Solid Snippet Article #030
Demons All Around
Demonic Activity in the Bible
Every October since I have been a pastor, I have had to deal with how we engage the holiday of Halloween. My first year, our church did one of those harvest fest deals called ďLight the Night,Ē where we basically sought to redeem the holiday. My second year, we didnít do that at all. We didnít do anything. Halloween was on a Saturday, and the next day I spoke about some of the origins of Halloween, stressing that while people donít do those things in massive crowds today, they are the origins of Halloween. This past year, we didnít really do much at all for it. I have left it up to the individuals in the congregation to decide how they will approach the holiday. I learned a lot the second year when I researched why we do things for that holiday.
Most people donít realize that there are pagan and demonic influences on all of our holidays, even when they are considered thoroughly Christian. Since we didnít do much for Halloween, I did want to focus on the spiritual realm this month in my article. I hear so much about demons and Satan in the church, and I think we talk about and are enthralled too much with this subject. So one of the best ways to deal with it, in my opinion, is to hit the bases in one shot, so people get a systematic approach, and then put it back into the balance the subject has in Scripture. So here we go.
A fair warning is usually issued by those who seek to speak on the subject of demonic forces, and I give the same here. In our world, we are drawn to these dark spiritual images of demons and the devil and evil. In our movies, the evil guys look cooler to us than the good guys. We obsess over the minor subjects of the Bible and try to fill in blanks that the Bible does not fill in. Our Western culture longs for complete information rather than settling for what the Bible gives us, trusting in God that we have the information we need.
A discussion of demons and possession begins with a biblical understanding that this physical world and the spiritual world are planes of existence that we participate in, like amphibians. We are spiritual and physical creatures as human beings. There is a war engaged on this spiritual plane, and we participate whether we realize it or not. Satan and his minions seek to use us as pawns against God, taking Godís good creation and perverting and corrupting it. God seeks for us to be freed from the captivity of these evil forces that seem to have control. We must avoid a dualistic understanding, because the evil forces donít have a chance in Hell against God. Satan will lose, but he wants to take humans with him. So how much influence do Satan and his associates have on earth and in humans?
The Old Testament
Because Satan, the Hebrew word for adversary personified in one individual, is diametrically opposed to Godís plan, he has helpers, demons, who do a lot of his bidding. We must be clear about Satan and his demons that they are nowhere near as powerful as God, they donít know everything, and they are not everywhere present. This is an understanding that gets lost in the mix of many perspectives on Satan and demons. Because Satan canít be everywhere, he must prioritize the ways in which he wants to undermine Godís will and Godís people. His demons most likely deal on the less prioritized areas. Besides all of this, let us not forget the personal responsibility of being born into a world of sin, an environment that programs us toward evil to begin with. All of these factors play distinctive roles in our lives to keep us from enjoying the fulfillment of Godís plan for our lives and this world.
The Bible is not overly enthralled with demons and demonic forces, and so let us take some of the most notable examples from the Bible of demonic activity. Sorcery and other types of demonic activity, such as witchcraft and the occult, can be found in the Old Testament under the ban of idolatry. Indeed, Scripture seems to suggest that some idols are actually demons taking on that title and using what little power they have to deceive many (Lev 17:7; Deut 32:17; Ps 106:37; cf. 1 Cor 10:20; Rev 9:20). There is a specific story concerning King Saul and a medium where he calls Samuel up from the grave, which is looked upon as sinful (1 Sam 28). Sorcery was against Godís law because it is not going to God in our troubles but going to demons instead (Exod 22:18; Lev 19:26, 31; Deut 18:10-11). Saul has already lost the Spirit of God in his life and these are the types of activities he is involved in. The Old Testament seems clear that just because Satan and his demons do not have the same power that God has does not mean that they are harmless by any means. God uses His power to heal and save, but they use their power to deceive and destroy.
