Basic Principles For Dealing With The Demonic

by Gerry Breshears, PhD – Western Seminary, Portland

June 16, 2022

Jesus triumphed over Satan and all his demons through His work of redemption, particularly by canceling the authority of sin over us at the cross, and His exaltation to the right hand of the Father (Matt. 12:28-29; Eph. 1:19-23; Col. 2:13-15). Satan is already condemned and his final destruction is sure (John 12:31; 16:11; Rev. 20:7-10).

The principle of authority is that we are in the kingdom of Christ. Jesus is Lord and exalted far above all powers and authorities (Eph. 1:19-22). Satan and his forces have no actual legal authority over the believer. Despite his claims and how much he may take advantage of our sin, unbelief, weakness, ignorance, or fear, he is disarmed. We are members of the kingdom of light and therefore all sins were forgiven, all condemnation is ended, all cultic vows, promises, covenants, etc., were rendered null and void when we came into Christ's kingdom authority (Col. 1:13-14; 2:9-15). One must never compromise this principle by agreeing with the demonic claim that sin gives the demon actual legal authority to invade a believer or attach itself to your soul or body. Believe God; disbelieve Satan. Stand firm in Jesus; resist the Devil.

Our primary weapons against demonic stratagems are faithful application of the fundamentals of the faith (Eph. 6:10-20; 1 Pet. 5:6-9). Light expels darkness.

The only spiritual information to be received as given is that which comes through the Bible interpreted according to the author’s intent. Be particularly cautious about deeper meanings or uses of passages out of context (Matt. 4:6). All other spiritual knowledge, information, experience must be carefully tested. Expect that any information from demons, who are liars by nature (John 8:44; 2 Cor. 11:14), will be deceptive or facts given for dark purposes.

Basic patterns of ministry are found in the Bible. Patterns that differ substantially are always suspect.

Avoid every form of contact with the demonic including astrology, new age paraphernalia, demonic movies, TV shows, videos and video games, and music, charms, séances, Ouija, and many other places where the demonic is present obviously or subtly. (Lev. 19:26, 31; 20:6; Deut. 18:9-13; Acts 19:18-20).

Using deliverance as a substitute for dealing with our flesh or in place of spiritual disciplines, is dangerous.

Most sins don’t need any kind of demonic intervention. In their deceptive activity, demons often claim credit for sin or a tragedy, trying to profess more power than they possess. Allowing this lie to go unchallenged may lead to an unwarranted sense of helplessness on the part of a believer.

One must be very careful not to give Satan and his demons too much attention. This can lead to fearfulness or overestimation of his power, to a fascination with evil, or even a kind of satanic worship. Don't seek to know anything more about the demonic than what is taught in Bible or is pastorally necessary. Biblical accounts of deliverance do not involve discovering information about demons' origins, hierarchies, attachments, territorial jurisdiction, or specific functions. Jesus asks for a name only once (Mark 5:9) and then does not use the information the demons give. This indicates that knowing these sorts of things is not necessary for success in spiritual warfare. It also suggests that we curb our natural curiosity about such things.

All sins have been forgiven in Christ (Col. 2:13-15, 1 John 2:2) and believers are fully accepted as children of God (John 1:12; Gal. 3:26-4:7; 1 John 3:1). Confession (speaking truth from the heart with responsibility which differs from saying I am sorry about what happened) opens our heart to receive experientially the forgiveness of guilt, the cleansing of shame (1 John 1:9), and the reconciliation of relationship (Rom. 5:10-11; 2 Cor. 5:19-21; Col. 1:19-22) that God's truth brings. Believers confess their sin, accept Christ’s blood bought cleansing, renounce sin’s place in their lives, and recommit themselves as instruments of righteousness (Rom. 6:12-14; Col. 3:1-17). Evil spirits can take advantage of us if we refuse to confess sin we have done or sin done to us, using it as an opportunity to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10; Eph. 4:27).

Scripture describes demons oppressing people apart from any specific sin or opening. God Himself declared Job righteous, yet he was attacked (Job 1:8). Jesus, the sinless one, was attacked repeatedly (Matt. 4:1-11; 16:23). Jesus dealt with many demonized people without addressing specific sin or openings. He heals, cures, drives out demons without repentance of sin as a prerequisite for casting out the demon (Luke 6:18; 7:21; 8:2; 9:1; 13:32; cf. Mark 6:13; Mark 7:24–30). As the devil harassed and afflicted Job, demons can cause physical maladies, to direct evildoers to assail others, or to inspire nightmares.

As children of God, regenerated and indwelt by the Spirit, we are responsible and empowered to resist Satan’s stratagems (Eph. 6:10-18; James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:7-9; 1 John 4:1-4;5:1-5;18-19).

