SPIRITUAL WARFARE - 3
How can demons get access into our life?
We must realise that God or demons cannot have access to our lives without our permission. God has created us with an ability to choose, and He never takes away that ability from us. That is why we are accountable for all our actions. God will not force Himself into our lives; His way is to wait outside and knock, waiting for us to open the door to Him (Rev.3:20). God will also not allow Satan or his demons to barge into our lives without our permission. If it were otherwise we could not imagine the damage they could have done! Many people who teach on demons unfortunately imply demons get into us even without our permission, creating fear and uncertainty. God Himself keeps a watch over His people, and He will not allow Satan to touch us beyond what He considers to be appropriate to our strength to resist him (1Co.10:13). In the case of Satan's attacks on Job, he had to get special, limited permissions from God at each level (Job.1:12;2:6).
There are basically only two ways by which demons get access to our lives. One is when we indulge and continue in sin. In the passages that warn us about giving a place to the devil (Ep.4:26,27;2Co.2:10,11), there is a focus on continuing in a sinful attitude, e.g., keeping anger or an unforgiving attitude in our heart for a long time. If we 'fall' into any sin accidentally, or if we are consciously battling against some sin, then it is not the same as continuing in sin. Then we don't have to be 'scared' that some demon has got a hold on our life! But on the other hand if we sin and we continue in that sinful attitude without taking any action to overcome it, then we are in danger of allowing some demon to attack us through that break in our fortress. For example if we will not forgive someone for what he has done to us we can notice that we start getting more and more thoughts in our mind concerning that person, magnifying his evil towards us, and how we should get even with him. Or if we indulge ourselves by watching some pornography soon we may find ourselves strongly desiring to have more of it! The more we give in, the more we give access to the devil in our life.
The other way we open ourselves to the devil is through engaging with his domains. Activities such as palmistry, numerology, astrology, horoscope, divination, soothsaying, consulting psychics, crystal ball, clairvoyance, telepathy, hypnotism, ouija board, tarot cards, table tapping, necromancy (talking to the dead), astral projection (out of body experiences), using of charms, black magic, witchcraft, freemasonry, idol worship (including 'Christian' idols), Satan worship, transcendental meditation, yoga meditation, fengshui, reiki, pranic healing, etc., operate with demons behind them. In some areas such as palmistry there are people who are just cheating others with tricks or pretence, but there are others who have 'power' that seems to work! Everything supernatural is not from God, and there are many deceiving spirits out there to fool people with a show of power. If we indulge in such activities, we are definitely opening ourselves to the influence of demons, and if we give in an inch, they usually take a foot! At the same time if we have had any casual, one-time exposure to any of these activities we shouldn't assume that we have given access to demons. But at the same time it is good to examine ourselves honestly to see if we have given way to demonic influence at any time.
How can we recognise if there is any demonisation in our life?
God has given some people the gift of discernment of spirits (1Cor.12:10) with which they are able to understand when some evil spirit is at work. But even without that gift, we can look for some signs that indicate to us that demons may be at work. God has created us with the ability to choose what we do. If we find that we have virtually lost this ability in any area of our life, or we cannot control ourselves in that area, we should suspect some extent of demonisation (please remember this is not the same as demon possession). Examples could be a slavery to pornography, violent temper, unusual levels of fear, depression, etc. Even if we are not sure, there is no harm taking steps towards deliverance. If there are ideas that come into our mind that try to compel and force us to take some action without delay, it would be good to stop right there and examine what God says about those ideas. Demons pressurise us, but the Holy Spirit gives us freedom to decide without any pressure. If there are weird things happening in our life for which there are no natural explanations, such as hearing voices or sounds, seeing fearful forms or shapes, everything that we do going wrong, having sickness that defies treatment, etc., we could consider the possibility of demonic activity. Of course one extreme would be to attribute every unexplainable thing to demons, and the other extreme to ignore the possibility of demons altogether.
If we suspect demonisation should we seek for a deliverance ministry?
