This paper follows on from others previously written about pagan (and even occult) practices intruding into Christian churches, such as techniques of visualisation used to “manifest“ material things, or bizarrely regarding the accrual of wealth and having perfect health as signs of being a true disciple of Christ, or the development of unintelligible babbling as a “private prayer language”, or the inducement of a ‘crisis experience’ in church services by a minister ‘zapping’ people on the forehead which results in them falling down or engaging in hysterical laughter, etc.
Now I have to ask some further questions for the purposes of this paper: Can a faithful disciple of Christ be possessed by a demon? To what lengths can a disciple of Christ be afflicted by a demon? A great deal of hysteria has been generated in this area in recent years. I have seen more confusion on this issue than many others. Disciples of Christ foolishly (and sadly) imagining they can have “spells” put on them to their detriment, or being afraid of being in proximity of objects such as ornaments or jewelry if they have been made in certain countries. People setting themselves up as exorcists to cast demons out of disciples of Christ! Centres being set up where Christians can go to be worked on in this way, after being told they have a demon of this, that or the other. The ignorance on this subject is phenomenal and it amounts to superstition and paranoia which could easily have been instigated by Satan himself, as he wants nothing more than to put disciples of the Christ he hates into a sad, doubting, questioning and uncomfortable condition.
On one occasion, I gave a lecture on the New Age Movement to a Christian women‘s organisation, during which I said that a considerable amount of the practice concerning demons in charismatic Christian circles is based on pagan sorcery and superstition, which I then expanded on. At the conclusion of the meeting, I was inundated with queries from tearful and confused women who had been suspicious about the practice of exorcism in their churches but they were too fearful to question them openly. Imagine an atmosphere of fear being generated in a gathering of Christ’s disciples — the very opposite of what should be happening, for there should only be love, acceptance, safety, and a building up in faith through healthy teaching and a common spirit of perseverance and overcoming.
So, is the ritualistic exorcism practised in many churches today a valid activity? It is as plain as a pikestaff that the devil still wanders around like a roaring lion, and that he can cause great misery in both the world and in the Church. How are disciples of Christ supposed to respond to the activity of the demonic realm?
What is the Real Deliverance?
First, let it be clear that it is only those who are NOT disciples of Christ who are under the complete dominion of Satan. It is a fact that every single human being who has not been transformed by the power of God in Christ is under the authority and dominion of Satan. This applies equally to the most rabid murderer and to the most polite, law abiding citizen. A person cannot serve two masters; if s/he is not Christ’s, s/he is Satan’s. This is a fact. He is of his father the devil (Jn.8:44; Acts 13:10; 1 Jn.3:10); the whole unbelieving world lies under the power of the wicked one (1 Jn.5:19). Now, how that authority of Satan manifests itself will vary from one person to another, according to his or her circumstances, personality, opportunity for sin, etc. The more deliberately amoral the life of a person is (sexual immorality, occult practices, criminal behaviour, drug abuse, indulging in anger and jealousy, etc.), the more that person will be given over to Satan’s destructive power. This can culminate in what we would call actual ‘possession’, when the individual human will has become well-nigh obliterated and utterly subservient to the will of the demon (e.g. Mk.5:2-5). The Bible shows that such demonisation will considerably worsen as the end of the Age draws near, as we can even see in our own time.
However, so far as the one who is not a disciple of Christ is concerned, there can be no lasting solace for him or her through any mere ritual exorcism, whatever effects it may have produced. Instead, there must be an inward renewal from the Holy Spirit, otherwise the post-exorcism state of the person will be even worse than his or her pre-exorcistic condition, as shown clearly in Lk.11:24-26.
The only way for the unbeliever to obtain real ‘deliverance’ is to obey the Gospel: to live a transformed life (repentance, metanoia) and believe wholly in the saving power of Jesus Christ. Regeneration — the new birth effected by the Holy Spirit — casts the devil out of the heart of the unbeliever once-and-for-all. The Bible clearly states that it is only through this experience that an afflicted person obtains complete ‘deliverance‘ from the dominion of Satan, (whether one is a gross sinner or a ‘well-behaved‘ citizen), thereby becoming a new creation in Christ.
In other words, we practise deliverance on unbelievers — no matter how much they have been pulverized by Satan — by proclaiming the gospel of Christ to them with love and ministering in the power of prayer. Every regenerated believer can say, with the Apostle Paul: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col.1:13-14). That is real deliverance. When Paul was preaching to King Agrippa, he said that Christ had sent him to the Gentiles “to open their eyes in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in [Christ]” (Acts 26:18).
It is clear from these texts alone that repentance and conversion are sufficient for full deliverance from the power and clutches of Satan. However, we must recognise that there are some people whose lives before their conversion have been so messed-up with gross sin and evil that they may well need special ministry during, and even after, their conversion to Christ. Some mistakenly hide their heads in the sand from this solemn fact. We do not refer here to ‘exorcism‘ in its ritualistic sense; but, rather, to the application of the Word of God which is the sword of the Spirit (Eph.6:17), to the offering up of powerful prayer to the Lord, coupled with support from strong disciples of Christ who can get alongside the afflicted one. We can call powerfully on Christ to rebuke Satan, believing wholly in His authority over the demonic realm, and that He will answer that prayer with deliverance. It seems today that all kinds of people (professing Christians and non-Christians alike) practise an exorcism which is little more than magic and sacerdotal ritual. But I repeat again that Jesus was NOT an exorcist: He actually cast out demons into the abyss (Luke 8:31); He is the eternal, divine Strong One who is stronger than the strong man (i.e., Satan) who is fully armed in his own palace (cf. Luke 11:21-22). Your average common or garden exorcist can never cleanse a person in the way that Christ can and does. That was precisely the point of the Lord Jesus in Luke 11:24-26:
“When an unclean spirit comes out of a man, it passes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ On its return, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and dwell there. And the final plight of that man is worse than the first.”Luke 11:24-26
It is not enough to have your ‘house‘ swept and put in good order; it must actually be indwelt and sanctified by the Holy Spirit in order to be impervious to the authority or possession of Satan, the ruler of the demons. You can cast a million and one demons out of someone but if they do not submit to the power of Christ, then they will be wide open for further attack that will be even worse than before. Only Christ can apportion the indwelling Holy Spirit to a person (Jn.14:14-24). The Holy Spirit comes through faith in Christ leading to the deep transformation that is called in Greek metanoia, not via ritualistic exorcism. Salvation is of the Lord, not by the machinations of men. So I say again that sometimes, when there is clear evidence of demonic affliction or, in more rare cases, of demon possession, very sustained and powerful prayer on the part of others will be necessary to provide support before, during and after a person’s coming to Christ. But the person so afflicted must already be willing to come to Christ. Exorcism of any kind can never make a person into a disciple of Christ; and becoming a disciple of Christ is the only true deliverance.
