Spiritual warfare is a strange concept to our Western minds. Satan has all but convinced us in America that there is no spiritual realm. So we don’t need to worry about resisting the devil. We are taught that there is no such thing as God, angels, or demons.
Our culture says the Bible is a collection of fictitious myths. Of course, Satan is fine with that. Any lie will do. He’s happy as long as we are mired in lies and deception.
He just wants to hurt God and hurt people as much as he can before he is eternally punished. He is the ultimate thief. His goals for our lives are to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).
In reality, the Bible is our source of absolute truth. God’s truth sets us free! His goals are to bless us and give us abundant life to the full now and eternal life forever (John 10:10, John 17:3)!
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.1 Pet. 5:7-10
The 2 spiritual paths: the narrow path or the broad path
Our life choices have powerful spiritual (and even eternal) consequences. There are only two spiritual authorities, ultimately, that can be in control of our lives:
- We can invite the Holy Spirit’s authority to have control in our lives, choosing salvation and yielding to the Lordship of Christ.
- We can go our own way, which is also Satan’s way. This automatically invites demonic authority and demonic oppression into our lives to one degree or another.
But even as believers in Christ, we can open doors to allow Satan to take ground and authority in our lives if we cherish sin or invite him in.
We simply can’t afford to play and flirt with the enemy. All the doors of our lives must be fully shut to Satan’s influence and completely open to God’s influence.
Demonic influences only leave when a stronger authority takes over. When the power of Christ Jesus stakes a claim over a person’s life, the demons have no choice but to flee.
This is a spiritual problem that requires a two part spiritual solution.
- Get rid of the spiritual poison, lies, and sin.
- Pour God and His Truth and love in and walk in obedience to Him.
Demonic Possession happens to unbelievers. It involves a demon(s) taking control of a person’s mind, motives, and life. According to the Bible, this can manifest as:
- Sickness and medical issues (Mark 9:14-19).
- Personality changes, violence, self-harm, strange behavior, and/or superhuman strength (Matthew 8:28).
- Special knowledge of the future that is not from God (Acts 16:16-18).
- Depression, and all kinds of evil and violence, including murder.
- King Saul actually went completely crazy due to an evil spirit that tormented him and tried to kill David many times.
- Judas was influenced by Satan to betray Jesus, and later realized the magnitude and consequences of what he had done and killed himself.
- And other things, as well.
Note – all mental and physical illnesses are not due to demonic possession or oppression. There can certainly be other causes.
But Satan and his demons (fallen angels) do have a lot of power in this world right now
He is currently “the prince of the power of the air.” He is able and willing to cause all kinds of suffering. Sometimes he does this through other means, but demonic activity and influence is one of the tools in his arsenal.
Believers in Christ have the Holy Spirit living in them and are sealed by Him. Disciples of Christ, to my knowledge and understanding, can’t be possessed by a demon because the Holy Spirit possesses us.
But we can grieve the Holy Spirit by choosing to cherish sin in our lives (Eph. 4:30).
We can choose to rebel against God, although the thought of this should make us sick with grief. We should want to repent immediately and return to our Lord the second we notice our sin.
We have the ability to break fellowship with God and roll out the red carpet to the enemy, carelessly inviting him into our lives.
Once he gains access to our thought lives, he does whatever he can to try to destroy us and to try to destroy others through us.
Demonic Oppression can happen to believers or unbelievers. A person is influenced by demons in their thoughts. The person does not take her thoughts captive for Christ and allows the demonic lies to fester.
Oppression results in various consequences like:
- Depression, despair, anxiety, worry, loneliness, and hopelessness.
- Intense fear.
- A feeling of evil, darkness, or doom.
- Seeing, feeling, or hearing demons or dark figures—in dreams, or even when awake.
- Physical illness, at times.
- No appetite for God or His Word.
- Self-destruction and abuse (cutting, self-harm, suicide, anorexia/bulimia, addictions).
- Hatred toward others, God, the Word of God, or self.
- Rage/malice/violence/abuse toward others.
- Intense desire for sexual perversion, porn, and/or immorality.
