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Part II. Casting Out Demons

by Kim Harrington


    "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you."

Luke 10:19

     One of the most exciting messages I heard as a young Christian had to do with the authority of the believer over the devil. I've been binding the devil, taking authority over him in my life, and claiming back what is rightfully mine in Christ Jesus ever since. But there's more to it than that--very often a demon is firmly lodged in a person's life, and a generic prayer of binding and loosing will not set the captive free. The demon has to be identified, uprooted and forcibly evicted before the individual can go on to live in victory. We talked about how demons gain access to people, and the question of Christians and demons in Part One of this message; now we'll go right into casting them out.

     "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues..." And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.

Mark 16:17,20

     Let's suppose then that you've scared up a demon. They're often flushed out in much the same way as a pheasant bursts into flight when the hunter gets too close. When the Holy Spirit is allowed to move in a meeting, when the anointing of God is powerful, demons begin to surface and manifest themselves.  Maybe someone starts acting up during the worship service, or feels so uncomfortable that they're compelled to rush out of the meeting. Perhaps you're praying with somebody and they begin to experience dizziness or an upset stomach, or a sharp pain or pressure in their head, chest, or some other part of the body. These are good indicators of demonic affliction--as the power of God gets too close the spirits begin to get uncomfortable and try to drive their host away.

     You may be approached by someone who says, "I think I have a demon..." Or maybe as you're counseling someone, you come to suspect the presence of a demon because of the background and symptoms, though at the moment it may not be manifesting at all. The presence of a demon or demons may be indicated in a number of ways; the important thing is that we know how to minister deliverance to the victim.

     First, you want to pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, and give you words of knowledge and wisdom, discerning of spirits, and whatever other gifts He may deem necessary. Pray for an openness and honesty on the part of the afflicted person, that they will feel comfortable enough to bring to light those parts of their life that are applicable to this situation (demons often hide and slowly consolidate their power in the dark, warm caverns of intimate sins and old secrets). Ask God to be in complete control, and then begin the interview.


1. The Interview

     Jesus always interviewed the people who came to him. It's not indicated that he simply laid hands on one after another without asking what the problem was, or that He waved his hand over an entire audience and simply prayed a general prayer of healing. The biblical pattern seems to be individual attention, beginning with an interview. Even when the problem was obvious (as in the case of blind Bartimaeus) He asked what the request was.

     In Mark chapter nine, a father brought his demonized son to Jesus, and sure enough, as they drew near, the demon manifested and threw the boy on the ground. Jesus started to interview the father... "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood," (vs 21).  It wasn't an idle conversation--He wanted to know what conditions led to this child becoming demonized.

     It's important to determine the source of demonic affliction so the person can repent and avoid that sort of behavior in the future. You might ask: how long have you felt this way? when did this first start happening? have you ever been involved in the occult? how about a seance or a game of Ouija? Chances are the individual will suddenly recall some event that happened years ago--this is very likely an insight from the Holy Spirit.

     Often the person has been subjected to some kind of abuse. In this case, the next step is to forgive those who hurt them. Perhaps the most common demonic stronghold in a believer's life is unforgiveness, bitterness against a parent, sibling, ex-spouse, etc. that they are unable to let go of. Very little deliverance is possible without forgiving those people. By forgiving, we are not implying that the behavior was acceptable. It wasn't, and the proof is that it's led to a long-standing bondage in the victim's life. But it helps the victim to realize that his or her abuser was probably abused, too, and very likely was controlled by the same demon that he or she now wrestles with. In any case, you cannot be freed yourself until you declare an unconditional amnesty on those who have sinned against you. Forgiveness is essential.

     Pray for the healing of the emotional wounds. Charles Kraft, in his excellent book, "Defeating Dark Angels," compares the emotional wounds and scars of the past to garbage that attracts rats (demons). Get rid of the garbage and you get rid of the rats. Forgiveness is the most important step here, but prayer for inner healing often removes some garbage that may have been left behind.


