Blog Devotionals

What Jesus Says about Evil Spirits

April 15, 2024 | Sam Rainer

         I remember pulling a book titled This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti, off my dad’s shelf when I was in third grade. I have no idea why he let me read it. The cover depicted giant bird claws in the sky creeping down like a hovering cloud over a small church. I could tell the novel was going to be scary, but my curiosity compelled me to read it. The book was a Christian work on the dangers of spiritual warfare—perfect for a nine-year-old boy. Satan will disguise himself as an angel of light. He loves to be a false beacon of hope, drawing people closer through deception before they realize the dangers of the waters around them. Jesus addresses this problem in Matthew 12 after He heals a demon-possessed man. We’ll
cover a lot more on Sunday, but I’ll pose a question for this short devotional. How do you know where to draw the line?

Darkness simultaneously repulses and allures us. This dual effect is why we cover our eyes at horror movies but still get a thrill. It’s why my eldest daughter loves the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney. It’s why people both pursue and fear paranormal activity. Growing up, I watched every episode of the X-Files. The show was entertaining, but I never thought aliens might abduct me. However, the same show really spooked my wife when she was younger. I recognize the nuances of these issues. Though I was allowed to read This Present Darkness,
my parents would have grounded me for years if I had played with an Ouija board. Should Christians watch horror movies? Or read zombie apocalypse books? Should children take the
Haunted Mansion ride while visiting the Magic Kingdom? Though questions like these may be important, focusing too much on them can cause us to overlook the bigger issues of spiritual warfare.

The problem is that it’s difficult to shut the door to the world of demons once you’ve opened it. But where is the line between entertainment and evil? Perhaps one tell-tale sign is a feeling of spiritual oppression. In Acts 19, during a revival in Ephesus under Paul, people burned “magic books” with an estimated value of six to seven million dollars (in today’s dollars). In 1 Corinthians 15:32, Paul fought the wild beasts in Ephesus, likely referencing demons and the powers of darkness. Paul’s life is a reminder we will face Satan’s opposition to varying degrees in our lives. Why invite more of it in?