I begin my book series, Christian Discernment Resources, with a revised edition of my testimony. It has a new title, Rescued and Redeemed: How to Discern Demons from the Divine, and revised content. I added chapter introductions and stories that vividly depict God’s authority over the demonic realm. My motivation for writing the series evolved as I observed that Christians in general were ill-equipped to discern the spirits and underestimated the power of the gospel. Some were even offended at the suggestion that they should consider the source of spiritual inspirations, visitations from the dead, practices such as yoga and Hindu meditation, and insights obtained in altered states of consciousness.
Why is this so? Though not exhaustive, I offer the following. First, Christians are more inclined to seek counsel from mental-health practitioners and experts in related fields than the guidance and instruction from God and his Word. God’s involvement in daily life, miracles, and other supernatural encounters are treated as stand-alone stories—fascinating but irrelevant in daily living. Lacking biblical knowledge, the conventional wisdom is that Satan and the demons cannot influence a life unless invited in. Perhaps God, too, stands in the wings waiting for someone to need him.
Second, not that long ago, the Bible had authority as God’s revelation of himself and the supernatural realm. That is not true in many churches today. Christians tend to rely on personal experience, stories of friends, the Internet, and popular culture to assess the source of, say, visions, intuitions, and spirit manifestations. If the vision and experience look and feel good, the source is God. If it’s dark and menacing, the source is evil, perhaps Satan. Most neither see the need to further test the source of it nor do they know how.
Third, social media, and the entertainment and health industries have stepped into the gap with a plethora of stories and teachings on the supernatural realm. Films saturate our culture with tales of magicians and sorceresses, warring gods, and spirits of the dead conversing with the living. They elevate people with the “gift” to foretell future events and look to them for information on the spiritual realm. Health and wellness magazines promote yoga and meditation practices that are based on Hinduism to achieve peace and “well-balanced” bodies. The result is that people develop their doctrine of angels, demons, and the spiritual realm from popular culture.
Fourth, the ordinariness of evil obscures its lethality. I once stared at the swept-clean, small barracks and ovens at Dachau. They looked so ordinary. Absent survivors’ stories, no one could know the scale of evil done there. Even the efficiency and mechanization of the death camps enabled workers to perform ghastly tasks without the burden of guilt. Evil is like that. In its most devious manifestations, evil infiltrates cultures in ordinary ways so that it passes as something good. One doesn’t think to call on the Savior or to examine Scripture to see if this is of God. But the banal façade of evil cannot last. Like a voracious parasite, it cannot stop itself from destroying its host.
Fifth, church leaders and pastors are reluctant to focus on the demonic realm, and when they do, they use broad-brush references to a spiritual war in the heavens. Many seminaries and pastors sincerely believe that it is wrong to give Satan and the demons attention, and furthermore, it is unnecessary given Jesus’ defeat of them. They preach that as Christians address sin and love and obey Jesus, they nullify demonic involvement. Lastly, focusing on the devil scares people and might divert interest in the gospel. Of course, this begs the question— what if it’s true? What if it’s true that we have a spiritual enemy that schemes and works to destroy people, even Christians?
These observations suggest that a humanistic and postmodern worldview that dominates popular culture has infiltrated the church. To counter its influence, mature Christians must learn to discern good and evil (Heb. 5: 14). They do so by remaining close to the Savior and studying his Word. Only then can Christians assess if something is from God or a demon. Without the Savior and his Word, we are lost indeed.
From the preface of Rescued and Redeemed: How to Discern Demons from the Divine