Resisting Evil Spirits

Luke 4: 31-37
1 Cor 2:10b-16 / Ps 145

With authority and power He orders evil spirits and they come out!
(Luke 4: 36)

Be firm in faith, to God submit,
From all the world’s pleasures abstain;
Strengthened by His Holy Spirit,
Freedom from evil is our gain.

Then Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people. They were amazed at His teaching, because His message had authority. In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, “Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

“Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!” And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area. (Luke 4: 31-37)

Reflection

The evil spirit could not withstand the presence of the Divine. Its ourburst was its only defense against the fear of destruction. Wily as its master, Satan, it thought that it could appease Jesus by affirming Him as “the Holy One of God!” But being God, Jesus was not taken in by this deception, and immediately determined to free the demon-possessed man from its power. “Come out of him!” and the spirit obeyed.

There are many passages in the Bible that warn us about the presence and power of evil spirits in this world. Demons are very real, although for their devious purposes, they prefer to remain imperceptible to man. St. Peter wrote: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” (1 Pet 5:8-9a). And we must pray to the Holy Spirit for discernment to recognize their deception. St. John warned in his first letter: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn 4:1). St. Paul also wrote the same caution: “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve” (2 Cor 11:14-15).

How then do we protect ourselves and our children from being “kidnapped” by these spirits of evil? St. James provides a simple answer: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Ja 4:7). Submission to the power of God means surrendering completely to His will, and in total faith, believing in His power, guidance and protection. Reading the Bible regularly (everyday, if possible) fortifies this assurance. The Word of God in Psalm 91 promises, “No evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your home. He will command His angels to guard you in all your ways” (Ps 91:10-11). Constant prayers also provide strong assurance of divine help in times of spiritual struggle. Of course it need not be said that we must also take a more proactive stance against the forces of darkness. Knowing, for instance, that the devil always exploits the weakness of the flesh, it is only prudent to avoid occasions of worldly pleasures. Pride is another weakness, so we must strive to walk in a spirit of humility. Greed is another worldly addiction, so we must counter it with a spirit of kindness and generosity. In effect, we must walk in the spirit and character of our Lord Jesus Christ as the best way to submit ourselves completely to God, our Father.

We believe, O Lord, that no evil spirit can withstand Your presence in our life. We therefore humbly ask You to make our home the sanctuary of Your Holy Spirit, so that we may never have to be anxious about the devil’s influence again. We pray for this in the Holy Name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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