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Engaging the Spirits
Fighting Spiritual Battles & Deliverance Ministries

by Yvon Caza

(Yvon Caza is a lay worker in central Alberta, Canada. His interest in this subject developed when family and fellow church members shared with him popular writings on spiritual warfare. As a result of sharing an interest in this subject on the internet, he was alerted to potential theological pitfalls. This led him to further research the subject and to the writing of this paper. His study is written with a particular audience in mind--his denomination, but has broad application to any Christian believer.)

Chapter 1: Freedom of Choice

Chapter 2: Satan as an Instrument of our Omnipotent and Sovereign God

Chapter 3: Evil Spirits and Believers

Chapter 4: Harassment or Possession or Illness

Chapter 5: Ministering to the Demon-Afflicted

Chapter 6: Summary and Conclusion

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Chapter 1: Freedom of Choice

The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan

Seventh-day Adventists believe that behind the scenes of earthly affairs, invisible, supernatural forces of good and evil are engaged in cosmic warfare for the control of every human being (Eph 6:12).1 We believe in the existence of a literal, personal devil, now named Satan, who once was a perfect (and heaven’s highest) angel (Eze 28:15; [Isaiah 14:12-15]).2 Scripture further declares that Satan [endowed with freedom of choice, in self-exaltation] experienced a moral fall, took one-third of all the holy angels with him (Rev 12:4), and at the conclusion of that first war in heaven he was literally, physically, ejected, eventually coming down to planet earth (v. 7-9). Here he continues yet today, diligently waging warfare against the kingdom of God and all that is good and worthwhile in the universe. We believe that today under Satan’s immediate, direct control there are multitudes of evil spirits, fallen angels, demons, allied with him in this “great controversy between Christ and Satan.”

We believe, further, that we are today living in the closing days of this earth’s history, and that this warfare will intensify to an unprecedented degree as this ages-long conflict draws to its close (v.12). Because these supernatural forces of good and evil operate largely outside the range of human knowledge and control, their nature and modes of operation are not always clear and understandable; yet we believe that these forces are real and personal.3

God is not the author of evil and of the devil. Lucifer was perfect from the day he was created. God created a perfect angel, but He gave to that angel, as He gave to every angel, the power of choice. And with that power of choice Lucifer made a devil out of himself.

But why did God not destroy Lucifer as soon as he sinned, before rebellion could get a start? God could not destroy Lucifer at that point- though eventually He will destroy him- without being misunderstood. Sin had never before existed- anywhere. There was no example to which God could point and say, “This is what sin does.” He could easily have destroyed Lucifer instantly. But when asked to explain His action, what could He say? “Because he sinned.” But no being had ever sinned. Would the angels have not from that time on, served God at least partly from fear, rather than all from love? The universe would never have understood.

So it was necessary to let Satan reveal his true motives and demonstrate what sort of improvements in government he had in mind. The plant of sin, so mysterious and subtle, came into existence in a flawless environment, for no apparent reason, must be allowed to develop until all could see its deadly fruit.


Freedom of Choice

Even though our first parents sold out to Satan the dominion of this world, God has assured that every human being has the inalienable right to a free moral choice.

(Josh 24:14-15 NIV) “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshipped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

This right to a free moral choice was one of the tasks Jesus came to accomplish:

(Luke 4:18-19 NIV) “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Through yielding to sin, man placed his will under the control of Satan. He became a helpless captive in the tempter’s power. God sent His Son into our world to break the power of Satan, and to emancipate the will of man. He sent Him to proclaim liberty to the captives, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free. By pouring the whole treasury of heaven into this world, by giving us in Christ all heaven, God has purchased the will, the affections, the mind, the soul, of every human being.4

Salvation is offered to all and pivots on our free moral choice. We must personally choose to respond to God’s love in order to be saved. And so God appeals to the sinner to opt for salvation:

(Titus 2:11 NIV) For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.

(2 Pet 3:9 NIV) The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

(John 3:16 NIV) “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Everyone has the right to exercise their will-their power of choice- even those possessed/controlled5 by demons:

The means by which we can overcome the wicked one is that by which Christ overcame,-the power of the word. God does not control our minds without our consent; but if we desire to know and to do His will, His promises are ours: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” “If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know of the teaching.” John 8:32; 7:17, R. V. Through faith in these promises, every man may be delivered from the snares of error and the control of sin.

