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God is good and demons are evil. God is for us and demons are against us. God is wonderful and demons are trying to negatively impact Him in some way. What more reason do we need to hate demons? We certainly shouldn’t be for demons, because God has already damned them, and we don’t want to be insulting God by hoping demons will somehow get another chance. Demons are out of chances. We don’t know what they did to burn up God’s patience, but we know how gracious He is, so if He says He’s fed up, there’s nothing more to say.
Now while it’s certainly appropriate to view demons as our enemies, some Christians find themselves getting caught up in an almost obsessive hatred of the little rats. When this happens, it’s time to recognize that there are other issues at hand. Intense hatred is often a mask for fear, and fear is our common response to feeling threatened with some form of suffering. Take the man who says “I hate water.” What he really means is, “I’m acutely afraid of water because I believe water has the power to harm me.” We fear things that we believe have the power to harm us. Then we’re afraid of our fear, so we mask it with hate to try and distract ourselves from how vulnerable we feel.
So what is really going on when we find ourselves harboring an intense hatred of demons? We like to tell ourselves that we only hate demons and their human pawns because of our fierce devotion to God, but is this really true? No, it’s not. Behind an obsessive hatred of God’s enemies is a deep fear that those enemies will succeed in harming either God or us. Here is where we need to remember that to God, the idea of His own creations harming Him in any way is utterly laughable. God never feels the least bit threatened by the works of His own hands, but because the Church denies the sovereignty of God, she often makes Him out to be far more fragile and vulnerable than He is. Images of Jesus grieving over the lost or groaning over all of the suffering in the world are popular in Christendom, yet such images are very theologically misleading.
All suffering originates from God. It was His choice to create creatures with the capacity to suffer and He is the One ensuring that they do. So is God really feeling overwhelmed, threatened, anxious, or distressed by what we call “evil run amuck” in this world? Not hardly. Neither demons nor humans do anything that God doesn’t want them to do. The Sunday School theory that “God hates sin” is all fine when we’re first starting out, but as we mature, we need to realize that God’s will is far more complicated than we’re often taught to believe. If it’s happening, God is causing it because He wants it: this is what it means to be the Sovereign Creator of all things.
Once we realize how invincible God is, we are freed up from having to stress on His behalf. Then we can get down to the real issue at hand: worrying for ourselves. It’s really concern for ourselves that drives our concern for God, because if He’s in trouble, where does that leave us? The five-year-old who panics when she sees mommy getting slapped around is invested in her mommy’s safety because she knows she is dependent on her mommy for her own survival. As fragile human beings, we are utterly dependent on our Maker for all things. If He becomes crippled, we do not have the capacity to fix Him, and His crippled state could have disastrous consequences for us. So when it really comes down to it, our concern for God is quite selfish, but that’s par for the course with humans. We’re selfish creatures, and even our most righteous deeds and desires have self-serving motivations behind them. But once we break out of the delusion that God can be hurt, we are able to look at just how self-absorbed we are. Demons and their human helpers pose a very real threat to ourselves, and that’s the real reason we hate them so much. But while it’s true that you could never take on a demon by yourself, are they really the main threat in your life?
A wild lion could easily tear you apart, unless he is in a cage. Then he is rendered powerless until a human being decides to open that cage and give the lion access to you. This is how it works with us, demons, and their human helpers. While there are many demons and humans who could do serious damage to you, God is the One who is controlling their access to you. God not only chooses when other beings can mess with you, He controls every aspect of that interaction. How long demons can harass you and the form that their harassment can take—these things are all being decided by God, not them. The more you contemplate the sovereignty of God, the sooner you are forced to face the uncomfortable truth that God is really the Source of your problems in life. Certainly He uses demons and humans to bring trials into your life, but the trials themselves are ones that He has orchestrated and chosen for you. This means that blaming humans and demons really is a bit of a copout. Instead of spending a bunch of emotional energy seething over the wickedness of demons or the rebellion of defiant humans, you need to stop obsessing over the middlemen and deal directly with God.
In any stressful situation, God is always going to encourage you to turn your focus onto Him and off of everyone else. Why is this? Because He is the true Source of your stress, and He is creating that stress to teach you things that will strengthen your personal relationship with Him. Everything comes back to you and God. Your trials are very personal lessons, and the sooner you stop focusing on the roles that other created beings are playing in your problems, the more teachable you will become. Maybe God is using your boss to harass you. Maybe He’s using your neighbor, your relative, or your coworker or some creepy demon that comes slinking into your bedroom at night. At the end of the day, His choice of instrument is a trivial detail. What really matters is what God is teaching you. Why is He causing this harassment in your life? How can this experience benefit you spiritually by strengthening your walk with God? These are the questions that matter, and to get the answers, you need to pray, “God, help me to learn everything that You want to teach me through this experience.”
Now while a single experience can be packed with many different lessons, there are four themes that are going to come up over and over again. These themes are reverence for God, trust in His good Character, submission to His Authority, and embracing your absolute dependency on Him. Every trial that God brings into your life will be about one or more of these four things. There will probably be other lessons as well, but these four themes are central to forming a spiritual bond with God, and you will never come to the end of learning about them. No matter how fabulous you think your trust in God is today, there is room for it to grow a whole lot stronger. No matter how complete you think your submission is, He will keep opening up whole new levels of understanding that will enable you to choose to submit to Him on ever deepening levels. Is it a bummer that we never come to the end of learning and growing with God? No, it’s what makes the journey so thrilling.
With God, it’s one fascinating discovery after another. The more we learn about Him, the more we realize there is to learn. As we get closer to Him, we find ourselves feeling simultaneously satisfied and craving even more. Unlike addicting forces in this world which initially hook us with great pleasure only to leave us feeling strung out and dissatisfied, God becomes ever more enticing. He is so infinitely complex and so incredibly vast. He’s like running down a path that grows three times longer with every step you take: just when you think you’re closing in on Him, you realize you haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of who He really is. And yet because we were created for the purpose of relating to Him, dedicating ourselves to the pursuit of rich communion with Him is the only way our souls will find true satisfaction.
We were created by God to commune with Him. Everything He does with us and to us in this world is about enticing us closer to Him. Life is about God: it always has been, and it always will be. The more we understand this, the less invested we will become in what other humans or demons are doing. We might start off intensely hating demons, but the more we focus on God and on the goal of drawing closer to Him, the less we will care about them. We won’t try to pursue demons, we won’t quiver in their presence, and we won’t be spending our energy on hating them. The reality is that demons are simply not worthy of our focus. God is the only One who really matters. Pleasing Him and knowing Him are the two goals which we want our lives to revolve around. Sadly for demons, they have lost sight of these goals and are now on a course that is guaranteed to end in their eternal misery. Why should we spend our energy focusing on such pathetic creatures? Demons are merely a means to an end for us: they are tools which God uses to help us grow closer to Him. The creatures themselves are irrelevant.
The Enemies of God
Praying Down Your Enemies