Demons can afflict Christians, leading to some Christians approaching their pastor for deliverance. However, it is important for the pastor to discern whether it might indeed be a demonic attack, or the case of an unrepentant attitude, as the late healing evangelists Charles and Frances Hunter illustrate in their book “How to Heal the Sick”:
What causes people to follow Satan and his evil ways? How do people submit themselves to a hating devil when God has so much for us? Why would anyone even consider making a deliberate choice to submit themselves to an eternity of torment instead of an eternal home with God?
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
The trickery of Satan is to pervert our minds into believing that his way is best. If we accept his lies, it is the beginning of the invitation by mankind for a demon to kill and destroy their souls by stealing them away from God. He does this principally through bad attitudes, and BAD ATTITUDES ARE NOT DEMONS, but they give a foothold to demonic activity. Bad attitudes don’t need to be cast out like a spirit, but we need to overcome them by the power of God!
The devil lied to Eve in the Garden of Eden, and she had the choice of rejecting his temptation, or believing his lie. She gave a foothold to the devil, and he stole her away from God. Satan cleverly gained this foothold through her mind. He cunningly put thoughts or words into her mind and she believed him.
When you are ministering to someone in the deliverance of demons, first talk with them to see if they are saved. Ask them if they really love Jesus and if they would say, “Jesus is Lord of my life.” If they are truly born again, they will be able to say that and mean it, but if they are not able to say it, you need to deal with a demon. Otherwise, inquire about attitudes that are wrong. MAYBE THEY JUST NEED TEACHING about their responsibility to get rid of bad attitudes. “Here is the test: no one speaking by the power of the Spirit of God can curse Jesus, and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and really mean it, unless the Holy Spirit is helping him” (I Cor. 12:3 TLB).
A woman came to Frances one night with a very sad story. She started off by saying, “I’ve been prayed for by the best, so I don’t know why I’m coming to you, but …
I’ve had the demon of smoke cast out! I’ve had the demon of tobacco cast out!
I’ve had the demon of nicotine cast out!
I’ve had the demon of cigarettes cast out!” She continued, “Do you have a word from the Lord for me?”
Frances said, “Yes!” ”
What is it?” she asked.
Frances said, “Quit!”
The woman was obviously shocked. But too many times we blame spirits or demons for things that are simply our fault. We run from evangelist to evangelist, from preacher to preacher, from conference to conference, asking for deliverance at every service, when the problem is really very simple. It lies within ourself – QUIT SINNING! Throw those cigarettes away, don’t buy any more, and quit blaming it on demons!
If, with all your heart, mind, body and soul, you want to be obedient to all that God and Jesus want you to do, there will never be a desire to sin. A desire to sin is simply a way of expressing your disbelief that God’s way is best. God doesn’t like that. But it delights him when you want to do what pleases him!
“I advise you to obey only the Holy Spirit’s instructions. He will tell you where to go and what to do, and then you won’t always be doing the wrong things your evil nature wants you to. For we naturally love to do evil things that are just the opposite from the things that the Holy Spirit tells us to do; and the good things we want to do when the Spirit has his way with us are just the opposite of our natural desires. These two forces within us are constantly fighting each other to win control over us and our wishes are never free from their pressures.”
“When you are guided by the Holy Spirit you need no longer force yourself to obey Jewish laws.”
“But when you follow your own wrong inclinations your lives will produce these evil results: impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, spiritism (that is, encouraging the activity of demons), hatred and fighting, jealousy and anger, constant effort to get the best for yourself, complaints and criticisms, the feeling that everyone else is wrong except those in your own little group – and there will be wrong doctrine, envy, murder, drunkenness, wild parties, and all that sort of thing. Let me tell you again as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:16-21 TLB).
Do you notice from that part of God’s Word that these are attitudes which come into our mind because our old self-nature wants its way? That is the simplest way I know to tell you how the devil gets a foothold on your mind in his drive to take your soul away from God. The way to avoid the trap the devil sets is simply set forth in the rest of that chapter: “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; and here there is no conflict with Jewish laws. Those who belong to Christ have nailed their natural evil desires to his cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit’s power, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Then we won’t need to look for honors and popularity, which lead to jealousy and hard feelings” (Gal. 5:22-26 TLB).
When we let thoughts contrary to God’s nature enter into our minds, these thoughts begin to develop and become a part of us. Our inner desires either invite the Holy Spirit or Satan’s old nature in us to control our thoughts.
Stop thinking about the negative, evil old nature and you can stop most demons from having activity in your mind. They don’t immediately possess you, but they begin to control you little by little until you no longer desire God’s ways.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:7,8). Who is to do that? We are.