Are Demons Real?

Dear Friends,

Long ago I gave up trying to be young and handsome but there was a time in my life about twenty years ago when I went to a gym on a regular basis. This was a popular health club for both men and women and that afternoon I was in a large room of workout machines. It was a light day and I’m the only one working my way around the room on the various machines. I’m about halfway through when a beautiful woman enters and starts her workout on the machine by the door. She’s about my age - early forties - or a little younger and has one of those perfect, gym-toned bodies. I looked but then, as a good Christian husband, I looked away. Okay, I did also see that she was wearing a very small tank top and she had fresh, brightly-colored tattoos on the arm that was nearest to me. There was one tattoo that looked like the face of a woman with long-flowing blonde hair.

I’m trying hard to ignore her and stay focused on my workout but the machines are arranged in a circle, so that as we are going around the room, she is constantly in my line of vision. I notice that every time I look up, she is staring at me. When our glances meet she smiles but it’s more than a smile and the problem is this: I’m trying to be a good Christian. I’m a committed married man. I’m a pastor. But the honest truth is that it’s difficult for any man under the age of hundred to completely ignore a gorgeous woman starring at him in an enticing manner. So I’m getting these uncomfortable guy-type thoughts in my head and I’m thinking it sure is getting hot in this room and I need to cut short my workout and leave.
As I’m thinking that, she stood up, but instead of moving to the next machine, she starts walking toward me. I’m on a weight machine bench where I’m half sitting and half laying on my back. My legs are moving weights up and down and my arms are pulling down a bar with weights. As she gets closer, the smile on her face is getting bigger and it feels like her eyes are boring right into mine.

I suddenly have a strong feeling that something is not spiritually right with her. The closer she’s getting, the more I’m feeling as if the Holy Spirit is putting me on full alert. She moves to take the machine next to me. She’s now standing directly over me. She looks down at me as she opens her mouth to speak. Instantly, her smile disappears.

Her eyes now blaze with hatred. Her once beautiful features contort into a horrible and ugly sneer. What comes out of her deformed mouth sounds like a guttural snarl. She spins around to stomp out of the room and that was when I saw the tattoos across her shoulders - symbols that I later found out were Wiccan. As she walked away, I could see that on her back was a large tattoo of a pentagram in a circle. I also later found out the tattoo of the blonde woman was a goddess. This woman was a Wiccan or a Satanist and she made a low growling sound in her throat as she rushed out of the room.

When you are God’s property, 
you are Satan’s enemy.

I later realized that her enticing behavior was from what the Bible calls a “Jezebel” spirit. It wasn’t until she was close enough to stand over me that she had been able to see what was printed on my tee shirt. (I was wearing the shirt you see in the photo). And by her instant, uncontrolled reaction it was apparent that one of the demons that possessed her had manifested itself.

I’m thankful that God has allowed experiences like this because it’s hard to ignore the reality of demonic powers when you’re confronted by an ugly, snarling demon at the health club. And, what God clearly showed me that day was that when you are God’s property, you are Satan’s enemy.

Dr Charles Stanley is not your typical impassioned deliverance minister. He’s a Bible scholar who wears a bow tie.  Stanley has said: “Every morning when you and I wake up, we are at war. Many believers simply fail to take this reality seriously. When we talk about spiritual warfare, however, we must remember that each day, we live in the midst of a real, personal battle that we must fight. Failure to recognize this vital truth results in painful defeat time and time again. Dedicated Christians feel confused and downtrodden because they don’t understand why they continue to experience failures in their spiritual lives. Just when they think they have something conquered, it rises back up to defeat them.”

Does hearing about the Devil and demons make you feel uncomfortable? If so, you’re in good company. Most people don’t want to hear about evil. We want to read and hear light-hearted, feel-good stories that bring happiness into our lives. Too many churches have focused on only preaching up-lifting, motivational messages and their congregations do not hear what the Bible has to say about spiritual struggles and the reality of evil. Many believe that Satan is only a symbol of evil, and only a slim margin of Christians believe that Satan is real and you can be possessed by demons. But God’s Word mentions the very real existence of “Satan” or the “Devil” eighty-one times and the existence of demons or unclean spirits seventy-seven times. By my count, Jesus refers to the spirit-being called Satan seven  times. Jesus says that the Devil exists and that’s proof enough for me.

Evil operates most effectively 
when it is operating covertly

It’s important for Christians to really understand what the Bible says about Satan and the demonic realm,  because the most effective tool the Enemy has in ruling the world is deception. The Bible says that Satan is the father of all lies and he is a master at illusion. The Devil’s ability to work without resistance in today’s culture is because people just don’t know that he’s there. That’s why the Destroyer has been able to so rapidly increase persecution against Christians in our country. Evil operates most effectively when it is operating covertly.  

