Casting out evil spirits and removing their footholds
When Jesus was on earth, He “healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons” from the Israelites, the nation that was supposed to know the one True God. Christians also suffer from the same afflictions as the Israelites if we persist in sin. Any sin that we haven’t repented of will give the devil a foothold. Thank God that under the new covenant made in Jesus’ blood, we now “destroy the works of the devil” in our Saviour’s name. Jesus has said that “those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons.” What does it take to cast out demons and what precautions should we take?
(See Chinese versions: 简体中文 > 驱走邪灵并清除它们的立足点 | 繁體中文 > 驅走邪靈並清除它們的立足點)
Mark 1:34 ESV And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV … do not sin … and do not give the devil a foothold.
1 John 3:8 NLT But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.
Mark 16:17 ESV And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons…
Christians in Satan’s traps
The idea of Christians being oppressed by evil spirits is nothing new.
We see that in the early church, there were some who had “been captured by Satan to do his will.” In one of Paul’s letters to Timothy, he warned that Timothy would face such people within the New Testament churches he ministered at and advised that he should gently correct them so they would repent, “come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil.”
2 Timothy 2:24-26 ESV And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
Interestingly, Paul also pointed out that demonically oppressed people would then come to “a knowledge of the truth” after they have repented. This is because, as Paul wrote in another letter, “Satan… has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe.” Christians who are demonically oppressed are often not aware and do not believe that they have been captured by the devil. The spiritually oppressed are also spiritually blinded.
2 Corinthians 4:4 NLT Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.
The good news is that with the new covenant, written with Jesus’ blood, we are given a new promise that “the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” Praise God!
Luke 4:17-21 NLT The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
Here are some testimonies of professing Christians who have been freed from the traps of evil spirits:
Jesus sets long-time Christian free from occult curses
Jesus frees fund manager from demons
Jesus frees teacher from hidden demons
Jesus shows lawyer way out of severe anxiety
Jesus shows teacher dangers of role playing games
Jesus frees manager from dark magic blood pact
Jesus frees finance manager from family bondages
Jesus frees counsellor from shamanic curses
Jesus frees designer from occult curses
Jesus frees ex-Hindu from demonic spirits
Note: If you are unfamiliar with the works of evil spirits, please pause here and read these three posts before continuing:
Who is Satan
Understanding demonic oppression
Our primary spiritual battle is not with evil spirits
The authority to cast out demons
Sadly, our ideas about casting out evil spirits have been heavily influenced by the paranormal, horror, supernatural, or “ghost” stories that are perpetuated by this world, over and above the eternal biblical truths found in God’s Word. For instance, we are misled into thinking that we need special weapons or tools, special people, a special calling, and so forth. Please see Lies we believe from horror stories
First things first, we must understand that the authority to cast out demons rests purely on the name of Jesus Christ because of His work on the cross. It does not depend on our faith, our (lack of) training, our church denomination, or some “secret” knowledge. That would empty the cross of its power and focus on imperfect human beings.
As seen by the example given in Mark 9, even those who are not amongst Jesus’ followers can cast out demons, as long as they do so in Jesus’ name
Mark 9:38-40 ESV John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” “Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us.
One’s authority over demons comes purely from the Name that is above all names because “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”
Philippians 2:9-11 ESV Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Casting out evil spirits is pointless without true repentance
Yet we should not be surprised, intrigued, or excited that evil spirits are subject to us in Jesus’ name. As Jesus has said, “don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”
Luke 10:17-20 NLT When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”
The ministry of casting out spirits can sometimes seem more dramatic compared to other work for God – but it is not more important. Casting out spirits in Jesus’ name is meaningless if it is not accompanied by true repentance of our sins and sanctification by the Holy Spirit.
Let us use an analogy here. If we want our homes to be free of rats or cockroaches, for example, we need to first remove all the things that attract them. Additionally, we also need to develop good hygienic habits. If we continue to leave filthy things around at home, they will simply return to bother us again. Merely chasing them away does not get rid of them for good. It is a similar principle with the demons.
It is by only repenting, being cleansed of our sins, and choosing to be holy – turning away from our old patterns to be set apart as living sacrifices for God and obeying His every Word – that we can be free from demons since sin gives them a foothold.
2 Timothy 2:21-22 ESV Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
Romans 12:1-2 ESV I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Besides being baptised in Jesus’ name and filled with the Holy Spirit, therefore, we need to be diligent in ensuring that we:
- Repent and ask God for His forgiveness of our sins in Jesus’ name | Acts 26:18 ESV … to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
- Give ourselves completely to God | Romans 6:12-13 ESV Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.
- Put to death therefore whatever is earthly in ourselves | Colossians 3:5 ESV Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
In this way, we will “turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God” – as the many testimonies on this website show.
Acts 26:18 ESV … to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
The apostle Peter put it this way, “Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.””
1 Peter 1:13-16 NLT So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
If this is not urgent enough as a warning, let’s look at what Jesus had to say.
Jesus warned that one day, He will reject “many” who have cast out demons and done mighty works in His name because they had been “workers of lawlessness.” Their names are not “registered in heaven” because they had failed to repent of their own sins and be cleansed and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 7:21-23 ESV “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
The New Testament includes numerous reminders about personal repentance and sanctification. Casting out demons is not the greater work. It is the “washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” that is much greater and more glorious.
