do the voices and the confusion come from? Where do the divergent thoughts and the condemning emotions originate? One of the
main reasons I fumbled and failed in my early days of ministering to people in bondage was because I didn't know the real
answers to these questions. I labored under a number of misconceptions about the spiritual world which had to be dispelled.
Perhaps you are struggling with some of these same faulty ideas which keep Christians in darkness.
1. Demons were active when Christ was on earth, but
their activity has subsided today
who hold this extreme view in light of what Gods Word says and what is tran- spiring in the world today simply are not facing
reality. The New Testament clearly states that believers will wrestle "against the rulers, against the powers, against the
world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places' (Ephesians ).
Paul goes on to itemize the pieces of spiritual armor that we are to put on in order to defend ourselves against "the flaming
missiles of the evil one (verses 13-17). In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 Paul again specifies that believers are engaged in a spiritual
battle against forces which stand against the knowledge of God. If dark spiritual powers are no longer attacking believers
why would Paul alert us to them and insist that we arm ourselves against them?
powers and forces that Paul wrote about in the first century are still evident at the dawn of the twenty-first century as
evident in the popularity of the New Age movement and the proliferation of satanism and the occult.
people wrestling against dark spiritual forces is not a first-century phenomenon, nor is it an option for the Christian today;
its unavoidable. The kingdom of darkness is still present and Satan is intent on making your life miserable and keeping you
from enjoying and exercising your inheritance in Christ. Your only options in the conflict are how and to what extent you're
going to wage the battle. If your world view as a Christian does not include the king- dom of darkness, then either God or
you will have to take a bum rap for all the corruption Satan is foisting on you and the rest of the world.
2. What the early church called demonic activity we
now understand to be mental illness
heard one counselor argue concerning a demonically disturbed Christian, "There is
no way his problem can be demonic; he's a paranoid schizophrenic." Simply accepting secular psychology's definition
of a human problem in no way establishes the actual cause of the problem. Terms such as schizophrenia, paranoia, psychosis,
etc., are merely labels classifying symptoms. But what or who is causing the symptoms? Is it a neurological or hormonal problem,
or perhaps a chemical imbalance? Certainly these options must be explored. But what if no physical cause is found? Then it
must be a psychological problem. But which school of psychology do you choose: biblical or secular? And why isn't someone
exploring the possibility that the problem is primarily spiritual?
should not be surprised that secular psychologists limited to a natural world view supply only natural explanations for mental
problems. They offer their explanation from a viewpoint with no concept of God, much less the demonic. Even many Christians
who vociferously reject the scientific community's explanation for the origin of the species naively accept the secular psychologist's
explanation of mental illness. Research based on the scientific method of investigation of human spiritual problems is not
wrong; it's just incomplete. It ignores the influence of the spiritual world because neither God nor the devil submit to our
methods of investigation.
3. Some problems are psychological and some art spiritual
misconception implies a division between the human soul and spirit, which does not exist. There is no inner - conflict which
is not psychological, because there is never a time when your mind, emotions, and will are not involved. Similarly, there
is no problem which is not spiritual. There is no time when God is not present or when it is safe for you '- to take off the
armor of God. The tendency is to polarize into a deliverance ministry, ignoring the realities of the physical realm, or a
psychotherapeutic ministry, ignoring the spiritual realm.
Paul Hiebert, who teaches in the School of Missions at Fuller Theological Seminary, contends that, as long as believers accept
"a two-tier world view with God confined to the supernatural and the natural world operating for all practical purposes according
to autonomous scientific laws, Christianity will continue to be a secularizing force in the world. " I If your world view
does not recognize the activity of the god of this world in human problems, it is at best incomplete and at worst a distortion
4. Christians aren't subject to demon activity
prevailing belief among evangelicals today is that Christians cannot be severely oppressed by demons. Even the suggestion
that demonic influence can be part of the problem often prompts the hasty disclaimer, "Impossible! I'm a Christian!"
has done greater damage to diagnosing spiritual problems than this untruth. If Satan can't touch the church, why are we instructed
to put on the armor of God, to resist the devil to stand firm and to be alert? If we aren't susceptible to being wounded or
trapped by Satan why does Paul describe our relationship to the powers of darkness as a wrestling match? Those who deny the
enemy's potential for destruction are the most vulnerable to it. Our vulnerability to demonic intrusion and influence is the
subject of Part Two of this book.
