Doctrines of Demons
Paul, writing to Timothy, gave instruction to Timothy about a number of things, most of them revolving around the essential (core) doctrines of the Christian church and how it should be managed. In the middle of those instructions, however, were several comments made where Paul gave a warning, not just to Timothy, but to all who would follow after. These warnings concerned a time that would come. In 2 Timothy, it was just a "time will come," but expressed the fact that it would be a time when people within the church would not endure sound doctrine, but like the Jews in Babylon that Ezekiel wrote about, would flock after teachers who would tell them what they wanted to hear. In that seeking after false teaching, they would then be turning away from truth (Gods Word), and instead begin believing in fables (fiction, falsehood, an invention).
In 1 Timothy, Paul put a "date" on it, though, by speaking specifically of "the latter times."
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; " 1Timothy 4:1
These latter times were not just something that would be occurring in a few years, or at the end of the first century, but encompassed the latter (last, end, final) days of the Church age. In these words, Paul summed up a very specific set of instructions and information that can definitely be seen today within the church.
Let's look at some of the words used. First, seducing. Seduction, or seducing, is Gr. "Planos," and means to mislead, to lead into error, to corrupt, and when used of someone means a deceiver. Of course we know that satan is a deceiver, and that he is subtle (see Gen. 2-3), or "seductive." It would definitely appear that these "seducing spirits" Paul is referring to are demonic spirits, those spiritual beings directly under the influence and control of satan.
Second, Paul uses the word "doctrines," or didaskalia, which is a "teaching, instruction, or precept," and is presented in such a way as to be a "doctrine," or hard and fast rule. The final word, "devils," is diamonion, and refers to a spirit being inferior to God, superior to men, and evil in nature; ie, a messenger of satan.
Paul is repeating what the Holy Spirit is saying....that in the end of the church age, many will be caused to depart from true faith in Christ (reliance upon His COMPLETE and final work), and will start paying attention to a teaching that not only has its origin with the devil, but is being taught by his messengers.
What could this "doctrine of demons" be? Is it something that makes us seek after them? Or begin paying homage to them?
Over the past 30 years or so, there has been an increasing awareness within the evangelical church of the truth contained in scripture that relates to the existence, and workings, of demonic spirits. Paul also emphasizes this when he tells us that "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]." Eph 6:12 . Paul makes no mistake here...the battle of the Christian is against things going on in the spiritual realm that manifest themselves in what we can see, hear, taste, and touch.
An OT example of this spiritual battle can be found in the book of Daniel, where an angel comes to Daniel and tells him that although he set out to come to Daniel some time before (when Daniel began praying), he was "resisted" by the "prince of the kingdom" of Persia, meaning the spiritual ruler of that kingdom. It took 21 days of "battle" and the assistance of Michael to get past him and come to Daniel.
There is no doubt but that there is spiritual warfare going on in the "heavenlies," and there is no doubt but that every true Christian is called upon to fight in this warfare through a number of means: prayer, supplication to Almighty God, resistance to the wiles and temptations of the devil, and many more. Paul expresses the battle plan perfectly when he follows up that warning by telling us to put on the WHOLE armor of God. We'll go into more detail on that later.
The one thing that Paul never says, nor do any of the other Apostles or writers of the NT, is to pay so much heed to demonic existence or machinations that we begin giving them an unhealthy and unwarranted place in the overall scheme of things.
Currently, there is a widespread teaching pertaining to "generational curses." Closely associated with it, and only slightly more palatable is one referred to as "soul ties." Neither of these teachings has much scriptural backing, and what little there is has to be wrestled out of context to use it. It is the intention of this study to examine closely the principles of both teachings, the "proof" texts used to support them, and compare what is said by its leading proponents to basic scriptural doctrine. Some of the leaders in the generation alcurse/soul tie heresy are Neil Anderson, Mark Bubeck, and C. Peter Wagner.
The essence of the generational curse doctrine is drawn from Exodus 20:5, repeated in Exodus 34:7, Numbers 14:18, and Deuteronomy 5:9, where it says: "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me;" Exd 20:5.
The generational curse theology holds that the sins committed by a forefather (or mother) create a binding legal contract between whoever commmitted the sin, or iniquity, and the devil, thus granting to the devil (and all of his demons) a legal right (contract or hook) that is maintained from generation to generation until such time as the person that is "hooked" directly addresses satan, and renounces (or breaks) the binding contract. . Most of those who are deeply involved in teaching this aberration also have (and use) very detailed announcements of renunciation. We can't call them prayers, because they are definitely not offered up to God. One of the leading proponents of of generational curses is Neil Anderson, who uses prayers such as the following:
"I cancel out all demonic working that may have been passed on to me from my ancestors. ... I renounce all satanic assignments that are directed toward me and my ministry, and I cancel every curse that Satan and his workers have put on me. ... I reject all other blood sacrifices whereby Satan may claim ownership of me."
