One of the things that I have often told my counselees is that if they only fight sin on one battlefront, they will constantly struggle and never gain full victory. There are three battlefronts that must be taken seriously at the same time. The first is the flesh. If we don't recognize that there is an inner impulse to evil that must be crucified, we will be constantly blaming our sin on something outside of us. And God doesn't buy the argument that the devil made me do it. No, James says that you did it because you were drawn away of your own lusts. So we need to take the battle with the flesh very seriously.
But at the same time, there is a second enemy who takes advantage of your flesh. His name is Satan, and he is called the spirit of this world. He heads up a huge army of demons, numbering at least in the hundreds of millions, but more likely in the billions. And I tend to think it is billions because in Revelation, just one unit of Satan's army stationed at the Euphrates was said to have two hundred million demons. That was just one unit. These are demons that are sent to make us ineffective. And these demons are trained to know how to appeal to your flesh. They have had 6000 years of experience.
The third enemy is called "the world" in the Bible. And you can think of this "world" as culture. It's the fallen way of seeing things and doing things. And God's plan is to invade every aspect of culture and worldview and take it captive to King Jesus so that there will be a new world in which dwells righteousness. The New Testament indicates that the old world is passing away and the new world is replacing it (1Cor. 7:31; 2Cor. 3:11; 1John 2:8,17). So His kingdom invades the old world and gradually making it into new world. Here is what one scholar said about how pervasive the world system is. "[T]he world system extends its tentacles into all areas of human activity--studies, jobs, sports, even religious activities. Consciously or unconsciously we are confronted with the world system through philosophy, art, music, technology, the mass media, etc. The world system penetrates all of our culture." So you can think of the world as culture that is not submitted to Scripture as well as worldview that is not submitted to Scripture. And this world-system is constantly seeking to pull you into its way of thinking and doing. Two weeks ago we examined six faulty Christian approaches to culture and worldview and contrasted it with the Biblical approach which is to seek to bring every thought captive to Jesus and every part of culture under Christ's feet. So those are our three enemies.
The Source of this Paranoia
The secondary source – a demon (v. 10)
Notice that demons (literal Hebrew is "evil spirit") can come and go
It is very clear in this passage that Saul's heart is the primary source of the anger, jealousy, paranoia, and hatred that he has. But there is a secondary source that has been producing this too. Look at verse 10. "And it happened on the next day the distressing spirit [and that is literally "evil spirit"] from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house. So David played music with his hand, as at other times; but there was a spear in Saul's hand. And Saul cast the spear, for he said, ‘I will pin David to the wall!' But David escaped his presence twice."
Notice first of all that demons can come and go. There were times when Saul appeared more emotionally balanced and regretted what he had done. All the way back in chapter 16 this demon would come upon Saul and influence him for evil, but then leave for some reason. So demons can come and go from people.
Don't think that you have won the battle if you have resisted Satan once, and he has left. Even with Jesus, he kept coming back. Luke 4:13 says, "Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time." Demons don't give up. They keep coming after you. We have gone for months without demonic attack in our home, and for some reason we find demons back again. So we resist them and cleanse our house. But don't be naïve. Demons come and go.
Notice that God gave permission to this "evil spirit" to come upon Saul
Second, notice that God gave permission to this evil spirit to come upon Saul. The text is quite clear that this was an evil spirit from God. Some people are troubled by that. How can God ever send or give permission to a demon to do anything? But he does.
Let me give you a couple of examples. Turn to 1Kings 22. This was a situation where Jehoshaphat, a good king, did something very foolish. He entered into an alliance with the wicked king Ahab of Northern Israel, and agreed to fight with him against the Syrians. But Jehoshaphat wanted God's guidance. Look at verse 5:
1Kings 22:5 "Also Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, "Please inquire for the word of the LORD today."
1Kings 22:6 "Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, "Shall I go against Ramoth Gilead to fight, or shall I refrain?" So they said, "Go up, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king."
Jehoshaphat smells a rat. He recognizes that they don't look like true prophets, so verse 7 says,
1Kings 22:7 "And Jehoshaphat said, "Is there not still a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of Him?"
1Kings 22:8 "So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the LORD; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil." And Jehoshaphat said, "Let not the king say such things!"
1Kings 22:9 "Then the king of Israel called an officer and said, "Bring Micaiah the son of Imlah quickly!"
