Demonic Activity, Chthonic Events

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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
—John 10:10 ESV

San Bernardino, California, shootingIn San Bernardino, California, gun-toting, young parents of a 6-month-old daughter burst into a holiday party and shot and killed 14 people.

You live long enough and, sadly, you see just about everything, yet even this was unexpected to me. As a writer by trade, I’m always running little fictions through my head in the hopes of capturing a compelling story, yet never would I imagine a new mom plotting to kill a room full of people.

Craziness. Nonsense. Anarchy.

A friend suggested an answer, but it’s one we don’t usually consider. Now that I’ve pondered it, I think he may be right.

And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly.
—Matthew 17:14-18 ESV

A man comes to Jesus with a son who suffers from what the father deems a medical condition. But this seizure doesn’t randomly attack in a way that a normal medical condition would. This “epilepsy” directs the boy toward self-immolation and self-drowning. It seeks to kill and destroy. It has an anarchic, irrational purpose.

Jesus saw beyond the veil and into the eyes of pure evil. A thief had entered the “house” that was that poor boy, and it sought to steal a childhood, kill a young “homeowner,” and destroy a family.

And Jesus dealt with it the right way.

Nothing grinds our gears more than putting our trust in a medical system that gives us the wrong answer for what ails us. Too much is at stake to waste time trying to cure a misdiagnosed disease while the correct one goes untreated.

I’m sure the father in the scene above had seen doctors. They all gave him a bogus diagnosis. Even Jesus’ disciples approached the situation traditionally. Jesus, though, got it right.

I want to offer something we “scientific” Westerners don’t typically ponder.

What if the cause for all the craziness of recent days can’t be traced to a medical condition? What if it’s not mental illness? What if it’s not social isolation? What if it’s not religious beliefs gone awry?

What if it’s not any of the rational answers we grasp for in times like this?

What if, at the core of all this deranged activity we’re seeing on our nightly newscasts, it’s demons?

I don’t offer this lightly.

We don’t talk about demons in the West. That’s old-school stuff. We have better explanations, right?

I’ve shared before that I’ve encountered a few people who were genuinely possessed by or afflicted by demons. Not many, but enough to make a lasting impression.

What struck me in those cases was the sense that something was horribly, horribly wrong with that person. Not just an off-ness, but the feeling that an abominable crime against nature was occurring right before my eyes. Anarchy in skin. Torment personified.

The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. It often comes stealthily, violently lashing out unpredictably, randomly. One moment calm, the next, a snarling beast.

What causes a young mom and dad to kill a room full of people? What causes the quiet loner to go off and murder strangers? What causes a young man to shoot up a school?

I don’t know where you are in your worldview. I don’t know if you have a place in your typical explanation to suggest demons as a possibility.

But I think we can’t be blind about what we’re seeing.

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.
— C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

I end with this:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
—John 10:10 ESV

There is a Kingdom that is here now that dwarfs all other kingdoms, both of the earth and of the fallen. And the King of that Kingdom had a mission:

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
—1 John 3:8b ESV

Jesus gives abundant life. Jesus destroys the works of the demonic. Jesus is Lord over all.

Remember this, and never give up hope.

4 thoughts on “Demonic Activity, Chthonic Events

  1. Julie

    I’m with you on this, and have thought as much myself. I know people poo-poo demonic activity, because surely we are too modern and now have science and medicine and drugs to explain and deal with strange behavior.

    But I, too, came across someone, a woman in Nicaragua, who I believe was under demonic control. I’ve never seen or felt what I did when I looked in her eyes. It was like looking into a well that had no bottom, that you didn’t know what might spring out. The things she said, her voice — the hair on my arms went up, and you can tell me up and down that she was suffering from this or that mental illness but I won’t believe it.

    The problem is that there is no human law or background check or fix or mechanism or rule or practice that can control it, and we are necessarily trapped in a human world with human governance that is going to try anyway. And fail. But your last paragraphs are the whole point, and that’s what I remember when I am shocked at the violent actions we see on the news far too often now.

    • Julie,

      I think our rationalism is one reason why we see less of this in the West than elsewhere. Our worldview makes little place for demons, so in that way, the devils have already won, so no need for further meddling.

      As you note, though, one encounter is enough to shift your worldview 180 degrees. It happened to me too.

      The Bible says that this kind of activity will increase. Yes, people who have no room for demons in their worldview will flail for explanations.

      It truly will fall on Christians to be the calm amid the storm. People are going to look to us for support, and we need to understand the times.

  2. Heartspeak

    There is no doubt in my mind that much of the evil we see is demonic in nature. I’ve seen and dealt with it in my own family. (and this IS distinctly different from mental illness)

    One sure identifier, for me, is when something either defies all common sense or is 180 degrees opposite to the nature of God, there is a high probability of demonic presence, powers and principalities. I’ve even come to suspect that much of various world government(s), irrational behavior is similarly related.

    Striking that balance between ignoring or ultra-sensitivity is one of the reasons so few Christians today have any real life knowledge or experience in this realm. Unhealthy fascination goes down a bad path. Sin, (ignored, unconfessed, tolerated) in the life of the believer, renders the believer pretty much powerless to have an effect on the demonic world and can put us at a distinctly dangerous disadvantage if we try to intervene. But make no mistake, the Enemy’s minions are far more prevalent than we realize.

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