This prayer, surprisingly, is not for one who is seeking salvation through Jesus Christ, this is for one who has (supposedly) already found it. Additionally, Anderson (among others) promotes a "seven steps to freedom," that focuses on blood oaths and marriage to satan, and renouncing such things.
Nowhere.....I repeat, NO WHERE in scripture is anything found that can serve as a basis for such theology. There is nothing that stipulates that satan is given a legal, binding contract (and subsequent ownership) to any persons soul because of the commission of a sin, or because some ancestor committed a sin.
Let's look carefully at the Exodus passage. To begin with, God is telling the Israelites that they are not to bow down to other gods, or idols. He is specifically speaking of the worship of pagan deities, such as they were encountering on their trip to the promised land. God is also specifically stating that those who do such a thing (bow down to false gods, worship idols, etc.) HATE God, and it is their action that shows it. Does this sound in any way like a person who is righteous? Or has been declared righteous? In other words, is this what a true believer does?
Notice also that God says that He will "visit" the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, even unto the third and fourth generation. The word "visit" is paqad, in the qal stem, and means to "pay attention to, observe, attend, pass in review, remind..." Out of eighteen possible meanings for the word, only one of them is to "inflict punishment." Obviously, God is saying that it is His intention to contantly remind the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren of exactly what it was that their forefathers did that was so bad. This rendering is brought more into focus in the subsequent passages where God stresses that He forgives, He is merciful, and He is long-suffering.
Based on this scripture, the Jews had developed a proverb: "the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge," further establishing that the Jews themselves believed that what a father did was reflected upon his children. That they misunderstood the meaning becomes more than evident in Ezekiel 18, where God specifically refers to this proverb, and makes clear as a bell that He holds EACH INDIVIDUAL responsible. If a father sins, and the child doesn't, then the child is cleared and the father is held responsible. If the father sins, and the child sins, then both are held responsible, and die for their iniquity.
As if this weren't enough to establish the absolute heresy of "generational curses," we'll go further.
When a person comes to Jesus Christ, there are a number of things that happen. Assuming that the person seeking salvation and making confession of Jesus as Lord really believes, and means it, the very first thing that happens is that their sins are forgiven. All of them. Everything that had been done prior to coming to Christ is gone....done away with......thrown into the sea of forgetfullness. Everything means....everything. The second thing that happens is that Jesus baptizes the believer in the Holy Spirit. Baptize means to immerse, completely cover. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit. We become a NEW creature, because ALL things are passed away. God through the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ LIVE within us. They don't just sit on our shoulder, or follow us around, or hover over us....they LIVE IN US. And since ALL things are new, that means that any "hooks" in our souls have been eliminated. Period.
It is really inconceivable to me to understand how a believer can swallow this kind of specious "reasoning." Slowly, it dawned on me, though. People flock to this kind of theological mumbo-jumbo for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that it removes RESPONSIBILITY for an individuals actions from themselves, and places the blame on some nebulous spirit, or upon some ancestor. The second reason is that most believers are woefully ignorant when it comes to understanding exactly what Jesus has done for us.
If Jesus has actually done for us, and with us, just one tenth of what scripture tells us, then there is absolutely NO WAY for any of the generational curse/soul tie theology to be true.
How about this.
"For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son." Colossians 1:13.
"Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2Cr 5:17
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father's hand. I and [my] Father are one. Jhn 10:27-30
"I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." JOHN 17:15
"But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep [you] from evil." 2Th 3:3
"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1Jo 4:4
"We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." 1Jo 5:18
This last one bears some special examination. "We know that whosoever is born of God (born again, redeemed, saved) does NOT sin...: The immediate reading would indicate that if any believer sins, then they are NOT a believer, since believers don't sin. Right? So, who then can possibly be a believer, since everyone sins? John was not talking about "sin" as in "oops!! I just had an ugly thought about that person." That is a sin, right? Yes, it is....and so is the thought about getting even, or the thought about how ugly someone is, or pigging out at dinner on the grounds, or not helping someone in need.....and the list goes on. John is talking about CONTINUING in a lifestyle of sin just like you did before believing. He is stipulating that the person who does continue in their previous lifestyle is NOT born of God. How do I know this? Because the word for sin that John uses numerous times in this book is in a tense that is neither past, present, or future, but encompasses all three, and is called "aorist." It is something that started in the past, is going on now, and will continue into the future. In other words, there has been NO CHANGE in the individual. 1 John 2:1 presents a conundrum about "not sinning, but if we do...," and is clarified by the tense of the word.
