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Can Demons Cause Sin? (Questions Teenagers Ask 2.)

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Part two of my series on Questions Teenagers Ask. All posts in this series are responses to questions I’ve had from young people written in the style I answered them.

Question: Can Demons Cause Sin?  // Is It Demons Fault When I Sin?

Answer:

Hmmm… great question. I think my answer is:

No, not directly – but they flippin don’t help!

Sin comes from us, pure and simple. We were made in the image of God under His authority and rule. We then decided that we knew better, disobeyed His commands, rebelled against Him and then rejected Him. Sin is the behaviour altering cancer that results.

It goes beyond just rebellion and disobedience. Sin is like a genetic disease, it gets passed down from that original mess-up to every human on the planet. Romans 3:10 says ‘there is no one righteous, not even one.” And we know it don’t we? How many times have we rejected God today? Have we today fallen short of showing Him the proper love & respect? Even the Apostle Paul himself struggled daily with sin: “I try to do good but sin is right there with me” (read Romans 7).

This is why it’s so important to get the virgin Birth right isn’t it? Jesus didn’t have a human father and so He didn’t inherit Sin the same way we do. He then did what those first humans (and us!) just couldn’t do – He lived obeying God. He also went that extra, massive and substitutionary step by dying in our place taking the punishment that we deserve for rejecting God.

But anyway I’m off topic… demons… hmmm. They are not sin themselves and they are not what makes us sin – but like I said they do not help at all! What do they do then? I think they whisper lies to us. They poke and taunt. They tell us all sorts of tempting falsities like, ‘God’s not listening,’ ‘This will be more fun,’ ‘You’re too sinful,’ ‘You’ve got to work harder to get God to like you,’ ‘Its better to be popular,’ ‘You smell bad,’ ‘Live a little’… etc.

Demons are also good at mimicking and playing pretend – they like to pretend to be God, or pretend to be the voice of reason, or our conscience, or the voice of an Angel. They are non of these things. We must continually pray that God’s voice will be clear to us and demon’s voices will be numb to us. We must train ourselves in relationship with God to hear His voice more acutely.

Demons are really not very helpful, but they don’t directly cause us to sin. They do however, use the sin in our own lives against us. We have the loaded gun in our hands; demons try to taunt us into using it.

Sin is always self-destructive and demons love destruction – particularly of those who love God. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis offers some great, tragic, and hillarious fictional insight into this.

This is probably the best way I can put it: Sin is the heavy weight pushing down on us – and demons are the ones jumping up & down on it, tickling us under the armpits. Little blighters.

Best defense: Keep praying, keep reading God’s Word so you know how to recognize His voice, worship Go every day, and enjoy the delights of being His!

 

More In The Series, ‘Questions Teens Ask’:

Part 1. Is Self Harm A Sin?
Part 3. Will Jesus Always Be Called ‘Jesus’?
Part 4. Are There People In Heaven & Hell Right Now?

Is Self Harm A Sin? (Questions Teenagers Ask 1.)

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Part one of my series on Questions Teenagers Ask. All posts in this series are responses to questions I’ve had from young people written in the style I answered them.

Question: Is Self Harm A Sin?
We’ll start with self harm because, well, it hurts! And we must look at it!

Answer:

This is a difficult one isn’t it? I want to look at this in a clear and reasonably frank way. There sometimes just isn’t time to dance around the edges of such pertinent problems. Hopefully that doesn’t make this read too dispassionately though!

So, is self harm a sin?

If you’re just talking about hurting yourself for the sake of damaging your body then 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 says “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”  So at simply at the level of ‘damaging your body’ it might be – but then using this logic so is playing rugby… so what’s the issue really?

I’ve known a few people – personal friends and youth group members – who have gone through self harm in one way or another. Self harm includes everything from fixating on negative thoughts, to dieting on coke and curly-wurleys, to passive or active self-inflicted injury, to suicide. It’s not pretty, its not simple and its not fun.