5. Demonic influence is only evident in extreme or violent
behavior and gross sin
there are cases today like the wild demoniac called "Legion" in Luke 8 most Christians suffering from demonic activity lead
relatively normal lives while experiencing serious personal and interpersonal problems for which no cause or solution has
been found. Since they relegate satanic involvement only to mass murderers or violent sex criminals, these ordinary problem-plagued
individuals wonder what's wrong with them and why they can't just "do better."
first and foremost strategy is deception. Paul warned: "Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness" (2 Corinthians ,15). It is not the few raving demoniacs which are causing the church to be ineffective
but Satan's subtle deception and intrusion into the lives of "normal" believers. One Christian psychotherapist who attended
my conference on spiritual conflicts and counseling said, "1 had never seen any evidence of demonism in all my years of counseling
until I came to your conference. When I returned to my practice I discovered that two-thirds of my clients were having problems
because they were being deceived by Satan and so was I."
6. Freedom from spiritual bondage is the result of a
power encounter with demonic forces
from spiritual conflicts and bondage is not a power encounter; it's a truth encounter. Satan is a deceiver and he will work
undercover at all costs. But the truth of God's Word exposes him and his lie. His demons are like cockroaches that scurry
for the ..shadows when the light comes on. Satan's power is in the lie, and when his lie is exposed by the truth his plans
are foiled. When I was a boy on the farm, my dad, my brother and I would visit our neighbor's farm to share produce and labor.
The neighbor had a yappy little dog that scared the socks off me. When it came barking around the corner my dad and brother
stood their ground, but I ran. Guess who the dog chased! I escaped to the top of our pickup truck while the little dog yapped
at me from the ground.
except me could see that the little dog had no power over me except what I gave it. Furthermore it had no inherent power to
throw me up on the pickup; it was my belief that put me up there. That dog controlled me by using my mind, my emotions, my
will, and my muscles, all of which were motivated by fear. Finally I gathered up my courage, jumped off the pickup, and kicked
a small rock at the mutt. Lo and behold, it ran!
is like that yappy little dog deceiving people into fearing him more than God. His power is in the lie. He is the father of
lies (John ) who deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9), and consequently
the whole world is under the influence of the evil one (I John ).
He can do nothing about your position in Christ, but if he can deceive you into believing his lies about you and God, you
will spend a lot of time on top of the pickup truck! You don't have to out shout him or out muscle him to be free of his influence.
You just have to out truth him. Believe. declare, and act upon the truth of God's Word, and you will thwart
concept has had a dramatic effect on my counseling. Previously when I exposed a demonic influence in a counseling situation
it would turn into a power encounter. Counselees would become catatonic, run out of the room, or become suddenly disoriented,
and I would attempt to take authority over the demon. My first approach was to get the demon to expose itself, then I would
command it to leave. This exchange often resulted in a great deal of trauma for the counselee. Although progress was made,
the episode would usually have to be repeated.
I have learned from the Scriptures and my experience that truth is the liberating agent. The power of Satan is in the
lie, and the power of the believer is in knowing the truth. We are to pursue truth, not power.
persons in bondage are not liberated by what I do as the pastor/counselor, but what they do with my help. It's not what I
believe that breaks the bonds, it's what they believe, confess, renounce, and forgive. Notice the progressive logic
You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make
you free. (John 8:32).
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. (John 14:6).
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will
guide ~ you into all the truth (John ). I do not ask Thee to
take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. ...Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth. (John 17:15,17).
Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with
truth. (Ephesians 6: 14).
Finally, brethren, whatever is true. ..let your mind
- dwell on these things (Philippians 4:8).
God first disciplined the early church in Acts 5, He did so in a dramatic way. What was the issue: drugs, sex? No, the issue
was truth. Peter confronted Ananias and Sapphira: "Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?" (verse 3). God wanted the church to know that Satan the deceiver can ruin us if he can get
us to believe and live a lie. That's why it is so important that we take "every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). If could infiltrate a church, a committee, or a person undetected, and
deceive them into believing a lie, I could control their lives That's exactly what Satan is doing, and his lie is the focus
of the battle.