2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (ESV) So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
When a person sincerely desires to know God and do His will, that person will oftentimes begin to embark on a journey of seeking after God and growing in intimacy with Him. In the beginning, the devotee that seeks God with their whole heart will experience increasing periods of ecstasy (or rapture) during times of prayer, Scripture reading and/or praising God. Some refer to these first experiences as the beginning of”God Consciousness” or “Union with God.”
A person does not have to be a natural-born “mystic” in order to “experience” God beyond our rational capabilities. When a person jumps the proverbial nest of intellectual religion in order to immerse themselves in the vast presence of God- that person will indeed experience God in unimaginable ways. God will respect the fears and doubts of persons who desire to believe in God from an impersonal point of view… but the Supreme PERSONALITY of the Godhead is a person who desires to have an experiential relationship with his servants. The promise is clear- Jeremiah 29:13 says:
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
If you seek God with all of your heart by keeping your mind always engaged in worshiping Him, then your spiritual life will begin to bud and the flowers of your spirit will begin to open towards the heavens. A time will come when you will begin to “feel” God’s presence around you and the Holy Spirit of God speaking in your heart and directing your path.
I can personally tell you that there is nothing sweeter in life than to become conscious of God’s presence and attention. Nothing more loving…nothing more overwhelming.
But there is a second stage to becoming “spiritually sensitive.”
When a person learns to become conscious of God and continues to grow in love towards Him, then that person will also become conscious of Angelic presences or energies that enter a room or fly past the person. Sometimes a devotee will feel as if a presence is watching him or as if a presence with a different “air pressure” stands by his side or is very close. It is important to note that not all Angelic beings are good. Among them there are many bad spirits that hate righteousness and who desire the destruction of the devotee.
Their presence is usually accompanied by fear and intimidation. Demonic spirits are nagging, compulsive entities, who although espouse a high degree of intelligence, they oftentimes lack the ability to reason.
According to Patristic teaching, most demons are the bodiless souls of those who drowned as a result of the flood during Noah’s time. They are the children of the Angels who transgressed their assigned posts (see Jude 6) and had intercourse with women. (see 2 Peter 3:18-20; Genesis 6:1-4)
For those who are uninitiated into the Christian mysteries, a good place to start is by reading St. Justin Martyr’s Second Apology, chapter 5, titled: How the Angels Transgressed. There are many other Patristic resources before Christian theologians began to propose alternate mental speculations- such as St. Augustine’s proposition that the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 were the descendants of Seth, while the “sons of Man” were the descendants of Cain. (See St. Augustine’s City of God, Book 15, Chapter 22)
But regardless of what demons are we know two things about them:
1. They are evil. and
2. God has total control over them and He oftentimes uses them in order to train His servants.
1 Peter 2:19 says: For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are CONSCIOUS OF GOD.
And that is exactly the point. When a servant of God begins to receive special experiences and to be used by God in a special way…God will oftentimes send a “Messenger of Satan” (the word Angel means “Messenger”) for two reasons:
- There is no true friendship unless some of the burdens are shared. Anyone who wants to be a “friend of God,” will necessarily have to experience some of the battles of righteousness against unrighteousness. If you are on God’s side- you WILL get attacked by those spirits that are constantly at war with God.
- Sometimes when God gives us special experiences, we begin to feel as if we were “special.” This feeling leads to PRIDE- which is one of the most abominable sins that a person can commit. (See Luke 18: 9-14) Pride makes us conscious of ourselves and our delusions of grandeur… So God sends demons to buffet (or smack) us so that we seek after God and become conscious of Him AND HIM ALONE.
St. John Chrysostom (4th Century) once said the following:
God has left the Devil to remain here in order that he might make you stronger; in order that he might make the athlete more admirable; in order that the contests may be greater. When therefore anyone asks: ‘Why has God left the Devil here?’ say to him: ‘because the Devil not only cannot harm the wary and the heedful, but PROFITS them; not due to his own purpose (for his purpose is evil) but to the COURAGE displayed by those who have used wickedness rightly. (Homily III, Resisting The Temptations of The Devil, I.2)
When a person wants to come close to God, experiences with demons are inevitable. But God will use them strategically in order so that our resolve to seek after God will become more resilient and steadfast.
The axiom: “No Pain No Gain” is just as true, or even more, in the spirit-realm.