1 Cor 10:20-22 (NIV) ... I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
Of the causes mentioned in Scripture of God, the world, the flesh, the devil, each Christian sect seems to focus on one and ignore the others. Some groups have made an industry of casting out imaginary demons, while accommodating the flesh and embracing the world. Other groups deny any real influence of demons. We must dwell in the full revelation of God, and 1) not believe that every problem is due to the devil, and 2) agree with God that demons are real forces to be dealt with.
Satan offers us instant gratification with demonic "enhancement": You can be "spiritual"... You can be "wise"... You can be "attractive"... You can have "fun"... You can "cope"... As soon as we've been lured in, satisfaction becomes ever more elusive, and death is the sure result. God gives everlasting power to those who wait upon Him to perform what He has promised. What we receive through faith will last forever. Satan gives temporary power to those who believe his lies. He becomes their "father", and they become his possession. Are we taking the bait, or holding out for the real thing?2 Cor 6:14-17 (NIV) ... For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial [Satan]? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."
A Sophisticated Ministry?
Mark 6:7 (NIV) Calling the twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
Mat 10:8 (NIV) "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."
Luke 10:17 (NIV) The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name."
Mark 1:27 (NIV) The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching--and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him."
Christ spent much of His ministry casting out demons. This did not go over well with the religious establishment of the day (Mark 3:22). Blindness is often preferred to being "set free indeed". Then, as now, our naturalistic religious beliefs are offended. "What evil spirits?" Had we been there, maybe we could have pulled Christ aside and said, "This man is obviously an epileptic. There's no reason to look for 'spiritual' causes. Let's just send him to a specialist." Or, "C'mon Jesus, it's just a habit, an eccentricity--a talent, a 'gift'. There's no need to see a demon in every tree." Are we wiser than God? Perhaps we need to repent of our blindness, and gain real insight into the nature of things. Satan's power is predicated on human belief in lies. The Truth will set us free indeed.Mark 1:26 (NIV) The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
Luke 9:42 (NIV) Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father.
Acts 8:7 (NIV) With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many...
Luke 4:33,35 (NIV) In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice... "Be quiet!" Jesus said sternly. "Come out of him!" Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.
Rom 6:12-13 (Phi) Do not, then, allow sin to establish any power over your mortal bodies in making you give way to your lusts. Nor hand over your bodily parts to be, as it were, weapons of evil for the devil's purposes. But, like men rescued from certain death, put yourselves in God's hands as weapons of good for his own purposes.
In Scripture, the idea of possession is used in a wider sense than just demon possession. Possession has to do with captivity, mastery, or obedience. We are spoken of as being "possessed" by God if we obey Him, and "possessed" by the powers of darkness if we sin. Advanced cases of being "taken captive" by Satan result in involuntary behavior termed "possession". But this kind of "possession" is often entered into gradually and willfully...Rom 6:16 (Phi) You "belong" to the power you choose to obey... (Ps 106:39)
For Christians, our souls are "sealed" until the day of our complete redemption, but our bodies can be commandeered by Satan, taken captive to do his will in a particular moment. (Mt 16:23) To be sure, it is not the same for us as it is with the unregenerate, for we have a choice in the matter. We have the experiential option to hand our bodies over (Rom 6:12-22)--like chess pieces--to either God or Satan in the great cosmic battle.Rom 6:16 (NEB) ... if you put yourselves at the disposal of a master, to obey him, you are slaves of the master whom you obey; and this is true whether you serve sin, with death as its result; or obedience, with righteousness as its result.
2 Pet 2:19 (Jer) ... if anyone lets himself be dominated by anything, he is a slave to it...
1 Cor 6:19-20 (TEB) ...You do not belong to yourselves but to God; he bought you for a price. So use your bodies for God's glory.
Eph 4:27 (NIV) ... Do not give the devil a foothold.
Malachi Martin, in Hostage to the Devil makes the point that what we term "possessions" are really "partial possessions". Even in extreme cases such as the man of the Gadarenes (Luke 8:26-39), there is still a core soul that has not been completely subdued, even if the body is routinely "seized by" demons. To fit our theology, we can substitute words like "oppressed" versus "possessed" and "strongholds", etc., but the issue is a matter of the heart, a matter of who is our master, not of words. Do we long for the thrills that demons can give us through sin, or is our heart inclined to obey God?
