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About this series
What Every Believer Needs to Know About Satan, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare
Beneath our tangible landscape lurks an invisible spiritual realm where unseen battles rage. It's real. And it's dangerous. If you're prepared to remove the blinders and gaze into the unseen world, Chip Ingram is ready to take you there. Hang on to your seat. It's going to be a journey inside the very folds of our Bibles, a journey that will teach us about our greatest foe, Satan, also known as Lucifer, the Dragon, Serpent, and Son of the Morning Star. Although this lying thief comes to "steal, kill, and destroy," God details, in Ephesians 6, the battle plan to uncover Satan's cunning deceptions and to resist his sinister schemes. The cosmic conflict exploding all around us will have eternal implications, for us and those we love. This series will prepare you to do spiritual battle with the enemy of your soul... and win! You'll learn to clothe yourself with God's spiritual armor so you can be confident of certain victory over the scheming enemy.More from this series
I want to read a story. It’s a true story. It comes out of a book that is sort of a devotional little book, but I want you to just listen.
“A missionary was serving as a medic at a small field through a hospital in Africa. Periodically had to travel by bicycle through the jungle to a nearby city for supplies. It was a two-day trip so he had to camp out overnight. He had made the trip several times without incident. One day, however, he arrived at his destination and saw that two men were fighting. One was seriously hurt so he treated him, witnessed to him, and went about his business.
“Upon arriving in the city again several weeks later, he was approached by the man that he had treated. He said, ‘I know you carry money and medicine,’ said the man to the missionary. ‘Some friends and I followed you into the jungle that night after you treated me knowing you would have to camp overnight. We waited for you to go to sleep and we planned to kill you and take your money and the drugs. Just as we started moving into the campsite, we saw that you were surrounded by twenty-six armed guards. There were only six of us and we knew we couldn’t possibly get near you, so we left.’
“Hearing this, the missionary laughed. He said, ‘Well that’s impossible. I assure you I was alone that night in the campsite.’ The young man pressed his point and he says, ‘No, sir. I was not the only one who saw the guards. My friends also saw them, and we all counted them and we were all frightened. It was because of those guards that we left you alone.’
“Several months later, the missionary attended a church and made the presentation in Michigan where he told about his experience in Africa. One of the congregants jumped to his feet, interrupted the missionary, and said something that left everyone in the church absolutely stunned. ‘We were there with you spirit,’ the man said. The missionary looked perplexed. The man continued, ‘On that night in Africa, it was morning here. I stopped by the church to gather some materials for an out-of-town trip to go to another parish, but as I put my bags into the trunk, I felt the Lord leading me to pray for you. The urging was so compelling and so strong, I called the men of the church to gather to pray for you.’ Then the man stood up and turned around and said, ‘Will all of you men who met with me that morning please stand up?’ And one by one, all twenty-six men stood up.”
I would say intercessory prayer is the pivotal and essential aspect for corporate and individual deliverance. Notice how Paul ends verses 18 to 20. “With all prayer and petition, pray at all times” – how? “in the Spirit and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints and pray on my behalf.” And what’s he pray? “That the utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains. That is proclaiming it that I may speak boldly as I ought to speak.”
I want you to look at that last paragraph and circle the word all, all prayer, all times, all the saints. And then I want you to underline prayer, petition, alert, perseverance, petition, pray on my behalf, utterance given to me. Is there any doubt that this is talking about a level of prayer that isn’t sort of casually talking to God in the car and hoping some good things happen?
The summary of verses 18 to 20 is the means by which believers are to withstand and overcome the attacks of the enemy in spiritual warfare is by consistent, intense, strategic prayer for one another in conjunction with the personal application of the armor of God.
And so, what I want to do is give you in our time together an overview of: what does consistent, strategic, intentional, and intense prayer look like from this passage? And then a bit later, I want to talk about actual deliverance ministry and at least give an overview of that.
Intercessory prayer is our most powerful and strategic corporate weapon in spiritual warfare. Prayer has a direct impact on spiritual warfare. Mark chapter 9, verses 29, they come down from the Mount of Transfiguration and a man says, “Jesus, help me. Your disciples have tried to cast out this demon and it won’t.” And Jesus says, “This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting.” There seems to be a direct correlation between a kind of prayer, a level of prayer. Prayer provides an assist in the deliverance of others who are undergoing spiritual attack. Luke 22, “Peter, Satan has sought to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you.” Power falls where prayer prevails.
All I want you to get, I want you to get that prayer isn’t like an add-on or it’s a few words here and there. The Scripture is teaching that this is vital, pivotal, core to spiritual warfare and victory. I did a study in the book of Acts and I put it in front of you. I went through all the key passages and all the breakthroughs and you’ll notice where prayer, Acts 1, Acts 2:42, 3:1, chapter 4, chapter 6, chapter 8, chapter 9, chapter 10. Church history is replete. The Welsh revival started with a handful of people, people who met together each Saturday night and prayed. God spoke to them and there was a revival there that spread across the world. The Layman’s Prayer Revival in the 1800s, there wasn’t a pastor, there was no preaching. It moved from city to city to city where during the noon hour, a handful of businessmen said, “Let’s pray.” Three requests; pray for them. Three requests; pray for them. And then it went Chicago, New York, all across the country.