The Disciple of Christ and Demon Possession
Regarding the question of whether or not a Christian can be ‘possessed’ by a demon, the answer must surely be a resounding ‘NO!’ Some samples of the evidence from the Scriptures are as follows:
- The disciple of Christ is “a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor.5:17).
- The disciple of Christ has been “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph.1:13). Sealed!
- The disciple of Christ has been fully delivered from the authority of darkness and therefore from the power of Satan (Col.1:13; cf. Acts 26:17-18).
- The disciple of Christ has not received “the spirit of bondage again to fear”, but s/he has “received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Rom.8:15).
- The disciple of Christ is one of a company of whom the Apostle can say: ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-control (2 Tim.1:7). “Self-control” as opposed to demon-control!
- The disciple of Christ has “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor.2:16), not the mind of Satan.
- The disciple of Christ is not his own person, but belongs to Christ, in both body and soul (1 Cor.6:19-20; 2 Cor.10:7; Gal.3:29). It is no longer the “I” who lives but Christ in the believer (Gal.2:20).
- When John tells his flock to “test the spirits”, he can then go on to say: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He [the Spirit of Christ] who is in you is greater than he [Satan/spirit of antichrist] who is in the world” (1 Jn.4:1-5). How can a demon possibly possess a person who is already indwelt by the infinitely superior Holy Spirit? Surely there can be no house-room!
- The disciple of Christ is clothed with the whole armour of God, which is Christ (Eph.6:10-18). This armour — truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the sword of the Spirit — is a panoply of gifts which every Christian has received from God through Christ. They cannot be cultivated by human endeavour. When you put on Christ (Gal.3:27; Rom.13:14), you put on HIS truth, HIS righteousness, etc. Christ is all in all.
- The disciple of Christ is “the temple of God” and the Spirit of God dwells in him (Jn.14:23; 1 Cor.3:16). As Paul then says: “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (1 Cor.3:17).
- The disciple of Christ is one who has received the greatest freedom possible; ‘If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed’ (Jn.8:36). No more bondage for the him or her — to sin, to Satan, or to anyone.
- The disciple of Christ is part of the Body of Christ — the ekklesia — against which the gates of hell can never prevail (Mt.16:18).
- Jesus said that no one can snatch His sheep out of His hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no-one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and My Father are one” (Jn.10:28-30).
- The disciple of Christ is the one who has only to “Resist the devil”, (steadfast in the faith, 1 Pet.5:9) “and he will flee from you” (Jas.4:7). This simple antidote is overlooked by many of those who profess to be disciples today.
- The disciple of Christ is the one who can never be separated by anything (even evil angels and dark powers) from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom.8:38-39). As Paul puts it: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom.8:31).
- This, above all: “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom.8:28).
These are but a few of the realities of our life in Christ. Surely, this must drive us to the conclusion that it is a most serious blasphemy to assert, as many do today (even among evangelicals) that the Christian can actually be possessed by an evil spirit. When the Pharisees dared to suggest that Christ cast out demons by the power of the devil (they had also claimed that He had a demon Himself), He implicitly accused them of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mt.12:24-32). Surely when it is claimed that the person indwelt by the Holy Spirit is also possessed by a demon, this must constitute a very similar blasphemy, as well as being a contradiction in terms as surely there could be no houseroom for both!
Always Remember that Satan is a Servant of God
However, the fact that a disciple of Christ cannot be ‘possessed’ by demons does not mean that s/he is impervious to being ‘pestered’ by them. This should not surprise us, given that Satan and his cohorts go about like a roaring lion, seeking whom they may devour (1 Pet.5:8). The adversary makes constant war against those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev.12:17). Even Paul the Apostle had a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan (2 Cor.12:7-10). But this was designed by God for a specific gracious purpose: namely, the restraining of Paul from pride and vainglory. So although Satan could rub his hands together with glee about this thorn in Paul’s flesh (whatever it may have been: illness, false teachers causing hassle, etc.), the fact is that it was happening under the sovereignty of God and for His glory alone (He always gets the glory in our weakness). William Green throws much light on the relationship between Satan and the believer, when he writes as follows:
“If you steadfastly resist the devil, confiding in the grace of God and the salvation of Jesus, he cannot touch a hair of your head. Temptation and sin, if you bravely resist them, will react to your everlasting welfare: your position is impregnable, the protection is ample, the armament is invincible, the supplies abundant, and the fortress can never be entered by the enemy, unless betrayed into his power by your own treacherous hands”.W.H. Green, The Argument of Job Unfolded, Klock & Klock, 1978), pp.68-69
Professor Green here asserts that great biblical truth of deliverance: “Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas.4:7). It really is that simple, if you are serious. No complex exorcisms for the disciple of Christ are set forth in Scripture. No need for reliance on medicine-men, witch-doctors and shamans to incant ‘abracadabra’ and other strange commands. Instead, we have the simplicity which is in Christ and the strength which is guaranteed us by the Spirit. It is so very challenging of Professor Green to say that Satan has no power over us as Christians, unless “betrayed into his power by your own treacherous hands”. This must be understood properly. He is not suggesting that the disciple of Christ can be actually demon-possessed, but, rather, that s/he can certainly be demon-pestered if s/he does not oversee his or her spiritual life with care. And as disciples of Christ, who are heirs of God through Christ, we exercise a good measure of personal responsibility under the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good purpose“ (Phil.2:12-13). It is precisely for this reason that the Apostle Paul tells us not to “give a foothold to the devil” in our lives, through falling into flagrant sin (Eph.4:25-32). It is in our own hands. However, if we are lax, we can give Satan occasional footholds, but we can never provide for him a stronghold.