If Islamic terrorists had to wear a sign that said “DANGER – SUICIDE BOMBER – STAY BACK 90 FEET,” they wouldn’t be very effective. Terrorists are only effective when they look, sound and act normal. Evil only works when it blends in, becomes “invisible” and people are unaware of its existence. 

So when about half of all Americans don’t believe that Satan exists, that’s a huge victory for him. Satan’s greatest deception is to create disbelief in himself. Derek Prince has said that, “..demons exercise a continuous and powerful influence on our lives, but our humanistic prejudice has blinded us to the evidence. In fact, it’s our refusal to acknowledge the evidence that makes it easy for demons to operate undetected.”

The Bible tells us that we are in a continuous struggle against the Prince of Darkness and his demons and that daily struggle affects our everyday physical realm. “..we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

We humans constantly find ourselves wrestling with temptations, illness and misfortunes. But when we resist temptation, we are resisting the Tempter. When we refuse to live deceptive lives, we refuse the Deceiver’s lies. When we pray against accidents, illness, injuries, disease, calamity and destruction, we are praying against the Devil. When we pray for protection against harm and danger for ourselves, friends and loved ones, we authoritatively take a stand against the Devil’s works. And then we must make absolutely certain that we do nothing that will give place to evil spirits. One of the strongest gateways for the Evil one is when we immerse ourselves in the occult and voluntarily enter into the Devil’s world of darkness.

Fifteen year old Ethan Boldizsar was possessed by demons. His mother Eva had been fired after exhibiting some very troubling behavior at work and her co-workers had become concerned about her. Because of things she had said, they suspected that there was something strange happening in her home and they were afraid for her. I was asked, as a pastor, to go to the house and talk with the mother and son. I agreed and took along one of Eva’s former co-workers - a Christian woman.

I knew we were going to be dealing with something spiritual. We had prepared by praying and fasting. I was filled with confidence that we were going to help this woman. And then... 

Walking up the steps to this house was like walking into a cloud of darkness. I started to feel dizzy and stepping onto the porch became a physical effort. My legs felt heavy. It felt like I was walking up against a force that was trying to push me back. My confidence was immediately replaced with a feeling of apprehension. I started praying. Eva opened the door before we could knock on it.

The living room was dark. Filled with photographs, dried plants, scarves draped over large overstuffed furniture. Strange little boxes with indecipherable writing. Statues of little animals that appeared to be carved out of bone. Oddly shaped silver objects. The air was heavy. Oppressive. It was hard to breathe in there. Eva brought in her son, Ethan, and when he walked into the room, I could feel an intense dark force enter with him. I asked him how he was doing. He didn’t answer and just stared at me. His body tense. His face expressionless. His eyes glazed over and lifeless. Eva became flustered and told him to go and play in the garage. When he left, she told me he often gets like that.  

I asked her about the dozens of old black and white framed pictures of her ancestors and I learned that she was descended from a long line of fortune-telling, spiritualist Hungarian gypsies. The scarves, silver statues and other objects in the room had been used by her mother to contact dead spirits. That explained the suffocating darkness. This place was a stronghold for the demonic.

You can’t cast out demons 
that have a legal right to be there.

I felt an evil force coming from behind a closed door and asked Eva what was behind the door. She told me that was Ethan’s bedroom. Eva’s mother and father had owned this house and that had been their bedroom. While lying in bed, her mother put a gun in her mouth and pulled the trigger. A month later, Eva’s father lay in the same bed and used the same gun. The day her father shot himself, Eva was at work and Ethan was home. She came home to find Ethan in bed cuddling the body of his dead grandfather and talking to him. 

The day after his grandfather’s suicide, Ethan changed rooms so that he could sleep in his grandparent’s bed. Ethan insisted on keeping the door shut at all times and didn’t allow his mother in that room. Bone fragments from both grandparents were embedded in the drywall next to the bed. Ethan wanted to keep the room exactly like it was when they died so that their spirits wouldn’t leave and he could still talk with them.

There was nothing I could do. The demons had a generational license to be there. The Evil one had owned that gypsy family for generations and their occult activities had given permission to the demons to possess that house. You can’t cast out demons that have a legal right to be there.  