Experts say millions of people came to Christ, the Great Awakening in the United States. Our history at Living on the Edge, I was sitting around a table and we’ve almost gone out of business once or twice, didn’t have sufficient funds. We’ve had times where we were taking big steps of faith and either our family members or people on our team, we had cancer, like, five different people. It was like all hell breaking loose.
And in those times, we learned to pray with intensity, and we learned to fast.
I was with our staff recently and we have a number of new staff members. I said, “We don’t pray every day because we’re holy or noble or we think it’s a good idea.” We’ve been in crises and we’ve seen God deliver. We just want, we just decided: why don’t we realize how desperate we are all the time? So, we’re going to pray. When we give a small group to someone, we say, “How can we pray for you?” Then we check back on how it’s doing, and we pray for the people that get connected.”
And I knew what was going to happen here. And so, the Wednesday before we came, it was like, “Let’s have a day of fasting and prayer.” It’s voluntary. The great majority of all of our staff said, “We know what would be happening in your lives,” and I knew what was going to happen in my life and I knew probably what would happen up here. God hears. Where prayer prevails, power falls.
What kinds of prayer bring God’s deliverance and power? It’s not casual, trite, little prayers. Notice it’s consistent prayer. Verse 18, “With all prayer and petition.” The first word there is a general word for prayer. Notice it’s all prayers, all kinds of prayer and petition, very specific. And so, it’s not just asking, asking, asking.
I think one of the great breakthroughs that will help you in your prayer life is realize that God longs to be worshipped. That little acronym that you learn somewhere, A-C-T-S: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. The kind of prayer where we recognize God for who He is.
We begin to thank Him for what He’s done and it builds up our faith. We come and we want to be clean and we confess our sins, and then we say, “Now, Holy Almighty, all powerful God, who you want to change the whole world, You’re not willing that any should perish, we bring these petitions before You consistently.”
And when God sees that, I think He just leans over and longs to answer our prayers. It’s not just all kinds of prayer, but he says pray at all times on all occasions. I think there’s two kinds of prayer. I think there’s ... We all need protracted, quiet, extended times to pray. And then I think we need to have these punctuated – we’re commanded in 1 Thessalonians, right? “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
And as you study that passage, it’s like a coughing prayer. It’s like when your mind is free, you’re talking to God. You’re in the car. You’re walking from, you’re picking up your bag and you’re taking it out to the car. Someone comes to your mind and as they’re coming to your mind, you’re not in conversation. You’re constantly ... It would be Brother Lawrence when he talks about practicing the presence of God.
Over time, you’re cultivating an awareness where when you’re not thinking about something else, you are talking to the Lord. And by the way, I think one of the most important things in prayer and especially for people like me who talk a lot is to be quiet.
And especially in situations where you don’t know what to do or you need wisdom, ask and then sit quietly. Learn to recognize God’s voice and the promptings that He gives you. When He gives you a prompting that will cost you something, that might be embarrassing, that would really help other people, and that would glorify Him and you might not want to do it, there’s a good chance it’s from God because you wouldn’t do that naturally. And you’ll learn to recognize His voice. Consistent prayer and intense prayer, not halfhearted prayer.
Notice it says, “Be on alert.” Literally the word means without sleep. It means to be vigilant. It means not going through the motions. And then it says, “With all perseverance.” It’s not giving up. Unless you’re different than everyone else in the world that I know, sometimes when you’re praying and it just feels like you’re in mud galoshes and no matter how hard you try, you’re not making any progress or you begin to pray and there’s times…
Don’t we all experience the presence of God when we’re praying and it’s exciting and there’s such a sense? And isn’t there times where it’s like ... I mean this is like I’m not sure I’m even making it up to the ceiling, let alone through the ceiling, let alone to heaven, right? And it just feels dull and I’m not connected.
The old saints used to talk about praying through. You know what happens? You know the temptation when you get there is like, “Hey, I’ll check you later?” I’m ... You know? I’m…you know? Who do you think wants you to stop praying?
I don’t wake up every day. I really, really love my wife deeply, but I don’t wake up every day with my emotions overflowing every single day. But that has nothing to do with not loving her, and I think many of us, especially out of our sort of Evangelical mindset is that if we don’t feel God and have some sort of ooey-gooey experience with Him, somehow He’s not around. Faith is not based on ... God hears you as much when you feel Him as if you don’t feel Him.
In fact, it requires a lot more faith to do what’s right when you’re not motivated and you don’t want to do it. And what I find, as you pray through ... And the confession, I don’t always pray through, but I long to. And what I know, it’s these kinds of prayers when it’s a battle.
