Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
June 21, 1998
Last Updated :
February 7, 2018
Demonic Attacks Within Our Christian Fellowships, Satan's Freedom Within The Circle Of The Twelve, Judas's Possession And Betrayal, Peter's Mindless Blunder And Rebuke, Jewish Concept Of The Messiah, A Kingdom Not Of This World, Peter And The Sword in Gethsemane, Universal Messiah vs A Jewish Messiah, Moshiach ben David, Saved Christians Can Become Satan's Tools, The Danger Of Unyielded Areas In Our Lives, Sowing Discord Among Brethren, False Jewish Brethren And Grievous Wolves, Satan's All-Out War Against God's Children, Steps For Obtaining A Victory, Demonstrate True Repentance, Goats And Yabbuts, Be Desperate Before The Lord, Psalm 51, Break Down The Wall Of Pride, Total Humility And Submission, Parable Of The Unclean Spirits, Suit Up In Your Armour And Then Stand Firm, When The Lord Seems To Have Abandoned Us, Removal Of God's Spirit, God Is Married To The Backslider, His Yoke Is Easy, Psalm 23, Heavenly Host, A Great Cloud Of Witnesses, Forsake All, Run The Race With Patience, Don't Live In The Past, Cherubims Seraphims Angels Heavenly Host, Roman Historian Publius Tacitus's Account Of Heavenly Host
As I explain in the series "Demonic Possession and Sickness: A Biblical Perspective", while a lot of demonic attacks can originate from without, such as occurs in the case of demonic oppression, it is important that we realize that Satan also possesses the ability to launch attacks from within our very own Christian fellowships as well. Such would certainly seem to be the case with Judas Iscariot, the Lord's betrayer. By God's preordained design, Satan apparently had some level of freedom within the circle of the Twelve Apostles. Even Jesus acknowledged this when He said the following:
"Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve."
John 6:70-71, KJV
Furthermore, based on the evidence that is found within the Scriptures, it would seem that Judas was not only demonically oppressed, he was also at least temporarily fully possessed by none other than Satan himself. Consider this verse:
"And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly."
John 13:27, KJV
Not only was Judas possessed, which led to his betrayal of the Lord, but as you may also recall, there was one occasion where the Lord even had to openly rebuke Peter, because Peter unknowingly became the Devil's mouthpiece, as we see by the following verses:
"From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."
Matthew 16:21-23, KJV
Obviously, there was no evil intent on Peter's part. Jesus was his friend, and he simply didn't want the Lord to die. As I explain in other articles, Peter's problem at that time was that he did not yet fully understand God's Plan of Salvation. Like so many other Jews of that era, he erroneously assumed that in the role of the Messiah, Jesus would defeat Rome, and restore Israel and Jerusalem to its former glory. That is why Jesus said to Peter "thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men". In Peter's mind, how could a physical kingdom be established, if its leader, the Messiah, was dead? But, as Jesus made very plain to Pontius Pilate, His Kingdom is not of this world:
"Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."
John 18:36, KJV
Even on the night of the Lord's betrayal, apparently, Peter still didn't get it; which is why he pulled out a sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the High Priest. He still wanted to protect Jesus so that a physical kingdom could be established, as we see here:
"And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"
Matthew 26:51-54, KJV
"Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?"
John 18:10-11, KJV
So based on Peter's actions, it seems that he still had not grasped the idea that Jesus's sole mission was to die for the sins of the world as a Universal Messiah, and that it was not a part of His plan to stay alive, so that He could become an Earth-based Jewish Messiah who would defeat the enemies of Israel -- namely Rome -- and rule over a restored Kingdom of David. As I said, this misconception was probably embraced by most of His followers at that time. In fact, as I explain in such articles as "To Tell the Truth: Moshiach, Mahdi or the Messiah?" and "The Kings of the North and the South", that continues to be the concept of "messiah" which is embraced by many religious Jews to this very day. To be more specific, the Orthodox Jews continue to wait for the arrival of Moshiach ben David -- or Messiah, son of David. So this understanding of the word "messiah" was the root of Peter's well-meaning blunder.
Based on the previous Scriptural evidence concerning Judas and Peter, it is my personal belief that even though a person believes in Jesus and may be saved, as the Apostle Peter most certainly was, he can still become a tool of Satan if he is not totally submitted to the Lord. If there are any unyielded areas in a Christian's life, they can serve as a crack in his spiritual armour; and Satan will most certainly seek to take advantage of that weakness, in order to try to sow dissension and discord among brethren. This is precisely what we're told in the Book of Proverbs, and it is an abomination to the Lord, as we see here:
"These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."
Proverbs 6:16-19, KJV
As we saw earlier in this series and as I more amply explain in other articles, the First Century Church was plagued by such spiritual attacks. The leaders of the Early Church had to constantly contend with certain legalistic Jews who would secretly infiltrate their fellowships, and feign to be true brethren, for the sole purpose of attempting to ensnare the Disciples under the weight of the Mosaic Law. These deceivers used issues such as dietary laws, the observance of certain holy days and circumcision as tools in their efforts to trap and divide the brethren. The Apostle Paul was particularly vociferous about this problem in his Epistles, and referred to these troublemakers as false apostles, deceitful workers, false angels of light, false brethren, grievous wolves, evil workers and dogs. Consider again the following verses:
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."
