Why Demonic Works in a Christian Context?
by Jack Cottrell (Notes) on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 10:35am
A SERIOUS QUESTION (edited), asked in a good spirit: “At the end of chapter 15 in “The Faith Once for All” you affirm that miraculous gifts from the Holy Spirit were temporary and are not being given today. What most concerns me is your statement that miraculous or supernatural phenomena today, which many take to be miraculous gifts from the Holy Spirit, actually are demonic in origin. It also concerns me that during the Cane Ridge meetings 1000’s of people had wonderful exercises and all revealed or spoke and gave GOD the glory. So, could you explain to me the reasoning on how this is a tool of the devil if ultimately God is receiving the glory?”
MY REPLY: First, may I suggest that anyone who wants to interact with me on my views of this subject should read my works on the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit: A Biblical Study” (c. 125 pp.), or especially “Power from on High: What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit” (c. 500 pp.). The above issues are addressed in great detail.
Second, here are three things I accept as facts: (1) I am deeply committed to the cessationist view of miraculous Spiritual gifts. These “partial” gifts have ceased, now that the “complete thing”—the completed New Testament—has come (1 Cor. 13:8-10). (2) But I am also very much aware that miraculous or supernatural phenomena occur regularly in our time in certain Christian contexts, especially in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles. (3) I am also quite convinced that demonic spirits are very active in the world today, and that they can empower individuals to do miraculous things (2 Thess. 2:9). Now, if one accepts all three of these affirmations, the logical conclusion is that the miraculous phenomena occurring even in the Christian contexts are from Satan.
Third, such a conclusion is not at all impossible or unbiblical. In fact, it is actually REQUIRED by Jesus’ teaching in Matt. 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” Note: these people were doing miraculous things: performing miracles, and prophesying (a term that includes speaking in tongues in Acts). There is no indication that their claims were false. Also, they were doing these miraculous things IN THE NAME OF JESUS, i.e., in a Christian context. But they could NOT have been doing them through the power of God, because Jesus declares “I never knew you.” Whence, then, comes such power? The only reasonable answer is: from demonic spirits.
Fourth, when such people speak and act through demonic power in Christian circles, are they not saying and doing things that bring glory to God? Why would Satan be involved, if “ultimately God is receiving the glory?” We should note first of all that not everything said and taught and “prophesied” in such circles brings glory to God. Much falsehood is usually involved. Second, remember that the devil’s main work is deception (John 8:44). Deception by its very nature involves lies that SEEM to be true (see 2 Cor. 11:13-15), e.g., by being perpetrated in a Christian context by people who think they are following Jesus (calling Him “Lord, Lord”). Third, the devil is quite willing to produce some good works (e.g., to empower people to heal the sick in the name of Jesus, or to reinforce a person’s piety by enabling him to speak in tongues) if that can ensnare more people to accept his lies. I use the analogy of playing checkers: one strategy is to give up one of your checkers if it puts you in a position to catch two or even three of your opponent’s checkers. Satan is a master of this strategy. (I cannot speculate as to how this strategy might have been involved at Cane Ridge.)
I recommend to all the following book: John MacArthur, “Charismatic Chaos.”