Recognising our need for deliverance from evil spirits
Irrational anxieties; constant self-condemnations; suspicious thoughts; persistent ideas about impending disaster, self-harm, or suicide; heart-wrenching nightmares; hearing voices; sensing an unseen presence; feeling weighed down by some invisible heaviness; feeling choked or other unexplainable physical pains and discomforts — these are some signs of demonic oppression. We know we are in need of deliverance when we suffer from cravings, phobias, lusts, or compulsions that cannot be brought under control, no matter how much we pray, fast, and plead with God for help. This is not the time for believers to cover up our struggles in shame or doubt God’s love for us. It is time to boldly confront and cast out our unseen enemies in Jesus’ mighty name!
Some symptoms of demonic activity in a person’s life
Feeling a sense of heaviness, feeling stuck, irrational fears, constant anxiety, shame and guilt, deep loneliness, deep jealousy, self-hatred, self-pity, panic attacks, desire to hide and isolate oneself, feeling disaster is around the corner, hopelessness, bitterness, anger, and hatred towards others etc.
Inability to remember things or focus for long, severe headaches, easily confused, difficulty in reading or memorising God’s Word, missing memories, restlessness, hearing curse words in one’s head, urge to argue and debate, neurosis, paranoias, compulsion to control others, ongoing conversations in one’s mind, thoughts of death and suicide, depression, self-accusations, condemnation of others, constant recounting of past wrongs or mistakes, fascination with the occult, death or horror stories, addiction to pornography or violent movies, suicidal thoughts etc.
Accident prone, inability to hold on to wealth, stress-related illnesses and skin diseases, eating disorders, recurring aches and pains, unexplainable tremors, twitches, or chills, inability to sleep well, typically waking up around 3am-4am, horrifying nightmares, sexual “visitors” in dreams, compulsive behaviours and addictions, uncontrollable lust and sexual thoughts, self-harm, feeling watched, choked, touched, pushed by invisible forces etc.
Deliverance is for everyone who believes
Deliverance is for everyone who believes in Jesus.
Mark 16:17 ESV And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons…
The ministry of deliverance may be unfamiliar to some Christians because of the (limited) circles they move in, or because they haven’t paid close enough attention to Jesus’ ministry to see that the Lord conducted deliverance wherever He went. Perhaps they have been taught a different gospel from the one in the Bible. Or they may erroneously believe that deliverance is only for “extreme cases” such as murderers, witches, or drug addicts — a theory that testimonies on this website clearly debunk.
Acts 10:38 ESV And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
2 Corinthians 11:4 ESV For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
Some Christians may think that deliverance is not necessary for them to go to heaven, when Jesus explicitly stated that whoever remains in bondage to fear and continues to do what is detestable to Him — two typical symptoms of demonic oppression — will be bound for the lake of fire and sulphur. This means eternal death for them, not eternal life!
Revelation 21:7-8 ESV The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
The lack of deliverance from evil spirits is why so many regular Christians struggle to break free from some persistent (demonic) strongholds and live silently in shame, guilt, self-doubt, and unworthiness. Instead of being taught to take up weapons of warfare that have divine power to destroy their strongholds, they are told to just pray harder, resist more, go for therapy, or take some medication — none of which will set them free from spiritual oppression. This only leads them to slip into further condemnation, anxiety, and hopelessness!
2 Corinthians 10:3-4 ESV For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
God gave His people the Holy Spirit so that each of us may abound in hope and overcome all our struggles. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of Jesus’ name that we command demons to leave us.
Romans 15:13 ESV May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
The religious unbelieving leaders during Jesus’ time strongly opposed and questioned His work in delivering people of evil spirits. This led Jesus to declare that “anyone who isn’t working with Me [to cast out demons] is actually working against Me.”
Matthew 12:28,30 NLT But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.
Jesus has explicitly stated that He was sent to “release the captives” and “set the oppressed free”. We can certainly rejoice in that Good News!
