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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
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?