Christians frequently suffer from long-term crises which pass unhindered from one generation to the next. These include explosive anger, depression, disease, alcoholism, lying, domination, manipulation, and numerous other destructive habits. Few realize these are not unavoidable ancestral "traits" or that they can be stopped. Since demons and curses are spiritual they can be corrected only by spiritual means. Medical, psychiatric, or other forms of therapy, excellent as they are, may relieve symptom but not touch sources of spiritually-based problems. Such depths can be reached solely through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Forty years ago a Christian psychotherapist who understood only the humanistic nature of such problems sat in my office and said, "I have often wished I could reach inside my patients and pull out the offender." I looked him straight in the eye and said, "You can!" Jesus has not changed, the Holy Spirit is still here, and the Bible will remain unchanged until the end of time. The psychotherapist, though a sincere Christian, could not hear what I said. He was so insulated by secularist thinking that the provisions Christ offered in the Bible were unrealistic. He could not see or hear them.
History gives us a living–but unfortunate–example of the spiritual warfare in which the modern church is engaged. It is this: When Titus laid siege to Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and brought Jewish nationalism to crushing defeat, one of the principle weapons he used against the city was a gigantic battering-ram named Nico. In a very real sense, the title Nico was prophetic and still speaks to the church today. It means "conqueror." Nico is the same word used in the Greek text of Revelation 2:15, where Jesus speaks to the church in Pergamos of His hatred for the "doctrine of the Nicolaitans.” The word Nicolaitan is a combination of the words, nico, i.e., "conqueror", and laos, meaning "laity", or people of the congregation. The message of these combined words is obvious. In the only instance in Scripture where Jesus is described as hating something, it is used here. He hates the doctrines and deeds that enslave the saints. He wants the saints to be free and has fully purchased that freedom for them. (Romans 16:20, I Corinthians 2:1-5; 4:20, I Thessalonians 1:5,6, Ephesians 6:10-18).
Ancient battering-rams, such as Nico, were usually assembled by invading armies at the battle site and consisted of immense wooden platforms overlaid with iron plates. This metal covering protected the scaffolding from enemy fire. The ram itself consisted of a huge log, suspended horizontally by chains, that could be swung back and forth by squadrons of men holding onto ropes below. As the huge butt-end struck the wall and bounced back, the men maintained a rhythm much like the pendulum of a clock. The slamming of the ram against individual stones was important, but of equal value was the fact that the constant thudding set up a vibration that affected the molecular structure of the whole wall. Though unknown to the Romans, they employed a principle of physics which would not be identified until much later times. It is this: Energy stored in the log by the "rhythm of input" was transferred into the wall at the instant of impact. This sudden impact overcame what is known as the "moment of inertia" in the stone.
Initially, in the log's striking the stone, it appeared that nothing happened. That, however, was not the case. Though unseen, the energy in the log instantly transferred into the stone. This is the same pattern which frequently occurs in the realm of spiritual warfare. The natural eye may see nothing occurring when in reality the kingdom of darkness has instantly been shaken to its core. Hear this carefully: The power of the Holy Spirit is often transferred through the laying-on-of-hands in such shattering force that a demonic stronghold is instantly jarred to its center. This may not always be outwardly visible. The believer's faith, as well as the one receiving, must go beyond their sight. Each must believe that the Holy Spirit is working in power in the spiritual realm even if they do not see it. Those ministering in deliverance today frequently see an exact replay of the Bible’s description of this in Jesus day. Demons howl, snarl, growl, vomit, and abuse their victim while attempting to remain inside. Mark 9:20. Luke 9:42. To the unprepared, these symptoms are extremely challenging. Many pastors and churches don’t want it. Demons, however, are like the stones in Jerusalem’s walls and find the pounding of the battering-ram an irresistible force.
