The first thing I often hear when I try to expose the devil’s devices to another Christian is, “We shouldn’t be concentrating on demons!” I completely agree, but we have to talk about them if we want to learn how they operate and how to wage an effective warfare against them. Most Christians have been taught by their ministers that since Jesus did everything for them at the Cross, they don’t have to engage in spiritual warfare. Some even teach that demons leave automatically when a person receives Christ as their savior. If that was the case, why then did Jesus teach otherwise? Matthew 10:7-8, “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”
So few engage in the Christian ministry of Deliverance, one has to ask, “Why is that?” In this article you should learn something about the long neglected ministry of deliverance, a ministry given by Christ to His Church which is as much needed today as it was two millennia ago. Contrary to popular opinion, the Spiritual Gifts given at Pentecost have NOT passed away, a belief called “Cessationism.”  Some content may seem strange to you if you’ve never been exposed to it before, but I pray you’ll stay with it to the end so you won’t miss anything.
IGNORANCE of the Believer’s authority and commission to cast out demons is the first hindrance to obtaining and ministering deliverance to those held in demonic bondage. Jesus’s disciples believed His words and wherever they went they healed people and “cast demons” out of them. Not once did His disciples pray to God the Father or to Christ, to cast them out. The disciples simply gave the command to the demons to come out, using the authority (power) which Jesus had given them.
If Jesus is to be our example, and the scriptures say He is, why then isn’t the Church doing what Jesus did during His earthly ministry? Why aren’t believers laying hands on people and healing them from diseases and freeing them from demonic bondage today? Why aren’t the ministers in churches teaching their flocks about spiritual warfare and deliverance from demons? I can surmise what a few of their reasons might be, among which is that deliverance can be noisy and sometimes messy, which might scare people away, but what about those being oppressed by demons? Should they just be told to seek out a psychiatrist (like many are) who’ll likely fill them with false hope and drugs? Jesus delivered people from all kinds of physical and spiritual disease, and He can still do that through His believers! Some years ago I was a member of a Christian woman’s group which worshiped, prayed and studied the Bible together in each other’s homes. On occasion, our small group was led by the Holy Spirit to cast out demons from one another, which is a great way to learn and to practice if there’s someone there supervising who hears accurately from the Holy Spirt and can get direction from Him on how to proceed, for each person needing ministry is different. In one deliverance session I actually felt a presence come out of the top of my head without making a sound, another time one cried with a loud shriek as it left [see Mark 9:18 & 26 below]. We were all born again believers! Contrary to what many have been told, deliverance is primarily for believers not unbelievers – Mat 12:43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.
Mat 12:44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
Mat 12:45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
This is why deliverance is mainly for the Christian who has the Holy Spirit living in his “house” (spirit). In the natural sense, when a person’s “house” is “empty” it means there’s no one there. The same holds true in the spiritual; when a person’s spirit is “empty” it means there’s nothing there to deter or prevent demonic spirits from entering or re-entering (after deliverance) if that person doesn’t get filled and stay filled with the Holy Spirit! Even a Christian may get re-infected with demons if he doesn’t stay filled with the Holy Spirit and lives in (doesn’t repent of) sin!
There are variations of demonic manifestations but the Christian who knows his/her authority in Christ over “all the power of the enemy” doesn’t have to fear them. [Luk10:19]
Sometimes demons growl and howl as they “tear” (claw) their host’s soul when being expelled. Sometimes a person coughs, cries, sneezes or vomits when demons leave. I’ve even witnessed the vomiting of a “demon nest” during a deliverance session. The one I saw looked like a ball of slimy goo. Most believers have been misled by ministers who’ve told them that a believer can’t have a demon living inside them which simply isn’t true! Demons can live inside a believer’s body or soul, but not usually their spirit for that is where the Holy Spirit dwells. It’s like this; every human being has a physical body, a soul, and a spirit. Picture three circles or rings; the outer ring represents the body, the inner ring is the soul, and the innermost ring is the spirit. Because we are tripartite beings, demons can inhabit one or more of these areas but usually not the spirit of a believer because his spirit is indwelt and therefore protected by the Holy Spirit. Thus a believer can have demonic oppression and/or demonization but rarely possession, I say rarely because it’s not impossible. If a believer willfully continues in sin and “falls away” (defects) from the faith, thereby forfeiting the Holy Spirit and His protection, he could become possessed by demons I imagine. Heb 10:26-27 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
Non-believers who haven’t the Holy Spirit indwelling them, can have demons inhabiting not only their bodies and souls, but also their spirits which is demon possession. That’s the difference between demon possession, oppression, and demonization. However, since each part is closely connected [Heb 4:12] if the soul is sick it can affect the body and spirit. When the body is ill, it can affect the soul and spirit, and so on. Our thoughts and emotions have widespread effects on bodily processes like metabolism, hormone release, and immune function. This is why it’s so important to keep a close watch on our thoughts and beliefs as they affect every aspect of our lives – “Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” [2 Cor 10:5]