Elizabeth Elliott has a great little book on prayer, and she has this line in it and she says, “I suppose people who ski like to ski. I suppose they have the ability to ski,” and she says, “They not only have the ability to ski, but they have a place where they can ski. And they make time for skiing and it’s something they do when they have the time and when they have the money.”
And her confession was, “Sometimes that’s how I pray. I used to think prayer was a lot like skiing. When I’m in the mood to pray, I think I’ll pray and when I can make the time to pray, I think I’ll pray. And it really is a nice thing to do if you have the time.” And then she has this line, “But skiing is a sport and prayer is work. It’s not skiing. It must be taken from other things that are very important.”
I’ve shared this a lot and I guess I’ll keep sharing it. I live with a woman who prays like no one I’ve ever met. And I mean this. I think I will get to heaven and I will get to see that I ran many, many errands that God and Theresa had been talking about.
And don’t get me wrong. I pray and I’m growing in my prayer life, but it’s interesting. My kids are in a really big jam. It’s, “Is mom home?” “Why?” “I’m going to need to ask her to really pray.” I mean, we just had this track record of unbelievable, amazing answers to prayer.
We have a ... We went through a book together and one of the quotes was from Haddon Robinson. He was a professor of preaching at Dallas and then later I think was the president of Denver Seminary and then later headed up a department at Gordon-Conwell. It’s a quick quote, but now it’s on all of our screens that comes up every day at Living on the Edge. “Prayer is the battle. Ministry is the spoils.” Prayer is the battle. Ministry is the spoils.
It’s the kind of prayer, it’s consistent, it’s intense, and then it’s strategic. Notice he says, “I pray for all the saints. God’s messengers will be bold that utterance may be given.” It’s about God’s message. Warren Wiersbe said, “Prayer is the energy that allows the soldier to wear the armor and wield the sword.”
And I think when you listen to what Paul prayed, and I’m going to say something only because I think we’re missing out, we tend to unconsciously get very self-focused. What I’m about to say, especially for you, take-it-literally people, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do this. What I’m saying is don’t let it get limited to this. We’ve unconsciously got this idea that we live in this silo and so, “Lord, help me and help my husband, help my kids. And we’ve got a need over here and grandma’s ankle hurts. And, Lord, would you help our church.” And you pray some specific things.
And, “Oh, gosh. The mall is so full at this time. Would You please ... Could I get a parking spot on the first or second floor?”
And by the way, I think God hears. There’s nothing too small, but when you read the prayers in Scripture, “God, I pray that You might open their eyes. They might have spiritual discernment to understand who You really are. Lord, I pray that they might know the height and depth and length and breadth and know the love of God that surpasses knowledge.”
Here he prays, “Give me utterance and boldness that Your message and Your messengers ...” When do we pray? “God, we want to reach the city. God, will You cause these churches to get unified? God, would You do something radical in our culture? Lord, would You cause the gospel to go forth through all the continents?”
In other words, Paul’s praying a missional prayer. Paul’s saying, “It’s not about: does my life work out, am I happy today, is my knee feeling a little better, do I have a parking spot?” And again, I’m glad when he answers about my knee and it is kind of neat when, “Wow. Hey, there’s a parking spot.” I think we should let ... Those are those ... As you’re driving, as you’re thinking, you’re always talking with the Lord, but there’s sometimes you need to get your armor on and you need to understand we have been given a mission to take the gospel to the ends of the earth and I am His ambassador and I want to pray for the message and I want to pray for the messenger and I want Him to use me here and my family here and my kids and my grandkids and this church.
He says, “Ask of Me and I will give you the nations.” I think we’re asking really small, little prayers and we get really small, little answers. Ask Him for big things that you know for sure are on His heart, and you just might be shocked at what the Lord will do.
The summary is the missing ingredient in most Christian lives and in most churches is a commitment and regular practice of intercessory prayer. Scripture indicates it’s individual and corporate; consistent, intense, strategic responsibility that will in fact deliver one from evil.
I have a quote here that I put in your notes by S.D. Gordon. Follow along as I read it. And, by the way, it is so convicting. Then maybe that’s what we need. “The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer, nor those who say they believe in prayer, nor those who can explain about prayer. But I mean people who take time and pray. They have not the time. It must be taken from something else. This something else is very important and pressing but still less important and less pressing than prayer.”
And so, I want to pause and just say, “Okay.” We’ve talked about the reality of a war of spiritual warfare, a command to stand firm. The way to stand firm is we put on our armor. Okay. We’re going to have the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and then we’re going to sort of weave all this together with prayer.
And here’s the summary statement I really want you to get because this is not about, “Oh, I came from studying on spiritual warfare and now I’m either fearful.” The great majority of the teaching on spiritual warfare in the Bible has to do with alertness, preparation, defense, and being proactive to prevent demonic influence from breaking our fellowship with Christ and thwarting God’s program in our lives.
What are we to do, however, when the enemy gets a foothold in a life, ours or someone we know and love?
