COMMENTARY | Heath Tibbetts
“So what do you think about demons?” This was the random text message my 21-year-old brother sent me a few months back. I replied, “They sound scary, and they’re totally real.”
He called and told me of his friend, John, who believed he was being harassed by a demon. John doesn’t go to church, but he decided to call a few of the local pastors in his town, asking them what he should do. In each instance, the pastor didn’t believe his story, and offered nothing further.
John lives out of state from my brother and me, so I offered to call. Soon, he was explaining his story to me. Let’s put it this way…YIKES! The hairs on my neck stood at attention as John explained this entity’s ability to take a visible shape while bringing him feelings of dread and even depression. He was now worried that this “entity” (I told him demon was the correct term) would attempt to possess him, and he was highly fearful.
I’ve heard of pastors who have blown off these types of stories. A previous pastor I served with said he had received a call from someone who thought they had a demon in their house. When I asked him what he was going to do, he replied, “Not go over there!” This didn’t sit well with me. Jesus spent many days defeating demons who were bringing hopelessness and harm to people all over Israel (Matthew 8:16, Luke 11:20, bunches of others). The Bible spoke of demons as a real threat, and I was shocked that our church didn’t act accordingly.
After telling John I believed him, I asked about his relationship to God. He admitted to having none, though he had been growing more curious about spiritual things. And as John continued to talk, I realized these attacks had intensified during this newfound curiosity. Long story short, I shared with John the Good News of Jesus and he willingly repented of his sins over the phone and placed his trust in Jesus. Then, we had a crash course in Holy Spirit theology. I told him that according to 1 Corinthians 6:19, no one can ever possess him now that he has become a temple of the Holy Spirit. John hung up the phone sounding much more confident about the future.
In fact, in the three months since John accepted Christ, he’s experienced a great change. Because the local pastors didn’t offer hope, he was unwilling to attend their churches. I’ve been discipling him by phone, texts, and e-mails. He reports no visits from this demon since his salvation, and he is reading his Bible and spending time in prayer. John is also finding new plans opening up for his life. He is moving to a new city in February to continue his education, and the first question he asked me was, “How do I find a good church when I get there?”
What is the takeaway for us? First of all, there were pastors who had an unbeliever call them for hope and they offered NONE. We have the hope of salvation and purpose in Jesus. When an unbeliever approaches us, no matter their dilemma, we must be prepared to help them see that Jesus is calling them in the midst of their crisis.
Secondly, if the Bible warns us of something, we had better take it seriously! Satan and his demons are real and they are working tirelessly to deceive, depress, and destroy souls. We must remain aware that spiritual warfare is going on all around us. Sometimes we can see it more clearly than others, but we are not fighting against people, but against “the spiritual forces of evil,” according to Ephesians 6:12. God has called us to be
warriors for the gospel who will help the hurting and broken find hope in Jesus Christ. As Peter said, let us always be prepared to share the hope that lies within us.
Heath Tibbetts pastors First Baptist Church in Machesney Park.