<!><!><!><!><!>Good angels are messengers, deliverers, and guiders sent by God to people. “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11). Two good angels warned Lot to get himself and his family out of Sodom before God destroyed it (Gen. 19:1,15). Gabriel brought an answer from God to Daniel, who was praying (Dan. 9:20-23). Gabriel also brought the news to Zechariah that his wife, Elizabeth, would bear him a son, John (Luke 1:13,18,19), and to the virgin Mary that she would bear a son, Jesus (1:26-31). Cornelius, a centurion, distinctly saw and spoke with one of God’s angels who called him by name and told him that God had taken notice of his prayers and his gifts to the poor (Acts 10:3,4).
Not only good angels but evil angels and demons ultimately answer to God and do His will. As strange as it may seem, evil is an integral, essential part of God’s great Plan; otherwise, these angels would not have been allowed to choose evil over good after God created them. An evil angel or demon is permitted to do the bidding of Satan, as long as God approves the activity and does not have another specific task in mind for that spirit.
<!>God ends evil angels/spirits as agents of punishment to those who sin against Him or transgress against other people (Psalm 78:49). He also may send angels to lost, reprobate people to delude them even more completely than they already have allowed themselves to be deceived (2 Ths. 2:11). God is fully aware that such people, even if they were given every possible chance to turn toward Him, would refuse to do so and are, unfortunately, unredeemable. Sometimes people like this are used as examples to others, who are not yet saved but who are redeemable, to encourage them to cease doing something which is self-destructive (sort of the “if you don’t stop doing that, you’re going to end up like him” notion).
<!><!><!><!>Satan, on the other hand, sends evil angels and demons to people to tempt, deceive, and depress them (among many other things) and even to cause accidents or to attempt to destroy them. They also can cause diseases and addictions, induce greed and a hunger for power, and place false doctrine into people’s minds. These spirits may perform such activities upon people both who have and who have not turned to God. Such attacks are often frequent and intense upon those who have heard God’s Word, so as to pry them away from God and the truth (Luke 8:11-14).
However, those who have an ongoing, intimate relationship with God the Father (8:15), through the Son and by the Power of the Holy Spirit, have the support of Jesus and the Holy Spirit to withstand demonic attack, essentially via spiritual counterattack (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:12-18—seeC-10, P-II and C-10, P-III). Good angels also constantly battle evil angels on our behalf (Dan. 10:13,20). Moreover, someone who has the Holy Spirit dwelling within him/her apparently is incapable of actually being possessed by an evil spirit (though evil influence and persuasion may be successful). On the contrary, an unsaved person is an open door to demonic possession.
By the way, it is not up to a Christian nor anyone else to decide who is or is not reprobate, who is or is not saved, nor who will or will not ultimately be saved. Some people, whose appearance we may not like or who do not meet “our standards” of right living, just may be walking more intimately with the Lord than we are. Also, the most seemingly incorrigible person (like Saul/Paul in the Bible, for instance) may, at some point, completely change and become one of God’s strongest advocates. Only God is properly qualified to judge such things, not self-righteous people.
<!><!>There are numerous examples in the Bible where angels ministered (that is, gave aid, service, encouragement, and strength) to people. Good angels “...are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14). When the prophet Elijah ran for his life from the wicked Jezebel, who wanted him dead, he fled into the desert. Tired of the persecution, he prayed that he would die (1 Kng. 19:2-4). As he slept under a tree,
...an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights... (1 Kng. 19:5-8).
Evidently, this was the Angel of the Lord, whom I previously have identified as Jesus (see “the Angel of the Lord”: P-I, S-1).
<!><!>When a decree was given that everyone must pray to King Darius, Daniel refused to do so and continued praying to God (Dan. 6:6-10); as a result, he subsequently was thrown into the lions’ den (6:16a). The next morning, when the king called to Daniel in the den to ask him if God had rescued him, Daniel replied, “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions” (6:19,20,22a).
<!>An angel also physically aided Peter. He was in prison—bound between two soldiers with chains and with sentries guarding the entrance—when an angel, radiating light, appeared to him (Acts 12:6,7a). After waking up Peter, the angel told him to get up and put on his clothes, caused the chains to fall off his wrists, and led him past the guards and through an iron gate (which opened by itself) to the street outside (12:7b-10).
<!><!>After Jesus had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was put through an intense time of temptation by Satan (Matt. 4:1-10—see “temptation of Jesus”: C-7, P-II). After the devil left Him, “...angels came and attended [ministered to] him” (4:11), probably to bring Him food and encourage Him after His ordeal. Also, as He prayed to the Father the night before His crucifixion, “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him” (Luke 22:42,43).
