BY PASTOR GLENN PEASE
Gender Dysphoria is the psychiatric term for what is commonly called transsexualism. This is the obsession that one has been born as the wrong sex. This is so deep-seated that the only cure is thought to be sex change surgery. In all the literature there is only one report of a cure by means of months of hard work using behavior modification. But there is one report also of an instant cure with no medicine, and no psychiatry. D. Scott Rogo, author of over 25 books, tells of this amazing cure in his book The Infinite Boundary.
The story began when John was born in 1952. When he was four he started to imitate his mother by putting on makeup, and wearing his sisters clothes. He became more and more feminine as he grew older, and walked and talked like a girl. He enjoyed only the feminine things of life. Eventually he was diagnosed as a transsexual. And unsuccessful suicide attempt brought him to Dr. David Barlow at the University of Tenn. Medical School. He was given a complete psychiatric examination which showed, for all practical purposes, he was a woman trapped in a mans body. He was advised to have sex-change surgery, and it was scheduled.
It was a long process to prepare for this, and so meanwhile John was living openly as a woman, even going by the name Judy. By the summer of 1973 he was ready for surgery. But to the shock of the doctors, Judy came back as John. He was dressed in a three piece suit, and looked completely masculine. He explained that he had gone to a Christian doctor who told him his problem was demonic. He agreed to have the doctor pray with him, and the doctor spent two to three hours praying that the evil spirits in him would leave. This exorcism worked, and now for the first time in 20 years he felt like a man. He was instantly cured, and all his feminine behavior vanished. Dr. Barlow asked him to retake the battery of tests, and all of the results showed he was restored to a totally masculine identity. The demons that had messed up his life had been cast out.
We think demonism is not for today, because we have been brainwashed by our culture, but the fact is, the New Testament is more relevant than modern psychology in explaining why we live in a society so filled with perversions. Why are there so many messed up people? Why are there so many child abusers? Why are there so many obsessed with all sorts of abnormal behavior? All this is a boon to talk show hosts, but it is a curse to millions who cannot enjoy a normal life. The New Testament tells us that much abnormal human behavior is a result of demon possession, or the more modern term, demonization. Men and women open themselves up to satanic influence, and he takes advantage of it, and sends his troops into their lives and takes control.
After reading widely in theology, medicine, and psychology, I have no doubt that the very thing that we see in the New Testament ministry of Jesus are going on all over the world today. But equal to the danger of not believing in the reality of demons is the danger of believing in them too much. The fact is, they are real, but still more rare than some believers like to think. It is hard to keep a balance on a subject like this. It is just too easy to go to one extreme or the other. We want to dismiss the whole bizarre subject as a matter of mental illness, or discover demons behind everything that is abnormal. Both views are clearly out of touch with the revelation of the Bible, and the realism of history.
The only way to approach a subject like this is to be a believing skeptic. We must come to it believing there is something to it, but be skeptical about all evidence until it becomes overwhelming. Catholic and Protestant authorities agree, you should consider every other possibility before you jump to the conclusion that anything is demonic.
Most cases of reported demonism are proved to be something else. There are even numerous cases of pseudo demonism where clever people rant and rave and foam at the mouth, and scream profanities because they have discovered it is a very effective method for getting attention, and getting their way. History is filled with the follies of being a demon hunter, but equally foolish is the life lived in utter unawareness of these dark powers. So let's begin our study of this sober subject by looking at-
I. THE REALITY OF DEMONS.
When Jesus was confronted by a man with a evil spirit in the synagogue, He treated the man, not as a mental case of one going berserk, but as one possessed. He said with authority, "Come out of him!" And with a shriek the spirit came out shaking the man violently. There can be no question that Jesus believed in the reality of demons. The first miracle of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark is that of casting out an evil spirit in verse 27. In verse 34 he drove out many demons. In verse 39 he drove out many more in Galilee. The evidence is very strong just in this first chapter that one of the major ministries of Jesus was exorcism, the casting out of demons.
Why was this so important? Jesus tells us in Matt. 12:28, "But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." One of the major evidences that the kingdom had come was the fact that people in bondage to demons were being set free. The demonic kingdom could not stand before the kingdom of God, but had to retreat. Because of this, those nations where the Gospel has gone and converted a large segment of the population, so that it can be called a Christian land, have far less demonization than do those who still live in lands of darkness where Satan has strong control.
Because we have grown up in American, a land where the Gospel has been very powerful, we have come to question the very reality of demons. Many feel that Jesus was just accommodating Himself to the popular belief in demons, and went along with the belief just to capture people's attention. This is a very weak argument, for Jesus made a clear distinction between diseased people and demonized people. He never talked with diseases. These people were sick with natural causes, and Jesus did not carry on conversations with their bacteria or viruses. But when He cast out demons, He often talked with them and cast them out as living things. They often made terrible noises as He did it. Bacteria and viruses do not have loud voices, nor do they control the voices of their victims. The demons even talked back to Jesus, and if He was just going along with a popular false belief, He was encouraging superstition, which is totally inconsistent with His claim to be the truth. There is no escaping the evidence, demons were real, and Jesus fought them as real living enemies.
