Defeating Demons

Luke 11:14 “Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed.”

Christian author C.S. Lewis wrote his book The Screwtape Letters to give his readers insight into the subtle nature of temptation. A senior demon by the name of Screwtape has climbed up the ranks of demons through experience and success in getting humans to fall from grace. He now writes a series of letters to his “nephew” Wormwood to coach him in the finer details of the art of temptation.

In the forward to the book, Lewis makes the observation that there are two kinds of people that please the demons very much: the materialist and the magician. By the materialist he means the kind of people who are too modern and scientific to believe in the existence of spirits like angels or demons. This allows the demons to do their work more or less undetected and unopposed. Then they are like spies free to work their espionage in a country that does not believe in the existence of spies.

By the magician Lewis doesn’t really mean entertainers who use sleight of hand to create illusions for an audience. He means the kind of people who have an unhealthy interest in the occult. They want to tap into the black powers of the spirit world. They imagine that if they do, they will be able to control them for their own purposes. Many victims have been driven to insanity and worse when they discover you can’t control a force more powerful than you. Inevitably, that force is going to control you.

In so many episodes in the gospels, Jesus demonstrates that he, for one, does have power over the dark spirits. Not everyone appreciates, or cares what this means. It is more than a statement about his power. It is also a statement about the source of his power. It confirms Jesus’ divinity. It is the kind of power that properly belongs to the very Son of God.

The gospels mention more than a half dozen encounters between Jesus and demons. He never lost one of those battles. Compared to the kind of exorcisms portrayed in the movies, it wasn’t even a long or complicated process. Jesus gave the command and the demons left. This case from Luke 11 seems to be no exception.

There is good news for us in the apparently effortless way in which Jesus drove the demons away, even in our day. Whether or not we ever encounter someone possessed in person, we have no question about Jesus’ defeat of the devil’s dark forces. The one who delivered people from the grip of demons so many years ago still has power to release us from their temptations, as his grace has released us from the consequences of the sins they work so hard to convince us to try. He is the Lord we still trust to deliver us, body and soul.

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