[This Bible Study starts at the bottom of the May posts, with the “Iron Sharpens Iron Bible Study Intro” post. And remember that my answers to some of the questions are in [brackets].]
Is there ever a time that you think you encountered an angel or an angel in disguise, strongly felt the presence of evil or of the Lord, or experienced a miracle?
Open With Prayer
Read Lesson and Bible Verses:
Light as a Feather
I don’t expect anyone to believe me, but I’m going to share my story. It’s my story about how I came to fully trust in Jesus’ name and to passionately cling to Him, to never be able to doubt the existence of a spirit would, to place such a high priority on prayer and God’s Word, and to always remember my need for spiritual armor. And once again, you don’t have to believe me. (But don’t say I never warned you. And if you are a skeptic and get nothing from this whole section, just remember this: “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave.” In case you ever need it.)
My first real experience with the unseen world was when I was a pre-teen. I was at my ex-step-dad’s house for the weekend. My younger half-brother, his step-sister, and I were bored and wanted something to do. So we decided to play the classic game “Light as a feather, stiff as a board.”
Silly stuff . . . right?!?
We had my brother (around seven or eight years old at the time) lay down on the floor, while his step-sister (about ten years old) and I took a position on either side of him. We both slid two fingers from each hand under him. Then we closed our eyes and began to chant: “Light as a feather, stiff as a board; light as a feather, stiff as a board” over and over again for a minute or so. And then we tried to raise him. Nothing! Heavy as a rock and completely unable to lift him a smidgen.
I, being the smart older one, concluded that we didn’t chant long enough. “Let’s try it longer,” I said. And so we closed our eyes and began again: “Light as a feather, stiff as a board; light as a feather, stiff as a board.” We said this over and over and over again. We said it for so long that we kind of zoned out. It was like a trance-like state where we lost track of time and lost sense of our surroundings. After I-don’t-know-how-long, we decided that it had been long enough, and we tried to lift him again.
This time, I kid you not, he was light as a feather and stiff as a board. We were able to raise him up with only two fingers on each hand, eight fingers total between the two of us. We stood up and lifted him to chest level with absolutely no effort. Meanwhile, he was as stiff and as still as could be, eyes closed and unconscious, completely unaware of anything around him.
We, being two adolescent girls, giggled and ooohed and ahhed. “Oh, look. It works! Cool! Let’s take him out of the room and show Dad.”
We began to walk him to the door and said, “Sean, do not open your eyes! We are taking you out to show Dad.” But as soon as his head crossed over the threshold by the door, he shook awake with a “Huh” and immediately regained all of his weight and crashed to the floor.
We laughed and ran to tell our dad how it really worked. I don’t remember his response, but I’m sure it was like, “That’s nice! Great imagination, you guys. Now run along!” And we ran off and found other things to do, forgetting about this supernatural encounter and completely unaware of what really happened.
What I didn’t realize, though, was that we were inviting the spirit world to come to us. We were calling on their help. And the second time around, we must have given them enough time to do it. And I doubt, of course, that these were godly spirits. Godly spirits don’t play these kinds of games. It’s evil spirits, in the hopes of drawing you in more. These innocent games can oftentimes lead to dark paths.
As an adult looking back now, I am always surprised at how this really worked. And yet, I’m not surprised because I do, after all, believe the Bible when it says that there is an unseen, supernatural world around us. I guess I am just surprised at how two completely innocent, naive, adolescent girls could unknowingly call on the spirit world, thinking it was just a game, and actually get a powerful response.
[Update: I just saw America’s Got Talent the other night where one guy introduced his spirit friend, who helps him do unbelievable tricks. Actually, I should say that I switched channels while he did his act. But I saw enough of it to say this: this spirit friend is definitely a demon, regardless of what this man says. And if this man is actually a Christian like he claims he is (which is very unlikely in my opinion), then he is dancing with the devil.
The thing is, heavenly angels DO NOT play those kinds of games. Heavenly angels are God’s messengers, ordered around only by God, never by people. And they were created to worship God and minister to believers, not to do tricks and play games and intrigue people so that they want to know more about magic. (Hebrews 1:14)
Do not be too impressed by this kind of stuff, but take it very seriously. And stay away from it. (Which is why I turned the channel. As you’ll see, I once unwittingly invited demonic harassment by watching a show about something demonic. I do not mess with that kind of stuff anymore, even innocently or just out of curiosity.)
Demons are not your friends. They will be more than happy to play around with you for a while (in the hopes they can ensnare someone), but that kind of “fun” will be very costly in the end. And I do not say this judgmentally. I say it as a warning to not be led astray by tricks like that. Do not think it is all harmless, good fun. It is soul-destroying.
And if this man really did want to get rid of his spirit friend – which I do not think he does because he is benefitting from keeping this spirit around – it is possible. What he would have to do is renounce his association with the demon and turn to God completely, choosing Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ is the only way to be free from demons.]
The “light as a feather” thing isn’t my only encounter with the spirit world.
Over the years, I have woken up with the feeling of a “heavy weight” on my chest, feeling like it’s squeezing the air out of me or paralyzing me. While different people define it different ways, I believe that some of those times are not just bad dreams or “sleep paralysis,” but that they’re actually demonic attacks. Or more accurately, demonic harassment.
[Once again, you don’t have to believe me. But skeptics beware. Right before the first of these attacks, I had scoffed at a fellow Christian who told me about his experience with this. Yeah right! I thought. This guy’s just being overly dramatic, a daydreamer, seeing a demon behind every bush.]
In fact, I went through a stretch of five months of demonic harassment not too long ago. We were starting to meet regularly with a Bible study group, and I had been getting really serious about living a more holy, godly, God-seeking life. This was as I was going through my “furnace” time, several years of trials that broke me of my self-sufficiency so that the Lord could rebuild me in Him.
And these five months were a major part of refining me and growing me in the Lord. They were the most vivid encounters I have ever had with the spirit realm, not counting the “light as a feather” time. Here is a shorter version of what happened. (The longer one is in the “Chapter 22: In Jesus’ Name” post in the “Child of Mine” section at sweetlybrokengirl.blogspot.com.)
I had just finished watching a National Geographic program on the Codex Gigas (aka “the Devil’s Bible”). It wasn’t a “demonic” program. It wasn’t sensationalized or anything like that. It was just a look at an old book and who might have written it. I actually watched it because I wanted to be able to scoff at it, to criticize it. (I don’t scoff much anymore.)
Anyway, the joke was on me. That night, I woke up to the sound of screaming in my ears. Horrible, distant screaming, as though thousands of people were crying out in torturous pain all at once. I had never had that happen before. (And we were out in the middle of Iowa where there is complete silence at night, not even the sound of a car going by.) If I remember correctly, I called out the name of Jesus or said, “Jesus, help me,” and it stopped. But that was just the beginning of months of nighttime harassment.
Several times a week for the next five months, I was woken up with various different sensations. At different times, I woke up hearing screaming, feeling something heavy on my chest, feeling paralyzed, or (the usual one) feeling like my body was being electrocuted by a bolt of lightning or a blast of electricity. I would feel this electricity and it would paralyze my body and mouth, making it hard to call on the name of Jesus for a moment. Many times, I could almost sense something in the room before I went to bed, a chill or a presence.