However, if the Christian is hampered and pestered by the forces of darkness, one can be sure that there is a good reason for it, in the providence of God. For everything that happens to the one who is Christ’s — even the pesterings of demons — happens under God’s sovereignty. Satan is not a free agent. To quote again Prof. Green’s excellent treatise:
“With all Satan’s hatred of God and spite against His people, he cannot emancipate himself from that sovereign control which binds him to God’s service. In all his blasphemous designs he is, in spite of himself, doing the work of God. In his efforts to dethrone the Most High, he is actually paying Him submissive homage. In moving heaven and earth to accomplish the perdition of those whom Christ has ransomed, he is actually fitting them for glory. Fiend as he is, full of bitterness and malignity and intent on every form of mischief, he is constrained to be that which he most abhors, and is furthest from his intentions and desires: to be helpful and auxiliary to the designs of grace!”.Ibid., pp.63-64
This is the great secret which every disciple of Christ has had revealed to him. The reason that there is so much superstition among Christ’s disciples today is that they have failed to grasp the fact that Satan is viewed in Scripture as ultimately “helpful and auxiliary to the designs of grace” — although it is rarely clear that this is the case. This is well brought out in the Book of Job. In the opening chapters, we see that it was Jehovah Himself who brought Job to the attention of Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job…?‘ (Job 1:8,12; 2:3,6). Think through the precious information that this gives us. It shows two things: First, that Satan must have permission from God before he is able to inflict suffering and evil in the world (Job 1:6; 2:1). Anything that Satan does is absolutely subordinate to the will of God. The second element that is revealed in this Book of Job is that in all that Satan does, he can only go as far as he is permitted by the Lord (Job 1:12; 2:6). In fact, the devil, no matter how devilish he may become, is, in a very real sense — like his non-fallen angelic counterparts — a “ministering spirit sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Heb.1:14), though obviously reluctantly. Have you realised this yet? This is an astonishing point, but it is true. In spite of all the superstition and incantations that are mustered against Satan in many professing Christian circles today, he is completely under the control of his Creator, and no matter what evil and havoc he may make in the world, he can never do any more than will ultimately be necessary towards the furthering and fruition of God’s final purpose in Christ (cf. Eph.3:8-11). Satan can never outwit God! Disciples of Christ can take real comfort in that.
There is yet another classic biblical example which shows that Satan is an unwitting servant of God in all that he does. I am referring here to the Apostle Paul’s famous ’thorn in the flesh’ (2 Cor.12:1-10). The Apostle spoke of how he had received “visions and revelations of the Lord” (2 Cor.12:1), of how he was “caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor.12:4). Such spiritual privileges could easily render a person prone to boast or to develop ideas that he had become a super-spiritual person, as many do today. But the Lord had taken certain necessary measures to ensure that this would not happen to His servant. Paul recognised this and disclosed the following information: “Lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure” (2 Cor.12:7).
The actual identity of the “thorn” itself is not important — it could have been an illness or being plagued by false apostles and phony teachers — but its function as an affliction certainly is important. For we see here that although the “thorn” was administered by Satan, it had been prescribed by the Lord. Just as He had done with Job, the Lord used the unwitting services of Satan to afflict one of His servants and bring about the greater good. But whereas Job was afflicted by God to eradicate any pride which was already present, Paul was given his affliction to prevent him from the possibility of falling into any future pride as a result of his high spiritual calling. Just as Jacob had to live with a permanent limp after winning a blessing from the Lord (Gen.32:24-32), so the disciple of Christ who enjoys the benefits of a closeness with God will often have to bear a burdensome cross to keep him from being ‘exalted above measure’.
That Paul was wholly aware of this subordinate use of Satan is shown by his advice to the ekklesia at Corinth, when discussing the case of a member who had committed incest, that they should “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor.5:5). Later, the church was urged “to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow” (2 Cor.2:7). Satan is shown here to be used by the ekklesia as an agent in the encouragement of repentance for sin — another example of which is given by Paul in 1 Tim.1:19-20: “Some have rejected [faith and a good conscience] and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme”.
The fallen angel is entirely subordinate to the will and uses of the Sovereign Lord. We must never forget this mighty fact. So if a disciple of Christ is suffering at the hands of the demonic realm (never possession), it is in the Lord’s chastening purposes, for his instruction and learning (see Heb.12:3-11). But when the Christian is attacked in this way, he does not need to go running off to the Shaman, priest or exorcist; but he must first of all say: “Why is this happening to me? Why is God permitting it to be so? What lessons does He want me to learn?” These are the questions that I always ask myself in the event of any adverse circumstances — all the while remembering that any strength to resist comes from Christ (Eph.6:10). It is in our weakness that His strength is made perfect.
If you are Christ’s, then everything about your life is unfolding under His jurisdiction. Every facet of the life of His disciples is in His hand (Mt.10:30-31). If He protects us absolutely from our human enemies, how much more does He protect us from those principalities and powers of darkness which He may permit to scourge us from time to time (see Lk.21:12-19)? In one sense, it is something of a comfort for Christ’s disciples to be buffeted by Satan, because it proves that the old serpent has something against you (you have, after all, wholly escaped from his dominion!), and this gives the Lord yet another opportunity to show His superiority and build your strength. If you were a child of Satan rather than a child of God, the devil would give you far less trouble. But “nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” — neither angels (fallen or otherwise) nor principalities nor powers of darkness. NOTHING! (Rom.8:28-39). They may try; but they can never harm you on a lasting basis.
Parallels Between Testaments Concerning Deliverance
The Bible actually gives a lovely parallel between the two Testaments concerning the battle between God’s elect and their spiritual opponents. The Old Testament historical record of the Children of Israel’s experiences in the wilderness and subsequent conquest of the Canaanite territory under their leader, Joshua, provides us with a number of eternal truths about our spiritual warfare as disciples of Christ. It is a fact that many of the earthly principles in the Old Covenant were types and shadows of spiritual realities in the New. Just as the nation Israel is rescued from bondage to Pharaoh in Egypt and brought into the promised territory of Canaan — a land flowing with milk and honey — so the Body of Christ is rescued from bondage to Satan in this present world and brought into the promised reality of eternal life in the New Heavens and the New Earth: a spiritual state of illumination by God in the light of the Lamb rather than earthly milk and honey (Rev.21:23). Whereas the members of the nation, Israel, did battle with material weapons against the surrounding nations, in the strength of the Lord, to maintain national purity, the member of the Body of Christ wars with spiritual weapons against discarnate enemies, in the strength of the Lord, as part of a lifelong personal sanctification process (2 Cor.10:4-6; Eph.6:10ff.). It is highly significant that the Lord saw fit to leave some of the surrounding nations untamed, ‘that He might test Israel by them’, even after they had been brought into the promised land (Judges 3:1). In just the same manner, he has left a large part of the demonic realm with a measure of power to test the ekklesia — even in the wake of Christ’s victory on the Cross.
So let us cast aside the vast majority of books on “deliverance” which litter the shelves of most Christian bookshops today. So many of them are downright dangerous, irresponsible and based on both fundamental misunderstandings of the Scriptures and a rejection of the Bible as the fount of Divine revelation today. Instead, let us turn to the Spirit-inspired writings of the apostles of Jesus Christ for our instructions on how to overcome Satan and handle the deceits of the demonic realm. Concerning any possible demonic interference in the life of the disciple of Christ, there are four places where we are given express light in this area, and a clear pattern of behaviour to follow. It is significant that they come from the pens of the three most prominent Apostles in the early ekklesia— Peter, John and Paul. To conclude this paper, let’s now examine these precious teachings.
The Teaching of the Apostle Peter on Spiritual Warfare
The only direct reference to Satan in Peter’s writings occurs in his first letter, when he reminds believers of the necessity of vigilance and a humble heart:
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith”.1 Pet.5:6-9
The teaching of the Apostle here is this: even though the devil walks about ‘like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour’, all that is necessary to combat this is to resist him, remaining steadfast in the faith. This approach is very similar to that recommended by the Jerusalem church leader, James, who, after reminding us that ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble‘, concludes: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas.4:6-7). The thinking behind these two texts is so similar that it was surely axiomatic in terms of the teaching of the early ekklesia on the subject of spiritual warfare. An undergirding element of this exhortation is the need for sobriety and quiet humility. No need for hysteria, superstition or ecclesiastical ritual when considering these matters.
Notice also how resistance to the devil is intimately tied up with ‘steadfastness in the faith’, which involves assurance and the foundations of solid Bible teaching — qualities which are sadly lacking in so many churches today. But above all, the greatest panacea for demonic oppression is to “draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (Jas.4:8). Submission in prayer to God is the central key to overcoming Satan. When a child was possessed by a particularly malign spirit (Mk.9:14-29), Jesus emphasised the profound importance of prayer and the personal spiritual life of the disciples as the key to the boy’s deliverance, rather than adherence to any ritual form of exorcism. Indeed, the very reason that those disciples had not been able to exercise their God-given gift for casting out demons into the Abyss was because they had neglected their spiritual exercises and simply assumed a magical reliance on exorcistic commands.
The one who exercises humility, faith and a prayerful mind-set — who resists Satan in this Divinely-appointed way — will discover that the devil will always turn tail and run. Guaranteed by Peter, no less!
The Teaching of the Apostle John on Spiritual Warfare
Although John said a great deal about Satan and his overthrow by the Lord Jesus Christ (e.g., 1 Jn.3:8), in terms of the personal spiritual warfare of the believer, his greatest statement by far occurs in the Book of Revelation: “And they overcame [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (Rev.12:11). It is a wonderful statement of deliverance from Satan in three parts. It is so ironic that this very verse has been seized on by ritualistic Christians in their vain attempts at ‘deliverance’ from Satan. But there is no reference here to the superstitious, ritual ‘pleading of Christ’s blood’ to the demonic powers in order to frighten them off, as many are teaching today. Engaging with demons in this way is pure Shamanism. One self-styled exorcist, giving an account of an alleged ritual exorcism, writes: “Prayerfully, I then sealed off the area of her soul, i.e. mind, heart, will, conscience and memory with the Blood of the Lamb… The Blood as the holy deterrent to evil is the Divinely imposed and impressed means of prohibition”. Another ‘Bible teacher’ writes about this same phenomenon, claiming that “he who scoffs at this teaching is in a pathetic plight… up the creek, without a paddle”. He sums up his teaching in this way:
“As the priests offered up daily blood sacrifices on behalf of the Israelites, so today in New Testament times, we by faith offer the Blood of Jesus Christ to God, as our plea on behalf of ourselves, our children and our loved ones. This ritual only comes to LIFE when we individually put it personally to the test’.
According to this writer, anyone (including Christians) not indulging in the shamanist ritual of ‘Pleading the Blood‘:
“leaves himself without protection (a covering), without healing (except conventional medicine), and with no defence against demonic attack upon his person or property — thus exposing himself and his loved ones to just any devilish onslaught in this dangerous, demon-infested world’.
