Demons: The Hounds of Hell
October 23rd, 1983 @ 8:15 AM
DEMONS – THE HOUNDS OF HELL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-23-83 8:15 a.m.
And welcome the great throngs of you that share this hour with us on radio. This is the pastor bringing the message in the series on angelology. This one is a dark and foreboding message; it is entitled Demons – The Hounds of Hell. We are going to look into the dark abyss of the occult according to the Word of God.
As a beginning text, in the last chapter of Ephesians, Ephesians 6, the apostle Paul writes at verse 10, "My brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the attacks and the inroads of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood," then he names the orders of demons: generals, and colonels, and captains, and lieutenants, the spiritual wickedness in this earth and in heaven. There is a kingdom of light, and godliness, and goodness presided over by Jesus our Lord. There is also and no less a kingdom of darkness and evil presided over by Satan, by fallen Lucifer and his fallen angels. And both of those kingdoms strive in this earth and strive in us.
It is presented here in this text. There is a kingdom of darkness, and in that kingdom there are evil spirits, fallen angels, and they march in ranks presented here in this sixth chapter of the Book of Ephesians. That same presentation of the evil darkness that assails us and our world is presented throughout Holy Scriptures. Demons in the Bible 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; a lying spirit, four times; a foul spirit, two times; a jealous spirit, two times; and so on through the Word of God.
In the story of our Lord in the four Gospels, Jesus addresses evil, foul, unclean spirits. He commands them, He casts them out. When the seventy were returning to the Lord, they were rejoicing that they had power over unclean spirits, fallen angels [Luke 10:17-20]. In the epistles they are referred to time and again. Luke writes of them in the eighth and the sixteenth chapters of the Book of Acts. James the pastor at the church at Jerusalem refers to them [James 2:19]. And you see them in all of their naked horror in the Book of the Revelation. It is the unclean spirits that gather together the kings of the earth for the great battle of Armageddon, spoken of in the sixteenth chapter of the Revelation [verse 13-14].
And not only in the Bible, but men of God in our modern world speak of these unclean, evil, foul spirits. William C. Nelson, senior editor of the American Baptist Publication Society, wrote, "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, on the American Board of Surgeons, wrote, "As a surgeon I am convinced that many psychological and physical illnesses are caused by attacks upon the person by satanic forces of evil." The late V. R. Edmond, 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 tells of non-human intelligent beings who desire to inhabit or to influence us." Now, we’re going to look at that from three standpoints: number one, the influence, the attack of demons upon the unconverted; and second, the attack upon the saints of God, upon us; and third, how to face the evil world of foul and unclean spirits.
First of all: the attack of demons upon the unconverted. The demons are like their leader, Satan, fallen Lucifer: they seek to dethrone God and to rule in heaven and in earth, and their attack is remorseless and relentless and implacable. That is easily demonstrable as we look at the world in which we live. The attack of evil spirits is seen in the world of idolatry. Animism is a religion of the primitive, ancient peoples, and it is the religion of millions and millions of people today: the worship of spirits. All through Africa you will find bowing down before the spirits in stones and trees and mountains. When I went to see the king of Oyo, in front of his big compound was a house of worship. He worships evil spirits. I asked him, "Why don’t you worship God?"
He said, "God will not harm me. Evil spirits will." If I were to describe Brazilian life in its religion as any one thing above anything else, the national religion of Brazil is spiritism, the worship of spirits.
You see it in the very architecture of the Oriental world. That architecture of roofs that slope up at the end and corners that slope up at the end, the distinctive feature of all Oriental architecture, the purpose of the architecture is when evil spirits come down on the house or the home or the temple, they are shunted back up into the heavens by the slope of the roof. When you look at those fierce guards in those temples in Siam, modern Thailand, they are to frighten away evil spirits; animism, the worship of spirits, the religion of millions and millions and millions.
Evil spirits counterfeit the prophecy of God. Only God knows the future, and prophecy in the sense of unveiling the future is a characteristic alone of the true revelation of the true God, found only in our religion, in our faith, and in the Bible. Satan seeks to imitate it, to counterfeit it; and he does it by the means of necromancers with their sÃ©ances, communication with the dead. He does it through mediums, and through witches, and diviners, and astrologers, against which God wrote viciously. I don’t have time to read in Exodus 22, or Leviticus 19 and 20; I read just one, in Deuteronomy 18: "There shall not be found among you anyone that puts his son or daughter through the fire, or 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; all of these things are an abomination to the Lord" [Deuteronomy 18:10-12]. In Exodus, He said, "A witch shall not be suffered to live" [Exodus 22:18]. God looks upon the counterfeit prophecy of these diviners and necromancers as an abomination in His sight.
