YOU ARE LOOSED!
These are my notes for teaching at the Cornerstone Church on Sunday, June 9, 2019.
All of us wrestle all the time with three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world wants us to forget God. The flesh wants us to fight God. And the devil wants us to fail. He wants our faith to fail, our health to fail, our families to fail, and our hearts to fail.
We are on the frontlines of a battle that rages 24/7 all our lives. These three enemies rage against us. They are relentless and without pity. Their goal is to resist God's plan and to keep us from our destiny in Christ.
Christ brings every blessing, but our enemies want us to live under every curse. Christ restores us to God, but our enemies want us to run from God. Christ lifts us up, but our enemies want to beat us down. Christ is our life and light, but our enemies want to bind us in death and darkness.
Don't be discouraged. Jesus already won the war. He has overcome the world (John 16:33). His Spirit fights against our flesh (Romans 8:13). His life and ministry destroyed the devil's works (1 John 3:8). When we turned to Jesus as our God/Savior, he rescued us from the dominion of darkness (Colossians 1:13-14). We're alive, raised up, and seated with Christ in victory (Ephesians 1:20-21; 2:6).
The devil isn't done fighting, but we can stand firm because we don't fight for victory, we stand in the victory of Jesus Christ.
HOW TO BEAT A DEMON
How can the devil fight against billions of people? Yes, he's a powerful archangel, but he can only be in one place at a time. To overcome his limitations, he sends demons against us. There must be billions of demons in the world.
In Luke, demons are also called evil spirits and impure spirits (for example, Luke 4:33; 8:2). Demons are invisible, intelligent, spirit persons, without bodies. They prefer to do their work undetected, but Jesus uncovered them everywhere he went. Sometimes the demons shouted at Jesus (Luke 4:33-34). Other times, Jesus sensed their presence and dealt with them. He had a demon-radar. That's what happened in Luke 13:10-13.
Imagine this poor lady bent double for 18 years. I've hurt my back a few times and I walked around bent double. That's no way to live. When I was a little boy, we'd go into the city for shopping. Often, I'd see a man who was bent double. I always felt sorry for him. I wonder if his physical problem had a demonic cause?
This woman's condition was caused by an evil spirit. The NIV reads that she was "crippled by a spirit," but the Greek text literally reads, "a woman held by a spirit of infirmity." A demon controlled her body and bent her double. Jesus confirmed this in verse 16:
(Luke 13:16) "Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
In every encounter with a demon, Jesus spoke a command and the demons left. He always wins. That's the bottom line principle: Jesus always wins. He is Lord of the demons and they cannot resist him. He commands and they obey. There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. He spoke freedom over this woman and the spirit of infirmity released her and she stood up straight.
That's how to beat a demon: In the name - by the power and authority - of Jesus.
Luke 13 is brief but it teaches us a lot about confronting demonic activity. Here's the believer's guide to beating demons.
THE BELIEVER'S GUIDE TO BEATING DEMONS
A. DETECT DEMONIC ACTIVITY.
Jesus was in a synagogue. It was a house of worship for God's people. They prayed and read the Scriptures and received teaching. It was an environment for the presence of God. But Jesus saw an invisible world beyond that. He detected a demonic spirit holding a woman captive (v. 16).
This is something I've wrestled with. How can we tell when a demon is present and active? We can do a couple of things that may help:
Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you "eyes" to see what's going on in the unseen realm. There is a spiritual gift called "distinguishing between spirits" (1 Corinthians 12:10). This relates primarily to evaluating the value of prophecy - did it come from God's Spirit or from a deceiving demonic spirit? - but it may have application in detecting other demonic activity, such as a physical attack. Ask the Spirit to help you discern demonic spirits.
It is also helpful to learn demonic strategies from the Bible and experience. Demons can cause all kinds of damage, such as deafness, loss of speech, seizures, suicidal thinking, crippling ailments, and infirmity of all kinds. Demons can also predict the future, tell lies, produce deceptive and false doctrines, blind people to Jesus, and bind them in fear and anxiety. There is demonic religion that is really a cover for self-righteousness or pride or immorality or greed. I could go on and on.
How do demons get into our lives? Here's a hard truth: without Christ in our lives, we are under the control of the devil (2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Timothy 2:26; 1 John 5:19). We might think we're free, but we're blind and enslaved. Demons are free to oppress and harass us.
For those of us in Christ by faith, the main way we come under demon influence is through unbelief and independence and ignorance. When we don't trust God's promises, or when we ignore or don't know his precepts, or when we do things our own way, that's when we give demons an open door into our lives.