Acts 20:28-30, KJV
"And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:"
Galatians 2:4, KJV
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works . . . In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;"
2 Corinthians 11:13-15, 26, KJV
"Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision."
Philippians 3:2, KJV
Thus we see that Satan doesn't limit his attacks to one area or method alone. He and his demons have launched an all-out war against the Lord and His children. Our spiritual enemy can and will attack anywhere and at anytime if we allow him to; and we do allow him if we have areas in our lives that are not totally yielded to the Lord. As I suggested earlier, perhaps this is one of the reasons why some of you have been experiencing such serious demonic attacks. I honestly do not know. You must personally seek the Lord and find out for yourselves. As I explained before, personally, I have never experienced such things, or witnessed such things occurring to others, so the advice that I can offer you is limited to what I have learned from the Scriptures.
Before concluding this series, allow me to reiterate some of the points that we have covered in order to help some of you to obtain a victory over these dark experiences which having been occurring in your lives.
As I stated a moment ago, one of the very first things that you need to do -- if you haven't done it already -- is to come spiritually clean before the Lord, and before anyone else against whom you may have sinned. The Lord is indeed willing, and eager, to forgive you for your transgressions; but as I explain in the article "Love, Mercy, Forgiveness and Chastisement", that forgiveness will not be forthcoming unless you first demonstrate true unconditional repentance, without any manner of justification on your part.
In other words, you can't say "I am sorry . . . but"; or "I know that I was wrong . . . but". You can't be a goat who is always butting. Neither can you be a "yabbut" who is always "Yeah . . . but". That just won't work with the Lord. You must demonstrate full and total humility before the Lord, and you must be desperate about your situation as well. As King David cried out in his own moment of desperation after terribly sinning against the Lord:
"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."
Psalm 51:10, KJV
I encourage you to read the entire Psalm, as it is a most wonderful and heartfelt prayer of repentance by King David.
Once you have humbled yourself and sought forgiveness, that wall of sin which you've constructed around your heart will begin to break down. The bricks of pride and self-righteous ego which have separated you from the Lord, and perhaps even from your brethren, will begin to dissolve, as you begin to immerse yourself once again in God's wonderful Word. As you endeavor to submit yourself to His Will, the cloud which has enveloped your life will lift, and you will see the Son once again. From that point forward, you must endeavor to keep a clean house, and continually be on the lookout for future pitfalls, lest you suddenly find yourself in an even worse condition. Consider the following verses:
"But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."
James 4:6-10, KJV
"Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:"
1 Peter 5:5-6, KJV
"When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation."
Matthew 12:43-45, KJV
Having done all of these things, and having suited up in your spiritual armour once again, you must then do as the Apostle Paul admonishes us to do; and that is to stand firm, and not allow Satan to take advantage of you again. Paul tells us:
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:"
Ephesians 6:10-17, KJV
But don't think for a minute that you must stand alone, or that the battle is yours alone, for it most certainly is not.
As I explain in such articles as "Beholding the Evil and the Good", sometimes the Lord purposely chooses to step back for a while, so that we can experience what it is like to have to battle on without His help. He is obviously still there; but as He has done throughout history with His children, He knows when we sometimes need to experience Satan's big guns in order to get us back on track again. If we remain adamant in our rebellion against the Lord, then we shouldn't be too surprised if at some point He decides to remove His Spirit from us as well. After King David sinned against the Lord by first committing adultery with Bathsheba, and then having Bathsheba's husband, Uriah the Hittite, slain in battle, he was concerned that the Lord might do this very thing. Thus, in Psalm Fifty-One, David also wrote this line:
"Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me."
Psalm 51:11, KJV
Why would David pray such a thing unless he knew that it was possible for us to lose the Lord's Spirit? Thus again we see that in certain situations, the Lord will indeed abandon us temporarily in order to allow us to learn the lesson that He is trying to teach us. As the old saying goes, "If you feel far from the Lord, who moved?". So, the battle is not yours alone. The Lord has been there fighting along your side the entire time. As with the Patriarch Job, He may allow Satan to occasionally buffet you if you are being particularly rebellious, but as we have already seen, He will never leave you or forsake you entirely. In fact, God's Word informs us that He is married to the backslider, as we see by this verse:
"Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:"
Jeremiah 3:14, KJV
Furthermore, if at times you do grow weary in battle, please remember that the Lord is always there to lift you up. Jesus Himself offers us His spiritual rest when He tells us the following in the Gospel of Matthew:
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30, KJV
Please also consider reading one of the longtime favorite Psalms of many generations, Psalm 23. In spite of being a man of war, even King David knew how to find rest in the Lord, as is demonstrated by this beautiful Psalm.
