The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
I chose this Scripture today after having a long and detailed discussion with a Godly woman that I admire and trust. She initially approached me after a Bible study I attended in which we are studying spiritual warfare. The subject of deliverance has occasionally permeated our discussion group and several women had shared overcoming spiritual and demonic oppression through biblical deliverance sessions, and she wanted to know my opinion and about my experience in this sphere.
Our discussion covered a wide range of topics... from our personal testimonies; my experience with deliverance; to our shared frustration with what she called "Churchiology" and the limitations of denominational doctrine and religiosity; to our different opinions on the contributions of the heroes of the Reformation (she is a staunch Calvinist; I find such man-made doctrine to be stifling). But after digesting our nearly four-hour conversation, I am left a little confused about one of the areas we covered.
First let me say, that the bolder I get about discussing spiritual warfare and the ability of Satan and his demons to afflict the minds, emotions, will, and flesh of Christians, the more astonished I am at the response I get. Most Christians have had it drummed into their heads that "Christians cannot be __________ by a demon."
So how did you fill in that blank? Did you say "afflicted" or "oppressed"; what about "possessed"? Let me make my position perfectly clear. I believe that the spirit of a saved Christian cannot be possessed by a demon. When you receive salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, then "God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6). Our spirit resides with Jesus and we cannot be harmed by Satan. However, while on earth, we still have a soul, which is our flesh, mind, emotions and will. These areas of our life can be tormented and afflicted and oppressed by Satan and his demons. That's why we are warned that Satan "prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8), and that he comes like "a thief to steal, kill and destroy" (John 10:10).
So, back to what I started to say ... the bolder I get about proclaiming these truths, the more I hear from Christians who have experienced demonic attacks ... real physical attacks (a heavy presence on their chests keeping them down) or severe attacks of anxiety or depression; even to the point of hearing thoughts in their heads telling them that God's Word is a lie. My friend was no exception. She had suffered several times in her life as a Christian from what she knew were attacks from the dark side. So let me just say that I have been astonished at the number of Christians who have come out of the shadows, so to speak and -- perhaps for the first time -- dared to speak up about their spiritual battles.
YET, (and this is what continues to amaze me) they still cannot see the merits of engaging in spiritual warfare, claiming their authority in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, and defeating those entities that are crippling their Christian walk. I spent nearly four hours in deep discourse on our Christian sanctification and the process of living in victory in Christ; hearing about her personal struggles against the forces of Satan, and yet she insisted that we must not engage the darkness ... she insisted that we defeat the darkness by turning on the Light [that is Jesus]. Her premise (if my assumption is correct) rested on our need to persevere and endure until God relieves or delivers us from the darkness; that in this process (however long it takes) and by fervent prayer, He will lift us up out of our season of torment into the Light, and our relationship with Him is strengthened.
I can agree with her on one fundamental principle ... it is not by our power or authority that we are delivered, but Christ's! But I cannot agree that we are to take no action other than to pray and persevere; to wait on the Lord to deliver us. I do not believe that we are to be passive Christians when attacked. Christ instructed His Apostles and 70 other faceless, nameless Disciples to go out and in HIS NAME to preach the Gospel, cast out demons and heal the sick. They were men, just like you and me, and He gave them the Authority and Power to defeat the Enemy's attacks.
Obviously, by their own admission, Christians are still under demonic attack. Why are we not implementing the strategy given to us directly by Jesus? He did not tell the Apostles and Disciples to pray away the demons; or to just hunker down and persevere and after a season, He would take away the torment. He showed them, through His own actions, how to fight the spiritual war and then sent them out to do it! Yes, He told them that sometimes they needed to accompany their spiritual strategy with prayer and fasting, but I do not believe He ever intended us to be silent in our suffering.
If I look at only my own small sphere of believing friends, the number of people who confess to demonic attacks has been astounding! So what must the number be among Christians nationwide? But if none of them know how to actively fight the Enemy in the name of Jesus, then no wonder the Church is so ineffective in living victorious lives or being able to witness to unbelievers and bring them into the Light of Jesus's saving grace! Why would any suffering unbeliever turn to the Church for deliverance and freedom from satan's demonic attacks? We can't even deliver ourselves!
And in case you haven't noticed, the darkness is growing across our land. But, at the same time, a remnant of God's chosen are discovering that through Jesus's Name, we have power and authority to battle the Enemy. We are actively in the fight and reclaiming territory. The darkness is not only being engaged in the spiritual realms, but it is being turned back to let the Light shine into lives that were once defeated and lost. When we can show unbelievers the authority and power of Christ to fight and defeat their enemies, they are more open to the Light of the Gospel message. Go back and read the Scriptures ... isn't that exactly what Jesus was doing?