What is Demonic Influence?
No aspect of society or human endeavor is immune from demonic influence. Demonic influence is prevalent throughout the world and adversely impacts all societies and human endeavors through educational systems, governments, philosophies, religions, and science and more.
According to what Christ revealed to the apostle John, Satan is actively deceiving and influencing the whole world into following his concepts, precepts, and principles:
"And the great dragon was cast out that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: . . ." (Rev.12:9 KJV).
When we look at the conditions of this present world, we see a world of unending chaos where righteous, ethical, and moral behavior is rare. The world is in turmoil. There are wars, famines, disease epidemics, environmental pollution, crime, poverty, squalor, religious bigotry, racism, hatred, broken-homes, permissiveness, promiscuity, sexual perversion, upset weather conditions, natural disasters, and many other conditions that cause mankind pain, agony, and unhappiness.
The pathetic situation in which we see the world today is the result of centuries of practicing the wrong kinds of educational, philosophical, political, and religious systems which have been, for the most part, influenced by spirit-beings who are not interested in promoting peace, happiness, and prosperity for mankind: Instead, they have entirely different goals. If this were not true; we would live in a far different world from the one that exists today.
The question is not whether or not demons/evil spirits influence people's attitudes and behaviors to do evil things, because they do; rather, following are the questions that need to be answered:
- What exactly is demonic influence?
- Why do evil spirits want to influence human attitudes and behaviors?
- How susceptible is mankind to evil influence?
- How is evil influence accomplished?
- How can a person keep from being influenced by evil spirits?
In the following chapters, I will attempt to answer these five questions.
WHAT IS DEMONIC INFLUENCE?
Demonic influence is the power and ability of evil spirits to affect someone's emotions, thoughts, beliefs, or actions. It is through this power and ability to influence individuals that Satan and other evil spirits either openly or covertly persuade and manipulate individuals into following a lifestyle or a course of action which is in opposition to the Sovereign Father's laws, precepts, and principles.
Demonic influence is distinctly different from demonic possession; in that, the success of an evil spirit to influence a person's life is predicated on a person's willingness to maintain certain attitudes, make certain decisions, and behave in certain ways. But someone who is demonically possessed does not have the ability to oppose the demonic influence.
An individual with a sound mind who is not totally controlled by an evil spirit has the freedom to resist an evil influence, but a person who is totally possessed by an evil spirit does not have this freedom. The degree to which an individual can be influenced by evil spirits is the degree to which an individual is willing to accept this influence in their life.
Demonic influence can be overt or extremely subtle and it comes in many forms, depending on the intent and purpose of the evil spirit doing the influencing.
WHY INFLUENCE PEOPLE?
In order to understand why Satan and other evil spirits want to influence people, we must know what these spirit-beings hope to accomplish through this influence.
Satan's ultimate goal is to ascend to heaven, become a god-being, and wrest control of the Sovereign God's realm from him (Isa.14:12-14). In order to accomplish this, he and other evil spirits mistakenly think that, by influencing, controlling, and ultimately destroying mankind, they can prevent the Sovereign God from fulfilling his plan to expand his family of god-beings, thereby becoming more powerful than the Sovereign God.
Therefore, they attempt to influence people into rejecting the existence of the Sovereign God and his Christ, the Sovereign God's method of salvation, God's rule in their lives, and God's law. This rejection leads to people violating God's law and causes chaos in people's lives on an individual and societal level. This is how evil spirits hope to prevent humans from entering the Family of God as immortal god-beings and inheriting the earth and the Kingdom of God.
SUSCEPTIBILITY TO DEMONIC INFLUENCE
In order to understand the degree to which mankind is susceptible to evil influence, it is important to keep in mind that humans were not created with godly attitudes and character, but were created with the freedom to choose what to think and how to order their life.
The record in the Book of Genesis in which Satan influences Eve to disobey the Creator's instruction to neither touch the tree of the knowledge of good and evil nor eat its fruit, and then Eve persuades Adam to disobey the Creator's instructions reveals that humans are easily deceived and highly susceptible to evil influence. See Gen.2:15-17; 3:1-6.
Mankind's proclivity to choose what is appealing and gratifying without analyzing the short or long term consequences of these choices provides many opportunities for evil spirits to easily influence humans. This proclivity to make choices that are opposite to what results in a godly and beneficial lifestyle led to the conditions we now see on earth:
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen.6:5 KJV). See also Psa.14:1-3; Jer.17:9 KJV).
