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written by Elder Mike Hosey.
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Three Ways Satan and his Demons Influence You

Influence is the ability to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something. If you’ve ever played with magnets, you know how this works.  If you bring a magnet close to ferrous metals, those metals will move wherever the magnet influences them to move. They are attracted to the magnets.Satan and his demons are highly interested in the power to influence you. Just like a magnet, they want to effect your character, your development, or your behavior.  They want you to be attracted to them, and to those things which they can use to corrupt you, and drive you away from God.  Consider these three ways in which demons try to corrupt you.


1) They use the world against you:  When Adam and Eve became corrupted and fell because of their sin in chapter 3 of Genesis, they (and we) became part and parcel of a world now ruled by sin. Because of this, men are attracted to the world instead of to God (John 3:19).  Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) and he will use this world to keep us from the will of God.  He and his demons will use entertainment, money, music, images, pleasures, relationships, and everything that your fallen flesh desires to lure you from the light (James 1:14). Sometimes this is very subtle — like putting what appear to be harmless distractions in front of you. For instance, you can’t stop looking at your smartphone, so you don’t read your bible. Or you watch the football game instead playing football with your child.  Others are not so subtle, but often very difficult to resist, like lust, pride, greed, or envy.


2)They will get a foothold in your life through sin: In Ephesians 4:25-28, Paul names several sinful behaviors. They range from lying, to stealing, to being angry with someone without resolution before the end of the day. All of these, Paul says, give the devil a foothold. Meaning that he gets his foot between the edge of your door and the jamb of the doorway making it very difficult to close. When you sin, it desensitizes you to the devil’s efforts.  And when you don’t forgive or resolve an anger issue, it gives the devil a playground of bitterness in your life.

3)They will get you to depend on them instead of GodProverbs 3:5-6 tells us to trust in the lord and not our own understanding. And Proverbs 14:12 warns that there is a way that seems right to a person, but instead leads to death. Satan and his demons will trick you with a way that seems right to you if you lean on your own understanding, the understanding of other men, or to the persuasive voices of demons instead of to what God has already said.  Just ask Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1-6).

Are You Letting Satan’s Nose in your Stuff?

There is a well known ancient Arabic parable about a man, his camel, and a tent.  In the story the man and his camel are traveling in the desert.   The man stops for the night and sets up his tent, then gets in and beds down because the temperature is cold. Shortly, the camel asks to put his snout in the tent because it is so cold outside. The man allows it, but tells the camel he must put just his nose in as the tent is only big enough for one. Soon the camel asks to put his front hooves in. The man, being considerate, reluctantly allows that as well. Finally, the camel asks to put his hind hooves in, arguing that he will freeze and not be able to continue the journey in the morning. As ridiculous as it sounds, the  man allows the camel’s third move. Upon putting his hind hooves into the tent, the camel pulls his whole body in and the man is pushed out of his tent completely. The devil works this way as well. In fact, you probably intuitively understand this.  If you give in to one temptation, then it is easier to give into another. Then, sooner than you’d care to admit, a chain of events has occurred, and you are beholden to sins you never thought you’d agree to.

This is particularly troublesome for someone who doesn’t truly follow Jesus. Consider the boy in Mark 9:14-29. An evil spirit possesses his body, taking such control over it that it prevents him from speaking or hearing. It also throws his body to the ground and into fire trying to harm or kill him.  Thankfully, Jesus casts the demon out and the boy is restored. Why are these stories so troublesome for a non-Christian?  Because of Jesus’ warning in Matthew 12:43-45.  Jesus describes how if demons are cast out of one home, they can return to it.  In that passage he talks about how a single demon is cast from a home.  The home is then cleaned, but when the demon returns and finds the house in order, yet unoccupied, he brings 7 more demons with him and they re-invade the house so that it’s new possession is worse than its first. But if Jesus occupies that house, those demons won’t be able to get in. They may bang on the house, they may sit on the lawn and shout at the windows, but they won’t be able to live in it.