So, what I want you to get is if you walk with God, if you’re renewing your mind, if you’re listening to Him, if you’re in a community of believers, the great majority of the spiritual attack you’ll catch, you’ll walk with God. But there are times, and this is the big shift, when there’s some avenues where the enemy begins to get a foothold either in your life or someone else’s. What do you do? I mean, what are we to make of this whole thing called the ministry of deliverance?
The central text of the New Testament on spiritual warfare is Ephesians 6, “Put on the armor.” Now, I want to give you more of an overview and you’ll see I’ve given you lots of notes and lots of passages. This really is the kind of thing that you need to study and check out and discuss and become aware of, but I think this whole ministry of deliverance is one that is really ... There’s either huge extremes that you need to avoid or the thought that this never happens anyway.
So, what I’ve done is I’m going to talk about its validity. I’m going to talk about the problems of this kind of a ministry. I’m going to talk about the causes of demonic influence, evidences in the New Testament. Then I’m going to talk about what specific action steps would normal, ordinary people like us take if there’s a clear indication that someone is either oppressed or harassed or actually engaged in ways where demonic influence and you need to do something about it.
So, with that, let’s look at the validity of the ministry. Jesus regularly exercised this ministry. If you go through the gospels, about twenty-five to thirty percent of His time and energy is spent casting out demons as one of the things that He does.
The apostles regularly exercise this ministry. On their first little mission trip, you remember what He did? He gave them authority over demons and authority to heal as He was going to validate His mission. The Early Church regularly exercised this ministry. In Acts 16, we have the situation where the occult was so heavy that the people came, remember, and they brought all their satanic books and they burned them. And then Simon saw the power of God even greater and he tried to buy it and he got a sharp rebuke.
In the Early Church, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Origin, Athanasius, all the way the first four hundred years of the Church, deliverance ministry from demonic influence, it’s the norm. There’s an excellent article you can google. It’s by Paul Thigpen, Discipleship Journal, Issue 81, 1994. He does a historic analysis of deliverance ministry from the first four hundred years.
In fact, in the Early Church in the early hundreds of years, they actually had an office of deliverance. So this ... For our modern ears, America, some of this may sound a little weird, but it’s historic. The other thing is this is not weird around the world. I remember ... You think as people were modern and sophisticated, of course in the back, in Papua New Guinea and maybe in Thailand or oh, when you’re in India, it is ... man, there’s just over a million gods there.
And we would think of all those things, but I remember being in South Africa and we were at a cemetery and we’d been doing some ministry there. And it was a nicer part of town, and I watched a Mercedes pull up. So, these people were wealthy, well-educated, and they all were getting out and they were taking food and flowers and different things and putting them on all these graves.
And I turned to the guy that was with us. I said, “What is this all about?” “Oh, I mean, they’re scared to death of ancestral spirits, and they had manifestations of things in their home and they’re making an offering to the spirits of their father or grandfather or people that are manifesting and they’re scared to death.” And so, can you imagine having a modern mind, a modern job, driving up in a Mercedes, and making offerings to ancestral spirits out of fear?
What you need to get is globally, I mean, this is like ... There’s a supernatural world and there’s supernatural mindset. So just what I want you to know is this is very common. The New Testament writers provide clear direction. If this wasn’t a valid ministry, we’ve got James chapter 4, right? “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he’ll flee from you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
There’s a very clear process of submission to God, resistance of the enemy, and very specific steps you take with your actions, with your heart. And then he says, “You humble yourself and then God will exalt you in due time.”
And then contemporary balance ministry deliveries do exist. Write down the name Mark Bubeck. He’s got a book called Overcoming the Adversary.
Dr. Michael Pocock of Dallas Seminary, he’s the head of the missions department, has been all around the world firsthand with all of this. And then Neil Anderson. There’s reputable people who are balanced and do deliverance ministry.
Now, here’s why some of us are very suspect of this is, here’s some of the problems. Extremism and fanaticism tend to negatively color this ministry. I mean, you don’t have to be flipping the channels and have some person on TV go, “We’re going to stomp out the devil. Come on. Join me right now. We’re stomping out the devil. Okay, everybody.”
Or the guy that I told you about, they brought him up, he was demonized and they’re kicking him. I mean, there’s kooky, kooky, wacky, weird stuff when it comes to ... And there’s people that use it for manipulation. But let me just give you a little overview of some of the problems. And let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Another one of the problems is the confusion concerning demon possession which is about internal control versus oppression of believers. It clouds the ministry and its validity. In other words, believers are taught, “If Jesus lives in me, I cannot be demon-possessed so all this deliverance ministry, it’s completely unimportant.”
Michael Pocock, in his writings, has a continuum and he talks about demonic influence can be over here all the way over here, but he talks about: it begins with oppression. Then it can move to harassment, then to obsession, then to compulsion, and then the appearance of possession, just total control of at least unbelievers.
Fear and ignorance have caused many people to simply ignore. This can’t be. This is like ... I’ve had people say ... One person started reading the book and was thinking about doing the series and they got like into two chapters and some weird stuff happened. “I’m not doing that. I’m not doing that. It’s too spooky.”
