Demons: The Hounds of Hell
October 23rd, 1983 @ 10:50 AM
DEMONS, THE HOUNDS OF HELL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-23-83 10:50 a.m.
This is the pastor bringing the message in the series on angelology. The one, the sermon today, is entitled Demons, the Hounds of Hell. Deacon Herschel Forester prayed that God would bless the message that the pastor had so carefully prepared, for which he had studied so long. Even Herschel does not realize how eminently true that is.
I study hours and hours. I pore over books and books, besides all the things that pertain to the commentaries and the concordances on the Holy Scriptures; and particularly so in a subject like this: demons, evil spirits. There is so much fanaticism and superstition connected with such a topic, and to know the truth of God, the revelation of God, is for all of us a coveted pearl of price, the wisdom of heaven. So let us begin.
The sermon will follow this form. After the introduction of the fact of demons, evil and foul spirits, we shall follow as briefly as we can their attack against the unbeliever, their possession of and indwelling of the unbeliever. Then we shall look at the attack against the children of God, the saints of the Lord, against us. Then last, our victory in overcoming.
Now the text, in the sixth chapter of the Book of Ephesians beginning at verse 10: “My brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” [Ephesians 6:10], not ours but His:
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the attacks and the subversions and the deceits and the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, the rulers of darkness, against spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God . . .
Verse 18, “Praying always with all power and supplication in the Spirit” [Ephesians 6:18].
The list of the organized powers of evil, of darkness, are as though they were in an army; principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, spiritual wickedness [Ephesians 6:12]. Paul means by that that the kingdom of Satan is organized: generals, colonels, lieutenants, privates, all of them under the direction of fallen Lucifer.
There is a kingdom of light and godliness and goodness in this world presided over by our Lord [Colossians 1:12-13], and there is no less a kingdom of darkness and evil presided over by Satan and his fallen angels [Ephesians 6:12]. That is so vividly presented in the Bible in many, many places. Demons in Holy Scripture are named fifty-five times. Unclean spirits are named twenty-two times, familiar spirits sixteen times, “spirits” referring to demons fifteen times, evil spirits fourteen times, lying spirits four times, foul spirits two times, jealous spirits two times, and thus it continues through the Word of God. When we read the life of our Lord in the four Gospels, oft times, as in the passage we read aloud just now, Jesus confronts evil spirits, demons, charges them, commands them, casts them out [Matthew 8:28-34].
When we turn to Luke’s Book of Acts in chapters 8 and 16 and elsewhere [Acts 8:7, 16:16-18], we are confronted with these demonic powers. And oft are they referred to in the epistles. And when we come finally to the Apocalypse, the Revelation, the consummation of the age, it is a terror—the portrayal of these satanic rulers. For example, in the sixteenth chapter of the Revelation, it is the evil spirits that gather together the kings of the earth for the great ultimate final battle of Armageddon [Revelation 16:13-16].
Not only do we find this revelation and confirmation of a demonic kingdom in the Holy Scriptures, but men of learning and men of academic excellence speak of it in our modern world today. William C. Nelson, the senior editor of the American Baptist Publication Society, writes, “To allow ignorance or prejudice concerning the subject of demons is to limit the power of Christ. We need to learn how to bind demons under the blood of Jesus.” Dr. William Standish Reed, a physician, a surgeon in the American Board of Surgery, writes, “As a surgeon, I am convinced that many psychological and physical illnesses are caused by attacks upon the person by satanic forces of evil.” And the late V. R. Edman, president of Wheaton College, wrote, “Demonism today is a dreadful reality, not a figment of imagination, nor the product of pagan superstition. The Bible, from beginning to end, talks of nonhuman, intelligent beings who desire to inhabit or to influence human beings.”
This is the introduction of the subject, the reality of a satanic world of evil presided over by fallen Lucifer, by Satan, who directs his minions of evil and hurt and destruction, the antagonists of Almighty God. All right, let’s begin now with a study of the attack of demons against the unbeliever, that man, that soul outside of Christ.
It is the purpose of Satan to dethrone God and to enthrone himself. He says, “I will be like the Most High” [Isaiah 14:14]. Always back of satanic effort is that he be worshiped instead of God. You have that poignantly in the story of the temptations of our Lord, “All this will I give You, if You will fall down and worship me” [Matthew 4:8-9]. The ultimate purpose of all satanic evil is to dethrone the one and true God and to enthrone Satan in the stead of Christ. And that relentless, remorseless, implacable attack is never ending.