The prophet Isaiah was inspired to record the Creator God's following assessment of the human thought process, character, and behavior:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa.55:8-9 KJV). See 1.Cor 2:14.
Because humans in their natural state lack godly thoughts, character, and behavior, evil spirits can easily influence most of mankind to choose lifestyles and actions which are in opposition to godliness.
HOW IS INFLUENCE ACCOMPLISHED?
Although the methods and the circumstances used by evil spirits in their attempts to influence individuals may vary, it is basically through appealing to mankind's natural propensity to do what satisfies their desires that evil spirits can easily influence the vast majority of people on earth to reject the godly and righteous lifestyle set forth in God's law.
Through individuals or groups of people who are already under their influence, evil spirits inspire literature, religions, philosophies, rituals, music, and traditions designed to promote a state of mind through which evil spirits can accomplish their goals. Evil spirits also have the ability to project thoughts and emotions into people's minds in order to cause them to have certain attitudes and act in ways that promote their goals. These are just a few of the many means through which evil spirits can and do influence people in order to effect a desired result and further their primary goals.
Seeking physical or spiritual, influence, knowledge, power, or other benefits through the following methods can dramatically increase a person's susceptibility to demonic influence or control:
- Mind altering drugs
- A meditative or a trance-like state
- Magical or mystical symbols, graphic designs, and rituals
- Objects, such as crystal balls, ouija boards, pendulums, and tarot cards
- Channeling of spirit entities
- Communicating with the dead
Other circumstances, conditions, and situations which can dramatically enhance a person's susceptibility to demonic influence or control are:
- Seeking to have a religious experience like speaking in tongues
- Dabbling in witchcraft or mystical/occult sciences
- Getting in to a hypnotic state which reduces or relinquishes control of one's will
- Having uncontrolled emotion, which allows the mind to become dysfunctional
- Practicing of a religion or philosophy which is in opposition to the Sovereign God's
The avenues and opportunities for the demonic influence of mankind are almost limitless, because it is the nature and proclivity of mankind to do the opposite of what is good and constructive:
"The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that understand and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that does good, no, not one" (Psa.14:2-3 KJV Para). See also Ecc.7:20; Rom.3:10-12.
The degree to which evil spirits can successfully influence individuals basically depends on how receptive the individual is to evil influence, how tempting something is to a person, and how well tailored and presented the communication is to a given recipient. In order to fully understand the subject of evil influence, it is necessary to know something about physical and spiritual communication.
Communication between individuals is the act of sending or receiving information from one individual to another. This requires both a sender and a receiver of information. True intelligent communication requires that the sender and the receiver comprehend the information being transmitted.
Conventional thinking is that all information communicated to the human mind is only through the five senses of touch, sight, smell, taste, and sound. Clearly, if these five physical senses were the only means that evil spirits could communicate with humans, they would be severely limited in their ability to influence people. However, these five senses are not the only means by which evil spirits can influence humans. Evil spirits can also communicate through spiritual avenues.
Spiritual communication is the means most used by evil spirits to influence people. This type of communication is different from purely physical communication; in that, spiritual communication is mind-to-mind (i.e., spirit-to-spirit). This type of communication can be transmitted to the conscious and subconscious mind, either apart from the five senses or in conjunction with them.
This section explores and explains the non-physical spiritual communication, which evil spirits use with great success in influencing a person's thinking and actions.
In today's world, people communicate through many forms of electro-magnetic communication devices, such as radio, telephone, television, and the internet. All of these types of communication have one thing in common, each sends energy that can be received by an electronic device and transformed into a coherent communication between the sender and the receiver of the information.
When a human thought is produced, an electro-chemical interaction in the brain takes place that can be physically detected as electromagnetic energy. But, is this the sum total of human thought or is there another component that is beyond the ability of physical science to detect and record?
According to the Bible, there is another component to human thought, which is not constrained by physical law, because it originates from the human spirit. This allows a person to access the spirit realm through their thoughts. Although the physical electro-magnetic energy of the human brain can be detected and recorded, the spirit component of human thought cannot be detected or recorded by a physical instrument. Only its effect can be detected and recorded, because it is not physical; it is composed of spirit-energy.