FEAR is another reason believers and ministers of the Gospel don’t want to deal with demons and/or spiritual warfare. Jesus spoke against fear, He even stated that the “fearful” won’t enter into His Kingdom! [Rev 21:8] Are you aware that there are 365 “fear nots” in the Bible? The Fear of Man and Fear of rejection are very common stumbling blocks to one’s seeking deliverance, even though no one has a right to reject those who are “in Christ Jesus” since the Father has accepted them. [Eph 1:6] Many fear what fellow believers might think of them if they openly confess their sins and seek deliverance from demons. Therefore, many suffer in silence while demonic forces wreak havoc in their lives. Jesus told His disciples to “fear not him who can kill the body, but fear Him who can cast both body and soul into hell!” [Mt 10:28] “The fear of man is a snare (trap)…” [Prov 29:25]. Fear of reprisal from demons is another way demons keep believers from casting them out. I would wager a bet that the main reason believers fear demons and their power is that they don’t know their Authority in Jesus Christ. Jesus gives His Authority (power) to believers, which includes the power to heal and deliver men from every form of demonic oppression and possession. All may be delivered through the power of the Blood and the Name of Jesus Christ, but only if they truly want freedom from demonic bondage. God will NEVER violate a person’s free will; it is Satan the Devil who does that. The Devil is forceful and pushy and doesn’t care about your rights or your soul. Jesus came to “set men free” from the Devil’s power and cares deeply about the souls which He created and wants to see in heaven with Him. Satan on the other hand wants your soul in Hell with him because of his jealous hatred of God and all creation. He’s filled with hatred because he knows that he and one third of the angels who rebelled against Jehovah’s rightful rule of the Universe, are eternally damned [Rev 19:20 & 20:10]. Satan’s heart was “lifted up” with Pride which led to his downfall and subsequent judgment yet to be fulfilled [Ezek 28:17]. Another blockage or hindrance to deliverance ministry is pride —
PRIDE convinces believers and non-believers alike that they’re just fine even when they’re not, thus blinding them to their true condition. It requires humility to admit your weaknesses and sins, which is one reason I believe the scripture tells us to “confess our faults” to one another [Jms 5:16], which when practiced, keeps us humble. Yet when was the last time (if ever) you saw this confessing of faults to one another happening in your church? Our flesh nature revolts against that which causes us embarrassment; we don’t like humbling ourselves and acknowledging our inadequacies. Or the reverse may be true where we feel so inadequate that we don’t believe God would or ever could use us in this manner is a type of “inverted pride.” Pride hinders the operation of the Holy Spirit in church because none want to admit that they have weaknesses and sin in their lives. They may know about them, but keep them hidden if possible for fear of being exposed and judged by their fellows, which happens in churches that are poor in Christ’s love.
UNBELIEF Joh 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. If believers hear the Word of God which says that they have the Authority of Christ to “do the works He did” and even “greater,” why don’t they believe it? I think it’s due to a general lack of knowledge of God’s Word, “My people perish for a lack of knowledge” [Hosea4:6] “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” [Rms 10:17]. Ministers are failing the Body when they neglect to teach and preach the FULL Gospel, which includes demonology and deliverance. I’ve been accused of being “critical” of the Church but here’s what Paul taught members of the Church at Ephesus Eph 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. To ‘reprove’ means to ‘to find fault with, correct, reprehend severely, chide, admonish. Doesn’t Jesus ‘reprove’ his unbelieving disciples in the following passages and commend a woman for believing in His willingness to heal her even though she wasn’t a child of Abraham?
Mat 15:22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
Mar 7:25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet:
Mar 7:26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.
Mar 7:27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. 
Mar 7:28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.
Mar 7:29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.
Mar 9:18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.
Mar 9:19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.
Mar 9:20 And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.
Mar 9:21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.
Mar 9:22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us.
Mar 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
Mar 9:24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
Mar 9:25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.
Mar 9:26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead.
Mar 9:27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.
Mar 9:28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out?
Mar 9:29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.
DISOBEDIENCE (sometimes rooted in stubbornness & pride) is the defiant refusal to obey what we know is God’s will. This isn’t about weaknesses of the flesh, which we all have, but about willfully obscuring the Light we’ve been shown. We neglect reading God’s Word because it exposes our sins of pride, rebellion, unbelief, fear, stubbornness, and inadequacy to keep it, apart from the agency of the Holy Spirit. We like to think that we can live a righteous life without His help, which is utterly impossible. We can always call upon the Holy Spirit within to help us do God’s will as that’s one of His functions. However, not everyone who says they belong to Christ really does. The Word states that if a person doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, he/she doesn’t belong to Christ [Rms 8:9]. God’s Holy Spirit prays on our behalf, convicts us of sin, comforts us, leads us into all righteousness, and empowers us for service or ministry. Holy Spirit works the works of God in and through us if we hear His voice and respond affirmatively.
