The majority of Catholics today are totally ignorant of the nature of evil spirits (demons), and many would prefer that they were not even mentioned. They choose to ignore this portion of God's ministry because they are fearful of things beyond their understanding. The result of this ignorance is that multitudes live in needless torment. One of the deadliest misrepresentations of the truth of God is that a Catholic should not be concerned with thoughts that a demon could be their problem. This is taught within many churches and gives the devil a "field day" to bring fear, mental torment, jealousy, hatred, lust, pride, self-pity, addiction, gluttony and many other forms of bondage, oppression, and defilement.
When we practice willful sin, Satan eventually sends one of his demons that is compatible with that particular sin to dwell within us. Then each time we give way to that sin that spirit takes over. Since their personalities mesh with those of their victims, it takes spiritual discernment to detect them. We must remember that demon spirits are "invisible beings" with wicked intelligence that seek bodies in which they can express themselves. These spirits are emissaries sent from Satan having personalities and characteristics that make up an intelligent being. They walk, hear, speak, see, obey, seek, think, know and dwell in the body to accomplish their evil purposes (Matthew 12:43-45, Mark 1:23-24,3:11). They are made subject to Christ and believers by the atonement, the name of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Each principal demon or "strongman" has a particular mission which we are able to recognize by its fruit or manifestation. We need to seek God and study His Word to find the truth about this controversial subject.
"Can a Catholic have a demon?,"
One of Satan's clever devices is to cause division among Catholics over just such a subject, for then he is allowed to work freely on both sides. One side refuses to believe that a Catholic can have a demon, while the other side sees demons in everything. Both sides are extreme, but if we look to God's Word we can find balance. To answer the question, "Can a Catholic have a demon?," we need to understand the two main causes of a Catholic's problems.
The first problem is what Paul calls the "flesh" in Romans 8:5-8, "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."
The "flesh" is defined here as the "carnal mind" and it is spoken of as enmity with God. The carnal mind is in the soul of man. After a Catholic experiences the "new birth," he is a new creature; however, he finds he still has the problem of walking in the flesh instead of the Spirit. His mind has not been renewed yet by the Word of God, so unless he reckons the "old man" dead when tempted, he fails God and gives in to his "flesh." To maintain a walk in the Spirit one must totally dedicate his life to God and continually choose the path of God. The "flesh" of man is under Satan's dominion as it is part of the old Adamic nature. The "flesh" and the "world" are under Satan's influence, so when we sin we have yielded to an attack by Satan in an indirect way. Romans 6:16, "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves, servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness." The way to get rid of the devil in these instances is to submit to the Lord and resist Satan so that he will flee (James 4:7). We are to crucify the flesh and choose God's way in the situation. "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Galatians 5:24).
The second cause of a Catholic's inner problems is evil spirits or demons which Satan uses to fasten upon some aspect of the "flesh" that has not yet been overcome. These demons do not relinquish their hold unless compelled to do so. Some argue that a Catholic cannot have a demon in him. They say he now has Christ in his spirit, and the Spirit of Christ and evil spirits cannot co-exist. Because of this erroneous teaching, many are bound by dark powers when they could be free. This is contrary to Scripture as also James is speaking to Catholics when he admonishes them in James 4:5, "Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, the spirit that dwelleth in as lusteth to envy?" II Corinthians 7:1 states, "Having therefore these promises, dearly be-loved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
The Holy Spirit certainly needs no cleansing, but man's soul or flesh has filth in it and many times filthy (unclean) spirits need to be cast out. Jesus talked about our bodies being houses. He made it plain that if, after cleaning, we were not continually filled with the Holy Spirit, a demon could return:
"When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation" (Matthew 12:43-45).
By this Scripture it may be seen that a portion of the kingdom of Satan is a host of bodiless spirits. They seek to enter the bodies of mortals or beasts, and their work is greatly enhanced when hidden in the bodies of men. "And all the devils besought him, saying Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them" (Mark 5:12). Demons perform their evil deeds and their victims are blamed for them. Certainly people are responsible for the sin which allowed this demonic activity within, but they are driven past what they intended, as the evil personality takes over their actions.
Some children are born under a curse and have demons that cause their erratic behavior. Parents are in ignorance as to why some children beat their heads on the floor in rages, scream and yell uncontrollably, bite themselves, or have continual nightmares. Many children do have demons and need to be set free. There is an account of this in Mark 9:20-21, "And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child."
Demons can attack with no sin involved on the victims' part as in the case of children. The sins of the fathers bring a curse, and there is a "chain of iniquity" that needs to be broken. "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments" (Exodus 20:5-6). Additional Scripture talking about the "chains of iniquity" is found in Jer. 32:18, "thou showest loving-kindness unto thousands, and recompensest the inquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them; the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is his name." Also Jer. 16:19 and Isaiah 14:20-22 show how we can inherit spiritual curses because of our father's or ancestor's evil deeds. Demons can also enter when the person's will is weakened and he is overpowered by the devil. This happens many times when a person goes through a terrible shock or experiences an incident that produces extreme fear. Accident victims who are knocked unconscious due to blows on the head often are subject to demon invasion. Addicts and alcoholics eventually have demons as the drugs and alcohol suppress their wills leaving them open for attack.
Demons are invited in by persons who yield to sin continually. The demon personality is compatible with the particular sin the person is entertaining. If the Lord is not sought to set the person free, one demon will invite others and the person will be possessed, even as Mary Magdalene was with seven demons. "And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils" (Luke 8:2).