The spiritual component of human thought is of the spirit realm. It is spirit-energy that interacts with the human brain to cause the physical electro-chemical energy in the brain to manifest itself as human thought in the physical world. It is the spirit of man (i.e., the person), which inhabits the human body, that produces thought.
Without the spirit of man to inhabit a living human body, the human body would be in a comatose state. The first verse of a prophecy recorded by Zechariah concerning the end of this age of human rule and the city of Jerusalem shows that God forms the spirit of man within the human body:
"The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, says the Lord, which stretches forth the heavens, and lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him" (Zech.12:1 KJV). See also Job 32:7-8; 33:4.
Ezekiel, chapter 37, about the prophetic resurrection of national Israel after Christ returns, and the following statements by the prophet Job and the apostle James clearly show that the human body devoid of the spirit of man is not human, but just an empty shell:
"Then said he to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus says the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say to them, This says the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall you know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, says the Lord" (Ezk. 37:9-14 KJV).
"But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty gives them understanding" (Job 32:8 KJV).
"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (Jms.2:26 KJV).
In order to more clearly understand how evil spirits influence humans, it is important to keep in mind that, from the biblical perspective, a human is a spirit inhabiting a physical body with the freedom to choose the direction their life will take.
Human to Human Thought
Have you ever been in a crowd of people and felt that someone was staring at you and when you looked around, there was someone looking directly at you? Have you ever called, texted, or instant message someone and their response was that they had just been thinking about you or they were just about to contact you the instant you contacted them?
Some people think that these and other similar events are coincidence, but they are not always. Many times they are non-verbal communication on a spiritual level being manifested in the physical realm. If humans are able to project their thoughts, certainly spirit-beings who are more intelligent and more powerful than humans can do the same with even greater efficiency and effectiveness.
Luke's gospel record contains an example of Christ's ability to know the thoughts of specific individuals in a crowd:
"And he [Christ] was casting out a demon, and it was dumb [the demon]. And it came to pass, when the demon had gone out, the dumb [the person] spoke; and the people wondered. But some of them said, He casts out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. But he, knew their thoughts, and said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falls" (Lk.11:14-17 KJV). See also Matt.9:4.
Christ could not have known what these individuals were thinking, unless their thoughts radiated coherent energy that is understandable to a person with the ability to detect and understand another person's thoughts. Christ was not guessing at what these people were thinking; he could perceive and understand their exact thoughts.
The scriptures tell us that Christ was given full access to the power of the holy spirit (Jn.3:34); therefore, he could use all of the functions of the holy spirit, including the ability to read another person's thoughts. See Matt.9:4; 12:25; Lk.5:22; 6:8.
Spiritual thought and energy is not constrained by physical law, because it originates from the spirit-realm of existence and can be projected and manifested in the physical realm of existence.
Because human thought transcends the physical realm and can be intercepted and understood by certain individuals and spirit-beings, it is prudent to guard your thoughts and be careful about what you are thinking.
The Sovereign Father is a spirit-being and does not inhabit this physical dimension of existence, so how do his earthly children communicate with him if they cannot speak with him face-to-face? The answer is that we speak to him through prayer, which is a manifestation of our thoughts projected to him. Human thought composed of spirit essence/energy transcends this physical plane of existence. See 1.Chron. 28:9; Isa.66:18; Matt.6:7-8; Rom.8:27.
Oral or silent prayer is an extremely powerful and a readily available communication link with God the Father. Through this vital tool, the Father's earthly children can go directly to his throne and speak with him. Moreover, it is through oral or silent prayer that his elect children can praise him and ask him for help with their needs, desires, and frustrations. This type of communication is spirit-to-spirit or mind-to-mind.
God the Father and Jesus Christ want those called to salvation to use this communication tool to ask for things that will benefit them and help them grow toward spiritual maturity and perfection:
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened" (Matt.7: 7-8 KJV). See also Jn.16:22-24.
"For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are opened to their prayers . . ." (1.Pet.3:12 KJV). See also Mk.11:24; Rom.12:12; Col.4:2.
The Sovereign God who inhabits the spirit realm of existence hears the prayers and thoughts of his earthly children, because their prayers and thoughts transcend the physical realm and are of the spirit realm of existence.