However, in spite of this menacing threat, the truth is that the believer’s ability to stand before Satan does not rest in anything which he or she can perform, but rather on what the Lamb did on the Cross for him or her almost two thousand years ago. That is what “overcoming Satan by the blood of the Lamb” really means. Nothing to do with incantations of any kind. When you are a beneficiary of Christ’s atonement, you are naturally “delivered…from the power of darkness and transferred… into the kingdom of the Son of [God’s] love” (Col.1:13). Believers do not need to “plead the Blood of Christ” to Satan (or anyone else) as if we were occultists waving crosses at Dracula or a clove of garlic at vampires. We should simply rest in the finished work of Christ through His gracious atonement, which is what John means when he says, ”And they overcame [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb”.
It is also common in these circles which claim to practice exorcism on disciples of Christ to use the name of Jesus as a kind of talisman — as if the incantation of the name itself held some hidden power. But casting out demons “in His name” had nothing to do with the literal incantation of the name of Jesus at supposed demons, as if the name itself has some kind of woo-woo in it! The biblical phrase “in the name of” simply refers to the act of doing something by the authority of another. To think that the actual phrase, “in the name of Jesus”, has a magical power in the face of demons is pure superstition, and constitutes the use of the ancient occult art of ‘name-magic’ — a practice which was specifically outlawed in the Third Commandment: “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God”. As Gerhardus Vos rightly showed:
“It is not sufficient to think of swearing and blasphemy in the present-day common sense of these terms. The word is one of the chief powers of pagan superstition, and the most potent form of word-magic is name-magic. It was believed that through the pronouncing of the name of some supernatural entity this can be compelled to do the bidding of the magic-user”.Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology: Old & New Testaments, Wipf & Stock, 2003, pp.137-138
Likewise, in his biography of Moses, Jonathan Kirsch writes:
“Even the Third Commandment—‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain‘ (Exod. 20:7)—can be understood as a specific injunction against the kind of ‘name-magic’ that is common to all primitive religion. ‘Anyone who knows a divine name can make use of the divine power present in the name to effect blessings and curses, adjurations and bewitchings and all kinds of magical undertakings,’ explains Martin Noth. ‘The Divine name was revealed for the praise of God and for calling upon him, but it must be protected from possible misuse’. The Bible is harsh on those who defy these prohibitions”.Jonathan Kirsch, “Moses: A Life”, Random House Ballantine, 1998, p.236
The actual name of Jesus is not something to throw around as if it has magical properties. “In the name of Jesus” is not a slogan for ritualistic purposes but is simply a confirmation of the authority of Christ. Similarly, the use of the phrase, ’by the word of their testimony’, in connection with the overcoming of Satan that we see above in Rev.12:11, is not a reference to any mystical ‘power of the spoken word’, as many are teaching today. This text simply refers to faithfulness to the Truth which is in Christ and the fearless proclamation of it in the world (see Rev.6:9; 11:7; 12:17). It was for just such faithfulness and proclamation that John was exiled on the Isle of Patmos in the first place — “for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev.1:9). Proclaiming the gospel provides deliverance for the Lord’s people and confirms the mighty fact that the devil has already been overthrown.
A third element of genuine ‘deliverance’ in this verse (Rev.12:11) which is so misused by these professing Christian ritualistic exorcists is that “they did not love their lives to the death” — that is, they did not regard their lives in this fallen world so much that they were not willing to die for the witness of Christ. Is it not astonishing how so many professing Christians have actually got their feet comfortably under the table in this world? Do they not know that because Satan is the power behind the world-system (1 Jn.5:19), therefore friendship with the world is enmity with God (Jas.4:4)? John here teaches us that a prime factor in overcoming Satan is to have a ’loose’ hold on this world — more, to hate our lives in the world to such an extent that we are willing to sacrifice them for the sake of the Gospel (Lk.14:26; Jn.12:25). It is to such self-sacrifice that John is referring in Rev.12:11, as in his first letter when he said, “we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” just as the Lord Jesus “laid down His life for us” (1 Jn.3:16; cf. Jn.15:12-13).
The Teaching of the Apostle Paul on Spiritual Warfare
Although Paul alluded to the spiritual battle in his other letters, in his letter to the Ephesians, we discover a complete manual on spiritual warfare — on how to cope with living in a totally dark society where the powers of darkness are revered and even worshipped. The teaching here must be fundamental to our understanding of this subject, as this entire letter concerns the cosmic relationship between the ekklesia and the powers of darkness. It is all about the battle of the powers — Satanic power and the power of God. All this would be especially relevant to those living in Ephesus, which was the centre of the cult of the goddess Diana and a major focal point for occultism and magic in the first century (cf. Acts 19). It is equally as relevant in our own day, as we have learned throughout this present paper.
In the first chapter of Ephesians, we learn how disciples of Christ have been chosen for salvation and holiness by the Lord and Creator of the universe even before it was ever created (Eph.1:1-12). Then we learn how the recipients of this salvation have been sealed with the Holy Spirit until the return of the Lord Jesus (Eph.1:13-14). He also tells us of “the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” and how He has been seated at God’s right hand in the heavenlies, “far above all principality and power and might and dominion” (Eph.1:19-21). In the second chapter, Paul reminds the disciples what they have been saved from, contrasting the power of Jesus Christ with “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Eph.2:2). In the third chapter, he reveals a great mystery, “that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel” (Eph.3:6). This is the realisation of Jesus’ promise that He would ‘plunder’ Satan’s goods — the nations over which that evil former archangel had held sway for so many millennia. Then, after showing that God’s eternal purpose in Christ Jesus was that the “multi-faceted wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenlies” (Eph.3:10-11), he speaks of “the power that works in us” which comes through being filled with all the fullness of God and having Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith (Eph.3:16-21). Already, even at the end of the third chapter of the Letter to the Ephesians, we can see that the disciples of Christ have sufficient internal protection against the forces of darkness not to need any pretended exorcisms.