Well, let us look at it as it is implemented in the world, the world that we live in and we can look at. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:20:
This I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons . . . and I would not that ye have fellowship with demons.
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of demons.
[1 Corinthians 10:20-21]
Paul there says that the world of unbelief, the world of idolatry is a world presided over by demons, and that when we are idolatrous in our worship—that is, worshipping anything else but the true God—we are worshipping demons, we are demon possessed, we are inhabited by demons. Well, when we look at the world around us, to my amazement, the ancient primitive peoples who were animists numbered the millions and the millions. And I say I’m amazed that the same kind of worship of spirits, evil spirits, is a line of faith and religion followed by millions and millions and millions today.
When I went through Africa, which I have done twice extensively, most of the inhabitants of Africa are animists; that is, they worship evil spirits. They bow down before the spirit in a tree or in a rock or in a mountain. When I went to see the king of Oyo, in front of his large compound was a worship house. He worships evil spirits. And I asked him, “Why don’t you worship the one true God?” And his reply was, “The one true God would not hurt me. He is good. But these evil spirits can destroy me. Therefore, I placate them. I worship them.”
You see that same worship of evil spirits in the dictation of the architecture of the Orient. The one overwhelming facet of Oriental architecture is the upness of the roofs of the houses, of the temples, of everything they build. They do it when you get to the edge of it with an upness to it. They do it at the corners of the house with an upness in it. And you ask, “Why do you always build your pagodas and your temples and your houses with the roofs sloping upward?” And the answer is, “So that the evil spirits, when they fall upon the house, will be sloped upward and back up into the heavens.” If you’ve ever been in Siam in modern Thailand, those guards that stand at the doors of the temples are the fiercest looking creations that the mind could imagine. They are fierce looking in order to scare away evil spirits from entering the house of the temple.
In the ancient Roman Empire, exorcists were everywhere. The only time in the Bible that the word “exorcist” is used is in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, describing a wandering group of Jews who were exorcists [Acts 19:13]. And being false and superstitious, the story abounds to the glory of the true God. Animism, idolatry, the worship of evil spirits has been and still is almost universal.
Now a second thing about the attack of demons against an unbelieving world; they counterfeit prophecy. Prophecy, using the word only in the sense of foretelling the future, prophecy is a prerogative of God. Only God knows the future—He alone, no one else. There’s no religion in the world except the religion of the Bible that has in it prophecy. The reason is very apparent. If a Buddhist or a Muslim were to try to prophesy, the foolishness and the ignorance of the prophet, of the devotee, would be most apparent. He doesn’t know the future. Only God knows the future.
So what Satan does—who cannot create anything, and who does not know the future, and who’s not omniscient—what Satan does is, he counterfeits prophecy. He counterfeits the knowledge of the future. And he does it through necromancers, and mediums, and diviners, and astrologers, and witches, and sorcerers—against which the Word of God fiercely inveighs. I haven’t time to read the Scriptures, such as Exodus 22:18, where God says a witch shall not be allowed to live. I haven’t time to read Leviticus 19 or Leviticus 20, but I will read this passage from Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy 18, beginning at verse 10: “There shall not be found among you one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire”—to offer his children to Molech; and in the same breath—”nor one that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For these are an abomination unto the Lord” [Deuteronomy 18:10-12].
There’s not a paper in America that dares to publish any issue without an astrological forecast in it. That’s how duped, and deceived, and unbelieving, unconverted even America is. It’s an abomination to the Lord. Isaiah says, “Why, when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards . . . should not a people seek unto their God? for the living should they consult the dead?” [Isaiah 8:19]. That’s what a necromancer is. Necromancer means one who consults the dead. And a séance is one session where the medium contacts the dead in order to find what the future might hold. This is an evidence of the kingdom of darkness and satanic powers. It’s demonology.
All right, a third way that demonic activity and attack is manifest and demonstrated in our midst: Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:1, that the aberrations from the Holy Scriptures, the wisdom of God, is the doctrine of demons, the doctrine of demons. And in 2 Corinthians 11, he refers to false apostles [2 Corinthians 11:13]. What he’s saying is a harsh thing. When a man, for example, in the pulpit stands up or when a man in the professorial chair lectures in a doctrine, contrary to the revelation and Word of God, it is an evil and foul spirit that is speaking and preaching through him! It’s an awesome aberration! It is something that God looks upon in terrible judgment. And the reason, of course, I think is obvious. When you lead astray the house and the people of God, and when you teach false doctrine, you are sowing the seeds of the evil one, the seeds of hurt and destruction. But that’s one of the ways that the satanic power attacks the academic community and the homiletical community—the preaching community, the church of God. It’s a way Satan has of antagonizing and destroying the truth of the one great Savior, our Lord Jesus.
