Going Beyond a Demonic Obedience

The Israelites expressed their fear of hearing the voice of God directly, “Let us not again hear the voice of the Lord, our God, nor see this great fire any more lest we die.” God agrees and offers them an intermediary just like Moses, “A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen.”(Deut 18:15,16)

This intermediary is of course Jesus Christ, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”(1Tim 2:5) We know and believe that God unites us to Himself as His beloved children in and through Jesus Christ and speaks to us through Him. But one thing that we usually overlook is that, in and through Jesus Christ, we too can obey the Father out of love just like Jesus did. It is in Jesus alone that we grasp and gain access to the love behind the words of the Father to us.

To understand why this is last point about the mediation of Christ is important, let us reflect on Jesus’ encounter with the demoniac in the first chapter of St. Mark’s Gospel. Jesus spoke powerful words that stunned His audience, “The people were astonished because He taught them as one having authority and not as their scribes.”

His words also forced the demons in the congregation to manifest themselves. These demons knew Him, His holiness, and His power, “I know who you are – the Holy One of God.” But they did not and could not grasp the divine love that Jesus made present, a love that animates all His words and actions. They asked Him, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” Seeing Him only as one who had come to destroy them, they obeyed Him only because they were forced and compelled to do so. Demonic obedience is only out of force and it can never be motivated by love for God.  

In Jesus Christ we are not only brought into a loving relationship with God; but we are also loved and equipped to listen to Him and to obey Him out of love. He has not come to destroy us in any way but to reveal to us the love of the Father that sets us free and leads us to the abundant life in the Father, “I came that they may have life and to have it abundantly.”(Jn 10:10) This is the truth that Satan and his demons will try to take away from our minds and hearts at all cost.

The path to disobeying God begins with settling for an obedience out of force. Such forced obedience does not make us generous in anything; it only makes us mediocre and lazy. It is lifeless, joyless, and unfulfilling. It places the focus on us and our actions on not on the grace of God. It does not lead to inner freedom. It eventually ends in discouragement and complete abandonment of the spiritual life. This is why the demons tempt us to participate in their own demonic obedience as a first step to bring us to complete disobedience of God and His commandments.

This demonic obedience out of force is also deadly for us Christians because it rejects and refuses the goodness of God to us. When we reject or refuse this divine goodness, we also reject and refuse God’s power, wisdom, and mercy in our lives. Rejecting one of God’s attributes is to reject all of them altogether. This is why demonic obedience surely leaves us hopeless, afraid, deceived, and regretful.

My dear brothers and sisters, we have demons speaking to us today directly and indirectly through people who are knowingly or unknowingly doing the devil’s bidding. They are tempting us to abandon that loving obedience that should characterize us as God’s beloved children and settle for one that is grounded in force and compulsion.

How can we recognize the voice of such temptations in our world today? We hear the voice of such demons whenever there is a denial of the goodness of God towards us in His words or actions. Demons are speaking to us whenever we are told that we should think of some temporal benefit from sinning and disobeying God’s laws. We are listening to demons when we are told that we just cannot know what God wills for us and we cannot fulfill this divine will even if we know it. We are hearing the voice of such demons when we hear statements that claim the words of God, His commands, and His will for us are harmful for us. We are hearing the voice of demons when they leave us unnecessarily confused and bewildered about the exact meaning and implications of God’s clear words to us.

We can go beyond this demonic obedience by praying for and cultivating a truly discerning heart. This is a heart that is first of all grounded in God’s love for it. It is grateful to God for all things, especially for God revealing Himself to us in and through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is a heart that holds on tenaciously to God’s words with deep gratitude and appreciation like St. Peter did, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.”(Jn 6:68)

Secondly, such a heart desires to please God alone in all things and events. It is a heart that, completely focused on Christ, is also “anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord.” (1Cor 7:32) Such a heart is open to the words of Christ and ready to participate in His own loving obedience. It is also a heart that readily and vehemently rejects the words of demons that tempt it to embrace a forced obedience.

Jesus Christ, our only Mediator, is present in the Eucharist to give us life through His loving obedience and not to destroy us in any way. The Eucharist, Calvary on our altars, is the sacrament where we see the fullest expression of Christ’s wisdom, power and love for us. He wants to speak powerful words in our hearts and transform us completely by His power.

May Mama Mary form our hearts in the image of her Immaculate Heart so that we may go beyond that forced demonic obedience and become properly disposed for listening to God and obeying Him in love. Unless we go beyond demonic obedience out of force and compulsion, we just cannot grow in inner freedom, become generous, and have the joyful life that Jesus desires for each and every one of us through our free participation in His own loving obedience.  

Glory to Jesus!!! honor to Mary!!!

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Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV is a Roman Catholic Priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary currently on missionary assignment in the Philippines. He serves in the Congregations' Retreat Ministry and in the House of Formation for novices and theologians in Antipolo, Philippines. He blogs at  www.toquenchhisthirst.wordpress.com.

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