In my last article; Intercessory Prayer, I focused on the most important part of spiritual warfare and I stressed the point that without intercessory prayer, almost all dealings with demonic forces or individuals will not bring total victory. In my next study, I will be dealing with casting out devils, and how much misunderstanding there is about demon activity in people’s lives. Because this subject can get very deep and complex, I won’t be able to cover everything, but will highlight important aspects to give you a clear sense of what is involved.
DEVILS IN OUR WORLD
Earlier in this series of spiritual warfare studies we discussed where the devils came from and how they traffic through the minds of people. I am not going to get into that subject here, but I think it’s important to expand on what exactly are demon spirits; a.k.a. “devils.”
Demons are simply fallen angels. They are spiritual beings that you cannot see with physical eyes (except for rare occasions). These spirit beings travel around looking for people to possess. When a person gives in to these spirits (through temptation – more later), the demon can compress itself and dwell inside a human by attaching itself to the mind/body of that person… thus a person becomes “demon possessed.”
Most people often think of demons as these angry-raging beings with sharp teeth and dragon like appearances that can cause great harm (more on this below). However, demons spirits are actually invisible, and have the spirit-characteristics of the type of sin they are. Demon spirits are basically the personality or attitude of the sin they are bringing to the possessed person. For example, someone who is possessed by a spirit (demon) of murder, often has the attitude/personality of murder, hate and anger. So, when a person is possessed of murder that is why they manifest the attitudes of a murderer.
We need to understand this concept of demon possession. The reason being is that a person can have just one devil controlling them, while another can have legions (2000+) devils in them. Often times when a person is possessed, demons take other demons with them into the person. So, if a person has a spirit of murder; he’ll also have many other spirits such as rebellion, lust, pride, anger, hatred. I would also like to note; not all sin or spiritual problems mean a person is possessed. Just a person's sinful nature can cause issues as well; which doesn't also mean that they are completely controlled by a devil.
MYTHS ABOUT DEMONS
I am often puzzled by “church” people who are afraid of things concerning demons. There seems to be a kind of fear when it comes to dealing with these spirits because society has portrayed demon spirits as angry, very evil, dragon like creatures with teeth waiting to devour. Some people’s understanding of demon possession is mostly relegated to those who foam at the mouth or throw themselves into the fire, or throw up when they are delivered.
Even though the extreme side of demon possession does manifest itself in uncontrolled behavior and even violent out-bursts; most demon possession is actually fairly hidden from outward manifestations.
If you were to search scripture and study how demons operate, you will find that devils actually approach mankind as an “angel of light” so that they are not detected. Devilish attitudes and temptations usually come in the disguise of pleasure. The devil doesn’t tempt us with a gnarly-growling voice, but in a sweet, euphoric feeling and voice.
For the reasons above, most demon spirits are not discerned in people’s lives. Especially by the person who is possessed by it. The mistake the church makes is that if a person isn’t manifesting the outward behavior, such as throwing themselves in the fire; they don’t consider a person as being possessed… which just is not true!
THE 3 STAGES OF POSSESSION
To understand how a person can become possessed, you have to know that there are two other things that have to take place before a person becomes demon possessed. We must also point out that a person who is filled with the Holy Ghost and living right cannot be possessed by a devil and have the Holy Ghost at the same time.
Step 1 - Oppression: Whether a sinner or saint of God, the devils tactic is to “oppress” a person. Oppression is when a devil surrounds a person with a certain temptation. Demons will keep using oppression until he breaks through a person’s defense and causes them to sin. Often times oppression makes a person feel bad, negative or euphoric (when tempted with pleasure). Doubts, fears can even lead to depression. It is possible for a saint of God to have a devil attached to them and oppress them. It doesn’t mean they are possessed, but oppressed by a devil. This is one area a lot of believers don’t understand about spiritual warfare. When a person isn’t living in sin, but yet, feels very discouraged or is battling depression or even questioning their faith… it may be very possible, that a devil has attached itself to their mind through oppression. If a devil causes a person to sin through oppression, a person can get forgiven. And as long as that person is always striving to overcome the sin, they can keep pushing off the oppression until they overcome that devil.
Step 2 - Obsession: When the cycle of oppression, sin and repentance becomes too much for a person, a person keeps giving into the sin, it may then lead a person to being obsessed with the sin. In other words, they begin to enjoy the sin and not hardly fight back at all. For example, a person is tempted (oppressed) with a spirit of lust, each time they give in to it, they start to enjoy it and not resist the temptation. When a person becomes “obsessed” with the sin, they start to lose control and they start forming a habit. Even though the person can still be forgiven several times through the process… eventually, they don’t have a desire to even repent anymore, which then leads to complete possession.
Step 3 – Possession: When a person stops repenting and totally gives into the sin one-hundred percent, that person is then completely under the control of that spirit… demon possessed. If the person was a saint of God, they will lose the Holy Ghost because God will not dwell in an unclean vessel. So, just because a person isn’t foaming at the mouth doesn’t mean they are not possessed by devils. To be possessed by devils just means a person is completely controlled by the devil. That is why so many people can’t stop their addictions, which is demon possession in some cased.
HOW A BACKSLIDER TAKES ON MORE DEVILS THEN BEFORE
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. (Mat 12:43-45)
In the above verse, when an unclean spirit (devil) leaves a person (through deliverance - salvation), he walks about looking for someone else to possess. If a person then backslides and loses the Holy Ghost (swept and garnished); then the devil goes and gets seven spirits (demons) more wicked then himself and come and re-enters the person and re-possesses him. That is why some people backslide and actually live worst then they did before they first got saved.