Every man is free to choose what power he will have to rule over him. None have fallen so low, none are so vile, but that they can find deliverance in Christ. The demoniac, in place of prayer, could utter only the words of Satan; yet the heart’s unspoken appeal was heard. No cry from a soul in need, though it fail of utterance in words, will be unheeded. Those who will consent to enter into covenant relation with the God of heaven are not left to the power of Satan or to the infirmity of their own nature. They are invited by the Savior, “Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me.” Isa. 27:5. The spirits of darkness will battle for the soul once under their dominion, but angels of God will contend for that soul with prevailing power. The Lord says, “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? . . . Thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.” Isa. 49:24, 25.6

The weakest and demon-possessed are not beyond the reach of God. How reassuring it is to know that we who seek a relationship with God are not left to the power of Satan or to the infirmity of our own nature.

God sends His angels to hold in check the forces of evil to allow everyone a chance at receiving the light of the gospel:

I saw evil angels contending for souls, and angels of God resisting them. The conflict was severe. Evil angels were crowding about them, corrupting the atmosphere with their poisonous influence, and stupefying their sensibilities. Holy angels were anxiously watching these souls, and were waiting to drive back Satan’s host. But it is not the work of good angels to control minds against the will of the individuals. If they yield to the enemy, and make no effort to resist him, then the angels of God can do but little more than hold in check the host of Satan, that they should not destroy, until further light is given to those in peril, to move them to arouse and look to Heaven for help. Jesus will not commission holy angels to extricate those who make no effort to help themselves.7


Individual Responsibility

The Bible from Genesis to Revelation repeatedly emphasizes individual responsibility for sin, even those sins that are directly related to the working of Satan, such as snatching away the truth, inserting lies, blinding minds, holding people in bondage.8 In these and all other sins, including sexual sins and the sins of the occult such as witchcraft and idolatry (called sins of the flesh in Gal 5:19-21) the Scriptures stress individual responsibility and the need to repent and seek God’s forgiveness and power to overcome, or else death will ensue.

In the Bible there are three sources of temptations: the “flesh” (sinful nature) (James 1:14), the “world” (in opposition to the values and beliefs of the true God) (James 1:27; 1 John 2:15-17), and evil spirits. Though it is true that ultimately all evil is traceable to Satan, the originator of sin, nevertheless, evil spirits are not always the immediate cause of every human sin.9

“The Bible often talks about our responsibility without mentioning the devil, but the Bible never talks about the devil without mentioning our responsibility. The Bible does not portray moral evil [our sinning]- however heinous or devilish- as a demonization [inhabiting spirits] to be cast out”10 rebuked and bound. In no case is the problem of sinning “defined as inhabiting spirits needing to be cast out.”11


Moral Evil and Situational Evil and Demon-possession

By the term “possession” I wish to designate control of human neurology and physiology- the control of an individual’s higher centers, central nervous system, individual organs of the body, etc.12

Moral evil or sin is the evil that people believe and do.

Situational evil is the suffering, death, and hardships that are a result of living in a sinful world.

“While possession and special sinfulness may go hand-in-hand (Mary Magdalene may be a good case in point), in terms of the data of the New Testament itself (the demoniac in the Synagogue Mk 1:23 par. Lk 4:33-36; the Gerasene demoniac Mk 5:1-20 par Mt 8:28-34 par. Lk 8:26-39; the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman Mk 7:24-30 par. Mt 15:21-28; the epileptic lad Mk 9:14-29 par. Mt 17:14-21 par Lk 9:37-43; the dumb demoniac Mt 9:32-34; the blind and dumb demoniac Mt 12:22 par Lk 11:15; the woman with the spirit of infirmity Lk 13:10-17)13, possession appears to be related to physical and mental illness, rather than to be linked with doing sinful deeds.”14 Though the Gospels carefully differentiate between sickness and demon possession,15 healing the sick and casting out demons are repeatedly placed in the same category to the extent that Scripture frequently says that Jesus heals people of demons (Mt 4:23-24; 12:22). It is possible that “the indwelling unclean spirits, like other forms of suffering, perhaps created conditions of temptation to moral evil for the victims.”16 Nevertheless, “unclean spirits are never implicated as holding people in bondage to unbelief and sin. They are never portrayed as inhabiting and enslaving sinful parts of the human personality.”17

Jesus “never cast out demons of sin from people, but instead exposed and reproved sin, inviting people to the God of grace.”18

It is important to stress that there was a difference in Jesus’ work of casting out demons and of regeneration. The latter is always an appeal to the individual’s responsibility and choice. The correcting of evil in one’s nature is personal and is accomplished only in connection with Christ. It is never accomplished by a mystical casting out the demon of that sin:

Why was the work of Christ productive of such meager results, during his personal ministry upon earth? Miracles of goodness and mercy marked his life; but while he healed the afflicted, and cast out the demons that persecuted men, he left to themselves the work of correcting the evils of their natures. He instructed them how to unite their human efforts with his divine power, and triumph through his strength over the sins that beset them.