So let the one person live in your house that won’t allow Satan to put his nose in.And if you are already a Christian don’t even let Satan on your lawn unless you want him banging on your door.

Angels and Demons and You

You may not realize it, but if you call yourself Christian, you are in a very real battle. If you do not yet call yourself Christian, then you are the cannon fodder for dark forces engaged in that same battle.  The apostle tells us that the war we are in is not against people. Battles against people are much easier.  Instead, it is against supernatural forces (Ephesians 6:12). Most of the time, you can’t see them, but just like the invisible radiation that rains down on us from space every moment of every day, those forces are very real, and have a measurable impact on the world around us.


This battle began long ago. In fact, it began even before Adam and Eve first walked in the Garden of Eden. Satan was God’s highest angel. He wanted to make himself like God (Isaiah 14:13-14), and in his pride and arrogance attempted to do that very thing. So God cast him from Heaven.  When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden, Satan wasted no time seducing the first two humans to commit the same sin he did.  “Here, eat this fruit,” he told them, “and you’ll be like God (Genesis 3:4).” This, of course, ruined the human race, but thankfully, God has been redeeming it since then.  This redemption has come at great cost, and in the midst of a great war.


God’s desire is to save every willing human being (2 Peter 3:9). It is Satan’s desire to prevent that willingness (1 Peter 5:8, Luke 22:31).  This war is so real that we are instructed to be like soldiers (2 Timothy 2:3, Philemon 2, Philippians 2:25). We are also taught to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).


Putting on this armor is vital to your effectiveness as that Christian soldier. Without it, Demonic forces will launch attacks against you in the dark, and in the light.  They will tempt you, they will oppress you, and if you are not saved, they can possess you. The battle is so fierce, and so serious, that Satan shapes and moves the very social structures of the world and the environments around you to conspire against your faith, and to put the full brunt of his powers against any Godly desires you may have.


But take heart. Christ has overcome that world (John 16:33). And he has already won the war (Colossians 2:15). So be wary of the dangers of war, but know that in the end those who belong to Christ have victory!

Profanity on a Dark Night

Many years ago, when I was still a very young man, I stomped through a lightless night as a soldier doing soldier things. Sometimes soldiers get a little salty with their language. In those days, I was no exception. Apparently, my friends and I did not consider a sentence to be grammatically correct unless it contained a subject, a verb, and at least one profanity. In fact, profanities often replaced subjects, verbs, adjectives, and other more traditional parts of speech.


At the time I considered myself a Christian, but had not given a great deal of thought to how I saw the world around me. On this particular night, my mood was not the best and my colorful grammar was reflecting it. As soldiers are often wont to do, I was complaining.  Someone came up to me in the darkness and started a conversation. The dimness of the night prevented visual recognition, and I responded to the man’s cheerful attempt at engagement with a string of words I would be ashamed to use today. Although I did not recognize his face in the obsidian night, I did, after a few moments, recognize his voice. I had heard it before.


In the chapel.


On Sunday mornings.


From the pulpit.


The point of that story is that we sometimes miss important things because we are not looking for them. In this instance, I was not looking for a world that might be influenced or unduly offended by my use of language, or my Christian representation.  The disciples have a different, but very similar problem in Mark 6:41-52.  They had just witnessed Jesus perform a miracle by feeding thousands of people with just a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread. They were having difficulty wrapping their head around that, and never really understood it (Mark 6:52). Later, when they were in a boat on stormy waters, Jesus walked right past them on the water (Mark 6:49), but they thought he was a ghost.  They didn’t recognize him!  There are probably many reasons for this, but one of them may be that they weren’t looking for him! Thankfully, he got in their boat and calmed their storm.


Is Jesus walking anywhere in your life? Have you looked for him? Are you missing what he’s doing? Are you going to let him in your boat?