LUSTS OF THE FLESH The “flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” [Gals 5:17] Within the Church lurks a hideous creature more tenacious than a hungry lion stalking its prey. Our inherited flesh natures from Adam can halt the ministry of Holy Spirit (and revivals) when we don’t understand that it’s been crucified with Christ so we no longer have to obey it in the power of its lusts [Rms 6:6 & 6:12]. Even when we do know it, living in a sinful world and frail bodies, we often find ourselves obeying the dictates of our fleshly lusts instead of heeding God’s Spirit. Thank God the Blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin when we confess and repent of it [1 Jn 1:9]. A quick example of fleshly lust is when members of Christ’s Body try to ‘lord it over’ other members. There’s far too much clamoring for high position in the Church and its temporary glory; members arguing and fighting among themselves as to who’s greatest among them and who deserves a seat of honor. It was no different in Jesus’s day. In one instance He sharply rebuked some of His disciples who were engaging in just such a debate, Mar 9:33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? Mar 9:34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
The way of the world is to run over anyone or anything that gets in the way of what you want and decide is best. Jesus, who is our example in all matters of faith and life, taught his disciples (learners) that if they wanted to be “great” they would have to become “the servants of all.” [Mark 9:35 & 10:44] In other words, taking the lowest place is the way to true greatness and honor in His Kingdom, quite opposite from the way of the world. When we do that, it leaves room for God to raise us to a more prominent place [1 Peter 5:6, Luke 18:14, James 4:10]. When we follow Christ’s example and humble ourselves, we give no place for our flesh to become prideful. While our sin nature was put to death on the Cross with Christ, it needs reminding of that fact when it tries to resurrect itself from that position! We do that by declaring it defeated and nailed to Christ’s Cross, and ourselves “dead” to it. [Gals 5:24, Rms 6:11] This is easier said than done but one reason it seems difficult might be that we’re not recognizing the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit, and being filled with Him daily. “Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” [Gal 5:16-18, Rms 13:14]. “They were filled with the Spirit daily…” The way of the Christian isn’t always easy, but Christ promises victory to those trusting in His finished work on the Cross, where the sin principle was put to death and defeated. All we have to do now is enforce what’s already been accomplished by Christ using the authority He gave us. That’s not easy either, and there’s spiritual warfare to be waged, but a lack of knowledge of these facts makes it more difficult for us to experience all that Christ achieved for us.
RELIGIOUS SPIRITS in the Church are a common and major hindrance to every ministry of Holy Spirit; not easily detected for they appear to be righteous. People having religious spirits will think they’re better than everyone else –
Mat 9:10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. Mat 9:11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? Mat 9:12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. Mat 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. [KJV]
Religious spirits can halt a move of God in a church, or in a revival because they go berserk whenever Holy Spirit begins doing something they think isn’t the way He should be doing things! In several churches I’ve attended, I’ve seen them in action as they protested to the head pastor about someone giving a prophecy in church, especially if it was a woman who gave it. Don’t you know that women are to remain silent in the Church because Paul said so?! Actually, Paul was addressing a local problem in a church where women were constantly interrupting the speaker asking questions of their husbands sitting on the other side of the temple, so they had to yell over to them. That created a lot of noise and confusion so that no one could hear what the speaker was saying, thus Paul told those women to keep quite. The way he wrote it sounds like a command for all women in all churches for all times, but how can that be when there are examples in the New Testament of female prophets who prophesied? Also men and women alike were filled with the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts which only says that “many of them spoke in tongues and prophesied” nothing there excludes women. What Paul appears to be doing in his injunction for the “woman to keep silent in the church” is to put an end to disorderly speaking. 1Co 14:39-40 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order. So unless they’re causing a ruckus and confusion, women should be allowed to give a prophecy, a word of knowledge and wisdom to the general assembly when inspired by Holy Spirit to do so. Some will argue that a woman shouldn’t preach when men are present, quoting 1Ti 2:12 But I suffer not (don’t allow) a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. Please note however, that this verse and passage is Paul giving his personal opinion on the matter; note the “I”. A verse very similar to it is Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
I can imagine what those controlled by religious spirits would say if someone actually cast out a demon in the midst of a church gathering! Probably something like, “You can’t do that! Casting out demons was ONLY for Jesus’s day, it has passed away and the church doesn’t do that anymore!” Or worse, “You’re possessed with an EVIL SPIRIT!” Mat 12:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. Mat 12:32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
“What is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? These Pharisees had already committed it. They had attributed the works of the Holy Spirit by whose power Jesus wrought his miracles (Mat_12:28) to the devil. That sin was without excuse and would not be forgiven in their age or in the coming one (Mat_12:32). People often ask if they can commit the unpardonable sin. This is the unpardonable sin. Probably some do who ridicule the manifest work of God’s Spirit in men’s lives and attribute the Spirit’s work to the devil.” [Word Pictures in the New Testament by A.T. Robertson]
But let’s not take the extreme opposite stance of being fearful to “try the spirits” which God also commands, 1Jn 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1Co 14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 1Th 5:19 Quench not the Spirit. 1Th 5:20 Despise not prophesyings. 1Th 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. It’s easy to lean to one extreme or the other, so we all need the discernment which Holy Spirit gives.