1Kings 22:10 "The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, having put on their robes, sat each on his throne, at a threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them."
1Kings 22:11 "Now Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah had made horns of iron for himself; and he said, "Thus says the LORD: ‘With these you shall gore the Syrians until they are destroyed."
1Kings 22:12 "And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, "Go up to Ramoth Gilead and prosper, for the LORD will deliver it into the king's hand."
1Kings 22:13 "Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, "Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king. Please, let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement."
1Kings 22:14 "And Micaiah said, "As the LORD lives, whatever the LORD says to me, that I will speak."
1Kings 22:15 "Then he came to the king; and the king said to him, "Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall we refrain?" And he answered him, "Go and prosper, for the LORD will deliver it into the hand of the king!"
And I am convinced that he said it with a mocking voice – "Oh yeah, right, go up. You'll prosper. That's what you want to hear, isn't it?" There must have been something about the way that he said it that made Ahab realize that Micaiah is not being serious, because verse 16 continues:
1Kings 22:16 "So the king said to him, "How many times shall I make you swear that you tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?"
1Kings 22:17 "Then he said, "I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘These have no master. Let each return to his house in peace."
1Kings 22:18 "And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Did I not tell you he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?"
1Kings 22:19 "Then Micaiah said, "Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left."
1Kings 22:20 "And the LORD said, "Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?' So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner."
1Kings 22:21 "Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, "I will persuade him."
1Kings 22:22 "The LORD said to him, "In what way?' So he said, "I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' And the LORD said, ‘You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so."
1Kings 22:23 "Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you."
Micaiah by inspiration says that God Himself sent this demon to do this work. That very much upset these prophets. Verse 24:
1Kings 22:24 "Now Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near and struck Micaiah on the cheek, and said, "Which way did the spirit from the LORD go from me to speak to you?"
1Kings 22:25 "And Micaiah said, "Indeed, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide!"
1Kings 22:26 "So the king of Israel said, "Take Micaiah, and return him to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king's son;"
1Kings 22:27 "and say, "Thus says the king: ‘Put this fellow in prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and water of affliction, until I come in peace."
1Kings 22:28 "But Micaiah said, "If you ever return in peace, the LORD has not spoken by me." And he said, "Take heed, all you people!"
This is a situation where even demons must get permission from God to do their dirty work if it in any way affects believers. Satan is as a roaring lion going about the earth, seeking whom he may devour. But he is on a chain, and can only legally go as far as God allows him to go and (as we'll see in the next point) as far as we allow him to go. Even Christians can give legal ground for Satan to mess around with them.
Turn next to Job 1:6-12. This is such a misunderstood point that I think we need to give a little bit more Scripture. Job 1, beginning at verse 6.
Job 1:6 "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them."
Job 1:7 "And the LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" So Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it."
Job 1:8 "Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?"
Job 1:9 "So Satan answered the LORD and said, "Does Job fear God for nothing?"
Job 1:10 "Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side?"
And I love that phrase – God put a hedge around Job and his whole household. Satan could not touch him. 1John 5:18 says exactly the same thing. Though the whole world lies in the lap of the wicked one it says, "We know that whoever is born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who has been born of God guards himself and the wicked one does not touch him." So long as we are on guard, Satan cannot touch us. You may question what grounds Job may have given to have that hedge removed. I believe it was his fear. In Job 3:25 Job said, "For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me." Dread is incompatible with faith. Job 1 says that he wasn't sinning outwardly. There was nothing that Satan or others could see with which to blame him. He was blameless. But he did have this heart sin. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Job 1:10. "Have you not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side?..."
"You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land."
Job 1:11 "But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!"
Job 1:12 "And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person." So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD."
Here is a situation where God sends Satan with permission to afflict Job. So it spoken of as being the touch of God, but also being the work of Satan. Satan was God's agent. In Job 2 Satan finds that he is not successful, so he asks God's permission to afflict Job more. In verses 6-7 it says:
Job 2:6 "And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life."
Job 2:7 "So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head."
These two passages reinforce that it is possible for an evil spirit to be sent by God to afflict us. Do you want a New Testament passage? Matthew 18. Matthew 18 says that if you don't forgive a fellow Christian brother his trespasses, your heavenly Father will give you over to the torturers. That word for torturers is a word that indicates demons. Let me read the passage. It is the very end of the parable of the unforgiving servant. Verses 34-35 say:
Matthew 18:34 "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him."
