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Years ago, I received an urgent call from a young Church of Christ pastor in

Tennessee who wanted time with me. He was in great distress. We met at the

Nashville airport and went to his home where he shared his crisis: "The only

power in my ministry was argument and debate," he explained, "There was no

manifestation of God's presence like the early church experienced. I became so

despaired with my spiritual deadness that I turned to other sources. And I

made wrong choices--I went into Eastern Mysticism." I listened as he

continued. "I found real power--but power that soon became dark and

frightening. The problem was that having invited it into my life, I could not

make it leave. It began to dominate, control, and in a merciless way, forced its'

will upon me." His story was familiar. The "spirit-guide" that had invaded his

life, harassed his sleep, affected his family relationships, and succeeded in

separating him from those he loved. In time, it destroyed his ministry. As we

talked, depression clung to him in a merciless way.


When he finished, I explained that he had "touched the unclean thing," Isaiah

52:11, which God forbad. The good news was that his repentance and the

power of Christ could free him. I reminded him that there is no power of

darkness that can successfully stand against the authority of Jesus. Philippians

2:9.


He sat on the end of a sofa, I stood beside him, and as I laid-hands on him in

the Name of Jesus, he began growling, curled into a tight ball, and rolled head-

first onto the floor. I knelt beside him, kept my hands on him, and commanded

the spirits of witchcraft and Eastern Mysticism to go. As I did, he started

wrenching, gasping for air, and experiencing tremendous pain in his spine. A

few minutes later, he was free. The darkness, pain, and oppression, that had

hovered over him were gone. I then prayed for him to be filled with the Holy

Spirit.


As he lay beside me, I thought of a Sunday School teacher who had studied

parapsychology, palmistry, automatic handwriting, and other occult teachings.

At the time of her deliverance, she had such severe back pain that she was

several days recovering. There were others who came to mind. Looking back

over years of this kind of ministry, I realized that many had undergone painful

spasms in their vertebrae during deliverance from psychic-spirits. When I

shared that with the young pastor on the floor, he answered, "Oh, I can explain

that!" What he told was shocking. "I was instructed to invite a serpent-like

spirit to enter my body and coil at the base of my spine. As I progressed in

psychic-power, it rose up, wrapping itself around my back-bone." We sat

silently for a moment. He then explained, "When you cast it out, it wrenched

my back."


I had no difficulty believing his explanation. When Paul cast out the "spirit of

divination" in the young woman at Phillippi, Acts 16:16-18, the Greek text

says she had a "python." This serpent kills by strangulation, wrapping around

the victim. It is not coincidental that Jesus used serpents as symbols of

demonic power. He said, "I give you power to tread on serpents ..." Luke

10:19. Mark 16:18.


More recently, a young Assemblies of God pastor came to me at a Conference

in Florida and asked if I would minister deliverance to him. I agreed and we

went to a private room. This gentleman was a well-groomed college graduate

with a successful ministry and family life. "My ancestors have practiced Druid

worship and psychic-powers for generations," he explained, "And I experience

torment from its presence. I am not participating in any way with witchcraft

but I feel that darkness constantly hovering over me. It torments me." He

paused. "I explained the problem to my Presbyters and asked them to minister

deliverance to me but they refused. Our doctrine denies that Christians can

have demons in their bodies or minds." I reminded him that none of us have

yet been through the Resurrection, our mortal has not yet "put on immortality,"

nor our corruptible "put on incorruption." I Corinthians 15:53,54. Demons can

go anywhere sin and disease can go. If Christians are immune to demons they

are also immune to sin and sickness. Like it or not, we are still vulnerable to

powers of darkness and must fight as Jesus taught.* Spiritual warfare is a

constant, on-going battle. Ephesians 6:10-18.


In the next few minutes, astonishing things happened. Demons began speaking

out of him in guttural, dog-like growls, contorting his body, changing his

appearance into something ugly and grotesque. Mark 1:26; 9:26. Four major

spirits were identified. One of those was the spirit of "idiocy." When we

challenged it in the Name of Jesus, the man's eyes suddenly crossed, his hands

became spastic, his tongue thickened, turned sideways in his mouth, and be

began slobbering with senseless jabberings. In a split-second, he became a

full-blown idiot.