I've discovered that demons come in through our independence or ignorance or unbelief, but they don't all go out when we start to trust God. No, they have to be expelled by a process called deliverance. Without deliverance, many believers actually go through life oppressed by demonic spirits.
Years ago, Kim and I spent five weeks with church leaders in Brazil. Many people there practice occult religion and voodoo. Each morning there were candles and chicken blood on the street corners. The church leaders told us that when someone who practiced all that stuff - which is really a front for demonic activity - comes to faith in Jesus, the demons do not all leave them. In fact, the demons harass and oppress them until the new converts go through a deliverance process.
Fear is a major open door to demons. When we don't confront fear-based patterns of thinking, it has deadly consequences. Karl Payne is a pastor who has experience in deliverance ministry and has written a book on it. In a 2012 article in Christianity Today magazine, he wrote:
"What do you say to a man who constantly battles feelings of inferiority, thoughts of suicide, or habitually hearing voices telling him he's a loser who will never measure up as a husband, dad, son, or child of God? He tells you he's prayed, fasted, memorized Scripture, and studied his Bible, but the ideas, accusations, and voices never release their paralyzing grip, at least not for very long. Do you tell him he just needs rest? That it's a chemical imbalance? Do you assume he's schizophrenic because he says there are voices in his head? Or might this battle be something more than physiological or psychological?" https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2012/spring/removingdemonic.html
There are other ways we can open the door to demons. Any kind of involvement in the occult or witchcraft basically roll out the welcome mat. Relying on the horoscope or consulting palm readers or participating in seances and other such demonic fronts, all these open doors.
In my personal experience, I've spoken to demons who told me they were holding the Christian woman in my office bound in mental illness. I also spoke to a demon who blinded a woman to God's love and the cleansing power of Christ. She just couldn't get it and when I began to read the Scripture to her, the demon got upset, broke cover, and talked to me. I have also been threatened by a demon who spoke inside my head, "I'm going to get you now." That was before I knew much about this spiritual warfare thing. I was in a church building after a meeting with some very ungodly people who were controlling the church. I was so "gob smacked" by the voice in my head that I ran out of the building without locking up.
I could go on and talk about demonic affliction as a result of curses spoken against us, and demonic activity passed from one generation to the next in a family, and so many other doors through which demons oppress us.
No doubt, there is someone in the room pushing back right now. You think I'm delusional. I assure you that I'm not and nor was Jesus. The invisible world of demons is real and their attacks on us are very real. The demons would like nothing better than for us to live in denial so they can continue to harass, oppress, hurt, blind, and bind us.
Maybe someone is saying, "But I'm a believer. Jesus is my Savior. Demons can't touch me." Well, this woman was a believer (a daughter of Abraham, verse 16), she was in the synagogue, and she was bent double by a demon - in Greek, a spirit of infirmity. If demonic oppression is a delusion, why does Ephesians 6 explain how to stand firm in the battle against spiritual forces of evil?
There are some in the room who know they are under the influence of a demon or demons. The Holy Spirit has shown you. Don't panic. In a moment, you're going to make that demon flee from you.
B. DON'T BE AFRAID.
Once you detect a demonic spirit at work, don't panic and don't be afraid. The Luke 13 story is brief, so we don't have many details, but what strikes me is how calm Jesus was. He called her forward and said, "Woman you are free from your infirmity." He put his hands on her and she immediately straightened up.
Notice anything that didn't happen? The demonic spirit didn't speak to Jesus and Jesus didn't speak to it. It's rare to hear a demon speak. And you don't have to address the demon. All that stuff you see in movies is unnecessary and quite godless.
Jesus declared, "You are free." The old KJV reads, "Woman, thou art loosed." (Interesting factoid, the verb is also used of divorce). Jesus declared freedom from the demonic infirmity. He didn't shout. He didn't recite a formula. There was no ritual or "holy water" or "spells." Jesus declared freedom and she was free.
Here's why Jesus was calm and her freedom was so simple. Jesus is Lord of the demons. He is more powerful than them. One word from Jesus drives them away. Jesus is enthroned over "all (demonic or angelic) rule, and authority, power and dominion" (Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 2:15). Demons cannot stand against him. There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. When you detect demonic activity, clothe yourself in Christ and don't be afraid.
