Based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Growing in Grace is a blog by Pastor Matthew Molesky. His posts explore the Bible, theology, ecclesiology, culture, books, family, and life.

Prisoners of War

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One day Jesus cast out a demon from a man who couldn’t speak, and when the demon was gone, the man began to speak. (Luke 11:14, New Living Translation)

This moment sheds light on what is real.

For what is real is that there are two kingdoms operating in a theatre of war that is our world: a kingdom of darkness, and the kingdom of light. And when Jesus entered into our world as the God-man, it meant the arrival of the kingdom of God in a whole new way. And part of how Jesus announced this arrival was by exerting his power over the armies of darkness. Displays of power that we describe as exorcisms.

You see, demons are the minions of the prince of the power of the air, known by his more common name: Satan. And these minions are not like those cute, yellow ones you've seen in the theatre recently. They are hungry, supernatural beings who feast on the souls of men, men who are prisoners of war, men who are lost, blinded and oppressed by the Devil, captive under his power.

And he doesn't want to let them go.

And when Jesus came into contact with lost people, he had compassion on them. He proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God with the aim to set them free. And sometimes, he would intervene in a far more direct way, exercising his power as King, and casting out the darkness.

Have you ever imagined what this moment was like, from the perspective of the unseen spirit-world?

C.S. Lewis did. And he wrote about it. He imagined a senior demon (Screwtape) writing to a new demon-in-training (Wormwood) in a very similar situation to the one we find in Luke 11:14ff. He writes how Wormwood has let a human slow slip through his fingers, from the kingdom of darkness, to the King of the kingdom of light:

My dear Wormwood,

You have let a soul slip through your fingers. The howl of sharpened famine for that loss re-echoes at this moment through all the levels of the Kingdom of Noise down to the very Throne itself. It makes me mad to think of it. How well I know what happened at the instant when they snatched him from you! There was a sudden clearing of his eyes (was there not?) as he saw you for the first time, and recognized the part you had had in him and knew that you had it no longer. Just think (and let it be the beginning of your agony) what he felt at that moment; as if a scab had fallen from an old sore, as if he were emerging from a hideous, shell-like gutter, as if he shuffled off for good and all a defiled, wet, clinging garment. By Hell, it is miserable enough to see them in their mortal days taking off dirtied and uncomfortable clothes and splashing in hot water and giving little grunts of pleasure - stretching their eased limbs. What, then, of this final stripping, this complete cleansing?

The more one thinks about it, the worse it becomes.

Defeated, out-manoeuvred fool! Did you mark how naturally - as if he'd been born for it - the earth-born vermin entered the new life? How all his doubts became, in the twinkling of an eye, ridiculous? I know what the creature was saying to itself!

"Yes. Of course. It always was like this. All horrors have followed the same course, getting worse and worse and forcing you into a kind of bottle-neck till, at the very moment when you thought you must be crushed, behold! you were out of the narrows and all was suddenly well. The extraction hurt more and more and then the tooth was out. The dream became a nightmare and then you woke. You die and die and then you are beyond death. How could I ever have doubted it?"

[Worse yet, the creature] saw Him. This animal, this thing begotten in a bed, could look on Him. What is blinding, suffocating fire to you, is now cool light to him, is clarity itself, and wears the form of a Man. You would like, if you could, to interpret the patient's prostration in the Presence, his self-abhorrence and utter knowledge of his sins (yes, Wormwood, a clearer knowledge even than yours) on the analogy of your own choking and paralyzing sensations when you encounter deadly air that breathes from the heart of Heaven. But it's all nonsense. Pains he may still have to encounter, but they embrace those pains.

They would not barter them for any earthly pleasure. All the delights of sense, or heart, or intellect, with which you could once have tempted him, even the delights of virtue itself, now seem to him in comparison but as the half nauseaous attractions of a raddled harlot would seem to a man who hears that his true beloved whom he has loved all his life and whom he had believed to be dead is alive and even now at his door. He is caught up into that world where pain and pleasure take on transfinite values and all our arithmetic is dismayed. Once more, the inexplicable meets us.

And now consider this - Jesus has invited you on this mission. He has enlisted you in the fight to free people to see him. Would you not desire to help those in the grip of the prince of darkness grim, where you once resided, break out to the free air of heaven's kingdom? To know an experience like the one you've read of above?

You can.

We can do this.

Let's make disciples of Jesus.

Yahweh of Heaven's Armies

This is How We Do It

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