Lets just do some myth-busting to start with:

  • Self harm or injury is rarely attention seeking – a lot of the time no-one hears about it, sometimes the person themselves aren’t even aware that’s what it it
  • Self harm is not a sign of ‘demon possession’ (although it can be)
  • Self harm is not limited to the mentally ill

Some facts:

  • Self harm is really common among 15-19 year olds, and most obviously girls (although lads experience it in different and possibly more ‘acceptable’ ways)
  • Self harm tends to be a way of coping with a deeper problem/issue
  • Self harm can be habitual and deeply addictive. It can even train your body into releasing endorphins – thus continues after the underlying problem is solved

In my experience self harm tends to be motivated by one of two main things:

  1. It distracts away from emotional / mental / situational pain and confusion
  2. It appeases the idea of ‘I deserve to be punished’

Self harm can be accompanied by intense emotional feelings like anger, despair, guilt – or – can be accompanied by a total emotional detachment; feeling like you’re outside your body looking down on yourself. It often follows a serious personal trauma, but can also simply be a progressive response to a whole range of more ‘mundane’ things.

Therefore – It just ain’t one simple thing!

From a Christian perspective I’d say that the things that cause self harm, the depression that accompanies self harm, and the choices we make that lead to self harm will not be in heaven. This means they come – in some way – from sinful nature.

Now sinful nature is not the same as actively ‘sinning.’ The sinful nature is the disease within us we inherited from the fall that disconnects us from God. Sinning is acting on that nature. So because there is a level of choice involved in self harm, it can contain sin, and it does come from a sinful place. I wouldn’t however simply say that ‘self harm is a sin.’ It’s just not that simple! I’d rather say it’s a tragedy that needs God’s grace!

Self harm is obviously not God’s goal for the development of your life. Depression and despair, although definitely part of life, should not consume your life indefinitely. It’s not where God wants you to ultimately dwell. If this is something you or a friend struggles with then you should know that God has a plan for you; ‘for good and not for evil, to prosper and not to harm you’ (Jeremiah 29:11). God passionately loves you and He wants to see you set free from the ties that bind that lead you to harm yourself.

Therefore, what I would say is if you or a friend is struggling with self harm in any form or at any level there are three things you can do.

1st – Spend time with these following truths;
– God loves you unconditionally! You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139).
– When you trust in Jesus you are totally and completely not guilty – you are innocent, white, pure, & clean!
– God thinks you are beautiful.
– God has a plan to make you even more beautiful.
– It’s ok to feel despair and depression – and it’s ok to tell God all about it!

2nd – Read through the Psalms. Hear how many of them lament, and mourn, and rant, and pour out pain to God. Use them as your prayers to God. Don’t be afraid or feel guilty to tell God exactly how you feel. Let Him heal you through them.

3rd – Get some help. Like I said, this is more common than you think! There is no shame in admitting to an adult, teacher or counselor that self harm is part of your life. I strongly urge you to do this. Particularly if it has become habitual or addictive and you have no other outlet to deal with your underlying feelings. Please see someone!

Extras – go for long walks, write lots of stuff down, walk-rant-pray, take sharp objects out of your alone spaces, find a good book, watch a good movie, run places, eat lots of veg & drink lots of teas, go to coffee shops to read, spend more time with teddy bears, take up a random sport or language for a week, cut down on sugar, plan for the times you are most at risk of self harming and put something else in it’s place – like freerunning, or coffeeshopping… etc.

Hope this makes some sense.

*If you want to, contact me and I will put you in touch with a local counselor in your area. However please understand that I can’t ‘keep secrets’ and will recommend strongly that you see someone, and may get them to contact you.

 

More In The Series, ‘Questions Teens Ask’:

Part 2. Can Demon’s Cause Sin?
Part 3. Will Jesus Always Be Called ‘Jesus’?
Part 4. Are There People In Heaven & Hell Right Now?