“Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, ‘In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.’ Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?’ Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.”
I have many different thoughts that barrage my mind when I listen to a person say she doesn’t believe in God. One particular block inevitably appears in my mind and I cannot shake it. It is like a brittle shaking brought on from fever when I remember this hidden thing.
A person can scoff and laugh at believers. Gesturing with her hands she can make the cut-throat symbol and grin. These people who believe in God, or any god, what a bunch of fucking crazy fools. Their parents nursed them on religion, they’ve been brainwashed, they think the word jihad has a nice ring to it. They’re a sub species of human. They’re so useless, like the fat that is sliced off of the meat.
If a person has thoughts such as these thrumming through her head, it is clear that she has perceived these things based off of observances of tangible, visible objects. She’s seen it and carefully drawn a pattern on a piece of paper without ever looking down to see if the lines are straight and not overlapping. Once this picture is finished, it’s so difficult to change it. Humans love to be settled in their ways.
I’m not interested in discussing the arrogance that non-believers may carry in their chests nor the egotism in suggesting that they are better than believers. I’m not perturbed by whispers of archaic beliefs that smother education and science. I’m not concerned with group think phenomena or any kind of coping mechanisms that humans develop due to existential crisis.
Such notions are important to discuss, but these are not the reasons I am considering at this moment. In fact, one infantile thought is floating just below the consciousness of people when they hear the word “god.” It’s a shadow of a shadow. It flickers, it moves, we stamp it down deeper and deeper. Just forget about it. Live your life and don’t think about it.
But you know it’s there. Actually, it’s not who is there, but what is there.
Spirits. Hauntings. Possession. Exorcism. Demons.
That’s the path I’ve intended to take. When I’ve heard a person vehemently curse God and passionately call challenge to Him, when I’ve witnessed a person laughing at believers like they have no meaning, when I’ve watched aggression swell up in the heart of a person to the point where she is stalking around ready for a fight, I come back to this thought. If it welcomes me, I come back to this thought.
If you don’t believe in God, okay then, but my love, what about the demon breathing in your ear? Oh, my love, my sweet, I should think that you are content with your decision: there is no God. But I just have a little problem…could you please come with me? There’s a place I’d like you to visit.
Come with me away from other people so it’s just you and me alone. Walk with me during the day so you can see where your feet fall and you do not trip or stumble. Follow me into this house because I need you to do something. This is no ordinary house. This is a possessed house. Now, you tell me that God does not exist. Your friends may have supported you or your family stood by you, maybe a lover was nearby and nodded in agreement with you. But now it is just you here.
I want you to stay in this house overnight. Just for one night. You can sleep or do anything you like. You can read or listen to music or wander about. But you do need to do something. If you should experience something…strange, you must affirm yourself again: there is no God. If you hear footsteps in the empty house or you feel a cold spot in the room, reinstate your position: there is no God. If you see a pale face in the darkness or hear the voice of a person while you are alone, go ahead and say it again: there is no God. If a dish flies across the room or fingernails drag down the wall, confide to yourself: there is no God.
You see, a person has no problem shaking a fist at God. God’s not fazed by this kind of behavior.
“So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.” Psalm 81:12
God said this and meant that humans can follow the evil they like. He’s not going to bring about His wrath until the last day when his son will return to judge the people of the Earth (Matthew 25:31-46). Until then, God will not provide any signs for people because they ask out of the wickedness in their hearts.
“Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to (Jesus), ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.’ He answered, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.’” Matthew 12:38-39
Jesus performed miracles among the people. Healings and forcing out of evil spirits and many other amazing things, but it was never good enough for people.
“Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.’” John 10:25-27
Even when the people of that time saw Jesus in the flesh, performing these miracles, they didn’t believe in him. They saw him with their own eyes. Now hundreds of years later some people flip through the Bible and with the same bitterness they too deride at the stories of Jesus. Whether they saw Jesus for themselves or read about him, their hearts were and are hard. It did not matter how they learned because it was like a ray of light trying to enter through a sealed tomb. They get what they want and what they want is to refuse the truth and to refuse God.
I like to imagine this atheist in my head. She’s sitting by herself in that decrepit house. It’s the dead of night when the earth swings low and humans fear the dark. She hums to herself, looking around the empty room. She tells herself that it’s just a house. Her mind might play tricks on her, but it’s only because she’s tired or paranoid or both. It doesn’t matter. There is no God, therefore no Satan, no ghosts, nothing. She’s okay. Just keep breathing in and out and soon the sun will rise.
Oh, my love, don’t try to sleep, that is my advice. But wait, you’re already asleep. In fact, you have never been awake in your lifetime.
“And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Romans 13:11-12
Do not be fooled. You are not alone in that house. The devil is very real and he adores the suffering of people. Why do you think this world is such a terrible and dysfunctional place? You blame humans? Yes, that’s true, but do you know what virus humans carry? It is called sin and it is never satisfied. It consumes everything around it yet its ribs poke out.
