Sunday, June 7, 2015

Things Buffy Got Right: Demonic Deception

Demons are deceivers.

Whether we're talking about Willow's online love interested in "I, Robot... You, Jane" or the offer of fruit in the Garden (price: one soul), demons are experts at telling us what we want to hear. The world, the flesh, and the devil are the three sources of temptation we have to face; we forget too easily that last one, while they remember the first two and use them. "What will it hurt?" (Why would they tell you the answer to that?) "No one will know." (God will. Your guardian angel will. You will.) "God doesn't really mean it; why would he want you to be unhappy?" (God doesn't want you unhappy, but the demon does. Whatever they're offering won't bring you joy, especially not in the long run.)

Often, we don't know a demon is influencing us. The information we get may seem to come from a trustworthy source, like Halfrek's school counselor persona, or even from ourself - our intuition, perhaps. Xander demonstrates the latter literally in "Hell's Bells", taking bad advice from his "future self" and calling off his wedding.

Even when we know the source is evil, or at least strongly suspect it, its difficult to ignore. Why? Are we all crazy? We know something is evil, yet we do it anyway. Even knowing that "the First Evil" is talking to us, knowing that we can't trust a word it says, we feel doubt. Angel felt it on the streets in "Amends", nearly driven to suicide. The potentials feel it in the Summers house, near the end of season seven. We know right and wrong - inherently, naturally. To steer us from that, we must first doubt our internal compass, and doubt God's love and forgiveness. The enemy knows this and knows it must cast that doubt.

So, how do we resist? Paul gives us some suggestions in his letter to the Hebrews: "Therefore, I tell you that nobody speaking by the spirit of God says, “Jesus be accursed.” And no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the holy Spirit." (1 Cor 12:3)  If we say something, or do something, against Jesus, there cannot be the spirit of God behind it. There could be, then, a spirit against Jesus behind it, at least in part. Further, someone speaking without the Holy Spirit cannot proclaim Jesus is Lord.  There are Godly spirits with us as well, to help guide us and protect us. Paul writes to the Hebrews: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.: (Heb 12:1-2a)

Somewhere along the way, many of us have lost sight of an important truth - the reality of evil. Evil has become something that you encounter face-to-face in a television program, not in real life. But demons are real, and they are deceivers. To overcome them, we must take St. Paul's advice: rid ourselves of sin, run away from their influence and toward Jesus. We must remember the saints and angels that support us and use their intercession and guidance. In that way, we can avoid the deceptions that would point us off the path.

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