“So, Dan, how are you feeling?”
“Lousy, Paul,” I said. “I’m disturbed. Distraught. Something in me is not right.”
Yes, I was feeling absolutely lousy. Then, I went over a brief history of what had happened during the last few days. I told Paul how I had been praying, and feeling like a failure. I could not actually place my hand on the actual failure, so had to carefully go through how I was feeling. I was very cautious because I did not want to grieve the Holy Spirit.
I said, “There’s already a problem. I know I’m not a failure in God’s eyes. I know God loves me. But I’m confessing the wrong things. I know that means there’s deception in there somewhere. Deception means I don’t even know what the problem is. I’m not diagnosing it properly. I’ll go over some details with you, but I don’t want to say too much, because I’m sure I’ll grieve the Holy Spirit. My diagnosis is probably not even right.”
So that is how the conversation went with Paul and myself.
Later, after the problem was truly solved, Paul said to me, “You sounded awful.” Yes, I did sound awful. I was awful. As to how the problem actually started, it was that in a moment of weakness (perhaps I was feeling physically or emotionally weak, discouraged, or frustrated), I was “reminded” of my past failures.
Of course, you know who’s good at doing that, don’t you? That’s right, Satan. He’s called the “accuser of the brethren.” The Bible says that he stands before God “day and night” accusing the brethren (followers of God) before God (see Revelation 12:10).
The Accuser of the Brethren
Satan’s goal is to accuse the brethren to God, and also to themselves. Satan will put accusing thoughts inside the minds of Christians, in order to bring them down (see 2 Corinthians 10:4-5). This battle is very real. It is a battle for the mind. Satan or one of his demons indeed have access to the minds of people. They can put thoughts into them. They cannot, however, read them.
If demons could kill you, of course, they would. But since they cannot do that, they want to get you to harm yourself by way of accusing thoughts. They want you to dwell on them and to mull them over. They want to drive you to the point of ineffectiveness in God’s kingdom.
The accusing method works very well with demons. They have done it many times. It is one of their chief means of “gaining success” (a perverted kind of success). Depression, anxiety, fear, and many other shortcomings and sins can indeed originate with Satan’s accusing thoughts.
You might have thought it was all about what you did in the past — that is, your actual failure. But the good news is that God is greater than your failure! The Bible puts it this way:
“The law came in besides, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace abounded more exceedingly.” (Romans 5:20)
That last part might be translated as follows:
Even if you do very poorly (sin), God can “overrule” that and produce something utterly amazing in the end! (No credit to your sin, of course.)
This “theme” has been repeated many times. David sinned with Bathsheba. God produced Solomon through Bathsheba and even if you think Solomon was not that impressive of a person, his later descendant was: Jesus Christ.
Or, how about Rahab the harlot? Jesus Christ also came through her lineage (see Joshua 6:25, Matthew 1:5, Hebrews 11:31).
What about Simon Peter, who denied Jesus three times? (He dropped the ball on that one.) Later, Jesus completely restored him and today, we do not think of Simon Peter as a failure. But he did fail at that point in time. Praise God for God’s ability to bring about complete restoration. As it says in the Bible,
“for a righteous man falls seven times, and rises up again; but the wicked are overthrown by calamity.” (Proverbs 24:16)
Both the righteous and wicked stumbled, but the righteous person got back up!
So, as for these “condemning thoughts,” they are really an attempt by demons to prevent you from moving forward and claiming your prize in Christ Jesus.
“Don’t you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win.” (1 Corinthians 9:24)
This passage is not telling us that there is only one prize. What it is telling us is that there is a way to run so that we can receive the prize. There is indeed a prize for each person who runs that race with perseverance. So if you stumble, get back up!
The Importance of Perseverance
The prize is not given to the person who has never sinned, for the Bible tells us we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s perfect standards (see Romans 3:23, James 3:2, 1 John 1:8). The prize is, however, given to the one who perseveres.
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)
The Bible talks a lot about perseverance. The Bible never says “you lose” if you make a mistake. The glory of the cross is that in Christ Jesus, God is able to redeem our sinfulness and bring about utter glory through the experience.