This experience was necessary in order to give moral power to the Christian character and fit it for the courts of Heaven. Jesus employed no miraculous agency to compel men to believe in him. They were left to choose or reject him, of their own free will. No direct power was to force them into obedience, and destroy the free moral agency that God has given to man. The parable of the sower plainly sets forth the tendencies of the human heart, and the different classes with which Christ had to deal, and also explains the reasons that his ministry was not more successful in its immediate effects.19

In all the afflictions of humanity He was afflicted. He saw the work of Satan revealed in all their woe, and He made every case of need and sorrow His own. With a power that never quailed, He cast out the evil spirits that possessed both mind and body. The power of love was in all His healing, and of the suffering multitudes that were brought to Him, it was said, “He healed them all.”

The Saviour saw a still greater need than bodily suffering. He saw symptoms of a deeper illness. The sufferings of the body excited His pity, but He was moved to still greater pity by the need of the soul.

With a love that never faltered, Christ spoke to men the words of eternal life.20


Satanic/Demonic Control of Believers

a) Acceptance of the gospel/conversion breaks the bondage of evil angels.

Upon hearing the Gospel, when one turns from darkness to light, one is delivered from the power of Satan:

(Acts 26:18 NIV) to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.

(Col 1:13-14 NIV) For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Conversion actually breaks “the bondage of Satan.”21 So, when one comes to Christ, one needs to believe that one is free of the control of Satan:

Rest in His love. No tongue can express or finite mind conceive the greatness and richness of His promises for just such weak and trembling souls as you are. Simple faith and trust is your part; the Lord’s part He never fails to fulfill. By faith draw close to the precious Sin-bearer, and then cling to Him by faith. Do not worry; this will not help the matter at all. Believe that Christ Himself rebukes the enemy, and that he can have no more control over you. Believe that Satan has been rebuked. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up for you a standard against him.22

b) The converted, dedicated Christian who maintains a union with Christ, is sustained and protected by God’s shielding power from evil angels. The devil cannot force a Christian to sin, nor can he defile or contaminate the soul.

When Christ reigns in the heart, that person is kept by God’s power:

(1 Pet 1:5 NIV) who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

(1 John 2:14 NIV) I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

(1 John 4:4 NIV) 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.

Christ will give strength to all who seek it. No man without his own consent can be overcome by Satan. The tempter has no power to control the will or to force the soul to sin. He may distress, but he cannot contaminate. He can cause agony, but not defilement.23

He [Satan] will turn his forces against those who are loyal to God, but though he may cause pain, distress, and human agony, he cannot defile the soul. He may cause affliction to the people of God as he did to Christ, but he cannot cause one of Christ’s little ones to perish.24

The tempter can never compel us to do evil. He cannot control minds unless they are yielded to his control. The will must consent, faith must let go its hold upon Christ, before Satan can exercise his power upon us. But every sinful desire we cherish affords him a foothold. Every point in which we fail of meeting the divine standard is an open door by which he can enter to tempt and destroy us. And every failure or defeat on our part gives occasion for him to reproach Christ.25

The tempter has no power to control the will or to force the soul to sin. He may distress, but he cannot contaminate. He can cause agony, but not defilement. Satan cannot read our thoughts, but he can see our actions, hear our words; and from his long knowledge of the human family, he can shape his temptations to take advantage of our weak points of character. And how often do we let him into the secret of how he may obtain the victory over us. Oh, that we might control our words and actions!26

This last statement also affirms that the devil cannot read our thoughts.

The very weakest who have and maintain a union with Christ are stronger than the devil and all his host.27

Angels (good or evil) cannot compel the will of an individual when that will is committed to Christ.28

c) Harassment, oppression, and possession29

It is important to differentiate between harassment/oppression/temptation, and possession. External harassment/oppression/temptation of evil angels is the universal experience of all humanity, including believers, and Christ (Isaiah 53:7). Whereas, possession or control by wicked angels is but the experience of a few people, and never the experience of dedicated believers for

It is the inalienable right of every child of God to be free from the control of Satan (though not, of course, from his temptations) through the superior power of Jesus Christ who won a supreme victory over Satan at Calvary. There, by His personal and once-for-all sacrifice, He earned the right to confer upon His followers not only eternal life in the hereafter, but also freedom from the control of Satan in this present temporal existence.30



Believers may be afflicted externally with diseases brought upon by evil spirits (Job, Paul), but their minds are never controlled by these spirits, for they are surrendered to the lordship of Christ.

d) Evil spirits can control only to the extent the believer allows.

