Let’s talk about what the Scripture says are the causes of demonic influence.
Michael Pocock . . . here, at Dallas Seminary, he has what he calls a “continuum of demonic influence.” Over here, on this far level of beginning stages, he talks about, first, there is just oppression. And then, you move from that to harassment, to obsession, to, then, compulsion, to control. And then, with unbelievers, possession, where they have absolute control. And along that spectrum, demonic influences.
But what I wanna talk about is, there are pathways to get there. Some people actively seek it. I mean, where I came from, it’s not like, “Are there demons?” It was like, “I’d like to find one. I’d like to get involved. I want to learn.” You can sign up for courses. Where I came from, “This is how to cast a spell,” and, “Warlocks meet here,” and, “I wanna learn how to channel,” and, “Would you tell me my –” All kinds of babbling.
With some people, it’s passive. They’re ignorant, and they just think it’s funny. “Oh, it’s vacation – why don’t we go to a palm reader, and just see what’s up? You know, just for laughs.” And they get sucked in that way.
For other people, it’s through a pathway of sin. They have an issue in their life, and they don’t repent of it, and they don’t deal with it, and they become enslaved to it. And then, demonic influences begin to infiltrate.
Just so you know, there’s biblical basis for how demonic influence can infiltrate not just the life of unbelievers, but believers. In John 8:34: When you yield to sin, you become a slave to it. A spiritual rebellion – When you know exactly what God wants you to do, and you stiff-arm God and say, “I won’t do Your will,” you open the door to demonic influence. The Scripture says, when you participate in the occult – Deuteronomy 18 – you open the door to demonic influence. When you attempt to contact the dead, you open the door to demonic influence. When you have unresolved anger, and bitterness . . .
That’s probably the number one, middle-class, evangelical Christian sin that opens people up to demonic influence: bitterness, resentment. Resolve it before bedtime, the Scripture says. Why? Lest you give the devil a foothold.
Access, association with those in satanic activity . . . You have to be very, very careful about who you associate with, who are doing the kinds of thing we’re talking about here.
Now, in the New Testament, how do you know if something is demonic? I mean, how do you know if Satan could be at work? And let me say, there’s a verse behind each one, as we look at these. How would you know that something is demonic?
We’re not saying that something is, always, but obviously, you say, “Okay, let’s evaluate all the physical factors.” When something weird is happening, go to a doctor and get a great physical and make sure it’s not there. And then, you’ve got to evaluate: What are my circumstances in stress and emotion? Could this all be caused just by the logical progression of – You know, I’ve been up for 3 nights. I’m having amazing, incredible pressure, etc., etc.? Or, what’s happening in terms of some other relationships? But what you can see here is, there are some specific things that at least have demonic influence as the source, on some occasions.
So, let’s just look at the list here. There are some severe sicknesses – obviously, not all sickness – but there are some severe sicknesses, according to Matthew 12:22, that were untreatable by conventional medicine. They’re bizarre; they’re infrequent. Their symptoms are complicated. You’ve tried everything. Could it be, on some occasions, that there’s some demonic influence behind it? Have you ever just thought – I mean, you’ve been to the Mayo Clinic; you’ve been to Emory. You’ve been to the finest places. And something bizarre is happening. It is possible, at least from New Testament documentation, that some of those instances were demonically –
Or divination: when you get involved, by whatever means, of telling the future . . . Demonic influence.
Unusual physical strength. I remember a time seeing this – we had a guy demonized, and I was preaching. And he came right up the aisle, this way. And at first, we just thought we was drunk – and his eyes were this big – and people started to hold him, and – Bang! Bang! It was like, “Wow!” There’s unusual physical strength.
Fits of rage. Uncontrollable fits of rage can be caused by demonic influence.
