Fallacies that Hinder Holiness – Part Four
Fallacy #8: Christians Cannot be Demonized
It is true that Christians cannot be demon possessed. Possession speaks to ownership and total control. Even Christians who are not being obedient to God belong to God, not to Satan. Hence, Satan cannot control them totally. On the other hand, we see throughout Scripture that Satan, through his demons, can exercise direct and partial control over an area or areas of a Christian’s life. This is what is referred to as being demonized or oppressed of the devil. We are told,
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8)
This was a warning to Christians. We also see where Satan spoke through Simon Peter (Matt. 16:22-23); Satan desired to sift Peter like wheat and would have if Jesus had not interceded on his behalf (Luke 22:31-32) even though Peter was among the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples; even though Job was blameless and upright Satan was allowed to attack him to the extent of losing his family, his possessions and his health (Job 1:6-21, 2:1-10).
If we look back at 1 Peter 5:8, it doesn’t say we are to be fearful of the enemy. In fact, when we are fearful we are in sin, which is just where the enemy wants us to be. Throughout the Scripture we are told not to be fearful, not to worry, not to be anxious. It is natural though to be all of these things, but we need to nip them quickly in the bud so they do not gain a foothold or even worse a stronghold over our lives. Fear does not come from the Lord but from the enemy (2 Tim. 1:7). So, the warning we are given is not to make us fearful but to make us aware that we must have an attitude of vigilance. We are in a war; a constant battle is raging. We need to be tactical to avoid making ourselves vulnerable to the enemy. As Christians, we are specially targeted by the enemy so that through us he can bring the Lord’s name into disrepute. Therefore, we cannot afford to be ignorant of his devices or we will definitely be destroyed (Hos. 4:6, 2 Cor. 2:11). We already know from Holiness Pt 7, that the enemy starts the attack through our thoughts. So that’s where we have to exercise the greatest level of vigilance.
For those Christians you meet who would want to argue that Christians cannot be demonized or are immune to Satan, here are a few arguments you can use to rebut this notion.
- Believers are warned not to “fall into the same condemnation as the devil” or “fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6-7).
- Paul pointed out that there were believers who had “turned aside after Satan” (1 Tim. 5:15).
- Peter warned Christians that they could be devoured by the enemy (1 Pet. 5:8).
- Jesus warned that we have an enemy that comes to steal, to kill and to destroy (John 10:10).
- Why would Paul tell the believers in Corinth not to be ignorant of Satan’s schemes if he was not a danger to them? (2 Cor. 2:11)
- Paul told the Ephesian believers to leave no room or foothold for the devil; to give him no opportunity (Eph. 4:27).
- Paul who was completely sold out to Jesus Christ spoke of “a messenger of Satan” sent to buffet him (2 Cor. 12:7).
- If we are not in a war with Satan why would we need to put on our armour to stand against the “wiles of the devil”? (Eph. 6:11).
- Paul tells the Ephesian believers that they are wrestling against spiritual forces (Eph. 6:12).
- Why would we need weapons of warfare that are mighty to the pulling down of strongholds of the enemy (2 Cor. 10:4)? These weapons are not for unbelievers because if we deliver them of these strongholds and they are not filled up with the Word their situation is in fact made worse (Luke 11:24-26). These weapons of warfare are therefore to be used by believers for believers to be made free of strongholds of the enemy.
Part of the fallacy about Christians not being oppressed of the devil comes from ignorance regarding the genesis of many of the sins that so “easily beset us” (Heb. 12:1). So, when we struggle with anger, sexual immorality, jealousy, envy, gossiping, fear, worry, anxiety, depression, malice, greed, foul language (to name a few) we put them down to either psychological problems or our own weakness and let the enemy off the hook. Many of the chronic diseases that have no cure – hypertension, diabetes, cancer, asthma – have a spiritual root in fear, stress and worry that come from the enemy, which we ignorantly say is just a part of who we are. That is the biggest lie of Satan! He wants to keep us in deception so he can continue to prevent us from coming into the abundant life that Jesus Christ won for us.