The good news is that he was totally delivered; the mental pain was gone

forever. But please be aware of this frightening truth: Had this young pastor

not received deliverance, the spirits hiding in him would ultimately have

destroyed his sanity, ruined his family and ministry, and had him locked away

in an asylum. Could that happen to a born-again pastor? Yes. Absolutely. I

have no doubt that asylums needlessly contain many such Christians.


I have a reason for quoting the specific Scripture at the introduction of this

article. It mentions Simon the Sorcerer, demons, and victims in Samaria who

were lame and paralyzed. Hear this carefully: Though the townspeople held

Simon in high regard, he was actually the source of much of their ills. Without

realizing it, those who sought his sorcery received far more than psychic-

predictions. They became infected with crippling spirits that brought muscular

deadness and twisted limbs. Simon's presence acted like a magnet that

attracted these spirits to himself and then projected them upon the people.

Jesus had earlier identified this same "spirit of infirmity" in the woman with

the crooked. Luke 13:11. While spirits of infirmity cause a variety of

ailments, it is significant that leprosy, blindness, deafness, and other diseases

common to the day, were not mentioned in regard to Samaria. Hear me

carefully on this point: Simon's variety of witchcraft was uniquely

accompanied by demonic-problems related to the muscular and skeleton

system. Why is that so? The young Church of Christ pastor gave the

explanation. Read it again.


In 1933, my family moved into a two-story house in Miami, Florida, and a

neighbor came immediately to warn my mother. "You will always regret

having lived in this house," she said. When mother asked why, the woman

explained, "Everyone who has lived here has had horrible tragedies. I know

you want to stay--but I warn you to leave before disaster strikes." At the time,

I was three years old, my brother Van was five, and our oldest brother, Jimmy,

was temporarily with our grandmother. Unfortunately, we stayed.


In a short time, strange noises were heard, a phantom-like image appeared in

the house, and then tragedy hit. My father was stricken with total paralysis.

Soon after his illness, I fell head-first from the second floor and was

completely paralyzed on the left side of my body. My brother Van escaped for

a few years but then suffered a leg injury that has harassed him all his life.

Daddy partially recovered but lived the rest of his life as a cripple. Though I

finally regained use of my arm and leg, I have been handicapped by a

paralyzed eye-lid more than sixty years. Today, I am convinced that our house

had been used as a site of witchcraft, and, like Samaria, was under a curse that

brought lameness and paralysis. We had moved onto demonic territory and did

nothing to protect ourselves. My parents were committed Christians but their

church taught them absolutely nothing about spiritual warfare.


That day with the young pastor on the floor beside me, I suddenly could see

the parallel of demonic work in Samaria, my own family history of paralysis

and spinal problems in others. I also realized the reality of "territorial" curses

and demons who work through them. At a recent group-ministry in Atlanta

more than a dozen people were healed of spinal injury and pain. While I am

aware that much illness is not spirit-related, I have no doubt that some of these

people had a "Simon the Sorcerer" standing in the shadows of their past.


A final observation: Though Simon believed the gospel and was baptized, he

was still not delivered from all the witchcraft-influences of his former life.

Acts 8:13-24. That fact was not immediately apparent; even the Apostles did

not recognize it. In some cases, that failure is true of people today. Demons

never leave voluntarily; they must be cast out. Many believers assume that

because they have been born-again, their minds and bodies are also clean. That

is not necessarily so. Christians who battle addiction, depression, compulsive

anger, religious pride, etc., are proof of what I say. If these people "backslide"

we criticize them for their failure; frequently, it is the church that failed to

provide them with the full benefits of the Cross. Jesus never suggested that the

church cast out demons; He commanded it. My recommendation for everyone

who has had the slightest contact with ouija boards, palmistry, psychics, or

occult family-ancestry, is to receive deliverance ministry. If you have medical

or emotional problems that cannot be diagnosed, be aware, you could be

dealing with a demon. Where do you go for help? Go to your pastor! If he

refuses, show him the Scripture's teaching on the subject. Mark 16:17. Insist,

that as a believing servant of God, he is obligated to minister deliverance to

you. You need cleansing and he needs to learn. Do it. If he resists, find

someone who will. Don't repeat Simon's failure. Life depends on it.


* Proof texts of Christians vulnerability to demons: Luke 9:55. II Corinthians

11:4. Matthew 16:23. Galatians 3:1.

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