Matthew 18:35 "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."
Jesus was saying that God will send these evil spirits into your life to afflict you. You deserve it if you lack forgiveness. Demons cannot afflict us without God's permission. But demons can also be a tool in God's hand for discipline. I think we need to be aware of that. Don't ever think that a Christian cannot be touched by a demon. He can, if he gives legal ground like Saul did. 1John 5:18 is quite clear that the only one whom Satan cannot touch is the on who does not persevere in sin and who guards himself.
Notice that demons can make believers prophesy
If you turn back to 1Samuel 18 I want you to notice three more things about this demon, or evil spirit. Verse 10 says, "…the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied…" The text is clear that the evil spirit caused Saul to prophesy. Very interesting. And the next phrase implies that this had been happening for quite some time. As soon as Saul started prophesying David gets the clue and it says, "So David played music with his hand, as at other times…" The implication was that the involuntary prophesying was one of the symptoms of this evil spirit being upon him. It didn't say that he pretended to prophesy. He really did prophesy by demonic power. And here is the critical point - he was a professing believer.
And this is an important principle to note. Believers who have given legal ground to Satan to mess around in their lives like Saul did, find Satan imitating God's graces. When Moses cast down his rod and it became a snake. That was an incredible miracle. But Exodus 7 indicates that the court magicians were able to do the same thing by Satanic power. They cast down their rods, and the rods became snakes. It doesn't say that they pretended to turn them into snakes. God Himself says that they turned their rods into snakes. You see, Satan does have remarkable power. Don't follow people simply because they can do miracles. Satan can do great miracles. In fact, by demonic power those court magicians were able to turn water into blood and to bring up frogs, though they were not able to do the later plagues. Matthew 24:24 says that during the tribulation false christs and false prophets (so they claimed to be Christians) would do signs and wonders that would be so great that, if it were possible, those signs would deceive even the elect. The purpose of the false prophet of Revelation 13:13 calling down fire from heaven was to deceive people. 2Thessalonians says that Satan constantly imitates God's work in order to deceive. It says, "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie…" (vv. 9-11).
Why do I bring this point up? Because there are a lot of people who naively and blindly follow a Christian leader simply because he healed them, or because he was able to do miracles or prophesy about the future. I've known people who have become Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic because of some miracle they have seen there. Well, Saul was a professing believer. In fact, some of the language about him earlier in the book (about him being given a new heart, etc) are so strong, that many people think he was a genuine, though backslidden believer. Who knows? But he is clearly a professing believer.
It is really, really important to realize that since the time of Adam and Eve, Satan has tried to deceive through clever imitations everything God has done. God called for sacrifices for atonement; so did Satan. God built a temple, so did Satan. God made Israel a separate people through circumcision; well, Satan tried to obliterate that distinction by having numerous nations around Israel start to practice circumcision. God enabled people to speak in tongues; so does Satan. While there are true tongues, you need to realize that demons can produce tongues as well. And I have run across several manifestations of tongues that are clearly demonic. And people lose the tongues when the demon is cast out. Most religions in the world have people speaking in tongues. Out in Ethiopia where I grew up, witchdoctors were able to speak in tongues, do miracles, and prophesy. And these kinds of Scriptures are recorded so that we will be careful. There is the true and there is the counterfeit, and it takes Biblical discernment to know the difference. One of the differences is that Biblical manifestations of the Spirit are always rational.
Notice that David is not fooled by this prophesying ("played music with his hand" with 16:14-23)
David was not fooled by this prophesying. We are not told if Saul's advisors were fooled. Perhaps that is why they follow Saul so blindly. They believe he is a prophet. They don't stop to think from the principles of the Bible.
But in any case, David is not fooled. From chapter 16 and on he knew that Saul was troubled by the demonic. In fact, his whole purpose for coming was to try to resist this demonic. David didn't deny that Saul was a believer or that he was God's anointed. There was plenty to like about Saul. But David knew that Saul was being used by demons. Initially David had success in resisting this demon, but apparently this demon was so enraged at what David was doing that he moves Saul to try to kill him.
