They may be kind folk, they may be courteous, they may be patient—and they almost always have much time on their hands.
They may come in packs, or by themselves. They may have sharply distinct cultural and social backgrounds. They may espouse vastly opposite religious, philosophical and spiritual points of view. But one thing can be certain: these individuals will waste your time.
I’m referring to demonic leeches, a term I’ve coined to describe the type of people I generally encounter while preaching the Gospel on the streets. They’re demonic, quite obviously, because they come straight from the prince of this world. They’re leeches because they will suck up your time, energy, resources, patience and joy in the Lord (should you persist in trying to convince them of the truth). They may even cause you to sin.
Yes, you’ve correctly read the above assertion. Demonic leeches are extremely dangerous, and should be dealt with using the utmost caution and wisdom.
So what exactly does a “demonic leech” do, and why the solemn warning?
A demonic leech appears to be sincere. He approaches you as you’re evangelizing, wanting to talk to you about spiritual things. Many times he will commend you for what you’re doing, claiming to also know the truth. He may additionally claim to be serving the Lord. But then he will drop you a question or a statement in such a way that, if you’re quick, you will realize that he’s not sincerely looking for any answers—he’s trying to teach you. He may dogmatically try to let you in on entirely extra-biblical truths, based on the person’s own reason, feelings and philosophies…but generally a leech will use proof-texts from the Bible to back up his points. He will take an isolated, out of context verse as proof positive of his personal convictions and/or doctrines. It may be a denial of a fundamental doctrine like the Trinity; it may be an emotional appeal like an affirmation that we are all God’s children and that therefore He can’t send us to hell; it may be an issue regarding the validity of a particular cult or false religion. Should you carefully take him through the Bible verses he uses to prove his case, showing him the context of the verses, and explaining to him how he’s wrong, one of two things will occur:
- He will agree with you. That’s right; he will appear to be meditative, carefully thinking through the issue at hand, and will actually consent to your argument. Later, however, he will go back to his original belief, and present another verse as proof of his point of view. His short term memory seems to be, well, short-lived. By this time you will have been talking about a different subject, and so you will have to drop the current point you were making and once again attempt to reason with him concerning the first point. When you finish he may again agree about the first point but disagree about the second, so you will probably have to start all over with what you were saying about your second point before you were interrupted. Then, if you succeed in convincing him of your second point, he will inevitably bring up a third and a fourth issue, and while discussing these he will regress once again to trying to prove to you that his point of view on the second and first issues is correct. Picture being lost in a forest and trying to find your way out—but somehow always ending up in the same place where you started. Such is the way of these leeches. It’s an endless cycle; it’s a cross section of roads that all lead you into a dead end.
- He will disagree with you. He will not receive anything you’re saying. He may mock the conclusion of your careful argument, claiming, foundationless, that it is incorrect and not reasonable. When you present clear biblical support for a doctrine you’re trying to defend, he will look at you with glazed eyes and a blank stare, pause for a few seconds, and simply throw another Bible verse at you to try to prove you wrong. He will ignore your argument entirely, not even address it. If you’re not prudent you will take the bait and jump all around the Bible addressing every single passage of Scripture that he gives you. If you catch him in his game, firmly demanding that he respond to the initial argument and Bible verse you gave him, his retort will likely only be (once again) a baseless dismissal of what you just said, and a quick attempt to change the subject. He may then proceed to attack your personally, or your “religion”, or he may bring up another passage or issue and try to debate you about that…beginning the cycle all over again. Another term appropriate for this type of leech is “Bible grasshopper”—they jump around from place to place, from scripture to scripture, from topic to topic, and you never succeed in getting anywhere except frustration lane.
Something important to note about leeches is that they will rarely want to talk about salvation and the Gospel. They thrive on majoring on minors. They take non-essentials from Scripture, distort them, and turn them into essentials, and the marks that differentiate their “true” belief system from that of others. Your trying to point out the error of their ways will produce no visible change. Some of them will be friendly, appearing to have a genuine desire to converse with you and get to know you. Others will also seem friendly but their prideful arrogance and unreasonableness will eventually manifest itself. These will hardly raise their voices, though; the entire time they will seem calm, cool and collected. They will play with your emotions—some will do so intentionally. Once they have succeeded in exasperating you, they will gently reprimand you for your anger and lack of love and patience. Their methods of manipulation are effective. BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL WITH THEM (Matthew 10:16). If you find yourself becoming irate at their anti-biblical folly, please do not sin (Ephesians 4:26).
Some examples of leeches?