All right, a fourth way that the satanic powers attack today: Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that the god of this world blinds those who would come to the light of the gospel of the Son of God. And that idea that Paul there presents is oft repeated in the Holy Scriptures. It is satanic power that haunts the soul of the man that would come in saving faith to Christ. Now I have met that, as you have, in a thousand different ways. When you try to win the Muslim to Christ, you are confronted with the spirit of resistance and disobedience and unbelief; it is harsh and cruel and hard. You meet that same spirit, a demonic spirit, if you seek to testify to the Buddhist, or to the Hindu, or to the Shintoist; it is a tragic reality. The spirit of unbelief and rejection possesses that entire vast kingdom of the Muslim, or the Hindu, or the Shintoist, or the Buddhist. Now you meet that same spirit of unbelief and rejection in a materialistic Western world, a materialistic America: the atheist, the secularist, the humanist, the materialist. These are possessed by an evil spirit of rejection and unbelief. And when you stand before such a one, you sense and feel that spirit of confrontation and rejection. That’s the kingdom of Satan.
May I speak of just one other in this brief summary review, a fifth way that you see the activity of the demonic powers of fallen Lucifer? There is no such thing in the Bible, no such suggestion even made in the Bible of the possession, of the inhabiting, of the control of a human heart, a human soul, a human life, a human personality, by a good angel, a good spirit. There’s no beginning of a suggestion. You see, it is God that seeks the throne of your heart, of your soul. And the angels that love our Lord Jesus and love you are called in Hebrews 1:14, “ministering spirits.” Or as Jesus referred to them—talking about children—they are guardian angels that watch over us [Matthew 18:10]. All of the good angels, all of them without exception, all of the beautiful precious angels of God minister to us, and they exalt our Lord Jesus, and they are happy. The Bible says so. When just one somebody turns to Jesus, the angels in heaven and the saints in their presence rejoice because Jesus is enthroned in our hearts and in our lives and in our souls [Luke 15:10]. He is the King where He ought to be. Like B. J. Glasscock says, God wants us: our hearts, our souls, our personalities, our lives, our talents. He wants us; He wants to be King of our hearts and of our lives. And all of the good angels rejoice in that; they point to Jesus, they rejoice when He is exalted in our lives.
Now, the opposite of that: the evil angels seek to usurp the throne that belongs to God. And they seek to indwell and to infiltrate. They seek to possess. They seek to dislodge. And they seek to exalt themselves and their demonic king. What a difference! One seeks to usurp, and to possess, and to infiltrate, and to indwell, and to inhabit. And the good angels seek to glorify God and to rejoice when the Holy Spirit lives in our souls [1 Corinthians 6:19-20].
We must hasten. We have spoken of the attack of the satanic orders against the world of unbelief, in the unbeliever. Let us now turn to the attack of the demonic world against God’s people, against God’s saints. Put it down, put it down that he is everlastingly alive and well. And he seeks the destruction of God’s believing people, that we don’t escape that warfare.
Now first, lest we fall into far-out fanaticism, let us carefully observe what God teaches us about the activity of the demonic world. First of all, the Bible makes a clear distinction between disease and demons. By that, what I’m trying to say is that not all mental and emotional and physical illness is caused by demon possession. The Bible makes a clear distinction always between disease and demonic possession. For example, in the first chapter of Mark at verse 32, “At even, when the sun did set, they brought unto Jesus all that were diseased, and then and them that were possessed with demons” [Mark 1:32]. Verse 34, “And He healed many that were sick of divers diseases,” that’s one thing, “and cast out many demons,” that’s another thing [Mark 1:34]. So the Bible is very careful to teach us that not all of the illnesses of our lives are caused by demons. There’s a distinction between the two. You can get sick and be sick and grievously ill, but that doesn’t mean you have been attacked by a demon. Now that’s one thing.
