In the 20-plus years he has known Christ, Brady Boyd has never been to a megachurch where demonic spirits was discussed.
And Boyd, who is currently senior pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, considers it a "big, big, big" topic that needs to be talked about.
Boyd is now ten weeks into a message series on "The Supernatural." He has already addressed healing, miracles and the gift of prophecy. "Distinguishing Between Spirits" was his message title for this past Sunday.
"Do demons really exist?" Boyd, who replaced former pastor Ted Haggard in 2007, posed to thousands of attendees.
"I don't want to assume in this building today that all of you even believe that there are demons. I would guess there are some of you out here that may have never heard anyone talk about this and you may not even believe that there are spiritual forces of evil that wish you harm," he said.
For Boyd, the existence of demons is very real. He recalled a time when his young son, Abram, had "intense night terrors" (nightmares). They kept Abraham and Boyd up at nights regularly. After recognizing that there was "a spiritual element attacking" his son, Boyd prayed a "short, emphatic, decisive prayer" calling on the name of Jesus. The "night terrors" stopped, he said.
It all started with an awareness of something that wasn't holy.
"I'm convinced ... that all of us, no matter how long we've been Christ followers, are open to being deceived and influenced by the enemy," he stated.
The problem with many believers, however, is that they are deceived or influenced by evil spirits without even knowing it, whether it's through a T.V. show or a relationship, the senior pastor noted. People are led astray from the truth subtly, in small incremental steps and eventually they wake up and ask themselves "how did I get here?"
"The enemy's tricky," the Louisiana native underlined. "He's good at this."
"You can be led astray but you don't have to be," he assured the mega-congregation.
Calling the congregation to a higher level of discernment, Boyd warned that every temptation begins with a thought. And the most powerful weapon a Christ follower has when confronting demons is repentance (of such thoughts), he stressed.
"A lot of the counseling I do at New Life Church could be settled if we just had a culture where when a thought came to you we had a sensitivity, an awareness that it's not from God. If we just repent of it ... then adulterous affairs would stop, all the things wrecking families would stop," he said. "It all just starts with a thought."
The New Life pastor also told Christ followers that they have more authority than they know. Even as a young person of faith, if a believer feels an evil influence, he or she can call on the name of Jesus Christ. Body reminded them God already defeated the devil 2,000 years ago. The devil has only gained some stature in people's lives because they do not realize the authority they have as Christ followers, he noted.
"It should be impossible for us as Christ followers to ever be deceived," he said.
On a congregational level, some of the warning signs of possible evil spiritual forces at work include: when hype has replaced the Holy Spirit and when the focus is on a person and not Jesus, Boyd listed.
Though passion and excitement can come from God, it doesn't always mean it's God at work, he cautioned. And though some may talk about Jesus, they may not be making Jesus the center point of everything, he said, alluding to false preachers.
In addition to being sensitive to the presence of evil, the spiritual gift of discernment also allows one to have an awareness of when the Holy Spirit is active.
It's a spiritual gift that Boyd wants more and more in his life and not because he's fascinated by evil, but because he's fascinated with God and by the Holy Spirit, he said.
This upcoming Sunday, Boyd will be covering the gift of tongues. He assured the congregation, "It will be completely weird-free."
"If it is in Scripture I think we should have permission to talk about it and not just ignore the things that seem awkward or weird because tongues is not awkward and weird," he said.