The Strongest Motivator


One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that properly placed belief is one of the most powerful motivating forces in all of the world.  Belief, or faith, is far more powerful than fear, or money, or lust, or fame, or pride, or any other common human motivator. For instance, people who truly believe in a cause will go to very great lengths to further that cause.  Often, they will risk or give their lives for the furtherance of the cause they believe in. The vast majority of the world’s people would never even think of giving their lives for those things, but they will act on what they believe in.

Whenever I train or teach someone something new, I notice that those who believe in what I’m teaching will follow my instructions to a T. Those that are unsure about what I’m teaching, will usually attempt what I am instructing with only half-hearted fervor.  This is true even of myself.  Whenever I find myself doing a lackluster job at work, or anywhere else, I almost always notice that I have questioned the worth of what I’m doing. In those moments, I either don’t believe in the job, or I don’t believe in the benefits of the expected outcome, or I don’t believe that what I’m engaged in will be successful. My lack of motivation is rooted in unbelief.  Sometimes that unbelief is characterized by an unhealthy dependence on what the rest of the world has influenced me to believe.

This phenomenon is illustrated well in Mark 6:41-52.  In that passage the disciples see Jesus miraculously feed 5000 men with only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. By the way, since ancient societies only counted men, the crowd was probably much, much larger – perhaps greater than 20,000.  After the miracle, Jesus sent the disciples to a town on the other side of the Sea of Galilee while he goes to pray.  Later in the evening, the men are struggling against the wind in their boat.  Jesus takes note and approaches them by walking on the water. They all saw him, but they didn’t recognize him.  Instead, they saw him as a ghost, even though they’d just seen him perform an amazing miracle.  They were terrified, but Jesus tells them to take heart as he identifies himself, and steps into their boat. The wind ceased.

Take heart, he told them. To do this, believe that God is in control, that he works miracles, and that he wastes no event to further his good purposes. If you are able to do this, your struggle will not be as difficult because you will recognize Jesus when you see him! However, if you don’t take heart and believe, then you will be like those disciples in the last verse (Mark 6:52). Their hearts were hardened even though they had just seen a multitude miraculously fed, and a man walking on water.

Why Do an Angel and a Demon Argue Over a Dead Body?

The Bible has a few stories for which we aren’t given much information.  We are left to our own speculations about what they mean.  Unfortunately, this can be dangerous if we miss the larger point of the story.  One of those stories is found in Jude 1:9 where Michael, the only named Archangel in scripture, disputes with Satan over the body of Moses.  Jude doesn’t tell us what the two were disputing about, and we simply have no good ideas from established scripture. Jude appears to be referencing an apocryphal book called the Assumption of Moses, or the Testament of Moses. That book is no longer extant, and our only strong knowledge of it’s similarity to Jude’s claim is from an early church theologian named Origen. He lived in the second century AD, and commented on Jude’s possible use of that book.


The best explanation of the reason for the argument is pure speculation, but does have some credible weight. Moses was buried by God himself outside of the promised land, and the location of that burial was kept secret (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). People who think about such things contend that God wanted it kept secret so that the Hebrews would not worship Moses by paying undue homage to his burial site. People have a tendency to focus their worship on things that don’t deserve it, and Moses had been an extremely important figure in the development of Hebrew culture. This would have made him a prime object for reverence. Satan would have wanted the burial location information known so that he could further corrupt the devotion of the Hebrew people toward the only true God. Perhaps Michael disputed with Satan over that location. In yet another possible explanation, Satan the accuser, wanted the body of Moses because Moses had been a sinner and a murderer. In essence, Satan believed he had right to it since the redemptive work of Christ had not yet happened. Michael then debates with Satan in order to nullify that claim.  


But Jude’s purpose wasn’t to give us details about that event.  His purpose was to show how false teachers were walking on shaky ground when they defied proper authority and scoffed at supernatural beings  He was pointing out how the chief of the angels, Michael, did not directly accuse Satan, but instead deferred to the authority of Jesus. The false teachers were less than Michael and were rushing in to places where Angels did not tread!