Even when a child of God is not overtly communicating their thoughts to the Father in prayer to him, their spirit is actively communicating their thoughts, emotions, desires, frustrations, and needs to him and Christ through the holy spirit which dwells within them:
"And likewise the spirit also joins in to help our weakness. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the spirit pleads our case with groaning that cannot be uttered. But the one searching the hearts knows what is the mind of the spirit because it intercedes for the saints according to God" (Rom.8:26-27 Para.).
Truly we do not always know exactly what we need or how to express our emotions, thoughts, needs, and desires. However, one of the functions of the indwelling of the holy spirit is to act as an information gathering and communication system between us and our heavenly Father and our Savior. This function allows the Father and Christ to be aware of the innermost emotions, thoughts, desires, and needs of those called to salvation:
"But when you pray, go away by yourself, all alone, and shut the door behind you and pray to your Father secretly, and your Father, who knows your secrets, will reward you. Don't recite the same prayer over and over as the heathen do, who think prayers are answered only by repeating them again and again. Remember! your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him" (Matt.6:6-8 LBP). See also Psa.91:14-15; Isa.41:17; 58:9; 65:24; Matt.6:25-33.
Because the spirit communicates our true physical and spiritual condition to the Father and Christ, the elect can always have the assurance that, even before we ask anything of the Father, he already knows what we need:
"The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly" (Pro.20:27 KJV).
The Living Bible Paraphrased translates this text as follows:
"A man's conscience [spirit] is the Lord's searchlight exposing his hidden motives" (Pro.20:27 LBP).
This understanding is extremely important because, as these and other scriptures reveal, our thoughts are not private, but can be monitored and understood by spirit-beings:
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb.4:12 KJV).
According to the biblical record, human thought transcends the physical realm into the heavenly realm and cannot be kept secret from spirit-beings under most circumstances.
Spirit-Beings and Human Communication
It is a biblical fact that both good and evil spirit-beings have the ability to communicate with humans and with other spirits on many levels and through many different methods. Early in the biblical narrative we see angels communicating with people. Satan spoke with the first woman in Genesis, chapter 3, and the angel of the Lord spoke to Hagar in Genesis, chapter 16.
The biblical record tells us Abraham not only had a lengthy conversation with the Creator God in human form but also ate a meal with him and three angels (Gen.18:1-33). The Creator God wrestled and talked with Jacob (Gen.32:24-30), and Christ spoke with evil spirits who were possessing people before casting them out of these individuals. See also Acts 19:13-16.
Spirit-beings can communicate with humans in the same way humans communicate with each other. Additionally, spirit-beings have the ability to manifest visual apparitions and influence humans through dreams, visions, and the projection of emotions and thoughts through music, symbols, graphic designs, and more.
It is not uncommon to hear that people who have committed heinous and irrational crimes claim a voice or God told them to do it. It is also not uncommon to hear individuals who profess to believe what is written in the Bible state that either God or Jesus told them to do something, led them to their ministry, or told them to preach a certain message. But, many times what they do, what they teach, and how they live their lives is in direct opposition to what is written in the Bible.
Where do these individuals actually get their inspiration or instructions to commit these heinous crimes or to teach and preach things that obviously violate the Sovereign God's truth. The reality is that these individuals are either listening to their own thoughts or they are being communicated with or otherwise influenced by evil spirits.
Communications with Evil Spirits
Can a person communicate with an evil spirit through the spoken word or through their thoughts. The answer is absolutely! A person who seeks to make contact with the dark side of the spirit realm can easily do so. Although conceived in this physical realm of existence, a person's thoughts are not constrained to this physical realm. Human thought can be projected into the spirit realm and from mind-to-mind. This is why it is extremely important for people to guard their thoughts.
The Israelites were forbidden to worship idols, pray to idols, or seek advice from astrologers, sorcerers, fortunetellers, witches, diviners, necromancers, and others who practiced the mystical and magical arts. Making contact with the dark side of the spirit realm through these and other means is extremely easy, but can have devastating results.
Dreams and Visions and Deceptions
There are dozens of biblical accounts showing spirit-beings communicating with humans through dreams and visions before and after the advent of Christ.
The apostle Peter said the following about the miraculous events that were taking place on the Feast of Pentecost surrounding the fulfillment of a prophecy for the gospel age of salvation about the gift of prophecy and the giving of visions and dreams to the Sovereign Father's earthly children:
"But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come" (Acts 2:16-20 KJV) See also Joel 2:27-32; Dan.2: 28-29; Acts 9:1-12; 10:1-33; 16:9-10.
