The world seems to be going crazy. Evil is on the march. Might there be supernatural forces at work?

Karl Payne, author of “Spiritual Warfare: Christians, Demonization and Deliverance,” is convinced there are. In a recent interview on “Hagmann & Hagmann,” the former chaplain for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks explained why this time in history is so ominous.

“Just the whole thing with Satanism, occultism, demonism, it is so much more blatant … my goodness, just in the last decade even, you can’t even turn on the TV and not see this stuff,” he observed.

“And then we kind of wonder: ‘Why are people acting more bizarre? Why do they not value life?’ And I say it’s because they watch people get killed on videos all day long and on TV programs all day long and they glamorize that kind of stuff. And no one’s got the guts [to turn it off], including many of our parents, because they don’t want their kids to feel left out especially if they’re Christians. ‘We wouldn’t want them to feel odd, so let them watch this nonsense.'”

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Payne argues it is time for Christians to start taking a stand against demonic influences in the culture by refusing to let their children consume spiritually destructive material. More importantly, he argues, it’s time for adult Christians to hold themselves to the same standard.

“I still believe that as a man thinks in his mind … so is he,” the pastor said. “The things I think about are the things sooner or later I start thinking are more reasonable. And so, yes, I think there’s a real strong correlation between the explosion of celebrating the occult, and demonism, and Satanism … and people where you really have to ask if they even have morals.

“It can’t all be blamed on demons … but a good part of it, you know we’ve opened a door to this, and we’re just kind of amused with it I guess. But I’m not amused. The people I work with are not amused.”

Even Christians, argued Payne, often dismiss the topic of spiritual warfare and the reality of the demonic. Payne, pastor of leadership development and Christian education at Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, Washington, said that during his own Christian education the subject was “besmirched.”

“It was just something we were taught to ignore, ridicule at worst, ignore at best,” he recalled. “What we were never trained to do is how to identify what is real and what isn’t about spiritual warfare.”

However, things have changed.

“Many of those same graduate schools have been inviting me back, saying, ‘We laughed at this when you were here [but] we would really like some input.'”

Teaching Christians about the realities of spiritual warfare is deeply important to Payne. The necessity of publishing his book on the issue was brought home to him during a health scare.

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Payne recounted how doctors thought he had cancer and might only have a few years to live. As he thought about what he wished he had accomplished, at the top of his list was releasing his book on spiritual warfare.

“I put that on kind of a high priority and turns out I didn’t have the cancer they thought I had,” he remembered. “In other words, it wasn’t something I tried to promote or push. I probably tried to ignore it like a lot of folks in my generation. But it’s real.

“And I tried to write it in such a way where I say, you don’t need me, you don’t need an umbilical cord stuck to me, the same God that lives in me lives in you, you just need a little bit of an understanding about how the whole thing works, how the demonic works. And then learning how to fight instead of run. Learning how to stand up instead of roll over.”

Payne said it takes discernment to understand whether or not a person’s problem is demonic, instead of physiologically or mentally oriented. He recognizes many people mock even the possibility the supernatural exists.

“When you’re in a world where we are told we’re empiricists, we’re rationalists, if you can’t put it in a tube and test it through the senses, it’s not real, it’s not meaningful, then when you start talking about anything supernatural or paranormal, whether it’s God or Satan or demons or angels, they just roll the eyes,” he said.

Payne says the inability of Christians to call supernatural evil for what it is comes from fear of mockery or social exclusion.

“Perfect love is supposed to cast out fear,” he noted, citing the Bible. “So why do you allow yourself to be controlled by fear?”

Instead, Payne urges Christians to educate themselves on the issue.

“When someone walks into your front room demonized, and you don’t have a clue, and you watch them on your floor, contorted, foam coming out of their mouth, screaming their name is something it isn’t, you can just say, ‘I just refuse to recognize this because I wouldn’t want someone to think I’m a whack if this is really going on.'”

Not only does Payne urge Christians to recognize the reality of demonization, he urges them to act to make sure demons and evil thoughts can’t find an open door. This means looking to a person’s own sins.

“When you don’t deal with sin … you potentially open up places of control to … the devil,” he said. “You play games long enough and you may find out that you’ve had a door kicked open. And all of a sudden it’s like you had to think about doing the wrong stuff, now I just kind of do it.”

Instead of dwelling on evil, Payne says Christians should actively meditate on what is good and true.

“One should start thinking on the things that are godly,” he said. “Start thinking the things Christ would think. I don’t care what the world thinks. People who love this world are going to burn like a Jimmy Dean pure pork sausage in hell one day if they don’t get things right, even if they feel good about what they were doing.

“So I want to see things the way Jesus sees them. I think about things the way Jesus did. … If I know my thinking is wrong, start challenging it and start replacing it with what biblically is true.”

Finally, Payne said, Christians should not overestimate the power of demons – and remember only they can open the doors to demonization.

“Demons are squatters, they’re created,” he said. “God is the Creator, He’s the owner. Demons are simply part of His creation, they’re squatters. But if you throw rooms open and doors open to squatters, it’s quite naïve to think they’re not going to say, ‘Hey, if you don’t mind me messing around with your life, I’m going to mess around with your life. Because if I can keep you distracted, I can’t keep you out of heaven but at least I can keep you from helping anyone else get there.'”

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