Well I mean I didn’t want to say it because it wasn’t appropriate at the time. “So, you just want to be blind and live in fear and so if the victory is already done and ...” I mean there’s just people like, “You know what? I don’t want crazy stuff happening in my life.”
Translation: “I want my life and my comfort on my terms. I don’t want to do anything that sort of rocks the boat of my life instead of being aware and becoming an ambassador and a follower and a disciple that can make more of a difference.”
Those who engage in this ministry are often tempted by pride or they become singularly focused. They fall into theological error and they start to go beyond Scripture.
And then I think one of the other problems is assigning blame of all of one’s problems to demonic influence versus assuming personal responsibility and using biblical common sense that calls ministries into question, sort of “The devil made me do it.”
Now, here’s the deal. I told you a little earlier about I had some notes that didn’t come out quite right, and my first thought was, “Man, the enemy’s messing things up.” My next thought was, “And you didn’t review the notes.” And guess what. I’m thinking both are true. I’m thinking human error and trying to mess people up and get them frustrated, of course.
So, here’s what you should be getting. This is a valid ministry from Jesus all the way through the early lines of the Church. You should know there’s some very clear problems that make many people suspect of it for very good reasons.
Third, here’s some causes of demonic influence. In other words, if you start with oppression, harassment, obsession, compulsion – in other words, these are some of the ways that people knowingly or unknowingly get involved in demonic influence.
One is yielding to sin. John 8:34 says when you commit a sin, you become a slave to it. If you ever work in downtown, CityTeam, rehab-type places, inner city, homeless people, drug addictions, sex addictions, there is an amazing connection between demonic influence and people that have addictions. Am I saying that every addiction is demonic influence? No. What I am saying is once people surrender themselves and find themselves in addictions and perversion, the strongholds, they become slaves because the MO is accomplished.
What is Satan’s goal? To kill, to steal, and destroy. When you find people who make decisions and we can kill ourselves with food, we can kill ourselves with media, right? It’s not just drugs and alcoholics and cocaine addicts.
See, as long as we can keep thinking like that, these are issues for those people out there. What if we had some strongholds? What if workaholism? I couldn’t think of anybody that’s ever had that problem. Or people-pleasing or codependency, what if there’s something inside of you that, because of your family of origin, you’ve got to please people all the time so you get overextended and it’s ruining your health and it’s ruining relationships and no matter how hard you try, could it be that you’re believing a lie? And could it be that when you try to break out of that, you get opposition and maybe even harassment? And maybe there’s a reason why. Whatever program you went through didn’t work because it was based solely on willpower or psychology.
So I’m just saying that when you yield to sin… Second, spiritual rebellion, I mean, when ... And this is why in parenting, I am ... Kids make mistakes and they can fail and they have good attitudes and bad attitudes, but when they actively, defiantly rebel, as a parent, you need to understand, boy, that is not something you ever allow.
And if you don’t start when they’re small, boy, when they get old, there’s not much you can do. Rebellion, according to Scripture, is like the sin of divination. And when we rebel against God, when you know, when God speaks to you ... Can I mess with you just for a minute? Because we have an epidemic in the Church.
Can I give you maybe the top two or three sins that really good Christian people live with and we gloss over and I think hinders our spiritual life dramatically? Number one is unforgiveness. We just ... “I’ll never talk to her again.” “I forgive him, but I’m being passive-aggressive in what comes out of my mouth. I talk about them. I have anger fantasies in my mind. They don’t deserve it.”
Second one is our money. I’m not talking about some legalistic “Are you tithing or not?” That is a beginning point. If God does not have my money, I don’t care how you feel, how high your hands go up, how deep emotions, and how much you even read the Bible. According to Jesus, if He does not have your money, He does not have your heart. If He does not have your heart, He is not your Lord. If He is not your Lord, you are not having the kind of life He wants for you and He’s not using you.
But the key behind why you don’t give Him your money, are you ready, is you don’t trust Him and you don’t trust Him because you don’t think He’s good and you don’t think He’s powerful and you don’t think He’s sovereign, and that’s a very big insult to God. And the reason He wants you to give the first portion and then learn to become a proportional giver is, one, He wants to change the world, there’s all these ministries and all these opportunities that are underfunded, and He wants to change your heart.
And if you can’t trust him with the minimum of the first ten percent of your income, how in the world are you trusting Him for your eternal life, for changing your children, for breaking strongholds? So, what I just know it’s just epidemic.
The third area where we seem to just give ourselves a pass is in the area of sexual purity. We’ve just come to where in our culture today believers sleep together, we watch things. I mean, if you could, if I could put you in a little time machine because the problems that happen so gradually, so gradually, so gradually, if I could put you in a time machine that would just go back thirty years and then I could sit you down with the world and the culture and what came on the tube and then just out of the blue, play just what’s normal primetime programming now, you would go, “Oh, I can’t believe this. This is terrible. This is an outrage.” But over time, we laugh. Over ninety percent of all sexual activity on primetime TV is by people that aren’t married.
