Engaging the Enemy

a Handbook for the Deliverance Ministry

by Kim Harrington

(an excerpt from the new book)


To what degree can the enemy influence and afflict the born-again believer in Jesus Christ? Controversy rages around this subject, usually providing the genuine searcher with more heat than light. Much of it centers around terminology: Christians can be oppressed, but not possessed, many assert. Is this a valid observation? How do those terms differ in the original biblical languages? Are they scriptural at all? Before we tackle this all-important question we need to set the terminology straight.

The concept of oppression is found only once in the Bible in connection with the devil or demons: "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil," (Acts 10:38). Itís a general designation, describing Jesusí ministry in both healing the sick and casting out demons. Itís essentially a political term in the original Greek, meaning to rule mercilessly, and it sheds little light on the possession/oppression debate.

"Demon possession" is found repeatedly in most English versions of the Bible, but itís an unfortunate translation. In the Greek itís daimonizomai: "to act under the control of a demon... to express the mind or consciousness of a demon or demons," (Vineís Expository Dictionary). The term contains no suggestion of ownership, or being "possessed" by the demon. Demons donít own people. They afflict them, and take as much control as theyíre given in certain areas, but they donít own them, except in the general sense that Satan is the ruler of all those outside of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4, 1 John 5:19, etc). I would have to agree, then, that a Christian cannot be possessed by an evil spirit. Regarding the terminology, many modern ministers, including myself, choose to translate this word as "demonized," which is far more accurate.

Amazingly, according to another term used in the Bible, the afflicted person more or less possesses the demon! When the Scripture says someone "has a demon," (see Mark 7:25, Luke 4:33, etc.), it could be just as accurately translated "he keeps a demon," in much the same way that someone keeps a dog or a catóhe cares for it, nurtures it, and willingly keeps it with him.

Getting our terminology straight is the first step in understanding the controversial subject of Christians and demons.

So, demons do not possess humans; to a great degree humans keep demons. By engaging in certain patterns of behavior or thinking, they welcome demons into their lives. They make the demons feel comfortable, they allow the demons to fulfill their desires through them. Sometimes the demons get ugly and uncontrollable, causing the person to be alarmed and perhaps even to seek deliverance, but for the most part they become a normal part of life, almost inseparable from the human personality. Demonization is rarely the dramatic overpowering of human personality and behavior portrayed by Hollywood and fiction writers.

The Principle of Appropriation

Is a person automatically set free from such bondages upon conversion and faith in Christ? To answer that, let me ask another question. If someone has cancer, or asthma, or is confined to a wheelchair, are they automatically healed upon asking Jesus to be their Lord and Savior? Are they instantly set free from all their besetting sins? No, theyíre not. Yet the Bible states emphatically that "Jesus "Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses" (Matthew 8:17), and by His stripes we "were healed" (1 Peter 2:24); that the "old man" of sin was crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6), and "whoever has been born of God does not sin," (1 John 3:9). These things are all ours in Christ Jesus, but they need to be appropriated by faith and outworked in our livesótheyíre not automatic. Even the forgiveness of sins is not automatic: Jesusí death on the cross avails us not at all until we understand it with the revelation of faith, accept it personally, and start living it out.

So it is with deliverance from demon spirits. We have authority over the powers of darkness, but we must exercise it...


Copyright © 2002 Kim Harrington, Masterbuilder Ministries. All rights reserved.


Chapter Titles

Engaging the Enemy

The Reality of the Warfare

The Christian & Demons

Casting Out Demons

Why Some Demons are Harder to Expel


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