<!><!><!><!>Abimelech, who wanted to become Israel’s king, had his seventy brothers murdered. The slaughter was funded by the citizens of Shechem (Judg. 9:1-5a); these people then gathered to crown him king (9:6). Jotham, the youngest brother, escaped, however (9:5b). In an allegory, Jotham likened their choosing Abimelech as king to a group of trees selecting a thornbush (rather than another tree) to be their king (9:8-15). There could be only trouble ahead (9:19,20).
<!><!><!>After three years, God sent a treacherous spirit to come between Abimelech and the citizens of the land, so as to avenge the shed blood of Abimelech’s seventy brothers (Judg. 9:22-24). This single demon was able, spiritually, to induce the people to rise up against Abimelech; and he, in turn, tried to quell the rebellion. After a complicated sequence of events, about a thousand citizens of Shechem died (9:25-49); and, after an unexpected turn, Abimelech also was killed (9:50-54). Thus, God, utilizing an evil spirit, punished Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem and avenged the blood of Abimelech’s seventy brothers (9:56,57).
<!><!><!><!><!><!>Saul was the first king of Israel anointed by God. He was a great king, victorious in all his battles; but he fell into disfavor with God due to his disobedience (1 Sam. 13:8-14, 15:2,3,8-11,19-23). So God’s Spirit left Saul and came instead upon David (16:13,14a), who later would become Israel’s second (and greatest) king (see “first three kings”: C-2, P-III). Now after the Spirit of God left Saul, an evil or injurious spirit, sent by God, came to torment him (16:14b,15). Thereafter, whenever David (upon whom God’s Spirit rested) played his harp for Saul, this tormenting spirit usually would leave Saul alone (16:16,23). However, this same spirit even impelled Saul, on at least two occasions, to try to kill David (18:10,11, 19:9,10).
Saul is an example of someone who knew God but who constantly compromised on his service for God. His pride and jealousy of David dulled his focus on and love for God and caused him too many times to do things his own way instead of God’s way. He was impatient when God did not react in a way and in a the time frame suitable to him. And he tended more toward satisfying his own personal pleasures and desires rather than fulfilling his spiritual nature in God. The tormenting spirit was sent by God to punish Saul, who had disobeyed God for too long and who had turned away from Him. In the end, Saul took his own life (1 Sam. 31:4c).
<!><!><!><!><!><!><!>Ahab was a king of Israel who “...began to serve Baal and worship him” (1 Kng. 16:31c) and “...did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him” (16:33b). Ahab also set free the king of Aram after God had determined that this evil king should die (20:34); and Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, had a man killed, after which Ahab took possession of the man’s vineyard (21:8-16). Consequently, two of God’s prophets prophesied doom for Ahab (20:42, 21:17-19,21,22). Furthermore, Ahab heeded the recommendation of about four hundred false prophets who told him that he should go to war against Ramoth Gilead (22:6), when doing so would mean his death. These false prophets had been influenced by a lying spirit sent by God, as described in a vision by the prophet Micaiah:
...I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the Lord said, “Who will lure Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?”
One [spirit] suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, “I will lure him.”
“By what means?” the Lord asked.
“I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,” he said.
“You will succeed in luring him,” said the Lord. “Go and do it.” (1 Kng. 22:19-22).
<!><!>King Ahab had this true prophet, Micaiah, thrown into prison (1 Kng. 22:26,27), because he did not want to hear the truth; he preferred, instead, to listen to the false prophets influenced by the lying spirit. So Ahab went to battle in Ramoth Gilead in disguise (22:30). But a random arrow hit the king between the sections of his armor, and later that day he died (22:34a,37). King Ahab worshiped a God other than the real one, he was a thief, and he listened to a lie by an evil spirit; so he paid with his life.
It is interesting to note that Paul, describing some people in the end times (no doubt, in today’s world), said
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron (1 Tim. 4:1,2).
This precisely describes the situation of the lying false prophets speaking to King Ahab the things they were lured to speak by the lying spirit. People really have not changed throughout the centuries; they still are voluntarily open to deception and often listen only to what they want to hear. Almost no one wants to hear the truth when it implies that one should change.
<!><!>During Jesus’ short ministry on earth, demon-possessed people flocked to Jesus to be healed and have demons driven out of them. Jesus sent out a demon from a man who could not speak, and then the man could talk (Matt. 9:32,33a). He healed another man who was blind and mute due to a demon (12:22). A demon, producing epilepsy in a boy, was ordered out by Jesus; the boy was restored (17:15,18). (Not all diseases and infirmities are induced demonically, but in these cases they were.)
A fact to which I previously have directed attention is that Satan’s main objective is to keep people from understanding God’s biblical precepts and to cause them to turn people away from God, in any way possible. The primary means he utilizes to do this is demonic deception of the human mind-spirit. Demon spirit communication through a human medium is called channeling, a very popular “New Age” technique. It is accomplished after the medium/channeler submits to possession by and merging with the spirit. A person allows a demonic spirit guide to enter him/her so as to receive spiritual teachings, “enlightened” wisdom, or other information. The results are literature, tapes, and seminars which multitudes of people all over the world are clamoring to read, watch, and hear.