Satan himself seems to get directly involved from time to time as well, but it takes quite the believer in God to get on the top of his list. I would imagine that nowadays he is more concerned with the church itself as it stands against the gates of Hell (Matt 16:18) than with individual Christians. However, we are entrusted with information not even Job is given in the prologue of the book of Job that Satan does personally oppress some believers. In Job 1:6-12 and 2:1-10, Satan, the adversary of God, is directly given permission to interfere with Jobís wealth and health to test him. But the testing is really Godís allowance. God places restrictions on Satan. Satan is not allowed to take Jobís life. Donít forget that Satan only has limited power. God is omnipotent! Satan has always been and will always be under Godís thumb. He cannot do to you anything God does not allow!
We also see from another example that Satan does interfere with Godís people and the armies of God. In Daniel 10:13, Daniel is told by a messenger that his prayer has been answered three weeks in the past, but it has taken that long to get the answer to him because of the influence of the devil. There are spiritual battles all around us, and yet we are usually unaware of them! We might be able to see from this passage that Michael is a warrior of God who defends Godís messengers when needed, and here the prince of Persia is an alias not for a mere man, but for a demonic force or perhaps even Satan himself. Later in Ephesians 2:2, Satan is also referred to as the prince of the power of the air. It seems that Satan can hinder the armies and people of God from this example.
Jesusí Life, Ministry and Teaching
While the Old Testament simply forbids interaction with demonic activity because it is contrary to Godís will for His people and gives us a cursory glance into the spiritual realm, the New Testament mentions demonic activity on several occasions, much more frequently than the Old Testament because of the emphasis on the Kingdom of God and the spiritual war at hand for the souls of people. Let us first look at Jesusí ministry, which sets the basis for how the Church and Christians should deal with demonic forces, then at the Churchís dealings with demons, as well as how Christians should react to demons and the devil today as we serve God and His Kingdom.
Jesus taught a couple of key principles about demons that we might forget from time to time. First of all, He taught that a person will be filled with a spirit. The question becomes not if one is influenced by spirits, but by which spirit. The Holy Spirit indwells believers at the moment of salvation, but Jesus teaches demons also can dwell in a person (Matt 12:43-45; Luke 11:24-26). This is typically referred to as demon possession, where a demon can control a person to the greatest extent. There are even examples of bodily functions and human judgment being controlled by demons. Jesusí teaching here tells us that a void from the Holy Spirit will be filled by unclean spirits.
We must be careful who we align ourselves with. We can open ourselves up as homes for demons through our actions, our beliefs, and our environment and attitudes. Make no mistake that what you allow into your soul influences whether you are open or closed to evil spirits. Scripture seems to teach that we cannot be forcibly inhabited by demons or the Holy Spirit. If this is indeed the case as it seems, then we cannot unwittingly be possessed or even against our wills. Demons come to roost in people because people do not guard against them. Do not be spiritually apathetic on this matter!
The second lesson we receive from Jesus comes at a time when He is accused of casting out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of demons (Matt 12:22-32; Luke 11:14-23). Here, the Pharisees accuse Jesus of a parlor trick, of casting out demons because he is their demonic master. He can tell his servants to leave a person, having control over them because he is their boss. Jesus rebukes them by explaining that a kingdom divided against itself will not stand. It does Satan no good to release control by any of his demons over any of their charges, because the whole point of his existence is to do what they are doing. Satan is not all-knowing like God, but heís not stupid either.
Beyond this, the famed sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit is the subject of this teaching by Jesus. Jesus is casting out demons because He is their Master in the sense that they cannot be around Him and live. Jesus is Master over all creation, and these are created spirits. He can command them because He has true authority, not the authority they steal to do their evil. They donít leave because Heís their next in command, but because He is the Commander of All! He casts them out by the Holy Spirit, not by a commander demon. These Pharisees were giving credit for the work of the Holy Spirit to the devil. Satan loves it when humans credit him with power that he stole. The sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit is a sin out of harshness toward God. Anytime someone wonders if they have committed it and is ashamed, they have not committed it. Those who commit such a sin willingly are playing for the other team and have no remorse. But the spiritual principle here is that demons respond to God and we must give God the true credit for what His Spirit is doing in freeing the captive from demonic influence of any kind.
As we look at Jesusí ministry, we are told that he starts it with a faceoff between Him and Satan in a wilderness (Matt 4). Satan came after Jesus to tempt Him as He initiated His ministry. He then at the end waited ďuntil an opportune timeĒ (Luke 4:13). The devil never quits attacking God and His people. Most scholars suggest that the Garden of Gethsemane was that next opportune time. We learn a couple of lessons in spiritual warfare as Jesus faces off with Satan. First, Jesus used Scripture to ward off the temptations that Satan sent His way. Scripture is a powerful weapon in the hands of the believer. We who know Christ and Scripture have all that we need to fight demonic activity.
However, we also learn that Satan knows Scripture just as much as Jesus does. The difference is that he twists and perverts it to his own goal. We must not only be saturated in Scripture, but in a deep relationship with Christ and His Spirit so that we can properly use Scripture in this spiritual war. Jesus was able to have the self control of the Spirit to stand up against Satan. So far in Scripture, Satan has directly involved himself with few people, Job and Jesus. It is for this reason that I do not believe that Satan is harassing every believer. He can be only one place at once, and he must prioritize also because his time is short. He is more likely to send his demons to do his bidding against most believers.
As Jesus traveled, he not only preached and proclaimed the Kingdom of God, but demonstrated the inauguration of its rule by healing the sick and deliverance from evil spirits (Matt 8:16, 32; Mark 1:34; Luke 6:18). Many of the examples of demonic influence in the Gospels have physical effects such as being mute (Matt 9:32-33), blind (Matt 12:22), and epileptic (Matt 17:14-20), to name a few. In most of these instances where a physical phenomenon is exhibited, when the demon is removed, the person is once again able to speak or see. There are also instances in which the demons know Jesus and who He is (Mark 3:11), but are rebuked because it is not His time yet. An important lesson in spiritual warfare is here given as well, that Jesus is still the ultimate authority and even these demons bow to Him! We need not be afraid to demonstrate His authority as long as we are His.
Different words are used for demonic activity, such as evil spirits, unclean spirits, demons, and demonized. Most common are referring to evil or unclean spirits. Unclean has a connection to the rituals of the Old Testament Law and evil refers to the intent of these spirits. Demons are spirits that are sent by the devil to influence our fallen world and to war against Christís church. It is often understood that because they are spirits that they can indwell a human body and take it over. Notice, however, that even the Holy Spirit does not take over a personís body, and He is omnipotent. This does not mean that demons, which do not play by the same kind of rules as the Holy Spirit, cannot be forceful and controlling, as some of these examples bear out.
Other words in the Gospels speak of being demonized or of having a spirit. The word for demonized shows up 13 times throughout the Gospels, and is native to the Gospels. It can be translated demonized, demon possessed, or demon oppressed in most translations. The demons can enter and exit their victims in the Gospels and there is no particular method given for exorcising them except that Jesus commands them to leave and they obey. The question of how much a demon can affect a person can be seen in some of the examples given in the Gospels. Those who are not demonized, the verbal form of the Greek word for demon, are said to ďhave a demon.Ē The verb for having here is not necessarily connoting that the person owns the demon but that they are affected by demons.
There are many examples of demonic activity throughout the Gospels, so letís take a look at a few that provide lessons in spiritual understanding and warfare. Certain instances are given a large portion in the Gospels, showing their importance, or are so memorable that they are recorded in multiple Gospels. We will focus on a couple of these. First, in Matthew 17:14-20, Jesus meets an epileptic who has a demon, an example of how demons can use diseases to control their victims. The demon seems to have enough control to not only cause epilepsy but also throw the boy into the fire and water, an apparent attempt to kill him through suicide.