As we have pointed out previously, most all demon possession is unseen and hardly has any outrageous manifestations; typically they are just spirits of the sin a person is bound by. However, there are extreme cases that make a lot of church folks nervous. What you have to understand about external manifestations, is that it is just an outward sign of the presence of many devils inside a person. They are still just the same old fallen angels, so there is nothing to be afraid of.
One such case in scripture is the man of Gadarenes. He had a legion (2000+) devils in him. They caused him to take off his clothes, live in the tombs, cut himself and scream. Obviously he had many variations of suicide, schizophrenia, murder, uncleanness, anger, strength, lust… you name it, he had it.
Yet, when Jesus came to him, the man bowed down to Jesus; in spite of all the devils he had. Jesus simply commanded the devils to go into the swine and the swine ran off a cliff killing themselves. That is how powerful a possessed person can become.
A SIGN TO A BELIEVER
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; (Mar 16:17)
Now that I have explained in depth how a person can become possessed, now we are going to look into how to cast out devils.
The first thing we have to address, is that casting out devils is just as much a “sign” of a believer as speaking in tongues is when a person gets the Holy Ghost, and even though it is a sign to a believer, I do understand that God still has to give a person the understanding and authority to work in this realm in a more powerful ministry. However, what most saints don’t grasp is that when you help a person pray through to the Holy Ghost for the first time, you may not even know that a devil is leaving them at that moment. So, a lot of people are unknowingly casting out devils without realizing it.
THE SONS OF SCEVA
Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. (Act 19:13-16)
In the above passage is an account of a vagabond Jew who took upon himself to call out devils using the name of Paul (in Jesus Name). And the sons of Sceva did the same thing. The man that was possessed of the devil looked at this Jew (and seven sons) and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you.” Then this demon possessed man jumped on all the men (who were trying to cast out the devil) and made them flee and wounded them.
The lesson we do have to understand is that for a person to cast out devils successfully, they need to have a right to do so. A person cannot be afraid of devils and they cannot call out devils properly if that individual isn’t an overcomer and actually has a relationship with Jesus. Trying to cast out devils without having authority from God to do so can get a person into big trouble.
SOME THINGS ONLY COME BY PRAYER AND FASTING
In Mat 17:14-21, a man brought his son to the disciples to be healed and they could not deliver the boy from the devils. Jesus came along and delivered the boy. Later the disciple asked why they couldn’t deliver him and Jesus said, “Because of your unbelief… This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”
Some church folks think that we can just bind every devil on earth by just saying “I bind you in Jesus name”… I wish it was that easy. It does work fairly easily for weak devils, but when it comes to major possessions, we are not going to cast out any devils without first praying and fasting to get our unbelief out of the way. Why is that? Don’t we have Jesus name to help us?
Some folks think that “unbelief” is just doubt (which it is in a broad sense). But the unbelief Jesus is talking about is the mindset of accepting human limitations. It borders on refusing to believe (unknowingly). If you noticed, the disciples did believe they could do it because they were puzzled when it didn’t happen. The problem they faced was that their human reasoning didn’t bring them into a more authoritative realm of the Spirit, because they were hindered by their limitations.
The fasting and prayer removes all human limitations and reasoning. However, I must stress that Jesus isn’t talking about a one day fast. It may take 3 or more days to get self completely out of the way! And for these reasons we do not see as many healings and deliverance.
TAKING AUTHORITY OVER DEVILS
When dealing with most devils, just helping a person pray through to the Holy Ghost the first time will cast them out. However, if a person is having a hard time getting the Holy Ghost, they usually only have two issues. 1) They have not surrendered to God completely or 2) They have a devil keeping them bound.
If a person has a “spirit” blocking them, then the people working with the individual needs to do some praying and fasting, and or they can help the person see what is hindering them. If a person has a spirit of fear, someone needs to take authority over that spirit and help the individual renounce that spirit and commit their life to God. Depending on how entrenched a person is in demonic bondage will dictate how much praying and fasting the workers have to do to help that individual. The other option is that a man of God who is used in a deliverance ministry comes and helps him.
When dealing with devils, one must have some discernment and understanding in identifying the devil. You may or may not have to “Name the devil” (Jesus didn’t on one occasion), but you at least need to know what devil(s) are binding a person. Then just take authority over it in prayer by commanding it to leave.
I knew a family in a church that had major issues, one of the members completely backslid and became really rebellious, but still lived in the home. My wife and I went to their home and dealt with the person. We went through the house pleading the blood of Jesus on all members of the family. Some of them prayed and called on God.
When we got to the individual that had the devil, we identified the devil as a spirit of rebellion and rage. The person had picked it up because of family issues. At first the person showed us some anger and grunting; they were resisting us. We simply talked with compassion and as the person began to soften up, we then laid our hands on their head and began rebuking and commanding that spirit of rebellion to leave. Within about 15-20 minutes, the devil left the individual and they prayed back through to the Holy Ghost. Thank You Jesus!
Casting out devils seems like a scary thing for some church folks, but when you understand that demons are nothing but attitudes and personalities of fallen angels that have attached themselves to people; you will then understand that all you really are casting out is the attitude of that spirit.
Now, when you start getting into more powerful manifestations that cause people to do weird things, you still have to understand; that it is still just a spirit-being that has convinced a sinner to indulge in sin and it can control their behavior and even control their physical body.
I must also warn though. If a person dabbles in demonic things without proper understanding and without authority of Jesus in their lives, a person can get hurt. Demons can tear at people when they become angry.
The truth be told… the only reason most people are afraid of demonic manifestations is; 1) Ignorance (being unlearned) or 2) They have sin in their life.
If a person wants to be used in the area of casting out devils, then they must get over any fears of devils and they need to learn about spiritual warfare. It really isn’t anything to be afraid of… as long as we walk a righteous life in God, whom shall we fear??!!
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