Split personality. I remember having a situation in the church: Literally, you could talk to the person, like this, and then the next day, talk to her like this, and then this way, and . . . We would get leadership together, and we would argue with one another, “That couldn’t be, because we interviewed her, and things are going this way.” And three guys would say, “No, Thursday night, we were over at the house, and she was this way.” And we found out, tremendous demonic influence was going on. She could switch off, switch on. We found out she had dabbled on the occult. Some of these things . . .
We have this here, in Mark 5:6-7: resistance to spiritual help, other voices from within. Some of you have shared experiences where this has happened to you. That’s one of those – Whoa! – weird ones, right? But it happens. Or occult powers. So, those things, we know from the New Testament, are evidence of demonic influence.
Well, what’s the cure? The cure is very simple, very clear cut, and if you feel like I’ve said it once, I’ve said it twice, I’ve said it three times – I’m gonna keep saying it. The cure is, victory is through the cross of Christ. Colossians 2:14-15: Satan has been disarmed – very clearly – by the work of Christ on the cross. Victory is in the name of Christ – Matthew 10, Acts 5:16 – and victory is in the power of the Holy Spirit. 1 John 4:4, “Greater is He that is in us than he who is in the world.”
So, with that said, let’s get down to where the rubber really meets the road. I had some people line up last night, and they said, “Okay, I know I’m involved with some demonic influence. What do I do? What do I do? You’ve described this. I’ve discerned. This isn’t one of those questions about whether it is, or it isn’t. I don’t know whether it’s opposition, or whether I’m being harassed, but this is the phenomena that’s occurring. It lines up exactly, biblically. How can I get delivered from the demonic influence that I’m personally experiencing?”
And now, I want you to put your little thinking cap on, and I want you to ask yourself, Of what is going to come in the next 10-12 minutes, what do I need to hear, for me? And is there anybody in my relational network, in my church, that as I’ve been here in these last few sessions, I’ve realized, you know what? I think demonic influence might be at the core of this.” And then are you ready? Take a big, deep breath, God may want me to be the point person to get with this situation, and be a part of a deliverance. And if that’s the case, then I would listen up real carefully.
So, let’s talk about specific steps for deliverance from demonic influence. For an unbeliever, here’s the first step: Accept Christ. Accept Christ. John 1:12 says, “As many as receive Him” – Jesus – “to him He gives the right to become children of God, as many as call upon His name.”
You may be here, at a place like this – maybe your wife wanted you to come, your husband wanted you to come, or your parents invited you, or you invited your parents . . . For whatever reason, you’re thinking to yourself, I’m listening to all this, what I thought, in day one, was kind of wacko stuff . . . You know, I’m gonna please my mate, or, I’ll sit through this thing, and somewhere along the journey, God’s been speaking to you. He’s been speaking to you. And what you realize is, you don’t have the protection of the Holy Spirit. You know, in your heart of hearts, you’re not a believer.
So, the first step is in no way to fight demonic spirits. The first step is for you to admit that you need Jesus, to believe that when He died on the cross, He paid for your sin, and for you to turn away, have a change of mind about your old life, and your old living – that’s all “repent” means – and ask Jesus come into your life, and forgive you for your sins. And the moment you do that, based on His work on the cross, and His resurrection, He will come in, you’ll be sealed with the Spirit, you’ll be taken from the kingdom of darkness, and be placed in the Kingdom of light. If you haven’t done that, or if you know someone in a situation like that, that is step number one.
Step number two, for a believer: If you are involved in some sinful pattern that you’re realizing has emerged – you’ve yielded to sin; you are someone – and no one would ever dream it – I just got an email from a church leader around America. He’s a high-profile guy in his church, and he finally just came clean. He said, “I was sitting in my car, listening to my radio, privacy of the radio . . . No one would dream I’m addicted to porn.” And then, he said, “Here are the things that are happening in my life.”
You’ve gotta repent. You’ve gotta confess. You’ve gotta agree with God that’s wrong, and then claim 1 John 1:9.
