What is a proper perspective on demonic deliverance in the Christian life?

There tend to be two extreme perspectives when considering the topic of demonic oppression in the Christian life. One perspective discounts supernatural activity entirely and says that demons do not exist. People who are of this mindset believe that what could be considered demonic activity is merely a negative thought or behavior pattern. They think that any freedom needed can be achieved by a heightened level of self-control. The other extreme perspective is hyper-awareness of demonic activity, going so far as to believe that any negative circumstance is the direct result of demons. These people "rebuke" just about anything they don't like—from the common cold to an economic downturn. The healthiest perspective lies somewhere between these two extremes. There should be attention given to the fact that demons are real and demonic deliverance is something that is sometimes needed in Christian's lives. But at the same time, demons are not the cause of every problem nor is an over-focus on demonic activity beneficial to living a fruitful, Christian life.

The Bible makes it apparent that demons exist and that they affect people by interfering in their lives (Mark 1:26; Acts 8:7). When Satan was cast out of heaven for rebelling against God, he brought one-third of the angels with him and they became his demons (Isaiah 14:12–15; Ezekiel 28:12–15; Revelation 12:4–9). Satan is not equal to God in any way. He does not have the same power as God, so he is not omnipresent. Paul writes about Satan prowling around like a lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8; see also John 10:10). Demons also roam around on Satan's behalf, seeking somewhere to inhabit (Matthew 12:43). Notice that Paul uses the present tense when discussing Satan. This indicates that there is no reason to think that evil attacks from Satan and his demons are not an issue we still face today.

Jesus delivered many people from demons throughout His ministry on earth, and after His ascent to heaven the early church continued ministering deliverance to people and addressing the topic of spiritual warfare (Acts 5:3; 8:7; Ephesians 6:11–13; 2 Corinthians 10:3–5). The Greek word daimonizomai is often translated as "demon-possessed," but in reality, it merely means "demonized." The means that anyone, even a Christian, can be under the influence of a demon but not be possessed by it. The Devil has no authority to possess our souls when are in Christ (John 10:28–29). Even though we belong to Christ, we can be demonically influenced, which can cause us to be spiritually fruitless, living a life vacant of the joy and victory that Christ provides. Demonic oppression becomes possible when influences other than Christ are allowed to inhabit our minds, attitudes, and actions. This happened in Matthew 16:21–23 when Peter, Jesus' disciple, was used as a mouthpiece of Satan when he tried to convince Jesus not to go to the cross.

This doesn't mean we can assume that every struggle we face is the direct result of demons. It can be a tempting cop-out to attribute our own failures and shortcomings to the work of Satan, however, this is not a valid claim. Many times, the sins and negative circumstances we deal with are a result of a fleshly man that is not submitted to God: "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire" (James 1:15). We are also not immune to the negative effects of the sins of others and the natural results of the fallen world. Unforgiveness (2 Corinthians 2:10–11), anger, and being untruthful (Ephesians 4:26–27) also give Satan an open door into our lives.

We have to daily crucify our flesh so that we may live in Christ, operating by and in the power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20). Ephesians 6:10–18 teaches us how to put on God's spiritual armor so that we are prepared to withstand the enemy's attacks. When we are in Christ, He is greater in us than any other power: "Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

The best example within the Bible for how to confront demonic influence is that of Jesus being tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Luke 4:1–13). Every time Satan came against Jesus He replied with: "It is written…" Jesus counteracted Satan's advances and defeated them with the Word of God. We, too, defeat the power of Satan with the Word of God, which is "the sword of the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:17).

It is inevitable that as Christians we are fighting a spiritual battle. We need to remain aware of this fact and stay perceptive and discerning of the spiritual world that is all around us. However, we should not be fixated on demonic reality, but rather, we need to fix our gaze on the reality of Christ and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Jesus is "the founder and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). When we keep our focus on Him, we find spiritual victory!

Related Truth:

What is demonic oppression?

What does the Bible say about demon possession?

Why does God allow Satan and the demons to attack us?

How does a person resist the Devil? Why does resisting the Devil cause him to flee?

How should I respond to spiritual attack?

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