“Your Word Is Truth”
How Spirits Influence Mankind
A YOUNG husband, a member of a family of spiritists in New York city, was led to the roof of his four-story apartment building by spirit voices. There they urged that he throw himself down to the street. This he did, leaving behind a young widow and children. The spiritist’s family told the young widow that her husband was now sad and lonely and crying; so she was thinking of also committing suicide in order to be with him. However, she changed her mind when she learned from one of Jehovah’s witnesses the truth about spirit voices.
Just what is the truth about these wicked spirits?
The only place we can get a reliable answer to that question is in the Bible. It makes clear that wicked invisible intelligent spirits truly do exist. One of these, Satan the Devil, tempted Jesus the Son of God. That there are many others besides him is apparent from the fact that Satan is called “Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons” and that he “and his angels” battled with Michael and his angels.—Matt. 4:1-10; 12:24-27; Rev. 12:7-9.
Did God create the Devil and his demons? No, for all God’s work is perfect. (Deut. 32:4) The truth of the matter is that one of God’s perfect spirit creatures allowed pride and ambition to make him a rebel and an opposer of God, for which reason the Bible refers to him as “the great dragon . . . the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan.”—1 Tim. 3:6; Rev. 12:9.
Other angels joined Satan in his rebellion, thereby making themselves demons, something that the Bible shows occurred before the flood of Noah’s day. Certain angels left their heavenly estate, taking human forms so as to be able to enjoy the pleasures of cohabiting with human women. These demons and their offspring were responsible for the wickedness and violence that marked the antediluvian world.—Gen. 6:1-5; 1 Pet. 3:19, 20; 2 Pet. 2:4.
What we are particularly interested in is how these wicked spirits have influenced mankind. One way has been by taking possession of humans, of which many examples are given in the Christian Greek Scriptures. They have caused persons to become blind, dumb, to have convulsions, act insane and to possess superhuman strength.—Matt. 9:32; 12:22; Luke 8:26-35; 9:38-42; Acts 19:16.
Another way in which they influence humans is by inducing them to take a selfish and wicked course of action. This is what the Devil did in the first place with Eve. (Gen. 3:1-5) Thus also we read that “Satan entered into Judas,” influencing Judas to betray his Master, Jesus. (Luke 22:3) Likewise Satan influenced Ananias and his wife to pursue a hypocritical course.—Acts 5:3-9.
In Okinawa, in recent times, a very sick woman went to a spirit medium, known in that land as a Uta, for help. She was told by the Uta that her dead ancestors a few generations back had caused her sickness by bringing a curse upon her. To amend this curse the woman was commanded to bring offerings and money to the Uta, the spirit medium. She did this conscientiously for two years, but instead of her health’s improving it got worse. Then one day she came in touch with Jehovah’s witnesses, who showed her the truth from God’s Word. Today she worships only Jehovah as God, and her health is such that she can preach full time.
A Senegalese professional dancer who was involved in spiritism visited a sorcerer almost daily. When first she began to study the Bible with one of Jehovah’s witnesses she avoided looking directly into the eyes of her Christian teacher and would always mechanically read the answers from the book. Clearly there was something inhibiting her as she was a well-educated woman. One week a remarkable and almost unbelievable change came over her. She began answering the questions spontaneously and to the point, manifesting joy and enthusiasm. What brought about the change? She explained:
“After prayer and serious meditation I made my decision to break away from spiritism for good. I threw out all the fetishes, lotions and charms and so cleaned my home of demon influence. And for the first time in my life I feel free, yes, free, happy and secure.”
There are still other ways in which demons today are influencing humans. Judging by the mess the world is in, there can be little doubt that unseen forces are frustrating the noble efforts of well-meaning men to improve matters. This is exactly what the Bible states is the case. Thus we read that Satan the Devil is the one that “now operates in the sons of disobedience,” that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one,” Satan the Devil, and that he is “misleading the entire inhabited earth,” having great wrath.—Eph. 2:2; 1 John 5:19; Rev. 12:9.
Because of this ability of Satan and his demons to influence humans, Christians are warned: “Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against . . . the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces.”—Eph. 6:11, 12.
But what about good angelic spirits? Do these also influence humans? Yes, they do, and that for good, even as the Bible indicates. Concerning the help that these give God’s Christian servants the inspired apostle Paul stated: “Are they not all spirits for public service, sent forth to minister for those who are going to inherit salvation?”—Heb. 1:14; Ps. 34:7.
However, since today it is not God’s will for spirits to communicate directly with humans, much less to impersonate dead ancestors, their manner of influencing humans takes a measure of faith to appreciate. For example, time and again lovers of truth have had their prayers to God for help to understand his Word answered in a matter of minutes, hours or a few days by one of his Christian witnesses calling upon them. And, in turn, these Witnesses would note that there was something unusual about their happening to call at a certain home, that something seemed to impel them to do so when they had not planned to. The Bible, at Revelation 14:9-11, Matthew 25:31, 32 and elsewhere, shows that the angels definitely have a hand in this work of spreading the good news. Such angelic influence, however, does not operate apart from God’s Word, his holy spirit and the human channel that he is using.—Matt. 24:45-47.
Yes, there is sound basis for accepting the Bible’s testimony regarding how spirits, both good and bad, can and do influence humankind. How important, therefore, for all who want to do what is right, to be on guard against wicked spirits and to leave themselves open to the influence of good spirits by prayer, by study of God’s Word and by association with God’s people.