The Pathology of Captivity
2 Chr 6:36 (NIV) "When they sin against you [God]--for there is no one who does not sin--you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive..."
1 Kings 8:46-50 (NRS) "If they sin against you--for there is no one who does not sin--... you give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive... yet if they come to their senses... and repent, and plead with you in the land of their captors, saying, 'We have sinned... if they repent with all their heart and soul... then hear in heaven... and forgive your people...
Jud 2:14 (NIV) ...The Lord handed them [His people] over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.
Neh 9:27,33,36 (NIV) So you handed them [the chosen people] over to their enemies, who oppressed them. But when they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies... In all that has happened to us, you have been just; you have acted faithfully, while we did wrong... But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our forefathers...
Ps 106:40-41 (NIV) Therefore the Lord was angry with his people... He handed them over to the nations, and their foes ruled over them. Their enemies oppressed them and subjected them to their power.
God has told us that He will give us over to "captivity" if we continue to sin, and has given us example after example of this throughout history. So, when Paul says:Eph 4:26-27 (Jer) Never let the sun set on your anger or else you will give the devil a foothold.
Eph 4:27 (NAS) ...do not give the devil an opportunity.
Eph 4:27 (NRS) ...do not make room for the devil.
... he is not stating a new spiritual principle or insight. Paul is only offering a specific instance of the general principal that when God's people continue in sin, He gives them over to an enemy. Yet many in today's church completely deny even the possibility of this biblical, spiritual dynamic. They are "just sure" this could not happen, even when it does. There appears to be a massive POW cover-up campaign going on. People are "captive to sin" of the most outrageous sort, and yet few rescue missions are attempted, and even fewer are welcomed by the captives.1 Cor 11:11-12 (Phi) Now these things which happened to our ancestors are illustrations of the way in which God works, and they were written down to be a warning to us who are living in the final days of the present order. So let the man who feels sure of his standing be careful that he does not fall tomorrow.
1 Tim 4:1 (TEB) The Spirit says clearly that some men will abandon the faith in later times; they will obey lying spirits and follow the teachings of demons.
2 Pet 2:12,19 (RSV) But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and killed, reviling in matters of which they are ignorant, will be destroyed in the same corruption with them... They... themselves are slaves of corruption; for whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved.
The Parable of The Bear Trap
2 Tim 2:26 (NIV) and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
Imagine a man caught in a bear trap. He cannot get the proper angle to separate the steel jaws himself, he needs help. Suppose he then sees his friend approaching through the trees, and feels terribly embarrassed to have gotten into this predicament, so he tries to duck down and hide. But his friend has already seen him, so the hapless captive decides to straighten up and to strike a pose as if he were standing there on purpose. His friend, approaching, says, "Where have you been? We've missed you. Is anything wrong?" "Oh, no. Nothing at all." The captive man smiles the best he can through the pain and hopes that his friend will go away, so that he can get back to the hopeless struggle of trying to free himself. But the friend has noticed the trap and is already prying the jaws open. "You nut!" the friend says, "Why didn't you call out for help? Why did you try to hide from me and then to hide the problem? Come, you are free now--it was easy for me, and the pain will go away soon. Be more careful in the future not to wander into dangerous territory alone... and learn something about the nutty thoughts that go through the heads of those who have stumbled into bear traps."2 Tim 2:25-26 (Jer) So that they may recognize the truth and come to their senses, once out of the trap where the devil caught them and kept them enslaved.
Col 2:8 (NIV) See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
Setting The Captives Free
Luke 4:18-19 (NIV) [Jesus] "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Eph 4:8 (Phi) Thus the scripture says: "When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive..."
God deals with truth, so in order to have His power we must acknowledge His Name and presence up front and ongoing. With familiar spirits it is the opposite. They do not want credit or truth. They do not want their victims (or anyone around them) to know they are at play. This pretense must be broken before the demonic captivity can end. The battleground, then, is one of discernment.Isa 42:7 (NIV) to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
Isa 49:9 (NIV) "... to say to the captives, 'Come out,' and to those in darkness 'Be free!'"
Ps 142:7 (NAS) "Bring my soul out of prison, so that I may give thanks to Thy name; the righteous will surround me, for thou wilt deal bountifully with me."
