Over the past week, I have had two people ask me if I believe in demons and curses. It caught me by surprise. Do you believe in them or not?
I believe in them because Jesus did and also through my pastoral contact with people troubled by them. Demons will always try and lead people astray, especially those who want to follow Jesus. The Devil even attacked Him, (Matthew 4:1-11) as demons will attack us. My first apparent encounter with a demon in others came when a fine Christian lady visited me for prayer as she felt something was holding her back in her Christian life. As I prayed for her in a general way, there came from her a deep-seated mocking laugh. I was somewhat stunned and a little fearful and felt utterly out of my depth. No matter how I prayed, even in the name of Jesus, this evil thing wouldn’t depart from her. Finally, I sensed this manifestation was a demon of mockery. I commanded it to go by name, and instantly she was set free, and went on to live with freedom in Jesus. Praise the Lord!
Millions of people likewise have found encouragement through the release of strongholds and bondages in their lives.
As Paul and others battled against the principalities and powers of darkness, we too will experience the same in ministry. Paul refers to this conflict when he states, ‘Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes’ 2 Corinthians 2:10, 11.
The books of Matthew, Mark and Luke have at least 23 references to Jesus and demons. For example,
‘He (Jesus) travelled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.’ Mark 1:39.
‘Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness.’ Matthew 10:1.
Victory comes about through the finished work of the cross. ‘In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.’ Colossians 2:15.
- Many of our problems arise not from personal demonic activity but simply because we live in a fallen world brought about by Satan’s influence. ‘Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.’ 1 John 2:15,16.
- I do not usually think about the presence of demons, although we need to be alert as they are real. I have found Christians and non-Christians alike are troubled by them, whether rich or poor, highly educated or otherwise and regardless of ethnicity.
- Some of the ways Satan and his cohorts will oppose us are in marriage misunderstandings, family tensions, financial pressures, disunity and in some cases, health challenges. They also spend much time falsely accusing Jesus’ followers rather than allowing them to enjoy freedom in Christ. ‘For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…..’ Revelation 12:10. ‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death,’ Romans 8:1. Satan brings a generalised feeling of condemnation, whereas the conviction of the Holy Spirit brings a clear awareness of sin. That is different.
- Some cultures are more aware of spiritual realities than others. One time in Africa, I spoke from Scripture on ‘generational curses’ and afterwards, one of the pastors said that he didn’t think we from the West believed in that sort of thing. They are very aware of this evil.
- Recognise the amazing work of the Cross where Jesus dethroned principalities of darkness! ‘For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.’ Ephesians 6:12. How wonderful to enjoy victory in Christ’s finished work on the cross.
- Land and material objects may carry a curse. I have seen Satan’s activity in both situations, which causes many problems if not broken.
- There is no one formula for experiencing deliverance, but sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor, means He will lead us along the correct pathway.
- The person wanting release must have a strong desire to go God’s way. In some cases before ministry, they should pray and fast.
- Always pray for deliverance with another Believer present for support and protection. Praying in this way will build up your faith, it could be a teaching situation for others and the other person may have insight and power in praying that adds real strength. Be confidential about all matters and let them testify about their deliverance in their time and in their own way.
- After waiting in God’s presence during a ministry time, pray with authority in the name of Jesus. That does not necessarily mean you have to shout! Authority comes as we learn to walk with God.
- Jesus sometimes rebuked a demon by name, (Mark 5:9), but not always. Remember Satan is the father of lies, (John 8:44). The deceiver may even lie over a name.
- In praying for a release, I would also get the person involved to pray for renunciation. You may need to suggest what they should pray by getting them to repeat your words.
- Be aware of demons wanting to come back and have another go at leading that person into bondage. ‘When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.’ Luke 11:24. They will have a vulnerability in their problem area and need nonjudgmental accountability.
- The person experiencing deliverance must continue to maintain it by faith. This includes all the Christian disciplines connected to discipleship, like regularly reading God’s Word, prayer, fellowship and doing good deeds.
- After a deliverance, if that person is on medication, do not encourage them to stop taking it unless a registered doctor approves.
- Continue to uphold the delivered person in prayer, support them in every way necessary, and make sure God gets all the glory!
‘The Believer’s Guide To Spiritual Warfare’, by Thomas B. White
‘Defeating Dark Angels’, by C. H. Kraft
‘The Screwtape letters’, by C. S. Lewis