And you know what? It might not be porn. It might be alcohol. It might not be alcohol. It might just be lusting in your mind. It may not be alcohol, or lusting in your mind. It might be a food compulsion. It might not be any of those things. It might be that you’re a shopaholic, and you’re trying to solve deep, emotional problems by buying, buying, buying.
Or it might just be that subtle lie. You might be on a track, here, of believing, When we get the kitchen remodeled, when we can finally get the bigger home . . . I have this kind of car, but I’ve gotta have this kind of car. And then, when you when you get the second home . . . You would never say it, but you’ve been deceived into believing that material things can solve deep, spiritual, personal issues.
It’s a lie. Confess it as sin. When’s the last time you sat with a group of Christians, in a Bible study, and had someone bow their head and say, “Dear Jesus, would You please forgive me for being materialistic? Would You forgive me for my preoccupation with stuff? Lord, I confess my sin. I know You’re faithful and just. Will You forgive me, and cleanse me of all unrighteousness?”
I can count that on probably two fingers, the times I’ve ever had that experience with an evangelical believer in America. It is the sacred cow of the Church in America. And what’s Scripture teach? The seed goes into the heart, right? The seed of God’s Word goes into our heart. What is it that has to power to choke out the truth of God’s Word in the fertile soil of a human heart? The deceitfulness of riches, the desire for other things.
Now, you may not have weird manifestations in your bedroom of demonic activity. If he’s got you blinded by that, he doesn’t need to do any of that! You’re rendered inoperative. You’ve got all these needs around the world, and all these churches, and all these missionaries, and all these organizations that are desperate for the financial needs. And he’s got the great percentage of all the evangelical Christians in America hoodwinked into believing that material stuff will satisfy.
So, we have a whopping 3.9% of evangelical, born-again believers in America that even give a tithe – 10% of their income. That means that 96% - All these resources that God has, that He wants to set loose to set people free . . . We have a deluded, deceived, warped Church who tips God.
The average evangelical believer is way more committed to making sure that that server, that waitress or that waiter, gets between 10 to 15% after you have a meal than you are that the God of the universe gets back a portion of what He gave you. Let me ask you, when’s the last time you went to a restaurant and said – I mean, the service was good – “What do you think, honey? Let’s not tip at all. Let’s blow ‘em off. Or I’ll tell you what, let’s embarrass them. It was a $52 meal. Let’s put a buck on the table”?
I challenge you to go home and figure out what your net worth is, and then figure out how much you gave last year. And if you realize what you’re basically doing with God is a buck on the table, then confess your sin. He’s not down on you. He loves you. You are missing out, and the Kingdom is missing out.
Third step: Renounce the works of the devil. You’ve gotta say, “Wait a second, I’ve been deluded.” Renounce the – “Hey, that’s from the enemy. The Word’s being choked out in my life.”
The fourth step is, destroy occult objects. If you’ve dabbled, if you’ve got a Ouija Board, or, for fun, you’re just checking your astrology, and all that . . . You know what? Destroy that stuff.
The fifth step is, break friendships with people in the occult. You know, missionary dating is not very smart, in terms of the guy/girl relationship. Missionary befriending people in the occult is not a very smart thing to do. Pray, build relationship, neutral turf, find out what’s going on, but don’t be hanging around with people who are obviously involved in the occult.
Rest in Christ’s deliverance. Once you’ve done that, then rest in, renew your mind that you are safe in Christ – Colossians 1:13.
And then, as you do that, guess what? Everything’s not going to go away. You think you, or I, or someone that you love has been held captive. You think the enemy’s gonna go, “Oh, gosh, hey demon guys, guess we lost out on this one. Bye, bye, so long, farewell, boo-doo-doo-doo, bye, bye, so long – ?”
That’s not how it works. What’s the Scripture teach? When a demon’s cast out, unless the right things follow, and the thing gets filled up with truth and focus, that demon goes and gets seven demons more wicked than itself, and comes back to attack.
So, you must now resist the devil. You’ve gotta resist the devil, and he’ll flee from you.
