Romans 10: 9 because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.
This passage brought back some memories from my past. Some years ago I served a church in the inner city of San Antonio, a place of significant poverty, addiction, violence, homelessness, and so on. One of the outreach ministries of the church was to hold worship under a freeway downtown on Saturday mornings and pray with people who were open to it. Some of the men in our church eventually started having bible studies there on Saturday nights, inviting those hanging out there to join. In retrospect it was a dangerous thing to do, but it was also very fruitful.
Part of that ministry experience was encountering demonic activity. Some charismatic Christians taught us how to navigate these encounters, praying for people to be freed from demons and so on. This was definitely outside the box for a Lutheran pastor. One of the things I learned is that demons know scripture well, can often quote it chapter and verse. They would present themselves as eager participants in the bible study, but then would be disruptive to the point of cutting off the actual study of the bible and/or prayer.
One of the tricky dynamics was telling the difference between a disruptive person who was genuinely interested in being with us, but was suffering from mental illness (a common phenomenon) – or if a demon was working through someone to sabotage our ministry by making it difficult for anyone to study or pray. We learned something very helpful along the way.
While a demon might appear interested, the demon would refuse to say the words “Jesus is Lord”. Seriously. It was fascinating to confront a demon that, once revealed, would change demeanor – from eager to openly hostile. They might also change their tone of voice to something more guttural and menacing. Sometimes such a person would leave the area. Other times we would pray for the demon to come out. Sometimes multiple demons would come out over a long period of time. It was exhausting.
“If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Lord, let it be so. Amen.