You don’t understand. It’s not just pornography. It’s lies about relationships that become norms. There was a day when an un-biblical divorce was seen in the Church as not only wrong, but we need to address that. That’s not true anymore.
There was a day in the Church where homosexuality and illicit heterosexual was a sin, and now churches are changing, some Christian institutions and universities are changing, and there’s just this drift. The Scripture is really clear, and it’s not “Shame on you. Bad, bad, bad.” This breaks your Father’s heart.
Every command in Scripture is for your good. An all-knowing, all-wise ... I mean, some of you like cars or some of you are engineers. What do you know? Whoever designed the car gives you a manual so it runs great, and if it says, “Don’t put diesel fuel in a gas car” or “Don’t put gas in a diesel car,” it’s not like, “Boy, what a prohibition. I can’t believe it. Don’t you tell me what to put in my car.” Well, just keep putting diesel in it, babe.
What happens? And yet, we have a nephew or we have someone we care about or what happens is your relationships and fear of being rejected or being viewed as legalistic. We’ve gone through this last twenty years of any level of discipline, of spirituality, of purity, “Oh, well I don’t want to be legalistic. It’s grace.” Read Titus 2. It is the grace of God that teaches us to say no to all ungodliness and worldliness and impurity and to live righteous lives. Grace produces purity and winsomeness and love.
Here’s what you’ve got to get. None of you and most Christians would never think, “Well there can’t be any demonic influence in my life.” Well, if there’s a stronghold in those areas or others, yes, there is presently today. If somehow you’ve rationalized in your mind that you can love Jesus and be sexually impure, you can love Jesus and He doesn’t have your money, you can love Jesus and not forgive people, you are deluded, you are deceived, and you’re on a path of destruction. And you’re reproducing it with the Christians around you and with your children and your grandchildren.
Other ways that people kind of passively get involved is participation in the occult. “Ah, I think I’ll check my horoscope” or “We’re on vacation. Palm-readers, oh, that’ll be funny. Why don’t we go get that checked out?” That stuff’s real. Attempting to contact the dead, unresolved anger and bitterness, we’ve addressed that from Ephesians 4:26 and 27.
And then association with those in satanic activity. I will never forget we had a witch across the street from our church and he actually put an actual horse’s head on a stake and cast spells. And I remember coming to church one Sunday night and there were about twenty or thirty people walking in. They were all dressed in black and they had their faces painted in white and they were of an occult group and satanic worshipers. And it was weird. And they came to church.
And so, our worship pastor had the gift of evangelism and he wanted to really share Christ with this witch. So, he went over there unwisely by himself and he says, “I went in there and I walked into this room. All the drapes and everything, it was dark and there was some candles and it was evil.” And he goes, “I started sharing Christ and it was like ... I got to get out of here.”
And he told me, “I’m never going to go back there again.” But my point is every year Campus Crusade would come and they would get jobs and then they would do summer missions. And then they were such a blessing because they would help in children’s ministry and they do at different churches, and we got about thirty to forty of them every year. And every year, I knew two weeks in they’d come up afterwards. “Hey, pastor.” “Yeah.” “Do you realize there’s people that know your name and they pray against you?” “Yeah.” “Yeah, we were down and we were sharing Christ on the beach and they were talking about offering animals to sacrifice to Satan.”
And where I lived, you can go on bulletin boards, witches will meet seven o’clock, warlocks will meet, learn how to cast spells. This is America, people. The world has changed. I know some of you, what happens is the more godly and more holy and the older you get, you know what you do? You get less and less connected to what’s going on in the world. If you, a casual glance at movies, at games that kids that are built into Netflix, that are just whole ... I mean there’s whole shows that are just dark and different beings coming from different places. You’re living in a world that now is very supernaturally, and it’s a dark – and your kids are growing up and your grandkids are growing up in a world where this is the norm. So, yes, we need to pray, we need to model, we need to be wise.
And here’s some New Testament evidences of demonic influence. And I’m going to go through these real quickly and I’m going to ask you as I go through these, could you use some biblical common sense? Don’t think either/or, or always. Think “Yes, this is one thing that happens.”
For example, the first one is an evidence of demonic influence: a severe sickness, an untreatable, unconventional something. I mean, you’ve been to the Mayo Clinic, you’ve had every doctor, you’ve done this, you’ve done that, you always start with “Is it physical? Is it psychological? Is it spiritual?”
And there are certain things at certain times. We should at least ask, “Could it be that there’s some demonic influence?” And all I can tell you is all the medicine in world may or may not work. And just even in my own little world, I’ve had opportunities where people have had situations and we’ve prayed for them and God supernaturally heals them. Now, I don’t understand all that. And is all sickness in any way related? Absolutely not. It’s a fallen world. There’s bacteria, right?
Second is divination. People messing around with these things open themselves up to demonic influence. Sometimes in Acts there, the ability to tell the future, I mean, it apparently was legit until Paul cast the demon out of that girl.
