Almana Ger Yatom

Widows, Strangers, Orphans: Journeying with the Poor

Biblical counseling and demons


My wife and I have had in-depth training in counseling, biblical counseling and family counseling, even parenting. I first ventured into counseling when on the edge of divorce I became desperate and sought help. When I found it worked, I enrolled in counseling. My wife has not stopped since and is pursuing her doctorate (EDD) in counseling.

So I have enough bases from observation alone that Satan or the demons no longer play a significant part in problems related to family and other relationships.

This is the effect of the Cartesian way of thinking which has made the world, at least the affluent world very secular (we are not an affluent country but we have great wealth disparity within, so we have enclaves of very wealthy people in our country that are very secular as well).

Secularism is the by-product of scientism or the application of scientific thinking in all spheres of life (including where they are not supposed to apply). Thus scientism is called a bias when it is applied in the wrong place. Basically scientism negates or ignores the non-material existence.

So even though the bible says demons and spirits exists, over the centuries, secularism has trained the mind of people to think demons do not exists. It is a significant gain for society in general we must admit that many superstitious practices have been eliminated and through science, major achievements have been made to further society’s progress while before, without scientism, many were enveloped in the dark shroud of superstitions.

So secularism has gotten rid of devils in our midst just by thinking so (I think therefore I am of Descartes laid down the basis for a very cognitive way of life). I have been to several old institutions especially those of the religious and several of us, including myself (who are very superstitious) thought there were evil spirits lurking in the rooms and hallways. One female staff we have is always awakened at night terribly scared by the presence of demons when we have silent retreats in one monastery in Tagaytay.

The bible says in two places that demons exists. One is in general, referring to demonic possession. The Roman Catholic diligent work on this has more or less tamed a lot of wrong thinking in this area. The rule for them is that we cannot declare the presence of demons or say there is demonic possession until we have thoroughly and absolutely ruled out psychological causes or reasons.

What we want is to first find out if there is no psychosis for example before we say there is a demon at work inside the counselee.

And thorough is the word to remember. Lots of clinical and other tests are made to make sure there is no psychological reason for the behavior before the church can say it is demonic. This is very sound and logical. But eventually, if there is, one needs to and has to contend with the demonic presence, meaning, there are demons, demons do exist.

For many, demons do not exist and for many also, it is a good thing because this belief in demons tends to be more superstitious than biblical. Most experiences with demonic presence are just superstitious old wives tales and untrue and in that sense secularism has done us a good favor.

But taken in excess also, secularism, mainly of affluent society, has done us a disfavor when it teaches that man should no longer believe in demons.

It may be convenient in a way but when we look at the other reference for demons in the bible, I doubt if we will all agree. When we see the other bible reference, we might even say that the secular teaching is devastating.

The second major reference in the bible about demons says this: our real enemy is not flesh and blood but demons, evil spirits, powers, principalities, rulers in the dark world.

When couples or spouse fight each other and sees in the other a very malevolent enemy (especially in cases of violent abuses), we no longer see the devil there. Our enemy is just our wife or our husband, and no one else. We will sue each other in court until Kingdom comes, but we will not see the demon inside our conflicts.

We have many fights in church not just between couples. But counseling, not matter its label of being biblical, is no longer set on ruling out psychological causes in order to reveal the true adversaries. Scientism has made the end goal in counseling the self. There is no more demon. it’s just me and you, the two protagonists in the conflict. My hatred tells me you are the demon.

This has large consequences on the spiritual arena. The bible wants us to see that the ultimate adversaries are God and the evil forces. People may stand in the crossfire and become collateral damage but it is clear, the battle is between God and the rulers of this earth (and we are not them).

It is easy for the bible to say that no lawsuits should happen between or among believers because the protagonists as far as God is concerned are not people.

When we erase demons and devils from our battle strategies, we are not aware that we also in a significant way are undermining the power and reality of God for God dwells in that arena where His power is most supreme and where His power is most needed.

The cosmic battle is the real battle and when we reduce it to personal actualization issues and relationship concerns, absent the powerful workings in the background of powers, principalities and rulers, we have also trivialized God and the ultimate warfare.