Then, in the fourth chapter, he begins a careful exposition of the practical application which arises naturally out of the teaching given in the previous three chapters, that there is a ‘power’ (Greek, dunamis, from which our word ‘dynamite‘ is derived!) in the believer which far surpasses any authority or power to which Satan may aspire. Here we discover that there is a twofold strategy in spiritual warfare with Satan — the one involving our works, the other involving our weaponry. The first involves the necessity for disciples to “have a walk worthy of the calling” with which they are called and that they should “no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk” (Eph.4:1, 17ff.). The second involves being “able to stand against the wiles of the devil” through being equipped with the “whole armour of God” (Eph.6:11).
When Paul says: “Do not give a foothold to the devil” (Eph.4:27), the footholds he envisages are the various sins and sinful situations into which we can so easily fall, such as lying (4:25,15a), sinful anger and contentious behaviour (4:3-6,26,31), corrupt communications (4:29; 5:4), a lack of kindness, compassion and forgiveness (4:32), the merest hint of sexual immorality, uncleanness or covetousness (5:3,5), drunkenness (5:18), the wrong choice of associates (5:6ff.), failure to discern false doctrine (4:14), a lack of humility and submission (4:2; 5:21), and the fostering of sectarianism or divisiveness (4:3-6). These are some of the things which can give a foothold to Satan in the life of the disciple of Christ. The disciple can never be possessed by Satan but s/he can certainly give him some legroom to be afflicted.
The greatest weapon in our spiritual warfare against Satan is to “put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Eph.4:22) and to “put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph.4:24). After all, the very reason that Christ “bore our sins in His own body on the tree” was in order “that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Pet.2:24). The disciple of Christ who takes his need to root out sin seriously and live an upright and righteous life will receive the most cast-iron protection against all the onslaughts of the devil because s/he does not provide any footholds for him. As the Apostle John puts it: “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God guards himself, and the wicked one does not touch him” (1 Jn.5:18). What protects the disciple of Christ from demonic hassle is personal sanctification rather than ritual exorcism.
Wearing the Armour of God
However, working alongside this incessant mortification of sin and zeal for an upright life, there is also a need to ensure that one is making full use of the spiritual armoury provided by the Lord to every believer (Eph.6:11-18). This putting-on of Divine armoury is not to be taken literally, as a number of superstitious Christians do today with a ritual exercise in which, upon rising in the morning, one visualises oneself being kitted out with a real suit of armour, and then divesting oneself of it at night — yet another nonsensical and useless ritual in the Christian scene. Instead, Paul reminds us that each piece of the armoury mentioned in Eph.6:13ff. symbolises a ‘grace-gift’ from God which is given to every disciple of Christ and of which we are to make full use. So this armour symbolizes powerful defences which we already have available by which we can vanquish any onslaught by Satan. Paul lists seven items in this “armour of God”, which I shall examine briefly as I bring this paper to a close.
1. The Belt of Truth
First, we are told to gird our waists with truth. Girding up one’s waist or loins in Scripture means to be in a state of sober readiness and repose (cf. Lk.12:35; 1 Pet.1:13). It is only through a sober knowledge of the truth that we can hope to stand against all evil. But, to quote a well-known but confused first-century Roman official, “What is truth?” God Himself is described as the God of truth (Dt.32:4), while Jesus Christ is the truth (Jn.1:14; 14:6; Eph.4:20-21), and the Holy Spirit is known as the Spirit of Truth (Jn.14:16-17; 15:26; 16:13). The Lord Jesus came to tell His disciples the truth: “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (Jn.8:31-32). The ekklesia itself is described as “The pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim.3:15). So it is hardly surprising to find the Apostle John saying: “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it” (1 Jn.2:21).
We have already seen the way in which Satan, the father of lies, has always sought to foster the notion that there is no Absolute Truth (see my article, “An Interview with Truth”: https://diakrisis-project.com/2021/09/26/an-interview-with-truth/ ). If you gird yourself about with this truth, you will hold the whole suit of armour together. It is the absolute Truth of a personal Transcendent God: “God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory” (1 Tim.3:16). Without the inner knowledge of these things (i.e., if one is not girded about with the belt of truth) a person is in a dismal position indeed. In the run-up to the revealing of the Antichrist at the end of this evil age, Paul tells us that people will perish “because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness” (2 Th.2:10-12). The belt of truth holds it all together.
2. The Breastplate of Righteousness
The second piece of armour in the disciple’s spiritual warfare is the breastplate of righteousness (v.14). This righteousness is not simply our own personal righteous behaviour, for that could never enable us to stand completely against all the wiles of the devil. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul explicitly says that he has no desire for his own righteousness but, instead, “that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Phil.3:9). This is none other than the righteousness of Christ which is credited to every regenerated disciple of His (Rom.3:21-22; 5:17-21), who is “filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil.1:10-11). If you have that righteousness in good measure, the devil will flee from you.
3. The Preparedness of the Gospel of Peace
Again, this refers to something which is a gift from God to the disciple. If we have a firm and solid footing based on the peace which lies in the true Gospel then we will then be well equipped to do battle with Satan. True peace can only come through having been forgiven by God and reconciled to Him. As Paul says elsewhere: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom.5:1). This is a great comfort. If we have this ‘peace with God’ — which can come only through being justified by faith in Christ — then we will be all the better equipped to deal with the wiles of the devil. For, as the Lord Himself said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn.14:27). No fear.
4. The Shield of Faith
The shield which Paul would have been taking as his symbol here is the standard shield of the Roman soldier: four feet by two feet six inches of protection for the entire body, interlocking with those adjacent to it — a beautiful illustration of the building-up of the Body of Christ through faithful disciples who have strengthening fellowship with one another.
