When I was a young pastor a woman began to attend our church. In the community she was known as a fire-starter. She used demons, not matches, to start fires. People spoke of her demonic talent in hushed, fear-based conversations. Since she had moved to our area two unexplained fires broke out in the homes of people she was associated with. The last “unexplained” fire burned to death members of her own family.
Late one night this woman called our home. When I answered the phone she began to speak in the most calm and professional sounding voice like she was a telemarketer hawking her wares. She said, “Pastor, I see flames in your home.” I said, “There will be no flames in our home. In Jesus name, I bind your words and render them powerless.” Then I hung up. We never saw her again.
When hell approaches our lives we have a choice. We can ignore or engage. Many choose to ignore the reality of hell and the work of demonic powers. Sixty-five times in the Gospels demonic activity is mentioned. This is not a subject that Scripture speaks of in hushed and fearful tones. Jesus sent His disciples out giving them authority over demons. He said this would be a noted characteristic of the ministry of those who follow Him.
In parts of the Church this conversation is avoided and in some cases mildly mocked as antiquated. This way of thinking may be a contributing factor to why some forms of evil seem to be running rampant through our culture. Some of the horrible things taking place in our world can only be attributed to the working of dark spirits. Paul called these “mighty powers” and “evil spirits”. The horrific acts taking place in our world can no longer be solely defined under the broad banners of mental illness, social injustice or bad choices. In most cases, these banner definitions are the by-products, not the empowering source of these issues.
Jesus never chased demons, but decisively dealt with them when they crossed His path. I have always wondered about the absence of demonic confrontation in the Western Church. Our sophistication and cultural development never chased away the dark powers assigned to bring social disorder. They are still here and working. If demonic powers aren’t crossing our path and manifesting their presence maybe we are on the wrong path.
The demonic spokesman for the legion of demons possessing the man in Mark 5 complained to Jesus and said, “Why are you interfering with me.” We are in a moment of history where this needs to be the complaint of hell against the Church once again. Our presence is supposed to interfere and disempower hell, not ignore its reality and influence in the affairs of culture.