Yes. If there are people with that ministry around in whom we have confidence we can seek their help. But we also need to keep in mind that many false workers are out there who are seeking to make a name or money for themselves, and we may end up in a worse condition if we go to them than we were in to begin with. If we are truly born again children of God we ourselves have been given authority to deal with every kind of demon. If we have faith, we can deliver ourselves using the authority of Jesus.
"Some demons attacked the sons of Sceva who tried to cast them out (Acts.19:13-16). So I am scared to deal with demons."
If you are a true child of God you don't need to be scared. Jesus told the disciples that He had given authority over all the power of the enemy (Lk.10:19). When Jesus died on the cross and then rose again from the dead He demonstrated His total victory over Satan and all his demons (Col.2:15). Now we have authority over all of Satan's power in the name of Jesus. The least of God's children have this authority because it rests not on their godliness or maturity but on Jesus Himself. We also know that the Holy Spirit who dwells within us now is God Himself, and is greater than all created beings, including Satan (1Jn.4:4). The sons of Sceva did not have this relationship with Jesus, and they didn't have the right to use His name, which was what the demons recognised.
We also recognise that all of us do not have the same level of faith. Our faith gives us boldness, and if we don't have boldness in a certain situation it would appear that we don't have faith to deal with that situation, and then it would be good to seek the help of someone who has faith. It is possible that the disciples who were going around casting out demons (they had faith) lost their boldness (faith) when they saw the demonised boy showing violent manifestations (Mt.17:15,16). But if we do have faith, we can exercise authority over all the power of the enemy, not only for ourselves but also to deliver others from his hands.
One thing that gives us boldness is to realise that the power is not in us but in Jesus. It is not we who are going to cast out demons but Jesus acting through us, and it is not our maturity or holiness but the authority of Jesus that demons fear (Acts.3:12,13).
How can we get delivered from the hold of demons in our life?
If we see that demons have got a foothold in our life the first thing we must realise is that somehow or the other we have given them that access to our lives. We need to examine our lives to see when and how this has happened. In the case of sinful habits we can see how they have developed over time, how we have given in to temptation again and again, each time letting go of some more of our control. Then it is possible that demons have taken over that control to whatever extent we have unknowingly allowed them. On the other hand if we have been dabbling with satanic or occult activities we must realise that we have been walking (perhaps unknowingly) in Satan's territory. Then it is only natural that demons have captured access to our lives. Once demons get access to our lives they begin to try and expand their hold over us into other areas too. Even though they promise us pleasure and gain at the initial stages of the temptation, their real goal is to rob us and finally ruin us (Jn.10:10). They will begin to ultimately squeeze the life out of us if we don't escape before that.
The second step is to confess our sins to God and repent. We need to be thoroughly honest about this and not try to impress God with justifications or excuses. If we truly repent and confess our sins to God He will forgive us and cleanse us (1Jn.1:9). We need to acknowledge to God that we are unable to deliver ourselves and we need His help.
Repentance means to decide to break away completely from our sins which we have confessed. The third step is to perform actions that demonstrate our repentance (Lk.3:8). This could be to break away completely from all things and people that supported our wrong behaviour in the past. Destroying books, tapes, CDs, equipment, tools, etc., that were a part of this past is a common thing to do. Keeping away from situations and circumstances that would entice us back to that sinful life is a wise step.
The next step is to tell the demons that we will have nothing more to do with them, and then to ask them to leave us in Jesus' name. It is important to tell this orally to them, because they can't read our thoughts (even though they can guess in most cases because of the thousands of years of experience they have in dealing with people). We can tell them about our faith and relationship with Jesus, how we have repented from our sins, how Jesus has forgiven us and how we don't want to sin in those areas again. We can also remind them about the total victory Jesus has achieved over all of them and how Jesus has granted us the right to use His authority against them.
The final step is to change to a godly life by getting closer to Jesus and His people, reading and learning from His word, praying at all times asking for His protection and help and keeping away from the things that used to attract us in the past. This is very important because we don't want to keep our heart empty and we don't want the demons we have sent away to come back again. These are the same steps we can lead others into when we seek to deliver them from their bondages.