold. My neighbor also bred dogs for a living. Not only were there thousands of pieces to pick up, but they were covered with dog poop. My legs were killing me, my back was killing me. It was at that time that I looked up to heaven and asked the Lord, “God, is there anything else I could be doing for you in the Kingdom of God right now?” How many of you know what I’m talking about?

 

I’ll never forget His response back to me. He said, “Son, I have you right where I want you.”

You see, I didn’t realize that some of God’s greatest works are done in obscurity and are covered with poop. It is in such places, that God develops the character of Jesus within us. We tell Him, “Lord, I’ll do anything you ask.” Then, He sends us outside to a yard covered with thousands of tiny shingle pieces covered with you know what in the rain and cold, and we act surprised! We say, “When I said anything, I didn’t mean this!”

 

It’s in these type of places that everything is flushed to the surface that is not God. It is in these places that we begin to smell something bad, and it’s not what we’re picking up. It’s the flesh that we see. It’s dependence on things other than Jesus that we smell. And for those of you who dare to call yourself by His name, you will spend your time in the yard with the shingles and the poop.

 

Doing “shingle time” may not seem to be rewarding in this life, but it is time well spent in the Kingdom of God.

 

What is God doing when you’re picking up shingles in the rain?

 

1.Teaching you that you don’t exist on anything other than God.

Picking up shingles usually is a time of decreased blessings. It is a time of decreased pride. It is time when ego is dismantled. It is also a time when there is less on the table. But, the Word of God tells us what is happening in Deuteronomy 8:2. It is God causing the hunger and doing the humbling so that you understand that He is your bread of life.

 

  1. Teaching you to walk by faith and not by sight.

You can’t go only where your five senses lead you and be able to walk with God. Isaiah 55:8 states, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. If His ways are not ours, nor our thoughts His, then we can never fulfill His will until we submit to His leading. He will purposefully lead us into situations that we have no answer for so that He can reveal Himself as glorious. If we insist on knowing everything up front before we follow,  we will never walk in His way.

 

  1. Teaching you to persevere.

Many people give up when a strong wind blows against them especially in today’s society where ease is highly valued. There’s an old saying that goes, “Nothing good ever comes easy.” It’s really true. The word persevere in the original Greek is hupomeno which means: to not flee, to endure bravely, to hold up under misfortune and trial. Did you notice that word misfortune? That means bad things. Perseverance is the womb from which character receives its life.

 

  1. Storing up promises just for you.

God’s does not offer us something and then when we finish says, “Oh, sorry, you can’t have that.” The promises in Him are always “Yes”. Nothing will take them away. Your lot is secure and in a pleasant and delightful place Psalm 16:5-6. The only thing we have to do is speak the “Amen” to the promise. We do that by our obedience and trust in Jesus.

 

Are you picking up poop covered shingles in the rain? Keep on keeping on. Remember the exhortation of Hebrews 6:12, “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and You!


 

Many of you remember the biblical account of Isaac’s two sons, Esau and Jacob. The two boys were born into a lineage of powerful promise. God had promised that Abraham’s descendants would inherit the land, and that from his line would come the Savior of the world.

When you looked at the two boys, you didn’t see much to inspire you.  Esau didn’t look the part of promise. He probably needed an image consultant. He was a large, hairy man. A man of appetites. He was a hunter and held the right of the firstborn.

Jacob, his younger brother looked even less likely to be the candidate of promise. He was not a warrior, but a man of the tents, more like an accountant or a similar profession. From birth, he was called a “trickster”. His character lacked the fiber to be used by God.

Yet, one of these two boys would be included in the line of people that would be identified with God. Their name would be breathed for centuries with His: “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and……”

Both of the two boys would enter the crucible of testing. The one who successfully endured the test of character would be the inheritor of the promise of God.

Just like these two boys, God wants to take you from where you are to the place of joy and authority. In between, is the greatest test of your life. Thank God, you will not be the first traveler on this path.

In fact, this is the normal pathway of God’s leading. You, at your current existence – yonder – the reality of authority and joy, and in between, shame and death to self.

But, as you approach this pathway, let me give you a word of encouragement. That’s right, encouragement. This pathway is the pathway of His children. This pathway is the pathway to discipleship. That which is illegitimate and weak in faith will not make it all the way through.

And, you must remember that this pathway, although challenging, is the pathway of love. God’s love prepared the pathway. Once you have walked this way, you will come to understand that love is its theme.

As you walk this road, remember these things:

  1. Treat hardship you encounter as discipline.

You have no choice as to whether you will face hardships in life, but you do have a choice as to how they will mold you. Your hardships can make you bitter at God or they can make you more like God. Bitter or better, it’s your choice. A sword is made sharper by filing it down to a cutting edge. Without discipline, you cannot be a disciple.