There are many more scriptures that clearly state that when one is saved, the kingdom of darkness has no more place or part in the believer. Simply put, "generational curses" have no place or part in the born-again Christian.
What does happen, though, is that sometimes a lifetime of bad habit is hard to let go of, in the flesh. Old patterns of behavior, things learned or adopted from parents, friends, or independently will rise up. It is for just such things that Paul wrote about "mortifying the flesh," Romans 8:13. These things, though, do NOT qualify as "generational curses," or "hooks" the devil maintains in the soul.
The most the devil can do to a believer is to tempt them through an external source. The actions or suggestions of a friend or family member, a presentation that appeals to the senses, use of the worldly system and ethics (or lack therof)...anything to lay a snare, set a trap before the believer for the purpose of getting that believer to fall for it, and thereby become a bad witness for the cause of Christ.
Years ago, a comedian named Flip Wilson used a phrase constantly in his routine, and that was "the devil made me do it." It got a lot of laughs, but it really isn't a laughing matter. The devil cannot make any believer do anything. We do it all on our own, because for some reason (lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes or the pride of life) we DESIRE to do it, whatever it is. Trying to blame someone (ancestor, friend, spouse) or something (demons, hooks, etc.) is lying to ourselves, and to God. John said " If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. " 1Jo 1:9
The real dangers of believing in generational curses are many, and include failure to take individual responsibility, granting to the powers of darkness entirely too much power and authority, and in reciting many of the suggested prayers, heaping to oneself entirely too much authority. Jude warns us very clearly about "despising" (by word and action) authority and dominion, and uses for his example the fact that even the archangel Michael did not DARE to make any demands or accusations against the devil, but simply said "the Lord rebuke you."
To those who would argue that generational curses are real, and they have personally experienced "release" and "freedom" by going through the motions of renouncement, I would only say this....who do you believe? Your own, or some other person's subjective comments or experience, or the Word of God? Who has the power? You, demons, or God? Who speaks the truth, and never changes? You, demons, or God? You can either believe God and His Word, or you can believe yourself or someone else ....and I'll tell you right now, if you believe yourself or someone else rather than Gods Word, you're in deep trouble!
Soul Ties = Bondage
The subject of soul ties is what might be best called "Christian psycho-babble." While claiming scripture as its foundation (1 Sam. 18:1), the terminology and principles stem from two worldly origins....that of psychoanalysis and the principle of "co-dependency," and from the New Age movement, which has actively promoted "spiritual bonding," aka "soul ties" with guiding spirits. Both the New Age and psychological terminology and principles began to surface in the 70's, while the Christian version began circulating in the mid-80's. The current soul tie movement is derived, in part, from the "inner healing" movement that began within charismatic circles promoted by Agnes Sanford and others, and is parallel to Freud's abreaction techniques.
While scripture does tell us about close friendships such as that spoken of in 1 Samuel between Jonathan and David, it really stretches credulity to make it into a strange and mystical binding together of souls.
We also are told in scripture not to enter into ungodly relationships, and to not become involved in illicit or sinful relationships, such as fornication and adultery. However, there is absolutely nothing in any of the passages that refers to a "binding" or "tying" together of souls. As a matter of fact, one of the primary scriptures used to support "soul ties" comes from 1 Corinthians 6:16, where Paul warns that "one who is joined to an harlot is one body..." Please take note that Paul says they are one BODY, and does not in any way infer, hint or suggest that there is a binding, knitting or tying of souls.
Many of the "deliverance" ministries that promote the soul tie error also fall into the generational curse category, making full use of searching out ancestral sin to renounce. As with the generational curse group, they ignore scripture pertaining to being made new, being cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and being protected from the evil one.
Christians are told that evil is addictive, that we are to flee from lust, and that we are to resist the devil and turn to God, but nowhere....absolutely nowhere does scripture tell us that a believer can become divided or fragmented and joined in the soul/spirit realm to someone or something else.
Part of the problem with soul tie theology stems from a basic misunderstanding of the make-up of man. In general, the belief is that man is made up of three discrete parts, the body (flesh), soul (mind/reason/emotion) and spirit. In soul tie and generational curse theology, the soul and spirit are two completely separate things, so man is a "trichotomy." In actuality, the soul and spirit are joined together. The soul is that unique part of man that makes an individual what he or she is...personality, intelligence, rationality...in other words, the id or ego. The spirit is the "conscience," or higher plane of reasoning that makes active decisions between right and wrong based on the perceptions of the flesh, and processed by the soul to determine what need (or lust) can be satisfied. This is one of the main reasons whyGod has told us in so many ways to "renew our minds," to "stay our thoughts" on God and His Word. When we read and study His Word daily, that Word becomes a part of our "heart" (spirit), and the spirit then strengthens the mind and reason to do war with the body, resisting the temptations and lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
The major problem with soul tie theology is found in the visualization techniques that accompany it, while "searching out" memories, hurts, or ancestral problems. This visualization is little different from occult and eastern meditation techniques, and can simply be called sorcery, a practice that is soundly condemned by God.