There are many who do not preach this, however. They preach perfection. They say if you err, you are doomed. The fact is, God knew in advance what you would do that would get you into this mess, and you are not doomed unless you refuse to change. If you keep on willfully sinning, yes, you will have a problem (see Hebrews 10:26-31).
God’s offer of salvation and redemption — a word which relates to “getting back” that which has been stolen because through sin the devil “stole” you and made you his prize — is open to all who will receive it. None are exempt unless they exempt themselves. You exempt yourself by refusing to believe that God is able to take your past and turn it into something remarkable for His glory. The Bible says,
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Do you believe that? If you believe that, then God will bless you. God does not want you to be bound by your past.
I felt utterly miserable, but my problem was not actually solved until later, when Paul and I met at a home group for fellowship. Something (I believe it was the Holy Spirit) was telling me to “be” at that home meeting, so I went. I did not want to miss it. I did not go for myself. I went for the sake of others. God seemed to be saying to me, “This is where you need to be. This is where I want you to be. I have opened this window of opportunity for you.” Thus, I grabbed it. I went to the home meeting.
Steps to Infiltration and Freedom
The home meeting was good. And small. And cozy. There were six people there, including myself. At a certain point during the prayer time, I prayed for another person. Yes, I was there for the other person, whom I was praying for. But something happened. You might say, I had a “Job experience.”
In the book of Job, we read,
“Yahweh turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends. Yahweh gave Job twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10)
Hum… You mean that God might actually bless a person as a result of praying for another person?
As I was praying, I sneezed twice and two demonic spirits suddenly departed from me.
Then that burden I had been feeling earlier was gone. For the power of the deception that I had embraced — the demonic deception of failure, which had said, “You are nothing. You are a failure, on account of your past sin” — the power of that deception was suddenly broken!
Notice the progression.
1. In a moment of weakness, we are reminded of our failure.
2. We embrace the failure and start to worry about it, trying in our “flesh” to somehow “make up” or “atone” for our failure. We fail to recognize that God is well able to use that failure for His glory. For example, David committed adultery with Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 11:2-4). However, later, Jesus Christ would come through the line of David’s union with Bathsheba, whom David married after he himself had Bathsheba’s husband killed (see 2 Samuel 11:14-17, Matthew 1:6)! What David did was wrong, but God turned the curse into a blessing. God can also do that in our own lives. He can take that which seems very ugly (and it might indeed be ugly), and turn it around for the better. We must allow Him to do that.
3. By repeatedly embracing the failure, we make an opening for demons to indwell us. Yes, demonic spirits can indwell mortal flesh. They cannot touch the place where the Holy Spirit dwells in Christians (which is their spirit), but they can indwell their flesh (their soul and body).
I do not exactly know where those two spirits were, but they were lodged in me somewhere, and were making a deep impression upon me. But at the right moment, after I had suffered a little while (see 1 Peter 5:10), and learned the lesson of what it means to “wallow” in a sense of failure (rather than appropriating God’s forgiveness for my sins), and as I prayed for another person, God released me right then and there.
(Note that deliverance from demons is always by the Holy Spirit; so it was the Holy Spirit who cast them out. Christians can aid in this process by actually commanding demons to flee, but in many cases where a root of unforgiveness exists, for example, the demons will not flee at all, but remain there even though you command them at length. When deliverance from demons does occur, often the Christian does not even know that they had a demon, and the demon is cast out by the Holy Spirit before they would even have a chance to cast it out themselves. This was true in this case.)
4. Those two demons were forced to leave, because the Holy Spirit expelled them. They had no choice at that point in time, because at that point in time, I was fully obedient to God. What does this tell us? This tells us that God wanted me at that prayer meeting. And thus the reason that many people are not delivered of evil spirits, who wallow in things like depression, anxiety, bitterness, and unforgiveness (all of which may be enhanced by evil spirits) is because they are not attending prayer meetings or home meetings (where prayer to the living God happens).