Why are these “educational” and “self-help” tools so popular? It is because people long to find something truly meaningful in this crazy, out-of-control world, as well as the real purposes for their lives (seeC-15, P-II). Rather than look into God’s Word (the Bible), the “Handbook of Life” which has the pertinent and applicable answers to their questions, they seek other sources for “enlightenment” and “knowledge.”
<!><!><!>In addition, many erroneously believe that they can contact family members and friends from beyond the grave (necromancy). In reality, spirits of dead people are incapable of communicating with the living. God strongly has warned people not even to try contacting the spirits of the deceased (Lev. 19:31a; 1 Chr. 10:13; Isa. 8:19), because demonic spirit guides are “lurking” in the supernatural shadows, always ready to deceive unsuspecting victims into believing that they have contacted dead family members, friends, ancient wise men, or advanced aliens from other galaxies. These spirits are very smart, having been around for eons of time, and have learned very well what people want to hear. “They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them” (1 John 4:5).
There are, no doubt, multitudes of channelers worldwide who regularly enter trance-like states and come into intimate contact with countless different evil spirits for the purpose of “enlightenment.” These are some popular spirit channelers and the main (demon) spirit guides which communicate through them:
|J. Z. Knight||“Ramtha”|
Direct quotes of the teachings of spirit guides “Ramtha,” “Lilly,” “Seth,” and “Jesus” are included in The Facts on Spirit Guides by John Ankerberg and John Weldon.
<!>In the book Ramtha, which was channeled by J. Z. Knight, the introduction to Chapter 1 states, “There is no other redemption for mankind than to realize their divinity. You are the seeds of this realization.”
I am Ramtha, a sovereign entity who lived a long time ago upon this plane called Earth, or Terra. In that life I did not die; I ascended, for I learned to harness the power of my mind and to take my body with me into an unseen dimension of life. In doing so I realized an existence of unlimited freedom, unlimited joy, unlimited life. Others who lived on Terra after me also ascended.
In the previous list, the spirit guide “Jesus” is a demon counterfeit of the real Jesus, just as the information obtained from spirit guides is a counterfeit of true knowledge. Anything the real Jesus wants for us to know and relates to us through His Holy Spirit aligns precisely with what is written in the Bible. Helen Schucman and the spirit guide “Jesus” authored the popular, A Course in Miracles. Ruth Montgomery and “Lilly” have written many best-sellers relating to “New Age” topics. Other channelers have appeared on television and radio programs to offer live interviews with their spirit guides.
People who have “dabbled” in some way with the occult seem to be more predisposed to demon possession and channeling than those who have not. Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck says, “It seems clear from the literature on possession that the majority of cases [of demon possession] have had involvement with the occult—a frequency far greater than might be expected in the general population.”
According to John Ankerberg and John Weldon,
Modern man sees channeling as the proof of the deeper answers to life. Channeling seems to answer questions about the nature of reality (Is it spiritual?), the nature of death (Is it the end?), the nature of human potential (Is it unlimited?), and the nature of the self (Is it divine?). Thus, channeling powerfully persuades by claiming access to the very spirit world which can provide answers. The spirits are giving information which deceives men into thinking they are in contact with men who once lived on the earth, who died and who now exist happily in the afterlife. The spirits claim that through death they have found the answers to life and the knowledge that all men will live forever. The spirits claim to speak with certainty about the nature of God, the purpose of life and about what happens at death. They claim there is no Hell and that God and Heaven are not as the Bible has stated.
Channeling thus provides a false answer to modern man’s need for religious experience. He is deceived into thinking such contact with the spirits gives meaning to his life and soothes his fears of death.
Remember, “...Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). Evil spirits are capable of doing the same. They will tell people exactly what they long to hear, and they can never be trusted. They teach that the source of humanity’s problems is ignorance of our “divine nature,” rather than human sin, and that God is an “impersonal force” rather than a personal Being. And they teach that ideas such as salvation, sin, guilt, and judgment are antiquated and unnecessary and should be thrown out. They even teach that the devil and demons are not real!
J. David Branon, staff writer for the Our Daily Bread daily devotional booklet, said that a group of his daughter’s peers once convinced her that spaghetti grows on trees. She really knew better, but they all spoke so convincingly that they finally persuaded her to believe it. He points out that cultists (who are influenced by demonic teachings)
...try to sway the unsuspecting into accepting their false teachings. They know that if people tell you something enough times, and with enough conviction, eventually you’ll believe them. ...
Beware of people who would change God’s Word to make it say what they want it to say. No matter how convincing, what they are saying is nothing more than a “spaghetti tree” story.