The English words visions and dreams are translated from the Greek words horasis and enupniazomai, which respectively mean an inspired appearance and to dream, In the context of Peter's quotation of Joel, these visions and dreams are clearly supernatural events.
Although there are many biblical accounts of people being communicated with by righteous spirit-beings through dreams and visions, there are no clear biblical accounts of evil-spirits communicating with people through dreams and visions; however, there are strong indications that this can and does happen.
Many people believe that spirit-beings speak to them through dreams and visions and have provided them with knowledge and insight into various things and sometimes instruct them to do certain things. In some cases, this may be true. However, the problem is that, although righteous spirit-beings have the ability to communicate with people through dreams and visions, evil spirits also have the ability to transmit thoughts into the human mind. So, how does anyone know who is actually doing the communicating and for what purpose?
The obvious difference between good and evil spirit-beings is their intent. Righteous spirit-beings are sent to intervene into events in order to facilitate God's plan for mankind, to encourage, to instruct, to warn, and convey messages from Christ. However, evil spirits seek to influence people into violating God's law and the way of life that he has prescribed for mankind. Evil spirits seek to influence people into making decisions that further their primary goals, which is to control and harm people and to destroy God's creation.
We often hear people who profess to believe what is written in the Bible relate a dream or a vision in which they believe that they have been given certain knowledge or have been instructed to perform a certain task. The question is not whether or not the person actually had a dream or a vision; the question is whether the dream or vision is from a righteous spirit or an evil spirit?
The following instruction to national Israel warns them to beware of people who dream dreams and foretell events that come to pass, but who teach worship systems which are in opposition to the true God:
"If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spoke to you, saying, Let us go after other gods, which you have not known, and let us serve them; You shall not pay attention to the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God tests you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and you shall serve him, and cling to him" (Deut.13:1-4 KJV Para.). See also Jer.23:1-40; 29:8-9.
This instruction indicates the knowledge these individuals possess about the future and the miraculous works they are able to perform are not from the true God, but are from a source which is in violation of God's law.
A careful analysis of the contents of the dream must be made in order to determine if the message of the dreamer complies with God's truth. If what this person says does not comply with God's truth, it is a good indication that the person may be influenced or even possessed by an evil spirit who has the power to foretell events or cause events to happen. See Rev.13:13-15; 16:12-14; 19:19-20.
The Book of Lamentations reveals that the people's false prophets have seen useless and foolish visions which deceive. In the Book of Ezekiel, we see that, after Christ returns, worthless visions and divination will cease:
"The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading" (Lam.2:14 NIV). See also Zech.10:1-3.
"For there shall be no more any vain vision nor flattering divination within the house of Israel" (Ezk.12:24 KJV).
Lamentations 2:14 and Ezekiel 12:24 indicate that these visions and divinations are not from a godly source.
It is through the projection of thought that both good and evil spirit-beings are able to manifest visions, dreams, words, and emotions to the human mind; therefore, we should carefully evaluate spiritual revelations through dreams and visions in the light of the biblical narrative.
Hundreds of pages could be written about the instances of personal contact, visions, dreams, and instructions from the Creator God and spirit-beings which individuals and groups of people have experienced. However, the point I want to make is that dreams and visions are not always from God or one of his spirit-messengers. Sometimes dreams and visions are from evil spirits or simply the product of an active or restless mind during sleep. Solomon said the following about this type of dream:
"Be not rash with your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and you upon earth: therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words" (Eccl.5:2-3 KJV).
It is very clear from even a casual reading of the dozens of biblical accounts of dreams and visions that no righteous spirit-being will communicate with a person through cryptic means. The biblical examples show righteous angels communicating with people in a clear intelligible manner. And if a dream from God is not understood, he will provide an interpreter (e.g., Joseph and Pharaoh).
Angels and the Holy Spirit
The following account of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in the Book of Acts shows the communication of God's instructions through a righteous angel and the holy spirit:
"And the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot reading Esaias the prophet. Then the spirit said to Philip, Go near, and join yourself to this chariot" (Acts 8:26-29 KJV).
