Jesus Christ upended the spiritual beliefs and practices of his day when he offered humanity a relationship with God. Most common folk in the Greco-Roman culture depended on miracle workers with a library of formulaic prayers and rituals to protect them from spiritual evil. Jesus’ gift of salvation made them obsolete. He wielded the power of God—Creator and ruler of heaven and earth. Sin and spiritual evil need not dominate believers as they drew near to God with assurance of faith that their hearts were cleansed by the onetime sacrifice of Jesus (Heb 10:22).
I thought of these things as I spoke to an eleven-year-old boy and his mother. Jason stared hard at his hands as he described how he and his friends had watched Ghost Hunters, a television series that researched paranormal phenomena. The boys decided to conduct their own research. Armed with a flashlight, they tiptoed into dark basements and murmured invitations to ghosts to appear. One night, Jason saw what looked like a waft of smoke flit across the basement wall. It took the form of a man and quickly vanished into the corner. The boys screamed and ran upstairs. They were hooked! Weekly, they combed basements with their flashlight and coaxed the dead to materialize.
A couple months later when Jason talked with friends at school, he saw a ghostly man standing behind one of his friends. The spirit spoke mentally to Jason, “I need a friend.”
Jason froze! Thereafter, the spirit-man pestered Jason day and night. Jason finally told his mother who contacted her pastor and me.
I listened and then said, “Jason, do you know Jesus Christ? Is he your Lord?”
Jason nodded and began to cry. “Yes. I’m so sorry. I really screwed up!”
I smiled and said, “Jesus Christ came to save us from sin and these spirits. He is our Friend. He protects and takes care of his own. Jesus will send this spirit away, but you must stand with Jesus. If the spirit returns, call out to Jesus. Do not talk to the spirit, resist him. Even in your mind, only talk to Jesus. He will remove this spirit. I’ve printed Scriptures for you to read and pray. They remind you of what Jesus did and is doing for us. He loves us!” Jason, his mother, and I prayed and read Scripture. The spirit never returned.
People who have supernatural experiences are often reluctant to talk about them. But ask a gathering of twenty-five or so adults if they have ever seen or sensed a spirit. Five or six will likely raise their hands. Decades later people remember in minute detail what occurred.
During Advent, we prepare our hearts for the birth of Jesus and his return in glory. We remember what Christ saved us from, what he’s doing now, and what he will do. Sometimes it can seem that more is needed, but the testimony of Scripture and Christian witness is that Jesus defeated sin, Satan, and death on the cross. We love, obey, and pray, “Come Lord Jesus. Come.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:37-39).