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 read. Do you tell him that he just needs to be more disciplined in his thinking?
Or might he be demonized?
Over the last 30 years, I have worked with hundreds of Christians across the denominational and non-denominational spectrum who are tormented by spirits they have not been able to remove on their own.
Laying the Foundation
There are some foundational truths to keep in mind as we tackle this topic.
First, assisting those caught in demonic bondage does not depend upon a particular type of giftedness. Some gifts may make this type of ministry easier for some than for others. But the authority, victory, protection, and position necessary for successfully banishing demons is something freely available to every Christian under the authority of Jesus Christ.
Second, your attitude toward demons is important. They are not superiors to fear or defer to. They are not colleagues to respect. Demons are not your spiritual equal or sparring partner. Positionally, they have been placed beneath the feet of all believers under the delegated authority of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
When you respond to a demon as an equal, you embolden it to resist and fight rather than submit to the authority the Lord Jesus Christ, which has been delegated to you (Luke 10:18-20; 2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 1:18-2:7).
Third, your personal involvement in the process is not nearly as important as the attitude of the person seeking deliverance. Prayer is powerful, but if the demonized person refuses to resist the demons or to confess and cancel the sin(s) that gave them ground (topos, from Eph. 4:27) those demons will not leave. You can stand with someone against the powers of darkness, but you cannot stand for someone against the powers of darkness. (A believing parent standing for a demonized child may be an exception.)