Rescue Versus The Captivity Of 1) Will, 2) Terminology, and 3) Complacency
Imagine a miltary team going on a mission behind enemy lines to rescue a prisoner of war. After much trouble, they burst into the prisoner's cell and say, "We're here to set you free from the possession of the enemy, and protect you on the dangerous trip out. Come on, let's go--quickly!" Consider the following nutty responses from the POW:
John 8:31-34,36 (NIV) To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone.[???] How can you say that we shall be set free?" Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, anyone who sins is a slave to sin... So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
- "It's O.K., really, I'm not a captive; I choose to be here."
- "I have a sealed US passport and I have America in my heart. Just what do you mean by saying I'm "possessed" by the enemy? Perhaps I'm merely "oppressed" and don't need a rescue!"
- "What's with this superior attitude? I was coping fine, and who knows but what things might get better gradually. If I go with you, I could be killed in just a few minutes."
Now imagine that the POW was rescued and struggled out with the rescuers to safety, and then afterwards willfully returned to the same bondage, walking right back into the same captivity. Would not the enemy see to it that this POW was put to even greater bondage? (Luke 11:24-26) You, then, are the ultimate exorcist... or not.
Why Take A Chance With Your Life?
Scripture does not instruct us to ignore demons, or expect that they will go away gradually, or to "train" them into obedience. We are told to cast them out. It is not enough to have demons temporarily retreat when they have been noticed: A sleeping dog may wake up presently and maul its victim. No negotiations should be made. No arguments are worthwhile. No distractions allowed. No delays granted. Demons must be cast out, repented of and totally renounced; and they will not go if they can hide, argue, negotiate, distract, or deceive. And they won't stay gone if desired again... Why take the risk? If you suspect demonic activity what could it hurt to ask someone to pray with you to be completely set free. Christ granted us nothing less than this power. Why wait? It is no shame to be delivered, but it is a shame to remain in bondage.
The Last Will Be First
Luke 8:2 (NIV) and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out;
Mark 16:9 (NIV) When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.
THE STORY OF THE LITTLE RED LIZARD by C.S. Lewis from The Great Divorce:
[A dream where residents of hell (sort of) have taken a bus ride into the foothills of heaven (or something close to it) to "check it out", criticize, argue, return--or perhaps stay and become like "angels". Our narrator stumbles onto the following scene.]... I saw coming towards us a Ghost [a visitor from "hell"] who carried something on his shoulder. Like all the Ghosts, he was insubstantial, but they differed from one another as smokes differ. Some had been whitish; this one was dark and oily.
What sat on his shoulder was a little red lizard, and it was twitching its tail like a whip and whispering things in his ear. As we caught site of him he turned his head to the reptile with a snarl of impatience.
"Shut up, I tell you!" he said. It wagged its tail and continued to whisper to him. He ceased snarling, and presently began to smile. Then he turned and started to limp westward, away from the mountains ["heaven"].
"Off so soon?" said a voice. The speaker was more or less human in shape but larger than a man, and so bright that I could hardly look at him. His presence smote on my eyes and on my body too (for there was heat coming from him as well as light) like the morning sun at the beginning of a tyrannous summer day.
"Yes. I'm off," said the Ghost. "Thanks for all your hospitality. But it's no good, you see. I told this little chap," (here he indicated the lizard), "that he'd have to be quiet if he came--which he insisted on doing. Of course his stuff won't do here: I realize that. But he won't stop. I shall just have to go home."
"Would you like me to make him quiet?" said the flaming Spirit--an angel, as I now understood.
"Of course I would," said the Ghost.
"Then I will kill him," said the Angel, taking a step forward.
"Oh--ah--look out! You're burning me. Keep away," said the Ghost, retreating.
"Don't you want him killed?"
"You didn't say anything about killing him at first. I hardly meant to bother you with anything so drastic as that."
"It's the only way," said the Angel, whose burning hands were now very close to the lizard. "Shall I kill it?"
"Well, that's a further question. I'm quite open to consider it, but it's a new point, isn't it? I mean, for the moment I was only thinking about silencing it because up here--well, it's so damned embarrassing."
"May I kill it?"
"Well, there is time to discuss that later."
"There is no time. May I kill it?"
"Please, I never meant to be such a nuisance. Please--really--don't bother. Look! It's gone to sleep of it's own accord. I'm sure it'll be all right now. Thanks ever so much."
"May I kill it?"