Words cannot express how happy I was to finally leave that day. Two weeks later, and much to my dismay, God wanted me to go back. After more prayer and fasting, I did. This time, we sat outside in her front yard because I knew that the demonic stronghold had only the right to possess the house itself. I needed to talk to Eva about something without the demonic interference. Away from the demons, I spoke to her about Jesus. I told her that a demon spirit of suicide was in her family and only Jesus could break that curse. We talked for a long time and she did pray to accept Jesus as Lord and Savor that afternoon. Hope was now invading the darkness. God had accomplished through me what He had sent me there to do.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, 
you are owned by God. 
That means you are possessed by God.

I tell this story because we need to understand what demon possession actually looks like. I’ve been asked by too many Christians if they are “possessed” by demons. Absolutely not! If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are owned by God. That means you are possessed by God. God has legal right to your spirit. You belong to Him. You are God’s Property! When you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit comes and takes up residence in your spirit. Christians cannot be possessed by demons but we can be oppressed. We can be harassed, hounded and tormented by demons as they exert outside pressure on us. That’s why we need to develop our spiritual discernment in order to be able to quickly identify evil.

The city I used to work for has a police shooting range hidden up in the Verdugo Mountains. We built a concrete-block “simulation house” and lined the interior walls with a special thick, self-sealing rubber material. When you fire a bullet into it, the material absorbs the bullet but it can’t penetrate the concrete walls. When the officer goes through the different rooms to search for the bad guys, they come across life-sized cardboard cutouts of people. In one room, they may come across a cardboard figure of a pretty woman holding a gun to a child’s head or it may be a life-sized cardboard figure of a rough-looking man holding a small hair dryer to a child’s head. In a split second, the officer needs to recognize the enemy and take action. 

When it comes to the events that are occurring moment to moment in our own lives, so do we. When we don’t discern the working of the Evil one in our life, he will smack us down every time. That’s why we need to recognize the enemy and take action!

Jesus said, “ Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33  Christians are not exempt from tribulation but in fact are especially subject to it. And the word Jesus used, “tribulation,” means a crushing pressure from evil. Jesus is not saying you’re going to have a few tough times, He’s saying that you will be continually battling against crushing attacks by the evil ones.

Did you know that we are often the ones who fuel that daily battle with the demons because we continually arm the Devil with the weapons he uses against us? And the Enemy’s weapon of choice is our very own penchant to sin. It is our unrepentant and continued sins that are the primary cause of our inability to live the fullness of life in God’s presence. And it is also our continued sinful behavior that can result in entryways that demons can use to harass us or attach themselves to us. Read Ephesians 4:25-32 keeping in mind that not heeding Paul’s warnings will give “place to the devil” and provide the Evil one with ammunition for him to use against you.

What are some “entryways” or “gateways?” Even casual participation in the Occult can be spiritually dangerous. “Games” like Charlie Charlie, Ouija boards, Astrology, Horoscope (fortune telling), Séances and contacting dead spirits are the Devil’s favorite gateways. That’s why the Bible says, “ not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead.” Deut 18:10-11 (NLT) 

Other entryways may be Hallucinogenic Drugs, Video Games, Movies, or Television Shows. It may be Sexual Impurity such as pornography. It may be the “Art” objects in our home. I was in the home of a “Christian” who collected African masks used in voodoo rituals. What you display in your home is a strong indicator of what you worship. Gateways may even be what appears to be “safe” for us. It may even be our Exercise Program! 

For example, Tai Chi and Yoga are from Eastern religions and both achieve a state of realizing your personal deity which resides within you and then aligning your god with the universe. In Tai Chi, the “Chi” is the binding life force in the universe that moves through the invisible channels in the body. Tai Chi movements realign your vital internal energy to allow your god within to form an alliance with the gods of the universe.

Yoga is a spiritual practice that originated in India. Eastern religions teach that Yoga practices and body postures originated with the rituals of human fire sacrifice conducted by the ancient Vedic priests. Today, Yoga is a ritual used by both Hindus and Buddhists, the purpose of which is a union of your finite self with your infinite self called your Brahman which is the concept of the universal life force. The postures and breathing exercises were developed many centuries ago to unite your body, soul and spirit with the spirit deity called Brahman. This is why so many Christian parents today are fighting against the practice of Yoga in our Nation’s secular schools.

Have you given the Devil entryways that allowed him to gain a foothold in your life? You may want to slam those doors closed! Recognize the Enemy working in your life and take action. God showers us with his grace and mercy but that doesn’t mean that we get a free pass to engage in unrestrained and unrepentant sin. 

We are saved through Christ alone by faith alone. 
The evidence of our salvation
is our good works and changed life.

I used to work with a woman who was an on-fire for God, Bible-thumping, holy-roller, baptized-in-the-Holy Spirit believer. She loved to talk about Jesus and witness to her co-workers. She’d come to my office and we’d always talk about our faith. Her entire countenance lit up every time we talked about Jesus. She truly loved the Lord! But there had always been an undercurrent of negativity, resentment and unforgiveness that she had held on to. Now, to the dismay of her co-workers and manager, she was becoming increasingly negative and nasty at work. 

Then one day I asked her how life was going and was surprised that her negativity had taken on an even darker tone. She began an obscenity-filled rant about how bad her life was. Even her face looked different that day. The next month, we saw each other walking through the plaza. I smiled and waved. She turned away and avoided me by climbing up a grassy embankment so that she wouldn’t have to pass by me. I emailed her and asked what was going on. Her reply was: “The only thing you and I talk about is God and Jesus and I am so done with that.” This was a woman who had been saved for over 30 years and had been a worship leader for many years at her church! She wrote: “I am over the Jesus phase of my life. You’re probably going to want to email me or talk to me about this but don’t.”   

I’d been friends with her and her husband for fifteen years and she considered me to be her pastor. The next day I tried to pray for her and my mind was a blank. As I struggled to find words to pray, I heard the voice of God tell me, “No.” Immediately, the burden I had to pray for her was gone and I felt a release in my spirit. I’d always felt a spiritual responsibility for her and her family and now that too was gone. Had she crossed a spiritual line? Was she lost? “But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it.” 1 John 5:16 (NLT)

What happened? I believe that through habitual, continued and unrepentant sin, the Devil was given a legitimate foothold in her life. Tragically, her once strong faith eroded to the point of rejecting God. The ultimate sin. We know that when God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, the Devil cannot touch them. But we must remain diligent because the world around us is under the control of the Evil one. 1 John 5:18-19 (NLT) 

That scripture, along with others, tells us that by avoiding habitual sins, we remove ourselves from the reach of the Devil. But our continued and unrepentant practice of sin invites the wicked one to attach himself to us and that’s why demons are relentless in their harassment of believers. They want us back! Satan has a plan for your life – to steal your faith, kill your soul and destroy your relationship with God. John 10:10 And always remember that the devil does his best work in covert darkness. The demons love it when we are ignoring their existence and whining about how bad our life is.

We don’t give in 
to the powers of darkness! 
We fight, wrestle, battle 
and contend against the Enemy in prayer. 
This is Spiritual Warfare!

Remember what Dr. Charles Stanley said, “Each day, we live in the midst of a real, personal battle that we must fight.”  We need to become warriors! Here are the six steps you can take to fight that real and personal battle.

1. Affirm Your Faith in Jesus Christ. If you are not an authentic, born-again believer, you have no authority over the demonic. Read Acts 19:13-16.

2. Submit to God. Ephesians 6:10 says that when we go into spiritual battle, we need to be strong in the Lord with His power. We can’t fight this battle with our own earthly strength. The power of God is not available if we keep Him on the sidelines and we remain proudly in control of our own lives.

3. Confess and Repent. Those habitual, continued and unrepentant sins provide an open entryway for the devil to worm his way into our lives.

4. Forgive Others. You will continue to struggle without the forgiveness of God. If you don’t forgive others, God will not forgive you. Jesus made this clear in Mark 11:26. There’s no getting around it.

5. Renounce Occult Involvement and All False Religion. If you are being harassed and oppressed by the Enemy, go to Steps to Freedom In Christ for how to release the Devil’s hold on you. This is a critical step. You will remain in bondage until you renounce any and all occult involvement.

6. Renounce the Enemy! Take a firm stance. Take up the battle. God is already on your side. James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Parting Thoughts:
We are currently in a season of very strategic and intense times in the church and in our Nation today. There is a battle against the rulers of the darkness of this age, and against spiritual hosts of wickedness. This is nothing new. Paul tells Timothy. “But you, O man of God, flee (evil) things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith..” 1 Timothy 6:11-12 

The Greek word translated as “fight” means to contend with as in battle. We don’t give in to the powers of darkness! We fight, wrestle, battle and contend against the Enemy in prayer. This is Spiritual Warfare! We claim our authority through Christ and when we pray against Satan’s works in the name of Jesus, we have confidence that the Holy Spirit will give us victories against the Enemy. 

Until the Devil and his forces are forever bound in Hell, we will continue to struggle against the Enemy of this world. And we confidently do so knowing the One who already has the victory. “For this purpose the Son of Man was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the Devil.” 1 John 3:8  That’s the good news!

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