Later on, it began to feel more vivid and violent. Once, in my “dream,” I could feel a snake-like demon wrap itself around my leg, which woke me up feeling electrocuted. And another time, I was “dreaming” that a demon was in the room, hovering over me in a cloud of black smoke as I slept. I could feel the intense hatred radiating from this being, as though he wanted to cause me serious harm, but was prevented from doing so. And then, I saw these long, black arms reach out to grab me. Immediately I felt the electricity and woke up, struggling to call on Jesus’ name as the “electricity” continued for a few more moments.
Other times, I could sense their presence as I slept, without really “seeing” anything. And just as I began to realize that I needed to call on Jesus for help, I would feel the electricity and wake up and struggle to break through the paralysis and make my mouth move again so that I could call on Jesus’ name.
There was one minor time when I heard “thunder” in my ears (that rumbly sound you get when you yawn really deep and long) after saying this in my dream, “You know the book that the guy wrote about his trip to heaven? I believe him.” Immediately after saying that in my dream, the thunder sound came and woke me up.
I’ve heard strange loud noises just as I was falling asleep and crossing over from conscious to unconscious, like breaking glass or a cup of marbles being dropped onto a sheet of metal. Weird noises that jolt you awake but would have no real explanation. (My husband has recently experienced this, too.)
I often have very disgusting, bizarre images that pop into my mind out of nowhere as I am falling asleep, grotesque images of severed heads, corpses, and really strange images I would never even think about imagining. And they come one after the next, as I try to focus my thoughts back on the Lord. I believe these are spiritual attacks, too, and not just “my own thoughts.”
And then there were a bunch of disturbing times when I woke up feeling like something was holding my mouth shut or sucking the air out of me or sucking my face up into a “vacuum.”
One time, I woke up feeling like something was choking me. I actually was fully conscious, laying there and thinking, Could I be choking myself? There’s one hand of mine, but where’s the other? Is it my own hand choking me? But it wasn’t; both of my hands were under my pillow. And as I continued to nod off again, I would feel the grip getting tighter and tighter. And then as I woke up again, it would loosen. That only continued for a minute or so, until I was awake enough to call out Jesus’ name. But it really bothered me to see how “physical” it was getting.
While you may doubt it, I no longer think that most of those “dreams” about a demonic presence were actually dreams. I know what a dream and a nightmare feel like. And this felt nothing like that. I never really jolt wide-awake with a nightmare. Nightmares are usually scary things that I can’t seem to wake up from. Or they simply play out for a little while, then go away, and then I don’t think of them again until I wake up. But I do jolt wide-awake during these attacks, feeling electrocuted. And usually it’s just as I realize that there is a demonic presence and I need to call on Jesus.
After really thinking them over, I have come to believe that they are more like visions – an awareness by my spirit of what is going on in the spirit realm around me, even as my physical body sleeps. You don’t have to agree with me, but this makes the most sense to me as I consider how it happens and what is going on in my mind right before these attacks happen.
At one point, near the end of the five months, I began to wonder how and where the “electricity” starts. Does it start in one spot, like my knee, and spread? Does it come on slow or fast? Could it really just be the residual effect of a bad dream?
Well, one morning removed all speculation that it might just be from a bad dream.
I was laying in bed in the morning, wide awake. The sun was shining, it was peaceful, and I was just lounging when, out of the blue, I felt like I got hit by a bolt of lightning. It was fast and hard and fierce, almost to the point of paralyzing me and making it hard to call on Jesus’ name, as it often was upon first waking up that way. But the difference was that this is the first time it happened while I was fully awake. So now I was absolutely sure that it couldn’t be just a lingering effect of a bad dream. These really were spiritual attacks.
And the weirdest “attack” happened when I was waking up one Sunday morning. (Almost every Saturday night to Sunday morning brought an attack, which was the first night that it happened, too. Odd!) I was lying in bed with my new baby next to me, and my husband was up getting ready for church in the bathroom. As I laid there fully awake, I felt something creeping up the foot of the bed toward me.
My oldest son (9 years old, at the time) loves to sneak up on us whenever he can, and it felt exactly as if he was trying to creep up our bed on his hands and knees. I could feel the mattress go down with each hand or knee, and I could feel the edge of my blanket getting pulled under his weight. And I popped my head up to catch him in the act, but . . . there was nothing there. Hmmm, that’s odd! I’m absolutely sure that I felt something.
I laid back down. And a few seconds later, it happened again. This time, I sat up quickly, and still I saw no one. How could he duck and hide so fast? I looked on the floor and around the bed to see if he was there and if he was just really good at hiding. But, of course, he wasn’t there. (And because we never could get our box-spring up the tiny staircase, our mattress was on the floor. So there was nowhere to hide.)
I was baffled by this point. And just then, my husband came into the room to get his clothes. And through gritted teeth, I told him, “Something invisible is . . . creeping . . . up . . . the . . . bed! I can feel it walking up the bed toward me.”
Not surprisingly, he cocked his eyebrows and looked at me with a skeptical, disturbed, you-must-be-crazy look (meant in the most loving way possible, I’m sure). And he turned around and went back to the bathroom without saying a word. (Can’t you just feel the love and support?)
Now, why I didn’t get out of bed at this point or call out Jesus’ name is a mystery to me. I guess I didn’t want to wake the baby yet, and I was still trying to figure out what was going on. So I laid there a little longer. And it started again. But this time, I had heard the door creak open first and then felt the mattress move. This time, it’s my oldest son for sure, I thought. And he can’t hide now!
I waited until I felt the creeping get up to my knees so that he couldn’t easily jump off the bed, and then I flung my arms and legs around so that I could catch him in the act. And, yep, that’s right - nothing was there.
It happened one or two more times before I fully believed that it wasn’t just a brilliant trick by one of my kids. I think I just didn’t want to believe that things like this would happen in the day when I was fully awake. (Oh, and my husband did tell me that he opened the door just a few moments before . . . when I heard the door creak. So there was an actual reason for the creaking door. Thank God!)
I didn’t feel it again after that, but I certainly wasn’t about to leave my baby up in the bed alone. So I woke him up and took him with me to get ready for church. And the rest of the day, I found myself singing the Ghostbusters theme song. I tried to stop myself, I really did. But I couldn’t, you know - with an invisible thing sneakin’ in my bed and all.
That was one of the most disturbing moments because I began to feel like not only were my nights unsafe, but now my days were, too. And it really scared me. Were “they” able to do other physical things, like push me down the stairs or smother me in my sleep? Would they hurt my children?
Sharing My Story
Even though this was a pretty significant thing that I was going through, I hesitated to share this story with anyone. I mean, how does something like this come up in a conversation?
“Oh, hi! Yeah, I’m doing pretty good . . . other than the demonic harassment that I’ve been going through! Have you ever been electrocuted by unseen forces or had an invisible being creeping up your bed? No? Well, I have!”
Seriously! That’s not a way to make or keep friends. But as I became more and more disturbed by it, I realized that I needed prayer support. And I didn’t want to wait until things got worse.
