Hebrews 2:14-15 says,
Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.
We do a lot of teaching about the power of demonic beings and evil spirits in the church worldwide today. The intention is to equip the saints to deal with attacks by the devil and his minions, so that we can live victorious Christian lives. To remain balanced though our teaching must maintain its focus on Christ and his salvation work. It must view the power of evil through the life-giving miracle that was Christ’s work at the cross.
Without this focus on Christ’s effective work teaching on the demonic tends to result in a number of distorted beliefs about the power of evil. Three misbeliefs in particular spring to mind:
1.) The audience ends up afraid of the entire spiritual realm, 2.) The listener becomes so focused on overcoming the spiritual realm that it even begins to take the place of God in their lives, 3.) The power delegated by Christ to the redeemed is taken as an excuse to continue sinning.
In all three of these situations the Lordship of Christ and his effective sacrifice at the cross has taken a back seat, and the victory over sin, which his resurrection represents, has been either marginalised or distorted, possibly even abused.
In situations 1 and 2 the power of demons begins to appear greater then the power Christ has imparted to his church. In situation 3 a false belief sets in, one in which the believer thinks they can keep on sinning and still be protected from the evil influence behind the temptation. All three of these situations fall far short of what God desires for his children.
What is the truth of this matter then – how powerful are demonic forces really?
In Ezekiel 34:31 God declares,
“You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign LORD.”
Now to sheep, wolves are scary, they are scary because they truely are much more powerful and dangerous than the sheep is on its own, and in fact, more powerful than the sheep is with its flock around it. It is relatively easy for a wolf to take the life of a sheep, whether in the flock or on its own. In fact one of a hunting animal’s favourite strategies is to try and seperate an animal from the flock for easy pickings.
The situation is very different though when the Shepherd is with the flock. The Shepherd protects the sheep from wild animals. A good illustration of this is David, who said to King Saul in 1 Samuel 17:34-35,
“I was keeping my father’s sheep. When a lion came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.”
Any sheep in David’s flock had nothing to worry about from the fiercest wildest beasts as long as they stayed close to David their shepherd. He killed both lion and bear in the course of his duties as shepherd.
When a sheep strays from the flock; however, it is no longer under the protection of its shepherd, it is alone, isolated, and defenceless. It becomes a prime and easy target for any roaming wolves, lions, or bears. That is why, in countries where wolves abound, when the wolf’s wild prey is sparse wolves are never far from cultivated flocks. Even though sheep from cultivated flocks are better protected, the wolves will wait, usually out of sight, for any stray sheep, who might become deluded into looking for greener grass, to move beyond the guardianship of their shepherd.
Just like wolves demonic forces can be scary, they are dangerous by nature. Their aim is only to kill and devour. They can only do this though when we wander from the protection of Christ, who is our shepherd. Only when we walk away from his guardianship do we expose ourselves to the power of the demonic. Beware! The wolves will try to tempt you away – never go chasing a wolf song, no matter how beautiful it is, for it leads to a mouthful of very sharp teeth!
Be encouraged though, for when we are close to Christ, when we are walking in the leading of his Spirit, when we are committing our lives to him daily, and so not allowing sin to have a foothold in our life, then the demonic forces have no power over us.
It is true that there are times, like those seen in the life of Job, and in the life of our Lord Jesus, when the Lord allows the enemy to afflict the people of God, but ultimately God is in control, ultimately only God reigns eternal. Just as David went after and rescued the sheep which the lion snatched up, so God will bring his people back to safety with him for eternity.
The grace of God, which was released to all people, regardless of gender or ethnicity, in the shedding of Christ’s blood for our sins, covers us. That divine grace is the worst fear of every demonic spirit, every evil power… for it signifies their doom.
So in regards to the power of evil let us agree with the declaration Joshua and Caleb made to the Israelites, in Numbers 14:9, regarding the intimidating giants living in the land God had set aside for his people:
“Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”