Jesus rebukes the demon and it comes out immediately. The man brought his boy to Jesus because the disciples could not exorcise it. Along with the demonís departure, the boy is healed of his epilepsy. When the New Testament mentions sickness and demon possession in the same ways, they are to be viewed as problems that are not stronger than Jesusí Kingdom. Demons can use these things, like psychological illnesses and physical illnesses, but the reverse is not necessarily true, that a person who is sick has a demon. It is also true that a demon does not have to demonstrate such phenomenon.
Jesus tells the disciples that they didnít have the faith to set the boy free. This is one of the lessons about exorcising demons and being a believer in a fallen world. When we run into demons, we must not think them mightier than God. We must put our faith in the freedom that God brings. We must trust in Him that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. We must not fear demons. Their power is stolen and their time is short. The disciples learn to trust in God so that they can demonstrate the Kingdom to this world. May we learn the same lesson!
Another example given much space in the Gospels can be found in Mark 9:14-29. Here there is another boy that is said to have a demon and once again the disciples are unable to exorcise it. This may be the same account as in Matthew 17:14-20, however, there are subtle differences that we will speak about here. Of the same nature are the facts that the disciples canít cast out the demon, Jesus chides the whole generation for being faithless, and the demon attempts to kill the boy through suicidal methods. But there are several differences, including the facts that the boy demonstrates some different phenomenon, such as foaming at the mouth, grinding his teeth and becoming rigid.
Also, other differences tell us that the boy has been possessed for a longer time, Jesusí ability to exorcise the demon is questioned, and then the father admits his unbelief. Jesus tells us it is a demon that causes the boy to be deaf and mute, and the boy reacts violently to the exorcism so that the people think he is dead. A principle that may be in the text here is that the longer a person is under the possession or influence of demons, the more of a captive that person becomes. Jesus seems surprised at the symptoms of the possession and asks how long the boy has been affected.
The disciples once again ask Jesus why they could not perform the exorcism, and in this periscope, His answer is different than faithlessness. Here, instead of being able to trust in Him to have authority over demons, Jesus tells them that they donít pray enough, and in some manuscripts, fasting is added. This gives us another important lesson about being a believer in this fallen world. When we come up against demons, we must be well connected to Christ and be people of prayer. The power of prayer is clearly in view in this situation. Be ready for the spiritual realm in your day-to-day affairs. Donít be caught without being prepared by a situation like this. Be doing the disciplines that help us to be strong in Jesus in the spiritual realm.
Another episode from Jesusí life and ministry can be found in Mark 1:21-28 where a man with an unclean spirit comes into the synagogue where Jesus is teaching. Jesus commands the demon to leave the man after an outburst in which the demon attempts to name Jesus as the Son of God. It is an often held belief in ancient times that knowing the name of a spiritual power gave a person power over them. But here, Jesus knows it is not the time for His death yet, so He silences the demon. The man convulses and cries out loudly, something we see in other places (Luke 9:42 and others). The takeaway from this section is that even in a holy place like the synagogue, demons can be present. But when the Word of God is preached by godly preachers like Jesus, they seem to be uncomfortable. This is because they cannot stand the truth!
The Church and Apostles
There is often a connection between sickness and demon possession throughout the New Testament. Oftentimes, these sicknesses are caused by the demons themselves. The demon makes a person mute or deaf or blind or an epileptic. The way it is written in Greek might suggest that there can be a spirit of blindness or a spirit of whatever disease, however, I would interpret these to simply point to the symptoms of the demonís controlling influence rather than to suggest that there are demons that use only that controlling measure. In other words, I donít see enough in Scripture that there is a demon named Blindness or a demon named Deaf or a demon named Epilepsy. Even James mentions sin and sickness together as though they have a connection (James 5:15-16).