This prophesying demon moves Saul to attempted murder and paranoia (vv. 11-12; compare 19:9-10)
The last thing that I want you to notice is that the attempted murder and the paranoia are at least in part caused by this demon, or at least exacerbated by this demon. Anyone who has worked much with demons knows that they have the ability to manipulate people's emotions and to deceive people intellectually.
You would think that with getting a spear thrown at him twice, it would be David who was fearful and paranoid. But no, David is able to handle his fears Biblically; Saul is not. Verse 12 says, "And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, but had departed from Saul." You would think that Saul would trust David more than his sycophant followers. David was godly; David was loyal; David had a servant's heart; David had no intention on overthrowing Saul. Yet demons can make people turn on even their closest friends that they love. It's a weird thing. In chapter 16 it says that Saul loved David greatly.
I have known people to have a bad dream about a spouse, a friend, or someone else that instantly poisoned their attitudes toward that person. They never stopped to evaluate the source of the dream. They just allowed their emotions to be poisoned because of the vivid dream about this other person doing horrible things. The person hadn't even done those things. But the dream was so vivid, that they treated the person as if they had done it. And I am convinced that in at least some of these cases, the dream was brought about by a demon. What the person should have done was to immediately rebuke the demons, reject the dream, and after prayer to begin to affirm the truth and thank God for the truth.
Even Peter was influenced by a demon. Peter got angry with the Lord (so you can see the manipulation of his emotions there), and Peter rebuked Jesus for saying that He was going to the cross. Jesus knew the source of that statement and said, "Get behind Me Satan!" (Matt 16:23). He could tell that Satan was behind Peter. Hosea speaks of demons leading the people into adultery. He says, "a spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray" (Hos. 4:12f). Were they responsible for the sins themselves? Yes. But demons were still driving them into harlotry. They were driving willing subjects. In John 8:44 Jesus told the Pharisees, "You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you want to do." They were driven to oppose Christ even though their opposition was irrational. It was just as irrational as Saul's opposition of David. It didn't make any sense. When you see irrational things happening around you, consider that the source may be demonic.
Many people do not know how to war against Satan. They allow demons to run their household because they are not recognizing the source of all the conflicts that are tearing their family apart. They think their spouse is their enemy, when in reality it is demons using their spouse and perhaps using their own reactions to their spouse.
Many people struggle with temptations and never resist the tempter. I counseled one person who was a godly person who wondered if he had committed the unpardonable sin. He said that He kept saying blasphemies against God in his mind. And it so grieved him that he could say these things. Even while I was counseling him he was telling me that he was right now saying blasphemies against God. And as I investigated, I found that he was resisting those blasphemous thoughts at every point and disagreeing with them. But he still thought that he himself was doing the blaspheming. He didn't get liberty from this 24-7 course of blasphemies in his mind till he recognized that in this case it wasn't his flesh producing these things – it was demonic temptations such as Satan brought into Christ's mind in the wilderness. Once he started attacking demons with the weapons of spiritual warfare, he found victory and peace. All this time he had been fighting against the wrong enemy.
I have counseled people who have never given in to homosexual temptations, but they have been tempted in that direction over and over and over again. And of course, every time they were tempted, they would beat up on themselves and wonder, "What is wrong with me!?" They were fighting their flesh and never giving in to their flesh, but they failed to realize that these irrational temptations were coming from demons. The moment he started engaging the demons with God's weapons, he had victory, and these were no longer even temptations.
I have seen the same thing with bitterness, anger, fears, paranoias, and other negative emotions. There are demons that specialize in tormenting God's people with such feelings. Unfortunately, these Christians have often been ignorant of Satan's devices and were depressed and discouraged until they started using God's weapons and got immediate victory. And they were thinking, "Why didn't I do this long ago?!" I've experienced that myself early in my ministry – wondering where the anger was coming from. It was rarely expressed outwardly, but once I renounced the legal ground in my ancestors, it was gone.