2. Prayers of Repentance & Renunciation

     For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation [deliverance], not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

2 Cor 7:10

     We have learned in our experience with demons over the years that they are legalists--they cling to the letter of the law, not the intent of a sincere person's heart. For example, we once cast a spirit of nicotine out of a man who hadn't smoked in years. He had changed his lifestyle in obedience to God, but because he had not specifically repented, renounced the demon and cast it out, it remained, hoping to trip him up again in the future.

     Repentance is a necessary part of deliverance. Where there is no repentance there is no deliverance. As out text says, godly sorrow leads to repentance and repentance leads to deliverance (the word "salvation" in the original Greek covers the whole arena of healing, deliverance, and freedom available to us in Christ, and is just as properly--perhaps more accurately--rendered "deliverance"). If a person has not repented, then he is still working on the demon's side in that particular area; though he may be remorseful of certain aspects of the bondage, he is still not forsaking the sinful behavior that brought it on. In order to get deliverance from demonic affliction, the individual has to repent, out loud, to the Lord, and ask forgiveness. Even if it's assumed that repentance has taken place, for the sake of the legalistic demons, make it just as clear as possible by going through a prayer of repentance.

     Repentance is directed to God; renunciation is directed towards the demon. Here the person seeking deliverance must disavow any connection or partnership with the demon which is controlling the particular area being addressed, and state his or her determination to never engage in that behavior again. Like repentance, the prayer of renunciation is an important part of deliverance, and one which we take great pains with, because of the deceptive and legalistic nature of most demons.


3. Commanding the Spirit to Leave

     And when He had come out onto the land, He was met by a certain man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs. And seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, "What do I have to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me."

Luke 8:27-32

     As we begin talking about the actual expulsion of a demon, I want to direct your attention to the Gadarene demoniac. His was an extreme case, a more severe demonization than most you will encounter, but it's a good case study for our purposes because it illustrates many of the various ingredients in the actual deliverance process.

     Note first of all that even this man who was indwelt by a legion of demons (a Roman legion could be anywhere from 3000 to 6000 foot soldiers, plus cavalry) was in enough control of his faculties to run to Jesus for help.  That's important, because it shows that he was repentant and actively seeking deliverance. It also demonstrates that the spirits were not in complete control, but that he was able to override their desires and throw himself at the feet of Jesus.

     This is also one of the few places in Scripture that gives us an idea of the time involved in a deliverance session. Too often we assume that biblical deliverance was instantaneous, and that long, drawn-out sessions are lacking scriptural precedent, the anointing of God, or both. In one place (Matt 8:16) the Bible says that Jesus cast out the spirits "with a word," but that is an unfortunate and misleading translation--the word "a" is added--it could be better rendered "by speaking" or "through communication," -- the point being that deliverance is seldom a matter of one simple command. Here in the case of the Gadarene Luke plainly states:

     For He had been commanding the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard; and yet he would burst his fetters and be driven by the demon into the desert, (vs 29).

     Notice the sentence, "He had been commanding the unclean spirit to come out." It was taking some time already. Generally speaking, when you begin to command a spirit to leave, it hunkers down instead. Remember, these are not obedient spirits who delight to obey a command given in the name of Jesus Christ. Ultimately, of course, they have to leave, but they will hang on as long as they can, hoping to discourage both the deliverance minister and the afflicted person. They've learned over the years that many people give up after awhile, or assume that the job is finished before it is, and so they play every trick in the book to keep from actually leaving. Modern "fast-food" Christians have much to learn about perseverance in all aspects of our spiritual life, especially in the area of casting out demons.

     I've seen demons leave after just a command or two, but more often it takes twenty or thirty minutes. If it goes on too much longer than that, I begin searching for the reason. We'll explore that in just a little bit.