This would limit their ability to use other methods of control that may be more effective. I could be wrong about this, but this is what I see. The reason sickness and demonic activity are often seen together in the New Testament is that with the inauguration of the Kingdom of God, these things are all abnormal for people living in the Kingdom to experience, so they are all lumped together as things that the Kingdom eradicates. Aside from this, everyone could blame their sin on a demon of that sin. So an alcoholic could say that he was forced by the alcohol demon when in fact it is his nature and the environment, let alone a personal choice, which cause the sin, not necessarily a demon. But a demon may use that addiction to control this person.
When we see the church in Acts, this body of Christ does the same ministry that Jesus did when He was physically present upon the earth. In Acts 5:16 and Acts 8:7, people come to those who are believers in the church and those who are demon-possessed are freed from that captivity. Even the same language is used, as Luke shows us that the Church is Jesusí body for ministry. The things that He did in His ministry, the church carries on. The spiritual lesson for us here commands by example that the church still be focused on the ministry of Jesus, which includes casting out demons when we encounter them. So much of the church is either blind or ignorant to demonic activity, or even in denial. We need to be doing the ministry of Christ!
The apostles taught about Jesus that He had overcome demonic forces through His ministry and death on the cross. Throughout their teaching in the epistles, especially with Paul, there was a constant understanding that the cross was not just about sins themselves, but about destroying the powers that thrive off of the sinfulness of humanity and the fallenness of this world (1 Cor 2:6-8; Col 2:14-15; Heb 2:14). Jesus didnít just go to the cross to do one little thing. The cross was the most cosmically complete event that has ever or will ever happen! These apostles and teachers are speaking about the cross in universe and creation-changing ways, not just relationship ways. We need to realize and enact that same power of the cross. What have we to be afraid of when our Lord conquered not just demons, but every force out there that intends evil?
Also in the teaching of Paul we see Satan and his demons as hindrances to Godís decrees, commands and plans (1 Thess 2:18; 2 Cor 4:4). Remember that in Daniel 10:13, we are given a direct understanding by an angel that Danielís prayer was answered chronologically 3 weeks earlier than he received the confirmation of that request because of a hindering demon or possibly Satan himself. Because his time is short, the devil would like nothing more than to hinder the church, and whatever little power he has, he will use to that end. But although he could delay this message in Daniel and hinder the apostle Paul, he could not stop them! Godís power must never be lessened in a discussion of demonic activity.
So how do the apostles and the church speak of demonic forces and the Christian? Paul talks about fighting demonic forces with the armor of God (Eph 6:10-18). Notice the preparation that goes into such battles. We must be prepared to take on these forces. And we must not be side-tracked or have the wrong target, like humans. This is not a fight against humans but against the devil and demonic principalities. The New Testament readily admits the reality of demons, as James tells us that they know the truth, that there is one God, and shudder (James 2:19). In this war, we are fighting indeed, but not the common enemy. We must remember to have our sights set on the right targets in spiritual battle and to be prepared in the armor and protection of God before we battle these forces.
Several questions have been asked of me in the past about how much influence a demon can have on a believer. First of all, know that as we saw with Jesusí teaching, the Holy Spirit and a demon cannot dwell in the same space at the same time. There is no way scripturally that a believer can be demon possessed and a believer at the same time. Beyond this, believers have been given authority over demonic forces to cast them out of others (Matt 10:1, 8; Mark 3:15; Luke 9:1). When we are connected to Jesus, our Vine (John 15:1-11) and we have a relationship with Him and walk in His ways, we need not fear any demon or even Satan. But we do not stand on our own. We stand in the power of Christ alone!
As far as influence, there is an account of a couple named Ananias and Sapphira who gave only part of the money they had pledged to the church and then lied about the amount to the apostles in the church and were struck dead (Acts 5:1-11). Right before this sudden ushering into eternal judgment, Peter asked them how Satan could fill their hearts to lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3). I would suggest that rather than these believers being possessed, Satan merely amplified their sinful desires which they chose to follow. He learns our weaknesses through temptation by trial and error. When we fall, he remembers that weak spot. So we must lean on God to keep us from the evil one, as Jesus taught us to pray (Matt 6:13). Jesus won the battle with demons and Satan at the cross, and there is no need for us to walk in defeat. We must walk in victory instead! Donít give back to Satan what Christ has won!
