“Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.” Mark 1:23-26
Demons are to be dreaded because they are dreadful.
The Bible tells us that they are a deadly threat. It warns that those who place their faith and hope in the Lord God are the primary targets. Demons, also called devils, have supernatural powers because they are angels. Their rebellion cost them the blessing of their Creator, but it did not yet strip them of their capacity to wage war against the crown of God’s creation, those we call humans.
Tragically, we come into this world as loyal subjects of the Kingdom of Darkness. The deadly virus of sin infected us at conception. We were born with a sneer in our hearts towards anything holy, and a raised fist of defiance toward any rule laid down by the Holy One. Our look of innocence is soon lost as we grow old enough to express in words and actions our enmity toward God. It took a miracle to change us from enemies of God into children of God. The Holy Spirit did this using Holy Baptism with the Word of God.
Demons strive day and night to reverse this. They aim to reclaim those who have escaped their domain. The Apostle Peter, who briefly lost a battle with the old evil foe, compares Satan to a lion on the hunt. No doubt, the memory of his fellow disciple, Judas, now listed among the fallen, was often on his mind. Demons are to be dreaded because they are deadly.
It’s easy to forget that because we do not see them. Their weapons of deceit and rebellion are camouflaged as fun and success. They promise a good life. They deliver sin, shame, and death. We watch as Satan tempted Jesus at the beginning of his ministry on earth. We see how cunning Evil can be. We cannot outsmart demons.
We will live our lives dreading them. They are the Great Enemy. But they are not all-powerful. Jesus showed us that the one effective weapon against demonic force is the Word of God.
We rightly sing of Satan, “one little word can fell him!”
That word is, “Jesus!”
We might dread demons, but demons dread the Son of God and the result of his victory over them. They are terrified by the knowledge that they are doomed forever. They know that one day, together with those they have deceived, they will be “thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:10). “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth” the demon screamed. “Have you come to destroy us?”
Those were words of abject fear. This demon dreaded what is to come—and still does. We need to remember why. Humans may forget that one day this existence will end, and the Son of God will return on his throne of glory and say to those who rejected him: “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
Demons do not forget that. They cannot ignore that. The dread is inescapable. Jesus died. Jesus rose. Jesus conquered sin, death, and the devil.
The Holy Spirit created a new spirit within us. We recognize a heavenly Father who loved us enough to rescue us. We look forward to being with him in glory. That day will bring rejoicing to his people. Jesus tells us: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world’” (Matthew 25:34).
One day, we will need fear demons nevermore.
Until then, we sing:
“My soul, be on thy guard; ten thousand foes arise,
And hosts of sin are pressing hard to draw thee from the skies.
Fight on, my soul, till death shall bring thee to thy God;
He’ll take thee at thy parting breath to his divine abode.” Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer
WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military