So I gathered up my courage and timidly asked my Bible study group for prayer about it. After all, I’m a licensed counselor . . . I know how we diagnose people who see or hear things that “aren’t there.” But it’s what happened and I couldn’t deny it or ignore it. And I really did want the prayer. (I can’t say that they really believed me, but they didn’t laugh and they did pray.)
And I did end up talking to my pastor, Pastor Bob, about it. I had wanted to talk to him, but at the same time I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. I mean, once this information is out there, there’s no controlling who knows about it and what they think about me. It was bad enough that my husband didn’t believe me and thought I was losing it. On top of that, I didn’t need to feel that everyone else was looking at me out of the corner of their eyes or keeping their distance from me. But, in the end, I’m glad it came up. Here’s how it happened:
After the first few weeks of this harassment, I began to think that my boys should get dedicated at church. I had thought about getting them dedicated when they were babies, but I didn’t really see too much point to it. It was like making a show of saying that we would raise them according to godly standards, which we were already committed to doing anyway. So I didn’t push it . . . until now.
As I laid in bed one night next to my husband, I was thinking about how standing up in front of your church family and having your children dedicated to God is really a kind of a show. A good show! It’s making a statement to fellow humans and to the invisible spirit realm around us that “I am choosing God’s team! I am on His side! And I am raising my children that way, too!” And with all that I was going through, making that statement in front of everyone - seen and unseen - suddenly seemed really wise and important.
As we laid there and these thoughts were going through my head, I decided to bring it up to my husband.
“I think the boys should be dedicated.” My husband knew what I was dealing with at night, but he didn’t really believe me. But just as I said the word “dedicated,” an awful, metallic “scream” came from right outside our bedroom window.
“WHAT”S THAT!?!” he hissed, jumping up to go outside and check.
Thank God! I thought. I was afraid that I was the only one who heard it!
“I’ll tell you what it is!” I yelled after him, more than content to let him be the one to check, and oddly pleased that it happened.
After finding nothing, he got back into bed. And as we laid there contemplating what it was . . . we heard the neighbor start his car, right outside of our window. Oh, Thank You, Lord! The “scream” was just the neighbor’s rusty car door opening. We got a good, nervous laugh out of that. And my husband agreed that the boys should be dedicated.
So we went to meet with Pastor Bob. I tried to play it cool, not bringing up what was going on, until he asked, “So, why do you want to do this now that your children are older? Obviously, you’ve seen others dedicate their children as babies before. How come you haven’t felt the need to do it until now?”
Well, I inhaled deeply and Here goes . . .
I gave the honest answer. I told him all that was going on and that I now saw the importance of standing before others and claiming that you are on God’s side.
And I was so grateful that I did bring it up because he went on to tell me about his experiences helping people who have gone through this kind of thing. He never raised his eyebrows at me. He never smirked. He never doubted what I said for one second. He just gave me some encouragement and advice about how to deal with this. (Because of his advice, I didn’t just call on “Jesus” anymore, I called on the name “Jesus Christ.” As he says, Jesus is a common name and there are even demons who will answer to that name. Good advice, thank you!)
And I was sooooo thankful that my husband was there to hear what Pastor Bob said. Up until then, he totally doubted that all of this stuff was really happening. I think he thought that my imagination was really getting the best of me and that I couldn’t decipher reality from nightmares. (After that, he just kind of doubted it for awhile. But I think that he started to really believe me in time.)
While I think that you really have to go through it yourself to put to rest all doubts, it was still good to have Pastor Bob back me up and to help my husband understand that this stuff does happen to people. Even to good, godly people. In fact, sometimes it happens because they are seeking God more, not because they have done anything wrong.
Eventually, these attacks became fewer and fewer, and nothing more dramatic or worse happened than what I have shared here. But I have had moments like these again in the following years. It seems that almost anytime I share my story of demonic harassment, I get an attack that night. (Coincidence?) The last one was right after I sent this story to a Christian radio program.
I wasn’t sure at first if I should share it with the host because it always feels weird to me to share this. I have told very few people. (Most people don’t say anything when you tell them something like this. They just look at you like you’ve lost it. Big surprise, huh?)
But in the end, I did email in my story because I felt that the guest host had misinformed a caller who asked if the “heavy weight sensation” could be a demonic attack. He told her not to look for a demon behind every bush, that not every weird thing is a demonic attack. Which is true, of course. But I felt like he had not given her the help and advice she needed in this situation. She needed to be encouraged and to be instructed to call on Jesus’ name for help. He left her vulnerable to further attacks, without having any tool to fight it.
So I sent my story, in the hopes that they could pass it on to her. And that very night, I woke up with another paralyzing, electrifying, air-sucked-out-of-my-lungs-as-my-mouth-was-sealed-shut feeling. It was the first time it happened in months.
And my first response - after calling out “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave” - was to think, Good. Now I know that I did the right thing. It made them mad and stirred them up. And I rolled over and fell back asleep.
A Blessing in Disguise
If there is anything that I have learned from all of this it’s that I am so thankful that God allowed this time of demonic disturbance. Because this, out of all the trials I have been through and lessons I have learned over the years, is probably what most strengthened my faith in Him, my dependence on Him, and my resolve to stay close to Him. And that’s why I feel it’s important to share it with others.
And oddly enough, having to go through it “alone” actually turned out to be for the best
For the first few months, I was quite upset and frightened by these experiences. I feared going to bed and I feared what demons might be capable of doing during the day.
And so, I began to read everything I could find on demonic harassment and spiritual warfare. And let me say, there is so much stuff out there that is just too “over the top” for me. But occasionally, I would find a well-grounded one that gave me some encouragement and understanding. And there was one such book that I really wanted my husband to read.
I knew that he didn’t really believe me and that he scoffed at these experiences on the inside. I mean, I could understand - because it isn’t until it happens to you that you can really believe it. But I still really wanted his support. I felt vulnerable and alone and frightened. And I wanted to know that I could turn to him, that he would be there to protect me and help me through it. I wanted him to be my safe place.
And so, I asked him to read this particular book about one family’s experiences with this kind of thing. But he wasn’t interested in it. I asked several times, and I even left the book out on the table when he would come home so that he could see it, right next to his books on yard care. And when he came home, he’d reach down and move the book that I wanted him to read, and he’d pick up the book on yard care. I was crushed. I really was.
And I felt more alone. I had really, really wanted - needed - his support. And I needed him to believe me. I thought maybe having him read about other sane people’s experience would help with both. But he never made a move to read it. And so I realized that it was up to me now. I couldn’t rely on him, so it was all up to me. And I took the book back to the church library.
And on top of that, a person from church offered to come and pray over my house with one of the pastors. “Yes, please,” I said. “Come over some time. I would really like that.” And he said he’d talk to the pastor and get ahold of me.
He never did.
They never did come and pray with me. And once again, I realized that I was really alone in this. I had a husband who didn’t believe me and I had no one else to really help me (except for the brief conversations with the head pastor. Thank you, Pastor Bob!).
And while I felt sorry for myself for a little while, I came to eventually realize that it was the best thing that could have happened. Because having to face this trial on my own forced me to dig deep into myself and to find a strength and courage that I didn’t know I had. It forced me to find my hope, support, and help in the one who I needed most: Jesus. And I found this when I turned fully to Him, in prayer and in His Word and in clinging to the power of His name. He would be there to protect me and to help me through it.