Some of the stones in Jerusalem's walls weighed 570 tons, were forty-five feet long, fifteen feet wide, and twelve feet high. The fact that stones like these were dismantled and pushed aside by the Roman Army helps us realize the tremendous energy that was released by the battering-ram. Ultimately, it was battering-rams like Nico, mere wooden scaffolds supporting ordinary logs, manned by teams of soldiers, empowered by a principle of physics, that penetrated Jerusalem's walls and brought the city to defeat. Many of the towers which Titus erected against the walls of Jerusalem were over seventy-five feet tall. Some even had wheels and were portable. Such was the ingenuity of ancient warfare; Rome conquered because of its overwhelming military superiority. When the Jewish War was over, not one Temple block was left standing upon another. Titus dismantled everything. This was precisely what Jesus had foretold would happen. Matthew 24:2.
The fact that Jerusalem's stones were larger, heavier, and stronger, than the battering-ram, did not alter the fact that they still had to move. Darkness cannot resist light, death cannot resist life, so the stationary rock wall could not resist the movement of the log. Identically, when the authority of Scripture, spoken by a believing disciple, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, is brought against a demonic stronghold, there is an immediate effect. Hell may pretend that it has not happened but inwardly it knows that it has; best of all, the kingdom of darkness panics with the knowledge of the attack. If the saints proceed in faith, believing what their eyes cannot see, and do not quit the battle early, they will win. With believers following God's battle plans, it is impossible for them to lose.
Jesus' gift of divine blood redeemed us from sin, from the hand of the enemy, and from the curse of the law. In addition to these, He made available to us the position of sonship in the Kingdom, the ministry-gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the authority of the written Word of God. These three provisions are ultimate endowments of power. Not only so, but each contains a plethora of accompanying grace-gifts. It is therefore totally unnecessary that the saints become prey to the any of the devil's attacks. Quite the opposite, it is Jesus' intention that the offensive of warfare be turned against Satan. Three times, in a progressive extension of His own power, Jesus gave this authority to the saints. First, He gave it to the twelve Apostles. Luke 9:1. Secondly, He gave it to the seventy evangelists. Luke 10:1. Lastly, He gave it to all believers. Mark 16:17,18. Significantly, we find that all whom Jesus sent to preach were equipped with power to cast out unclean spirits. It was because of this established pattern that Paul wrote the Romans that "the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly." Romans 16:20. God always does the crushing. That is absolute fact. But it is equally true that He does it under the feet of the believers. If Satan is not being crushed it is because the church is not carrying out its mission. Demons are forcibly exorcized wherever the Kingdom of God is present. Matthew 12:28.
We have the exact parallel of God and the saints functioning in this cooperative role in the Old Testament account of Israel's victory over the giants of Anak. Moses identified this two-fold aspect very carefully: "Therefore understand today that the Lord your God is He who goes over before you as a consuming fire. (1) He will destroy them and (2) bring them down before you; (3) so you shall drive them out (4) and destroy them quickly ..." Deuteronomy 9:3. Two things were to happen: God would destroy them and drive them out, but, identically, Israel also was to "drive them out and destroy them." Though it is not apparent in most of our English translations, the Hebrew language uses two different words in this verse which are translated as "destroy". The first, referring to God's destruction of Anak, means a total annihilation of the enemy's presence and power; the second use of the word "destroy" in regard to Israel, denotes a less violent operation but still signifies a necessary part of God's total battle plan. The point is that in the Old Testament as well as the New, God works in cooperation with His people. Paul portrays the same principle in Romans 16:20: "The God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly."
God does the crushing but He does it under the feet of His church. Jesus said, "I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy." The analogy of treading upon the enemy implies that the enemy is under the feet of the church. Satan's power is therefore subordinate to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. It cannot and will not be otherwise. Again, the Old Testament gives us the physical example of this spiritual truth when Joshua ordered his captains of war to stomp their feet on the necks of the five heathen kings. Joshua 10:22-26. The number five is significant in regards to Satan's kingdom. This is identified for us in Ephesians 6:12. 1) Principalities. 2) Powers. 3) Rulers of the darkness of this world. 4) Spiritual wickedness in high places. 5) Satan. Significantly, the five-pointed star of the pentagram is used as a power-symbol in Satanism and various forms of witchcraft. There were also five Philistine kings who withstood Israel, Goliath had four brothers, equaling five giants, Moses destroyed the five kings of Midian. The list goes on.