Jude’s point is that you don’t have the authority or power to address demons directly, but that God does.  In such instances we are better off relying on God’s word, and on the name and authority of Jesus.

A Good Word Is Mighty

A good word is mighty. It brightens despair, powers through difficulties, and inspires action.  But at its most powerful, a good word changes things.  In fact, it does more than just change things, it transforms things.  We sometimes conflate those two terms, thinking they mean the same thing.  They don’t.  My wife has an old, tan colored Toyota van.  I’ve never liked the color, and frankly, don’t really like the van.  I could repaint it a different color.  Perhaps a deep metallic blue with a wide stripe down the right hood and roof would make it more palatable. Of course, if I do that, I’ll change the van, but only in a very small way. It won’t be as ugly to look at, but it’ll still be the same less than desirable, unmanly, bland, Toyota Hoseymobile. However, if I paint it that fabulous blue, put in a V8 engine with twin turbos, give it new tires, tint the windows, give it a new steering and suspension system, make it a 4 wheel drive, and deck it out with exterior lighting, I will have transformed it into a new and different van!

Words are transformational like that.  Last year, I met a man who was very distraught.  He had some goals for his life, and he wasn’t meeting those goals.  Ultimately, he wanted to move from a rural community to a larger city where he would have access to many services, as well as be exposed to many opportunities. Somehow, he developed the idea that if he didn’t complete a piece of paperwork within the next couple of week’s he’d lose his opportunity to move. In his head, he had to solve a problem with an apparent two week deadline on the day he was talking to me.  His body was tense, his mood was tense, his brain was tense, and he was unable to make decisions appropriately for anything he was doing.  I simply looked at him and said, “you know you don’t have to figure this out today.” I said it quietly, and kindly, then walked away. All his tension melted. His entire behavior and demeanor transformed in a matter of moments. He approached me few days later, and thanked me for giving him that good news. He’d never thought about it before.

Paul tells us about this dynamic clearly in Romans 1:16.  It is there that he tells us that the gospel – that is, the good news – has the power of God to transform us, and save us from our sins.  God’s amazing word has unmatched power for those who believe it! It doesn’t just change us, it transforms us.

The Law of Consequences

Sometimes we forget the simple truth that consequences exist for every action we do (and don’t do). Sometimes the consequences turn out to be good, and other times they turn out to be bad.  Most of the time bad consequences come from bad choices, and good consequences from good choices. For instance, if you discipline yourself to save money, you will likely suffer a bit, but end up with a surplus that you can later use when you are wiser, and really need it.  But if you spend your money on every momentary, worldly pleasure, you’ll later have no money when you need it, and will have missed out on deeper pleasures that shape a healthy life. The bible applies the wisdom of consequences to both believers and unbelievers. In Jude 1:5-7, we are told how the Lord destroyed unbelievers in three separate events. It tells us how he destroyed those in the exodus who did not believe, and how he imprisoned angels who didn’t respect the boundaries placed on their authority, and how he destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha for their lack of belief.

In all of those cases, the consequence of choosing a life outside of God’s will was both devastating and permanent. It is a dangerous and terrifying thing to ignore, resist or subvert the order of God. Those that met their awful fate were unbelievers — even the angels.  After all, those angels chose NOT to believe that God metes out ultimate punishment.

This truth of consequence also applies to believers. While true believers may not experience the ultimate consequences dispensed to unbelievers, they are, nevertheless subject to fallout from bad decisions.  Probably, the verse easiest to understand on this truth is Proverbs 3:11-12, where we are told that God disciplines those he loves. The writer of Hebrews 12:4-11develops the concept more fully, explaining that discipline is a sign of God’s love in your life.  He describes that discipline as painful. However, this pain can be diminished by simply learning what God wants, and then doing it. Finally, perhaps the greatest negative consequence reaped by a believer is that of missing out on God’s blessing and his relationship. When we live a life of sin, we miss out on the blessing of God’s relationship.  In effect, we exchange the deeper pleasure of knowing God more, for the cheap and quick pleasure of satisfying a diseased body and life.

