How do evil spirits gain access to people’s lives? Understanding this is an important aspect of the ministry of deliverance. Below is an excerpt from Restoring the Ministry of Jesus that explains some common open doors to demonic influence.
One of the keys to understanding the ministry of deliverance is the revelation that to the spirit world, the human body is a house. God sees the human body as a potential dwelling place. Scripture calls the body of the believer the temple of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6:19). But the devil and his demons also see the human body as a place to live.
“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” (Matthew 12:43-45)
Notice that the unclean spirit in this passage referred to the man as his house. Evil spirits crave bodies to live in and to express their nature through. Without such a body they are restless, just like a homeless person. But a demon cannot simply enter into any person that they choose; there must be an open door in the house for it to have entrance. There are several things that can open the door for demonic access into people’s lives, whether or not they are believers. These open doors give evil spirits a place to enter and dwell in the person. While not exhaustive, below is a list that briefly describes some of these openings.
When we fail to confess and repent of sin, we come into agreement with the devil, and this gives him a right to an area of our lives. Blatant rebellious sin or ongoing hidden sin can be a demonic entry point. I believe that it was the ongoing greed and theft in Judas’ life that allowed Satan to enter him. Paul warns that if we don’t properly deal with anger, it can give place to the devil (see Ephesians 4:26-27). When a person cannot gain freedom from a sinful habit, there is the possibility of a demonic spirit that needs to be cast out. If it is simply the flesh, it must be crucified. But if it is a demon, it must be driven out.
When a person goes through a traumatic experience, sometimes a demon can gain access. Being sinned against or exploited can open the door. For example, being abused sexually, physically, or verbally can give spirits entry into the person and cause them to be bound by that traumatic experience. It seems unfair that a person can become demonized through another person’s action, but the devil does not play fair. Various types of traumatic events, and all types of abuse, can open the door to demonic oppression.
The devil is called the father of lies, and when we believe his lies we come into agreement with him. I have prayed for people who had become demonized by believing the lie that they had committed the unpardonable sin. When we believe a lie about God or about ourselves, we open the way for a lying spirit to reinforce that lie in our lives.
Being exposed to unholy things can open the door to demons. Some examples would include pornography, horror movies, and dark music. There is a reason why God commands His people to come out from among the world and be holy.
Having bitterness, resentment, or unforgiveness toward others is an open door for evil spirits. I encourage you to read the parable of the unmerciful servant found in Matthew 18:15-35. At the end of the parable the unforgiving servant is put into a prison to be tormented. Withholding forgiveness from others puts you into a spiritual prison and gives the devil permission to torment you; this is a serious issue and a major root cause for many other problems. We must learn to forgive the ones who have hurt us and walk through the process of releasing them to the Lord. This does not mean that what they did was okay, and it does not mean that you cannot maintain boundaries with those who hurt you. But we must choose to walk in forgiveness as God has forgiven us.
Behind every idol is a demon (see 1 Corinthians 10:19-20) and false teaching carries with it a false spirit (see 2 Corinthians 11:4 and 1 Timothy 4:1). It makes sense therefore, that those who become involved with cults and who believe false teachings can become demonized. Whether it is blatant false teaching like Buddhism or subtle erroneous teachings within the church, a door may be opened for a spirit to enter.
Contact with the occult is a major open door to the demonic and is strictly forbidden in Scripture (see Deuteronomy 18:9-12). There are two sources of supernatural power in the world: God and Satan. The word occult means “secret or hidden” and refers to the supernatural realm of Satan. Some examples include witchcraft, fortunetelling, communication with the dead, magic arts, eastern meditation, sorcery, Ouija board, astrology, Satanism, new age teachings, psychics, astral projection, and channeling. This is not an all-inclusive list but should give you an idea of what to avoid. If you have had any contact with the occult—even if it was a long time ago and it was just for fun—I encourage you to verbally renounce your involvement and seek deliverance ministry.
The last open door we will look at is the area of curses. In the West we tend to think that the idea of curses is a superstitious belief, but it is found in the Bible quite a bit. What is referred to as generational curses could certainly be an open door. This is when either sinful actions or negative attributes get passed down through a generational line. Another type of curse is what is called a word curse. James 3:8-10 talks about the tongue and how blessing and cursing can proceed from the same mouth, and Proverbs 18:21 says that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Some parents don’t realize that they are literally cursing their children by saying things like “you are so stupid” or “you will never amount to anything.” I have been amazed at the dramatic results when words like this were broken off of a person during a time of prayer for deliverance.
The above open doors are not necessarily a comprehensive list and much more could be said about each of them. The point is this: many times doors are opened in people’s lives without them necessarily knowing it. When casting out demons, it is important to get to the root causes of the problem and make sure that every door gets closed.
Everywhere Jesus went, people were miraculously healed, set free from evil spirits, and transformed by powerful teaching and preaching. Restoring the Ministry of Jesus calls us back to the foundation of walking like Jesus walked and doing what Jesus did. It shows how to bridge the gap from our current condition to walking in our inheritance in Christ. As you read, your heart will be stirred to seek God’s face and go after all that He has for you and the church today!