What is this faith which is like a shield against “all the fiery darts of the wicked one”? Again, it is another gift from God: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph.2:8). And how does this faith work? The answer is in the Letter to the Hebrews: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb.11:1). What this means is that faith actually makes things substantial which do not yet have a present full reality or which appear from a human standpoint to be impossible. Thus, although disciples are prone to the temptations of the flesh and subject to disease and infirmities, they can have every assurance that He who has begun a good work in them will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil.1:6). Faith tells them that the Holy Spirit who indwells them is a guarantee of the resurrection to come (Rom.8:11; 2 Cor.5:5; Eph.1:13-14). Faith makes things substantial which do not yet have a present full reality. It is for this reason that the believer must walk by faith and not by sight. Such a mindset is a shield indeed against demonic attack.
5. The Helmet of Salvation
Another gift from God to the disciple is the helmet of salvation, the deep head-knowledge and intellectual confirmation that God has saved him or her through Jesus Christ from the second death. The true believer knows whom s/he has believed (2 Tim.1:12). The true believer knows that his or her Redeemer lives (Job 19:25). The true believer knows that once s/he was blind but now s/he can see (Jn.9:25). The true believer knows that s/he has passed from death to life (1 Jn.3:14). This is head-knowledge (hence, the helmet) that leads to the inner confidence of supernatural faith and a sure protection against all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
6. The Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God
Here we have an actual weapon rather than a mere piece of protective clothing, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v.17). But this is no common weapon of human vengeance or wanton combat. It refers to the sayings of God which have come to us in the Scriptures. The ‘word’ here is not the Greek, logos, i.e., verbal thought or concept, but is rhema, an actual saying. We must not read too much into this differentiation as both words are used in the Bible to refer to the Scriptures as God’s Word (e.g., 1 Pet.1:25; 1 Cor.14:36). There are some who interpret this verse as if it means that we are to use Spirit-inspired verbal commands as a formula for exorcism; but there are no biblical grounds for believing this.
The sword of the Spirit is not referring so much to the Bible as a book, but to the Word of God as spoken in it — God-breathed. Jesus Himself used this very weapon in His temptation by Satan in the wilderness, as He quoted Scripture, rather than any other formula, to ward off Satan. Three times He was tempted. Three times He replied by quoting the Bible (Dt.8:3; 6:13,16). When He said: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God’” (Lk.4:8), the Greek word for ‘word’ of God here is the same as in the description of the sword of the Spirit in Eph.6:17. It is the Word of God spoken in the hearing of Satan — the same Word of God which is described as being “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb.4:12).
When we proclaim the truth about Christ, read the Scriptures aloud or explain them before an assembly of people, we cut through and prick their hearts, winning souls for Christ, thus doing irreparable damage to the aims of the satanic realm. In this way, we “tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor.10:5). Our Redeemer Himself is portrayed as having a “mouth like a sharp sword” (Isa.49:2; cf. Rev.1:16; 2:12). “’Is not My word like a fire?’, says the Lord, ‘and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?’” (Jer.23:29). We have to carry this word of God in our very hearts (Dt.6:6; 11:18), not merely to assist us in direct confrontations with the demonic realm, but to avert us from moral failure, sin (Ps.119:9-11), to admonish us (1 Cor.10:11), to give us faith (Rom.10:17), to teach (Col.3:16), to proclaim the gospel (1 Pet.1:22-25; 1 Cor.1:17-25) and to save souls (Jam.1:21). All this causes real damage to the aims and strategy of Satan within the ekklesia. Moreover, it is through the proclamation of His word that “the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph.3:10-11).
This was well understood by John when he told some of the recipients of his first letter: “I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one” (1 Jn.2:14). This is the real secret of being able to take a stand against the demonic realm. Do you now see why it is so necessary to have a great armoury of Scriptures at one’s disposal? How else are we going to take on the cultists, false teachers, false apostles, and phony angels of light in the ekklesia, if not from our knowledge of Scripture? This weapon is “the word of [our] testimony” (Rev.12:11) — not our own personal testimony, but the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev.12:17), our Risen Saviour. “The word of our God stands forever” (Isa.40:8; cf. 1 Pet.1:22-25; Mt.24:35).
7. Prayer in the Spirit
The final piece in the disciple’s spiritual armoury is prayer which is “in the spirit” (v.18). This is a most important part of the armoury. In a sense, it is such prayer which holds it all together. When Paul speaks about praying in the spirit, he is not referring to praying in ecstatic so-called “tongues” — the babbling in gobbledegook that so many appear to practise today, for they do not constitute real languages and are not being used for any real purpose other than entering an altered state of consciousness. Because of their tendentious approach to the Holy Spirit, the phrase “in the spirit” can only be interpreted by them as referring to some ecstatic state; but that is mysticism rather than biblical prayer. The use of the term ‘in the spirit’ here means prayer which is genuine, from the heart, arising out of a dynamic personal relationship with God. It is ‘in the spirit’ — that is, not just an external ritual but a vital activity, coming from a person’s spirit within rather than from his lips only. Paul stressed the same importance of the interiority of the spiritual life when he spoke of serving God ‘with his spirit’ (Rom.1:9), of praying and singing ‘with his spirit’ (1 Cor.14:14-15) in just the manner that the Lord Jesus said He must be worshipped: “in spirit and in truth” (Jn.4:23-24). Although it is perfectly true that a Christian cannot pray fervently in his own spirit unless he has first been inspired by the Holy Spirit (Rom.8:26-27; Jude 1:20), the phrase ‘praying in the spirit’ refers principally to the attitude of heart of the one so praying — a person who’s own spirit is ‘in tune with’ the Spirit of God. On this phrase, “in the spirit”, William Gurnall writes:
“We pray in the spirit when these three are found in the duty:—FIRST, when we pray with knowledge. SECOND, when we pray in fervency. THIRD, when we pray in sincerity. These three exercise the three powers of the soul and spirit. By knowledge the understanding is set on work; by fervency the affections; and by sincerity the will. All these are required in conjunction to ‘praying in the spirit‘”.William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour: A Treatise of the Saints’ War Against the Devil, Banner of Truth Trust, 1964), Vol.II, p.468