C. DISARM THE DEMON - THIS IS DELIVERANCE.
Jesus disarmed the demon with a word. I've already mentioned how he was able to do that. But now it's your turn and it's a little more complex. Why? Because you're not Jesus. There is a four-step process of deliverance:
1. Turn to Jesus Christ as your God and Savior.
(1 John 5:18-20) We know that anyone born of God does not continue (as habitual practice) to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
Until we turn to Jesus, we remain under the control of the devil. We might think we're free, but we're enslaved and blinded to God's truth (2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Timothy 2:26) and demons are free to oppress us.
Turning to Jesus is an act of faith. We put our trust in him, believing that he is able to restore us to God, to deliver us from the devil, to forgive all our sins, and to give us new life and freedom. Then, the evil one cannot harm us because Jesus keeps us safe.
2. Stand firm in Jesus Christ.
We cannot win the battle against demons apart from the power and authority of Jesus. Nothing else works: not our good deeds, not our prayers, not our religion, not more self-control, not stronger medicine. Only Jesus. He alone has "disarmed the powers and authorities and made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" (Colossians 2:15). It's only in Jesus that we are safe, that we can stay standing under demonic attack. The Bible pictures us putting on Jesus and all he has done for us like a protective armor:
(Ephesians 6:10-11, 13) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes ... Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
So, put on Christ, be made strong in his mighty power, and stand firm.
3. Slam shut any open doors to demonic activity in your life.
Let me mention one doorway, though there are many more. It's the door of unresolved anger, resentment, and rage:
(Ephesians 4:26-27) In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
The word foothold is literally the word for "place" in the Greek text. The Bible tells that we give the devil a place in our lives when we hold onto anger and unforgiveness.
If you need to get even, if you cannot let go until they pay for what they've done to you ... If your resentment boils inside for days and weeks and years ... If you refuse to forgive, to let it go, to let Jesus deal with it ... I am certain that you are under demonic oppression right now. You've got to slam that door shut by letting it all go and moving on.
Of course, there are many more "places" for demons to occupy. Any area of unbelief or ignorance of God's ways, or independence from God gives the demons a place. If you ask the Holy Spirit, he'll tell you what doors you've opened. Agree with him, confess to God, bring it to the cross and leave it there. Until you do, that demon will cling to you and try to take you down.
4. Claim your freedom as a follower of Jesus Christ.
You have the God-given, blood-bought, right to resist demons and to live free. You can break their influence over you.
(James 4:7-8) Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
But I have to warn you, never resist a demon in your own name or power or authority. They will ignore you or tear you apart (see Acts 19:11-20, the sons of Sceva). You must disarm the demon. Here's how: Speak your faith confession out loud. It could be as simple as, "I belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. You must leave." Or it could be more detailed:
"I am in Christ by faith. He has made me alive, clothed me with his righteousness, restored me to God, cleansed and forgiven me, adopted and loved me, set me free from condemnation, made me a temple of the Holy Spirit and a priest of King Jesus. I'm no longer under the dominion of darkness. I am set free to live for God. Therefore, the demons must leave me now, in Jesus name!"
On the book-table, I put copies of the The Believer's Warfare Prayer," which is a very helpful extended faith confession.
Remember, the demon won't leave if you're holding onto things that give it a foothold in your life: unbelief and independence. Renounce those, stand firm in Christ, live free:
1 Peter 5:9 reads, "Resist him, standing firm in the faith ..."
LIVE FREE IN CHRIST
In my experience, that is all you need to do. The demonic oppression should lift from you. If it returns, and it likely will, rinse and repeat as soon as you become aware of it.
Sometimes, it may be advisable to seek the help of someone who understands this process and is willing to walk alongside as you resist the devil. I've put a couple of books related to this topic on the book table. You might want to take a look.
As I write this, two areas of demonic influence and oppression weigh heavy on my heart. It's time for us to seek deliverance, freedom, and life.
I believe the Blue Water area is oppressed by an evil spirit of suicide. Thoughts of hopelessness flood minds and demons speak death into many, "Just kill yourself." We stand against the spirit of hopelessness and suicide. In Jesus name, be gone.
Listen, suicidal ideation is not something to ignore. If its a problem in your life, ask for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a resource you can use. Call (800) 273-8255. Or you can chat online at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
I also believe there are spirits of depression and infirmity oppressing our church family. We take our stand against fear, anxiety, depression and sickness. In Jesus' name, be gone.
It's time for our church family to claim our authority in Christ. This is a time for advance not retreat. Declare victory in Jesus. Fight back against the darkness. Resist the devil. Live free.