We must see like in the Lord of the Rings, that a battle wages far and high above us and though it affects directly the big players of cosmic proportions, our tiny and diminutive efforts also have cosmic impact enough to tilt the balance in God’s favor.

It is part of the great mystery of the Bible that somehow, though man seem so small and weak, that God should be mindful of him, somehow, he is thrusts in the midst of the struggle of good and evil and somehow, to his surprise and totally beyond his imagination, God gives him the key to solve the whole conflict.

It is Frodo, an almost useless and weak personae that now moves through and amidst the violent struggle to bring the Ring, the Ring that will decide the fate of the whole universe, to the volcano to be destroyed, and it is Frodo’s act that will sway the balance in favor of good and against evil.

Christian counseling that no longer makes demons and devils matter and makes conflicts and relational issues merely a concern of human actualization and persona growth are blind to the cosmic struggle around them into the midst of which they now stand called to turn the tide of battle in God’s favor.

The stories of the demonic possessions in the gospel are but short cameo appearances or glimpses of this wide and titanic convulsion. And one story tells us also in a tiny glimpse, how we may act. The disciples asked why they could not cast out the demons. Jesus said, only by prayer can this thing be resolved.

The Roman Catholics have erred in this matter grievously calling the problem a case for exorcism which means the problem is an indifferent and magical complexity needing also an indifferent and magical solution – an enchanted formula, a magic chant to stop the forces of evil.

The bible does not call it exorcism for exorcism comes from the depth of magic and superstition. The bible tells us to cast out the demon in the name of our Lord (we are not thus to utter His name so casually and so frequently so that in the end it loses its meaning and then its power, but we are to reserve as much as the utterance of the precious name of the Lord to only those precious and rare moments of critical engagements).

In exorcism, the protagonists are the expert (the one who exorcises) and a little impish really irritating demon (totally removed from his cohorts out to dislodge God from His throne). God is demoted and the exorciser is promoted. The expert need not be one who is a true child of God and the true child of God is also disqualified because he does not know how to work the magic formula. The bible on the other hand actually expects only the child of God in simple but dedicated prayer to be the one (only one qualified) to do battle with the devil.

We are to cast out demons not with a magic formula but with that familiarity that only children of God have, over the power of the Kingdom. Jesus said, all authority is given unto me, authority in heaven and on earth. Evangelism is not just about converting people to Christianity. It is also about taking over territories and defeating the enemy.

Power does not legitimize. Power always draws from authority. All authority has been given to Jesus alone. With that authority, the children of God now wields immense power as vice regents, surrogate rules of Christ on earth. It is important that Jesus says to us, that now we are children, God’s children, who can now wield the power coming from His authority.

There are rules and procedures admittedly in counseling about demonic possession but there never has been that thinking or belief that counseling moves towards ruling out psychological factors in order to discern fully the presence of cosmic adversaries. Counseling recognizes demonic possession but does not recognize that the real conflicts in this world is between power, rulers and principalities. Counseling today tends to deny the existence of that cosmic battle.

By focusing and highlighting non-spiritual forces, we have become blind to the struggle going around us, we have also trivialized the conflict as though it is just a matter of behavior and cognition, etc.

We can make counseling biblical first and foremost by recognizing that the greatest forces at work now, manifesting in psychopathologies and conflicts, are not flesh and blood. Demons and devils are the main adversaries in the war God is fighting so furiously today. We must teach our members who are in these conflicts that their enemy is not their wife or their husband or other. The enemy is not flesh and blood, not human beings.

Man can either deny this cosmic conflict or enter the fray with fear and trembling and know that no matter how small his arms maybe, no matter how powerless we may seem before the great enemy, our hands can quickly and so easily fold together in prayer, in the name of the Lord, and turn the tide where God desire it.

It is truly a mystery that we so feeble and frail can make a difference and it is so ironic that Christian counseling may have totally undermined that when the church became so secular and conformed to the ways of the world, by removing demons and devils from our spirituality.


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