He was my safe place.
If I had learned to rely on my husband and if I made him or others fight my battle for me, I would have never found the strength and boldness that come with fully relying on God. I would have learned to shrink back during the battle in fear, instead of learning to bolster myself in Christ and walk bravely forward.
And I remember the exact moments that I found this strength and boldness. One was when I had to return that book to the church library. On the drive to church, I made a comment to my husband about returning the book. I was hoping he would say to keep it a little longer so that he could read it.
But he didn’t.
And knowing that I was really on my own made me go, Okay, Lord, it’s just You and me now! And I realized that if all I had was Jesus . . . well . . . then I had all that I really needed.
And the other moment was when I was lying in bed one morning imagining what the spirit world was like. I was daydreaming about what it would be like to actually see a demon with my physical eyes. I didn’t want to see one, I was just thinking about what it would be like. Like what would happen if I looked over by my bedroom door and saw one standing right there?
In my imaginary scenario, I imagined myself saying something like this to the demon, “Okay, you just stay over there and I’ll stay over here, and it’ll be fine that way.”
And that’s when it dawned on me that the spiritual world is really all around us, all the time. Yes, I knew that, I just never really lived like it. These demons and angels have always been there. And just because I was physically experiencing their presence didn’t mean that anything was really all that different. And if I didn’t have to be scared before this then I really didn’t have to be scared now, just because I was “sensing” them in a new way.
At that moment, I honestly felt all the fear and anxiety drain out of me. I wasn’t experiencing anything “new.” It’s a battle that we have always been in the midst of. And it’s a battle we’ve always been a part of. I just didn’t take it seriously until now. And this is when I realized the seriousness of the spiritual battle that we are supposed to be fighting. And I was convicted about how lax I had been in that area.
And suddenly, it wasn’t about running away or cowering in fear anymore. It was about training for battle. It was about putting on my spiritual armor and living more righteously so that I could be effective in that battle. It was about seeking to live a more holy and God-glorifying life so that I didn’t give any “open doors” or “welcome mats” to fallen angels, such as watching shows about the “Devil’s Bible”.
It was about the power of the Holy Spirit living in me and about making sure that I lived in such a way as to be in line with the Spirit. It was about immersing myself in the Word and in prayer so that I was as close to God as I could be. And it was about Jesus and the protection that He gives and the power of His name. (In fact, I half wanted to yell out to the demons in the darkness, “See what you’ve done! You’ve actually driven me closer to God and made me try to live more righteously. Are you happy with yourselves!?!”)
During this time, I had to train myself to always have the name of Jesus on my tongue the moment that I woke up. I would go to bed in prayer, asking for protection and for strength, and rehearsing this one line over and over: “In the Name of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave! In the Name of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave!” I came to learn that Jesus’ name was one of my strongest weapons against evil.
And I practiced keeping it in that order, too, instead of “I command you to leave, in Jesus’ name.” Because I was afraid that I might be too sleepy to say it all right away, and I might accidentally end up just saying, “I command you to leave . . . zzzzzzzzzz.”
So I made sure to at least get Jesus’ name out first. Because I have no power in myself to command any demon to leave. It’s all because of Jesus’ name and power and authority. (Which is why I don’t know if unbelievers have any ability to use Jesus’ name against evil. Because they don’t have the right to Jesus’ name if they are not under His authority.)
I have read other people’s ideas of how to “battle” demonic harassment. And some are amusing and some are disturbing, and many are way too dramatic and complicated. I have read that we should get forceful and yell at them, that there are all kinds of rituals that we need to go through to get rid of them, that we have to use certain words in a particular order, and that we have the power to “order” heavenly angels around and give them commands to get rid of the demons.
In my experience, I don’t think this is the way it is. The only power and authority and protection that we have is because of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in us. We were made a little lower than the angels, so I highly doubt that demons are going to be threatened by any big show of our anger or aggression. What can we possible do to them? And rituals are just “extras,” they are ways to make us feel like we have some control or authority by what we do. And thinking that we can control or command angels . . . well, that’s witchcraft.
[I just want to insert something here, with all the books on and interest in witchcraft, ESP, mind power, etc. For anyone who may think that it is harmless or desirable to try to tap into the power of the spirit world . . . Don’t! Do not tinker around with the spirit world.
Yes, I do believe that we need to be aware of it and to battle in it through prayer, righteous living, Jesus’ name, etc. But it is not biblical to try to use, control, or mess around with spirits. God calls this kind of stuff witchcraft and sorcery. And in the Bible you can see just how severely He deals with those who practice it.
And we need to be cautious about going around and casting demons out of everything and everyone. That is not our role and it goes beyond our area of authority. I believe that we can cast out demons that we encounter personally or that come to us, not that we can go out looking for demons to cast. And I don’t think we have the authority to send them anywhere in particular, just to “cast them out,” away from us. Even Jesus did not send the demons to the Abyss in Luke 8:30-32.
Nor should we cast them out of unbelievers who show no sign of wanting to put their faith in Jesus. That would be irresponsible. “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied [no Holy Spirit], swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” Matthew 12:43-45. Just throwing this out there for whatever reason.]
The Bible, I believe, tells us all that we really need to know about how to battle demonic harassment. Calling on Jesus’ name causes most to leave immediately. Luke 10:17 says “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’”
And for the more stubborn demons: prayer, along with Jesus’ name! Jesus refers to a kind of demon that can only be driven out by prayer in Mark 9:29. That’s all I’ve seen in the Bible: Jesus’ name and prayer!
And of course, there is also a whole set of spiritual armor to put on in general, according to Ephesians 6: 10-18: the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, a readiness to share the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit - which is the Word of God - and prayer.
But all of this needs to be in place all of the time anyway. And, as Jesus tells us in the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:13, we need to be praying that God “delivers us from the evil one.” We need to pray that He protects us from Satan and his schemes . . . because prayer like this matters! It’s not just wishful thinking.
I never needed to make a big, dramatic show. All I ever had to do was calmly say, sometimes even just whispering (when my husband was sleeping next to me and I didn’t want him to know that it happened again), “In the Name of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave.” And they usually did immediately.
Sometimes, though, the electricity wouldn’t leave right away, and so I would pray in my mind, calling out for Jesus’ help in getting rid of it. And then after repeating that command several times, it would subside. But the point is, it always went away, never lasting longer than a minute or so, when I called on Jesus’ name.
Now, I could be wrong. There could be cases of demonic activity that require much more than that (such as when someone has been immersed in the occult and needs to break ties with it). But I pray that I never find out! I mean, I am not a demon expert or anything. (And I don’t want to be!) But for now, prayer and Jesus’ name are all that I believe I need! Just want you to know, though, that I don’t understand it all. I’m just telling you what my experience has been.
[And for the record, I am not referring to demonic possession here or occultic demonic activity. I am referring to times when a genuine believer is simply being harassed by demons. But when it comes to demonic possession and to those who are immersed in the occult, there will probably be more to do in order to cleanly and thoroughly break ties with the demons than simply praying and calling on Jesus’ name. But since that is not my area of experience, I am speaking only to the believers who are simply being bothered by demons.]