The evidence of unusual physical strength, the demoniac and no one could hold him down. I had a few scary experiences. I’m not all that sad about not ministering in Santa Cruz anymore. I’m remember a guy coming down the middle of the aisle, eyes blazing, and then a couple guys got him. Tchoo. Tchoo. Took about four guys to get this guy and he was coming straight for me. And it was like, “Thank you, Lord.” Is it unusual? Of course, it’s unusual, but it’s an evidence.
A split personality, we had a wild situation. Now, are there psychological issues? Are there multiple personalities, et cetera, et cetera? We had a situation of a woman literally that she was this person and we finally got leaders together, “I know her and this is who she is and this is what she calls herself and this is the kind of person,” and over here, it would be like the direct opposite. It wasn’t bipolar. And, finally, and her husband was this godly guy and people would come and say, “Oh, no. That couldn’t be her.” And she could turn it off and turn it on.
And then we got her with these people and these people, and her husband and we did some research, and she had dabbled in, early life been involved in the occult and she wasn’t aware of even when it was happening. We got around her, we prayed, and we got one lady back, and got rid of another one.
Resistance to spiritual help, sometimes there’s demonic influence. “I don’t want your help.” Other voices, this is only, in my case very, very few times and very, and this is where you’re tempted to be afraid rather than, “Okay. All right.” Obviously, there’s a presence here and you’re talking to it. You address it directly and you hear this weird guttural out of a teenage girl and you’re thinking, “Okay.” And there are times where it’s not two or three little prayers and you’re there for a couple hours and there’s a team praying and they’re occult powers.
We saw very ... We had visual manifestations in our house, all the kind of things you would think and we got to where it was like, “Okay. There’s a real enemy. He does some of the things. You don’t have to be afraid, but this is how you can recognize it.”
The cure, and this is so, so, so important, the cure is right back to the core of what Jesus has done. Victory is through the cross of Christ, Colossians 2:14 and 15. “Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us, He, Jesus has taken it out of the way having nailed it to the cross when He disarmed the demonic realm, the rulers and the authorities and He made a public display of them having triumphed over them through Him, Christ.”
Victory is in the name of Jesus. It was in the name of Jesus that they cast out these demons. It was the power of the name of Jesus in Acts 5. It’s victory in the power of the Holy Spirit. “He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world.”
And now, in our sort of final portion here, I need you to lean back and what I want to do and I’ll go rather quickly, but I just want to give you an outline beginning if there is an unbeliever who you suspect that there’s demonic influence and A) never go about doing this alone, B) make sure that there’s real prayer that precedes things, that you get the best and wisest help.
Depending on the severity, I want to say two things. You may need someone that has a pastor or some people that really are focused in this area, but I say that, but I also want you to know a casual reading of the New Testament and at least the first four hundred years of the Church would say these verses are in here for all of us regular people. James 4:7 to 10 isn’t like, “Oh, superstar people with spiritual warfare, that’s for you.” No, it’s for us.
I mean, the officer was 4’11”. My son is ten years old. The Bible is the sword of the Spirit. It’s the power of God. What I’m wanting you to know though is you don’t go into this half-baked. I mean, when I read passages like Michael didn’t even mock Satan. He respected his authority and power and said, “The Lord rebuke you,” you just ... This is not something to mess around with. Okay? With that said, it’s not something to be afraid of and it’s weird and like, “Oh, forget it.” And so, let me walk through. Here we go.
Specific steps for deliverance from demonic influence.
Number one, for an unbeliever, it’s to accept Christ. It’s to understand you don’t have the power. In John chapter 1, verse 12, “But as many as receive Him, to them He gives the right.” Literally, the word is authority, “to become the children of God as many as believe on His name.”
Second is, for a believer, is to confess your sin. There’s some demonic influence. By the way, we’re talking ... It doesn’t mean everything’s weird. There’s oppression or maybe it’s harassment. Maybe it’s not so overblown and you have prayed and maybe you even said something like, “I never saw it like this until now,” because isn’t this what the Scripture does? It opens our eyes and you say, “Lord, I have been deceived. My money does not reflect your lordship, and I’m telling You I’m sorry. I thank You that you forgive me, and this is my step of faith that my next check is going to look like this and this is the first portion because I trust You. It’s, all of it is Yours. Not ten percent, twelve percent, thirty percent. It’s all Yours, but You’ve commanded me to declare that I trust You.” It’s no different than the manna. They went out and got the manna just to know He’ll provide. And there’s a reason why you had to pick up two one day and none another day. The thing wasn’t about bread or manna and it’s not about money. It’s about this.
Or you may say, since we always tend to pick on men, “Lord, I think I’m addicted to romance novels. I think I have some deep resentment toward my husband. I think we don’t have the romance and the marriage that I would want, and I vicariously live and when I have free time, my mind is in romance novels and an occasional Hallmark, I’m good with.”