City Demons and Naming Demons, Hierarchies
Recently in demonology has become the doctrine that demons reign over physical regions and cities, that each city has unique demonic forces at work in it, or that demons can be named for their temptations. For instance, the spirit of alcohol or the spirit of adultery are some names I have heard used by others. Is there any biblical precedent for having this type of practice? I can only think of one episode that may give reason for these types of practices, the longest portion in the gospels concerning demonic activity found in Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39. Most scholars consider this the same story, but there are subtle differences.
This is the episode in which Jesus goes to a place known as the Gadarenes. What is interesting about the three accounts is that two of them seem to be referring to the same incident while the third has slightly different details. Markís and Lukeís accounts tend to synchronize well, but Matthewís has some distinctive qualities. In Mark and Luke, the place is called the Garasenes, while in Matthew it is the Gaderenes, a difference of only two letters. The placeís name is so close that it might be the same place. That could be explained away, but in Matthew, there are two demon-possessed men while in Mark and Luke, there is only one. That is different! It is very hard to explain that away. Matthewís account is much shorter. In Mark and Luke, there is an entire conversation absent from Matthew. So are these two the same episode or two different ones?
They may be the same episode, with the exception that Matthew has two men instead of one. If that is the case, then even this portion of Scripture does not give evidence that there are regional or city demons. However, if there are two separate accounts, one saying there are two men, and another saying there is one, then the Gadarenes is a place that experiences two strange demonic activity episodes, suggesting that it has a higher frequency of demonic activity than other areas, and both stories would also indicate a similar pattern of demonic behavior, the demon of insane strength and insanity itself.
Aside from these points, this is a place where people get a theology of exorcism that involves finding out what the demonís name is and whatís going on, where there is a long drawn out confrontation with demons. Nowhere else does Jesus interact at such length with demons. This episode is not the norm, but unique, and so we must always remember that most exorcisms are brief, unlike Hollywoodís depictions. We command the demon to leave in the name of Jesus, and because we know Jesus and use His authority, the demon must leave. Thatís all. We donít need to do some special ritual, as we have seen, or talk to the demon.
In this unusual account, Jesus does speak to the demons at length. We find out that this man was possessed by so many demons that they collectively gave themselves the name Legion, the term for a Roman military unit of 1,000 soldiers. Despite the high number of demons in this man, notice that at no time do they attempt to overtake Jesus or disobey Him. In fact, they are begging Him not to send them into the abyss! Donít ever forget that the Christian is more powerful than any number of demons. They are all subservient to the Creator of the Universe. There seems to be a link between the victim(s)í demon possession and sanity.
When the demons leave, they are made whole. They are given extraordinary physical strength by the demons. There is power in demonic forces, but it does not even remotely rival Godís power. These are some of the lessons we learn from this account. Unless youíre Jesus, itís probably not a good idea to talk to demonic forces. Just stand on the power of His name and cast them out. They cannot stay because Jesus is Lord over all spiritual and physical creatures and beings.
As I said before, if a person is willing to accept two separate accounts, a case could be made that these are regional demons, because the place is most likely the same. The only portion of the accounts that would make two accounts possible is the number of demon possessed individuals and the length of the dialogue. But if you see these as one and the same account, there is no evidence in the Bible for regional or city demons, or for long, drawn out dialogues with demons to discover their names or powers. Donít give the demons credibility by speaking with them. Just cast them out. Jesus is stronger. Demons will show up anywhere they are invited or in any environment where they can do what they wish. Any place or person that is open to demonic activity will be accessible to them. They will go wherever they are welcome.
