Authority Over Demons
And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
"Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
"Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:17-20 NKJV).
Christians have been given authority over demons, yet very few even understand it, much less use it. There are even sincere Christians who believe that demons or the devil do not really exist, but are metaphors for serious human problems. Though one does not have to believe in the devil to be saved, such beliefs which are in direct conflict with the Scriptures have to be one of the devil's most effective deceptions. The devil dwells in darkness or hiddenness. If he can make Christians believe that he does not exist, he has certainly been successful at hiding himself.
Other Christians believe that demons existed in biblical times, but think that they just disappeared somehow after the first century. Others think they are still here, but are all in Africa or the South American jungles. Still others think that they are not only still here, but have been having babies and multiplying since the first century! These tend to see demons behind everything. What is the truth about this, and how can knowing the truth affect our lives?
As is often the case, the truth is found between the extremes. Demonic forces are a much bigger problem than many suppose, and the ignorance of those who do not know how they operate or the authority we have been given over them, are far more vulnerable to the schemes of the devil. Of course, there are some who go too far, believing that the devil or demons are the cause of every human problem. It is going to be increasingly important for us to understand this issue and walk in the authority we have been given over the powers of evil.
True spiritual authority comes from abiding in the King. We have authority "in His name," which implies that we have His authority when we are on a mission for Him. There is a general assignment that we all have as Christians, which gives us general authority in that area. There are also specific assignments that we are given individually or as groups which give us more specific authority in areas. There is a reason why the Lord told His followers that He was sending them out to heal the sick and cast out devils. When you are sent out by Him to do His work, you will stir up the evil one and you will need to deal with him.
Even though we would do well to spend much more time seeking to understand the Lord and His ways than the devil and his ways, we are commanded not to be ignorant of the devil's schemes. Those who are ignorant of them are going to be paying an increasingly high price for that ignorance. We must know and learn to use the authority that we have over the powers of evil.
The discerning know that we have as serious a demonic problem in the West as anywhere else in the world. Some forms of civilization enable demonic forces to be more easily disguised. Some demonic forces are simply more socially acceptable, but the good side of the Tree of Knowledge is just as deadly as the evil side. In relation to demonic powers, this means that seemingly "nice" demons, or to use the biblical term, "angels of light" (see II Corinthians 11:14), that are in fact fallen angels, are just as evil, and result in just as much bondage and death.
When an angel of light is de-masked, it will show itself as hideously evil and cruel as any released by the witchcraft practiced by even the most uncivilized tribes in the Southern hemispheres. This is what the world found out through Nazi Germany, one of the most cultured and civilized nations in the world when it fell under the spell of the Nazis. Even Winston Churchill stated that had Hitler died before 1938 he would have been considered one of the greatest leaders in world history because of all that he had accomplished in rebuilding Germany. But the true nature of this diabolical leader was revealed, and many today still have trouble believing such a brilliant and cultured people as the Germans could have fallen to such depravity. The truth is that the same thing could happen at almost any time to any nation that remains ignorant of the enemy's schemes.
What does this have to do with us now? In 1990, several prophetic friends and myself all received the same revelation that the very demonic powers that had seduced Germany had been sent to the United States to seduce our country. Because of this revelation, I have spent a considerable amount of time trying to understand what happened in Nazi Germany. I have been astonished by what I have learned and how true this revelation was. I will be writing a lot about this in the future, but it is my basic belief that when we are shown the schemes of the enemy, it is so we can thwart them. This will not be done just by writing articles or books. The church must begin to walk in the authority that we have been given over demonic forces on every level.
There is another great awakening coming to America. It is right at the door. With this outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the disguises of the evil one which are gripping so many in America and Europe, are going to be stripped away. As we read in the Book of Revelation, when the devil was cast out of heaven, his high place, he came to the earth with great wrath. This is going to stir up a lot of things we need to be prepared to deal with.
A Lesson From Katrina
Katrina means "cleansing" or "to cleanse," and this hurricane was named right. It began a great spiritual cleansing of the Gulf Coast region. Though New Orleans has become known as "sin city" to many, we should not overlook that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region have some great Christians, great churches, many great businesses, and great communities. We do tend to judge people and things by their most extreme elements, which is a basic deception. Even so, though they themselves may still have a hard time understanding it, Katrina was the answer to the prayers of many Christians to clean up their region.
Though there were many upstanding people and churches there, New Orleans was a center for the occult and sexual perversion. When the people were scattered from New Orleans, there were reports of crime rising dramatically in places where the refugees went. Suddenly, there was an almost instant increase in demonic assaults on churches and church members. We ourselves had things happen that we had never experienced before, and it got our attention when those who were causing the problems were from New Orleans.
Some of those causing problems may have been involved in that kind of behavior before, but not necessarily. One basic thing we must learn about the schemes of the devil is that he uses traumatic experiences to gain entry into people's lives. Traumatized people do things that they would not normally do. Traumatized people can be much more open and subject to demonic control. As trauma increases around the world, this is something we must come to understand, and know how to take authority over.
We need to also keep in mind that after the people were scattered from New Orleans, many communities were blessed with great people who quickly became a blessing instead of a burden. This disaster brought out the best in some and the worst in others. That is what we can expect in every catastrophe. We need to also understand that those who may be temporarily overcome with evil are not really that way, and will not be that way for very long. We need to learn to overcome evil with good.
Even so, I know many felt that the devil had sent those with serious problems to attack their churches and people, and in fact the devil himself may have felt that he was doing this, but the Lord was sending them to us to get set free. Some of those who may at first behave very badly can become some of the best neighbors and church members. However, we do need to know how to set them free from the things that may have a grip on them when they come.
The Lord's Best Friends
Here is the shocker—some of those who had the biggest problems, and maybe even were the most perverted, were sent to us to become pillars in our churches. Who was it that gathered around the Lord when He walked the earth, and who did He choose to be the future leaders of His church? He has not changed, and He is still building His church with the same kind of people.
The truly wise and experienced are more comfortable around those who are in the grip of demonic oppression than around those with a self-righteous religious spirit. The demonically-oppressed are probably much safer to be around spiritually and have in our churches than someone with a religious spirit. The demon-possessed would fall down at Jesus' feet and beg for mercy, but the religious crucified Him. Those who were set free from their bondage, and who were forgiven of much tended to love Him much. Likewise, those who were forgiven of little, tended to love Him little.
The people who come to us with serious problems, even demonic problems, can be far more beneficial to us and our churches in the long run than the prosperous, conservative, mature believers, who we usually tend to put our hope in. It will be the conservative and mature who are the most prone to become lukewarm, and then they are a much more serious problem than those who are presently cold toward the Lord.
Of course, this does not mean that those who are conservative and mature are all lukewarm. There are conservative, mature Christians who maintain their passion and fire for the Lord their entire lives, and can be pillars in the church. However, this is rare. This is why studies have shown that 98 percent of the Christians who lead others to the Lord do so in the first two years of their Christian walk. After two years in the faith, the overwhelming majority of Christians do not lead anyone else to the Lord. This is because after a couple of years most Christians begin losing their passion for the Lord, and therefore lose their passion for the lost that He gave His life to save.
Our goal should be maturity without losing the fire. However, the mature who are repelled by those in darkness instead of being devoted to liberating them are a worse enemy of the Gospel than those in blatant sin. Lukewarmness is the worst state that any Christian could ever fall into, and even the Lord said that it would be better for one to be hot or cold, but the lukewarm He would spew out of His mouth (see Revelation 3:15-16). New believers coming into our churches, especially those who have been delivered out of great darkness, can help to stir up the fires again in a way that no amount of preaching and teaching can.
Buy Low, Sell High
We invest ourselves in people. If you want a good return on your investment with people, like any other investment, buy low and sell high. If you give yourself to helping those who are down, they will be your friends for life, but when you give yourself to someone who is already doing well, what reward should you expect for that?
Consider King David and his mighty men. The disgruntled, in debt, and other misfits were the ones who joined him when he was fleeing from Saul. However, these became the mighty men of Israel, the key leaders in the kingdom, and the king's friends for life, who loved David so much that some of them would even risk their lives just to get him a drink of water.
It is our basic mandate to help set the captives free. This is what we do. This is not just about investing in those who can benefit us or our churches, but for those whom the Lord so valued that He paid the highest price that could be paid for them—His own Son. Whether we even see a person again or not, we should treat them as this valuable.
Those in the grip of demonic bondage are loved so much by God that He gave His own Son for them, and these are the ones who will tend to love Him the most when they are set free. We must not see these people as problems sent to us by the devil, but as treasures sent to us by the Lord. When converted and set free, these will also tend to be the most faithful and fruitful.
Therefore, we need to view the situation, such as the many from New Orleans who had serious problems being scattered abroad, as an opportunity if they come to us. However, if we do not know our authority over demonic powers and use it, we are going to be in for some difficult times ahead.
Every Christian has authority over demons. No Christian should be intimidated by demons or demon-possessed people. If we run from this calling to set the captives free, we will soon be running all of the time. If this is something you do not want to get involved in, and have resolved not to, you may as well change this mindset now because you will not escape the confrontation with demonic powers for much longer.
Give Them Their Weapons
The newest Christian who has been given the Holy Spirit has more power and more spiritual authority in them than all of the power of the enemy. We have been given divinely powerful weapons. However, few understand them and few have been equipped to use them. This must change. Those who do not understand and walk in this authority, and know how to use these divinely powerful weapons, will find themselves in increasingly difficult situations, and even jeopardy. The Lord gave us the armor and the weapons of our warfare because we need them.
Equipping comes after training. Training comes after teaching. Soldiers have to be taught about their weapons and then trained to use them before they are trusted with them. In general, the church has been stuck in the teaching mode, and we must go on to training and then equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry.