Demon Possession in the Bible
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Today's question says, "I'm wondering how to handle demon possession when reading the Bible to my kids ages six and three. I catch myself skipping over those passages because I don't want to scare them. I don't want to sanitize scripture, but I'm not sure at what age kids are ready to handle this content."
Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.
Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz and I'm thrilled you join me for another episode today. Now, today's question says, "hi Elizabeth. I'm wondering how to handle demon possession when reading the Bible to my kids ages six and three and a half. I catch myself skipping over those passages because I don't want to scare them. I don't want to sanitize scripture, as you say, but I'm not sure at what age kids are ready to handle this content." Another excellent question. How do we make sure that what we're doing with our children as we're reading scripture is developmentally appropriate and that's what we're going to dive down deep into today.
But before we do that, if you have a question that you would like us to answer on a future Foundation Worldview Podcast, you can submit that question by going to FoundationWorldview.com/podcast. And if you found our podcast content beneficial, we ask that you would consider liking subscribing and writing a review just so that it helps the algorithm so that more people can find this content and we can equip more children to understand the truth of the biblical worldview.
Now today as we consider this question, what is developmentally appropriate, especially as this question talks about reading through passages about demon possession in scripture, the first thing that I think we should consider is the way in which we present things to the children that God has placed in our care because how we present things to our kids has a tremendous impact on how that information is received.
I think an amazing example of this, I read this a while ago in Rosaria Butterfield's book, Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert. She told this story about how her family had taken in a foster child and how when the foster child came to them, he didn't speak at all. He had been through so much trauma, they didn't think he could speak, but just after a few days in their household of being loved by them and cared by them how he started to speak and he was really just blossoming and how her two children that she still had, or I think three children that she still had in the home really connected with him were several days into the placement they were called by the agency that had placed the child in their care to say that he was going to be taken out of their care and moved into another home with one of his siblings.
And Rosaria shared just how heartbroken she was that she knew that this child might feel sad. She knew her kids were going to be heartbroken, and I think in this situation, most people would've taken the child to sit down on the sofa and said, you're not going to be with us any longer. We really love you. We're praying for you. But the way that she presented this information to the child, I think it sounds like had such a tremendous impact on his view of this, that rather than sitting him down and saying, "you're no longer going to be with us, we're miss you." She focused on one of the really positive things that he was going to be placed in a home with his biological brother. So what she did instead was she called him in and said, "do you want to see your brother and the child?"
She said, the child's face just lit up, and he said, "yes, yes." And so she just told them, "you're going to going to see your brother. You're going to get to be with your brother." As she was packing up the clothes that they had gotten for him and all the rest of the things that they had gotten during that week, she just kept talking about his brother, and that really impacted the way this little boy saw what could have been a very traumatic replacement into a different family. And so the way that we present things to our children has such a huge impact on them.
So we need to think through how are we presenting different passages of scripture? How are we presenting different difficult things? Now, when it comes specifically to this topic of demon possession, before we talk to our kids about this before we present them with scripture that includes this, we need to make sure that we have a clear understanding of what the Bible does and does not say about demonic possession.
So the first thing as we read through scripture, it's very clear that demon possession is real. This is not the stuff of just horror stories, but demon possession is real. It's also made clear in scripture that it's not something that's just an everyday occurrence. We're not walking around looking for who is demon possessed? Am I demon possessed? It's a real thing, but it's not something that affects everyone in the population, so we need to just make sure we have this biblical understanding of it. Also, as we read through scripture, it really appears that demon possession was more prevalent during the ministry of Jesus than at any other point throughout Bible history. As we're reading through the Old Testament, we don't hear a whole lot about demon possession. Even as we're reading through the book of Acts and as we're reading through the epistles, we hear a little bit in the book of Acts about people that were possessed by demons, but we don't hear quite as much as we hear in the gospels. So that's something else that's presented in scripture.
Another thing that scripture makes clear is that Jesus has power over demons. That Jesus' followers are not to fear demons because it's not that there is these spiritual beings that somehow are rivaling God's power, but that Jesus has power over the spiritual forces of darkness that greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world. And so this makes clear that we are to fear God, not demons. So we're not to fear demons. We need to have an understanding that they're real, that there are spiritual forces of darkness, that demon possession is a real thing, but that we're not to fear it because we are to fear God. God is who we are to fear. Now for a more thorough treatment on just this topic of how do we present different things, especially different passages that are difficult in scripture, I highly recommend you check out a webinar that I did a while back called Making the Bible More Kid Friendly?, where we talk about how to present these things to our kids, and that's an hour long webinar so we go on in a lot more depth.
Also, just so you know, that title does have a question mark at the end of it, making the Bible more kid-friendly question mark because every time we advertise it on social media, we get lots of very intense comments about how the Bible doesn't need to be made anymore kid friendly, and we totally agree because that's what I say in that webinar. It's just people commenting without ever having watched it. So highly recommend that you check that out just for a more thorough treatment on how we present different things to our kids.
Another thing to make sure that we're focusing on as we read these passages of scripture, I would say I think a three-year-old, unless you have a three-year-old that struggles highly with anxiety or there's some sort of other emotional difficulty or trauma, I think even at three you can be reading passages about demon possession with kids.