Luke 4:17-19 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.”
Note: In this post, Satan, demons, demonic spirits, evil spirits, harmful spirits, and unclean spirits are used interchangeably to refer to the same enemies of our souls.
What is deliverance?
Deliverance is simply the act of confessing and renouncing our iniquity, and the iniquity of our forefathers, and commanding all evil spirits attached to those areas in our lives to leave us in Jesus’ name.
Leviticus 26:40 ESV “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me,
1. First, understand the difference between sin and iniquity
There is a general idea that Christians who have accepted Jesus as Lord, have been baptised, and received the Holy Spirit cannot “host” demons at the same time. This is true — but only true if we stop practising iniquity!
1 John 5:17-18 ESV All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.
Every one falls short of the glory of God (this is the biblical definition of sin) and makes mistakes. Thankfully, God’s grace covers that. Praise God!
Romans 3:23-24 ESV for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
But there is a type of sin that God considers especially wicked, perverse, and malicious that is classified as iniquity.
Iniquity stands apart in a class on its own and shuts us out of the kingdom of God. Iniquity includes things like murder, abortion, rape, and hatred, but also things like “sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties” — things which are very common in this world and even lauded as desirable!
Galatians 5:19-21 NLT When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
2. Iniquity opens the door to demonic oppression
The Bible shows us that if we “do not depart from iniquity, we will not escape from the snare of the devil. Instead, we will be captured by him to do his will” (paraphrased from 2 Timothy 2). This is, in essence, a description of demonic oppression. We find we don’t experience freedom in certain areas of our lives, no matter how much we desire to.
2 Timothy 2:19,26 ESV But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” … and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
We need to remember that “whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil.” Any area of our lives in which we keep on sinning gives the devil legal right to claim that part of us as still belonging to him. We all fall short of God’s glory but if we do not depart from the evil of our iniquity, we can even quench the Holy Spirit altogether.
1 John 3:8-10 ESV Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
Let’s take a look at the example of king Saul. God appointed Saul to be the first king of Israel. God filled Saul with the Holy Spirit and transformed him into a different man with a new heart. But Saul wilfully and presumptuously rejected God’s commandments again and again. Because he committed iniquity, God rejected Saul as king and the Holy Spirit left him altogether. A harmful spirit then came to torment the king.
1 Samuel 10:1,6-7,9 ESV Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies… Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you… When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day.”
1 Samuel 15:23 ESV For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”
1 Samuel 15:34,16:14 ESV And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel. Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him.
God’s view on iniquity has not changed. In the New Testament, the Bible warns us to abstain from every form of evil and not quench the Holy Spirit. In fact, the punishment for insulting and disdaining the Holy Spirit in the new covenant is even harsher than in the old covenant, if we deliberately continue to sin.
1 Thessalonians 5:19,22 ESV Do not quench the Spirit. Abstain from every form of evil.There is an idea in some Christian circles that all sins under the new covenant are automatically
Hebrews 10:26-29 NLT Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us.
Isaiah 59:2 ESV But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
3. Family iniquity and covenants also opens doors to demons
Our families can give demons legal rights into our lives by practising iniquity, because “the iniquity of the fathers will be visited on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Deuteronomy 5:9-10 ESV You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
God’s Law intended for His blessings to flow down through our bloodlines to thousands of those who love Him. What a privilege!
By the same token, we will also share the same curses as our parents and ancestral bloodline as a result of their iniquity for a handful of generations. This is especially true if they have made covenants (knowingly or unknowingly) with evil spirits through the shedding of blood, food or animal sacrifices, idol worship, witchcraft, incense burning, pagan scripture chanting, gifts, kneeling rituals, secret oaths, and so forth.
Exodus 23:32-33 ESV You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”
This is because covenants are forever binding and affect all of one’s descendants too — until they are formally renounced in the authority of a higher power.