2Corinthians 10:4-5 say, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. [That's what too many psychologists do. They are warring against these disturbing thoughts and behaviors according to the flesh. But Paul says,] For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…" The same book said the reason that the church of Corinth was afflicted with so many temptations – sexual temptations, anger, division, legalism, discord, lack of forgiveness, misuse of spiritual gifts, etc was because they were ignorant of Satan's strategies. They were only fighting on one front. He told them that they needed to forgive, "…lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices." (2Cor. 2:11). Are you ignorant of Satan's devices? If so, you will be forever vulnerable to being abused by Satan and being used by Satan against God's purposes. And you won't even recognize it. That's one of the reasons why the session gave you the book, the Christian in Complete Armor, by William Gurnall. And go ahead and buy volumes 2 and 3. By the time you read through those volumes, you will not be ignorant of Satan's devices. And you won't be ignorant of the powerful tools that God has given to us. One of those tools is the Psalms that David sang – especially the imprecatory psalms. Memorization of Scripture is another tool. Meditation is another tool.
The legal source – Saul had already exhibited fears that he was unwilling to deal with (1Sam. 10:22; 15:24; 17:11,24)
But that last passage I read is a good lead in to point B. Paul called them to put off their sins "…lest Satan should take advantage of us…" (2Cor. 2:11). We started by saying that Satan could not touch you if you guard yourself. But when you fail to treat sin seriously, you immediately give Satan legal ground to mess around with you. Ephesians 4:26-27 says that if you let the sun go down on your anger and don't deal with it the same day, you could easily give a foothold to Satan. Other Scriptures indicate that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and gives Satan every legal ground to mess around with you. If you have had a history of rebellion that has not been repented of, the likelihood is that one or more demons has free access to use you to oppose God's Davids.
All the way back in chapter 10:22 we see the sin that gave Satan legal ground in Saul's life. Saul was a fearful person. He was fearful of what people thought of him. That's a form of idolatry. And yet he refused to war against his fear. If your flesh persists in a sin and you don't repent of that sin, demons have the ability to exacerbate that sin. I was a fearful person like Saul when growing up, and those fears got worse, they didn't get better. It was not until I started warring against my fears in a Biblical way that I gained victory. In chapter 15:24 Saul told Samuel, "I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice." And you might think, "How sweet. That's a humble confession. So why did God not accept that confession?" But there were several things wrong with that confession. The first was that it didn't come voluntarily. The second was that he first of all lied and excused his sin when he was caught. It was only when it looked like the kingdom would be lost that he confesses to Samuel. But even with that confession you see his fear of what others think make him minimize his sin to Samuel and blame others. Yeah I sinned, but they made me do it. He feared what Samuel was thinking of him now. This happened long before demons afflicted him. This fear kept growing until we see Saul paralyzed by demons in chapter 17. We see other sins that were not confessed and put under the blood – lying, anger, harboring resentment. These were all sins that guaranteed a launching pad for Satanic hosts in his life. And there finally came a point in chapter 16 when it was too late for Saul to resist the demons. They pretty much controlled his thinking, feeling, and acting any time they were around. Now it is true that believers cannot be possessed in the sense of being owned by Satan, but they can be demonized, they can be tempted, they can be used by Satan to tempt others, just as Satan used Peter to tempt Christ.
The permissive source ("evil spirit from God…the LORD… had departed from Saul"; compare 1Kings 22:17-23)
Now I have already dealt with point C when I was discussing point A. God was the permissive source. Demons cannot do anything without God's permission.
I could have taken the time to show how the world was at work in Saul's life as well. Throughout his life you can see that his values, thoughts, and methods were to some extent governed by the thinking of the world. But for now, we will go on to Roman numeral II.
The Irrational Nature of This Paranoia
Willing to murder a good man (v. 11)
Let's quickly take a look at the irrational nature of this paranoia. When you see irrational things like this going on, you can suspect that there is demonic. In verse 11 this paranoia makes Saul willing to murder a good man. And you might think, "How could anybody do that?" If you fear what the world thinks enough, you might. Consider how many Christians have been so terrified at what the church and others would think if anyone found out that they had gotten pregnant wedlock, that they have secretly gone and had an abortion. That was no different than what Saul was doing with David.
He is afraid of a loyal man (vv. 12,15,29)
A second irrational thing is that he is afraid of David. Verse 12 – "Now Saul was afraid of David…" Again in verse 15 – "Therefore when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him." Isn't that amazing? Seeing how wise David is he sees David as a threat, because he isn't wise. Verse 29, "…and Saul was still more afraid of David. So Saul became David's enemy continually." It is a growing fear.
