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Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.–Mark 23-26

Demons fascinate people.  Books on demonic possession become best sellers.  Movies starring zombies and vampires and evil spirits set box office records.

Funny to say, even some facets of Christianity are possessed by obsessive thoughts of demons duking it out with the angelic armies of God. Um–let’s see—don’t we believe that Christ’s death and resurrection overcomes evil?  So why would we perpetuate the idea that evil just might win in the end if we don’t mind our p’s and q’s? Evil is stronger than God–or equally strong, or almost as strong?  I don’t think so.demon1

Perhaps there are demon imps running around my living room–fortunately, if they’re there, I’ve never met any of them. (My son would like to blame them for the mysterious pink spots in the carpet, but I know that came from a spilled container of body wash in his gym bag.)

 I do wonder, however, by what scriptural authority anyone thinks spiritual warfare is a subject we should lay awake at night worrying about? Focus on evil, and all you’re going to going to see evil.  Is that what Jesus taught?

Take this passage from Mark. Jesus doesn’t engage in an argument with the evil that stumbles into the synagogue.  He doesn’t launch into a long sermon to convert evil to good.  

He doesn’t even break a sweat.  “Be quiet, and leave that man alone.”

The evil fights hard to hang around.  The evil doesn’t want to let go.  But there’s no epic battle of good versus evil going on in this passage.  Good isn’t threatened.  Good can’t be intimidated.  Good can’t be goaded into an argument.

Good–Jesus, God–just gives a command and evil has to leave.  End of story.

Perhaps there are demons, but I think human beings are plenty capable of causing all kinds of chaos on their own, without any help.  The demons I’m familiar with are man-made demons–addictions, tightly held grudges regularly fertilized with self-justification, prejudices, past hurts, fears, bad attitudes.  They grip us tightly and we can’t shake them. We focus on them. We nurture them and allow them to grow.  We use them to challenge God to leave us alone.

We can trust the authority of Christ to banish evil.  Starting not with outside forces, but the evil that lurks within us.

(For more information on the image of Satan included in this post, look here.)