From chapter 10 of Joy in our Weakness – a gift of Hope from the book of Revelation, by Marva Dawn, published by Eerdmans 2002 [revised edition].
One misunderstanding in faith these days, highlighted by the novels of Frank Peretti, is an overly simplistic notion that evil is caused by some sort of little demons (even if we don’t picture them with red suits and horns and flying around with pitchforks and spitting sulphur). On the other hand, we must not over-intellectualise the whole matter of evil and define Satan merely as the evil deeds of human beings.
The biblical picture takes a position between these two extremes and recognizes that there are myriads of forms and causes of evil and that there is a significant supernatural element. There are definitely powers of evil external to ourselves, but usually they make use of our own humanly sinful inclinations. No once can rightly say,’ the devil made me do it.’ The powers of evil certainly are constantly tempting us, but we ourselves and our failures of will are to blame if we give in to their temptations.
However, in distinct situations demonic influences more easily take control, and we must walk very carefully
if we are called to go into them. I highly respect former Senator Mark Hatfield, whose book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, very openly described the easy temptations of power in high governmental positions.
Certainly our nation immensely needs Christians in politics, but anyone who chooses to enter the higher echelons of power will probably discover there Satan’s throne.
And what about you? Perhaps you work in an office situation where everybody curses or cheats or is involved in sexual immorality. Or maybe the demonic influence is much more subtle – perhaps in the power plays office colleagues use constantly to manipulate each other. It is difficult to maintain one’s Christian integrity and witness in such an atmosphere.
Similarly, those challenged physically or mentally often encounter difficulty as they try to keep clinging to Christ in the constant discouragement of worsening handicaps. Illness and disability are certainly not God’s intention for human life, so we might also say that in our afflictions we can also recognize Satan’s dominion.
Yet the people of Pergamum [in Revelation] are praised. They have remained true in their circumstances. They have clung to the name of Christ, by whose power Satan’s thrones have already been cast down and exposed. Their faithfulness provides a model of the ability to continue in contexts largely overwhelmed by evil powers. The name of Christ enables His people to be true.