Cessationists and “open but cautious” (for all intents, I will call them anti-charismatic) Christians have many reasons for why they resist modern-day spiritual experiences like dreams and visions. Among these reasons is the fact that charismatics sometimes experience demonic encounters and spiritual warfare. The mere fact that there are such things as demonic experiences is not only too scary and fear-provoking to the anti-charismatics, but to them, it is not allowable whatsoever. No Christian is supposed to have demonic experiences, so they think. I tried reasoning with someone from Matthew 4 about this. Jesus experienced the devil in Matthew 4:1 immediately after He was baptized in the Holy Spirit in Matthew 3:16b.
Experiencing demons is not fun, but sometimes you just have to put up with it. In Jesus’ Name, “resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). It’s really that simple. But not so much to the anti-charismatic. For some reason, they think that charismatic Christianity is inherently demonic. Although they won’t come out and say it, a lot of them think so. They believe this is because charismatics believe God speaks today, whereas anti-charismatics believe God only speaks through the Bible (a doctrine called sola Scriptura). They think they are upholding the authority of God’s Word by demonizing charismatics and their views.
So, whenever a charismatic suffers from spiritual warfare, demonic attack, or demonic encounter–the anti-charismatic rudely replies, “You need to repent for ‘opening yourself up’ to the demonic.” But, as Matthew 3:16-4:1 indicates, getting baptized in the Holy Spirit automatically “opens you up” to the demonic, but also to Heaven, Hell, Jesus, and angel encounters. The gift of prophecy is the opening up of “the eyes of your heart” (Ephesians 1:18). That means you will SEE everything; and unfortunately that includes demons. Just command them to leave in Jesus’ Name. They fill the whole world folks. They were cast out of Heaven thousands of years ago; and now Earth is where they live. Get used to it! Devoted Christians have the power to resist them in Jesus’ Name. Yay! No need to fear the prophetic. No need to fear demons either. Jesus is trillions of times stronger than them. But you can’t “pick and choose” your experiences in the prophetic. I wish you could, but you can’t. You can’t just ONLY see Jesus and angels and Heaven. You HAVE to see the ugly stuff too–demons and Hell and sin.
Can a Christian See Demons?
Sometimes non-charismatics do not find Matthew 4 convincing enough evidence that Jesus SAW THE DEVIL in the desert. Relying upon their reason, they figure that Jesus must have have just heard the devil’s voice, or felt tempted, or something–but definitely didn’t see him. But in Luke 10:18, Jesus said, “I SAW SATAN fall like lightning from heaven.” The biggest problem they have with the concept of seeing demons is that, 1. there’s not a whole lot of Bible examples, and, 2. it seems unlikely that a demon could come very close to a Christian who has God’s Spirit dwelling in him! They just really have a problem with the devil geographically or physically coming very close to their body, because somehow having the Holy Spirit is supposed to exempt them from having demonic experiences! I think this is just based on fear, lack of experience, and lack of understanding; and I think its too easy for them to dismiss the idea, because its just too scary to think about. So, they will escape the thought and listen to a sermon from their non-charismatic pastor; or go to Bible study; crack jokes with church friends; and play some football to forget about the devil. But I’ll tell you what…I would never go to a Christian like that for help if I know someone needs a demon cast out!
Seeing demons is part of the gift of discerning of spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10). St. Antony would back me up on that (The Life of Antony, ch. 22-23). So would St. Brigit of Ireland, Hildegard of Bingen, St. Dominic of Osma, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Martin Luther, and Richard Ing (author of Spiritual Warfare). Don’t ignore the facts of church history. Don’t ignore the Bible. These things are real. Do you want to free people from the devil’s attacks? Then “in order that Satan might not outwit us,” let us not be “unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11)! The greatest trick the devil ever told was convincing the CHURCH he doesn’t exist. The Bible says, “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” in order to deceive people (2 Corinthians 11:14). Sounds like people were seeing demons who were appearing as angels of light! How can you explain a Bible verse like that away? Finally, the strongest evidence in the Bible that I know of, for a Christian seeing demons, would be the following visions of the apostle John:
“The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him” (Revelation 12:9).
“I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:13-14).
“I saw three demons that looked like frogs” (Revelation 16:13, New Life Bible).