The English words spoke and spirit in verses 26 and 28 are from the Greek words laleo and pneuma, which respectively mean to talk (i.e., to utter words) and spirit (from a word that means a current of air).
The language of this event shows an angel speaking out loud to Philip and the holy spirit giving instructions to Philip in his mind. See also Acts 10:1-20; 11:1-12.
The question that needs to be answered is how do we know if a righteous angel is communicating with us or if a voice which speaks to us out of the air or in our mind is of God?
The apostle John wrote the following instruction and warning about dealing with the spirit realm:
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1.Jn.4:1 KJV).
John's warning is worth heeding when we review the accounts in I. Kings 22:20-23 and 2. Chronicles 18:18-22 which speak of a lying spirit sent to influence and persuade unrighteous individuals to give false prophecies. See also Christ's and Peter's warnings about false prophets (Matt.7:15-20, 24:11; 2.Pet.2:1).
In order to be able to determine if a spirit-being is good or evil, we must know the difference between good and evil and righteousness and unrighteousness according to the biblical definition. Additionally, it is important for us to understand the foundational elements of God's plan for the salvation of mankind and the way of life he has prescribed for those he calls to salvation.
CAN MOST PEOPLE BE INFLUENCED BY EVIL?
Most rational people, especially people who profess to believe the Bible and follow Christ, do not think they could ever be influenced by an evil spirit. But, they are mistaken. I can make this statement with confidence, because the Bible says that Satan is deceiving the whole world (Rev.12:9) and the Bible is full of examples of people being influenced by evil people and evil spirits. This section contains just a few biblical examples of how susceptible people are to evil influence.
Satan and King David
The name Satan first appears in 1.Chronicles, chapter 21, in the account of Satan influencing King David to take a census of Israel in violation of the Creator's instructions. The result of King David acting on Satan's influence was the death of seventy thousand inhabitants in Israel:
"And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beer-sheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it" (1.Chron.21:1-2 KJV).
"So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beer-sheba seventy thousand men" (2.Sam.24:15 KJV).
During Christ's lifetime
During Christ's lifetime, the Levitical Priesthood and the Jewish people whose sacred trust it was to preserve God's truth in its meaning and purity had instead been influenced to follow a perverted version of God's law and worship system.
The Scribes of Christ's time were mostly of the Levitical priesthood whose responsibility it was to preside over the temple and its worship system and teach God's laws, precepts, and principles to the people. But over time, the Priesthood had become derelict in their duty to diligently teach absolute truth and had allowed the sect of the Pharisees to partially usurp their responsibility. Therefore, both the Scribes and the Pharisees were in error in regard to who was responsible for teaching the people God's truth.
The result of the priesthood's failure to diligently perform their teaching function and allow the sect of the Pharisees to teach much error and dictate much of the religious practice of the time was that the Jews and those who lived around Palestine during Jesus' time were in spiritual darkness and did not understand the prophetic meaning of the events which transpired concerning Jesus. Therefore, the people could not recognize him as the Messiah. Moreover, they did not understand the message he brought from his Heavenly Father because they were being influenced by false prophets and people who were perverting God’s truth and teaching false concepts about God’s way of truth.
Jesus said the following about the Scribes and Pharisee who taught an incorrect worship system to the people:
"Hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophecy about you, saying, This people draws near to me with their mouth, and with their lips honor me; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the ordinances of men" (Matt.15:7-9 KJV Para.). See Isa.29:13; Ezk.33:31-32.
Although much of the perversion of truth that these men taught came from their own perverted thinking, much came through the influence of evil spirits, which is why Christ said the following to the religious leaders of his day:
"You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it" (Jn.8:44 KJV). See also Matt.23.1-33.
Christ's pointed condemnation of these men was extremely severe. In essence, he told them that their thoughts and behavior were so closely aligned with the Devil and his ways that they were, for all intents and purposes, the Devil's children.
The result of following an evil influence, whether a human or a spirit, is the distancing of oneself from the Sovereign God and the benefits derived from a harmonious relationship with him and his son, the Savior of mankind.
Judas Influenced to Betray Christ
The love of money (or greed) is often the reason that people are influenced by evil spirits to do things that violate God's law and way of life. Paul told the evangelist Timothy that the love of money is a root of evil (1.Tim.6:10). The account of Mary anointing Jesus' feet gives us some insight into Judas Iscariot's love of money, which eventually opened the way for him to be influenced by Satan to betray Jesus:
"One of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, the one that would betray him said, Why was not this ointment sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor? He said this not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief and carried and administered the money" (Jn.12:4-6 Para.).