Of course, demonic possession or oppression are not the only things that can cause some of the above issues.
All illness and suffering is related to sin being in the world, in general.
We live in a fallen, cursed world—so bad things happen.
- Sometimes suffering or illness is a direct consequence of my sin or another person’s sin (ie: STDs due to sexual immorality, or the suffering of someone who was hit by a drunk driver).
- Demons can be involved in tempting us to sin, but they can’t force us to sin. The choice is ours.
- Sometimes illness and trials are related directly to demonic activity (attack, oppression, or possession). Demonic attack is where demons try to hurt us in some way, but we are not oppressed or possessed—ie: Job.
- Sometimes trials are spiritual testing.
- Sometimes trials happen due to persecution for our faith in Christ.
- Other times, these things are just part of living in this world. There can be medical, genetic, and other environmental causes for physical and mental illnesses.
We need God’s Spirit, His Word, and His wisdom to rightly discern what is happening in each specific situation. I may not always be able to identify the root cause of every illness or suffering.
But I can invite God to show me if there is sin in my life I need to repent from and ask what He wants me to learn in the midst of my suffering.
I can close any open doors to the enemy in my life.
I can invite Him to use any suffering in my life for His glory and my ultimate good to conform me to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:28-29).
Ways to open doors to the enemy
THINGS THAT MAY OPEN DOORS TO DEMONIC INFLUENCE
- The occult – horoscopes, Ouija boards, séances, going to a fortune teller/medium, casting spells, witchcraft, Voodoo, Satanism, paganism, idols, etc… (These things are exploding in popularity in our culture today, unfortunately.)
- Idolatry – when we worship, serve, trust in, and desire things/people more than we long for God, we are really worshipping demons and receiving their teachings (Deut. 32:16-17).
- Certain addictive, mind-altering drugs – meth, crack, narcotics, LSD, alcohol, etc…
- Playing with temptation.
- Fascination with demons.
- Obsession with serial killers and mass murderers.
- Music/media that glorifies evil, killing, abortion, horror, immorality, and sin.
- Isolating ourselves from other believers.
- Neglecting time with God, prayer, and scripture reading—starving ourselves of good spiritual food in Christ.
- Listening to false teaching, lies, or ungodly messages.
- Fellowshipping with those who are involved in demonic activity.
- Holding onto sin in our hearts rather than confessing it and turning from it immediately
- Scripture teaches us that holding onto anger overnight is a way to give the enemy a stronghold in our lives (Eph. 4:26-27).
Demons are a lot like cockroaches. They are attracted to the stench of sin, wrong thinking, lies, and any kind of evil.
Demons feel welcome when we foster addictions and unrepentant sin in our lives. They may not have originally caused the mess, but they may be happy to jump in later to try to keep us in spiritual bondage.
How to resist the devil and receive God’s deliverance
There are concrete things we can and must do to find freedom in Christ:
- Repent from all known sin, turning away from sin to Jesus.
- Resist Satan coupled with total submission to the Lordship of Christ (James 4:7).
- Yield my life to Jesus as the Savior and Lord of my life from this moment on for the rest of my life.
- Invite the Holy Spirit to fill me daily.
- Speak the truth of God’s love and salvation from the Bible out loud.
- Sing praise songs to Jesus out loud.
- Think about good things and gratitude toward God. (Phil. 4:8)
- Pray for Jesus to bring deliverance to us.
- Ask other believers to for deliverance for a person (it’s best to have at least one Christian who is experienced with this if there is possession or severe oppression going on).
- Get rid of any lies and rebuild our lives on God’s truth
- Put on the spiritual armor and truth of the Lord (Eph. 6:10-18)
Finding freedom in Christ
The key is to turn away from the darkness and focus on the Light – Jesus, His glory, His holiness, His truth, His Word, His promises, and His goodness.
We praise and thank Him and receive His work on our behalf and His Spirit, He can set us free from sin and demonic oppression/possession.
When the brilliance of the Light and Truth of Christ shines freely in the darkest corners of my life, the cockroaches go scurrying away.
They can’t stand the Light and a soul that has been cleansed of filth. They detest being around gratitude and praise for God. And they hate hearing God’s Word and truth.
When I resist Satan and yield myself to the authority of Jesus, He sets me free.
I don’t have authority over demons or Satan myself apart from the authority of Jesus. I don’t need to get in a big conversation with them. People are much weaker than demons.
Jesus is the one who has all authority in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18). Demons are required to obey Him. In fact, they tremble before Him. I just need to yield myself to Jesus and declare His Word and His authority over my life in faith.
Note – Every bad thing that happens is not spiritual warfare. Some things are. But not all.
The steps of repentance and submission to Christ are the same for spiritual oppression or for repenting from just plain old sin. Sometimes with severe oppression or possession, we may need experienced believers to pray with us and for us.
Pray with me for spiritual freedom and healing
Please show us any open doors in our lives today. Help us see if we have invited the enemy into our lives and that could be why our lives are being ravaged by turmoil. Help us to identify every door the enemy uses to gain access in our lives and shut it tight and lock it.
Help us consciously resist the devil knowing You promise that if we do that, he will flee.
We purposely and joyfully choose to turn away from every sin, every lie, and every demonic influence that we have allowed in our lives. We yield ourselves completely to Your Lordship.
You are the Prince of Peace. You are the King of kings. We enthrone You, alone, on our hearts as being in control of our lives.
We open every door wide to You. We hold nothing back from You, Jesus. We give you full control.
We declare the authority and victory of Jesus Christ over our lives, marriages, husbands, children, families, and homes. No other authority is welcome any longer.
What Is Demon Possession by www.gotquestions.org
What Does the Bible Say about Demon Possession by www.gotquestions.org
Why Does God Allow Sickness? by www.gotquestions.org
Freedom from Demon Bondage – CBN
Questions about Angels and Demons by www.gotquestions.org
Ambushing Satan with Song – John Piper about praying for a woman to be delivered from a demon
A friend’s story of demon possession and healing:
- Depression and Oppression – Part 1 – depression, resentment, fear, and lies
- Possession – Part 2 – this resulted in her desiring sexual immorality and attempting murder
- Salvation and Redemption – Part 3 – thankfully, her boyfriend, at the time, recognized what was happening and knew what to do
My Demon – about demonic oppression and flirting with the enemy
How Satan Would Love to Destroy Your Marriage Through Your Thought Life – Satan’s strategies for your marriage and thought life
If you or someone you love may be suffering from demonic possession or oppression, there are some churches that have prayer teams who can pray for you. Of course, you can pray for yourself or for your friend or loved one. But if you need reinforcements, seek a Bible-believing church with an experienced prayer team.
I love this post. In my experience, dishonoring your parents opens huge doors to the enemy. I’ve never known anyone who despises their parents and has peace, joy or hope in their hearts. I used to hate one of my parents so I know this from experience. I’ve come a long way in terms of love and forgiveness and I now have peace and joy.
Another thing I have learned is that it is sometimes important to break contact with someone who repeatedly sins against you while also forgiving them. Sometimes you need to break contact to stop them from putting you through the pain of getting hurt and having to start the forgiveness process over and over again. Just break contact, forgive and pray for them and don’t re-start contact until God gives you the green light to do so. Keeping bad company opens up doors to the enemy too so we need to choose associates wisely.
Lots of love,
Yes! Hatred, bitterness, resentment, etc… open a door for the enemy to gain a stronghold in our lives. The longer it festers, the worse the stronghold is.
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. Eph. 4:26-27
And yes, there are times when others may sin against us and continue on and on and won’t repent or stop when it is necessary to step back. We can forgive them in the power of God. But we don’t have to trust them or allow them to have great influence or power in our lives.
Thanks so much for sharing! <3
April, truly it was the Holy Spirit who put it on your heart to share this post and the resources at the end. It is a timely answer to my prayer for helping loved ones with several issues that you addressed in the post. May God continue to bless and use you and your special ministry!