But, you understand what I’m saying? What if the need to work on the marriage, the need to say, “This really hurts,” and the need to address some things gets substituted for that? And what if it seems so benign and it’s a stronghold? And God wants you to have a great marriage and He wants what you’re reading about in books to be a part...
And I know you’re going to say, “But my husband ...” Yeah, here’s what you got. You can’t change him, but you can do what God wants you to do. And when one person in any relationship takes a step of faith, chain reactions. I’m not guaranteeing that everyone’s going to change, but God will do in you and through you and for you what He wasn’t doing before.
And so you confess. And by the way, I think if you’re going this way to be light and salt and do what God wants you to do, I think oppression and harassment, I think you’re going to expect those things.
Third is renounce the works of the devil. Just if you found yourself, “I was just goofing around and it was a palm-reading deal,” renounce it. 2 Corinthians 4:2. If you have any occult objects, you destroy them. “It’s an heirloom.” Well, you don’t want that kind of heir.
These are ... I don’t know where this would be but break friendships with people in the occult. We always have this tension and this struggle and you need to do it lovingly, kindly, and winsomely, but there’s some relationships that the value of the relationship and we “so don’t want to hurt people’s feelings” you can do it in a way that, “You’re involved in this. I know that’s very important to you. That isn’t something I can be involved in. Okay? I don’t want to hear about your readings and what you’re doing and this and that. I need to make a break with that.”
Rest in Christ’s deliverance. Colossians 1:13, Colossians 2:14 and 15, memorize a couple of these verses to remind yourself they’ve been disarmed. You don’t have to be afraid. They’ve been conquered. Meditate and apply on God’s word, have we not talked about that a bit? And then engage in corporate prayer.
And then, if necessary, I almost hate to say this word, but exorcism in the name of Christ. I’ve given you an outline here. It’s by a spiritually qualified counselor. Galatians 5 is real careful about when you’re going to go address something like this, make sure you’re in good standing, walking with God, who manifests humility, who wears their spiritual armor, who knows the Word of God, and is supported by prayers of believers. It’s a very specific situation and there are times where you really do need an expert.
And sometimes when I explain this, I’ve had many, many calls from people who say, “Would you come? And we have this situation,” or “Will you come and teach this? Because this is what’s going on.” And by and large, my answer is always no. I mean, I kind of think I told you before. I feel like if instead of a pastor, I’m a doctor, I’m a general practitioner. I’m not an oncologist, I’m not a baby doctor, I’m not a surgeon, I’m not a cardiologist.
There are experts in this, and I will tell you when I read the books of the Neil Andersons or Pococks, I mean they are ... I’m like, “Hey, guys. All of us regular people, we need to learn and get our game up.” And then there’s stuff and expertise and wisdom that I’m going to handle whatever comes my way, but this is not an area of expertise. This is an area I’ve had a lot more experience than I asked for, so I know these things are true, but there are certain things and certain times where you need an expert.
But here’s what I would say. I just want to repeat. I think most of the time until it gets into some bizarre, bizarre things that you’re thinking, “Yeah, this is way over my pay grade,” but the same is true at least for me in counseling. I think most all of counseling can be done with believers with believers helping one another, but there’s some counseling that there’s some issues that happen in people’s lives. Man, I refer. I want a godly, wise, super-smart, Christian counselor who knows way more than me and has way more experience, but I also don’t want to say every time there’s some demonic-type activity that I outsource it.
One of the things that happens ... It happened and that’s why I told you the story about my ten-year-old boy. I think I learned more from that than he did. I mean his attitude, I still remember I heard it and it happened like it happens. We always kept the bathroom light on, you know when your kids are small?
And I heard what happened and I’m the dad, I’m going to go help him, and I could see because of the bathroom light he was there. He undoes his covers, does this, “Lord, I’m really tired and I want to get back to sleep. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world even those who believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And they overcame him, Satan and the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony and they did not love their life even unto death. Now, evil spirits, in Jesus’s name and by His authority, you have to leave right now. So, leave and don’t come back.”
And he went like this with the covers and went to sleep. And I thought, “Boy, he really needs my help.” And the next morning, I just wondered, but I think that’s a childlike faith. I told him those verses are true. He’s ten years old. He’s not sophisticated to know better like some of us who think, “Oh, maybe. Oh, I don’t know.” And at breakfast the next day, “How’d you sleep?” “Okay, dad. Yeah, pretty good.” I’m fishing. “Well did anything happen?” “Yeah, I had one of the satanic nightmares.” Yeah, we have a lot of those in here, don’t we? Yeah. I said, “Well you didn’t come and get me.” He said, “Dad, I’m so sick and tired of this. I thought I’d just do it myself.”
Lord, we are in tremendous, tremendous need, but You are the victor, You are the King. Your Spirit lives in us. And we need each other. God, give us the grace not to be embarrassed, but to just accept our weakness and our need and say, “Will you help me?” Would we be bold to ask others to help us? Would You work in and then work through these sons and daughters of yours?