It is true that Satan can control us to a certain extent if we yield (Rom 6:14, 16) to his temptations,31 or to his control,32 or if we give him our minds.33 Bear in mind that the fact that genuine believers sin occasionally does not mean that they are controlled by Satan:

But while the followers of Christ have sinned, they have not given themselves up to be controlled by the satanic agencies. They have repented of their sins and have sought the Lord in humility and contrition, and the divine Advocate pleads in their behalf. He who has been most abused by their ingratitude, who knows their sin and also their penitence, declares: “The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan. I gave My life for these souls. They are graven upon the palms of My hands. They may have imperfections of character; they may have failed in their endeavors; but they have repented, and I have forgiven and accepted them.34

Even if Christians backslide, if they have not yet grieved the Holy Spirit, they can still choose God and His salvation as demonstrated by the demoniac at Capernam.35 So, whatever our understanding of demon possession, it follows that the devil cannot force one to sin or be lost against their will because he cannot prevent one from reaching out to God for help.

This is why, even though Ellen White occasionally speaks of demons of selfishness,36 greed,37 appetite,38 inebriation,39 passion,40 jealousy,41 strife,42 unkindness,43 heresy, etc.,44 she always stresses individual responsibility for those sins. In every instance the therapy for these demon-afflicted persons consists of prayer, fellowship, repentance, self-surrender to God, and conversion.45

e) How one’s will is captured by Satan and becomes demon-possessed.

The Spirit of prophecy discloses how demons were able to gain possession of their victims through: persistent willful disobedience;46 fascination with sin;47 separation from God;48 a refusal to remain surrendered to Christ as Lord;49 resisting,50 rejecting,51 or neglecting the gospel; curiosity with the occult;52 and those who advocate a critical view53 of the Scriptures which robs the Word of God of its power, leads them no defense against the inroads of the devil.

f) Believers are safe IN Christ and in His love.

The power and malice of Satan and his host might justly alarm us were it not that we may find shelter and deliverance in the superior power of our Redeemer. We carefully secure our houses with bolts and locks to protect our property and our lives from evil men; but we seldom think of the evil angels who are constantly seeking access to us, and against whose attacks we have, in our own strength, no method of defense. If permitted, they can distract our minds, disorder and torment our bodies, destroy our possessions and our lives. Their only delight is in misery and destruction. Fearful is the condition of those who resist the divine claims and yield to Satan’s temptations, until God gives them up to the control of evil spirits. But those who follow Christ are ever safe under His watchcare. Angels that excel in strength are sent from heaven to protect them. The wicked one cannot break through the guard which God has stationed about His people.54

(Rom 8:31-39 NIV) What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

g) The parable of the heart emptied of the evil spirit

Jesus told a story emphasizing that it is not enough to have evil spirits cast out of the heart but that one needs to surrender and abide in Christ,55 and that it is only then that one is impregnable to the assaults of Satan. Christ in us56 is our only defense. If we neglect to ally ourselves with Christ, we are under the influence of Satan.57 If we persist in rejecting God’s invitation of repentance, this will lead to the unpardonable sin, the sin against the Holy spirit. The following quote, though rather long, brings out all of these points:

Then He added a warning to those who had been impressed by His words, who had heard Him gladly, but who had not surrendered themselves for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is not only by resistance but by neglect that the soul is destroyed. “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man,” said Jesus, “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.”

There were many in Christ’s day, as there are today, over whom the control of Satan for the time seemed broken; through the grace of God they were set free from the evil spirits that had held dominion over the soul. They rejoiced in the love of God; but, like the stony-ground hearers of the parable, they did not abide in His love. They did not surrender themselves to God daily, that Christ might dwell in the heart; and when the evil spirit returned, with “seven other spirits more wicked than himself,” they were wholly dominated by the power of evil.