If you feel no intimidation toward the imagery above of our lonely atheist sitting in the tortured house, how about I tell you the very real testimony of my friend? If you’ve read my last post, I’m going to refer to her again as River. We’ve been friends for over a year now, but only a few months ago did she confide in me the truth about how she came to Jesus. It wasn’t the polished, typical, sugar-coated testimony that many Christians offer. Indeed, I find many of these recurrent and similar testimonies to be deceitful due to their lack of originality and resolve. This thought enters my mind: if you’re giving your soul to something, in this case Jesus, aren’t you going to have a story to tell that is powerful, immortal and so terrifying that words lose their meaning?
That’s a real testimony. And that’s what River told me. Here is her testimony.
River was in high school and had a friend named Aaron. They talked online every day and were quite familiar with each other. One day, Aaron’s sister called River on the phone. She was in hysterics. She told River that she had just found Aaron dead. He’d committed suicide. River was so paralyzed that she avoided the computer for days. Sometime later, River was sitting alone in a room in her house. She’d been working on a painting that was sitting on the table nearby. River tilted her head up and asked, “Is there anyone in the room with me?” That painting picked up off the table, flew across the room and crashed into a wall.
Remember your mantra: there is no God, there is no God. Keep saying it and bite your damn tongue while you do.
River was so unbelievably afraid that she refused to sleep in her bedroom for weeks. She slept on the couch in the living room, but that was not far away enough. After some time, River was hanging out with friends and they brought along a Ouija board to mess around with. The board started to spell out that it knew something about River. After the board had spelled this, the next word it made on the board was this:
Remember your mantra: there is no God, there is no God.
River’s friends were confused, but River kept her mouth shut. She’d never told anyone about that night, but someone else knew it had happened. Someone who wasn’t visible by the naked eye, at least, not at the moment. Some days past, and River began to hear a voice. Soon she was carrying full conversations with this presence. River would take a shower and talk to the voice as it waited for her to finish. It wasn’t long before an image attached to that voice. River thought it looked a lot like Aaron. These conversations, along with the image Aaron she saw, continued for over a year.
She didn’t just see something once or hear a whisper some night when she was out of her mind with fatigue. No. She heard and saw Aaron, and she held conversations with him for over a year. Days. Weeks. Months. Talking to something that no one else could see or hear. It was River’s friend. She confided in her friend and she talked to him all the time. Hard to be lonely when “Aaron” followed her around.
River had a boyfriend at the time. He invited her to go to church with him. Just one time, River swore, and if she hated it she’d never go back to church. River went and she had a nice time. “Aaron” however was having a problem with River going to church. He started to talk louder and was extremely upset. Don’t go, he’d tell her, don’t go.
Remember your mantra: there is no God, there is no God.
One day, River attended church and she was standing in a hallway with another woman. The woman was asking River if she wanted to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Aaron started screaming. He was going ballistic. He was so loud that River could barely understand the woman right in front of her. Aaron’s face began to warp and he no longer resembled the boy that River had known. In a moment, River accepted Jesus and if only you could have heard the cries of angels.
“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:7 and 15:10 repeats.
River was saved. Aaron disappeared and left her alone, finally, after so much time he’d followed her. In a moment, a woman came running into the church all frightened. She said she’d been outside and she’d seen a person approaching her. He started to follow her so she ran from him, but then the man disappeared. She was so scared and didn’t understand, but River knew who it was and he had gone.
Remember your mantra: there is no God, there is no God.
If you are still not moved and your heart is hard like a rock, then I have one final story for you. It is the story of “The Rich Man and Lazarus” which is Luke 16:19-31. Go ahead and read that.
Some final thoughts. If God is real, then so is Satan. If God is real, so are his angels, and since Satan is real too, so are his demons. Those who have the Holy Spirit, who have accepted Jesus as their savior, are protected. The Holy Spirit is our mark of ownership signifying that we belong to God (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). The very name Jesus, like you read in the Acts scripture at the beginning of this post, is a weapon.
Over and over again the Bible promises protection from God.
“The Lord says, ‘Whoever loves me, I will save. I will protect those who know me.’” Psalm 91:14
“God the Father loves you, and you have been kept safe in Jesus Christ.” Jude 1:1
“Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear.” 1 John 4:18
“God’s power protects you through your faith until salvation is show to you at the end of time.” 1 Peter 1:5
“So the Lord knows how to save those who serve him when troubles come.” 2 Peter 2:9
“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.” 1 John 5:18
The verses are numerous and I will not give them all to you. That final verse says Christians “no longer sin” meaning that Christians do sin, but because Jesus has forgiven us of all our sins, God “remembers them no more” (Hebrews 8:12) so it’s as if we do not sin. That’s what that means.
Anyway, if you regard this as a scary bedtime story, then cheers. Have a good night’s rest.
Sleep well, my friend, and remember that you have no security from God because you are a stranger to Him. Remember this when the unexplainable happens and your fear has no resolve.
A man who sees death can be humbled before God, but a man who sees a demon? He too can be humbled in his unbearable fear.