I was told that demons cannot cause you to have nightmares because there is no scriptural support for it. I do not believe this to be true, however is there any scriptural support in the Bible for demonic dreams?
– Ashley From Pennsylvania
The Bible and specifics (Part 1)
The people who told you this appear to have a point, don’t they? They want proof from the Bible before they will believe something. Clearly, the Bible is our final authority for moral questions and our guide for living by God’s precepts and principles. When I offer an opinion I like to check the Bible first and I certainly always try to find scripture to support my position.
BUT. There is a big “but” here. What happens when the issue is not covered in the Bible? Or what happens when the issue shows up in one of the testaments but not the other? For instance I have heard some say that we don’t have to tithe anymore because the command to do so is only in the Old Testament. Here’s another: we should not use musical instruments in our worship services because there is no mention of doing so by New Testament believers.
When we require specific scripture for every issue, we are in danger of sliding to a decidedly unpleasant destination called “legalism.” Legalism is what Peter fell into when he refused to eat with the Gentile Christians. (See Galatians 2:11-14) He got so overtaken with Jewish rules that he wasn’t walking by the Spirit anymore and Paul had to rebuke him for it. Rather, we are “…servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6).
Conducting our life perfectly according to God’s Word is a balancing act often hard to achieve. We may pick one verse of scripture and build a whole doctrine around it and fall into legalism, or we may ignore specific mandates and wander off into heresy and shipwreck. Certainly we need the help of the Holy Spirit every single day to read God’s Word with understanding and wisdom in applying it.
Applying principles (Part 2)
What do we do when the Bible does not address an issue specifically? I’ll use abortion as an example. Abortion per se is not mentioned in the Bible but most Christians would see it as contrary to God’s Word. Why? Because the Bible does say: “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). We take the principle that murder is wrong and apply it to the case of a woman killing an unborn child.
Sometimes the issue is much more subtle than that and we need a great dose of wisdom to come to right conclusions when applying principles. Your friends conclude that demons can’t cause nightmares because they can’t find an occurrence of it in the Bible. Does that mean demons can’t cause car crashes either since we also don’t find an example of that? The absence of scriptural illustrations is not enough proof that something isn’t possible.
Regarding demons, I think we need to first look at all that scripture does tell us about them and then determine if causing nightmares is in keeping with their authority and character. I won’t do an in depth study here but demons do have authority to wreck havoc in the lives of men and women and it is their desire to do so. (See Dreams with Demonic Origins for more detail.) They are the disruptors of all that is God’s best for us. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10)
We are admonished to be on the alert because “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Satan is active and aggressive in finding an opening, (perhaps even in the dream world) to do some devouring. Wherever demons can terrorize they are more than delighted to do so. The Bible is not exhaustive in all the ways they have ever found to do that. What’s that saying people use: “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck–it’s a duck!”
Demonic calling cards (Part 3)
Have you ever awakened early on a winter morning and looked out your window to see rabbit tracks across freshly fallen snow? Even if you never see the little hopper you have a certainty it was there at some point. The evidence is too clear to ignore. Most of us are never going a see a demon with human eyes, but we can still pretty much tell when one has hopped across our life.
Evidence. What evidence tells us a demon has been involved in any aspect of our life? Demons trade in fear, lies and hopelessness. Demons squelch faith, hope and love every chance they get. That’s the principle that makes it possible to believe demons affect dreams. They look for openings and weaknesses in our life where they can grab a foothold. Sometimes the dream world is a ripe opportunity.
In my view, when a person wakes from an evil or perverted dream, or one that produces fear, terror or overwhelming despair, they are not foolish to at least suspect demonic origin. Of course there are exceptions. Perhaps they are processing some very thorny issues in life, and the dream world is helping to work them through. Or a physical cause is producing nightmares. Additionally, some medications produce nightmares as a side effect.
We don’t yet understand all there is to know about dreams and we certainly don’t know all there is to know about demons. The Bible leaves quite a few blanks on this subject. So perhaps deductive reasoning is a pretty reasonable tool? As I said earlier—“If it walks like a duck (or demon)…”