In the eighth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, Isaiah says, "And when they say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, go to a diviner, a fortune teller, unto wizards: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living, should they consult the dead?" [Isaiah 8:19]. The reason that the apostle Paul, in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Acts [verses 16-18], the reason the apostle Paul refused the witness of that girl with an evil spirit in Philippi was the refusal – which was right – the refusal that her testimony would be acceptable to God and to him, as though he approved what she was saying and what she was doing. Any kind of a searching for the future through any kind of a medium, or a necromancer, or an astrologer, or a witch is an abomination in the sight of God; it is an evidence of the unclean, unfamiliar, evil spirit.
Again, the force and the power of evil spirits in the world, according to the Bible, can be seen in the perversion of the Word of God. In 1 Timothy 4:1, Paul refers to them as "doctrines of devils." In the Book of 2 [Corinthians 4:4], we are introduced to those that blind the mind of men to the true gospel message. When we seek to win people to Christ, we are opposed by and face-to-face confronted with evil spirits, fallen angels. If you’ve ever tried to witness to a Muslim, a Mohammedan, or to a Shintoist, or to a Hindu, or to a Buddhist, immediately you come to face to face with the spirit of unbelief and rejection. In America, we find it no less in agnosticism, science falsely so-called, in materialism; when you come face to face in your witness for Christ with these spirits of rejection, we have in ourselves no power against them.
We find also a marvelously true revelation of God regarding the evil spirits that afflict and attack this world in this: no good spirit, no good angel ever attempts to invade, to possess, to indwell any heart or any soul. It is God’s Spirit that lives in the soul of the Christian, in the converted heart. And no good angel, no good spirit ever seeks to usurp that throne upon which God is seated in your heart. That is the place of the Holy Spirit of God; and no good angel, no good spirit ever seeks to usurp that throne of God. But an evil spirit, a foul spirit will seek to usurp the throne of God in the heart and in the life. That is the attack that he makes against God and God’s rulership in the world and in the heart of the man.
Now – to hasten – the attack of the evil spirit, the demon, against the Christian: we have to be very careful in our study of the invasion of the evil spirits, the fallen angels, in the life of the saint, in the life of the Christian. We have to be careful, and we must find the delineation of the truth in the Word of God. And I point it out in three categories. First of all, the Bible makes a very clear and emphatic distinction and differentiation between disease and the attack of foul spirits, of demons. Not all physical suffering, mental or spiritual, not all physical suffering is brought about by an attack of demons. The Bible is very careful to differentiate between disease and demonic possession. For example, in the first chapter of Mark, "At even, when the sun did set, they brought unto Him all that were diseased," and then, "them that were possessed with demons. And He healed many that were sick of diverse diseases, and cast out many demons" [Mark 1:32-34]. There is a very distinct differentiation between the two.
Again, we are not to be persuaded that all of the sins of our lives are due to the attack of demons. The Bible is very clear that the works of the flesh, fallen human nature, lead into all kinds of sin. The works of the flesh are manifest, and Paul lists them: adultery, and fornication, and uncleanness, and lasciviousness, and envyings, and murders, and drunkenness, and reveling, and such like [Galatians 5:19-21]. These are sins of the flesh; and we all are fallen in our natures, we are born depraved. And the flesh follows certain proclivities and affinities. It is not an attack of demons, of foul spirits. We are a fallen people, and the sins of the flesh characterize all of us.
Again, the Bible makes a clear distinction between worldliness and an attack of the evil spirits. John will write, in 1 John 2:
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If a 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 the Father, but is of the world.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: [but] he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
[1 John 2:15-17]
Worldliness; by "worldliness," you use that word in the sense of the world of sports, or the world of medicine, or the world of science, or the world of literature, or the world of music; an organized system in the world. Now, there is an organized system in the world that appeals to the flesh and the lust of the eye and the pride of life; we let the world set our standards and our values. Paul said, in the last chapter of his last letter, 2 Timothy 4:10, "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world." It is easily possible for a man who is a Christian to be worldly, a worldly Christian, out there in the world; his values, and his ambitions, and his thoughts, and his desires, and his every plan and prayer and desire is out there in the world.