Through those five months of harassment, I had learned to lean on and rely on Jesus in a way I never did before. And once I found this strength in Jesus, these experiences seemed less like harassment and disturbances, and more like . . . well, disruptions. Disruptions to a good night’s sleep.
The Spiritual Battle
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
For a while, I had to repeat this to myself every time I went to bed. I would being lying in bed, nervously scanning the room and the corners for any weird lights or shadows, listening for any odd creaking, trying to be aware of any coldness or temperature changes that swept through the room, and just repeating the phrase “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” over and over again.
It really does help to fill your mind with Scripture. Because that is the weapon that we have been given to battle the enemy. The sword of the Spirit. Jesus Himself gave us the example of using Scripture to battle Satan while He was being tempted in the desert. Do we think we can do any better without a solid grounding in Scripture?
One thing’s for sure, this whole time period has taught me to take the spirit world seriously and to remember that there is an eternity out there waiting for us. And what we do on this earth is not nearly as important as what we do in the spirit realm, for God’s kingdom.
It taught me that there is a spiritual battle going on around us all the time. And I need to get involved with it, through prayer and seeking righteousness and drawing ever nearer to God through His Word and spending time with Him. I need Him desperately because there is a battle going on around me – a battle for the souls of people – and I cannot be effective in it or protect myself from it apart from a complete, humble dependence on Him.
I believe that we can give demons access to us by how we live and act. We invite them to come closer and influence us more when we give in to temptations, when we say things we shouldn’t, and when we fill our lives, homes, ears, eyes, and minds with things that are not God-glorifying.
And we have more power to keep them back when we live more righteously, are more aligned with the Holy Spirit, and are relying on the power of Jesus’ name.
Once again, I am not talking about demonic possession here, just about demonic harassment. And I am talking about a solid believer in Christ who isn’t knowingly engaging in sin, not about someone who has “shaken hands with the devil” and drifted far from God’s ways.
The thing is, some people might be being harassed by evil because they have allowed evil to come too close. When we put out “welcome mats” for them, we give demons the right to visit us. Any time we turn away from God and toward Satan in any way, we remove ourselves from God’s full protection. And demons will push open any door we willingly crack open for them. And then a simple “I command you to leave in Jesus’ name” might not work.
If you are being harassed and “I command you to leave in Jesus’ name” isn’t working, pray and ask God if you have given demons any “legal right” to be in your life, any “welcome mat” that invited them in - things such as bringing “false god” items into your home, willingly engaging in sin, being unforgiving toward anyone, becoming overly prideful (the sin that caused Satan’s fall), having outbursts of anger, tinkering with temptation, drifting from God, listening to Satan’s lies instead of God’s truth, trying to live self-sufficiently instead of being dependent on God, engaging in “witch-crafty” kinds of things like palm-reading, fortune-telling, Ouija Boards, etc.
You need to get rid of the “welcome mats” first: confess known sin and ask for forgiveness, break any ties you’ve made with evil, renounce any lies you’ve allowed yourself to believe, clean out any “false god” items from your home, renounce and ask forgiveness for any times you have engaged in “witch-crafty” kinds of things, root out unforgiveness from your heart and fully forgive those who have hurt you, fall at the feet of Christ in humility, etc. If demons no longer have a right to be there, they have to leave when you command them to leave in Jesus’ name (from what I understand, which isn’t much).
I also think that the command to praise God and be thankful, even when we are in pain, is partly meant for our protection from evil. Demons are attracted to, thrive on, and fuel anger, jealousy, fear, etc. But I think that it will drive them back when they see us praising God and being thankful, no matter our circumstances. During those five months, I kept the Christian radio on all the time, even quietly at night. I don’t think of it like “magic,” but I do think demons are repelled by praise.
Think of demons like the wizard of Oz, a giant scary projection in the air. As long as we keep focused on the giant scary projection, we’ll remain terrified. And fear feeds on itself. But if we can take our focus off of the demons and put it on God and praise Him for everything we can praise Him for, the demons lose some of their power and are bothered by the praise we give God. And if we can look past the giant scary projection and see that it is all just a “light and smoke show,” it takes the terror away.
They have power over you if you remain terrified of them, if you live in sin and cut yourself off from God’s protection, if you believe that they have more power over you than they do, if you fail to recognize when something is a spiritual attack, if you forget that you have the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ name on your side, and if you forget that prayer is your life-line.
Of course, this isn’t to minimize the real damage that they can do in the world when they entice people to rebel against God, lie, cheat, steal, murder, rape, etc. Demons do everything they can to hurt, kill, terrorize, and destroy. But this is all the more reason to take the spirit world seriously and to learn to recognize spiritual attacks and to get into the spiritual battle.
Whether we like it or not, we are in a battle. But are we actively fighting in it, for God’s Kingdom and glory? Or are have we dropped out armor and plopped down on the ground under a nice shade tree to get some rest, making ourselves more vulnerable to attacks and to being led astray?
Even if you are not experiencing anything like I did, we need to be in the battle by praying for our families, society, the leaders, the world, etc., and by seeking righteousness and remaining intimately connected to the Lord.
While demons wield a lot of power and influence over the world, when it comes to Christians they can only do so much to us because we have the Holy Spirit and spiritual armor. And so, they usually try the “light and smoke show” to make us more afraid than we need to be, to make us cower in our beds instead of taking up our armor and fighting back. While I wish that these attacks would never happened again, I have come to see them as a normal part of doing spiritual battle.
Something that helped me during those five months when I really wanted a break from the constant assault from the enemy was this verse:
Ephesians 6: 13: “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.”
As I read it one day, I was struck by the word at the end of the verse: stand. After we have done everything, we need to stand. Oh, how I wanted to read “and after you have done everything, to sit and relax.” But that’s not what we are told. We are supposed to stand, even after fighting today’s battles. We are supposed to stand and be ready for the next attack, never dropping our armor and letting our guard down.
Once I realized that this is just the way it is – that constant assault is just part of the battle - I didn’t fight it so hard anymore. I didn’t try to run. I didn’t get overly upset about what was happening to me. We are not supposed to be able to sit back and relax, not on this earth and not while we are in the midst of a spiritual battle. So I just took up my armor and dealt with it as it came, knowing that I wasn’t fighting on my own. I had the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit on my side.
It was helpful and encouraging to realize that nothing odd was happening to me. It’s just a part of a Christian’s life. (And yet, other Christians think it is odd, which is strange because we are supposed to know that demons and angels are real. They are not mythical. And yet, many Christians live like they are.) And I had to accept that these attacks were something that I would just have to deal with, along with all the other battles and trials that I was facing.
(In fact, if I do not have any attacks like these for a long time, I begin to wonder if I have gotten comfortable and lazy, if I have become distracted with life and am forgetting God’s Kingdom. I think we all need to be living in such a way that the demons paint a great big target on our backs. When they see us get up in the morning, they should be saying, “Oh no! Not them again! Get ‘em! Make ‘em stop!”)
Anyway, the reason I am sharing this very condensed story is because I want to challenge others to seriously think about the fact that we are in the midst of a spiritual battle all the time. And yet how often are we aware of it? Do we engage in that battle or do we focus on making a nice, comfy life on earth? Do we take the command to maintain our spiritual armor seriously? Do we believe that our prayers really do have an effect on the spirit realm and that the way we live has an effect on our prayers and on God’s Kingdom? Do we really believe that Jesus’ name has power?
