by Bethany Wouters, Content Manager
Recently, many of my friends have been experiencing demonic activity. I forget that, while those who are believers cannot be under the possession of a demon, demonic oppression is real, and it is prevalent at this moment. Because Satan is not happy with the work we are doing for the Kingdom of God, he commands his evil spirits to make our lives difficult. Whether it be through dreams, physical restriction, evil thoughts, temptation, or visions, demons are constantly trying to trip us up and disqualify ourselves from God’s call on our lives. It can be scary, yes, but we have authority over demons.
All the authority and power we have over evil spirits is in proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ. Fearing God and God in Christ, the evil spirits become subject to the servants of God (aka, us). The only way the authority of Christ is exercised is through prayer and verbal command. In Mark chapter 5, Jesus said, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” (Mark 5:8). To exercise our God-given authority, it must be spoken to have an effect. But, we need to remember that any authority we possess is from God and God alone. No power we have over evil spirits is derived from our flesh — to think otherwise is to rob God of His supremacy.
Everything is under His subjection, including the principalities of darkness. Including us. Nothing that occurs in this world is outside God’s grasp. Satan has to ask permission from God to be able to do anything. Some of you might be asking, “Why would God allow evil to take place in the world if He is so loving? What kind of God does that make Him?” The answer: a just, merciful, and gracious One. Without wrongdoings, we wouldn’t understand His justice. Without wickedness, we wouldn’t understand His mercy. Without cruelty, we wouldn’t understand His grace. The Lord allows these things to take place in our lives to cause us to turn and seek Him. It grows our faith in Him.
I want to talk for a moment about the story of the disciples found in Mark chapter 9. A demon-possessed boy is brought before the disciples and, like a follower of Christ would, they attempt to heal him. You probably know the story — they failed in casting out the demon. After enduring public humiliation, the disciples seek out Jesus in private and ask Him, “Lord, why couldn’t we cast the demon out like You?” (Mark 9:28). Jesus gives a three-part answer to their problem (Matthew 17:20, Mark 9:29).
First, the disciples lacked faith. In Matthew 17, Jesus says, “It’s because you have such little faith.” They thought about themselves healing this boy rather than the One that was empowering them to do it in the first place. Sometimes, we Christians don’t believe Jesus can work through us to do something like cast a demon out, heal the sick, etc. We focus more on the situation at hand rather than the Hand that is holding all things together.
Secondly, the disciples lacked prayer. Before commanding the demon to come out of the boy, they should have prayed. There are going to be circumstances in our lives that require fervent prayer. James says, “The prayers of a righteous man has great power to prevail” (James 5:16b). Continually praying for something either changes the situation or changes your heart about that situation. Prayer allows for the Lord to empower us. Without prayer, we are without power.
Lastly, the disciples lacked in fasting. Fasting is self-denial for the sake of seeking God and His blessing. As it is with prayer, fasting allows for an empowering of the Holy Spirit, because you are denying your body of something in order for that need to be met by the Lord. I will admit, fasting is the area I struggle with most out of these three. But, if Jesus in His humanity could go forty days and forty nights without food, so can we. Fasting is crucial for Christians.
I brought up the story of the disciples to show what happens when we try to exercise our God-given authority without God. In reality, nothing happens. Trying to do something God-ordained without Him is futile. As my pastor says, “We need to be plugged into the Source to have power.” Praying and fasting allow for us to stay connected to, and rely on, Him. To withstand the wiles of the enemy, we are called to “put on the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11, 13). That means to actively remain in His Word, knowing His truth to combat the fiery darts of deception, linking our shields of faith together with one another, preparing ourselves to preach His message, trusting that God will do as He has said, hoping for our eternal salvation, and praying — for ourselves, for our friends and family, for our church and its leaders, and for our world.
To make matters simple, the way we defeat demonic oppression is by relying on God and being equipped for the battle. We all know that passage of Scripture that says the demons shudder at the thought of Jesus (James 2:19), and even though it’s talking about being faithless, it still remains true. The Devil and his minions cannot withstand the might of the Lord. Romans 8:31 says, “What shall we say then to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Do not fear the enemy. He has no power against the Almighty.
For more information on combating spiritual warfare, check out the books The Strategies of Satan by Warren Wiersbe and Spiritual Warfare by Brian Broderson, found at Springs of Life Christian Bookstore!