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Here is a classic theological dilemma:
- There are elements, activities, and principles in this world which we humans feel greatly threatened by. Things such as pain, violence, suffering, and depraved desires. We label these things as evil.
- If we acknowledge that God exists, then we realize that He is more powerful than us. The thought of a superior Being who is involved in evil greatly threatens us, so we decide that God cannot have any relationship with evil at all and that He must find it as threatening as we do.
- We now need to explain the existence of evil in the world while still keeping God separate from it.
- We choose a set of creatures who are greater in power than we are, yet evil in nature, and we assign those creatures control over this earthly realm.
- Now our good God is still in control, yet totally separate from evil. This makes us feel safe.
Look around at the various religions in the world, and you’ll find that many of them believe in the reality of powerful evil spirits who are having an enormous impact on this world. In the Church, we call such creatures demons and we often refer to their leader Satan as the ruler of this world. But is he really? Of course not. God runs this world, and God does many things which we humans consider evil. God is the One who introduced us to the concept of evil and He wants it to exist. God wants sin, war, sorrow, suffering, depravity, and a whole host of other miseries to exist in this world. If Christians would read their own Bibles a little closer, they’d discover that God has always taught that He is involved in both good and evil. He also teaches that He is the One tormenting His enemies in Hell. But for the reasons we previously explained, Christians reject the notion of God’s absolute sovereignty and cling to the delusion of a God who feels endlessly threatened, distressed, and befuddled by demons, evil, and sin.
So is it really such a big deal to downplay the extent of God’s control? Yes, it is. Once you view God as less than all-powerful because those nasty demons are doing things He doesn’t like, then you run into all kinds of other theological problems. There are four essential soul attitudes which God wants you to embrace: reverence, submission, dependency and trust. Understanding that God is sovereign is a critical part of developing these attitudes. Once we view God as having limited control and continuously struggling against the powers of darkness, we naturally withhold submission and start trying to dominate and control God through directive prayers, sacred rituals, and verse claiming. Once we stop submitting, we stop embracing our dependency on God and start pretending that He depends on us to help Him get those pesky demons back in line. We lose our grip on reverence, for what’s so impressive about a God who keeps getting handcuffed and outsmarted by Satan? We stop practicing trust, for a God who isn’t in absolute control obviously can’t be counted on to do the right thing.
A rejection of God’s absolute sovereignty greatly alters your theology and ends up negatively impacting the way that you relate to God. The farther you drift from the four soul attitudes that are essential for forming a close relationship with God, the more you stagnate. When you’ve grown up in the bad teaching of the Church, you might never have been taught the truth about God’s sovereignty. God never blames us for not knowing things He hasn’t taught us. But once the Holy Spirit does begin to expose you to the truth about God’s absolute control and intimate involvement in all things, then to reject that truth constitutes a form of willful defiance and naturally this won’t take you anywhere good.
While angels and demons are certainly real, they are no more in control of this world than we are. They do not come close to always getting their way, they cannot block God, and He doesn’t take orders from them. If you want to hear less lies in life, stay away from teachers who exalt the notion of Christians taking on demons. Such people reject the sovereignty of God and are going to fill your head with a bunch of deception and fear while they encourage you to practice Christianized versions of sorcery. God always promotes Himself, not mere created things. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand the truth about God’s sovereignty.
Understanding the Limits of Satan’s Power (God’s Relationship with Evil)
The Ruler of Our World: Is it God or Satan?
Why didn’t God make us stronger than demons?
The Power of Demons In Perspective
Identifying False Teaching About Demons: Three Easy Tests