Do not make the mistake of thinking you can tame the tormentor. You cannot have a peaceful coexistence with the enemy. Sooner or later the enemy will destroy the careless and foolish.
There are some dangerous misconceptions that are hindering spiritual victory and freedom.
"Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons." —1 TIMOTHY 4:1
The last days shall be characterized by a departure from the faith. Included in this apostasy will be those deceived by seducing spirits and doctrines of demons. First Corinthians 10:20 warns about religion without Christ and calls it a “sacrifice to demons.” Second Corinthians 11:13–15 warns us of counterfeit ministries: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” Ephesians 6:11 challenges us all to “put on the whole armor of God.”
Today many Christians are deceived to the point they do not believe in the power of Satan and the awful influence of the demonic. First Timothy 1:18 calls us to “war a good warfare” (KJV). First Timothy 6:12 calls us to “fight the good fight of faith.”
Christians have ignored the enemy and allowed him free rein in their lives. Let me clear up some dangerous misconceptions.
MISCONCEPTION 1. Demons were only active in the time of Christ or today in pagan cultures.
There is nothing in the Bible that restricts demonic operation to a certain time or culture. On the contrary, all Scripture speaks of the constant battle that is ours. Second Corinthians 2:11 warns us, “Lest Satan should take advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” One of his devices is to lead people to deny his existence and operation.
MISCONCEPTION 2. Demons cannot bother believers.
There is much debate over the term demon possession. In the New Testament there is no such phrase; rather the term demonization is used. No Christian can be totally taken over by demons, but every Christian can be oppressed, harassed, and dominated by the enemy’s activity. In Acts 5:3 Satan filled Ananias’s heart “to lie to the Holy Spirit.” Unrepentant believers are turned over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (1 Cor. 5). Ephesians 6:10–17 speaks of our wrestling against the powers of darkness, quenching the enemy’s fiery darts, and standing firm against his assaults. The enemy can attack the mind and body of a Christian. Christians need to embrace deliverance as a part of their salvation. In the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:13 we are told to pray daily, “Deliver us from the evil one.”
MISCONCEPTION 3. Only occult involvement leads to demonic difficulties.
Occult involvement leads to demonization. However, occult involvement is not the only avenue to oppression by the enemy. Every believer is subject to temptation,deception, oppression, and strongholds.
MISCONCEPTION 4. Demonic operation incites only extreme behavior such as violence and gross sin.
It is true as seen in Mark 5 that total demonization can lead to extreme behaviors. However, look at Mark 1:23–24. We have a man in the synagogue who cries out in his oppression. There is no violence here at all. Also in Luke 13:10–16 we find a woman called “a daughter of Abraham” bound by “a spirit of infirmity.” The word infirmity is astheneia in Greek. It means “feeble,” “lack of strength,” “weak,” “disability.” Jesus says to her, “You are loosed” (v. 12). That word loosed is apoluo, which means “to free fully and set at liberty.” Demonic oppression had kept this woman sick and helpless for eighteen years. She was a churchgoing believer but was bound by Satan for eighteen years. Jesus set her free on the day of worship!
MISCONCEPTION 5. Christians are in danger when dealing with demons.
I often hear people say in fear, “I do not want to stir up anything by getting involved in warfare.” My friend, Jesus laid hands on this poor woman, and she was delivered. Demons are under the authority of believers and can only affect us if we give them place. What kind of surgeon would not operate because of the fear of inflicting pain? What kind of doctor would not treat a disease for fear of exposing himself? The doctor would put on protection and do his job. Likewise we can suit up in God’s armor and help others to freedom. (See chapter 31, “Arming for Victory,” for more on this topic.)
MISCONCEPTION 6. Christians should fear touching or being around others demonically afflicted.
Fear invites the attack of the enemy. However, the demonically afflicted are not transmitters. A person right with God has nothing to fear from the enemy.
MISCONCEPTION 7. Christians can plead the blood of Jesus without understanding and faith.
The blood of Jesus cannot be “pleaded” like some good luck charm! We honor the blood of Jesus and trust its cleansing, protection, and delivering power. The blood pleads itself when applied to the life of the believer. Revelation 12:11 speaks of the blood’s overcoming power against Satan: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” The blood speaks of forgiveness and cancels the enemy’s right to attack. The blood does not “plead to Satan” for anything. The blood’s plea is to the Father. The blood rebukes Satan!
MISCONCEPTION 8. Spiritual warfare instruction is unnecessary.
Recently a pastor and a former long-standing member of this church informed me that the church had gotten along without this teaching for years. I replied, “Look at your church and mine. Half your membership does not attend. Sin is rampant. Depression and oppression dominate many of your people’s lives.” Ignoring the truth leads to disaster. Second Corinthians 2:11 warns us to be “not ignorant of Satan’s devices.”
MISCONCEPTION 9. Christians can make light of Satan and the truth of spiritual warfare.
I had an evangelist tell me that Satan is a toothless tiger! That cliché sounds good, but is it true? Look at 1 Peter 5:8–9: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, stand fast in the faith.” The word devour means “to gulp down.” We are to realize our enemy is defeated but still dangerous.
MISCONCEPTION 10. Resisting the devil is enough over a period of time.
Resisting the devil is necessary and important. Yet this is defensive. There is an offensive side to spiritual warfare whereby ground gained by the enemy must be retaken. Ephesians 4:27 warns us about “giving place” to the devil. In Matthew 12:43 demons seek “places.” It is the same word found in Ephesians 4:27! We must come to the rescue of those captured by the enemy. Colossians 1:13 speaks of salvation as being “delivered from the power of darkness.” In Matthew 16 Jesus said of the church, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (KJV). This text speaks of the church attacking the very gates of hell’s strongholds. In John 12:31 Jesus spoke of the cross as a place where the enemy would be “cast out.” Every lost person lives under the domain of “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons [children] of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). When Paul stood before King Agrippa, he stated his mission: “To open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God that they might receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance…” (Acts 26:18). Salvation is a rebirth of those in darkness, those who are under the rule of Satan.
MISCONCEPTION 11. Freedom from multiple attacks is instantaneous.
Sometimes it takes intensive warfare to get rid of all the invaders in your life. Years after his entry in the ministry, Timothy battled a stronghold of fear. God will do a complete work if we let him. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).
MISCONCEPTION 12. Freedom gained is the end of spiritual warfare.
No, it is only the beginning of a life of discipleship. Ground retaken in one’s life must be defended. Sin must be purged and a life of commitment continued. We must wear our armor until that day we exchange it for a robe of white!