Now, having said that, we now mention the attack of evil spirits against the Christian himself, differentiating it from disease, and differentiating it from the sins of the flesh, and differentiating it from worldliness; the attack of evil spirits against the Christian. It is possible, according to the Word of God, for an evil spirit to influence, and to hurt, and to defame, and to destroy the witness of a Christian; an attack of an evil spirit, of a demon. A demon cannot possess the Christian because, according to 1 Corinthians [6:19], the temple of the Holy Spirit of God is the heart of the Christian. But an evil spirit can invade the Christian, can temporarily inhabit the Christian, can influence the Christian. You have a dramatic illustration of that in the life of Saul. In the tenth chapter of 1 Samuel, Saul is wonderfully converted; it says, "God gave him a new heart." It says, "The Spirit of God came upon him" [1 Samuel 10:9-10], and in chapters 10 through 12, Saul, the great first king of Israel, is led by the Spirit of God, and he does great work for our Lord, great victories he wins for Israel. Then in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of 1 Samuel, because of his constant disobedience, "The Spirit of the Lord left him, and an evil spirit permitted by the Lord troubled him" [1 Samuel 16:14]. And Saul became a man of uncontrollable violence and abysmal jealousy; and twice he sought to throw a javelin to pin David the sweet psalm singer of Israel to the wall. It is possible for a man who is a Christian to be influenced and hurt and finally destroyed by an evil spirit, by a demon.
You have another instance of that in Simon Peter. In the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew, the Lord said to Simon Peter, "Simon, Simon, Satan is speaking to Me through you" [Matthew 16:23]. And in the twenty-second chapter of Luke, the Lord said again, "Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. Now when you are converted, strengthen the brethren. I prayed for thee" [Luke 22:31-32]. And the spirit of fear – and no Christian ought ever to tremble before evil or the world or any providence of life – the spirit of fear and the spirit of lying entered the heart of Simon Peter. These things are common to us who have read the Bible. It is possible for a Christian to be invaded by and influenced by and hurt by an evil spirit.
Now, when we enter Satan’s territory – put it down, put it down – when we enter Satan’s territory, Satan and the evil spirits are going to take all of the territory they are allowed to consume. They’re going to do everything they can to reproach God and to damn and to destroy your life. When we leave the attendance of church and the closet of prayer and intercession, and we enter into the territory of Satan – put it down – he’s going to attack. You have a marvelous illustration of that in the prodigal son, who left his father’s house and went out into the world and destroyed his life with riotous living, drunkenness, promiscuity [Luke 15:11-21]. That’ll happen to the saint of God: when we enter Satan’s territory – put it down – Satan will seize every inch of ground that is offered him.
Pornography: how Satan can use that to destroy and to warp a man’s heart and soul and life. Visiting the bar where drugs are sold – alcohol is the number-one hurtful drug in this earth – when you enter Satan’s territory, put it down: an evil spirit will greet you and influence you. When you enter the world of gambling – every casino I’ve ever visited seemed to me to be oppressive with the presence of an evil spirit. When any Christian enters these areas that belong to Satan, don’t forget he meets you with all guile and gladness and welcome. An evil spirit cannot finally damn the soul of a child of God, but the evil spirit can damn your influence, and destroy your life, and hurt you infinitely, and those whom you love.
I have to close. I haven’t time to finish. What do we do in the presence of the attack of the demonic world about us? Paul said in my text, "Put on the whole armor of God, in supplication and in prayer" [Ephesians 6:11, 18]. And I don’t think there’s a more marvelous verse in the Bible than Revelation 12 and verse : "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony." I have to close.
I want you to try that some time. These things that God’s Word says, these things are not far out, or strange, or unusual; they are in our lives and in our experience. I want you to try it some time. Any time you’re in a company that is foul, or compromised, or dirty, or filled with the renunciation of God, any time you’re in a company like that, just try it some time: speak a word for Jesus, and see what happens, see what happens. "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony." The very minute anybody, anywhere, anytime, in any foul or dirty or worldly or compromised company, anytime somebody says a word for Jesus, every foul spirit present is rebuked, and every unclean thought is condemned. It’ll work. That’s God. And when we pray, and when we love the Lord, and when we attend the house of worship, and when we call upon His name, and when we speak words of testimony and conviction, God does something: He strengthens us, and He convicts the world.
We’re going to sing our hymn of appeal. And to open your heart and life to Jesus, or to come into the fellowship of His wonderful church, or to answer a call from heaven, while we sing this song, and while we prayerfully make this appeal, down an stairway, down an aisle, "Pastor, this is God’s day and God’s time for me, and I’m on the way," while we stand and while we sing. "Here I am, and here I come."