The question of demon possession is often referred to in the New Testament. It seems that those who are possessed by demons generally recognise this themselves, and this is a helpful factor in counselling. It is vital to counsel correctly and not to confuse mental illness with demon possession. The Christian worker needs the gift of being able to distinguish between spirits. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God; every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God.” (1 John 4:1-3). The hold of evil is sometimes stronger than we realise: it would seem that for an idolater to destroy an idol is not enough; the spirit behind the idol must be driven off in Christ’s name. Satan is the master deluder; for example, he deludes some people into relying on visions – sometimes a vision of Christ – for their salvation. Such a reliance is of the devil. Only a personal reliance on the death of Christ is of avail. This may be accompanied by a divine vision, as in the case of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.
The object of this chapter is to encourage Christians to pray for each other in their warfare against Satan, and also to help any who have to counsel those oppressed by Satan through the practice of forbidden things and through the sins of their forebears. “The weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”
The following are our weapons to be used under the guidance of the Holy Spirit:
- THE NAME OF CHRIST. We can pray that those who practise witchcraft against the servants of God may know that there is more power in Christ’s name than in any name they use. We can rebuke Satan in the name of Christ and cast out demons in His name.
- THE BLOOD OF CHRIST. In such a warfare we need the protection of the blood of Christ. When anyone has confessed his sin, he needs the cleansing of Christ’s precious blood.
- THE AUTHORITY OF CHRIST. This is a delegated authority, and therefore we should not rejoice in it, but that we belong to Him who gave the authority. Christ said: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the Spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:18-20).
- THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST. Reference has already been made to some of the gifts of the Spirit, and in a ministry of this sort it is necessary to accept and exercise any gift that the Spirit gives. He can give several gifts. He can give them for special occasions or for a general ministry. “He apportions to each one individually as he wills.” He gives the ability to distinguish between spirits; He gives the utterance of wisdom and the utterance of knowledge as, for example, in the case of a Pakistani evangelist to whom God revealed that a certain woman was using black magic against him. The woman, hearing his utterance of knowledge, admitted what she had done and confessed he was a man of God.
- THE PEOPLE OF CHRIST. Often, in such warfare, fellowship is a necessity and God gives it. There are promises given to the two or more who shall pray in Christ’s name. The disciples failed to cast out a demon because they neglected prayer and possible fasting.
- THE LIFE OF CHRIST. It is vital to know victory in one’s own spiritual experience.
Any sin is a lining-up with Satan. He who fails in any way to walk with Christ not only is powerless to help another, but endangers himself.
- THE ALLIES OF CHRIST. It is well to remember that there are evil powers, but that there are also powers of God. There are the legions of angels “who are ministering spirits sent forth to serve for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation” (Hebrews 1: 14), and God Himself can be a wall of fire around His own people (Zechariah 2:5).
Some may find the devil’s assault on their own souls too fierce. He has already lost. Perfect love casts out fear. The way of deliverance and victory is to cry to God for deliverance through the name and blood of Christ and to praise Him.
I have given more attention to hidden and occult things, to Satan’s use of supernatural powers in attack, because these are not recognised so much today, and where they are recognised there is sometimes confusion as to how to deal with such attacks. The New Testament, however, gives more space to the devil’s attack through human frailty than to his use of the supernatural. It refers to many sins such as cowardice and apostasy as direct and personal operation of the devil. Covetousness was attributed by Peter to the direct work of Satan in Ananias’ heart (Acts 5:3). Lack of love is a sign of allegiance to Satan according to John (1 John 3:10). We are commanded to put to death what is earthly in us; immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5).
The passage in the sixth chapter of Ephesians on the Christian’s armour suggest that the forces of darkness concentrate their attack on ordinary human frailties, for example, on loyalty to truth or tendencies to slackness, doubt and fear – for at these points protection must be provided. So, using the whole armour of God, the weapons of our warfare, the Word of God and prayer, we can stand against our adversary and all his stratagems, whatever they may be, being strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
This blog is part 3 of a 3 part teaching by Vivienne Stacey entitled ‘Unholy Spirits’. See previous blogs for parts 1 and 2.
(c) When Women Speak… August 2022