"Honestly, I don't think there's the slightest necessity for that. I'm sure I shall be able to keep it in order now. I think the gradual process would be far better than killing it."
"The gradual process is of no use at all."
"Don't you think so? Well, I'll think over what you've said very carefully. I honestly will. In fact I'd let you kill it now, but as a matter of fact I'm not feeling frightfully well today. It would be silly to do it now. I'd need to be in good health for the operation. Some other day, perhaps."
"There is no other day. All days are present now."
"Get back! You're burning me. How can I tell you to kill it? You'd kill me if you did."
"It is not so."
"Why, you're hurting me now."
"I never said it wouldn't hurt you, I said it wouldn't kill you."
"Oh, I know. You think I'm a coward. But it isn't that. Really it isn't. I say! Let me run back by tonight's bus and get an opinion from my own doctor. I'll come again the first moment I can."
"This moment contains all moments."
"Why are you torturing me? You are jeering at me. How can I let you tear me to pieces? If you wanted to help me, why didn't you kill the damned thing without asking me--before I knew? It would be all over by now if you had."
"I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?"
The Angel's hands were almost closed on the Lizard, but not quite. Then the Lizard began chattering to the Ghost so loud that even I could hear what it was saying.
"Be careful," it said. "He can do what he says. He can kill me. One fatal word from you and he will! Then you'll be without me for ever and ever. It's not natural. How could you live? You'd only be a sort of ghost, not a real man as you are now. He doesn't understand. It may be natural for him, but it isn't for us. Yes, yes. I know there are no real pleasures now, only dreams. But aren't they better than nothing? And I'll be so good. I admit I've sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won't do it again. I'll give you nothing but really nice dreams--all sweet and fresh and almost innocent..."
"Have I your permission?" said the Angel to the Ghost.
"I know it will kill me."
"It won't. But supposing it did?"
"You're right. It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature."
"Then I may?"
"Damn and blast you! Go on, can't you? Get it over. Do what you like," bellowed the Ghost: but ended, whimpering, "God help me. God help me."
Next moment the Ghost gave a scream of agony such as I never heard on Earth. The Burning One closed his crimson grip on the reptile: twisted it, while it bit and writhed, and then flung it, broken backed, on the turf.
"Ow! That's done for me," gasped the Ghost, reeling backwards.
For a moment I could make out nothing distinctly. Then I saw, between me and the nearest bush, unmistakably solid but growing every moment solider, the upper arm and the shoulder of a man. Then, brighter and still stronger, the legs and hands. The neck and golden head materialized while I watched... the actual completing of a man--an immense man, naked, not much smaller than the Angel...
Reflection and Repentance Worksheet
This worksheet will not be used in any formal exercise later in the study, and is simply meant to assist you in thinking about areas of your life that you may have been "taken captive" by the forces of darkness. What you do with it is up to you.
Please remember that not all problems can be attributed to demons. But until the day when the church is discerning enough to confidently and correctly identify demons in people like Jesus did, the best judge of demonic activity in your life... is probably you.
If you suspect you may have been "had" by demons, it is recommended that you: 1) seek prayer on your own initiative, 2) confess and renounce all activity that led to such a state, and 3) repent and turn to God--do not dream of how "good the food was in Egypt" (Num 11:4-6), but partake of the heavenly bread and wait upon the Lord by faith.
1 Cor 10:20b (RSV) I do not want you to be partners with demons.
1) Are there any serious, predominant moral problems in your family line? (Things like: substance abuse, infidelity, suicide, bigotry, violence, perversion, pride, lying, etc.)
2) In the past, have you ever felt "superhuman" talent or capability that led you away from God? (Things like: seductiveness, manipulation, brilliance, ability to lie, witchcraft, spiritual guides, etc.)
3) Are there recurring, destructive modes you go into, way beyond normal temptation, that you cannot pull out of? (Things such as: fits of rage, bitterness, paranoia, self-pity, sexual lust, gossiping, spending binges, etc.)
2 Cor 6:17 (NIV) ... Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.
Rom 12:1-2 (Wey) I plead with you therefore, brethren, by the compassions of God, to present all your faculties to Him as a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to Him. This with you will be an act of reasonable worship. And do not follow the customs of the present age, but be transformed by the entire renewal of your minds, so that you may learn by experience what God's will is--that will which is good and beautiful and perfect.
Extra Stuff on Demons
The Spiritual Adultery Bible Study Series Intro