When I was in the military I remember having to endure listening to the movie Poltergeist playing in the background while riding on a bus to a training. When a fellow soldier, who knew I was a believer and wanted to pick on me, asked me what I thought of the movie, my response surprised him. “Thing that always bothers me most about movies like that” I said “was how powerful the demons were portrayed and how powerless the “priests” were when they encountered them.” This led to an interesting conversation about encounters with the demonic.
Recently on a trip to South Sudan I had the privilege of talking to the region overseer about some of their demonic encounters. He shared with me an intriguing and powerful story. There was a lady had been possessed for years and she had been driven so mad by demons that she no longer remembered who she was. Her family brought her to the overseer to have him pray for her. He began to pray for her by calling out each demon by name and casting them out individually. As he prayed, her body would convulse and shake, she would cry out, and then the demon would leave. He continued to pray for her, and as he did, her body became weaker and weaker with each demon leaving. Over time her body became so weak that she began to spit up blood. After three days of praying the final demon was cast out and her body fell limp as she passed out from being physically exhausted. When she came to she asked him where she was. She had no recollection of being brought to the overseer. Then she saw the blood and asked, “Where did the blood come from?” Then the overseer explained to her that her body was so strained from the demons being cast out that she began to spit up blood. He then explained how God had delivered her from the demons and now she was free. For the first time in years she could think clearly and was in her right mind. She then began to follow Christ.
While the demonic may not be as obvious to us on a daily basis as it is in South Sudan, that does not mean that demons are not actively working. And unlike the movies, as followers of Christ, we have authority over demons. In Luke 17:10 we see that Christ gave the disciples authority over demons:
“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
Let us not forget that when we come into the family of God, we are entering a war.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
So how can we recognize our enemy when his tactics are so subtle? Scripture states “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (1 John 4:2-3)
But we do not have to fear because we have authority over our adversary: “You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Yes, there is a true enemy and this enemy desires to keep those who are separated from God from knowing Him, and those who know God comatose so they are ineffective in the His Kingdom. But no matter how hard he tries to quench the work of God, we can put on our full armor and stand against his fiery darts. We can partner with God as He sets free the captives, brings freedom to those in bondage, and breaks every chain.