Discerning the presence of evil spirits is a vital part of deliverance for a variety of reasons. Demons are spiritual beings who are invisible to the natural eye; therefore, we must detect their presence in order to cast them out. Demons often work in subtle ways; therefore, it is not always obvious when a demon is present and deliverance is needed. Some problems are caused by the flesh, are natural, or physiological. Not every issue is caused by a demon, so we need to discern the difference.
One of the ways that evil spirits can be discerned is when there is a demonic manifestation. The following is an excerpt from my training manual, How to Minister Deliverance, that describes how we can discern when a demonic manifestation is happening:
It is important to be aware that there is a difference between having a demon and having a demonic manifestation. Having a demon means that an evil spirit is present and is at work in some way. This may happen in subtle, behind the scenes ways. But when a demon manifests, it makes itself known in a more visible and obvious way. Here is a clear biblical example:
Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him. (Mark 1:21-26)
While Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, there was a man present “with an unclean spirit.” In other words, he had a demon. It goes on to say that this unclean spirit began to speak through the person to Jesus; that is, it manifested.
We don’t know how long Jesus was teaching before the demon manifested, but it was long enough for the people to recognize that He taught with authority and not in the way they were used to the scribes teaching. This man was not in a constant state of having a demonic manifestation. Certainly he would not have been allowed to come into the synagogue and listen to the teaching if he were. No, he was sitting there listening to Jesus teach with the rest of them. It is as though the authority that Jesus was teaching with forced the demon to show itself so that it could be cast out.
This type of scenario is sometimes referred to as a power encounter—when the Kingdom of God collides with the kingdom of darkness, forcing demons to manifest so that they can be driven out. This type of occurrence will usually happen during a time when the Holy Spirit is moving powerfully through preaching, worship, or prayer.
Demonic manifestations can happen both internally or externally, as outlined below.
This is when a demon is manifesting on the inside of a person, but not in observable or outward ways to onlookers. So, you won’t necessarily be able to tell when this is happening unless the person reports it to you. But it is good to be aware that it is common for demons to begin to manifest inwardly when they are starting to get exposed. For example, almost every time I teach on the topic of deliverance, some in the crowd report experiencing internal manifestations.
Some of the common ways that internal manifestations happen:
This is when a demon comes to the surface and manifests in a more outward and obvious way, observable to those around the person. This is one of the ways to discern that an evil spirit is present. Pay attention to three main areas, as outlined below:
Three areas to observe external manifestations:
Here are some examples of what outward manifestations can look like, based on both biblical examples and real-life experiences:
God is restoring deliverance to the church, but many believers feel intimidated or ill-equipped to cast out demons. Perhaps the only examples they have seen use bizarre, unbiblical, or unhelpful methods. How to Minister Deliverance is a training manual that will help equip and empower you to step into the ministry of deliverance. This manual is not just for church leaders—it is for any believer who wants to begin or grow in ministering deliverance. Make sure to get your copy!