Demonic possession: The Exception for Direct Confrontation
CHAPTER 5 SUB-TOPICS:
-The One Exception
-Authority for Dealing with Demonic Possession
-Demonic Possession Vs Demonic Influence
-Nature of Demonic Influence and Possession
-Deliverance from Demonic Influence
-False Doctrine and Demonic Influence
-Deliverance from Demonic Possession
-Some level of Discernment
-Destiny of Evil Spirits
-Deliverance Methods in the New Testament
-Jesus our Example
-Scope of Deliverance from Demonic Possession
The One Exception for Direct Confrontation: Demonic Possession
The only exception where we have been given the authority to directly confront evil spirits is when they are to be cast out of people.
This is part of true deliverance ministry that is biblical. It is however, only one of other areas of deliverance ministry. It’s also a deliverance ministry area that evangelicals differ on its present day relevance.
Casting out demons out of people is part of what Jesus did in his earthly ministry. Outside the realm of people possessed by demons Jesus had no business confronting demons in thin air, in territories, nor in the spirit world.
Neither did the apostles.
That did not imply there were no territorial spirits and principalities in their time. It only meant directly confronting the demons in their various ranks was not Jesus’ assignment while in his earthly physical body.
Christ in his spiritual form, after ascending to heaven, is now able to directly confront them.
He does it on our behalf as we fulfill our indirect roles over the conflicts raging in the heavenly (spiritual) realm. Christ being a Spirit, is able to engage the enemy spirits.
He has hosts of angels under him that battle the evil spirits. The direct confrontation is therefore between spirits. It is a spirit to spirit confrontation.
“Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will,” Psalms 103:21.
Angels do not just sing songs. They are God’s mighty army or hosts against Satan’s kingdom. In the book of Revelations they’re fierce spiritual warriors in almost the entire book.
Our only role, as important as it may be, is indirect in nature (prayer to God (i.e. seeking for his intervention), submission to God, walking in love, forgiveness, charity, etc). It’s challenging enough in fulfilling our clearly spelled out indirect roles, what more having to go after vague and unseen spirits!
This is Christ’s business, the Lord of hosts, who clearly sees and has power over them. Making it our assignment of directly confronting demons in the unseen spiritual realm is only fooling ourselves that principalities living outside people will bow to our demands.
It is also disobedience to God’s spiritual laws by taking on responsibilities that God’s spiritual army is assigned for. Many are unknowingly walking in disobedience to God’s spiritual laws and calling it deliverance and spiritual warfare.
The consequences on their lives are not pleasant as they enter spiritual realms that are forbidden territory.
The exception comes only when evil spirits occupy or possess human beings.
When they enter a person(s) they leave their assigned spirit realm and enter a realm that Jesus died for – human beings. This is also a realm that God’s angels do not have access to. In very rear cases, as we see in scripture, God allows angelic beings to come on earth in physical bodies.
Angels do not have physical bodies like us to physically operate on earth. Their jurisdiction is in the unseen spiritual realm where in normal circumstances we cannot hear, see, nor touch them.
Demons that posses people are occupying bodies that are in the physical realm. In such territory Jesus said we, not the angels, are to confront them.
We’re authorized to liberate or deliver fellow human beings from being owned or possessed by demons. Just like Christ did while on earth we have his authority to directly confront demons that take up residence in people.
In such situations Jesus gave us the authority to cast them out or evict them from human bodies. We command the spirit(s), in the name of Jesus, to come out of an individual.
This is very different from making proclamations and commands in thin air, all in the name of exercising authority over spiritual beings. Like prayer, such acts take us into spiritual realms, though in this case, the forbidden areas.
Needless to say that deliverance ministry of casting out demons dwelling in people is an area of controversy in the body of Christ. Some believe its scriptural relevance no longer applies to our time. Others believe such forms of deliverance ministry still apply today until Jesus returns.
My assertion is that there is no harm as long as it’s done the way scripture prescribes.
Praise the Lord if through such deliverance ministry people are truly delivered from demonic attacks that cause them unnecessary heartache mentally, emotionally, physically and so on.
