The Devil as a Roaring Lion…
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” 1 Peter 5:8
I’ve made mention more than a few times that I was once a New Age seeker. When I was into that scene, I’d experiment with different meditation techniques, and other unmentionables.
A friend of mine at the time shared these interests. We collaborated on our experiences. They were fun and exciting and ranged from psychic to physical manifestations. What wasn’t so much fun were what I call “the visitations.” These seemingly happened out of the blue.
It’s embarrassing to admit that a nightly excursion to the bathroom could be interrupted by a feeling of dread over an invisible presence. There was no sound of chains dragging out of a hellish dungeon – just a primal fear.
Even though I was agnostic regarding the Devil, I instinctively called on Jesus Christ for help. My fear abruptly vanished. I was never going to admit the incident to my gym-rat friends. They wouldn’t have understood. No one would, unless they’d experienced it personally.
Interestingly, my friend had these “visits” as well. I now understand that our ignorant experimentations were analogous to leaving your front porch light switched on during Halloween night. I had literally opened the door to the demonic.
You may assume that once one leaves all the occult stuff behind that it would spell the end of demonic attacks. You’d be wrong.
For a few years I coasted along without incident. I became a Christian. Then I began to detect little patterns of oppression. The first time was after an article I’d written about the New Age. Sometimes these also manifested when I wrote about anti-Semitism. I’d suddenly feel grumpier than usual and have restless nights.
My skepticism could easily compartmentalize this into a psychological bucket, or even a sense of self-importance. It gets a little trickier when family members also experience these incidents.
During one particular night one of us experienced a terrible nightmare. Another woke up afraid because of some presence and was led to desperately pray for deliverance from it. The third couldn’t sleep because of an abnormally acute and uncharacteristic anxiety. These events occurred at approximately the same time.
Then there was the time when I was hit with a concentrated dose of oppression. It began on a Sunday night and reached its crescendo the next morning. I’m never at my best on a Monday morning but had never before experienced such irrational thoughts and self doubting.
Suddenly I imagined I wasn’t good enough to write the article I’d been working on. Not good enough to be married to my lovely wife. I didn’t want to be on this earth etc. I retired back to my bed a thoroughly defeated man even after trying to pray it through.
It was via my wife’s private intercessory prayer that God shined His light over the darkness which was oppressing me. The resulting difference in answer to her prayer was profound.
I’m comforted by the fact that this also happened to Pastor Chip Ingram (The Invisible War). In one of many incidents, Ingram recounts the time when he began his day in a perfect way. His wife was gracious to him and he had had a meaningful time with the Lord. Yet just before he was about to teach that same day, a “black curtain” dropped over him.
He was quickly engulfed with thoughts such as: he didn’t want to live anymore; he didn’t want to teach anymore; that he was a terrible person etc. It eventually dawned on him he was scheduled to teach on spiritual warfare. He was being attacked. The Devil doesn’t like intrusions into his territory.
Are you still skeptical? Ingram drew from practical experiences based on his ministry in Santa Cruz, which is steeped in paganism and Satanism. He also draws from the sober writings of Charles H. Spurgeon and William Gurnall (The Christian in Complete Armour).
In Prayer & Spiritual Warfare, Spurgeon noted:
My soul is in prayer, so it would be unnatural that I should then blaspheme, yet then the blasphemy comes. Therefore it is clearly satanic and not from my own mind. If I am set upon doing my Master’s will but a cowardly thought assails me, that idea, which differs from the natural bent of my mind and thoughts, may be at once ejected as not being mine and may be set down to the account of the Devil, who is the true father of it. (p 539)
Has it ever happened to you? It happened to me and to my wife. Alesia had been praying one night when a blasphemous thought entered her mind. When she prayed over it she also heard an inner cackling giggle. These aren’t isolated cases.
Why do random concerns and thoughts suddenly intrude in the quiet stillness of the morning when you’re trying to pray and worship the Lord? How is it that the house can be quiet and still, yet as soon as you begin to pray, a stink bug decides to buzz the room and distract you? What about that scratching noise in the fireplace that wasn’t there a second ago and stops when you’ve finished praying?
Yes, there are coincidences. We shouldn’t be hunting for demons in every dark corner. However, Chip Ingram identifies five occasions when Christians ought to expect attacks:
1) When Christians are “taking significant steps of spiritual growth.” Satan wants to keep us ineffectual.
2) Invading enemy territory. Are you witnessing to the lost or considering a mission trip? As mentioned above, the Devil jealously guards his terrain.
3) Exposing the enemy. Satan likes to work behind the scenes. Expose him and he will retaliate.
4) When you are breaking away from the world. The world is Satan’s domain and he wants to keep you in it.
5) Blessings to come. As Ingram puts it, sometimes spiritual opposition is an indicator that one is “worthy of attention of the kingdom of darkness.” He writes:
Unexplained spiritual opposition can be an excellent indicator that God has something very special around the corner. (p 134, The Invisible War)
Charles Spurgeon is known as the Prince of Preachers. Yet he was dogged by depression and health issues. Moreover he was the target of personal attacks from the secular world and within Christianity as he routinely defended God’s Word against atheism and liberalism. He knew a thing or two about Spiritual Warfare.
The Apostle Paul identified the Christian’s opposition as not against flesh and blood but rulers and powers (kosmokrator) of this world and spiritual forces in the heavenly realms (Eph 6:12). He admonished Christians to put on the Armor of God and wield the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
See Dr Paul Henebury’s article The Christian’s Warfare and Armor. He writes on the need for prayer:
A man can be watchful, whether he is armed or not. Prayer keeps us spiritually alert. By continual communion with God, and by making requests of Him (i.e. supplication) we can maintain an awareness of the needs of both ourselves and of others. We are to look out prayerfully for all saints.
It was my wife’s prayer which broke the dark spiritual funk I was in. We ought to pray for others, particularly pastors and missionaries. We should also seek to join with our brothers and sisters in weekly prayer meetings. It is better to do battle as a team than alone, especially during these challenging times.
Finally it’s important for us all to remember Christ’s victory over Satan. We should not feel defeated:
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1John 4:4 (Also 1 John 5:3-5)
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1Co 15:57-58 (See also Romans 8:31-39)
The Lord is our victory.