The Lord Jesus scolded the Pharisees for not worshipping ‘in spirit and in truth’ when he said to them: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honour Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me’” (Mt.15:7-8). Unless our prayers are ‘in the spirit’ of fervency and from the heart, they will have little effect on Satan in terms of spiritual warfare. But “the fervent prayer of a righteous person bears much fruit”. Without it, the armour we wear will be far less effective against the onslaughts of a devil who is very angry because he knows he only has a short time (Rev.12:12). And if we really think about this divine armoury — taking into account its symbology, and considering all that it does — what does it really represent? What is the sum of all its parts? It is none other than Christ Himself! As Paul reveals: “For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal.3:27). Elsewhere, he says:
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness and lewdness, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil its lusts”.Rom.13:12-14
The Greek words translated as “put on Christ” in these verses mean, literally, “clothe yourself with Christ”. He is our armour! So, in Rom.13:12-14, we have an exact replica of Paul’s twofold strategy for effective spiritual warfare against the powers of darkness: First, the necessity for believers to “have a walk worthy of the calling” with which they are called and that they should “no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk”. Second, the need to be “able to stand against the wiles of the devil” through being equipped with the “whole armour of God” (Eph.6:11). In Ephesians 4:22-24, it is expressed as “put off the old man, put on the new”. In Romans 13:12-13, it is “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light”. The “new man”, “armour of light”, and “whole armour of God” which the disciple of Christ puts on refer to the same thing: Jesus Christ as the image of God created in righteousness and true holiness. To be clothed with Christ means to become a “partaker in the divine nature” (2 Pet.1:4). Such is the intimacy of our union with Christ that every true disciple can say: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal.2:20). That is what true deliverance is all about.
There can be no rescue from being enslaved to the powers of darkness until a person is no longer ‘in Adam’ but ‘in Christ’. And to be ‘in Christ’ means to eschew anything which may provide a foothold for Satan in our lives. Deliverance from enslavement to the demonic comes only through regeneration, which brings with it the whole armour of God. From the moment you are saved by Christ you are outside of Satan’s authority. “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col.1:13). Never forget that. But it doesn’t stop there. For, although disciples cease to be actually enslaved to sin and Satan, they still have to contend with the “lust of the flesh” from within (Gal.5:16-21) and “the wiles of the devil” from without (Eph.6:11; cf. 2 Cor.2:11b; 1 Pet.5:8). So, while the non-disciple’s deliverance from enslavement to the demonic comes through regeneration, the disciple’s deliverance from harassment by the demonic comes through sanctification. Disciples of Christ who purify themselves, just as the Lord Jesus is pure (1 Jn.3:3), who work out their own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil.2:13), who diligently “cast off the works of darkness” (Rom.13:12), who “no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk” (Eph.4:17), who “have a walk worthy of the calling with which [they] were called” (Eph.4:1), who “walk as children of light…and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph.5:11), who consistently refuse to “give a foothold to the devil” (Eph.4:24) — these will be the ones who “shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” and be delivered “from the snare of the fowler” (Ps.91:1-3). The clear promise to the genuine disciple of Christ is this: “Because you have made the Lord… even the Most High, your habitation, no evil shall befall you… for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways” (Ps.91:9-11). The Lord Himself says of such a one:
“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will exalt him, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honour him”.Psa.91:14-15
That is deliverance; true deliverance — which does not come through superstitious rituals but by divine rescue followed by prudent sanctified living as a faithful disciple of Christ.
Epilogue: The Need for Stability in the Life of the Disciple
I hope and pray that I have here given the complete biblical strategy for dealing with any demonic influence in the life of the Christian. If you follow these principles, you will be fully protected under the healing wings of the Lord. Fully protected from demon possession, so-called magic spells of all kinds (most of which are based on suggestion techniques or forms of hypnosis), curses, and so on. What a far cry this is from the superstition, bondage and lack of assurance which is generated within so many professing Christian groups today! How right the Apostle was when he showed that instability and an untaught mind go hand-in-hand with a lack of true Christian teaching. Speaking of Paul‘s letters, he says: “Some parts of his letters are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction“ (2 Pet.3:16). And how sad it is that this ignorance and instability is rocking the ekklesia and wrecking the fragile hearts of so many professing Christians today. The main reason that so many are falling into these traps is because they do not know the Scriptures or the real power of God.
If I have gone to great lengths in this paper about what may seem a small matter to some, it is because of my strong conviction that we need stability and discernment more than ever in these present times, as Satan and his human henchmen assault the Lord’s people with teachings which bring them into spiritual bondage and inspire them to practise religious techniques and systems which are far removed from the ways of God. The reason behind all this is clear: The incitement of professing Christians to indulge in the practices of the paganism of old world religions (which all have their roots in the ancient religion of Babel) is a most advantageous strategy in the current satanic bid to eradicate the gulf between what should be the faithful ekklesia and the religious beliefs of the world and generate a kind of interfaithism which will be a harbinger of the spiritual requirements of the Antichrist in time to come. Exorcism as a practice on disciples of Christ is an insult to the Holy Spirit who indwells them, and even a blasphemy against Him, not to mention an assault on the well-being of the ekklesia.
Satan should have no place in the life of the disciple of Christ other than as a potential harasser (so as to learn needed lessons) and as an inconvenience (to spur us on to more sanctified ways of living), but never as a possessor or faith-destroyer. Our fate in this regard does not reside in an exorcist but in our own sanctification and purification, which are all in our own hands before God rather than in the hands of any other.
© 2023, Alan Morrison / The Diakrisis Project. All Rights Reserved. [The copyright on my works is merely to protect them from any wanton plagiarism which could result in undesirable changes (as has actually happened!). Readers are free to reproduce my work, so long as it is in the same format and with the exact same content and its origin is acknowledged]