All right, another thing in the Bible: the Bible teaches us that so many of the things that hurt us are due to the weaknesses of our sinful nature. The Bible calls it the works of the flesh. For example, in the fifth chapter of the Book of Galatians, you have that familiar verse, “The works of the flesh are manifest. They are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, murders, drunkenness, reveling, and such like” [Galatians 5:19-21]. There is a whole list of the sins that we fall into that are due to our fleshly fallen nature. They are not evidence of the attack of demons, of evil spirits. We’re just sinful people. We are born that way, the Bible says. We were conceived that way, the Scriptures say [Psalm 51:5]. And our fallen nature is evident in every area of our lives. My mind is fallen; I don’t think precious thoughts all the time. My heart is fallen; I don’t desire what is beautiful and holy all the time. My will is fallen; I don’t volitionally choose what is right all the time. I am a fallen creature, and the sins of the flesh are manifest in our lives. It is not due to an attack of demons. It is because we are fleshly, fallen, sinful people.
All right, a third thing that the Scriptures are very careful that we understand: worldliness. Worldliness is a temptation into which all of us find ourselves inevitably allured and falling. First John chapter 2, beginning at verse 15:
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of God, it is of the world.
And the world passeth away, and the lust, the desire, the lust thereof.
[1 John 2:15-17]
There is such a thing as worldliness. That is not the attack of a demon, worldliness! By that I mean this: the system of the world, the values of the world, the standards of the world. There is, you use “the world of sports” or “the world of medicine” or “the world of literature.” By that you mean the system of the sports world, the medicinal world, the literary world, the social world: worldliness! Now the Bible refers to the fact of worldliness, the standards and values of the world. And it makes a distinction between that and the attack of demons. Worldliness is something that we can fall into, though you are a child of God. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:10, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” We can fall into the worldly life. Our values and our standards and our ambitions and our desires are out in the world.
B. J. Glasscock referred to it in his own life. He did not lose his salvation. He began to desire and to be ambitious in the things of the world. “Man, if I can just make this deal, if I can just make this money, if I can just—” and pretty soon it consumes you. And instead of being the servant of God, you’re the servant of a thousand, empty, vain, lustful, false worldly desires. It’s easy for the Christian to get lulled into that kind of a false ambitious life.
But enough, we must hasten. How does the demon attack the Christian; the foul evil demonic kingdom of Satan? Now he does it this way, according to the Bible, just reading the Holy Scriptures: a demon cannot possess a child of God, he cannot do it. The child of God is the home, the temple—so Paul says in 1Corinthians chapter 6—the heart, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 6:19]. And as such, a demon cannot possess, he cannot inhabit the child of God. But what he can do, and what he does do in many instances, he influences, he invades, he hurts, he destroys; an evil spirit.
The most dramatic incident that I find of that is the story of wonderful Saul—stood head and shoulders above all of the men of Israel [1 Samuel 9:2] and was the pride of the prophet Samuel who anointed him [1 Samuel 10:1]. Now he was a child of God; the Bible says so. In the tenth chapter of 1 [Samuel], the Bible says God gave Saul a new heart [1 Samuel 10:9], and that same chapter says, “And the Spirit of God came upon him” [1 Samuel 10:10]. And from chapter 10 to chapter 12, Saul leads the people of God from one glorious victory after another. Then he turned, he changed, and he became a child of disobedience. He disobeyed God tragically, traumatically [1 Samuel 10:8, 13:8-14]. He broke the heart of Samuel who refused ever to see him again [1 Samuel 15:35]. And in the sixteenth chapter—when you come up from the tenth chapter, the sixteenth chapter, in the sixteenth chapter of 1 Samuel, it says, “The Spirit of the Lord left Saul, and an evil spirit troubled him” [1 Samuel 16:14]. “And an evil spirit troubled him.” And thereafter in the life of Saul, you have those convulsive, violent instances in his life when he is filled with an implacable anger. And twice he tried to pin sweet singer David to the wall with his javelin [1 Samuel 18:10-11, 19:10]. And of course, he died on the Mount of Gilboa by his own hand, a suicide [1 Samuel 31:4]. Satan can do that to a child of God. He did it to Saul. To influence, to invade, to hurt, to destroy; he can do that! Makes you tremble.
You find that in the life of Simon Peter. In the sixteenth chapter of Matthew, the Lord addresses him: “Satan,” talking to Peter, “get behind Me: you do not understand the things of God” [Matthew 16:22-23]. He had allowed Satan to infiltrate his heart and his mind. Do you remember in the twenty-second chapter of the Gospel of Luke? The Lord says: “Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat” [Luke 22:31]. Then, thank God, the Lord said, “But I have prayed for thee . . . and when you are turned, when you are converted, strengthen thy brethren” [Luke 22:32]. And it happened as the Lord had prophesied. The day came when an evil spirit of denial and rejection entered the heart of Simon Peter [Luke 22:54-62]. The day came when the spirit of fear entered his heart. No Christian ever should be afraid of any providence, of any situation. The spirit of fear—”perfect love, perfect faith casts out fear” [1 John 4:18]—the spirit of fear entered his heart, and he denied that he even knew the Lord; and finally, the spirit of cursing and swearing [Matthew 26:69-74]. Oh, what Satan can do to the child of God! He attacks us on every side, and we are not equal to him.