A demonic leech is a middle-aged “apostolic” (Oneness Pentecostal) who approached me as I was witnessing to a sincere and confused young man who had been receiving “Bible” studies by Jehovah’s Witnesses. When I had open air preached minutes before, the apostolic man had stood a few yards in front of me, listening to every word I was saying, with a pleased expression on his face. When I finished and entered into deep conversation with the young man, this gentleman approached us and tried to “help” me witness to him. He would repeatedly interrupt us, bringing up subjects we were not talking about, and trying to instruct the young man that he had to be baptized “in the name of Jesus” to be saved. I let him finish his spiel and afterward told the young man that I didn’t agree with what he had said, and tried to get the subject back to the Gospel. Thankfully, the young man didn’t for a minute buy or care to pay attention to the apostolic. After he left I spent some considerable time talking with the middle-aged man. He was friendly and claimed to be a believer, and called me “brother”. I explained to him that salvation is by faith and not of works, and he seemed to agree with me, though later he turned right around and said we need to do good works in order to be saved in the end. I explained that baptism doesn’t save and he also agreed with me, but then went around in circles trying to explain to me something unintelligible about salvation. I looked to my right and saw several interested people standing in front of our open air sign and preaching box, so I excused myself and went over to where they were. The older man then started a long conversation with Joshua, another brother who was with us, trying to adamantly prove to him that women should cover their heads and wear long skirts. Even that brother came to the realization that he had wasted a lot of time debating with a man about clothing when there were so many people around us that needed the Gospel.
A demonic leech is a Marcos, who took brother Alex on many giant roller coaster spins while evangelizing two Saturdays ago. He outright denied the Trinity, and claimed that Jesus was not God, and then that He was, but then denied the deity of the Holy Spirit. He also claimed to simply be a sinner and not saved, though he also claimed to be saved…but then again asserted that he hadn’t attained salvation. He clearly had no understanding of biblical salvation. I saw him and Alex talking and invited myself into the conversation. I had ended a long chat with another leech only a few minutes before (a bizarre experience with a man who said he was God's messenger and had gone to heaven, among many other things), and, though my conversation with that leech did not end badly by any means, I admittedly was ready to pounce on the next heretic I came across. And that life-sucker ended up being Marcos. It was only by God’s grace that, though I did become angry with him, I maintained self-control. By the time I approached him and Alex, my brother was already on his edge. I tried to reason with Marcos, but he reeked of pride, trying to show off his distorted Bible knowledge by means of repeatedly misquoting passages. The more intelligent he tried to appear the more foolish he sounded. When asked if he had ever lusted, he refused to give us a straight answer. He also obstinately refused to tell us what religious group he was with (my guess is none). The best words I can use to explain his condition are “utterly blind and dead.” Alex finally had it with him and told him he was a monster of pride. We both gave up and simply urged him to repent of his foolishness and believe the Gospel.
A demonic leech is also a backslidden Jehovah’s Witness who approached a sister one Saturday after hearing us preach in the open air. The sister didn’t know how to respond to the arguments he presented her so she called me over and had me talk with him. This was last year, and I hadn’t yet taken the time to formulate good responses to give Watchtowerites. I had some “stumpers” that I tried to use on him but he simply dismissed all of them as wrong, countering them with nonsensical answers that he made up on the spot. He was extremely irrational and would change the subject whenever I would try to reason with him. He also arrogantly scoffed at my pleas for him to turn from his sins and flee the wrath to come. He didn’t even believe that he could be freed from the power of sin through Christ, as I was urging him to believe, and arrogantly dismissed that as well. I have to admit that I committed a grave error with him: I was trying to “stump” him in order to win an argument, and I in my own power was trying to convince him of the Truth. When this did not work I became really angry at his complete irrationality…and, shamefully, I did sin. By my demeanor and tone of voice, he sensed that I was angry, and like the devil he was he “tenderly” began trying to teach me about the fruits of the Holy Spirit…which made me even madder. Sadly, that battle was a win for the evil one.
So how to prevent that from happening? How should we deal with demonic leeches?
- Arm yourself with wisdom and discretion. If you don’t have any, ask the Lord for some (James 1:5-8). Ask for the Lord’s help and strength. If you’re like me, resist the temptation to challenge his erroneous points of view with the Bible. Before anything, stick to the Gospel. Understand that the main thing he needs is not to correct his false doctrines—his most urgent need is salvation. If he insists in bringing up other subjects, tell him that you can talk about that later, and bring the focus back to the Gospel.
- Arm yourself with patience (2 Timothy 2:23-26). Don’t play into the hands of the enemy by becoming needlessly angry. Comprehend that you can’t convince him of the Truth anymore than you could convince a dead man to awaken. The power rests in Christ, and in the Holy Spirit’s ability to open hearts and regenerate them. As our Lord did while on this earth, just present the truth to him; he doesn’t need an answer to every objection he has. Don’t spend much time trying to reason with him, either, as he will not likely be genuinely interested in hearing the truth. Simply tell him how to be saved, excuse yourself, and go somewhere else. There are plenty of other people that will more gladly receive the Gospel (Matthew 11:25; Mark 12:37).
- Arm yourself with humility (1 Peter 3:15-16; 5:5-7). Remember that you yourself were once dead and blind like he is (Titus 3:3), and ask the Lord to give you compassion for the person. If he needs to be rebuked, rebuke him, but make sure that your harsh words come from love and a jealousy for Christ’s glory, and not from a fleshly anger.
So there are your directives for dealing with demonic leeches. May you be prepared the next time you come across one.