In both the religious and secular worlds there is a growing recognition of, and interest in, demonic activity. The Bible recognizes the reality of this activity:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [human beings], but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12, NIV).
Demons, also called in Scripture “unclean spirits” (Luke 4:36) and “deceiving spirits” (1 Timothy 4:1), are totally evil, invisible, intelligent spirits.
Like Satan, demons fell into condemnation through pride, and are the adversaries of both God and humankind. Though real and active, the devil and his messengers (demons) are often blamed for many things for which they are not guilty. Some Christians tend to blame all erratic behavior on “demon possession” when, actually, most of it is the result of humankind’s sinful, selfish nature. Also, sometimes individuals who are on drugs or who are mentally ill will appear to be afflicted by demons.
The Christian who desires to be used by God to help people with spiritual problems might do well to heed the admonition of the apostle John: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God” or “the spirit of the Antichrist” (1 John 4:1, 3). Thus, demons must be discerned, tested, resisted, and rejected by believers. (1 Corinthians 12:10; Ephesians 4:27; 6:10–18; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8–9; 1 John 4:1–6.)
Through the victory of Jesus Christ over Satan and his demonic assistants, and in the mighty name of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, the child of God can overcome Satan and his demons. (Matthew 8:16–17; 12:28; Mark 16:17; Acts 19:15.)
Our resources against the hosts of wickedness are:
• Alertness (1 Peter 5:8).
• Prayer (Matthew 26:41).
• The use of the “full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10–18).
For the Non-Christian:
If the inquirer speaks of spiritual bondage, demonic activity or behavior, or has been involved in the occult or eastern religions, ask questions. Try to discern if the situation is truly as he or she describes it. “Tell me about it,” is a phrase to be used and repeated until the actual problem emerges. Do not hesitate to press for answers.
1. Emphasize the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross to solve sinful problems: “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Share Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD.
2. If he or she receives Christ, encourage reading and studying the Bible every day. Offer to send Your New Life In Christ Bible Study to help get him or her get started. He or she should also pray daily. These two disciplines usually become established for the inquirer who gets into a local Bible-teaching church where he or she can fellowship, worship the Lord, study the Bible, and learn the joys of a consecrated life.
3. If you find that you are dealing with a person who is truly demonized, follow the steps outlined below in regard to “Dealing with demonization.”
For the Christian:
If a true believer in Christ fears demonic activity, proceed as follows:
1. Ask about the circumstances. Why does he or she think demons are involved? Sometimes fears are induced by other well-meaning but mistaken Christians.
2. Remind the person that all God’s resources are at our disposal:
• Satan is a defeated foe (1 John 3:8).
• Christ lives in the believer (Colossians 1:27).
• The Holy Spirit empowers (Acts 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:7).
• The Word of God guides (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
3. See the last two paragraphs of the “Background” for further guidance. The Christian is assured of victory as he or she submits constantly to the lordship of Christ, to the authority and the illumination of the Bible, to the discipline of overcoming prayer, and to involvement with a dynamic group of believers in a Bible-teaching church.
4. It may be that the inquirer is suffering severe guilt from actual unconfessed sin, and is raising the issue of demonic influence in an attempt to transfer the blame instead of facing personal responsibility.
True repentance and confession of sin would remove the guilt and also the root causes of the “oppression.” Share Christian Biblical Counsel: SEEKING FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION, emphasizing 1 John 1:9.
5. It may be that you are dealing with a legitimate case of one who is demonized. If so, follow the steps outlined below.
Dealing with Demonization:
Be careful! Seek the help of a professional or pastor. You must be sure that you are dealing with a bona fide case of demonization and not a condition resulting from some physical, psychological, or spiritual disorder. The inquirer could be greatly harmed if told that he or she is demonized when that is actually not the case.
1. Note carefully the symptoms of the disturbed person, depending on the Lord for wisdom and discernment. A demonized person is just that. He or she is either being deeply influenced by or has been invaded by an evil spirit. Extremely bizarre behavior may be present. Sometimes blasphemous or foul and immoral language is used.
2. Dealing with such a person is not to be taken lightly. Resistance is often tenacious and much time may be required to properly deal with the difficulties. Obviously the telephone helper can’t spend this amount of time. Suggest that the person seek the help of a qualified pastor or professional Christian counselor.
(a) In cases where demonized people have been set free, those involved have been unanimous in stating that much prayer, usually involving a group of Christians called together for the purpose, is a great necessity. (b) One person should assume a leadership role as the spokesperson. (c) As the Spirit of God leads, and at moments that He would indicate, a command should be given in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and with His authority (Matthew 28:18) in order to expel the evil spirit. (d) On deliverance, victory should immediately be claimed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and God be praised for it.
The delivered person should be urged to seek strong friendships in the family of God. He or she can greatly fortify God’s work in his or her life by reading and studying God’s Word, praying, and beginning to witness to God’s marvelous work.
“Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth’” (Matthew 28:18).
“Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:8–9, NIV).
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world” (1 John 4:1–6, NIV).
Other suggested Scriptures:
1 John 3:8
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996