We're not going to focus on it, we're not going to sit down and here's our daily demon possession reading, but just as we're reading through the gospels or the book of Acts that these are things that come up and when they come up, what we're going to focus on is Jesus having power over demons that, oh my goodness, isn't this amazing this man or this boy or this girl or this woman their whole life, they were possessed by this demon and Jesus came and he cast that demon out. So who is more powerful that demon or Jesus? That's right, Jesus is and focus on God's goodness, how good God is. Now you depending on the children that God has placed in your care, some kids are going to be more curious about this if they're obsessed with demon possession or they're going to want to focus on it.
That's something we're going to want to address, and we're going to say, "you know what? The Bible tells us a little bit about this, but the Bible doesn't focus a whole ton on people being possessed by demons. So if the Bible doesn't focus a whole ton on that, do you think we should focus a whole lot on that? No. You know what? We're going to read about it in scripture and we're going to say yes. Isn't it so great that God has power over demons, but we're not going to focus on it too much."
And if your kids ask you a question, if they ask you questions and you just don't know, I think we have this false idea as adults that if we don't have an answer to every one of our kids' questions about the Bible, that somehow they're not going to believe it's true and they're going to walk away from the faith where I think it's just the opposite. I think if we have an answer every single time that's going to give them the false impression that they have to know every single thing about the Bible before they can believe it's true. Where if we say, "you know what? That is a great question. I have never thought about that before. You know what? I need a little bit more time to think about that before we talk about that. Is that okay, if you give mommy or daddy" or whoever, whatever your relationship is to that child, "is it okay if you give me a few more days to think about that so that you," you've affirmed that their question is good, that it's important that they've even thought of a question you've never thought about and that you don't know that you need a little bit more time? If you're working with kids that are six on up, you know can really then model for them how to find the answer for that question.
If you're not sure, a great website that I recommend that you go to is GotQuestions.org. They have wonderful, solid biblical responses to many, many, many, many. It's probably tens of thousands of questions on their website, and so that's a great place to go. You can even just Google, you can Google your question and then at the end of it, put got questions and whatever article that they have on that will pop up, you can go to their website, use their search engine. Also, if you're familiar with the Bible Thinker Ministry of Mike Winger on the Bible Thinker website, you can do a search like for a certain topic and all of the clips where Pastor Mike has addressed that topic will pop up, so teaching our kids to use these resources, teaching them to how to go on blue letter Bible and look up a commentary on a certain passage that's way more valuable.
Teaching them how to seek out solid biblical answers to tough questions is way more valuable than having the answer to every single question because if we show them how to seek out answers in a biblical sound way, that's going to be preparing them for all the questions that they have in life where if we just have an answer to every single one of their questions, that's going to be creating dependence on us and that's not what we want. We don't want our kids to be dependent on us. We want to equip them to be able to seek out answers to their questions.
Now again, I know some people might be scared to focus on these passages to read through passages of demonic oppression or violence or different things with their kids because of the questions that they're going to ask. Now, if you have a child that's just going to ask lots of questions about demonic possession or something else difficult, continue to put the focus back on God and his power and his goodness specifically as we're thinking of this topic of demonic possession.
I think a great passage of scripture we could take kids to if they are overly focused on this is 1 John chapter 4, the first four verses, John rights, "beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they're from God. For many false prophets have gone out into the world by this, the spirit of God, every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the anti-christ, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them. For he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." Great passage that we can just take our kids to. Okay, are we going to focus on this concept? No, because who is greater? God is greater and he's who we're going to focus on. We're going to focus on who God is, his grand plan and how he wants us to live.
Now, if you're interested in just immersing your kids in scripture in a way that they're not going to be dependent on you, but you're actually equipping them to read, interpret, and apply scripture on their own, I highly recommend you check out our Studying the Bible Curriculum because that's exactly what we do in that these materials are unique. They're not like anything else that's available for children because most things that are available for children or even for adults is just let's go through this specific book of the Bible or let's go through these specific verses, or let's focus on this topic and there's a time and a place for those things and those can be really good, but there's no other materials out there that actually equip kids to read, interpret, and apply scripture on their own so that they are the ones that are digging into God's word that they don't need a Bible teacher. They don't need an outline. They don't need a Bible study book. They don't need a pastor. They don't need a sermon. They don't need a YouTube video, but they're actually equipped to dive down deep into scripture on their own. Not that any of those things are bad, okay? Sermons and pastors and YouTube videos and Bible studies and different things like that can be great supplementary resources, but we need to make sure that we and our children are equipped to dive down deep into God's word anytime, any place, any verse.
Also, if you have really little kids materials that we have coming out that will be coming out, Lord willing, in the summer of 2023, is an Attributes of God Curriculum for children ages four to seven or eight, where they're going to be actually looking at who is God as he is presented in scripture, not what we feel like, not what we want him to be, but who is God so that they can get a biblical reality based view of God and then understand life and the world around them through that lens.
I hope this content has been beneficial as you just think through how can we take our children through some of the more difficult passages in scripture?
Well, that's a wrap for this episode, but as always, my prayer for you as we leave this time together is that God would richly bless you as you continue to faithfully disciple the children He's placed in your care. I'll see you next time.
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