The Tears of An Elderly Man

The other day I met an elderly man at the ice cream counter of a local eatery that I sometimes enjoy. His thin frame, his southern appearance, and the hat adorning his head reminded me of my own grandfather who has been gone since I was young boy. We both stood there awkwardly looking at each other and wanting cones for our ice cream.  Unfortunately, the cone dispenser was empty, and he had been standing there for some time. He seemed polite, but mildly perturbed that there were none. He appeared reluctant to ask for help. I called the waiter over and asked him to remedy the problem.  While we were waiting for the cones, the man volunteered to me that his son had served overseas in the first Gulf War. I asked him what service, and he told me that it was the Army. He then shared that his son had died.


“In the war,” I asked. “No,” he said, and then explained that his son had gotten sick over there and had died after returning home. “I’m sorry to hear that,” I responded. I know that I said it awkwardly.  I hadn’t expected his candor, or the conversation, and I could think of no other thing to say, or what level of empathy or feeling I should express when saying it. He told me how his son’s wife had died shortly after. Emotion and turmoil crept across his countenance. “How did she die,” I asked, “did she catch what he had?”  A film of tears swelled in his eyes. The turmoil on his face melted into pain. “I don’t want to talk about it anymore,” he said. His head dropped. He lingered a moment more. I apologized, and expressed my condolences. He walked back to the table where he had family waiting. I don’t think he got his ice cream.


The event threw me for a bit of a loop, and I have thought about it for a while. Although he said he didn’t want to talk about it anymore, it was clear to me that he wanted to talk about something. He had, after all, brought up the topic himself. He needed comfort. Perhaps he needed an embrace. Maybe he just needed someone to say, “tell me about your wonderful son and his wife, and the loving things they did in their community.” I can’t say for sure. But I can say with confidence that If I spend more time in daily prayer asking God to help me when these opportunities arise, I will be more prepared because my mind will be better transformed for that kind of work (Romans 12:2).  Maybe it is for this kind of transformation that Paul tells us to pray steadfastly (Colossians 4:2) and without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), because if there is anything that prayer will change, it is where our minds are focused. 

A Perspective on Renewing Your Mind, and How You Treat Others

There are many junctures in your life when you will realize that something fundamental has changed. Upon making this realization, you then change your view of the world to be in accordance with the reality that you now better understand. Then, once that view is changed, you begin to adjust your behaviors to fit the new view. For instance, sometime after a couple has children, they may come to the realization that the world does not revolve around them, and that their actions and attitudes will impact their innocent children, perhaps diminishing their children’s innocence prematurely. They begin to view the world through a lens of parenting and responsibility. When that happens, their behaviors change in subtle ways at first.  Maybe they stop using foul language. Or maybe they no longer watch the same movies. Even their choice of music may change. One day, they recognize that moral consistency is very important, especially if they make an effort to view their own consistency through the eyes of their children, and they begin to insist on a life that is very different than what they were living before having children.


This is part of what the bible means when it says to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). When our minds understand something for what it really is, we will begin to adjust ourselves to conform to the true reality of things. Paul uses this principle of knowledge and understanding in his letter to the Colossians. In Colossians 4:9, Paul tells that particular church that he is sending them the man Onesimus.  He calls him beloved, and tells them plainly that Onesimus is one of them. This is curious, because Onesimus was a slave that ran away from one of the members of their church. At some point, he met up with Paul, and was transformed into a believer (Philemon 1:1-25). Paul knew that some may still view Onesimus as a slave, so he reminds them this is not so, just in case that didn’t get his point in Colossians 3:11 where he told them that in the body of Christ there were no divisions in regard to such things, and that Christ is all and in all. If they were able to make that connection, their view of people would change radically, and their behaviors toward others would as well.


How do you view the people around you? Does that view align with the bible?  Is your treatment of others in line with what you claim to believe?