The following is an excerpt from Chapter Two of Setting Captives Free. While we should not make demons our primary focus, we cannot ignore their reality. Demonic influence is real, and much more common than we often realize!
The Bible talks openly about the reality of the spiritual realm. From cover to cover, we see examples of supernatural encounters and spiritual beings. Various types of angels are shown interacting with people to bring messages, protection, and strengthening. Heavenly beings surround the throne of God. We also see fallen angels and demonic spirits bringing temptation, torment, and oppression. And there are many records of supernatural encounters with God, dreams and visions, miracles, signs, and wonders. Although there is some mystery surrounding the spiritual realm, two things are clear: one, it exists; and two, it influences and interacts with the natural realm.
As best as I can tell, the terms evil spirit, demon, and unclean spirit are all used interchangeably in the New Testament. They refer to disembodied spirits of some sort that are in league with the devil and are under his command. These dark spirits are at work in our world and they seek to influence people according to their nature and purposes. I have found that many people in the Church don’t want to acknowledge the reality of evil spirits as a present and pertinent reality. Many believers will give assent to the existence of demons because they are found in Scripture, but that is where it ends. You can mention the devil and no one thinks anything of it, but when you start to talk about evil spirits, people think you have gone too far!
We cannot afford to turn our heads the other way and pretend that demons are not real or that we never have to think about them. While our primary focus should be on Jesus, we cannot ignore the reality of demonic influence in our world. Demons are real and they seek to influence people in various ways. We were born into a battle, and whether we like it or not, we have a vital role to play in this war. Rather than denying the reality of demonic influence, we should search the Scriptures to determine how evil spirits operate and how to break free from their grip.
While it is one thing to acknowledge that demonic influence is real, it is another thing to realize that it is actually quite common. Many believers who would never deny the existence of the spirit-world and the fact that demons can inhabit or influence people, think that it is extremely rare to come across a person needing deliverance. Often this ministry is relegated to the mission field in faraway third world countries. The problem with this thinking is that it does not line up with the ministry of Jesus and example of the New Testament.
We have already seen that deliverance was a central aspect of the ministry of Jesus. Consider this summary of His ministry in Mark 1:39 (NASB): “And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.” Notice that preaching and casting out demons are put side-by-side. This pattern can be seen consistently throughout the Gospels. Think about it: it was as common for Jesus to cast out a demon as it was for Him to preach a sermon! Far from a rare occurrence, it was everyday life and ministry.
According to the pattern found in the Gospels, we should not see demonic influence or the need for deliverance as a rare or strange occurrence. Because of the confusion, misunderstanding, and lack of experience in the area of deliverance, it can be easy to assume that casting out demons is very rarely needed, especially here in the West. We seldom see it happening and therefore believe that it must not be necessary. This however, does not line up with what we see in the New Testament, where demonic influence was a very common problem. The fact is, demonic influence was a prevalent issue in the days of Jesus and the early church and it is a prevalent issue today as well.
Over the last several years of ministering deliverance, I have found that indeed it is very common for people to need deliverance from evil spirits. When I minister in group settings at churches or conferences, I will lead whole groups of people in prayer to receive deliverance. Many are set free from demonic influence in these settings. My experience and consistent pattern lines up with what is outlined in the Gospel accounts. I propose to you that the reason we do not often see deliverance happening more frequently like in the Gospels is not because the need is not present; it is because we have failed to discern the presence and activity of demons. Many of the issues that people struggle with have an undiagnosed cause—demonic influence. But if we do not consider demonic influence as a potential root, we will not consider deliverance as a potential solution. Therefore, many believers remain in chains.
So, not only is demonic influence real, it is quite common. Many people are in need of deliverance from evil spirits whether they are fully aware of it or not. And as we’ll see in the next section, there are varying degrees of demonic influence that a person may be under.
Setting Captives Free is filled with biblical teaching on the topic of demons and deliverance, powerful testimonies of those who have been set free, and practical prayers that you can use for yourself or others in need of deliverance. Make sure to get your copy!