Another thing about Satan that I can read here in the Bible; he—where in the world does the time go? I’d love to, wouldn’t it be wonderful to live where they don’t have any clocks, just no clocks? He entices us and lures us and lulls us into his territory. He triumphs and gloats over every inch that he can gain. And you put it down in your life, when you pick up those pornographic magazines and look at pornographic movies, you put it down: you’re in his territory. You put it down, when you go to the bar and they dispense there for you the number one hurtful drug is alcohol, and all the other things that follow after those bars and in those bars, you put it down: you’re in Satan’s territory. And when you go to a gambling casino or you sit down at the gambler’s table, you put it down: you’re in Satan’s territory, and you will not escape! There will be attacks against you that you cannot control and you’re not equal to!
It is tragic how Satan can lure and entice the child of God and destroy his heart, and destroy his testimony, and destroy his faith, and destroy his commitment, and destroy his home, and destroy his house, and destroy his hope. That’s Satan. I have to close, I cannot.
How do you overcome? How are you triumphant? Revelation 12:11: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus, and by the word of their testimony.” May I point out to you just one thing in that? Why don’t you try it sometime and see if God’s Word is true. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.” When you are ever in a group, ever in a group, and they’re cursing, or they are gambling, or they are carousing, or they are promiscuous, or they are unworthy in any kind of a group, you just say something good for Jesus and see what happens. See what happens. They will melt before you, and the satanic powers of Lucifer flee before you when you witness and testify to the loving grace of our Lord. It’s another world. It’s a new creation. Try it. See for yourself.
And that’s why I think the Lord bids us openly, and publicly, and unashamedly, and statedly to come before Him and the people of the whole world, saying, “I stand here in a confession of faith to my blessed Lord.” And that’s why He bids you come.
Down a stairway, down an aisle with your family, with your friend, or just somebody you, “Pastor, God being my helper”—as Martin Luther said, “Here I stand so help me God,” the testimony. “With the heart one believes, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” [Romans 10:10]. Come and welcome, while we stand and while we sing. While we stand and while we sing.
DEMONS, THE HOUNDS OF HELL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. There is a kingdom of light and goodness, presided over by Christ
B. There is a kingdom of darkness and evil presided over by Satan and his fallen angels
1. Presented throughout the Bible(Acts 8, 16, Revelation 16:13-16)
2. Men of learning, academic excellence speak of it in our modern worldII. The attack of demons against the unbeliever
A. Ultimate purpose of all satanic evil is to dethrone God and enthrone Satan(Isaiah 14:14, Matthew 4:9)
B. World of idolatry presided over by demons(1 Corinthians 10:20-21)
1. Animism in the ancient and modern day(Acts 19:13)
C. Counterfeit prophecy(Exodus 22:18, Leviticus 19, 20, Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Isaiah 8:19)
D. Attack the Holy Scriptures(1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Corinthians 11:13)
1. The spirit of unbelief, disobedience, refusal and rejection
F. Indwell, invade, inhabit the unbeliever
1. Good angels do not invade(Hebrews 1:14, Matthew 18:10, Luke 15:10)
2. Evil angels seek to usurp God’s throne, to exalt themselves and SatanIII. The attack of demons against God’s saints
A. Not all illness is caused by demon possession
1. Clear distinction between disease and demons (Mark 1:32, 34)
B. Many of the things that hurt us are due to the weakness of our sinful nature – the works of the flesh(Galatians 5:19-21, Psalm 51:5)
C. Temptation of worldliness(1 John 2:15-17, 2 Timothy 4:10)
D. Demon cannot possess a child of God(1 Corinthians 6:19)
1. Can influence, invade, hurt, destroy
a. Saul(1 Samuel 10:9-10, 15:35, 16:14, 18:10-11, 19:10-11, 31:1-4)
b. Simon Peter (Matthew 16:23, 26:74, Luke 2:31-32, 54-62)
E. Lures us into his territoryIV. How do we overcome?
A. The blood of the Lamb and the word of testimony (Revelation 12:11)