|Sharing the Gospel can sometimes lead the believer to strange places and expose him to bizarre happenings. While serving our Lord in northern Mexico some years ago, I had two opportunities to view firsthand some very weird goings-on.
The first incident involved a young mother of two small children. She was a recent convert to the Mexican form of Catholicism and very devoted to her new faith. Her husband, a travelling political hack, was not a good provider, so this young woman and her children were living with her widowed mother. The little family had limited financial resources, and had been experiencing hard times.
The mother, a friend of my wife, was overjoyed that her daughter had joined the Catholic Church. She was particularly thrilled that her daughter had become a "prophet," able to heal the sick and to see into the future. Mother saw this as certain evidence that her daughter was particularly favored of God Almighty. Her joy was increased by the grateful gifts and offerings of those "helped" by her daughter.
My wife and her sisters, also Mexican Catholics, were excited about young Iselda's election and powers. When they learned of this woman's alleged miraculous abilities, they invited her and her mother for a visit. My wife and her two sisters, Cristina and Irma, all were anxious that Iselda intercede for them before the Throne of God, and that she use her healing powers to cure a variety of medical complaints, real and imagined
When the visitors arrived, I was seated at the kitchen table, reading and occasionally exchanging a word or two with an adult niece. All the women, including my niece, took chairs in the kitchen and began chattering away, marveling at God's love. I elected to remain where I was, and continued my reading.
I had known Iselda since she was a small child. More recently, she had been my primary assistant as I traveled around the region teaching and preaching against the terrible practice of elective abortion. Her conversion to Catholicism surprised me, but her new role as prophet and healer surprised me even more.
Soon, the women were snatched up into a world of cliché pseudo-religious exclamations and prayers. Amens were shouted every few seconds, or so it seemed. The activity became more and more frenzied, as the women of my family vied with one other for the attention, prayers and ministrations of the modern day prophet. Pandemonium reigned
At last, I no longer could withhold myself from entering into this incredibly pagan gathering. I slammed my Bible down on the table and commanded all there to be silent. Until that moment, it had been as though I were not present in the room. Now, however, all present turned to me and speared me through and through with their eyes. There were a few muttered words, most of which I did not fully hear, but the five women stopped talking and were still as waxen figures.
Suddenly, Iselda literally jumped to her feet and began shouting strange "prophecies" of doom and condemnation, damning the little city of Nueva Rosita and all its inhabitants to the fiery pit. Her voice grew strident as she shouted out a litany of curses on the city, its populace, her neighbors and all who would not accept her as a prophet. I reminded Iselda that our Lord Jesus had told us the prophets had been silent from Malachi until His appearance. I added that the prophets pointed to the coming of Messiah and the Kingdom of God and that, through Christ's ministry the Kingdom is established. I read to her that all prophecy is inspired by God, and no man has the authority to speak God's oracles unless God has appointed him to be a prophet.
Iselda continued to screech out condemnation, now directed toward me. Closing the Bible, I offered a prayer for guidance and asked her who was speaking. Her reply surprised me. I shall never forget her words.
"Soy el espirito de Dios. I am the spirit of God," she screamed.
I told her that could not be, for she was not conducting herself in a godly manner. That her pronouncements, teaching and actions did not correspond to the God of Scripture or His messengers. She continued to scream invective at me, repeating over and again, "I am the spirit of God!" I looked around the kitchen and could see the others present were in a state of near panic. Thoroughly convinced this little woman was going to pour out God's divine wrath on us all.
I then asked Iselda to tell me who Jesus Christ is. She held to her shouts that she was the spirit of God. I insisted she respond to my questions concerning Jesus' role in the salvation of sinners. She would not mention the name of our Savior, but continued screaming and banging on the kitchen table with her tiny fists.
I again prayed to our Lord for His guidance and help in ending this demonic display and bringing Iselda to her senses. Armed with the full authority of the Gospel, I commanded her to immediately cease her abominable display and to be quiet. She continued her ranting. I commanded whatever was in her to release its hold on her and to let her be, calling upon the name of our Lord. She ceased battering the table and her shouting became more subdued. A little longer of the same, and she suddenly collapsed across the table, either unconscious or convincingly feigning unconsciousness.
I prayed for her and for all present, then told them to join me in saying the Lord's Prayer, the only non-Catholic prayer we all knew and they were willing to pray. The prayers ended, the women turned their attentions to Iselda, who soon came around. She claimed to have no recollection of the recent events, and added that she never has any memories of her "healing" sessions with those who seek her aid.
I ministered to as many as would remain long into the night.
The second event occurred in the same kitchen, but a few years later. I was sharing God's word with my niece, Susanna, who was thirsting for the water of life. My wife and the same two sisters had been in the living room, sharing their particular understanding of God's ways.
Apparently, the three matrons became more interested in what I was sharing with my niece than with their own conversation. They drifted into the kitchen and took chairs opposite where I was sitting. I do not recall what verses I was expounding on, but something apparently triggered a response in my wife and sisters-in-law.
As I talked with my niece, who was standing near me, Cristina threw back her head and laughed. One loud guffaw. That was all. I continued sharing with Suzy. Cristina threw back her head and laughed again. I decided to ignore her and continued directing my comments to my niece. The laughter continued, now raucous and frequent.
Then, my wife began to shout angrily, directing her nonspecific hostility toward me. The situation was becoming ludicrous. I pressed on with my efforts to open the Scriptures to a person eager to hear, as my wife berated me for no stated reason and Cristina laughed like an idiot.
Suddenly, Irma slammed her open hand down on the table top, creating a sound not unlike an exploding firecracker. She did this again and again. The scene was like something from Dante. I was trying to evangelize, to the accompaniment of shouted recrimination, maniacal laughter and repeated pounding on the tabletop.