There is much in the Bible that cannot be understood apart from the reality of demons. It has always been one of the mysteries in my mind of how the Jews, who saw all of the marvelous miracles of God in the Old Testament, could yet go off to worship idols. It seems inconceivable to me that any idol could have a greater lure than the God who made the heavens and the earth. This power of idols over Israel all through the Old Testament can only be comprehended when we see that behind the idols were real gods, that is demons. The Old Testament does make this clear if you search for it. Demons and idols are linked as one. Look at Deut. 32:17. "They sacrificed to demons, which are not God-god's they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your fathers did not fear." These demons were not God, but they were gods. The Old Testament is loaded with many gods of the nations round about Israel, and these were real gods, but they were demons.
Ps. 106:36-37 says, "They worship their idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons." Paul confirms this in I Cor. 10:20, "The sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons." In the book of Rev. the idols and demons are linked again as it says in Rev. 9:20, "...they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood..." There is no power in wood, stone, and precious metals, but if there is demonic power behind these things, then idols can actually have obsessive power in peoples lives. Idols are not merely harmless superstition, but they can be connections to literal demonic power.
It seems so irrelevant for John to say to Christians in I John 5:21, "Little children keep yourself from idols." Idols are about as irrelevant as demons in our culture. We dismiss them both as a obsolete ideas. But the facts of life will not support this conclusion. Any idol can become an obsession that opens the door to demonic influence in anyone's life. We still fight those same battles God's people fought in the Old Testament and New Testament days. We have thought these were cultural ideas no longer fitting for the modern scientific mind, but this is not so. Demons have not departed to the land of make believe. They are just as real today as they were in the days of Jesus.
But the question can still be, so what? The Lock Ness Monster may be real also, and so too the Abominable Snow Man. What difference does it make to us? To answer that lets look at my second point-
II. THE RELEVANCE OF DEMONS.
Note that the first demonized person Jesus confronted was in the synagogue, a place of worship and study of the Word of God. In verse 39 it states that Jesus was preaching in the synagogue and driving out demons. The synagogue seemed to be the place where Jesus was most likely to practice exorcism. This seems strange, for you would think such people would be in a different crowd. We have an image of a demonized person that puts them all into the category of the Gaderene demoniac. He was the madman who hung out in the deserted cemetery, and was a raving lunatic.
Because of this limited view of the demonized, we find the subject very irrelevant. But Jesus made it clear that there are varying degrees of being demonized. Some people only have a single demon; others have multiple demons, and some have legions. Not only is there the number factor, but not all demons are equally powerful or wicked. They are just like people. Not all sinners are equally wicked and dangerous, and so it is with demons.
Jesus told of a man who had a demon cast out of him, but he did not take in anything positive to fill up the emptiness. The result was said Jesus in Matt. 12:45, "Then it goes and takes with it seven others spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there." Note, the original demon is not as wicked as the gang he takes with him. They were more wicked, and the result is the last state of the man is worst than the first.
The point is, all demons are not alike. They do not all make people go mad and do vile and violent things. Some of them just cause people to be ill. Others cause them to be obsessed with some behavior that is destructive. All these people that Jesus saw in the synagogues were not raving lunatics. They were Jews who likely came to the synagogue regularly, and were Godly people, but who were in bondage to Satan in some way. They were just like Christian people today who love the Lord, and long to grow in grace and knowledge, but are in one way or another in bondage.
They may be addicted to smoking, alcohol, sex, eating, gambling, or any number of obsessive type behaviors. They may be normal in every other way, but in some aspect of their life they are slaves to that which is out of God's will for them. Now you can begin to see that maybe the idea of being demonized may be relevant to us as Christians in the 20th century after all. Can a Christian be demonized? The evidence convinces most who study the subject that the answer is yes.
Back in 1952 Merril F. Unger published his great book called Biblical Demonology. In this classic treatment he was convinced Christians could not be demonized. But since then, he has been so inundated with evidence that he has written several books proving that Christians can be demonized. I read his book, What Demons Can Do To Saints, and he has compiled Biblical and historical evidence that left no doubt in my mind that Christians can be demonized.
Why else would Paul urge Christians to put on the whole armor of God, so that we may stand against the devil's schemes? In the next verse, Eph. 6:12 he writes, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." All of this is meaningless if the Christian is automatically protected from the demonic influence. There is nothing automatic about it. We can stand with the right preparation, and we can win, and send the devil fleeing when we resist. But if we are complacent and convinced he does not even exist, we stand a good chance of being invaded, and losing control of some part of our life.
In Luke 13, Jesus confronted a woman who had been crippled and bent over like a hunchback for 18 years. She was in the synagogue listening to him teach. Jesus healed her, and in so doing made the synagogue ruler angry. Jesus called him a hypocrite, and said he treats his animals better, for he takes them to get water on the Sabbath, and then Jesus said in Luke 13:16, "Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for 18 long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?"
Jesus made this ruler of the synagogue feel ashamed, for this was a Godly woman. Yet, she was a victim for 18 years of a satanic bondage. This crippled saint was not a raving lunatic, nor was she was kind of wicked fiend plotting how to murder little children. She was just a child of God, who somehow had let Satan get his foot in the door of her life, and capture part of it. This is the aspect of demonism that is relevant to every believer, because every believer has the potential of losing control of some territory called the self. How else can we explain Godly Christian leaders suddenly doing acts of such folly that they lose all they have built up for the kingdom of God? What possesses such people? That is the question, and the New Testament answer is that they have let Satan possess some aspect of their being. They are demonized, and controlled by dark forces that compel them to choice the way of evil.
Paul was not just scribbling to test his pen when he wrote in II Cor. 11:3, "But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be lead astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ." This is as clear as you can get. People with a sincere and pure devotion to Christ can be conned into being deceived and led astray. There is none who stand who should ever conclude that they cannot fall. This is the pride that goes before a fall. Those who stand and do not fall are those who know they could, and so they take precautions. The Christian least likely to fall is the Christian who knows his weaknesses, and who believes Satan is looking for ways to gain control in that area of weakness.
The Christian most likely to fall is the Christian who says, "I love Christ and have nothing to fear. I can think positive and enjoy life by indulging all my appetites freely, and throw caution to the wind." This is a rejection of the warfare mentality of the New Testament. It makes the Christian shed his armor, and become indifferent to prevention. The battle field is strewn with the bodies of believers who buy into this package of deception.
Not only can Christian be drawn into sin and sickness by demonic influence, but Paul makes it clear they can also be drawn into heresy. He writes in I Tim. 4:1, "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." Christians can be so deceived that they will follow all sorts of heretical leaders of cults. I do not think these Christians lose their salvation because of this folly, but they become prisoners of war. The enemy has them captive, and they are eliminated as soldiers of the cross. They become tools of Satan to help keep the world in darkness.
Again, let me remind you, these are very sincere religious people. They may swear allegiance to the Bible, and their lives are dominated by spiritual things. They are basically normal people, but they are nevertheless demonized. They are under the control of evil spirit, because they have opened the door of their lives to demon occupation. The point of all this is not to kindle a spirit of fear, for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a power and of love and of a sound mind. The point is to raise our level of awareness so we can prevent being deceived. This is why Paul was writing to the Corinthians about the need to be alert and on watch, for he says in II Cor. 2:11, "In order that Satan might not outwit us, for we are not unaware of his schemes." The implication is that Christians who are unaware can be outwitted and lose battles for control of their lives.
Paul gets very specific in the area of anger. Anger is a strong emotion, and anything that is a strong emotion is a threat to rational behavior. Any person with strong emotions of any kind is a target for takeover by demonic forces. Any Christian in a state of strong emotion can lose control and choose a course that is the wrong way. Anger is just such a state. Paul warns in Eph. 4:26-27, "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold."
Paul is saying, all the devil needs is a foot in the door to put the Christian off balance and cause them to do stupid and sinful things in anger. At no time in the Christian life does a Christian have to pray for the mind of Christ more than when in anger. We need to talk to ourselves and ask, what are you doing? Is your thinking clear? Are you being wise? Are you moving in a direction that is pleasing to God? We have to fight like crazy to keep the rational in control, or we can become a captured weapon that Satan can use to do damage to the kingdom of God.
Christians have always been their own worst enemies, because they have allowed themselves to be outwitted by the devil. There is nothing more humiliating then to be shot by your own gun, which the enemy has cleverly captured from you. But this is the kind of defeat Christians endure all the time because they are not aware of the relevance of demons in every day life. Merril Unger, after years of research came to this clear conclusion: "Clinical evidence abounds that a Christian can be demon controlled as a carry-over from free conversion days or can fall under Satan's power after conversion and become progressively demonized, even seriously. If such a person blatantly lives in scandalous sin, subscribes to an embraces heresy, engages in occultism, or gives himself to rebellion and lawlessness against God Word and will, he may expect a demon invasion of his life."
But let me again add a word of caution. There are few fanatics more offensive and abusive to the truth than those who blame everything on the devil, and point to demons behind everything they don't like. The greatest fanatics for belief in demons in the New Testament were the greatest enemies of Christ. They were constantly trying to pin the label on him that he was demon possessed. John records that four different times the Jews accused Jesus of this:
John 7:20, "You are demon-possessed," the crowd answered.
John 8:48, "The Jews answered Him, aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?"
John 8:52, "At this the Jews explained, now we know that you are demon-possessed."
John 10:20, "Many of them said, he is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?"
The truth seems demonic to those in bondage to error. So let's not think that finding demons everywhere is good. It can be the very depth of depravity to call good evil. Every authority in the field of demonology warns against the danger of zeal without knowledge. To start diagnosing every disease and every disturbance in life as demonic is to be duped by the devil. But to be aware that every disease, disturbance, distress, and depression can be a crack in the door for the demonic is to be better prepared for prevention of loss to these evil forces. Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world, and with proper awareness, and dependence upon Christ we can be assured that all demons will be defeated.