Genesis 9:8-9 ESV Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you,
Covenants are made with one’s spoken word and can include symbolic objects. Here are some examples from the Bible:
- Animal sacrifices | Genesis 15:9-10 ESV 9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half.
- Feasts | Genesis 26:28-30 ESV … let us make a covenant with you, that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the Lord.” So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank.
- Fire ceremonies | Genesis 15:17-18 ESV When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram …
- Gifts | Genesis 21:27 ESV So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a covenant.
- Salt | Numbers 18:19 ESV … It is a covenant of salt forever before the Lord for you and for your offspring with you.”
- Stones or pillars | Genesis 31:44-45 ESV Come now, let us make a covenant, you and I. And let it be a witness between you and me.” So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar.
Like ruthless debt-collectors, evil spirits will lay claim to the right to torment and oppress innocent family members — until they renounce all associations with pre-existing demonic covenants created by their predecessors in Jesus’ powerful name.
Demonic covenants will often result in repeated patterns of generational curses, including:
- Chronic illnesses/cancer
- Mental problems
- Early deaths, fatal accidents
- Financial troubles, bankruptcy
- Miscarriages, reproduction issues
Also, see Breaking generational curses.
4. Demons slip in when our defences are down
Another way demons slip into our lives is when our defences are down.
Some examples include:
- Compromised mental defences: Drunkenness, new age meditation, mind-altering drugs, hypnotism and trances, etc. When we do not set our minds on the Holy Spirit, other spirits will start to take over. | Romans 8:6-7 ESV For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
- Compromised emotional defences: Grief, horror, fear, rage, or unhealed trauma due to abuse, etc. When we lose control over our spirits and are overcome by our emotions for prolonged periods of time, we are like a city that has been broken into, unable to fend off demonic advances. | Proverbs 25:28 ESV A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
- Ungodly yokes: Any partnership that is not blessed by God leaves open doors for demons to infiltrate. This is particularly true for those who are yoked to people who worship idols. | 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 ESV Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God…
- Bitterness: Hardships, betrayal, and disappointments can cause some to become bitter. Bitterness often leads to anxiety, cynicism, blame-shifting, envy, resentment, self-entitlement, grumbling, criticism, and so on. Bitter people are usually also angry with God. All this quenches the Holy Spirit and leaves room for demons to slip in. Those who are poisoned by bitterness often become captive to some form of iniquity. | 1 Thessalonians 5:15-19 ESV See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. | Acts 8:22-23 BSB Repent, therefore, of your wickedness, and pray to the Lord. Perhaps He will forgive you for the intent of your heart. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and captive to iniquity.”
- Unforgiveness: Our salvation from this evil world and its demons depends on us following Jesus’ example to forgive those who have sinned against us. When we hold on to unforgiveness, evil spirits will take up residence in our hearts because God’s covering is not there. | Galatians 1:4 NLT Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. | Matthew 6:14-15 ESV For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
- Witchcraft curses and spells: Witchcraft hexes and curses are becoming increasingly common. Thank God that none of them can affect a follower of Jesus Christ — as long as we have not given anyone reason to hate and curse us. Curses cast on someone in retaliation for what they have done, caused, or participated in will take root and give demons access to their soul. | Proverbs 26:2 ESV Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight. | Ezekiel 13:20-21 NLT “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against all your magic charms, which you use to ensnare my people like birds. I will tear them from your arms, setting my people free like birds set free from a cage. I will tear off the magic veils and save my people from your grasp. They will no longer be your victims. Then you will know that I am the LORD.
Jesus came to set us free!
Jesus dedicated significant amounts of time during His ministry on earth to deliver people who were tormented or oppressed by evil spirits, and instructed His disciples to do the same. The Bible says that the “reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil”.
Isaiah 49:15 ESV “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
1 John 3:8 ESV … The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
This powerful work of the Holy Spirit is the evidence of God’s kingdom in our lives. All we need to do is to humble ourselves and receive this blessing with childlike faith.