But thanks be to God! We are assured that because of the resurrection power of Jesus Christ that is within us we have greater power than the enemy (1 John 4:4). No weapon that is formed against us shall prosper (Isa. 54:17). We have weapons of warfare and armour to thwart the attacks of the enemy (Eph. 6:11-18; 2 Cor. 10:4). We have the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. We stand in the authority of the name of Jesus Christ and his shed blood. So, as any good soldier, you must be in constant communication with your Commander in Chief (Jesus Christ) to discern the tactics of the enemy and to strategize your offense, learn to wield your weapons, and keep your weapons always armed and ready. Satan is not playing so neither can you!!
Fallacy #9: Holiness is an End Game
Many Christians believe that holiness is a one-off exercise. I identify my sins, I repent, I am forgiven and I am holy. End of story. Nothing is further from the truth. Holiness is a journey without an end. Every day of your life you have to line up your thoughts, actions, choices, attitudes and motives with God’s Word so as to “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23).
How do we know that holiness is an ongoing endeavour? We know because Satan is always on the attack, constantly trying to get through our defences. In 1 Peter 5:8, we are told he “walks about”; this is a continuous activity. We are also told to take up our cross daily (Matt. 16:24). Many of the verbs used in association with our achieving holiness are in the progressive tense or present continuous tense, meaning it is an ongoing action. Examples include “striving against sin” (Heb. 12:4); “I press toward” (Phil. 3:14); “always strive” (Acts 24:16); “strive to enter” (Luke 13:24); “renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2); “keep your heart” (Prov. 4:23); “be vigilant” (1 Pet. 5:8); “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16, 25).
Many years following his conversion, Paul speaks about the ongoing struggle taking place within him (Romans 7). In Philippians 3:12, again we see him as a mature believer and great apostle saying that he had not attained perfection but he had to “press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”
We are called not to become weary in well-doing (2 Thess. 3:13). You are only at risk of becoming weary if something is ongoing. Another indication of the ongoing nature of our journey towards holiness is Jesus teaching us to pray daily not only for nourishment but that our sins would be forgiven, that we would not be led into temptation and that we would be delivered from evil. We usually associate the word “daily” in the Lord’s prayer only with the bread. But if we look carefully we see that the other things listed thereafter are linked by the conjunctions “and” or “but” so the daily refers not only to the bread 🙂
“Give us this day our daily bread, And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matt. 6:11-13)
Fallacy #10: God or My Pastor is Responsible for Making Me Holy
Unfortunately, many pastors have built up a dependency syndrome in their church members. We see it on display when members persist in the belief that “I cannot be healed unless the Pastor prays for me”. Or “I cannot be delivered except the Pastor deliver me”. But this is not what I see when I read the Word of God.
“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17-18)
It didn’t say the Pastor who believes will do these things. It says all who believe. In other words, all believers who have faith have the power to do these things.
The Scripture says, “work out YOUR OWN salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12b, NKJV, emphasis mine). It could have said “work out salvation”. The Bible was written under the inspiration of God (2 Tim. 3:16). So, it is not just by chance that this verse was written in this way. It is telling you and me that it is our individual responsibility to apply the effort required to achieve and maintain holiness. Consecration is a very individual and personal matter for which God holds each of us accountable.
“Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God.” (Lev. 20:7)
“The Moses said, “Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord, that He may bestow on you a blessing this day, for every man has opposed his son and his brother.” (Ex. 32:29)
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean, Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil,” (Isa. 1:16)
“But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” (1 Cor. 5:13)
“But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” (Col. 3:8)
“……….choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve……” (Josh. 25:15a)
As I bring this discussion of fallacies that hinder holiness to a conclusion, I just wish to remind you that the purpose is to equip you to disciple believers for the saving of the nations. But we are warned that even as we look to correcting others we look well to our own selves lest we too fall into sin. So, you must continue in your quest for holiness by subjecting yourself daily to honest self-assessment, using God’s Word as your yardstick.
Therefore, beloved withstand in the evil day, and having done all, remain standing (Eph. 6:13). Allow God to work in you to make the right choices and to do his good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). For His divine power has given you everything that pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3).