I donít see anywhere else in Scripture where demons seem to own a geographical area. I donít think that spirits would work with geography and physical boundaries. It would be like limiting themselves to a certain area when they can go farther than this geographical boundary or that one because they are spirits, not held to physical characteristics. There may be a more effective way to oppress certain groups of human beings in the same place, but that is more likely a coincidence. I have never run into this sort of thing in ministry up to this point, but I will not say it is an impossibility. I would have to do more study on the nature of this phenomenon. Remember that first Scripture teaches us about the world, and then experience can confirm Scriptural teaching. In other words, if you are experiencing such a thing or hear an example of this, that does not mean that it is Scriptural.
As far as hierarchies of demonic forces, like in the military, the Bible does not clearly speak to this issue. Colossians 1:16-17 is the best possible example of this. Throughout Christian history, especially in the times of the New Testament and the second generation of Christians, false teachers called Gnostics held to hierarchies of angels and demons as part of their secret knowledge creeds, as well as pagans, who had elaborate hierarchies of demons and principalities. It is not guaranteed that this is the fact in Colossians 1:16-17. The suggestion by some is that the four different words used for forces not well described elsewhere in Scripture, coupled with the suggestion from Daniel 10 that Michael is the warfare angel while other parts of the Bible talk about Gabriel as the messenger from God for vocal messages give possibility to this. Also, Jude 9 calls Michael the archangel, which is also suggestive that there may be angelic hierarchies.
I am reticent to jump on the band wagon of trying to figure something like this out from Scripture when there is just not enough data on the subject. The Bible is not concerned with explaining Satanís governmental setup for demonic forces. It is concerned with showing us a loving God who saves us from evil, so these things are minor points in Godís Word, because no matter how much power these forces demonstrate, Jesus is greater! We need not be concerned with hierarchies of demons, because their highest level has no power compared to Jesus.
Conclusion on Demonic Activity
This has been a longer article than usual, but it covers almost all of the references to demonic forces in the whole Bible. We as believers in Jesus must not be afraid of demons. We must do what Jesus did and use the authority that He has given us to cast them out. The Kingdom of God spreads through individuals who are set free from evil and wickedness. When we cast out demons, it is not a show of our power or strength, but of Godís power to set captives free. We rejoice with them when they are free.
However, do not downplay the dangers and powers of demons and of Satan. Like a cornered animal, he will lash out. First Peter 5:8 warns us that the devil is like a prowling lion who seeks to steal, kill and destroy. Satan and his minions will not always go out so easily. We must stand in the authority of Christ. We must be well connected to Jesus. There is an example in Acts of seven sons of a priest named Sceva who use a formula to get demons out, but one demon doesnít take too kindly to them and sends them out naked and bleeding (Acts 19:11-20). Take these warnings to heart and be close to Jesus. These men were beaten and brutalized by the demon possessed man because they did not really know Jesus. They just used his name in a formula. Formulas donít do any good. You must be a believer standing in the authority of Christ to be effective.
At the same time, we are given clear instruction on the matter of dealing with demons. Paul reminds us that we are in a spiritual battle, not a physical one (Eph 6:12). We need not put ourselves against flesh and blood people but against the demonic influences in their lives. The battle we fight is unconventional. And we need good soldiers who know who they are in Christ! John reminds us that Jesus is greater in power and reputation than any demon or even the devil himself (1 John 4:4). Stand on these promises. Donít let Satan tell you that you are not a person of authority or question your walk with Jesus.
Just tell him to get lost. Donít be cocky about it. Just be confident about it. And donít look to be influenced by demons. James tells us to resist the devil, and he will flee because he canít stand to be in Godís presence (James 4:7-8). And Paul tells us that we can stand up to anything that is ungodly (2 Cor 10:3-6), and that includes demons and Satan. Donít give him a foothold in your life or in your world. Stand up to him in Jesusí name with Jesusí authority, and be filled with Godís Spirit, and you have nothing to fear. He has to leave. And as far as we are concerned, he can go to Hell where he belongs, and all his minions with him. After all, Hell was made for Satan and his demons. Donít lease out yourself or let others become his landlords!