Praise the Lord too if people are truly delivered from demonic attacks through modern medicine, alternative medicine, psychology, psychotherapy, etc.
Authority for Dealing with Demonic Possession
Regarding deliverance ministry in dealing with demonic possession major passages that show where our authority over evil spirits lies are in Matthew and Luke.
“He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness,” Matthew 10:1.
It says in Luke, “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick,” Luke 9:1-2.
In both references the term “drive out” is used. Other bible versions may have “cast out.”
This is self explanatory. Driving out refers to moving something from one place to another. The same with “cast out,” which implies expelling or evicting something.
Examples in scripture show us how and where the driving out or casting out of demons is to be exercised. “How” is through the name of Jesus. “Where” is casting them out of people. Confronting the evil spirits anywhere outside people is an act that is not in line with scripture.
It comes with its negative consequences since we confront evil spirits in territorial spheres that we are powerless. We were never empowered to deal directly with them outside their presence in people.
The authority of directly confronting evil spirits was therefore in the area of demonic possession.
On the passage in Luke The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, “In Lk 9:1 the terms ‘authority’ and ‘power’ are used in such a way as to show the belief of the evangelists that to cure demon-possession an actual power from God, together with the right to use it, was necessary. This group of passages gives the New Testament philosophy of this dread mystery and its cure.
“The demons are personal evil powers afflicting human life in their opposition to God.
It is beyond man unaided to obtain deliverance from them. It is the function of Christ as the redeemer of mankind to deliver men from this as well as other ills due to sin. Miraculous cures of the same kind as those performed by Christ Himself were accomplished by His disciples in His name (Mk 16:17).
The power attributed to “His name” supplies us with the opportunity for a most enlightening comparison and contrast.”
As covered in the chapter on “Our Territory and Nature of Our Christian Authority,” Jesus returned to us the authority we previously lost on the earthly realm.
In addition to this he gave us authority over evil spirits living in people, not in geographical areas nor in the heavens were they are positioned in ranks. We ought to be aware of its nature and limits.
Outside the limits is illegal territory that we are not authorized to trespass. Satan knows that and that could be why he has enticed us into confronting him in territory where he legally has power over us.
Demonic Possession Vs Demonic Influence
Nature of Demonic Influence and Possession
Demonic influence in people may be among areas such as physical health (some illnesses), social behavior (some behavioral problems like stealing, drugs and alcohol, violence, promiscuity and other sexual sins), emotional behavior (like recurring depression, suicidal tendencies, uncontrollable anger), mental behavior (like insanity), material matters (compulsive gambling, greed, extreme materialism, poverty (though poverty also comes through greed and exploitation)), spiritual behavior (like unbelief, atheism, witchcraft, the occult, hallucinations), and so on.
All these are signs of demonic influence. Some can easily be confused with demonic possession, which is a higher form of demonic activity.
Signs of demonic possession, a higher form of demonic activity in which demons occupy or possess an individual, can be seen through extremes of involuntary behavior that can be medically categorized as insanity.
Scripture also shows some illnesses are a result of demonic possession. For instance the woman who Jesus healed of an illness was said to be “bound for eighteen long years” by Satan (Luke 13:15). She was bound from within, that is, possessed.
However, cases of demonic possession are very rare. This includes most illnesses.
Some may be a result of demonic influence but certainly not due to demonic possession. Demons can influence diseases in people from an external point without entering them. For example Job was smitten with painful sores from head to toe by Satan (Job 2:7).
But it did not happen by Satan or Satan’s fellow demons entering him. It was external, an aspect of demonic influence.
Most of what some fellow evangelicals rush to categorize as demonic possession is merely demonic influence. For example some have said an alcoholic or drug addict is possessed by a demon of alcohol or drug addiction.
They operate deliverance ministries that do more harm than good in the so called possessed people.
Deliverance from Demonic Influence
Both demonic influence and demonic possession require God’s deliverance because we deal with evil spirits that are more powerful and wiser than us. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,” Matthew 6:12-13 (NIV, ASV, NKJV, BBE).
We’re commissioned to pray for ourselves, fellow believers and unbelievers to be delivered from the evil one on a regular basis. Deliverance from demonic influence is a lifetime activity that God carries out in our lives.