(No doubt there will be Christian “heretic hunters” reading this book who will accuse me of doing just that: changing God’s Word to make it say what I want it to say. That is why, in the Preface to this book, I have encouraged every reader to verify all of my biblical references to see if what I have to say seems plausible and reasonable. Whatever does not may be discounted by the reader, as long as a better explanation can be found.)
<!>Because demons are such deceivers (and have turned millions away from the truth), God has forbidden communication with spirits or attempted consultation of the dead: “Let no one be found among you...who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord...” (Deut. 18:10a,11b,12a). “When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isa. 8:19,20). (The warning is not even to try to contact the “dead,” since in the vast majority of cases, they probably are not the ones being consulted.)
Demons are dangerous, and they will deceive and mislead anyone who voluntarily or involuntarily opens up to or asks questions of them (for instance, through channeling, satanic ritual, or even Ouija Board inquiry). Once voluntary submission by a person to evil spirit possession has taken place, the chance of subsequent involuntary, forced possession greatly increases—even to the point of the demon’s being in full, permanent control of its host.
A good example of this was Adolph Hitler, who delved into the occult and subsequently was convinced (probably directly by Satan) that all Jewish people should be exterminated. Furthermore, he was persuaded demonically to believe that he himself could rule the world. His deluded life ended in suicide, as do the lives of so many who knowingly or unknowingly submit to demonic influence and control. And those who do not have an ongoing relationship with their God and Creator, and who fail to heed the timeless truths and commandments in His written Word, the Bible, are in danger of slipping under such control—at first subtly, then completely.
It never is a good idea to seek contact with the dead, since chances are that it will be an evil, deceptive, demonic spirit who responds rather than the spirit of the deceased person. Although forbidden by God, King Saul visited the spirit medium of Endor, requesting that she contact the spirit of Samuel, in an attempt to gain information and guidance from him.
Understandably, it is difficult for many Christians to believe that the entity invoked by the spirit medium, as requested by Saul (1 Sam. 28:7-20a), was indeed Samuel himself. Possibly a more common belief is that the spirit, who appeared to the medium and who spoke to Saul, was a demonic spirit pretending to be Samuel.
<!><!>Previously, due to Saul’s disobedience, God had sent an evil spirit to him (1 Sam. 16:14,15,23, 18:10, 19:9). This spirit (presumably demonic) tormented Saul on various occasions (see “injurious, tormenting spirit” earlier in this part). Yet the spirit conjured up by the medium, at Saul’s request, demonstrated no ill-will or negative behavior toward Saul, nor did the spirit lie to or attempt to deceive Saul in any way. We would think that every evil spirit would show some type of antagonism toward Saul, but indeed this was not the case.
In fact, there is no indication in this biblical passage that the spirit was anything or anyone other than Samuel himself. The passage states that “...Saul knew it was Samuel” (1 Sam. 28:14c). Admittedly, it is possible that Saul was deceived into believing that the spirit was Samuel, when it actually was not; yet further examination reveals that everything the spirit spoke was the truth and that there evidently was no deception intended.
Consider this dialogue between the spirit and Saul:
Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” “I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”
Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has turned away from you and become your enemy?
The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David.
Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today.
The Lord will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines.”
Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel’s words. His strength was gone, for he had eaten nothing all that day and night (1 Sam. 28:15-20).
Note that nowhere in this entire passage does it indicate that the spirit conversing with Saul was anyone other than Samuel himself. In fact, each place where the spirit speaks, the textual inference is that Samuel, and no one else, is the speaker.
<!>One of the most convincing indications that the spirit indeed was Samuel is this statement made to Saul, evidently the confirmation and fulfillment of a prediction Samuel had made while still alive: “The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David” (1 Sam. 28:17). Samuel, when he was alive, had spoken virtually identical words to Saul: “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you [that is, David]” (1 Sam. 15:28).
<!><!>There is a case in scripture where a lying spirit volunteered to influence the prophets of King Ahab of Israel to lie to him and deceive him (1 Kng. 22:19-23—see “lying spirit” earlier in this part). One might assume that all evil spirits willingly would lie to or deceive those to whom they are sent. Yet the spirit conjured up for Saul not only was irritated that he had been disturbed (1 Sam. 28:15a), indicating that he did not come willingly, but he also told Saul the absolute truth about his future (28:19)—including Saul’s imminent demise, which occurred the very next day.
<!>The great prophet Isaiah warned, “When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isa. 8:19,20—see the previous section, “deceiving information, false answers”). Saul inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him (1 Sam. 28:6), evidently because Saul had been out of the will of God for too long. So, instead, Saul did what was forbidden; he consulted a medium to inquire of “the dead.” This is a unique event in all of scripture; and I believe that the real Samuel, in this case, was “the dead.”
Proceed to Chapter 8, Part III
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Copyright © 1998– by Ted M. Montgomery, O.D. Most rights reserved.