He truly did! I have wanted to write this post for quite awhile. This past week, I felt very strongly that this was the time God wanted me to share this message. God is amazing the way He makes the timing work out so perfectly for things.
Thank you for your prayers and encouragement! May God give you the wisdom, discernment, and the power of the Holy Spirit you need to find His glory in these difficult situations.
I’ll be excited later to sit down and absorb this later! something I’ve experienced that opens the door in a big way is seeking the advice of anyone besides Jesus when making major life decisions, even those closest to us tend to advise on what’s right from a finite human perspective. we cant blame anyone for having such a limited perspective, because obviously they are not the Lord, but we must take heed to this snare or we will without a doubt have demons lurking in every corner of our lives. Just a warning!
We do have to use caution when we go to others for advice. We must always weigh it against Scripture and against what the Holy Spirit is leading us to do. It’s dangerous to go to other people rather than to God. If we expect others to always know what is best for us, we will be very disappointed.
Do you believe that generational curses are a spiritual reality? Ive observed similar patterns in my family on both sides just wondering your take on that and if so how to combat that spiritual giant and be free from toxic patterns! I just want all this gone and healed before I’m married.
Children and grandchildren and the descendents of righteous people are blessed in special ways. Scripture even says that God extends blessings to a thousand generations of those who love Him.
Sin in a parent’s life greatly impacts children. It sets a poor example. And keeps children from knowing the character of God through their parents.
Whether there really is a “generational curse” or whether it is just the lack of the blessing that children and grandchildren receive from having godly parents, the solution is the same.
We all have to decide to reject ungodly examples in our families and to build our lives on God’s Word and His truth alone. When we do that, God can make up for whatever we lacked in our parents’ examples and He can heal us. He is our Good Father. No human parent is perfect, but God is and He is ready to heal our hearts and give us all the fullness of His salvation and His abundant spiritual life.
Let me put it another way—there is no blessing that Jesus withholds from those who come to Him. Not even if their parents set a bad example. Some of us have more digging and tearing out to do than others. But we all go through the same process. And He offers you every single promise in Christ that He offers to any other follower of Jesus. <3
The question for all of us is, will we receive it all?
I see what you’re saying! I’ll be honest I feel that after years of digging and tearing off layers I’m still very exhaustedly finding more I need to work on. Striving to enter into His rest! Hoping to be there one day soon.
My precious sister, the refining continues for us all until we step into the gates of heaven. Don’t think you have to “arrive” at some huge plateau of maturity. It is a continual walk through every day of life. Take some time and rest. Just soak in His presence. Be still. Praise Him. Thank Him. And invite Him to do all the hard work. It’s His power that does it, not ours. Not sure if that makes sense?
The only “work” you do is to open yourself to Him and His Spirit, His love, His truth, and His will. Your job is to receive all the good things He has for you. He makes you grow and change.
Could be time to take a break from learning so much and trying to change and just focus on getting away with the Lord and enjoying Him and listening to His Word and His Spirit.
Thank you! It’s so contrary to the beginning of my christian walk but you are correct and that sounds like exactly what I need right now!
Check out this post, maybe it will be a blessing.
And check out this post on “Waiting” and “God Asked Me to Do Something Hard—but Good.”
April, this was a really informative post! Thanks so much for sharing! I hope you are your family are well! ????
Bridget A. Thomas,
I’m glad this was a blessing. It’s great to hear from you!
We are doing well, thank you. I hope you and your family are, as well. <3
Thank you for this post! I did want to ask you if you would help me understand Luke 10:19-20 where we are told we have been given all authority over the power of the enemy and that all evil spirits obey you. Above in your post you said we don’t have authority so I’m just trying understand what you are saying. Not trying to argue just trying to understand and hopefully it comes across that way. 🙂
Great question! On our own, apart from the authority of Christ, we don’t have the power to win against demons. We must act in the authority of Christ, not our own strength or authority. That is what I meant. I hope that makes sense.
There were those who tried to cast out demons in the New Testament who didn’t know Jesus and weren’t acting in His authority. The demon possessed man beat them up. You can find that story in Acts 19:11-17. We want to have proper respect for demonic powers and not arrogantly taunt them as if we can do whatever we want to them. We don’t need to carry on a discussion with them. We don’t need to insult them or try to boss them around in our own authority. Our only ability to have victory over demons is through Jesus’ power.