Luke tells us that Judas was a thief. Clearly Judas was not concerned with the meaning of Mary's act of washing Jesus' feet or the anointing of his head. What concerned Judas was the amount of money that he could have gained from selling the sweet-smelling ointment.
Notice again that money was the motivating factor in Judas' life, which was demonstrated by his seeking to betray Jesus for personal gain:
"Now the feast of unleavened bread drew near, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and scribes were plotting how they could kill Jesus; for they feared the people. Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve. And he went and spoke with the chief priests and captains, about how he could put Jesus into their hands. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money" (Lk.22:1-5 Para.). See also Jn.13:21-29.
The Early Church
Can professing Christians be influenced by Satan and other evil spirits into rejecting God's truth and doing things which are evil? Absolutely they can! Those who profess to follow Christ can be influenced by evil unless they are extremely diligent in their pursuit of a righteous lifestyle. Look at the doctrinal chaos and division that exists today within the professing Christian community and review the many warnings to avoid evil influence, as well as the biblical accounts of people in the early church being influenced by evil spirits.
Shortly after the beginning of the early church, Ananias and Sapphira, a married couple, dedicated all the money that they had received from a land sale to God. Because this money was dedicated to God, it was considered holy and belonged to God. But, Ananias and Sapphira violated the law of holiness by first stealing a part of what they had dedicated to God, and then they lied about the price of the land. This violation of the law resulted in their deaths. Peter said it was Satan who influenced Ananias and Sapphira to make their fatal decision:
"But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the holy spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land?" (Acts 5:1-3 KJV).
But how could Satan influence individuals who apparently had the indwelling of the holy spirit and had dedicated themselves to practicing the Sovereign Father's truth?
The biblical account does not tell us what motivated these two individuals to make the decision to lie about the price of the land. What we do know is that somehow their thought process was open to Satan's influence and they had convinced themselves that they could keep the price of the land secret.
Children of Disobedience
While explaining the spiritual condition of a person prior their being called to salvation by the Sovereign God (Jn.6:44,65) and subsequently being saved from the second death in the Lake of Fire through the sacrifice of Christ, Paul says that their past condition was due to the influence of the Prince of the power of the air:
"And you has he [God the Father] made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others" (Eph.2: 1-3 KJV). See also Col.3:6-7.
There are two Greek words in verse 2 that, when understood in context, reveal the tremendous authority, power, and influence that Satan wields over the entire earth.
The English word prince is translated from the Greek word archon, which means a first (in rank or power). The English word power is translated from the Greek word exousia, which means (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely, magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence.
Because the scriptures clearly show that there are only righteous and unrighteous people, the only logical assumption one can make when Paul speaks of "the children of disobedience" is that he is speaking of everyone except the Sovereign Father's elect children. Therefore, Satan's influence is cast over all mankind in one way or another, except for the Father's elect children who diligently pursue a righteous lifestyle in compliance to their heavenly Father's truth and way of truth.
"Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Therefore, be not partakers with them. For you were sometimes darkness, but now you are light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable to the Lord" (Eph.5:6-10 KJV).
Paul's instruction is to let no one influence or deceive you with foolish words into forsaking the Father's way of truth. Therefore, he gave the instruction to walk as children of light (i.e., children of truth).
Deceiving, and Being Deceived
Paul gave the following warning to Timothy about individuals who would not only deceive people but also would be deceived themselves:
"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But you continue in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them; And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2.Tim.3:13-16 KJV Para.). See also 2.Tim.2:14-18.
Some interesting points come to light when we take note of a few of the words used in verse 13. The English word men is translated from the Greek word anthropos, which means a human being and not specifically a man. The English word seducers is translated from the Greek word goao, which means a wizard (as muttering spells), i.e., (by implication) an imposter.
The English words deceiving and deceived are translated from the Greek word planao, which means cause to roam (from safety, truth, or virtue).
Today, there are many men and women who impersonate the Father's true elect and lead the unsuspecting and the gullible elect away from truth and virtue into sin and debauchery through clever deceptions.
