Defeat the Demons Within You

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 St Michael triumphs over the devil c 1468, Bartolomé Bermejo National Gallery London

 

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.  Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” 

 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable.  “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them?  For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them.  For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Mark 7: 14-23

Demons come from within. They are our thoughts and emotions – the thoughts and emotions of unclean spirits – and the nearer we get to God the more troubling they become. It is much easier to battle an outside enemy than see the enemy within.

The Desert Fathers, in their solitude, found that they encountered their own thoughts, feelings and emotions and they began to discern the good from the bad; the positive from the negative; those that lead us to God and those that block our path to God. The negative ones they called demons. They discovered that first we have to identify the demon to see what is working against us and they found eight primary demons of which we should be extra aware: gluttony; avarice; sloth; fornication, sadness, pride, anger, vainglory.

So, what is working in our lives to separate us from the presence of God? What is there that is not of the Holy Spirit in my life; that wants my good, my peace, my healing, my love. What is in my life that is hidering the fruit of the Holy Spirit?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22

There are motions in our hearts that do not lead us to God. They start with a thought – shall I go to the fridge and open that tub of ice-cream? Shall I surf the internet and see if I can find that picture? Nobody is interested in me, they never phone. She is so stupid, she deserves what she gets. If he does that again I swear I’ll hit him….and so on.

So be aware and capture that negative thought…’we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ’. 2Corinthinas 10:5

I know that in my case I have a critical spirit. I am an ultra-organised person and it drives me crazy when others are disorganised. I criticize and snipe and that causes discord.  Forgiveness is another difficulty for me – again coming from the same root – expecting too much from others and being disappointed and critical when I don’t get it. These two faults do not come from the Holy Spirit and they hinder His work in my life. They are my principle demons.

So –  first identify the demons that trouble you. Screen your thoughts and discern whether there are spirits within you that are negative, counter productive and blocking the work of the fruit of the spirit. We all have various negative scripts in our head – I’m not good enough; I’m not fit enough; I’m not clever enough; people don’t care about me – and so on. Name these negative thoughts and inspirations and then you have control.

Firstly work at the heart of the matter on the negative thoughts – capture them and reject them as soon as they trouble you. Remember that thoughts can come from without as well as within so do not panic if you find yourself troubled by really awful thoughts. They are an attack to try to stop your progress. Just reject these thoughts remembering that God is your shield. Then you can make a conscious decision to replace them with good and positive thoughts.

The way to do this is to ‘talk back’ to the negative spirit by using scripture passages that personally inspire you and touch your heart. They can be used as a weapon and protection. Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit and it conquers bad spirits. Demons tell falsehoods and try to lead us astray but the Holy Spirit puts everything back in order and heals us.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28: 7

The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 21:1

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 17:8

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 32:6

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. Romans 8:39

Finally, find good rituals and routines that keep you close to God – prayer, reading scripture, eucharist and fellowship. Remember that the Holy Spirit is stronger and more powerful than any negative spirit and all things are possible with God.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

 St Michael triumphs over the devil c 1468, Bartolomé Bermejo, National Gallery London The Archanger Michael is shown defeating the devil, a monstrous creature, part reptile, part bat. The kneeling donor is Antonio Juan, Lord of Tous. His prayerbook is open at two penitential psalms (51 and 130). This is the centrepanel of an altarpiece formerly in the parish church of Tous, near Valencia, Spain. One of the leading Spanish painters of the 15th century, Bermejo was active in Valencia and Barcelona. His mastery of the Netherlandish technique of oil painting suggests that he may have trained in the Netherlands.

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The Road to Emmaus

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Notre Dame Rose Window Paris

 

 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;  but they were kept from recognizing him.He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him;  but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.  In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning  but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive.  Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together  and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”  Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.  Luke 24:13-35

It tells of two men who were walking towards the sunset. However the Christian is not  one who walks towards the sunset but to the sunrise. The Christian goes onwards not to a night which falls but to a dawn which breaks – and that is what, in their sorrow and their disappointment, the two on the Emmaus Road had forgotten

It tells of the ability of Jesus to make sense of things. The whole situation seemed to these two men to have no explanation. Their hopes and dreams were shattered. There is all the poignant, bewildered, wistful regret in the world in their sorrowing words. “We were hoping that he was the one who was going to rescue Israel.” They are the words of men whose hopes are dead and buried. And then Jesus came and talked with them, and the meaning of life became clear to them, and the darkness became light…. It is only in Jesus that, even in the bewildering times, we learn what life means.

It tells us of the courtesy of Jesus. He made as if he would have gone on. He would not force himself upon them; he awaited their invitation to come in. God gave us the greatest and most perilous gift in the world  – the gift of free will; and we can use it to invite Christ to enter our hearts or to allow him to pass on.

It tells how he was known to them in the breaking of bread…. It was at an ordinary meal in an ordinary house when an ordinary loaf was being divided…. He is the guest in every home. The Christian lives forever and everywhere in a Christ-filled world.

It tells how these two men, when they received their own joy, hastened​ to share it. It was a seven mile tramp back to Jerusalem but they could not keep the good news to themselves. The Christian message is never fully ours until we have shared it with someone else.

It tells how, when they reached Jerusalem, they found others who had already shared the experience. It is the glory of the Christian that he lives in a fellowship of people who have had the same experience as he has had.

And it tells us how Jesus appeared to Peter. That must ever remain one of the great untold stories of the world…

William Barclay Study Bible, Luke.

The Early Church

 

The Early Church – Acts 2: 42-47

It was a church of Fellowship. It had what someone has called the great quality of togetherness.

It was a praying church. These early Christians knew that they could not meet life in their own strength and that they did not need to do so. They always spoke to God before they spoke with men; they always went into God before they went out to the world; they could meet the problems of life because they had first met God.

It was a church where things happened. Signs and wonders were there. If we expect great things from God and attempt great things for God, things will happen. When faith dies achievements dies. More things would happen if we believe that God and we together can make them happen.

It it was a sharing church. These early Christians had an intense feeling of responsibility for each other. A real Christian could not bear to have too much when others have too little.

It was a worshipping church. They never forgot to visit God’s house. We must remember that God knows nothing of solitary religion. Things can happen when we come together. The Spirit of God moves upon God’s worshipping people.

It was a happy church. Gladness was there. A gloomy Christian is a contradiction in terms. The joy of the Christian is not necessarily a boisterous thing; but deep in the heart of the Christian person there is the joy that no man taketh from us.

It was a church for people whom others could not help liking. There are two Greek words for good. The one is agathos which simply describes a thing as good. The other is kalos which means that the thing is not only good but looks good; that it has a winsome attractiveness about it. Real Christianity is a lovely thing. There are so many people who are good but in them there is a streak of unlovely hardness. You could never go and weep your heart out on their shoulders. They’re what someone has called iceberg Christians. In the early church there was a winsomeness on God’s people.

From William Barclay Study Bible, Acts of the Apostles.