I hope that clarified what I was hoping to communicate. ????❤️????
Another reference to how we must use caution in our approach is found in Jude 1:9-10.
Thank you for that! It cleared it up and I was assuming already that is what you meant but wanted to make sure I understood! Thank you again!
You are most welcome. I’m glad you asked about it and I’ll see if I need to change the wording.
You mentioned that we can open a door to the enemy by “fellowshipping with those who are involved in demonic activity”. In addition to that, do you believe that we can open a door to the enemy by associating with Christians who have a habit of being very angry, bitter, gossipy, dishonest or promiscuous?
“Do not make friends with an angry man, and do not associate with a hot-tempered man, or you may learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare”. Proverbs 22:24-25
“But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people”. 1 Corinthians 5:11
I’m asking because ever since I started deliberately breaking contact with people who exhibit such traits, I’ve had so much more peace and hope. My soul feels purer and lighter because I’m no longer exposed to people who drag me down with their negative habits. I only now associate with people who make a sincere effort to be positive, kind, honest, caring and faithful and it has made a huge change in my life.
Another topic that may be useful for a separate post is this: When I used to try to counsel or change people who behaved in these ways, they stayed exactly the same while I actually got bogged down with frustration and anger, because I was trying so hard to help/change them and getting frustrated when I saw no results for my efforts. Distancing myself from them and just praying for them from time to time brought me peace. It was very liberating to just follow God’s guidance (distance myself and pray) than to try to replace the Holy Spirit and try to change people myself.
Lots of love,
Scripture does say that holding onto bitterness and sinful anger opens the door to a foothold for the devil for ourselves. I believe that bitterness can be quite contagious and that a spirit of sinful anger, bitterness, resentment, negativity, etc… from one person can ensnare those who fellowship with that person, yes. Especially if we are not guarding our hearts and minds against it.
Cherishing and holding onto any unrepentant sin grieves God’s Spirit and opens the door to invite more evil, I believe. It is kind of like putting a “welcome” mat out for more temptation, and more influence from the enemy. We either submit ourselves to God’s Spirit and His Holiness or we yield ourselves to sin, self, and the enemy.
Yes, when we are fellowshipping a lot with very toxic people, it is draining on us spiritually. There are times to minister to them and witness to them. But there are also times to remove their influence from our lives and to pray for them.
If you realize that you are trying to help someone and they don’t want your help, or they are not willing to change, or they can’t hear you, there is a point where it is time to stop trying to reach them and invite God to reach them. We can’t change people. We can’t make people want to change. We can’t open spiritual eyes. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.
We all make terrible Holy Spirits. We just don’t have that kind of power on our own.
I have some policies for myself that I have developed over the years of ministering online. I try to give everyone two chances, as much as possible. But then, if someone is not willing to invest in her own spiritual walk with the Lord and is not willing to read the Bible and pray for herself or seek the Lord on her own, I can’t make up for that lack. If she just wants me to tell her what to do or she only wants to complain or be negative even after I have shared some spiritual treasures a few times, she may just not be ready. I need to pray for her more than try to explain things a lot to her.
I usually give women some kind of assigment to do on their own involving prayer, introspection, reading posts or other resources, and then invite them to share with me what God is speaking to them. If they are not willing to do those kinds of things, that is a kind of litmus test that helps me know whether I need to proceed trying to help or not. Forcefeeding someone who is spiritually dead or spiritually unreceptive is about as productive as forcefeeding real food in someone’s mouth who is unconscious or dead. Not very helpful.
But, if I can see that they are receptive and that the Spirit is moving, and they are willing to seek the Lord and invest in their own spiritual walk, that is someone I want to spend time investing in.
I hope that makes sense.
Thanks for sharing your wisdom. I love your comments about us making “terrible Holy Spirits” to others.
Your insights about when to try to help people and when to let go and pray would be good material for a separate post.
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