It’s something we all need to think about seriously (without being overly interested in spirits). And we all should be prepared for if and when the attacks come our way.
But if I may point out, most attacks are not as vivid and obvious as what I went through. Most are subtle and more “human” kinds of attacks, such as shame and anxiety, or temptations to dabble with sin, to envy, to gossip, to become jealous, to run after idols, to become bitter, to be prideful, etc.
And then there are the attacks like sleepless nights that wear us down, unfair treatment from someone else, addictions, accidents, thinking negative things about ourselves, hearing voices (possibly attacks in some cases), unexplained health problems, evil thoughts that pop into your mind, suicidal thoughts, etc. Satan has many tools to distract us, wear us down, or cause us to fear and doubt and sin.
[I’m not saying that everything I listed is always a spiritual attack. Just that they can be. But it takes discernment to know when it’s a spiritual attack, or when it’s something we brought about by our own actions, or when it’s just a part of living in a fallen world.]
While these are less obvious as “demonic” attacks, they can be spiritual battles just as much as sensing demons in your room at night. And they are probably much more effective at getting us away from God and righteousness, because they are so subtle.
And I think they can be much more damaging to our lives and our faith than the kind of attacks I went through. The attacks I experienced drove me closer to God, because I knew that I needed Him to make it through those. They were clearly spiritual.
But the more subtle, “earthly” attacks can sneak up on us before we know it. And some of them can look so enticing (like a temptation to have an affair or to get rich quick in an ungodly way, or when we get filled with pride and develop an over-inflated sense of self-importance) that we don’t even recognize them as attacks, as part of a spiritual battle. So we need to be even more on guard against those.
And of course, not everything that goes wrong is a demonic attack. There isn’t a demon behind every bush. (Actually, maybe there is. I don’t know. I can’t see demons. . . . Thank God!) Sometimes it is just a part of living in a fallen world or a natural consequence of something. But we need to be alert for if it is spiritual and to battle it as such. We can’t fight spiritual battles with earthly weapons.
An Opportune Time
“When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him [Jesus] until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13)
Jesus had just gone through that time of testing in the desert. He successfully beat Satan with Scripture and by resisting temptation. He was hungry and probably physically weakened. And I am sure that He would have loved a long rest from Satan’s attacks. Didn’t He earn it, after all? A nice, long rest?
But Satan doesn’t play fair. He doesn’t run off with his tail between his legs and say, “Okay, I give up. You win. I’ll leave You alone now. You are too strong for me.” He simply slinks off to the side, into the shadows, and begins watching for an opportune time.
Until an opportune time.
Satan is always watching. It’s the only way to know when an opportunity arises. Always looking for an opening. An invitation. If he did it with Jesus, you can bet he is doing it with us. Never drop your spiritual armor. (Actually, there is only one Satan and he can only be in one place at a time. But there are multitudes of demons, watching and waiting, looking for open doors. So to be more accurate, I wouldn’t say that Satan himself is watching me but one of his many demons. I’m sure Satan has much bigger fish to fry, a much bigger target in mind than little, old me. So when I say “Satan,” I am talking about his many henchmen.)
But how many of us live like Satan and his demons are out of the picture, like they aren’t just off to the side, hiding in the shadows, waiting for the right time?
But when life is going well and we are happy and praising God, he is waiting for a moment that he can steal our happiness and cause us to despair and doubt God. Or he lets us be happy and lets us gain even more, but he causes us to worship what makes us happy and turn it into an idol, taking our focus off of Christ and eternal things and people’s souls.
When we have just experienced our greatest spiritual high, he lets us be giddy with excitement and lets us think, I feel so close to God right now that there is no way I could sin that bad. And then he whistles on his little Pied Piper pipe while we dance right along behind him on a spiritual high, not even aware that he is leading us right over the edge of a cliff. Our biggest falls might just come after our highest spiritual highs because we felt like we were beyond temptation. We never saw it coming because we didn’t think we were capable of falling after such a spiritual high.
When we have neglected God for too long – failing to pray, to confess sin, to examine our hearts and minds, to meet with God in His Word, to connect with other strong believers – Satan knows that we are vulnerable to temptation, to being misled, to following after other “gods” and “truths,” to having our ears tickled by what we want to hear, to following after our own desires, and to falling in line with the way the rest of the world thinks and lives. And he simply nudges us along a little here and there, not even having to push hard because we are nibbling our way lost all on our own, making his job a lot easier.
When we are exhausted after a long spiritual task or spiritual battle, desperate for a rest, weak and vulnerable, and feel like we deserve a time of just being happy, Satan doesn’t have to do much to push us over the edge. He just blows a little bit of temptation on us and we fall over like a crumbling statue, too tired to care anymore or to fight back.
When we choose to sin or glorify evil in any way (with the movies we watch, music we listen to, outbursts of anger, gossip we spread, bitterness that we let take root, prideful thoughts that we tinker with, ways we compromise our standards and morals, lustful thoughts that we entertain, etc.), we give Satan a very clear invitation into our hearts and lives. He doesn’t even have to force his way in. He just has to waltz right through the open door, having been given a right to be there.
When God has put us in the desert for a long time and has been so silent for so long that we are desperate to hear from Him, Satan dangles his counterfeit rewards, experiences, and promises in front of us, knowing that we might be an easy target. We are so anxious for an answer or for something to happen that we might convince ourselves that Satan’s counterfeit offers are really from God. He knows that our desire for “more” might get the better of us, and that our focus on our emotions and on “emotional highs” is the open door into our hearts.
When life is hard, when the trials are many, or when a tragedy strikes, he stands on the side of us, whispering into our spiritual ears.
“If God really loved you, He wouldn’t have let this happen.”
“Does He really care about you? Is He really listening?”
“Did God really say that you shouldn’t do such-and-such?”
“He is taking too long. You are going to have to do something about this if you want things to work out the way you want.”
“Uh oh, you see that burden lying there on the floor? You dropped it. Better pick it back up again. You’ve got to keep everything under control. All the balls up in the air. Because God can’t be trusted.”
And he waits to see which hook we bite on to. He’s looking for an opportunity to get a foothold into our lives and our hearts. And he will come at us at the worst possible times for us because they are the best possible times for him. And he will come at us at the best possible times in our lives because we feel so close to God and so spiritual that we simply don’t think it’s possible for us to fall. (Plus, he hates it when we thank and praise God, so he’ll come and try to discourage us so that we stop doing it. Which is why I am learning to praise God during the hard trials and the pain. At least I can win that battle, even if I can’t change my circumstances.)
The point is, he is always looking for an opportune time. He examines us more closely than we do. He knows our weak points better than we do. And there are many more of them (demons) than of our own self. And the only way we can have a chance to live victoriously and to fend off the attacks is to remain in the Lord daily and to keep our spiritual armor on. Because it is the One who is in us that is greater than the one who is in the world.
And if we are not living in Him – aligned with Him, abiding in Him, obedient to Him, living righteously and confessing sins, praying and growing closer to Him through the Word – then we are vulnerable to the attacks and deceptions of the evil one.
It is an uphill, constant, daily battle, and yet how little we live like it is.
Once again, as Ephesians 6: 13 says: “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.” We are not told to sit down and rest after a spiritual battle. To take a break, put our armor down, give our muscles a chance to rest. We are told to stand. To always stand and be ready for the next attack.
I know that I would not be living with such a daily awareness of this if I had not gone through those five months of clearly demonic harassment. Five scary months that I am so incredibly thankful I went through. Because I live with this daily awareness of the reality of Satan and his evil ones, of how we give him invitations and open doors, and of my desperate need to abide daily in the Lord, to seek righteousness.
Those five months were some of the most faith-changing months of my life. I could only hope that every believer would have such a humbling, eye-opening experience like that. (And yet I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.)
But it amazes me at how few people took me seriously when I told them about it, how many scoffed instead of really listened, how many live like Satan is just a myth and isn’t real and isn’t active in the world today.
How aware are you that you are always being watched? That Satan is real and active and always looking for any invitation you give him? Waiting for an opportunity to attack your faith, your trust in God, your integrity? Whispering lies about you and about God in your spiritual ears? Dangling a million hooks in front of you, hoping you will bite onto just one and give him an opening into your life? Do you live with this awareness? With a deep, desperate, daily need for the Lord? What “opportune time” will Satan find in your life?
Make no mistake and do not take this lightly. He is watching. Always watching. And so we need to be abiding in the Lord. Always abiding. Always standing. Always maintaining our armor.
In Case of Attack
If you are facing clearly spiritual attacks, try to think about what may be causing it. It could be because you are seeking God more than ever or doing some great work for Him, because these things really provoke and anger the demons. And if this is the case, then keep it up, and remember to keep your spiritual armor on, to use the Word as your sword, to remain in the Lord, and to pray and use Jesus’ name.
But if you are not growing in the Lord, it could be because . . .
- you are in sin (or have un-confessed sin) and have grieved the Holy Spirit, shutting yourself off from His protection. You put out a “welcome mat” to demons through things like not forgiving someone else, entertaining lustful thoughts or behaviors, bitterness, outbursts of rage, jealousy, an uncontrolled tongue, giving yourself over to anxiety, etc. This gives them a “legal right” to harass you.
- you dabbled with or engaged in something ungodly, New Age, witchcraft-y, or from a false religion, such as horoscopes, voodoo, psychics, Ouija Board, yoga, certain martial arts programs, Freemasonry, Eastern healing treatments (check into the nature of things like acupuncture, spirit cleansings, meditation, etc.), ungodly movies, ungodly music, etc. (I am not saying that all of these things will lead directly to demonic attacks, but they can be “welcome mats” for it.)
- you brought something into your house that is occultic, New Age, ungodly, witchcraft-y, or from a false religion, such as statutes of false gods, trinkets or jewelry with occultic symbols, certain antiques that are handed down which may have occultic roots or purposes, books or movies that celebrate witchcraft, humanism, false gods, etc.
- other people attracted demons and you are just a bystander who was in the vicinity, such as being with people who visited a psychic even if you didn’t get a reading or letting a family member worship false gods in your home.
- someone else did something to you, such as abused you or involved you in something ungodly, etc. These kinds of things can become gateways for demons to enter your life. They can lead to intense negative thoughts and emotions which demons thrive on. Even things like car accidents or your parents divorcing can open the door to intense fear and anxiety, which can attract demons.
- ancestors welcomed and encouraged demons by things they engaged in, such as witchcraft, Freemasonry, etc.
- you have believed in lies from the enemy or embraced falsehoods, about yourself, God, life, others, etc.
Take the time to figure out (and pray about) why the attacks are coming or when they started. Seek help from a pastor or godly friend. And remember that demons have a “legal right” to harass you if you have opened the door to them through sin. If you need to, pray and ask God if you have opened the door to them in any way. And confess any sins that need to be confessed.
Renounce any sins from your family’s past and break any legal rights demons have to your family, such as through a history of witchcraft. Use prayer and Jesus’ name, and claim His blood and protection.
[I am not sure about the practice of some of this, such as “breaking curses” and “praying for Jesus’ blood to protect us.” (Doesn’t it already?) I do not know if some of this is extra-biblical or not, but I included it so that you can know about it, look-it up online to get more information, and make up your own mind about it. While some of it might not be totally necessary, I don’t see what it (such as extra prayer) can hurt.
However, I do have a problem when someone acts like you have to pray their prayers, word for word, in order to be successful in spiritual warfare. I do not see that kind of strict, formulaic prayer-following taught in the Bible. To me, it just seems to be that person’s way of selling their own views, of making their prayers appear more necessary than they might be. No one’s formulaic prayers should take precedence over what the Bible teaches. So be discerning.
Anyway, you can find more info about this on-line. Just make sure it is not a site that sensationalizes demonic attacks or that gives a whole bunch of weird rituals to get rid of them. Those kinds of things are more about us and about using our power than they are about using Jesus’ name and the power of the Holy Spirit.]
Purge your home and life of things that celebrate false religions, evil, or the occult. Ask the Holy Spirit to purify your mind. Consider the music you listen to and movies you watch. Do they celebrate evil and things that Satan enjoys? Surround yourself with music that praises God.
Thank God for Jesus’ sacrificial death and pray that His blood covers and cleanses your home, your life, and your family’s past if they were involved in ungodly things. (In fact, praise God a lot. Praise repels demons. At least I would think it does.) Pray daily that God sends His heavenly angels to protect you from evil. And learn to call on Jesus’ name when the attacks come. They have to leave when you call on Jesus’ name, maybe not immediately but they do leave quickly if you keep calling on His name and praying (as long as you have confessed and sought forgiveness for any sins that gave them an open door into your life).
And remember that Scripture is the “sword of the Spirit.” Jesus quoted Scripture to resist the temptations of Satan and to defeat him. And we would be wise to do the same. Memorize verses that fit with the ways Satan harasses and tempts you, and say them out loud whenever you need to.
When your eyes are opened to the spiritual battle going on around us all the time, your life and faith will never be the same again. And I can honestly say that those five months were some of the best things that ever happened to me and my faith. I really do thank God for them.
1. Does this topic trigger any thoughts or questions you want to share? Any other Bible verses?
2. Do you believe my story? What is your view of what happened to me? Any experiences of your own?
3. All kinds of sensationalistic, crazy, supernatural stories abound nowadays. People are enamored by these kinds of stories. Do you think miracles still happen? Are angels active on earth? Do supernatural things happen? And what are some ways that we can discern between true stories of supernatural events and made-up ones?
4. Is there such thing as ghosts? Are people who have died allowed to return to visit someone who is alive? Or are these demonic spirits in disguise?
5. What about in 1 Samuel 28 when Saul called up the spirit of Samuel? Was it really Samuel or was it a demon in disguise or something else? And what does the Bible say about contacting the dead?
6. How do you think people, in general, view the spirit world? In what ungodly, inappropriate ways do people tinker with it? What is the danger in this?
7. What are some wrong ways that Christians might view, treat, or tinker with the spirit world? What is the danger in this? Is it just harmless fun?
8. Can you think of examples of things that we might call “spiritual attacks” but that aren’t? (What might they be instead? Things we brought on ourselves? A result of living in a fallen world?) What are some things that we don’t think of as “spiritual attacks” but that actually might be? What is the danger of mislabeling a spiritual attack? How can we know the difference?
9. How is it evident when someone has too much interest in (or is too focused on) the spirit world? Too little interest? What are the dangers of too much or too little interest in it?
[My answer: It is possible to see a demon behind every bush and behind every problem we have. And while we need to remember that demons are real, we shouldn’t be explaining away everything as demonic. Sometimes, we sin because we chose to, not because “Satan made me do it.” And sometimes, bad things happen because we live in fallen world. So we need to be aware of demons and attacks, but without being consumed by them or overly fascinated with them. And we need to remember that the Holy Spirit in us is greater than any demon. We as Christians are not really at the mercy of demons unless we allow ourselves to be - by dropping our spiritual armor or inviting them in with ungodly behavior.
And then, there is the opposite problem where people don’t bother to take the demon world seriously. They think of them as mythical, like dragons and leprechauns. And I think this leaves them vulnerable to temptations and attacks. Because the best attacks are the ones you don’t even see coming or know are happening. God is very clear in the Bible about the reality of evil. We have no excuse for not taking it seriously and for not understanding our need for spiritual armor.]
10. What is a balanced view of the spirit world? And how would someone with a balanced view of it live?
11. Do you live with too much, too little, or just enough awareness of it?
12. What do you think heavenly angels do, and what are they here for? (What do most people think they are here for?) What are the dangers of overestimating heavenly angels and what they can do? Of underestimating them? And what does the Bible say about angels? (Find as many verses as you can.)
[If we overestimate what angels can do then we might not take our responsibilities as seriously, or we might throw caution to the wind more, or we might expect things out of them that they do not do. If we underestimate what they can do then we might not take them seriously, and we probably don’t understand the jobs they have on earth, and we might find ourselves stressing too much or panicking because we feel like we have been left alone on earth to fend for ourselves. But God has sent His angels to minister to His children. And we can take comfort in that.]
13. What do you think fallen angels, including Satan, are capable of doing? (What do most people think they are capable of doing?) What are the dangers of overestimating them? Of underestimating them? And what does the Bible say about demons? (Find as many verses as you can.)
[If we overestimate them, we might focus on them too much. We might imagine them to be everywhere and to be more powerful than they really are, which might make us more scared than we need to be. But if underestimate them, then I think we put ourselves at risk because we are blind to the reality of the spirit world and our need to battle in it and to maintain our armor and to remain in the Lord.]
14. Why do some Christians live as though Scripture’s plain teaching about the spirit world and hell are myths? What danger is there in doing that?
15. Do you believe that our prayers really do have an effect on the spirit realm? Do you believe that the way we live has an effect on our prayers and God’s Kingdom? How? Any examples?
16. What do you think most Christians believe about question #15? What are the consequences of that? And do you think that Christians are doing a good job of engaging in the spiritual battle? If not, why? And what needs to change?
[I don’t know what most Christians think. I just know that for so long I didn’t really take it seriously. I knew the spirit world was “out there somewhere,” but I was more concerned with making my nice, little life more comfortable. I didn’t have eternity in mind as much as I do now. I didn’t take the spirit world seriously enough to change my life, to seek righteousness, to understand the importance of being in the battle and maintaining spiritual armor, and to recognize when things might be spiritual attacks. And I didn’t pray as much as I do now, for protection over my family and for other people who are going through hard times, those who may be going through attacks of their own and those who may be vulnerable to them. I even pray now every time I hear an ambulance or fire truck. I pray that God brings healing for the hurt ones, I ask protection for the first responders, and I pray that God sends His heavenly angels to protect everyone and keep evil away because I understand now how real and active evil is, how they thrive on causing trouble in a bad situation. My eyes have been opened and my focus and priorities have shifted. I really do thank God for those attacks.]
17. Read about our spiritual armor again in Ephesians 6:10-18. What do these mean to you? Why do they matter? And which do you personally need to “put on” more regularly?
18. What are some times and ways that we “drop our armor”? How does this make us vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy? Do we live like it does?
19. What are some other things that make us vulnerable to attacks or that invite attacks?
20. What does this mean for us: “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
21. Besides what I suggested, what other kinds of things might Satan whisper in our ears? Why? How about for you personally? What would God’s response be?
22. What kind of hooks does he like to dangle before us, hoping that we bite? Which might you be most likely to bite? (Awareness is half the battle.)
23. What kinds of footholds do we give Satan? How might we roll out the “welcome mats” for them, deliberately or inadvertently? (How about you personally?) What can we do about it? Examples?
24. Discuss other kinds of trials, struggles, and attacks, ones that might not feel like spiritual battles to us. How would we handle these differently if we saw them as spiritual battles and not just as “normal, human struggles”? Can you see any of these in your own life, the weak areas where Satan might be able to attack you best, wear you down, or gain a foothold?
25. What do you think about the “In Case of Attack” section? Can you relate or do you have any examples?
26. I said that “I think we all need to be living in such a way that the demons paint a great big target on our backs. When they see us get up in the morning, they should be saying, “Oh no! Not them again! Get ‘em! Make ‘em stop!” Discuss this. How should we be living in order to accomplish this?
27. There have been reports of several people who wouldn’t board the planes that crashed during the 9-11 attacks. They turned around at the gate because they smelled rotting meat or felt a strong feeling of danger. And then there are some people who have experienced times that God told them to check on a certain friend, only to find out that their friend was in danger and needed help at that very moment.
What do you make of these things? Does God send these kinds of messages to us today? Do we listen? Do we obey? Do you think it’s possible that God warned more people about the plane crash, but only a few listened and took it seriously? What makes the difference? Who “hears” these messages and who misses them? And if God does indeed still speak like this to people, how should it affect our lives?
28. And how can we be careful to not get carried away when it comes to “hearing” from God? I knew someone who lived all alone in a cabin in the woods with several versions of the Bible, and he believed that God revealed certain truths and mysteries only to him, truths that didn’t quite square with what many godly theologians would say. How can we be discerning and cautious?
29. What does it mean to pray “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt 6:13)? Why should we pray this? Is it necessary? What if we don’t?
30. Discuss this verse and how it relates to us nowadays: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
31. What does this verse mean: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) How does it apply to us today?
32. In 1 Cor. 12, we read about different spiritual gifts that God gives to believers, such as the gift of healing, tongues, miraculous powers, prophecy, etc. One of the gifts is the ability to distinguish between spirits. What do you think this gift is and how does it work? What about the other gifts (look up the passage)?
Do you think God still gives these kinds of gifts to believers? Seldomly? Regularly? And can we get carried away and off-track with the idea of spiritual gifts (such as believers who think that you are not really filled with the Spirit unless you speak in tongues)? How can we caution against getting off-track? How can we be discerning when it comes to evaluating the “gifts” that other people claim they have?
33. Do you really notice the people around you and think of them as people with souls who may end up spending eternity in hell? How should this awareness affect how we live and how we see and treat others?
34. Is God challenging you about anything related to this topic?
35. Are there any other thoughts or questions that you want to add?