|(Holy) Spirit||56||:||7||(evil/unclean/divination) spirit|
One of the things that always gets my alarm bells ringing theologically is an over-emphasis on demons and the demonic. It is so out of step with the emphasis in the New Testament. And yet it is not uncommon to hear Christians talk about being "under spiritual attack", or to hear of spiritual warfare in terms of "discerning the demonic forces over an area." When you listen to some people talking you would think there were demons round every corner, and demons responsible for every little niggle of life!
Now I don't deny that demons are real, or that our battle is against spiritual forces in the heavenly realms; it's just that I don't see a lot of emphasis or talk about demons in the New Testament. When they are mentioned it is usually in the context of Jesus driving them out with a word or having authority over them. When Paul drove out evil spirits in the book of Acts, he didn't even bother to turn up in person, but just sent along a handkerchief. On another occasion (with the spirit of divination) it seemed he would much rather ignore the spirit than even condescend to give it his attention (until his patience was finally exhausted). And when the apostles returned to Jesus full of excitement that the demons submitted to them in his name, he was quick to refocus them upon the good news of the Gospel - that their names were written in heaven.
It is important, therefore, to keep a sense of perspective when talking about demons. Here are some facts to bear in mind.
Demons are a distraction
Satan's rebellion arose when he tried to divert the worship and focus that belonged to God towards himself. Nothing has changed. The main purpose of demonic activity is still to divert people away from giving their worship and attention to God. When we give them too much attention we play right into their hand.
It does not require much discernment to recognise demonic possession
You never read in the gospel accounts of people puzzling over what was the matter with a person who was possessed by demons. Everyone recognised; everyone knew. It didn't require a specialist or someone with a gift of discernment to come in and tell them that was the problem. When Jesus drove out demons, although many questioned how he did it, no one questioned what he had done. Demonic doctrine (distortion of true Christian teaching) is another matter, but direct demonic activity is not subtle or hidden - it's obvious.
There are more angels than demons
By my reconning there are at least two angels for every demon (if we take some prophetic imagery as literal) If we take the emphasis in the book of acts as representative then it is more like 3:1. So if we take the Bible as our guide for what should be normative in our Christian life we should expect at least three angelic visitations for every demonic manifestation! One question I always want to ask those who see demons everywhere is, "How many angels have you seen!?" If like Elisha's servant we have our eyes opened to the heavenly realities around us, we will see it is not the demons that surround us, but the host of heaven! [2Ki 6:17]
Demons fear Christians
Did you ever hear it said of some creepy-crawly or slippery reptile: "It's more afraid of you than you are of it"? Well, the same is certainly true of the demons. You don't need to have some special ministry of exorcism to drive them out - Christ himself is in you - and he is more than enough every time. Acts 19 shows that even the mention of his name is often enough (it took a brave demon to finally call the sons of Sceva's bluff). If Christ is within you you have nothing to fear from any power of evil. He who is within you is greater. [1Jn 4:4]
Don't give your attention to the darkness, look to the light. Live in the light, walk in the light, let the light of God shine on you and in you and through you. You'll find that the darkness beats a retreat by itself! Focus on the realities of heaven and laying a hold of them; focus on the good news of the gospel of the kingdom and you will find that as heaven invades earth it drives out the shadows as a direct consequence.
Don't go looking for demons, there are much better manifestations to pursue!