Once again, I prayed for guidance. Calling upon the name of the Lord, I commanded the three seemingly mad women to immediately stop what they were doing. After a few repetitions of that command, all three grew quiet.
I prayed with them and teached on the Gospel of Jesus Christ long into the night.
Where these incidents of demonic possession? I don't know. They could just as easily have been manifestations of hysteria. What I do know is that many inexplicable things occurred when I was doing the Lord's work in Mexico.
Perhaps there is a lesson in this account. I find a parallel in the lives of my wife and her sisters in Christ's teaching as recorded in Scripture:
When Jesus spoke those words, He was not specifically addressing the behavior of three women in a Mexican kitchen. The Lord was talking to Israel which, of all the nations, had cleansed itself of idolatry. Compared to the rest of the world, Israel was like a house from which Beel-Zibbul and his companions had gone out. A house that had been swept clean of all the corruption and uncleanness of idolatry, and then re-decorated with all the trappings of Pharisaical self-righteousness. The house now looked pretty and clean, but it was in reality empty. God was not present and only He was strong enough to resist the return of the evil one.
Throughout all of Chapter 12, we read of the Pharisees' efforts to catch Jesus in violations of the Law and so destroy Him. It is here we read the words of our Lord as He indicts the Pharisees for having committed the unpardonable sin. It is here He charges Israel with being worse now than it was before she cleansed herself of idolatry and demon worship.
Israel's folly was that they had thought there was only one threat, one demon, to worry about -- Beel-Zibbul. With great care, the Jews had removed every trace of the demon. The Jews knew, however, that demons were only manifestations of demoniac power. They knew there was a kingdom of evil. Their house, their Israel, cleansed of all the trappings of paganism and decorated with the self-righteousness of Pharisaism -- but empty of God -- had become the perfect home for Satan. In such a place, who would suspect his evil presence had returned? But Satan, Beel-Zibbul, had returned and he had brought with him other evil spirits such as pride, unbelief and self-righteousness. With his return, the condition of Israel now was worse than it had been before when the evil one could be seen for what he was.
Jesus here was specifically addressing Israel, but the lesson is clear for all of us. In our unredeemed condition, we are a like a house occupied by a demon. We are corrupt and evil, utterly depraved. Then we find God, or think we do, and drive the demons from our hearts. For a time, we busy ourselves cleaning up our act, making the house lovely and clean as never before. In the process, we lose sight of the fact that the demon we drove away is not the only evil we need concern ourselves with. We begin to take pride in our "sanctity and righteousness." We begin to concentrate on the letter of the Law and not the intent. We lose sight of God, for our vision is clouded by our own puffed-up self-righteousness. The evil one has returned, and he has brought with him companions which combine to make our new condition worse than our former state -- for now we know of God and His will, yet we have raised up new idols to worship before Him.
When the Spanish conquerors reached Mexico, they discovered warlike nations that practiced idolatry, human sacrifice and cannibalism. The symbols of these terrible religions abounded in the newly discovered lands and the native peoples were loath to abandon their deeply-held beliefs. The representatives of the Roman Catholic Church flailed about, destroying temples and idols, killing those who would not turn aside from their pagan beliefs. In their search for a key which would open the gates and allow them access to the hearts of the American peoples they were subjugating, the priests and monks turned to an old Romish practice. They adjusted their Catholic doctrines, rituals and practices to make them fall more closely in line with those of the pagans they sought to convert to the RCC perversion of Christianity.
Before long, Roman saints replaced the demon gods of the Maya, the Aztecs and other native populations. The "bloodless sacrifice" of the Catholic Eucharist was substituted for the gory offerings to pagan deities. The mysterious and secret -- for they were performed in a "priestly language" (Latin) -- occupations of the vestmented Catholic priests seamlessly replaced similar activities once performed by blood-covered priests in the pagan temples. The chacmool upon which the still beating hearts of human sacrifices were offered to the demon gods became the altar upon which the Romish priest offered up the bread and wine which the Indians were told was the transubstantiated body and blood of Christ. The thurible and Roman incense replaced the censer and copal burned in the demon temples. Even the religious calendar was adapted to that of the bloody pagan religion.
So, as had done the Hebrew peoples, the native peoples of America - with considerable encouragement from Roman priests - cleansed their house of idols and demon gods. Like the Jews, they had a knowledge of true God, and for a time worshiped Him according to His will, as interpreted by the Roman Magisterium. Rules and ordinances multiplied. The Inquisition "purified" the church with fire and torment. Soon, man-made rules and measures of righteousness replaced even the corrupted Roman interpretation of the Word of God in the religious life of the Mexican people.
The demon had been driven out and their national house was clean, but God was not present. Before long, the demons of the ancient ways returned, and they brought with them the same deadly companions as Beel-Zibbul had brought with him when he returned to Israel. Knowing only the counterfeit Christ of the Roman Church and having no anchor in the Gospel, the people began to raise up false prophets and teachers and guides as they practiced a corrupted version of a corrupt religion. Is it any wonder that bizarre events such as I reported above are common occurrences in this religious land that thirsts for the Water of Life?
Did the Roman priests and monks deliver anyone from slavery to the demon gods of pre-Columbian times? I say no. I say they merely substituted the false Christ, phony saints, hollow idols and empty rituals of the Catholic church for those of Huitzilopochtli, Tonatzin and the other bloody gods of the ancient religion. The path to salvation lies through Jesus Christ, Who may be known through the Holy Bible, and not the false gods and doctrines of Rome. But don't believe me. Take down your Bible and discover the truth for yourself.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed [it] unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. ">(Romans 1:18-23)
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