Jesus forever settled the question regarding the Seat of Power with His declaration to the early church that "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations ... teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19,20. The sincere Bible student will gladly acknowledge that Jesus not only occupies the Throne of Kingdom Authority but that He also intended that all nations be taught "all things" which He had given the first disciples. Doctrinally speaking, there is no such thing as an apostolic church and a post-apostolic church with different Scripture, rules, enemy, and power. Regardless of the age or nation there is simply the “church,” the “gospel,” and the “power.”
The question to the modern church is this: Did Jesus intend that the church in our day continue His work of casting out demons? The answer is found in numerous Scriptures--but one in the Great Commission is primary. Read it carefully:“Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20.
Jesus clearly expected believers “to the end of the age” to be taught the same truths, maintain the same disciplines, and do the same works, He gave to His original followers. There is no way to avoid the clarity and directness with which He spoke: “Teach them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” Language cannot be more explicit. Yes. Jesus intended that the modern church would do the same works as the ancient church. This includes exercising authority over demons and driving them out. To refuse obedience to Christ on this point is as inexcusable as disobeying Him on any other. 30% of Jesus recorded ministry was spent in direct conflict with unclean spirits. The modern Church, in contrast, has a near “zero” percent involvement. In consequence, thousands of Christians suffer from problems affecting them mentally, financially, physically, personally, domestically, and in countless other ways. Christians who fail in their commitment are frequently accused of “backsliding” when that is not the problem. The real problem is that the Church oftentimes never gives them the full benefits of the Cross--specifically, deliverance from demons. Jesus never said there would be an “Apostolic Church and a “Post-Apostolic Church” with different practices, teachings, expectations, and achievement. He established one Church; not two, whose message was to continue unchanged to the “end of the age.” Whether ancient or modern, Christianity must retain the same love, truth, and power.
Can Christians be possessed by demons? No. Christians cannot be possessed by demons. But, Christians can be oppressed by demons. Demons can go anywhere sin and disease go. If a Christian is immune to demons he is immune to sickness and immorality. Obviously, that is not true. The New Testament Greek word diamonidzomai, or its English equivalent, “demonized,” has no connotation of the devil’s ownership; it speaks only of one’s susceptibility to demons and their assault. Christians need to be aware that health problems, emotional instability, aggressive or retarded behavior, persistent failures, etc., may be effectively helped through Deliverance Ministry. Wrong attitudes, ideas, habits, are changed and tragedies sometimes averted. Jesus said, “These signs will follow those who believe. In My name they will cast out demons ...” Mark 16:17. While every believer is potentially capable of ministering in this authority, not every one is Scripturally informed and prepared.
Deliverance from a spirit is usually an immediate, instantaneous experience. Renewal of the mind is not. Following deliverance, it is absolutely essential that the person’s mental attitude be corrected, made healthy, godly, and normal. Patterns of pessimism and skepticism must be broken, negativity replaced by positive, constructive, affirmations of faith. The person’s tongue must be brought under control of the Holy Spirit. Follow-up ministry is vital in every case. In Latin America more than 90% of people saved in public crusades stay committed to the Lord. In North America, more than 90% of people saved in such crusades fall-away. The reason for Latin American success is this: Most people saved in public meetings in Latin America are given immediate Deliverance Ministry. Demons are cast out, family curses are broken, attitudes are changed. Hands are laid on new converts to be filled with the Holy Spirit. These go home aflame with the power of God. As a result, 25,000 to 30,000 people are converted in Latin America every day and become witnesses to the truth of Jesus Christ! Hallelujah!