When we read about Jesus in the Gospels or about His apostles in the book of Acts, we find several places where they were involved in casting out demons. We even find places that say “many demons” were cast out! In fact, some people had multiple demons opressing them. And Jesus told His disciples (which includes you and me) that we have authority over all the power of the enemy. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of Jesus Christ, we can heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper, and cast out demons.
Such activities were incredibly common in Bible days, but these days it seems like we pretend demons are nothing but figments of an uneducated person’s imagination. And yet, all over the world we see dramatic evidence of their existence.
I’m reminded of the many cases in Africa and South America where people are inhabited by spirits that make them behave like animals—eating grass, crawling on all fours, slithering like a snake, clawing at people, and making bizarre noises. When the spirit is cast out in Jesus’ name, these people come to their senses and testify to the power of God.
This isn’t the only way demons work in other countries, but it is very common. And yet we rarely see such things in America. Why?
Demons try to be more clever here. Instead of dramatically demonstrating their influence over a person, they do so sneakily and subtly.
And here’s how:
In Genesis, we are told that God formed man from the dust of the ground (body), breathed into him the breath (Hebrew: “spirit”) of life, and man became a living soul. Body, spirit, soul. From this description, we learn that the soul is the product of the body and spirit coming together. As a result, our soul (which consists of our mind, will, and emotions) can be directly affected by the condition of our body or spirit at any given moment.
In a healthy Christian, our spirit is fully alive in Christ and supercedes the condition of our body so that our soul obeys our spirit. But if our spirit is not alert and drifts off to sleep, our body takes over and our souls become slaves to our impulses and physical condition.
Now, if our soul is the result of our body and spirit coming together, what do you suppose happens when an evil spirit comes into the mix? Well, for one thing, we get confused on a spiritual level. For another thing our soul gets affected, causing us to have tainted emotions, evil thoughts, and unwise choices. Furthermore, our body can be effected. Just as our human body is given life by our human spirit, it can also be adversely affected by an evil spirit.
Demonic activity is no less common today than it was 2000 years ago in the Bible. If anything, it is more prevalent because the end is approaching and Satan knows his time is short. In America, demons fuel mental disorders, depression, strife, envy, rage, and other things that seem like they’re just natural parts of who we are. We try to physically suppress their effect on the soul by taking pills and changing our diet, but we often end up in worse shape than we were in before.
In the past three weeks I’ve had the opportunity to see four people instantly set free from clinical depression as I took gentle authority over the evil spirit, cast it out, and prayed for the Holy Spirit to fill that void in the person’s life. In fact, I too went through a few hours of unexplainable depression on Sunday until my girlfriend Robin took authority in Jesus’ name and cast the evil spirit away (this may have been one of the spirits that was cast out of the others, which should remind us that we need to stay clothed in the armor of God).
My encouragement to all of you is not that you would go out looking for depressed people and casting out demons. We don’t want to free them from depression in a way that freaks them out and opens them up to a spirit of fear. Another word of caution is that we need not tell the person, “You have a demon.” This could be just the thing that demon needs to make the person leave or put up walls.
Instead, offer to pray for the person, and then take authority during your prayer. Tell the spirit to leave in Jesus’ name and invite the Holy Spirit to bring healing and transformation to the person. By the way, “taking authority” does not mean yelling, or being angry, or jumping, or doing anything else dramatic. In a confrontation, the person with the most authority is often the one who is most calm and composed. Tell the spirit to leave and not come back. Speak on behalf of Jesus Christ, and make that point known. It’s that simple. No hype, just authority.
So if you know someone who is struggling with an evil spirit in any way, I tell you on behalf of Jesus Christ that you have been given the authority in Him to cast out demons. But also seek the overflowing power of the Holy Spirit, and put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6) so that you may remain protected and not vulnerable (otherwise you might wind up affected by the same demon, like I was in the story earlier).