You wanna know how to resist the devil? James 4:1-10. Seven to ten gives it exactly. I mean, it is a picture of New Testament repentance, resistance. So, what do you do?
First, submit to God. Any area of your life that is not submitted to God in your behavior and your thinking, submit to God.
And then, what do you do? Resist the devil. Say, “I’m not gonna go there anymore.” So, you turn away from whatever activity it is.
Then, you do what? You draw near to God. What’s the promise in the text? He’ll draw near to you. Then as He draws near to you, He starts dealing with the stuff in your life.
Next phrase says, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners.” What do you think that means? What are the tangible activities that you’re doing with your hands that need to stop?
“Cleanse your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded.” What are the internal attitudes – the lusts, the lies – that need to be dealt with? “Cleanse your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded” – thinking you can have it both ways.
And then, have an emotional response: Mourn, wail, realize that the enemy has captured you, and your King, your Redeemer, your Savior, you’ve been stiff-arming. And you ought to feel the pain of what it looks like of what you’ve done to Him. Turn your laughter to mourning, and then humble yourself before the mighty hand of God: “Oh, God, I’m sorry.” Come, broken.
And what’s the promise? “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted. He saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
When David blew it – I mean, if you’re thinking, Oh, mine’s too big; mine’s beyond hope, no, it’s not! If you haven’t committed adultery yet, and murder, like, within a year, then you qualify.
What did David say at the end of his prayer? “If sacrifices or offerings are what You desire, burnt offerings, I would’ve brought them. But that’s not what You desire. You desire a broken spirit and a contrite heart. A broken spirit and a contrite heart, O, God, You will not despise.”
The moment you come, resisting and broken, He will rush to you. You read Luke 15 with new eyes, and you be the Prodigal, and that’s the Father’s attitude. He’s been lookin’. He’s been waitin’. He sent you here, some of you, to this experience, for the light to come on, so that you could repent, so that you could change, so that you could run home to Him.
And when you run home to Him, His arms are not going to be crossed, “Well, I was wonderin’. I’m glad you went to that retreat ‘cause I’ve been really mad at you for a long time.” He’s gonna say, “Son! Daughter! It’s so good to have you! Peace! Let’s put a ring on your finger! Let’s put a robe on your back! Let’s have a celebration! Let Me help you!” That’s the God of the New Testament.
But what do you have to do? Accept Christ, confess sin, renounce, destroy the works, break friendships, rest in Christ, resist the devil. And now, you’ve gotta start proactively, positively meditating on and applying the Word of God. You’ve gotta fill your mind.
You’ve gotta put on good music. You’ve gotta take that remote control, and for some of you, turn your TV off for 10 days. I mean, you know what? You have been so dumbed down, you have been so mesmerized . . . Just do a little media fast. You’ve gotta cleanse your mind. Don’t rent a video for a couple weeks. Go on a media fast. Take that time and play some Christian music, and do something crazy, like, I wonder if I could read through a modern translation of the entire New Testament in three weeks?
I mean, really, when you look at it . . . You know, some of you read those novels. Are you ready for this? I’ve got big print. Have any of you, in three weeks, ever read a book that thick? “No, we’ve never done that!” But you talk to Christians about reading through the New Testament, and it’s like, “Oh, man, Charles Spurgeon maybe could read through the New Testament in three weeks!”
I know a pastor in San Francisco who reads through the New Testament – Now, don’t try this at home. He reads through the New Testament every single week, in its entirety. He blocks off a day and a half in preparation. He reads through the entire – Now, he reads fast. But it’s amazing, the breadth, and the depth of his life, and his character.
But my point is, some of these notes and verses – Do you have enough verses that you could start a little memory program? Think you could write them on a 3 x 5 card? Think you could not just read them now and then, but put a little rubber band around them, and put them on your nightstand, and before you go to bed, review, review, review? And no pressure, like, I’ve gotta do… Enjoy it. Enjoy it. Enjoy it. Then, get up in the morning, and before you do anything . . .