While the Lord is always at the forefront of the battle, He is by no means alone. God's Word informs us that the entire Heavenly Host is at His disposal and command, and it seems that they may likewise be at our disposal as well, and are ready to assist us when we face demonic attacks, if we have the faith to believe. It only seems natural that if Satan has a dark, oppressive, demonic cloud as some of my readers have described it to me, then the Lord must have His very own "cloud" as well. We find a brief description of this "cloud" at the beginning of Hebrews chapter twelve, as we see here:
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,"
Hebrews 12:1, KJV
When I read the previous verse, I can just imagine each of the Lord's children running in a marathon with Eternal Life as the prize; while surrounding us on all sides -- and very much unlike the ungodly crowds which filled the Circus of Nero and craved the blood of the Christian martyrs -- are the Christian Saints and Martyrs of past generations, who are excitedly cheering us on, and encouraging us to finish the race. No doubt this great cloud of witnesses includes the heroes of faith that Paul mentions in chapter eleven, and much more. This isn't the only place where the Apostle Paul mentions this great race of faith. He also penned the following verses where he describes his own personal race:
"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown: but we an incorruptible: I therefore so run, not as uncertainly: so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
1 Corinthians 9:24-27, KJV
"Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain."
Philippians 2:16, KJV
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:13-14, KJV
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
2 Timothy 4:6-8, KJV
Please notice that in the verses from Hebrews and Philippians, Paul offers us some clear guidelines regarding exactly how to win the race. First he states "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us". Now, wouldn't you be a bit shocked if you attended a particular marathon, and upon looking down at the course, you noticed that all of the runners had huge weights strapped to their ankles, so that they could barely even lift up their legs to run? You would certainly say to yourself, "Well, they are never going to win the race that way!". Surprisingly, that is precisely how a lot of Christians are today. We allow our personal sins and shortcomings, and the "old man" of the flesh, to weight us down so heavily, that we couldn't run a successful race even if we tried.
The simple truth of the matter is that if we truly expect to be able to outrun, outpace and outmaneuver the enemy of our souls who is nipping at our heels, and win the race, then we must follow Jesus' wise advice when He said the following.
"So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
Luke 14:33, KJV
So as the Apostle Paul states, we each need to cast off the dead weights which drag us down -- meaning our own sins -- so that we can fight together against our common enemy, and run the race together as well. We need to forsake all, as Jesus says. Maybe we think that we have forsaken all because we've given up family members and certain friends who don't accept our faith; and perhaps we have obtained the victory over a few bad habits as well; but until we have forsaken our pride, and our self-righteous attitude, or whatever other sins are holding us back from serving the Lord with our whole heart, then we truly have not forsaken all, and it may yet hinder us in the future.
In his Epistle to the Philippians, Paul also says "forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before". We can't continue to dwell on past sins and past mistakes, or we will never get anywhere. Satan would just love to see us spend the rest of our mortal lives living in remorse over our past failures, but we must resist the temptation to do this. In fact, we shouldn't even dwell on past victories either. Gloating about the past is just as futile as having remorse over the past. The past is the past, and there is nothing that we can do to change it, whether it was bad or good, so let's do as Paul advises us to do, and be forward-thinking Christians. Let's keep our eyes on the prize that's ahead.
Earlier, we discussed the great cloud of witnesses. I wonder. Is it possible that in addition to cheering us on, this great cloud of witnesses wishes to assist during our time of need? They obviously realize that we could use their help, and that it is difficult for us to fight the battle alone here in the physical realm. As it turns out, and as the Bible makes very clear, the Spirit World isn't just populated by all of God's Saints of the past. We are told that it is also in that place where Archangels, Cherubims, Seraphims, lower Angels and other magnificent creatures dwell. Furthermore, it is likewise the headquarters of God's Heavenly Host. As I point out in other articles, in the Bible, the word "host" is often used to mean an army, and that's precisely what it means in this particular case. Having said that, please enjoy the following wonderful verses which describe a few Divine Interventions in the past, where the Heavenly Host has assisted humanity:
"And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so."
Joshua 5:13-15, KJV
"And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."
2 Kings 6:17, KJV
"Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days. And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me. Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince."
Daniel 10:5-21, KJV
While all of the previous verses are derived from the King James Version of the Bible, there is one additional excerpt that I would like to share with you concerning the Heavenly Host. What makes this excerpt so unusual -- at least to me -- is that it isn't found in a Christian source; rather, its author is the Roman senator and historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus. One of Tacitus's surviving works is the five-volume "The Histories". This work deals in part with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD by Roman forces under the command of General Titus, who was the son of Emperor Vespasian. In the last chapter of Book V -- chapter thirteen -- Tacitus notes the following very unusual events that occurred in the skies over the doomed city. Please read very carefully, and be amazed:
----- Begin Quote -----
"Prodigies had occurred, which this nation, prone to superstition, but hating all religious rites, did not deem it lawful to expiate by offering and sacrifice. There had been seen hosts joining battle in the skies, the fiery gleam of arms, the temple illuminated by a sudden radiance from the clouds. The doors of the inner shrine were suddenly thrown open, and a voice of more than mortal tone was heard to cry that the Gods were departing. At the same instant there was a mighty stir as of departure."
----- End Quote -----
Please go to part four for the conclusion of this series.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .