TLP 364: The Spiritual War in Your Home, Part 10 | how your family is to engage demonic forces in possession
Are you concerned your child or spouse may be under demonic influence? Are you being plagued by frightening experiences? Join AMBrewster as he opens God’s word to help Christian parents know how God would have them think about exorcisms and demonic possession.
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“Parenting Suffering Children” series (starts in episode 342)
“The Hidden Sin in Our Homes” two part episode (starts in episode 309)
“Parent’s 5 Jobs" series (starts in episode 184)
“Circle of Learning" (episode 208)
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Hello, everyone. I’m glad you’re here.
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As I mentioned last time, I think today may be one of the most anticipated episodes we’ve had. I mean — c’mon — we’re talking about exorcisms . . . what’s not to like?
And I want to make sure we are practical and valuable as we consider how the Lord would have us engage the frontline spiritual enemy of Satan and his demons. I don’t want this to be conjecture and hypothesis. The Bible gives us everything we need for life and godliness; that means we’ll find the answers we need in the Scriptures.
I know that most of you listen to these episodes while walking or driving or showering, so please know that we have free episode notes and transcripts at TruthLoveParent.com and TakingBackTheFamily.com.
I hope this will be a blessing for you as you try to understand the material better and then teach it to your kids.
Alright, let’s start today’s discussion with my own personal interaction with the spirit world.
I’m not going to go into all the detail I could, but I want to share with you the day a demon intruded into my daughter’s room.
There’s a possibility this anecdote was not the first nor the last time the Brewsters have come face to face with direct demonic influence. I believe with all my heart we had interactions with demonic forces while working at Victory Academy. But the event I’m going to share happened when we were still living in the Chicagoland area — before we moved to Victory.
Ivy was probably about 3 years old, which means that Micah was about 5 or 6. One evening, I went to the bottom floor of our split-level, and I found Ivy playing in the basement waaaaaay after her bedtime. What’s crazy is I didn’t even realize she had left her room upstairs.
But there she was playing with a stuffed animal by the couch.
I asked her what she was doing, and she said she as playing. I asked her why she was out of bed and in the basement, and she told me “My friend told me to go downstairs.”
To be honest, that didn’t sit well with me.
I’ve never been someone to think that an imaginary friend was a healthy outlet for children . . . especially given the fact that obeying voices in your head is looked down upon even by the secular world. Not only that, but Ivy always had a perpetual friend in her brother and had never let on that she had created an imaginary friend in the first place — especially one that would supposedly tell her to disobey her parents.
Before I continue, I don’t want any of you thinking that I’m suggesting that all imaginary friends are demonic influences. Don’t get ahead of me and assume things I haven’t said. I’ll be more clear concerning my observations later.
Anyway, I dealt with the issue and put Ivy back into bed.
I can’t say how long it was after that — I kind of think it as about a week or so — maybe just a few days — but one evening I was in Ivy’s bedroom saying goodnight, and I asked about her “friend.” I asked whether or not he was telling her to do more things. She said “sometimes,” but she didn’t provide any helpful examples.
I then asked her what her friend looked like. To my horror, she started describing — in the most nonchalant tones — a figure that was shadowy and yet glowing. It was clear that she wasn’t seeing a person, but she struggled describing what it actually looked like.
Now, I know children have active imaginations, but I also know God’s Word well enough that I was not going to take any chances. My daughter was so young that she had not yet interacted with any movies or books that would have implanted a shadowy spirit-image into her mind, and I also knew my daughter was unsaved. I knew she was just as open to demonic influence as anyone else.
So, I prayed.
Now, please hear me. I am not suggesting that my daughter was possessed and that I was performing an exorcism. All I did was pray out loud a very vague but very purposeful prayer.
Let me tell you what I said and why I did it the way I did.
I prayed out loud because there is no biblical evidence to suggest that demons can read our minds. I wanted any potential demons in the vicinity to hear me.
I used vague terms so as not to scare my 3 year old. I know that God knew my heart, and I knew the Holy Spirit was praying for me with words I could not even begin to fathom, so I didn’t have to be that specific. God understood.
But I also spoke purposefully so that — if there were a demonic force present — it would understand exactly what I was saying.
I prayed something to this effect: “Dear God, I thank you for your love. I thank you that you care for us and keep us safe. I want to pray for Ivy right now — that if there’s anything at all that is bothering her or trying to cause her trouble — I pray that you would protect her from it. Remove it from her bedroom and this house. Please protect this family spiritually the same way you protect us physically. Amen.”
Ivy said “Amen,” we snuggled, and she went to sleep.