Don't ever excuse your fears like I did as a young person. I just chalked it up to my shy personality. No, the moment you excuse your sins, they will grow. Even if you don't want them to grow, they will grow. You must treat fear, jealousy, anger, bitterness, and other negative emotions as dangerous enemies that must be put under the feet of Jesus. And if you don't, you may end up like Saul. And there are Biblical strategies for doing that that I would be happy to share with you. If you want an ultra brief cheat-sheet on dealing with these sin (one page or so per sin), get Jay Adam's book, Helps for Christian Counselors: A Mini-Manual for Christian Counseling. It's a tiny sized book, and is about 63 pages long, but is a nice beginning resource for parents or for any of us.
He wants David out of his sight even though David is valuable (v. 13)
The third irrational thing that I see here is that Saul wanted David out of his sight even though David was valuable. "Therefore Saul removed him from his presence, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people." Anytime you see irrationality triumphing, start praying against demons. Some of the hatred for Christianity and the fear some people have of Christians in our nation are irrational.
A few years ago, a professor of psychology at New York University, Dr. Paul Vitz, began realizing the spiritual dynamics that are going on in people who come for counseling. He doesn't have much good to say about psychology even though he teaches it and is an expert in it. But he worked with a committee that examined sixty social studies and history textbooks used in public schools across the United States. The committee was amazed to find that virtually every reference to Christianity and its influence upon early America had been systematically removed. Specifically Christian events were turned into secular events. The removal was so crass and so deliberate and in some cases so irrational and puzzling that they came to the conclusion that the writers of these textbooks actually feared the Christian religion and wanted it 100% censored, and didn't want anybody to find out about our Christian roots. They labeled the fear paranoia. They said that these textbook writers were paranoid of Christians.
Well brothers and sisters, there is a lot of paranoia in our country against Christianity. You can see it in Hollywood. I just read a testimony from an actor who came out of the closet and confessed that she was a Republican. She got such vile treatment that she told her daughter to be very careful what she said. The liberals could talk about their views, but the conservatives could not. One Christian wore a small cross around her neck one day, and her manager, Bernstein, said, "You're going to have to lose that, honey. In this town, you can't be religious, and you can't be conservative." She said, "He was a star-making manager, but I couldn't sign on with him." Paranoia, fear, and antagonism toward Christians. You can see it in the media, the schools, and in many areas of life. And this has puzzled Christians. Why would people hate us? We're so nice. You don't have to look any further than Saul and David. David was nice too, but demons hated him, and it was demons that produced that paranoia that David was out to get him. What he feared was not true, but Saul couldn't shake the negative attitudes toward David anyway.
Feared David's wisdom (v. 15)
Even David's wisdom was seen as a threat rather than an asset. Verse 15 says, "Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved wisely, he was afraid of him." The culture wars in America will not be won by wisdom alone. The more arguments you win through wisdom, the more they will hate you. Even in this university, they don't allow the free market of ideas on creationism. Go check out the signs that they have against creationism. Why? In fact, on the pro-life battlefront, the prolifers have won the argument so resoundingly that many pro-aborts have conceded. They are starting to say, "OK, so abortion is killing a human life. We don't care. A woman's rights supersede the rights of a baby." It is breathtaking to see how people can persist in their evil even when every rational argument for doing so has been removed. It's ultimately a spiritual battle. That's why Paul said that we are not ultimately wrestling with flesh and blood but with invisible, spiritual forces. We must take more seriously the demonic battlefront if we are to win the culture wars, church wars, and family wars.
David did not give in to fear; he did not let Saul's paranoia hinder him from bold service to God (v. 15-16)
I won't spend a lot of time on it, but it is important to note three responses of David to Saul's behavior. First, David did not give in to fear. Too many Christians are fearful of the conspiracies around us. Seeing how hostile the "Saul's" has been killing the faith of many people. He did not allow Saul's paranoia to keep him from bold service to God. Verses 15-16 are quite clear on that. And the result was that "all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them." He didn't crawl into a hole with y2k supplies and hide. He sought to influence. Did that make him vulnerable? Yes, it did. But he served God without fear and left the results in God's hands.
He had already learned how to engage in spiritual warfare (16:14-23 with Psalm 23; 144) and he started writing Psalms that would act as the nuclear weapons of the church for ages to come.
