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Spirit of Us

• Greg Boyd

This sermon addresses how crowds who are formed around evil agendas serve as seedbeds for Satan. This has been seen throughout history where one crowd sets itself up as possessing the solution at the expense of others. It is based on an “us” vs. “them” mentality. The modern malaise of polarization continues this tactic of the enemy, and as Kingdom people, we must recognize it for what it is and rise above it.

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In this passage, we read about those who “belong to Satan’s crowd.” This identifies people who are deceived by the enemy and are united together around an evil agenda in such a way that they attract Satan’s presence. As such they become “Satan’s crowd” and sometimes the evil can become so thick that it is tangible. This is illustrated in the book Shaking Hands with the Devil by Romeo Dellair. While working as a peacekeeper in Rwanda in the 1990s, Dellair saw school boys turn evil as they came under the influence of leaders of the Hutu tribe. He describes an encounter with three members of the Hutu tribe who had just massacred a church packed with Tutsi saying that:

… something happened that turned [these three men] into non-human things. I was not talking with humans. I literally was talking with evil personified….I was totally overcome by the evil…These three guys just brought evil into reality… The devil had come on earth and literally taken over. These three guys were the right hand people of Lucifer himself.

These young men were a part of a crowd that bought into an evil agenda that caused them to do things that they would never do individually.

The Apostle Paul wrote: “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger, and do not leave room for the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27). Being angry is not the problem. The issue occurs when we hold on to that anger and give the enemy a foothold. When multiple individuals have made room for the devil by holding on to their anger and then come together, the influence of the demonic is multiplied. The experience of Nazi Germany is a concrete example of this. Nazism was fed through crowd frenzy that entrapped people in deception and violence. Carl Jung wrote that with the rise of Nazism, the ancient god named Wotan awakened “like an extinct volcano.” There was a descending of an evil presence amongst the masses that drew rational Germans to commit to the Nazi plan.

These examples of how the enemy comes upon a crowd provide insight into what Satan looks like. While we might think of Satan in terms of a cartoon character, he looks like the spirit of Wotan who stirred up Nazi Germany to massacre Jews. It looks like the spirit that came upon those boys who had killed their enemy in that Rwandan church.

We now see this occurring in the polarization of factions that drive people to set themselves against others they disagree with. They root themselves in their enclaves while they turn ‘others’ into enemies. Everything is turned into Us vs. Them. And this is where the enemy gets involved. Anytime there is one group that is set up to make others into an enemy, the power of Satan is involved. Whenever you love your ideas more than you love people, you are on the road to evil. Satan deceives us by convincing us that other people are the problem.

We must remember two things. First, the kingdom of God is an “us” without a “them.” We are not to resent, despise, objectify or hate another human being. Second, be careful who you “us” with. We must ask if any “us” that we belong to has an element of turning others into a “them.”

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Topics: Conflict, Politics, Spiritual Warfare

Sermon Series: Dear Church

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The MuseCast: February 20

Focus Scripture:

  • Revelation 2:8-11

    Write this to Smyrna, to the Angel of the church. The Beginning and Ending, the First and Final One, the Once Dead and Then Come Alive, speaks: “I can see your pain and poverty—constant pain, dire poverty—but I also see your wealth. And I hear the lie in the claims of those who pretend to be good Jews, who in fact belong to Satan’s crowd. Fear nothing in the things you’re about to suffer—but stay on guard! Fear nothing! The Devil is about to throw you in jail for a time of testing—ten days. It won’t last forever. Don’t quit, even if it costs you your life. Stay there believing. I have a Life-Crown sized and ready for you. Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches. Christ-conquerors are safe from Devil-death.”

For Further Reading:

Shake Hands With the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda by Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire

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