Many people desire to be free, yet continue to find themselves in bondage. Recognizing the need for deliverance is the first step to freedom. Before coming to Christ, man takes all kinds of things into his heart and spirit and one of the first works of the Holy Spirit is to begin cleaning his "spiritual house."
A beautiful "type" of this is the incident of Jesus cleansing the temple that had been defiled by those who were wicked.
"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves" (Matthew 21:12-13).
We are now the temple of God and when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, He begins the same process of "casting out" those things that offend Him. "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (II Corinthians 6:16).
BATTLING AGAINST DEMONS
The Lord is revealing the devices of Satan so that Catholics can learn to battle the real enemy as he attacks their lives, instead of battling one another. The main thing we need to do is to take authority over Satan, casting him out of our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Satan is a robber and a thief, and he delights in destroying God's children. God wants us to grow up, stop acting like children by fighting with one another, and fight the real enemy, Satan. We need to lay down our lives for our mates and loved ones and be aggressive in prayer against the wiles of the enemy. He will flee when commanded to do so in the name of Jesus.
If the attack is from without, carried on by Satan's suggestions, temptations and influences, we still fight him the same way we would if he has gained access and entered the body with dominating control. We call on God with a humble heart and submit our entire lives to Him, and then aggressively resist the devil, commanding him to leave in the name of Jesus. We should speak this command out loud. We need to realize also there are certain conditions one must meet in order to gain permanent deliverance from demon bondage. We first must be a child of God to receive help. If you are not "born again," simply invite Jesus to come into your heart and save your soul. Accept God's Word that says He loves you and wants to give you abundant life. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). To receive this abundant life you must repent and turn from your sins and accept God's provision of the shed blood of Jesus Christ as the only way to cleanse you. Sin has separated you from God, and receiving Christ restores you to fellowship with Him and you become a part of the family of God. "But as many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God..." (John 1:12).
PRAYERS OF DELIVERANCE
After making a verbal confession of our faith in Jesus Christ (the only name that brings deliverance), we need to confess the sin that gave the devil access to our life. This is where we need to acknowledge any cult or occult involvement. Next, we should break Satan's legal right to our lives by renouncing each sin and its effect upon our lives as a lie of the devil, and then claim the truth of God's Word in that area. To be free from deception we must recognize Satan's lies and replace them with the truth. After these steps, we then can out loud command the demons to go in the name of Jesus. When oppression or possession is severe it is helpful to have other believers pray with you. The prayer of deliverance should be made only by "born again," Spirit-filled believers. In Acts 19:13-16, the unbelieving seven sons of Sceva experimented with deliverance and met with disastrous results. "Born again" believers have nothing to fear. Jesus overcame Satan for us. Casting out demons lodged in others is not risky but requires faith. Should you lack the faith and boldness to cast out demons, ask the Lord to lead you to the person or persons who can pray the prayer of faith and set people free.
We need to discuss here some guidelines for "casting out demons." The lack of teaching in this area has led people to devise many means by which they attempt deliverance. These methods are varied and include wrestling and holding people down during deliverance, carrying on conversations with demons to discern the names of the spirits (which is futile as Satan is a liar and wouldn't tell the truth anyway. Discerning of spirits is the gift given to aid in deliverance). Also calling out endless lists of demons, and many other methods which we shall not name here. These methods will work if done in the name of Jesus, however when they are carried to extremes the enemy wastes a lot of time and energy. These methods are usually not necessary, but God honors them many times because the practitioners are unsure of the proper procedures, and perhaps this is the only teaching to which they have been exposed. God sees their hearts and He knows they are trying to help people get free, so He delivers them in spite of the techniques.
The Biblical method for casting out demons would be to pray as the Holy Spirit directs. Usually this would be a prayer similar to this: "In the name of Jesus, I cast you unclean spirits out of this person." Should the Holy Spirit give you specific names of demons, these most generally would be for the benefit of the person who is receiving the deliverance as they may need to be aware of the nature of the demon that has held them in bondage, so as to resist him in the future (For instance, a demon of lust or anger). The most important thing is to listen to the Holy Spirit's direction regarding individual cases. Faith is the key to getting people free of demons. We must have faith when we pray that the demons will leave. If we believe they will leave instantly, then that will happen; if we believe we are in for a real battle, then we will end up fighting it out with the devil. Or we can even lose the battle if we don't stand firm in our faith and trust in Jesus. Some deliverance does require a prayer battle as little or no intercession as been previously done for the person bound.
Jesus' disciples had a problem with not being able to cast out a demon from a child because they lacked faith. When they asked Jesus why they couldn't do it, He answered in Mark 9:19, 23, 26, 28, and 29: "He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me....Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth....And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him...And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." The message Jesus was trying to get across to his disciples was that their faith was not sufficient for the job, and that the way their faith would be increased was by fasting and praying. He didn't mean for them to go fast and pray to get the demons out. Jesus was immediately able to cast them out because He was always praying, and He stayed close to the Father, thereby having faith and power over the devil at all times.
Jesus is our example. If we are not in close communion with the Father, how will we be able to hear His instructions when discerning and praying for deliverance? We need to fast and pray if we find our faith and closeness with God being attacked, then we will be able to exercise our faith when praying for others and see them set free in the name of Jesus.