Second, David had already learned how to engage in spiritual warfare all the way back in chapter 16. He wrote Psalms that could stabilize his spirit and give him faith and hope – Psalms like Psalm 23 and Psalm 144. He saw music as a spiritual weapon. But he would continue to write Psalms, some of which were nuclear weapons. Did you realize that most of the imprecatory psalms were written against Saul and later against his son Absalom? Yet he loved both men and wished and prayed that they would repent. But that did not stop him from unleashing these bombs. You see, God can answer the curses in the imprecatory psalms in one of two ways: He can destroy your enemy, or he can save your enemy by letting Christ bear the curse. But either way, these psalms were a means of protection that stymied both the man and the demons behind the man. And I would urge the church to begin taking those psalms upon your own lips.
He walked in God's presence (vv. 12-14)
The third thing that David did was to walk in God's presence. Verse 12 says "the LORD was with him." Verse 14 says, "the LORD was with him." When you are living with people who hate you, fear you, are jealous of you, or are paranoid of you, it is imperative that you learn to walk before the face of God. Developing deep communion with God as David did will sustain you in all of your battles. In His presence is fullness of joy. Through His Spirit we have faith to conquer. There is no substitute for a close and intimate walk with God. Psalm 23, already written, is a psalm that helped David to benefit from a close walk and friendship with God. And I have given you spiritual exercises in the past that can help you to press into God in this area.
Conclusion — You can have the victory over demonic temptation. Here are some promises that can give you comfort:
Satan is "bound" by the cross (Mark 3:27; Luke 11:20; Rev. 20)
In the conclusion portion of the outline I have given a baker's dozen of promises as to why we need not fear Satan. I will let you study the implications of those promises for yourself. But I do find them very encouraging. If God is for us, who can be against us? So even though I have given you some pretty serious things to think about with regard to demons, let me end by reading each one of those promises, minus the Scripture proofs behind them. And I think these will show you why you can bank on 1John 5:18 – that when you forsake sin and guard yourself, the wicked one cannot touch you.
I've given you three Scriptures that say that Satan was bound at the cross. 2Thessalonians 2 says that Satan's power has been restricted and restrained. Hebrews 2 says that he has been rendered powerless over believers. That is so encouraging – rendered powerless. Colossians 2 together with Mark 3 show that he is defeated, disarmed, and spoiled. Christ saw Satan fallen from heaven and thrown down from the place that he used to accuse the brethren. He can no longer do with us as he did with Job – slander us to the Father. He doesn't have access to the Father. The other Scriptures indicate that Jesus has inherited all nations and will wrest them out of Satan's hands. Satan was crushed under the feet of the early church as Rome came to the Gospel, and He can crush Satan under your feet. Satan has lost authority over believers according to Colossians 1:13. The other Scriptures indicate that his works have been destroyed, he must flee when resisted, all demonic hordes are subject to the authority of ordinary Christians, that demons are being progressively removed from the earth, and that even though they will be released for a final hurrah at the end of history, they will not succeed, but will be destroyed at the Second Coming.
You have nothing to fear from demons if you will take away his legal ground, cling to Christ's grace, and pick up the weapons of your warfare. And if you don't know how to use those weapons, pick up the gift book, The Christian in Complete Armor, volume one, and start reading. And when you finish that book, buy volumes two and three.
But let me urge you to pray for one another and to pray for your elders. Your elders get used and bruised and abused like David did, and they need your prayers. Let me read you a true story told by a fellow pastor. This minister
was traveling recently by plane. He noticed that the man sitting two seats over was thumbing through some little cards and moving his lips. The man looked professorial with his goatee and graying brown hair, and Steve placed him at fifty-something. guessing the man was a fellow-believer, Steve leaned over to engage him in conversation. "Looks to me like you're memorizing something," he said. "No, actually I was praying," the man said. Steve introduced himself. "I believe in prayer too," he said. "Well, I have a specific assignment," said the man with the goatee. "What's that?" Steve asked. "I'm praying for the downfall of Christian pastors." "I would certainly fit into that category," Steve said. "Is my name on the list?" "Not on my list," the man replied.
This is about as overt an attack as you can get. But the less overt ones are no less destructive. Pray for us. And may the Lord give you success in your battles against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Amen.