Matthew 4:17 ESV From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Luke 13:3 ESV No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
Acts 3:19 ESV Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,
1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 ESV For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;
Titus 3:3-7 ESV For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Important reminders and precautions
Jesus calls all who believe in Him to “proclaim the gospel,” “cast out demons,” and “heal the sick”, amongst other good works. This, however, requires godly humility and biblical wisdom. Here are some important reminders.
Mark 16:15-18 ESV And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
1. Do not become fascinated with demons
We are called to think about “whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, and anything worthy of praise.” Demons are none of these things.
Philippians 4:7-8 ESV And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Just as we would not entertain thieves and gangsters that only want to destroy us, we should not have any fellowship with darkness. Let us guard our hearts from becoming fascinated or curious about evil spirits. A wise home owner sets up a good security system around their valued possessions. We should do the same for our hearts and minds.
John 10:10 ESV The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
2 Corinthians 6:14-15 ESV Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? …
Proverbs 4:23 NIV Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
2. Never give in to fear
Jesus, our Saviour, has disarmed all demons and put them to open shame. Additionally, the Holy Spirit, whom He sends to live in all His believers, reigns supreme over all spirits.
Colossians 2:14-15 ESV by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
1 John 4:4 ESV Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
We can, however, unwittingly enslave ourselves to demonic powers by submitting to fear. Fear of demons greatly insults the Holy Spirit in us, it shows we do not see ourselves as children of Almighty God, but subjects of Satan.
Romans 8:13-15 ESV For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
If we wish to be rid of evil spirits for good, we need to stop being fearful of them and be “led by the Spirit of God” instead. We are to live with a spirit of power, love, and self-control, not fear.
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Fear, an ungodly use of imagination
How fearful Christians land up in hell
3. Only call upon Jesus, don’t ask “angels” for help
In the Bible, we see many instances where people cry out to God for help. They don’t call on angels. This is an important principle to keep in mind because Satan can appear as an angel of light and deceive us. All demons are fallen angels.
Psalm 145:18 ESV The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Romans 10:13 ESV For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
2 Corinthians 11:14 ESV And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
4. Do not attempt to cast demons out of the unrepentant
People who have demonic spirits cast out of them also need to repent of their sins, turn to God fully, and then be filled with the Holy Spirit. If not, they will be left “empty” and the demons will simply re-enter, possibly with “other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first.”
Matthew 12:43-45 ESV “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”
As the apostle Peter pointed out, “when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life.”
2 Peter 2:20-22 NLT And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.”
This is why the ministry of casting out demons must also be accompanied by sound Bible-based discipleship so that those who were once demonically oppressed can be “rehabilitated” through God’s Word and obedience to the Holy Spirit. This is how they can learn to lead spiritually “hygienic” and healthy lives, and stay away from Satan’s traps.
5. Don’t go beyond God’s set time and place
Demons were terrified of Jesus whenever they encountered Him because they knew He had the ability to torment them or “send them into the bottomless pit.” Yet Jesus chose not to do such things.
Matthew 8:29 ESV And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”
Luke 8:31 NLT The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit.
God has a time, purpose, and place for every evil spirit to be on earth. For instance, we see that God did not stop or prevent Satan from roaming around.
- The Garden of Eden | Genesis 3:1-2 ESV Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
- The earth | Job 1:7 ESV The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
- The upper room where the Last Supper was held | John 13:27 ESV Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”
One day, God will indeed throw Satan and all demons into a fiery lake to “be tormented day and night forever and ever” but that time has not yet come.
Revelation 20:10 NLT Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
As such, when we cast out evil spirits, we should not try to dictate where evil spirits should go or where they should or should not be. That is God’s domain. We can simply tell the spirits to leave and not return, in Jesus’ name.
6. Don’t ask evil spirits for their names
Satan and all demonic spirits are lying unclean spirits. We cannot trust them because they will seek to deceive us in order to mislead or oppress us. Therefore, we should beware that asking them for their names or any other information is likely to be a futile exercise.
John 8:44 ESV You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
If we need to know the name of any evil spirit, in order to cast it out, we simply need to turn to the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit Himself. He will help us when we seek Him with all our heart.
John 16:13 ESV When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
John 14:26 ESV But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
7. Don’t unwittingly glorify the work of evil spirits by talking about them
Demonic spirits have the ability to do some things that we as human beings cannot. This, however, does not mean we should talk about their abilities or manifestations because this only creates fear and awe amongst our listeners. By doing so, we sin against others and against God.
We ought to give God all the glory with our words and our actions. Talking about the works of demons or demonic manifestation only glorifies Satan. Instead, we ought to give thanks to Jesus Christ who made the greatest sacrifice for us in order that we may have the power to be set free from Satan’s traps in His name.
Revelation 4:11 ESV “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
Psalm 86:12 ESV I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.
Demonic spirits prefer to operate in the dark and keep their victims blind to or unaware of their schemes. Most times, when they do reveal themselves with dramatic “displays” or manifestations, it is usually because they are making a last-ditch effort to frighten us into forsaking the task of casting them out. As mentioned earlier, fear is not of God and we should not be fearful. Instead, we should rejoice because victory is at hand! The reality is, demons fear God’s Spirit who lives in all His believers. If God is for us, who can be against us?
1 John 5:4 ESV For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
Romans 8:31 ESV … If God is for us, who can be against us?
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