Satanic Panic, Lifeless Lizards & Dirty Socks

The BBC recently reported that a family had called the RSPCA to their Coventry home as they had found a rare lizard under a bed. An officer, Vic Hurr, duly arrived, approaching the lizard ‘cautiously’. The BBC continues, dryly, ‘On closer inspection, Ms Hurr realised it was not a lizard, but a dirty sock.’

You can see pictures of the dirty sock here:

I’m sure they meant well, and it was a mistake that anyone might have made. Or perhaps not. But aren’t we Christians as susceptible for confusing dirty socks for dangerous lizards? When I was younger, I was deeply concerned that I might have demons living inside me or controlling my actions. After all, I regularly did things wrong, and sometimes rather enjoyed it. Surely this was down to the devil unclean spirits forcing me to do such things? Well it wasn’t. It was due to something far less exciting: my sinful nature.

My younger assumptions are taught by the likes of Peter Horrobin over at Ellel Grange. In his Healing Through Deliverance: The Biblical Basis, 2nd edition. (Chichester: Sovereign World, 1991, 1994), he argues that Jesus only ever exorcised demons from believers, not unbelievers. Robert I. Bradshaw, in his book review at Theological Studies, dismisses this convincingly (link below).

The Holy Spirit, my beautiful house guest (or more accurately, the acting agent for the new proprietor) suffers discomfort enough when my sinful nature reasserts itself. That He would be prepared to share me with unclean spirits is well beneath His dignity. Demons are real, and their influence cannot be underestimated. They may even have an influence on believers, but they have no authority to control or possess. We are also less likely to encounter them in our century than our ancestors. So the next time you wish to credit them with your backsliding, remember that boring old dirty socks are sometimes mistaken for dangerous lizards.