     And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. (vs 30)

     Jesus received little response after commanding the spirit to leave for an unspecified amount of time, so He asked its name. The Bible places great emphasis on names: God's name is to be hallowed, the name of Jesus is powerful, as He has been seated "far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named," [a direct reference to demonic powers and names] (Eph 1:21). Naming demons is indeed scriptural.

     I used to be a bit put off by what I referred to as "the adjective game," the practice of casting out several demons, identifying each of them by a similar adjective, such as lust, masturbation, pornography, or fornication. It seemed so redundant, and definitely did not agree with my western world view. But then I noticed that the Bible usually referred to demons in exactly that way. In Scripture we find a "deaf and dumb spirit," "unclean" spirits, a "spirit of divination," a "spirit of infirmity," a "lying spirit," "the spirit of antichrist," and more. Notice they're identified by adjectives and that some are very specific. Jesus asked spirits their names. And He did it frequently, or Matthew and Mark would have no way of knowing just what kind of spirit came out when someone was delivered. Demons you don't name usually don't leave.


4. Why Some Demons Are Harder to Expel

     And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, "Why could we not cast him out?" So He said to them, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting."

Mark 9:28-29

     It would appear that some demons are more powerful than others, or for various reasons have a more powerful hold on the person's life. In that case, more prayer is needed: that means more prayer during the deliverance session, and more time spent in personal prayer and fasting as a general rule. Some of the reasons that certain "kinds" of spirits are more powerful may be...

     There is a Curse or a Cross-Generational Bondage.   This sounds even more implausible to the modern mind than the rest of the business of casting out demons, but it's given a lot of credibility in the pages of Scripture. In fact, the Bible mentions cursing 181 times, and that doesn't count all the references where the word "curse" is not actually used, but a curse is nevertheless placed upon someone.

     Take a quick look at the Scriptures. God cursed Adam, Eve, and the serpent. He also cursed whole peoples, such as Amalek. Deuteronomy chapter 27 is all about various curses. Paul cursed a sorcerer in the New Testament, striking him blind. Jesus cursed a fig tree in Mark 11, as well as the Pharisees who resisted his ministry in Matthew 23.

     Very often, curses are brought on by the sins of the parents. Numbers 14:18 says, "The LORD is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation." It's no accident that children who were abused grow up to abuse their own children. It's sowing and reaping--not just in the realm of learned behavior, but in the realm of the spirit. The Bible suggests a cross-generational curse, familial demons passed on from father to son, and oftentimes deliverance is next to impossible until you uncover and break those curses. Sometimes parents curse their children with their mouths. "You're stupid and you'll always be stupid," can be a curse that stays with a child for an entire lifetime. An individual must often renounce that curse in order to get completely free.

     Although "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us..." (Gal 3:13) that redemption is not automatic, but like any other aspect of our salvation it has to be appropriated and received by faith. You can break a curse by simply identifying it, having the person repent and renounce it, and then declaring it to be null and void in the name of Jesus. Any stubborn demons related to the curse will come out relatively easily after that.   (see also Spiritual Warfare, Part III on Curses)

     Sometimes a demon may be aided by other stronger spirits, either inside or outside of the person you're praying with. If you suspect this is the case, just verbally cut off the demon in question from any other demons, forbidding them to assist him, and breaking any assignments he might have on the person's life. Sometimes demons jump from sibling to sibling, or husband to wife, and two people need to be dealt with at once--there is a demonic spiritual bond that needs to be broken between them.

     Finally, the person may not be truly repentant. This gives the demon an almost unbreakable hold--remember, there is no deliverance without repentance. Then it's back to counseling and "garbage removal," getting rid of that which attracted the demons in the first place.

     Spiritual warfare--the hand to hand variety of casting out demons--is a very real part of the Christian life. Examine your own heart and life--you may need deliverance. Then go out and minister to others. We could use a few more well-equipped Holy Ghost commandos out on the battlefield.


Read Part One of this message, The Reality of the Warfare

Read Part Three, Curses and How to Break Them

Copyright 1998 Kim Harrington, Masterbuilder Ministries. All rights reserved.


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