Luke 11:20 ESV But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Matthew 18:3 ESV and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
The Holy Spirit will encourage us to seek deliverance. We recognise His gentle nudging in our spirits.
Demons, on the other hand, will plant opposing ideas and arguments in our minds. We may hear thoughts such as:
- Unbelief | “This isn’t a spiritual issue (even though I have exhausted all other man-made options).” | Truth: God has the power to heal and deliver us. 1 Corinthians 2:5 ESV … your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
- Works | “I don’t need deliverance from demons, I just need to try/pray harder on my own.” | Truth: Spiritual issues cannot be resolved by our own human efforts or works. Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
- Pride | “I can’t control what may happen during deliverance. I could be embarrassed and I can’t allow that. My ‘face’ (image/reputation) is more important.” | Truth: We spurn God when we make our own broken image more important than being re-made in His image. John 12:43 ESV for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
- Passive acceptance | “This is the way I am, I have come to accept it. No one can help or change me.” | Truth: The Holy Spirit has the power to help us. Romans 8:26-27 ESV Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
- Unfounded fears | “I don’t want to touch the topic of deliverance. I’m afraid it may provoke demons to fight back. I have an (ungodly) fear of them.” | Truth: Fear is not of God. If we continue to live in fear, we really need to re-examine our understanding of the gospel. 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. | Luke 10:19 ESV Behold, I have given you authority … over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. | Romans 8:31,37 ESV What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
- Pharmakeia | “I just need to get the right medication and I will be fine.” Also, see What is pharmakeia? | Truth: Medication may help us cope in the short term but we need to be careful that it does not lead to lifelong enslavement to drugs. Jesus can set us totally free from bondage. John 8:36 ESV So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Anyone who suspects that there are malignant cancer cells in their bodies will seek a medical examination immediately. They will go to great lengths to receive healing, even if it means humbly exposing their most vulnerable body parts to strangers. This is the same attitude we should have towards seeking deliverance. Let us not “abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons”!
1 Timothy 4:1 NIV The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
What to look out for in a deliverance ministry/minister
We need to keep in mind that it is the Lord Jesus who delivers us. He works to rid us of all evil deeds so as to “present us holy and blameless and above reproach before Himself.” Therefore, we should look for a deliverance minister who follows Jesus in both their personal and ministry life.
Colossians 1:12-14,21-22 ESV … the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,
He/she should be someone who seeks to do the Father’s will, be led by the Holy Spirit, has great compassion for God’s children, lives a holy and blameless life (to the best of their abilities with the Holy Spirit’s help), does not waver from speaking the truth, and will not seek to profit from doing God’s work.
He/she should also have dealt with and cast out their own demons and not be fainthearted or easily discouraged in the work to cast out evil spirits from other people.
Wherever Jesus went, He first preached the gospel and explained the tenets of the kingdom of God. So, a deliverance minister should also be able to preach the gospel and teach others how to live godly lives that please God, so that we all bear good fruit that is in line with true repentance and deliverance.
Luke 4:18 ESV “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
Where a deliverance minister is not available in person, we can also consider online sessions facilitated by Spirit-led ministers, preferably under the authority of a God-fearing, Spirit-led, Biblically sound church. We need to ensure that we will not be led into error or manipulation. It is always wise to proceed with caution with anyone whose backgrounds and histories we do not have full insight into.
A final option, and probably a very good place to start, is to first repent of all the idol worship and witchcraft we have ever personally participated in and command all demons related to such activities to leave us in Jesus’ name, and tell them to never return. Let us not forget that one of the reasons king Saul lost God’s protection and was killed in battle was because he had sought a medium. All forms of witchcraft is grievous to God and removes His favour from us. Repenting of witchcraft is something we should most certainly not fail to deal with promptly.
1 Chronicles 10:13 ESV So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance.
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