What do you say to a man who constantly battles feelings of inferiority, thoughts of suicide, or habitually hearing voices telling him he's a loser who will never measure up as a husband, dad, son, or child of God?
He tells you he's prayed, fasted, memorized Scripture, and studied his Bible, but the ideas, accusations, and voices never release their paralyzing grip, at least not for very long.
Do you tell him he just needs rest? That it's a chemical imbalance? Do you assume he's schizophrenic because he says there are voices in his head? Or might this battle be something more than physiological or psychological?
"Karl, do you think this could be demonic?" I've heard this question so many times I no longer presume the person speaking is neurotic or weak willed. This initial question is often followed by "Now I don't want you to think I am crazy" or "I'm afraid you won't believe me, but …" or "I've never told anyone about this, but I assure you I am not making this up." I've heard this from the churched and unchurched, from those in the pew and those who fill the pulpit.
What would you say to a pastor, for instance, who flies to your city to discuss demonization, indicating that his mind is being consumed with thoughts and images of his wife having sex with other men? It is not true, and he knows it. But the incessant mind games are not only personally debilitating emotionally and physically to him, they are in the process of destroying his marriage, family, and ministry.
Do you tell him to read his Bible? Well, he studies his Bible and memorizes Scripture, and he has written more theological books than most Christians have ...