Genesis 37:12–24; 1 Corinthians 1:20—31; Mark 1:14-28
“And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit … but Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him” (Mark 1:23, 25-26).
In more than three decades of ordained ministry, I’ve come into contact with evil spirits too many times. Not in dramatic, frightening scenarios as we see in movies these days, but in ordinary people who seem, without a doubt, to be influenced by an evil presence. I’ve experienced it so often that I’ve felt compelled to read and learn as much as I can so that, as a pastor, I could counsel and guide those who may be wrestling with such evil. And what have I learned?
The primary thing I’ve learned is that evil looks for an opening. Exorcists with many years of experience teach this one thing—don’t give evil an opening in your life! I share this with anyone and everyone who will listen, and especially with young people who are most vulnerable as they are drawn to the satanic and evil in books, movies, video games and other seemingly innocuous sources. For this reason, I wouldn’t allow a Ouija board into our home because this is just the kind of innocent-seeming game that can open one to evil.
Sadly, there are all too many invitations to evil in our world today. And just as sadly, our sinful human nature lets down its guard as we become intrigued with “the dark side.” So, we dabble in such things, thinking we are strong enough or faithful enough to keep from giving in to the evil among us, or within us. The best counsel is: Never give evil an opening! Teach children and youth to shun such things. Refuse to allow superstitious, pagan or supernatural influences into your home or life.
As Jesus fought against Satan in the wilderness for forty days and nights, let us fight against Satan and his evil during our Lenten journey in the wilderness. Let us fill our lives with God and His Word, so that we will remain closed to any sort of evil spirit or influence, open only to the Holy Spirit of God!
Prayer: O Lord our God, strengthen us with your Holy Spirit, that there be no room in our lives for any unclean spirit; for we ask it through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Ashes to Easter is written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel.
For more information, please refer to the Introduction to the Lenten Devotional Booklet.