I mean, three minutes. What happens in your mind the first three minutes . . . Before you get a shower, before you eat breakfast, just pick ‘em up, and review, review, review. And then, while you’re in the shower, think about it. For us guys, when we shave, you ladies, when you put on your makeup . . . Then spend some time with God. Meditate. Renew your mind.
And then, engage in corporate prayer. Basically, everything I talked about – there was a lady right down here, and she said, “This is demonic influence. I know it’s demonic. And . . .” She basically went through, “I’ve done this, this, this, this, this, this, this. It ain’t workin’.” And my next line was, “Get some key people in your church, your pastor if possible, too, come to your home, and pray as a group.”
You have never been called to live this life alone. Every New Testament command that I can find, save maybe one or two, is in the second person plural: “Love one another.” It’s kind of like in Texas, “You all should love one another. You all should honor one another. You all should walk in love. You all should walk in the light.” We need one another. There are times when there’s opposition. Get some brothers and sisters. Share your heart. Fast, maybe, for a day, get in the living room for a couple hours, and pray – defensively, and then offensively. And see what God will do.
Final thing, here: If necessary, exorcism in the name of Christ. Now, you say, “Well, who should do that?” Well, a spiritually-qualified counselor, according to Galatians 5:16 and Ephesians 5:18, one filled with the Holy Spirit. You need to maintain humility. You need to make sure your spiritual armor is on. It’s gotta be done by people who know the Word of God, and you gotta have people supporting you in prayer.
And though this is specific and unusual, there are situations where you need an expert to come into the arena. You need someone with real experience. I mean, it’s really heavy duty. Find someone who knows what they’re doing.
However – listen carefully – the spirit of the New Testament is not that there will be a few professional, gun-slinging exorcists that you bring in for the big stuff. The spirit of the New Testament is, you, as a regular, ordinary believer in Christ, with the badge and the authority of Christ, with the power of God, like a Colt .45 right by your hip, walking in the Spirit, in community, that believers, normally, together, can address demonic spiritual issues, and even, when necessary, command them to leave, or exorcism.
And you know what? It doesn’t take a super spiritual brain surgeon. It doesn’t take someone who knows everything about the Bible. It takes courageous believers who know who they are in Christ, who understand that though our foe is formidable, we do not fear him, but we exercise the power, the authority, the grace of God, the armor of God. And you know what? You come against him, and in His power and His name, they must flee.
Now, does that mean that things are going to be real easy? Does it mean you might have some bizarre, fearful experiences? Yeah. But to build a little bit on what I said the other night, that first experience almost scared me to death. I had times when I would wake up in the middle of the night, have that experience, and have one, two, or sometimes more of my kids having the same experience, at the same time.
But let me tell you something. My youngest son has always been spiritually sensitive. And I got up one night to get a glass of water – it was about 1 a.m. – and I heard something from his bedroom. And you know, as a parent, when you hear something, you think, I wonder if he’s gonna be okay? And I got to the door, and it was cracked, and by the hall light from the bathroom, I could see . . . This is, like, a 10- or 11-year-old kid. He’s on his knees, next to his bed, going, “Dear Lord, Jesus, I thank You that I am complete in Christ. I thank You that I have the armor of God. Dear Lord, these spirits that are seeking to assault me tonight, in the blood of Jesus, and by His great name and power, I command you, leave me alone. Depart from this bedroom. Go where Jesus sends you. Amen.”
I watched him pull back his covers, get in, throw his covers on, then go to sleep, and then at the breakfast table say, “You know, Dad, I had one of those things happen last night.” “Yeah? So, what happened?” I kinda knew. He said, “Well, I just did spiritual warfare, like we talked about.”
Point: If an 11- or 12-year-old, with a spiritual .45 and the authority of Jesus, can say to demonic spirits what they need to do, and they have to do it, don’t you think regular people like us, in a balanced, reasoned, wise approach, can do exactly what God wants us to do? I think so.