A good example of a religious spirit in operation which I’ve personally experienced on more than one occasion, is ‘false doctrine’ directed at me. Two people having religious spirits told me that that anyone who prays or sings to the Holy Spirit is “Out of order and DENYING CHRIST!” They were referring to the one time I asked the Holy Spirit to come and bless us our prayer time together (not out of order since one of His functions is to help us pray). They immediately rebuked me saying we can only pray to the Father since the Lord’s Prayer begins with the words, “Our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name…” They concluded from this one verse that we are never to pray or talk to either the Holy Spirit or to Jesus, for that would be “out of the order” given in the Lord’s Prayer. If that’s true, then why did Stephen pray directly to Jesus to “receive his spirit” as he was being stoned to death? – Act 7:59-60 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. There are other examples in Scripture where holy men of God prayed to and made requests of the other two members of the Godhead, Jesus and Holy Spirit.
What this religious duo didn’t take into account, is that if the Holy Spirit is EQUALLY GOD with Jesus and the Father, why can’t you pray to Him? Surely a two-way relationship requires that both parties speak to one another, at least once in a while. How can we have any kind of relationship with Jesus or Holy Spirit if we never talk with them? Now if the Holy Spirit is just a ‘force’ then I could see why it would be wrong to speak or pray to ‘it’ but that’s not how Holy Spirit is portrayed in the bible, in fact the pronoun “he” or “him” is always used when referring to the Holy Spirit. Religious spirits always make a BIG DEAL out of minor points of the Torah, while neglecting to keep major ones – Mat 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Mat 23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. How easily Jesus spotted them, and so can we once we know how they operate.
The Bible says precisely how a person denies Christ, and it isn’t by addressing the Holy Spirit. One denies Christ by “denying that He came in the flesh” (was born as a man) [1 Jn ], by denying His Resurrection [Lk 20:27], by being remiss in doing righteous works [Titus 1:16] by denying that one knows Him [Lk 22:34, Mt 26:34 ] denying that Christ has power to save [2 Tim 3:2-5] and by forbidding men to teach or preach in Jesus’s Name – [Act 4:17& 18] But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. I’ve just given six scriptural ways to deny Christ. As far as I know, there’s nothing in the Bible that says it’s wrong to speak, sing, or pray to Jesus or Holy Spirit. If you find just two witnesses that say so, please let me know? As I’ve already stated, I don’t often address the Holy Spirit, but I do often speak, pray, and sing to Jesus who I sense thoroughly enjoys my doing so! Religious spirits are artful at making you feel guilty and condemned even for things the Bible doesn’t call ‘sin.’ Just remember, Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Religious spirits hate that last part worst of all because they can’t or don’t know how to “walk by the Spirit.” Their right standing with God depends entirely upon keeping a code of ethics and rules to be strictly interpreted and followed. Grace has little or no place in their theology.
For a list of demons that you might find in somebody who has a religious spirit, go to http://www.greatbiblestudy.com/religious_spirits.php
Debra R. Stout © February 12, 2018
 for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs: as by “the children” are meant the Israelites, who were not only the children of Abraham by natural descent, but the children of God, to whom pertained the adoption, by virtue of the national covenant made with them; so by “the dogs”, are meant the Gentiles, who were reckoned as such by the Jews; and by the “bread”, which it was not fit and proper should be taken from the one for the present, and cast to the other, is designed the ministry of the Gospel; which is as bread, solid, substantial, wholesome, and nourishing; and the miraculous cures wrought on the bodies of men, which accompanied it: now it was not meet and convenient as yet, that these things should be taken away from the Jewish nation, until they had answered the ends for which they were designed, and the Jews should express their loathing and abhorrence of them: which when they did, they were taken away from them, and were ministered to the nations of the world, they contemptuously called dogs. – From John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible