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Sunday, November 23, 2014

What do you make of this?

Posted by Gary on September 23, 2005

I came across this interesting story today. Soldiers staying in a middle school in New Orleans report sensing a spiritual presence in the building and also claim that they have seen and heard things that they regard as a spiritual presence. You can read the article here and also watch the local CBS coverage of the story.

Let me say that I am not quick to believe stories such as these but I do not want to be quick to disregard it either. Many of my Reformed brothers and I have made the point that God is sovereign over and involved in the events concerning hurricane Katrina. Should we be surprised where God is at work to see the manifestation of spiritual realities and the devil?

If you know anything about New Orleans you know that it is steeped to the throat in sinfulness. Yes, there is sin everywhere but not to the same degree.  This city has embraced Satan both in the lewd acts of those who live and visit there but also in the realm of witchcraft and voodoo.

I’m afraid that many of us Reformed folk no longer have a place for the reality of spiritual manifestations in our time. We are so concerned to avoid what is false and sensational that I fear we are avoiding the truth. I’m preaching through the book of Ephesians and reading Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s commentary (sermons) on Ephesians. It is amazing to listen to Lloyd-Jones, the hero of many a Reformed pastor today and his thoughts on the reality of the devil and spiritual warfare. I can assure you that our present attitude toward these things  is not reflected in the words and thoughts of Lloyd-Jones. Commenting on Ephesians 6:10-24 he says:

"I am
certain that one of the main causes of the ill state of the church today is the
fact that the devil is being forgotten."

Perhaps one of the devil’s greatest deceptions is to lull us into a state where we no longer view him as real and at work.

Comments

5 Responses to “What do you make of this?”
  1. Chris Atkins says:

    Why do you think that we Reformed men have to be so often reminded of the realities of spiritual warfare?

  2. Gary says:

    Dear Chris,

    Just so I know, are you saying by your question that you think we really do need to be reminded and don’t know why or are you saying that there is a perception that we need to be reminded that really isn’t necessary? I wasn’t sure about how to take your question.

  3. Chris Atkins says:

    Sorry about the confusion. It’s my assessment that Reformed men (myself included) shy away from the realities of spiritual warfare. Do you agree? If so, why do you think we do that?

  4. Gary says:

    Dear Chris,

    I’m not sure I fully know but I think in part it has something to do with our emphasis on intellect. For some reason we pit intellect against experience. I remember reading Lloyd-Jones once telling a story about how a friend described the response of people at a religious meeting. Apparently many responded to the call to come to Christ and the friend was happy to announce that they responded with no emotion and he regarded this as a good thing. Lloyd-Jones asked how men could hear about the realities of hell and God’s love in Christ and be unaffected emotionally. I know we are not discussing emotion but I think the same principle applies, spiritual warfare is very experiential and we do not see intellect being compatible.

    I’m sure that it also has something to do with reacting to a rather large (and visible) element within Christianity that teaches that there is a demon behind every corner and that every sin, addiction and difficulty can be explained by demonic oppression. I have to laugh because I had written out this answer one time including what will follow in a moment and I bumped my keypad and this page closed and I lost everything I typed, my first thought was, this is spiritual opposition here-ha!

    I do wonder if spiritual warfare is so far from our thinking because we have so little involvement in the spiritual realm. I often think about the seven sons of Sceva who attempted to cast out demons by saying “I adjure you in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches.” The demon responds by saying to them, “Jesus I recognize and Paul I know but who are you?”

    I often wonder if I am recognized in the spiritual realm. What I mean is that Paul and the early Christians were not unaware of the realities of spiritual warfare and I think it was because they were committed to prayer and witnessing and declaring Christ. Sometimes I think we talk a lot about these things but really are not doing them and because we are not living spiritual lives we draw no attention from the spiritual realm.

    I don’t rule out as I mentioned at the end of my post that our lack of concentration here can be explained as a tactic of the devil itself.

    By laying low and creating an atmosphere where sin is labeled “illness” and man is allowed to think that he is the ultimate the devil passes from our minds. Concerning the Church the devil is glad to have us think that programming, “relevance” and numbers are the path to victory (as opposed to preaching the Word and wielding the spiritual-not carnal weapons God has made available to us). As long as he achieves his goal I don’t think he cares whether we acknowledge him or not.

    I tend to think that the devil takes the greatest pleasure from having men perish thinking that he doesn’t exist. This is and has been a very effective strategy.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. I’d be interested to hear yours.

  5. geri says:

    I was wondering why, people always assume that something spiritual as in the story always comes from satan dont you think that the Lord can use these things for His own purpose.to teach us a lesson ,or give us a better understanding of what He expects of us?

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