Luke 14:26 – “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

  1. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Sprints are over quickly. You give it all you’ve got for a short time and then you can stop. Well, life is not over quickly. That’s why the writer of Hebrews tells us to “Run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Sprints require speed, marathons require stamina. You must make up your mind that you are going to finish your course and outlast the enemy of your soul. Satan will try to wear you down. Be in good spiritual shape. Pray and read. There is no other way.

  1. Consider the outcome of your faith.

A runner always sees himself finishing the race in his mind before he ever gets to the finish line. You must do the same. You must see the joy you will experience when you finish. You must see yourself being given the victor’s crown. You must see yourself becoming more like Christ. The runner in this race will have every motive for running tested. Those running for love will have their name associated with God: The God of Abraham, Isaac, and You!

The book of Hebrews says that we are watched in this race by witnesses. These witnesses have three things in common:

They watch from a:

Historical perspective – they are spectators at our race.

Legal perspective – they are there to attest to the outcome.

Ethical perspective – they have proven themselves.

They watch to see if we will become an Esau or a Jacob. Will we sell our promise for a single bowl of stew or will we wrestle with God until He changes our walk and our name?

 

 

The Characteristics of Demonic Presence


As the people of God live in this world, they encounter many interesting things. I have often been asked by believers if a specific situation or individual is controlled or inspired by demonic power. I see many things myself that I wonder about.

As I watch certain situations or individuals, I often wonder: What is the origin of the plan? How did it get into the position it currently holds? Why is there such a strong deception surrounding it?

I’m not by any means an expert on the origin of things. I often wonder, just like you do about things. I also know that things do not have to be demonically originated to be offensive to God. Man, operating in his flesh can and will do things that are offensive to the Spirit of God. Flesh is rebellious and self centered by nature. Man is creative just like the One who made him. In his flesh, man can come up with some innovative ways to do evil.

If Satan boldly came forward; revealing himself even to fleshly man as the devil and announcing his plan, many would run for their lives. Satan comes under cover and often as an angel of light – tempting man through his own fleshly weaknesses to do his will.

As Jesus spoke to a group of people in John, chapter 8, He made no distinction between those living in the flesh and those possessed by the devil. In verse 44: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

A lack of faith in God and great pressure can make people do things that are unimaginable; fulfilling the very works of Satan.

When man exalts himself above God, he is fulfilling the desire of his father, Satan.

Let’s go through a few things that, according to scripture reveal the likely presence of demonic activity. This will probably not be an exhaustive list. There are some things I could miss or that we just aren’t sure of. This list is to be used as a guide not a diagnosis. There could be some things that closely mimic things on this list that are emotion or physical in origin.

  1. The use of magic, spells, incantations or idolatry to control events.

Simon who practiced sorcery in Acts 8, the slave girl who predicted the future in Acts 16 and the Jewish sorcerer and false prophet, Bar-Jesus in Acts 13 are examples of those using demonic power in the NT. Satan worship would be included here.

As far as idols: 1 Corinthians 10:19 – “Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.”

  1. The voice of “God” telling someone to do unbiblical activities.

There are many examples of people saying they heard “God’s” voice telling them to kill or do harm to others. Some say they have heard “God” tell them to do blatantly unbiblical things that exalt man or sin.

Satan has a desire to be God. He will disguise himself as God or an angel of light to confuse people. Voices that direct to do things against the Bible are not from God.

  1. A fascination with or a preoccupation with death.

Jesus came to give life. Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The demon possessed man in Mark lived in the tombs.

I’ve seen influences in philosophy and in music preoccupied with death. I’m not saying all involved are demon possessed but the influence behind this preoccupation is leading toward the downfall and destruction of man.

Mark 9:22 tells the story of the boy who had a demon  and how it had often tried to kill him by throwing him into fire or water. Satan tried to misuse Scripture to convince Jesus to commit suicide by jumping from the Temple roof.

  1. A tormented, perverted focus.

There are many people who are emotionally wounded. This is not what I’m talking about. The man in Mark kept everyone awake night after night crying out in pain and torment. The demons had such a hold on him that they were able to speak through him. These influences often see God as the enemy – rejecting him as the cause of their pain and the pain of the world.

  1. Mutilation of self or others.

The man in Mark would cut himself with stones. Many are so filled with delusion, self-hatred, or hatred for others that they begin to mutilate themselves or other people.

We must be careful here but as our society walks further away from God, these type of activities seem to be growing in frequency. Self hatred and self destruction are not from God.

  1. The presence of supernatural strength.

No one could bind the man in Mark 5. He was too strong. There are instances of great physical strength and even miraculous powers being done by those influenced by demons. You might notice much strength to do wrong or evil in a small place or maybe you have a situation that won’t respond to natural solutions. This COULD be an indication of demonic influence.

Acts 19:16 and Luke 8:26 are examples.

I’m going to stop right here for now. There are other things that can be associated with the presence of demonic activity that we see in some of these occurrences that could be an indication of the influence of demons directly or indirectly like nakedness and isolation, but as stated earlier, you have to be careful not to overstate a situation.

It is good to know our enemy so that we can spot his influence. We are not afraid of him, remember: Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world!