It is at this point that we return to Paul's words concerning donning the whole armor
of God. In Ephesians, we read:
Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Paul is telling us that to withstand the slings, arrows and wiles of the devil (or his demons), it is necessary for us to have ALL of the armor of God on that He has provided us with. Paul is also telling us that when we have that armor on, we CAN stand, without fear or failure.
Eph 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on
the breastplate of righteousness;
Truth is found in the Word of God, and not in some individuals or organizations interpretation of that truth. Scripture tells us that "thy Word is truth," John 17:17. In this same scripture, we are also told that it is through the Word that we are sanctified. In Romans 12:2 we also see "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. " We renew our minds by " Let(ting) the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Col 3:16. The breastplate of righteouness is not something we put on...it is put ON us, by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It is through Him, and by Him that we can stand before God, having been declared righteous. We can not, and do not "earn" that righteousness by anything we do, before, during, or after salvation. Since we did not earn it, and do not own it (it belongs to Jesus), no one and no thing can remove it once it is put on us.
Eph 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
There is only one way to be prepared for anything, and that is to LEARN about it. And when we KNOW what it is, we can begin to WALK in it.
Eph 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to
quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
In the life of any and every Christian, there comes moments of doubt....doubt as to salvation, doubt as to worthiness, doubt as to ability, and the wicked (one), loves nothing more than to throw those darts of doubt at a believer. Unfortunately, most of the darts get through simply because the believer does not UNDERSTAND what that shield of faith is. We tend to examine ourselves and our actions, and most often consider ourselves lacking in faith because of this, or that, or something. Guess what? It is not OUR faith that should be open to examination. Rom 3:22 "Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference" It is the faith OF Jesus Christ that is our shield, and His faith is unquestionable and unassailable.
Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is
the word of God:
The helmet....designed to protect the brain, the "heart" of the soul. Without a brain, we die. Without a brain, we can't see, hear, taste, reason. But when we do have a brain, that's the place the devil likes to attack. He presents things that appeal to the senses, and wants us to succumb to desire. And if that doesn't work, he insinuates thoughts that question our salvation, our faithfulness, our ability to function properly as a Christian....and often he questions God, primarily by making us question ourselves. That is exactly why we need, more than just about anything, to wear that helmet of salvation, and understand exactly what it is that salvation entails. Salvation is more than just deliverance from evil, or the consequences of sin.....salvation is much much more than just knowing we'll go to heaven, having been forgiven. Salvation is KNOWING that God can, and will deliver everything He has promised. As Paul put it in 2 Timothy 1:12, "...for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." Paul places full reliance upon God to keep him and to deliver him, because he knows that God is GOD! We know that we have been saved, and will be delivered, because God said so...not because we say so, or some preacher says so, or we do fine works, or pray right, or give money. Satan can question us, and he can cause us to question God, but he cannot question God or His faithfullness...and that is where we most often go wrong, by listening to someone or something else question God, and create confusion or doubt. With the helmet of salvation firmly in place, we know not to question or doubt, and that removes most of the sting and trouble that the devil can throw at us.
Battle is done with a sword, in this case, the Word of God. The worst thing we mortals can do is try to argue with demons from our own reasoning. Jesus, when tempted by satan, answered with what God had said...not what the Scribes or Sanhedrin or High Priest had said. The Holy Spirit is present in every word of God spoken by man, as long as it is the Word of God. And where the Holy Spirit is, evil cannot abide....sin can not flourish....and the devil has to run! "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7
Just as with the generational curse errors, soul tie theology places far too great an emphasis on how much damage is done by demons or demonic influence, how much has to be done by the believer to "break" the soul tie, and the inevitable sliding off into believing that demons can get a "hook" or "binding contract" on someone through these bad soul ties.
When a believer does something wrong, rest assured that the Holy Spirit lets us know that it (whatever it is) is NOT pleasing to God, and is detrimental to our spiritual well-being. And He will not let us rest until such time as we repent and ask forgiveness. But the one thing the Holy Spirit will NOT do is prod and poke at us to get us digging in the garbage pit to see if we can find something, anything to "renounce."
And again, as with the generational curse theology, subjective experience does not count for anything in comparison to the Word of God.