Evil spirits and Satan's ministers (2.Cor.11:13-15) take advantage of the fact that the majority of people who profess to believe in the Bible and follow its teachings do not study and meditate on the truth found in the Bible and therefore will not take the time and effort necessary to challenge a cleverly devised deception. This is why evil spirits will inspire false teachers over whom they have influence to use obscure scriptures, texts which are difficult to translate, vague historical references, or scriptures taken out of context in order to promote doctrines which are in opposition to biblical truth.
WARNINGS TO THE EARLY CHURCH
The elect of the early church were continually warned about demonic influence within their ranks, were admonished to keep the "faith once delivered", and instructed to be on guard against evil spirits who wanted to destroy them:
"Now the spirit speaks expressly that in the latter times saying that some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; telling hypocritical lies; having their conscience seared with a hot iron" (1.Tim.4:1-2 KJV Para.). See also 2.Tim.4:3-4; Jude verses 1-19.
The apostle Paul warned that many would depart from the faith because they would pay attention to teachings which were inspired by seducing spirits. Paul calls these teachings "doctrines of devils."
Evil spirits not only influence individuals to teach error but also sometimes control their minds and occupy the bodies of those who teach a worship system or a way of life which is in opposition to the Sovereign God's truth. What these spirits teach through these individuals are cleverly crafted lies designed to cause those who hear them to either never learn God's truth or to depart from it.
Satan and other evil spirits are masters of deception, and throughout the ages, they have cleverly produced many counterfeits of the Father's truth, his good news message, his worship system, and his way of life for humanity. Paul's prediction came true within the early church, and many in this age whom the Father calls to salvation pay attention to teachings inspired by evil spirits. Paul's warning to the evangelist Timothy is just as valid today as it was then. Today, spiritually life threatening teachings come through the printed page and the preaching and teaching of men and women of many religions and philosophies, including professing Christianity.
The historical record shows that the failure of the Sovereign Father's earthly children to take Paul's warning seriously eventually led to the demise and disappearance of the early church as a powerful, organized entity after the death of the apostle John. By the third century A.D., the worship system practiced by the most powerful professing Christian church of that day did not even faintly resemble the teachings of Christ and the apostles noted in the biblical record.
Question: Can a person who professes to believe in the Bible and follow Christ be influenced by evil, but not be aware that they are influenced?
Answer: Absolutely they can!
Even though the Bible is full of warnings to avoid evil influence and it gives many clear instructions about how to avoid evil influence, the Sovereign Father's earthly family of king-priests can, under certain conditions, be influenced by evil spirits if they do not take these warnings and instructions seriously.
Today, through the influence of evil spirits, many of the false teachings about the Sovereign God, Christ, how to obtain salvation and enter into kingdom of God, which led to the demise and disappearance of the early church, are still being taught to the world at large, as well as to the majority of people who profess to believe in the Bible and follow Christ.
It is obvious that evil spirits do not want people whom they are attempting to influence and deceive into doing their bidding to know who they are, what they are, and what they are attempting to accomplish. But, how do they accomplish their deception? Evil spirits accomplish much of their deception through influencing people's thoughts without inhabiting and controlling a person's mind and body.
Satan and other evil spirits are extremely powerful, intelligent, and clever. These evil beings have observed human nature for many centuries and know exactly what is required to deceive most of mankind. These evil beings have perfected their skill to blend truth and lies in the same way that Satan did when he deceived Eve into disobeying the Creator's instruction not to touch the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil or eat its fruit.
Solomon said the following about things that sound, look, and feel good on the surface, but are actually destructive and harmful:
"There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov.14:12. KJV) See also Prov.16:25.
People's proclivity to do what sounds, looks, and feels good to them without investigating to see if the end result is good is a major help to evil spirits in influencing and deceiving people into doing their bidding and promoting their goal to destroy mankind and its opportunity to enter into the Sovereign Father's Kingdom as his spirit sons.
These extremely evil, intelligent, and clever spirit-beings have the power and ability to project both thought and energy into the physical realm through objects and into and through individuals who are susceptible to their influence. This power and ability coupled with their skill to blend truth and lies makes it extremely easy for evil spirits to influence and deceive the spiritually gullible and uninformed. Therefore, the best defense against an evil influence is a good understanding of the Sovereign Father's truth and to diligently pursue a righteous lifestyle as set forth in the Bible.
By B.L. Cocherell b9w23