If in fact there is an angelic and demonic realm at work, what does this tell us about God and the nature of the Universe? It tells me that some of our struggles are beyond human grasp. There is a cosmic struggle that has an affect on our existence.
The apostle Paul put it this way:
Physical diseases have flesh and blood realities. They are often explainable and indiscriminate in whom they afflict. Flesh and blood dysfunctions are common, often treatable and have nothing to do with demons. But, we have another struggle that is beyond physicality. Ruling forces and principles are at work with an evil idea.
On one hand, there are struggles that can be understood as weaknesses of flesh and blood. Mental illness usually has a bio-chemical explanation. It happens in your brain and can be treated with medication, counseling and other healthy therapies. But, why does mental illness often rob a person of certainty in their faith and manifest in extremely destructive patterns? Why does a God fixation or antagonism sometimes attach to a mood disorder?
Apparently we do not have the answer to all of our problems. Something else seems to take advantage of our vulnerabilities.
Addictions also have a flesh and blood pathology that cannot be ignored in treatment.
The most widely held view of addiction among scientists is that this transition develops into a "brain disease" based on a basic survival instinct: the reward system. When we do something that aids in our survival, like eating or exercising, our brain's limbic system rewards us for this behavior by releasing dopamine, a chemical that makes us feel good. (In other words, we like the way we feel and we learn to repeat the behavior)."[i]
But something more is going on. There is an inward, spiritual battle that can easily lead to one’s demise. If you have experienced addiction, you know the powerlessness that prevents you from ‘just saying no’. Twelve step programs start with the assumption that theirs is a spiritual problem requiring God’s assistance.
I am not suggesting that addicts and mental health consumers are demon possessed. I would suggest that every person (healthy or not) has a struggle with forces beyond their control. These operating forces can only be described as evil.
Beyond medical or psychological explanations, why do addictions have a propensity to escalate? Why do extremely depressed people commit suicide? What possesses a person to commit horrendous acts against others? Why are your best efforts often thwarted by chaotic impulses?
New research shows that the number of Americans who die at home as a result of a fatal combination of pills, alcohol and street drugs is up 3,000 percent in the past two decades.[ii]
What is behind this dramatic escalation?