For as long as we’re in this life the enemy will continue seeking to influence our lives spiritually, socially, materially, physically and so on.
Deliverance from demonic influence does not require casting out demons. The demons are already operating from an external point. Unfortunately some believers among fellow evangelicals rush to cast out demons from people that do not have a demonic possession problem.
They operate deliverance ministries that do more harm than good in the so called possessed people.
The people end up having perpetual problems that need deliverance.
They live to be unfruitful Christians because of being deceived that they have a demonic possession problem. Much to the devil’s advantage because they are of no threat to his evil kingdom.
If they knew they had a demonic influence problem they would know how to effectively deal with matters that come through demonic influence.
They would overcome such problems without hands being laid on them, being anointed with oil, demons being cast out, making deliverance prayers, spiritual warfare prayers and so on, all to no effect.
They would move on from attending perpetual deliverance seminars to helping others in being delivered. No super spiritual event would be required for their deliverance.
Deliverance from demonic influence comes through fighting the true spiritual warfare.
It comes through putting on the full armor of God. The armor of God protects us and equips us in rescuing others from demonic influence. As we do our indirect part over the battle that rages in the spirit realm God directly overcomes our spiritual adversaries.
He sends his angels to our defense since he is too big to be having fights with Satan, a spirit being he created himself. Examples abound in the bible.
We therefore do not overcome demonic influence by being preoccupied with demons and evil spirits, familiar spirits, generational spirits, territorial spirits, spirits of this and that… We overcome demonic influence by being preoccupied with God and his Spirit, the Spirit of love, power, and a sound mind.
Fulfilling our indirect part makes us more than conquerors against demonic influence over our lives and the lives of others. For an in-depth study on our indirect role please see the chapter on True Biblical Spiritual Warfare = Indirect Confrontation.
False Doctrine and Demonic Influence
Deliverance from Demonic Possession
Evil spirits could not live in people before Adam and Eve fell. When Satan rebelled against God he also came to tempt and deceive mankind into rebellion.
When he succeeded he got the right (legality) to rule over mankind even to the point of possessing him with his fallen evil spirits.
Fortunately the work of Christ on the cross liberated us from Satan’s ownership and control.
Anyone who accepts Jesus as his/her Lord and Savior is free from legal demonic possession. Satan has no claim to possess anyone that accepts Jesus as his/her Lord and Savior.
By casting the evil spirits out of a person we are simply announcing the illegal hold of the evil spirit(s) and proclaiming the liberty of the person. In and through the name of Jesus their authority over the person is removed. Christ is now the legal owner of the individual.
The delivered individual still has to do his part in walking out of sin in order to ensure the absence of Satan’s legal grounds. Sin may open legal doors for the evil spirit(s) to return.
Jesus said, “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it returns it finds the house unoccupied (i.e. empty, without the Holy Spirit in it), swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked (sinful) generation,” Matthew 12: 43-45.
The above scripture applies to those who once delivered continue in their wickedness.
Some level of Discernment
Destiny of Evil Spirits
Once the spirit(s) leave the person we have no other business to deal with them. We do not have scriptural authority over them once they are outside the person.
They are free to roam around the earth trying to influence people while God’s angels fight them wherever they have no legal access. They are free to even attempt to influence believers into sin and deception but they cannot live inside us.
Our defense against their evil whispers and enticing offers to sin is putting on the full armor of God. This battle goes on in the mind not in the physical with verbal confrontations.
With the armor the bible says we are able to demolish their “arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:4.
An area of misunderstanding involves the rebuking, binding, and “destruction” of the spirits. This is God’s agenda not ours. Only God can bind these beings in their ranks and works. We can only ask him to do so rather than we.
Our realm of authority of direct confrontation only involves casting them out of people. Number 4 in the chapter titled “Misinterpreted Scripture:
The Source of False Teachings” elaborates on this.
Deliverance Methods in the New Testament
Jesus our Example
Scope of Deliverance from Demonic Possession
Spiritual Warfare book: Major Spiritual Warfare Principles: Biblical Do’s and Don’ts of Warfare © 2008 Eric Gondwe