I later told my wife, and I know the two of us continued to pray for her that night — both silently to God as well as audibly with each other.
And three interesting things happened. 1. Ivy never again blamed any imaginary friends or shadowy figures for her actions. She never again spoke of a non-real “friend.” 2. She also stopped the out-of-the-ordinary behavior like walking the house at night. But it took me a little while to recognize the third change. 3. She started singing again. I think it was only a day or so later that we heard her singing “Jesus Loves Me” while playing in her bedroom.
Now, some of these changes didn’t register at the time. She’d always been a singer, but a week or so later I remember observing that the strange behavior and talk of imaginary friends had stopped, and it dawned on me that I had not heard my daughter singing for weeks. Only after my prayer in her bedroom that night did she start singing and — more specifically — singing songs about God.
What do I believe about that situation? I believe my daughter was under demonic influence. I believe God shielded her. And that’s that.
Before I continue, I want to point out that I know how strange and even scary it may be to hear a parent describe this kind of experience with his 3 year old daughter.
But I also know that many of you have had similar experiences and have felt like you couldn’t tell anyone. You could’t bring yourself to ask for help because the situation seemed so abnormal — so paranormal. Would people believe you? Would they be afraid of your family? Would they question your salvation? Could anyone really help?
Perhaps you even imagined that the only people who might be able to shed some light on your situation were cloistered monks or “professionals” with questionable theology.
Please know that TeamTLP and I are prepared to help you make sense of situations like this in your family. We’re prepared (with God’s Word) to help you respond to any demonic influences you may be experiencing. It’s not because we’re special and know hidden mysteries that others do not. We simply know Who God is and are prepared to use His Word to help you fight your spiritual battle.
So please do not hesitate to contact us. You can email us at counselor@TruthLoveParent.com. You can fill out a form at TruthLoveParent.com under the counseling tab. Or you can call us at (828) 423-0894.
We know it can be confusing and scary, and we want to help.
Now, before I move on, let me quickly address the imaginary friend thing.
Many people believe that a child who creates an imaginary friend is merely exercising her creativity. And that can definitely be true. Here’s the thing for which to look out.
The key is this, don’t be a passive parent. Ask questions. Ask your kids if they have an imaginary friend. Ask what they talk about. Find out what this creation is or does. If nothing else, it will help you better understand and parent your child. It may even reveal a significant spiritual issue in their lives.
Alright, in the event that your child’s imaginary friend has crossed a number of danger lines or other creepy stuff is going on in your home, how does God expect your family to engage the demonic forces.
Let’s review the fact that Satan influences people by possession, tempting us through someone else he’s possessing, tempting us via the World System (which we’ll talk about in a later episode), and orchestrating physical events to tempt us to lose our trust in God.
We’re going to work through these in reverse order.
1. What do we do when Satan is attacking our family in the physical realm?
In episode 356 we talked about how — in addition to controlling people — Satan has the ability to control weather, sickness, and even death.
How do we know this?
In Job 1 and 2 we learn the extent of Satan’s power when he makes men rob Job, sends fire and wind to destroy Job’s livestock and kills Job’s children.
And Hebrews 2:14 says that Jesus came to destroy “him who holds the power of death, that is, the Devil.”
So, let’s consider how we might use your Spiritual Weapon in this case, and — for the sake of this part of the discussion — let’s assume we and our family are born again.
A. We need to get on our faces before God and talk to Him.
How many times does David beautifully illustrate how believers run to God in times of physical distress.
We are not powerful enough to fend off Satan and his hordes. Why would we attempt this without God?
B. We must open God’s Word.
We’ve spent a lot of time recently talking about the purpose of suffering. Remember, God is sovereign, Satan is not. There is nothing outside of the all-powerful control of our Lord.
I encourage you to listen to our “Parenting Suffering Children” series or check out our video Bible study in the book of James.
One of the things we haven’t yet mentioned about God, Satan, and suffering, is that God and Satan are not two equal and opposite forces. God is infinitely more powerful that Satan. Lucifer must submit to God. He can’t do anything apart from God’s permission.
How the Devil thought he’d overthrow God when he would need permission to even try is beyond me . . . but he did and he does.
Anyway, when we study God’s Word, we’re armed with the Truth we need to understand what God is doing in physical struggles. We’re no longer afraid of the Devil, we’re thankful that God is in control.
We can’t go into it all now, but I’ll link below those two resources I mentioned. Please take the time to work through that material. God has a grand and glorious plan for the physical attacks Satan brings against our families.
C. Once we’ve learned and understood the Truth that arms our spiritual weapon, and we’ve seen our lives through the scope of the Gospel, we must live righteously in faith.
It doesn’t matter what Satan does to you and your family. No complaining. No gossiping. No arguing. Don’t call God a liar. Don’t lose your joy, contentment, peace, or gratitude. It’s simply not allowed.
These few steps right here are amazing for overcoming depression and anxiety. From a secular perspective, in what can you actually hope when your life spirals out of control? There’s nothing!
But for the Christian, we may experience a physical anomaly that can be described as depression or anxiety, but living in the light and Truth of Scripture can give us victory over them! Why? Because God addresses every temptation we may encounter. He is trustworthy.
Now, keep in mind that God never commands us to escape physical suffering. Sure, we can use medicines and make wise financial choices, but think of Job. The man had nothing but to sit there in his ashes, scraping his boils, listening to his ill-advised friends, and trusting God.
There was nothing he could do but keep doing what he had been doing. He’s been trusting God in his plenty, and he was trusting God in his want. He brought nothing into this world, and he was prepared not to take anything out of it.
Now, before I move past this point, I do want to caution us. Is Satan to blame for every sickness and stubbed toe? Can we accuse him for the fact that we lost a job, a friend died, or the economy took a nose dive because of the choices governments made in response to a virus?
We must be careful. We live in a broken, fallen world, and uncomfortable things happen for many reasons. I jumped off a rope swing and blew out my ACL a year ago. That wasn’t Satan — as far as I know — and there really was not legitimate reason for me to blame him for it.
Many people suffer because of their own sinful choices. Sure, Satan may have tempted them, but the choice to sin was their own and the consequences of that sin is their fault.
So, how do we know when calamity is from Satan and how may that change how we respond to it?
Well, in answer to the first question, I’m not certain how sure we can be certain Satan is to be blamed for our suffering, but I have noticed interesting things in my life. For example — I’ve done a lot of acting, directing, and producing in the theater space. Among other things, I’ve had the privilege of portraying our Lord on stage for over 7 years, and I starred in productions like “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” and “Charlotte’s Web.” And, you know what’s interesting? In my experience, there always seems to be more technical issues, health issues, and all-around difficulties when we’re producing Bible and religious plays then when we put on your usual “family friendly” show.
You see that enough times, and you really start to wonder. And it makes sense. No demonic forces want God’s Truth proclaimed far and wide. I wouldn’t be surprised if the demonic forces were doing whatever they could to either make our job impossible or tempt us to respond incorrectly in the process — which definitely wouldn’t glorify God.
But, even if we can determine beyond a shadow of a doubt that our current physical struggle is a result of Satan . . . does it really have an affect on how we respond?
No. It doesn’t.
Regardless of the spiritual attack, sickness, injury, financial distress, or persecution we face, God’s Word has the same prescription — trust and obey. That’s what He expects Job to do, that’s what He expected Paul to do, and that’s what He expects us to do.
Okay, so that’s how we’re to engage Satan when he attacks us in the physical dimension, and we’ll talk about how to engage the World System on our next episode, so — our final point for today — . . .
2. What do we do when we believe someone is either being directly influenced by demonic forces (like I believe my daughter was) or being even being possessed by demons?
First, let’s look to the example of Jesus and the apostles.
Jesus did not require any lotions or potions or motions when it came to casting out demons. Jesus simply commanded the demons He created, and they fled.
As far as we know from Scripture, the disciples weren’t given that much instruction either. I think it’s fair to say — based off logic and the examples that are in the Bible — the apostles simply did what they saw Jesus do . . . with one small addition.
Whereas Jesus was the authority necessary to command the demons, the disciples had to invoke Jesus’ authority because they didn’t have an intrinsic authority themselves. This is why, in Luke 9 we read that Jesus had to give them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases.
This in instructive. There is nothing inherent in us that a demon must obey. There are no physical movements or ingredients, no spells nor incantations that are guaranteed to eject an evil spirit. The authority must come from Christ.
Now, this complicates things ever so slightly because no where in Scripture are we — Christians living in this day and age — promised power over demons.
In fact, the passage I read before happened during the first time Jesus sent the disciples into the world. At that time He also commanded them not to take any extra clothes or money or food. However, when He sent them out the second time, He told them they would need money, clothes, and a sword.
Jesus decided that something was to change on that second commission. The first time He sent them out was to accomplish something very different than the second time.
Now, I’m not going to get into a discussion about apostolic succession and all of that. I personally believe it’s unbiblical. The Bible doesn’t gives us any lotions, potions, or motions. And I believe it’s safe to say that we — modern believers — neither have the same command nor promise the apostles had when Jesus sent them out to proclaim that the Kingdom was at hand.
But if we are going to have any success at all in casting out a demon, it will only be accomplished through the authority of God.
Here’s an example: in Acts 16:18 we read that Paul cast a demon out of a girl by proclaiming, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” That’s consistent with what we’ve learned so far; however there were two other interesting occurrences we need to discuss.
Here’s an example of how an exorcism can go wrong. In Acts 19:11-17 we read, “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled.”
These guys were not true representatives of Christ. So, even though they were invoking His name, the demon realized that those men did not have the Holy Spirit and were merely mouthing words they thought were powerful.
I think this occurrence also ties in with another passage about Jesus’ disciples.
In Mark 9:17-29 we read “And someone from the crowd answered him, ‘Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.’ 19 And he answered them, ‘O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.’ 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”’23 And Jesus said to him, ‘’If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.’ 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.’ 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ 29 And he said to them, ‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.’”
It’s clear that there are two things that are necessary . . . and neither of these should surprise us because we’ve already talked about how important they are.
First, faith is an absolute necessity. There will be no spiritual victory without faith in God and His Truth. That’s why Sceva’s son’s failed, and that’s why we’ll fail.
And second, Jesus said that this particular kind of demon could not be cast out by anything other than prayer.
There are so many things to observe about this incident; namely, Jesus didn’t need to pray, but apparently the disciples did. And what is prayer? If nothing else, when done correctly, it’s the very outworking of faith. It acknowledges that I don’t have something or can’t do something and beseeches the One Who can.
So, biblically speaking, here are 5 things we need to remember if we believe we’re dealing with a legitimate possession.
1. God is the only authority demons will obey.
2. Therefore, we can only have success when we — in genuine faith — call upon the Lord to do the work we cannot do.
3. This should likely involve prayer every single time.
4. Anything else we say or do must be consistent with the Scripture. The more Bible we use, the better.
5. We learned in James that if our faith is faltering for any reason, the best thing to do is call in spiritual backup. Invite spiritually mature people into the situation; don’t attempt to handle it all on your own.
These five things have been my practice any time I’ve interacted with someone who I believe was genuinely possessed. And I think it’s safe to say that this represents the extent of the biblical data on the matter.
Now, there are likely things I may be missing, I’m going to continue studying, and I welcome your input, just please don’t bother sharing things that don’t come directly from Scripture.
Alright, there’s one more passage I want to discuss that I think beautifully sums up how God would have us engage demonic forces in the cases of direct influence and possession. I believe this will be the perfect way to end today’s discussion.
I know we’ve gone long. There is just so much material, and I knew people wouldn’t mind hanging out a little longer for this topic.
So, here we go.
In II Timothy 2:24-26 we read, “The Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
Let’s work through this backwards.
Someone has been captured by the devil and is doing his will. They are not in their right, spiritual mind. They’re being influenced or controlled by demonic forces.
What is the only thing that God says will save them? Repentance. Turning away from sin and to Truth.
And how do they come to this repentance? It’s granted to them by God . . . not us.
But how does God want to use us in the process? We must not be quarrelsome, but — instead — kind.
We need to be able to teach. That's the first of the “Parent’s 5 Jobs,” and it involves teaching Truth in a way that leads to knowledge, understanding, and wisdom founded on the fear of the Lord. You can learn more about that in our episode about the “Circle of Learning.”
We also need to patiently endure the evil that the demonically influenced individual does to us. That falls right in line with what we’ve learned about how God uses suffering to make us steadfast and mature.
And we need to correct this person with gentleness. Now, there are two important facets of that.
1. We need to be humble. It’s not about us. That word “gentle” refers to meekness, humility, and considering others before ourselves.
And . . .
2. We can’t not confront a person under demonic bondage. It’s not an option. If we are patient, kind, able to teach, and mature enough to endure suffering and persecution, it’s expected of us that we correct our opponents in humility.
It’s not about us. It’s about God, His glory, and His Truth.
If your child is under any kind of demonic bondage, you need to speak Truth into their lives, pray for them, pray over them, in all faith invoke the authority of Jesus Christ, and trust God to do the rest. If you can’t do that, or if you won’t do that, for the sake of your family member, please get some mature believer involved.
If necessary, the other TLP Counselors and I would love to be a resource for you.
Remember, if we want our children to grow up into Christ, we must parent in truth and love for God, to God, and through God for His glory . . . not our own.
To that end, join us next time as we look at “The Spiritual War in Your Home, Part 11 | how your family is to engage the world.”
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