Is it really that serious not to attend a prayer meeting? I’m certainly not saying you will have this experience at every prayer meeting. Yet if you find the right prayer meeting or Christian fellowship group, and are willing to persevere in it, then I believe God will surely bless you. He certainly wants to. In many cases, you do not even need to know “much” about evil spirits to be delivered of them. But you do need to be serious with God. Get involved in a home group, where God can (and will) bless you.
How Many Demons Are There?
Are demons really that common? Perhaps I am just an anomaly? The actual fact is that I’m not. I’m just a regular individual. I am someone who seeks to do his best, but who does not always succeed at fully abiding in Christ. I certainly “lost it” when I started to dwell on past failures.
On the other hand, maybe God did want to show me something in the midst of it, and that would be how bad sin is. Sin is so bad that it gives demons access. You do not want demons to dwell in you, do you? You might even take those things to bed with you. That will greatly affect your relationships, your work, your mental state, your emotional well-being, etc.
We are living in a spiritual world. The spiritual component is unseen. You cannot normally see angels and demons, but it does not mean they do not exist. They surely do exist. On the cross, Jesus said that if He wanted to, He could appeal to His Father in Heaven and He would send twelve legions of angels to rescue Him (see Matthew 26:53). How many is that? Estimates vary on how large a legion was, with some saying approximately 5000 soldiers. In the book of Revelation, it talks about “myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands” of angels (see Revelation 5:11). A myriad itself is believed to be ten thousand, so it would appear that the lowest number of angels being represented here would be, at the very least, 100 million angels (since 10,000 times 10,000 is 100 million). The number could be in the billions and greater. According to Revelation 12:4, one third of these are demons (which are fallen angels).
There are therefore plenty of demons on the earth. Their desire is to indwell people. Luke 11:24-26 teaches this very thing, that there is indeed a surplus of demons, and their desire is to indwell people. They may indeed “get in” if we fail to abide in Christ.
The Importance of Small Fellowship Groups
One way to protect yourself is to regularly attend a godly home group or prayer meeting. The people there may not always understand how demons work, but it does not mean God cannot use that home group to bless you considerably.
God can use home groups, and people, who do not have a complete understanding of these things, but if they do, so much the better. Nevertheless, in my own experience, I have seen that God can and will still use a home group to bless you.
Get involved in one in which they honor God, His word, and the many gifts that He has given to His people. There are many areas of God to be explored, and not everyone understands everything there is to know, but the more they do know, the better off you will generally be. Make sure the following three things are present in that home group, and it will be a great start: (1) Acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, (2) A desire to know and grow in God, (3) Love.
Get Involved and Receive Blessings
Are you hurt, lonely, anxious, fearful, depressed, or confused? Are you in need of healing or restoration, physically, relationally, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually? Then it’s time to get involved in a good home group.
Do you have any needs? Do you have needs of comfort? Relationship? Provision? Direction? Do you need hope or encouragement? Do you need love and acceptance? Do you have a need for stability? Home groups may not offer you all of the answers immediately, but good ones will provide an atmosphere of love based on what Jesus did in dying for us on the cross, in which you can start to get some of these needs met. You will be amazed at what God can and will do through them.
After reading this, you just might conclude that home groups (or small groups) are a critical component of the Christian life. They certainly can be a means which God uses. If a home group provides an atmosphere that honors Jesus Christ as Lord, and seeks to uphold His word at all times, then that is certainly the type of environment that you can expect blessings to flow through, and God will indeed bless you as you persevere. Try it out for a few months. If it does not work for you, try another one. But by all means, get “connected in” and stay “connected in” to the body of Christ, where you can both give and receive in an environment built on God’s principles.
*The printable tract is provided as a PDF document that you can easily print on any letter-sized paper. Print the page (on both sides). If your printer cannot print both sides, simply print on one side, then feed the paper back in, and print on the other. Then, simply fold the page three times in half. This tract is small (2.75″ x 4.25″ — a bit larger than a business card) and convenient for responsible free distribution.