Talk about demons is difficult nowadays. Even Christians don't much like to talk about demonic spirits. Bring up demons and we're more likely to get incredulous stares than an affirming nod. And why wouldn't people look at us as if we're cracked? Only children believe in demons. Society has progressed so far past the dark days when people believed in Satan and demons. People are too well-educated to believe such nonsense. Demons are the stuff of medieval superstition.
Demons, like Satan, are cartoons. No one with any intelligence or sense gives any credence to their existence, and that's the devil's greatest trick. Satan wins every battle he engages in with us when we don't believe he's real. Add to this that most people, even Christians, don't believe in sin either and the table is set for their victory over us.
Proxy wars, worldwide pandemics, broken homes, and churches divided against themselves; who do we think is behind that? Who's behind human trafficking? Who stirs people up to join ungodly religions and worship false gods? Who convinces politicians to legalize gambling, prostitution, and recreational drugs?
Since the world doesn't believe in sin or Satan, the answer is good and evil is just evil, depending on how we spin them. Good and evil are just things. They're ideas in search of meaning. They're trends that come and go: one day something is evil, the next it's good. But, demonic? That's just naive thinking. There's no such thing as demons, or sin, or a Satanic power that feeds people a steady diet of sugar-coated lies through his worldly agents.
But, for Christians, those who still believe God's Word, demons are real. The Bible is reliable in what it says about demons because it has God's promise that what's contained there is true.
There's not much in the Bible about demons. But, what it does explain about them is important for us to know. In particular, what Satan did to try to derail Jesus' work for us. Here are some of the highlights: Satan convinced Herod to order the murder of all male children in Bethlehem under two years old. He tempted Jesus in the wilderness after John had baptized him. He stirred up the religious leaders to plot Jesus' murder. Satan captured the heart of Judas, who betrayed Jesus.
That means, for us, that the tighter Jesus' grip on us, the more Satan is going to attack us. The more grounded we are in our baptismal vocations, the more we can expect to be attacked. The more devoted we are to coming to the Lord's Table, the more we can expect to be attacked. The more we hunger and thirst for the Gospel, for Jesus alone for the forgiveness of all our sin, the more we can expect to be attacked by Satan and his demons.
This is also why, to quote Norman Nagel, "The greatest saints have known more of the devil than the most godless." Satan doesn't care about the godless. He owns them, and they usually do whatever he wants without putting up much of a fuss.
The more of Jesus we demand in our life, the more we're going to suffer the attacks of Satan and his demons. They won't come dressed in red, with a pitchfork, and horns. They'll come up alongside us, offering us our heart's desires. Satan works through his agents to convince us that what's evil is good, and what's godly is sinful and Satanic.
The more we cling to Christ and his gifts, the more often we can expect to be attacked by Satan and his demons. But, in the end, Satan is God's devil and the demons are yippy puppies compared to Jesus, the Lion of Judah.
God will not allow his people to be owned by Satan. He will lead us away from temptation. He will strengthen us to fight with the weapons of faith: words, water, bread, and wine. God will give us the final victory over Satan and all demons. In Christ, we're safe. We're secure when we live in God's watery, baptismal grace, feast on Jesus' body and blood, and stuff the Gospel into our ears and heart.
We're free to do that because Jesus already defeated Satan at Calvary. Satan threw everything he had at Jesus that day. The whole world's sin, the crushing horror of death's power, and even hell itself were unleashed on that hill outside Jerusalem where Jesus was executed. But, it didn't matter. Jesus won. The war is over. The victory Jesus secured he gives to us. His victory is ours, given to us by God as a gift. Christ died for us so the next time Satan or any of his demons tempt us, we can tell him: "Jesus died for me, Satan, and I am forgiven. Jesus defeated you, and no matter what you do to me today, He still wins, which means I win."
In this way, Satan is chased away, because he can't stand Jesus' name. Then, at the mention of Jesus' name, the kingdom of God is upon us and not sin, death or even hell itself can overcome us. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.