Should Christians believe in spiritual forces, demonic powers, and spiritual beings? I would say it is essential, since Jesus said that God is spirit, and Christians must believe in God. Nevertheless, an aspect of modern life is to relegate potentially spiritual matters to merely intellectual, material terms.
I began thinking about this matter as I read a discussion on a forum on the web where an author was advocating the reality of demonic forces and spiritual warfare, and others began attacking his claims. A man named David wrote, “Come out of the dark ages. The ancients had little understanding of mental illness and everything that could not be explained went into the category of evil spirits and demon possession… When Christ “drove out evil spirits,” he was healing them of whatever mental illness they had.” Someone named Phillip added, “I have to ask – where the BLEEP does Jesus talk about possession and/or demons?” And one commented, “I’m a Christian but you’ve lost me with this silly “demon” stuff. Are you going to tell me that there’s monsters in my closet next? People like you make all Christians look bad. There are no “demons.” There are bad decisions and mental illness. A loving God would never send someone to hell or make a “hell” in the first place. Hell is a state of mind…”
This is the sorry state of belief in the church today where many people would rather explain away the spiritual reality at the center of Biblical Christianity. Furthermore, people are so little in the Word that they truly don’t know that Jesus cast out demons throughout the gospels, and that his supernatural power over demonic beings was a primary evidence of his divinity. What I also find interesting in this is the confidence people have in the concept of mental illness in spite of the reality that nobody knows what mental illness is or its cause. Psychiatrists tend to treat it with drugs under the assumption that a chemical imbalance exits, but what causes the imbalance and are they curing it or only masking symptoms? In spite of their authoritative claims and posturing, the “experts” are clueless. Considering our lack of understanding then, is it really less reasonable to consider a demonic cause?
The Bible clearly teaches that people have been demonically possessed and Satanically oppressed. Demonic possession may be the best explanation for ISIS soldiers decapitating, crucifying, and setting fire to innocent men, women, and children. I actually find satisfaction in the thought that only an inhuman force can explain that quality of evil in the world. However, my greater concern is that the Christians quoted above clearly lack faith in the spiritual aspect of Christianity. Denying the negative spiritual forces in Scripture leads logically to denying the spiritual power of God.