We may agree with a lie (no Christian would ever do what you did; sin gave the demon right to invade), receive a curse (you are an idiot; you are going to be ill), or accept an accusation (you are so filthy; if anyone knew, they would despise you). These can become a stronghold (2 Cor. 10:4-5) that must be torn down by discovering the stronghold, confessing the lie and affirming and receiving God’s truth in spirit, mind, heart and soul.

Believers may be deceived, accused or tempted and may yield to demonic attacks or give demons influence in their lives – though they do not have to. An evil spirit can empower, energize, encourage, or exploit a believer’s own sinful desires, unbelief, weakness, ignorance, or fear (Matt. 16:22-23; Acts 5:3).

This is a typical pattern of prayer to deal with demonic attack or influence. It is important to note that the specific wording is unimportant. Power and authority comes from truth:

  1. Lord Jesus Christ, I acknowledge that this (name the specific situation or area of sin or influence) may be empowered by demons and evil spirits. If it is, I want nothing to do with them.
  2. Lord Jesus Christ I confess that you triumphed over these demons and evil spirits by the power of your Cross that purchased forgiveness for all my sins and by your death, burial and resurrection that provided my new life in Christ.
  3. Demon, in the name and authority of Jesus, I command you get away from me, now. Lord Jesus Christ I ask that you send these demons and evil spirits away from me.
  4. Lord Jesus Christ I thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Please reveal to me anything in my life that might give demons and evil spirits opportunity in my life. Please fill me anew with your Holy Spirit so that I will be empowered to live out your life in joyful obedience to you and freedom from sin and harassment.

Believers are commanded to stand firm on biblical truths and resist the devil (Eph. 6:13; Jas. 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:9). The word "resist" means active opposition (Acts 13:8; Gal. 2:11; 2 Tim. 3:8) including rebuke spoken directly to the demon in the authority of Jesus, the exalted Lord (Zech. 3:2; Matt. 4:4, 7, 10; Jude 1:9).

When Jesus was attacked by the devil, He spoke well-interpreted Scripture aloud to the devil and commanded him to get away (Matt. 4:1-10). This is the same pattern (stand firm and resist) commanded for believers (Eph. 6:13; Jas. 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:9). He did not argue theology (could the devil actually have given Him the kingdoms of this world?), or ask demons for information or hierarchies.

If believers continue to allow demonic influence, they may become entangled in a behavior so deeply that they may need help from other believers to escape (Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:1- 5; Gal. 6:1-4; 2 Tim. 2:24-26; Heb.12:1-13). They could be dominated by a demonic personality in a way akin to a wife being dominated by an abusive husband, exhibiting personality change or loss of a sense of personal control. This is particularly true when there is direct personal involvement with demonic or occult activities, ceremonies, or rituals (1 Cor. 10:20; 2 Tim. 2:25-26). However, a believer will never be abandoned by the Holy Spirit or left to merely human resources as in the case of an unbeliever (Psa. 27; 90; Isa. 41:10-16).

Getting rid of demons in such cases is done by a believer using their authority in Christ to give a direct command to the demon. This must always be done in concert with the entrapped believer. 1) Dear Father, it is by your authority that we proceed to deliver “name” by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. 2) [to the demon] In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by His authority, I join with "name" in commanding you to leave “name.” You have no right to be here. You are trespassing upon God’s property. Get away, now. 3) Father, we pray that you will empower this rebuke we have just issued in Jesus’ name.

I may preface the prayer by commanding the demon in the name of Jesus not to hurt anyone and to be silent. I help the believer reaffirm basic theological truths such as those in the first two paragraphs. In doing so, it is always good to ensure that people are actually believers. It is important to remember that the demon has no legal right to oppress, no matter what they may claim. Command rather than attempt to persuade the demon. All prayer is to God rather than against the demon. Commands are given in normal tones of voice. It is Christ's power,

not mine, that works. I'm only His instrument. Demons are sent away by Christ’s authority, not by formulas, rituals, the power of their names, etc. A grave danger of deliverance ministry is a subtle temptation to pride and power.

Our goal is always to bring non-Christians to Christ and build Christians up so that they will be able to resist Satan's stratagems (Eph. 6:13; Jas. 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8). Enable people to do their own spiritual work. Help them personalize and live out their identity as children of God.

It is the will of God for every Christian to walk in the freedom of our salvation through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and in the love of the Father. Satan seeks to fool Christians into thinking that he has authority to boss us around. He doesn’t! Stop giving the world, the flesh and the devil any opportunity to defeat us. Follow Galatians 5:1 and live free from the authority of sin and Satan!