When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the new heart. A change is wrought which man can never accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work, bringing a supernatural element into human nature. The soul that is yielded to Christ becomes His own fortress, which He holds in a revolted world, and He intends that no authority shall be known in it but His own. A soul thus kept in possession by the heavenly agencies is impregnable to the assaults of Satan. But unless we do yield ourselves to the control of Christ, we shall be dominated by the wicked one. We must inevitably be under the control of the one or the other of the two great powers that are contending for the supremacy of the world. It is not necessary for us deliberately to choose the service of the kingdom of darkness in order to come under its dominion. We have only to neglect to ally ourselves with the kingdom of light. If we do not cooperate with the heavenly agencies, Satan will take possession of the heart, and will make it his abiding place. The only defense against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His righteousness. Unless we become vitally connected with God, we can never resist the unhallowed effects of self-love, self-indulgence, and temptation to sin. We may leave off many bad habits, for the time we may part company with Satan; but without a vital connection with God, through the surrender of ourselves to Him moment by moment, we shall be overcome. Without a personal acquaintance with Christ, and a continual communion, we are at the mercy of the enemy, and shall do his bidding in the end.

“The last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so,” said Jesus, “shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” There are none so hardened as those who have slighted the invitation of mercy, and done despite to the Spirit of grace. The most common manifestation of the sin against the Holy Spirit is in persistently slighting Heaven’s invitation to repent. Every step in the rejection of Christ is a step toward the rejection of salvation, and toward the sin against the Holy Spirit.

In rejecting Christ the Jewish people committed the unpardonable sin; and by refusing the invitation of mercy, we may commit the same error. We offer insult to the Prince of life, and put Him to shame before the synagogue of Satan and before the heavenly universe when we refuse to listen to His delegated messengers, and instead listen to the agents of Satan, who would draw the soul away from Christ. So long as one does this, he can find no hope or pardon, and he will finally lose all desire to be reconciled to God.58


Chapter 1 Summary

Every human being has the inalienable right to a free moral choice, even those possessed and/or controlled by demons. Spiritual evil forces cannot force a Christian to sin, nor can they defile or contaminate one’s soul. There is no evidence or precedent in Scripture to portray moral evil [our sinning] in whole or in part as a demonization of inhabiting spirits that need to be cast out, rebuked and bound. Repeatedly the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy emphasize individual responsibility for sin and the need to repent and seek God’s forgiveness and power to overcome that sin, or else death will ensue.


Footnotes.

1. Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Belief No. 1.

2. Some deny that Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 have anything to do with Satan in their original context. A few Evangelical scholars and recent studies by Richard A. Davidson (Adventist Theological Society Occasional Papers, Vol. 1: Issues in Revelation and Inspiration, Ed. by F. Holbrook and L. Van Dolson, p. 118-119) and Jose Bertoluci (1985 Andrews University Ph.D. dissertation entitled “The Son of the Morning and the Guardian Cherub in the Context of the Controversy between Good and Evil”) argue that Isaiah and Ezekiel knew of the existence of Satan and that the traditional interpretation of these passages is founded on solid biblical evidence.

3. “Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Ministry” and Seventh-Day Adventists: A report of the Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1983, p. 1. Footnotes 1 and 2 are inserted here for further study to the reader and are not part of the original paragraphs.

4 E. G. White, Our High Calling, p. 104; see also Early Writings p. 221.

5 For a definition of possession, see below under Section 1-4.

6 E. G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 258-259; ; SC p. 47; 5T p. 513; CG p. 466.

7 E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts, 4b, p. 104-105.

8 Luke 8:12-15; 22:3; John 6:70; 13:2,27; 17:12; Acts 5:3; 26:18; Romans 1; 6; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Galatians 5; Ephesians 2:2-10; 2 Timothy 2:25-26.

9 “Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Ministry” and Seventh-Day Adventists: A report of the Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1983, p. 17-21.

10 David Powlison, Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare, Baker, 1995, p. 104.

11 David Powlison, Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare, Baker, 1995, p. 60.

12 “Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Ministry” and Seventh-Day Adventists: A report of the Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1983, p. 21. For the differences between possession and harassment and oppression see below under Section 1-5.

13 In the case of the medium in Acts 16:18, this damsel apparently had initially welcomed the satanic influence “for the sake of obtaining supernatural power” (GC p. 516).

14 “Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Ministry” and Seventh-Day Adventists: A report of the Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1983, p. 9.

15 E. G. White, Great Controversy, p. 514.

16 David Powlison, Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare, Baker, 1995, p. 69.

17 David Powlison, Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare, Baker, 1995, p. 67-68.

18 David Powlison, Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare, Baker, 1995, p. 69.

19 E. G. White, Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 2, p. 241.

20 E. G. White, AUCR 06-01-00.

21 E. G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 407.

22 E. G. White, Selected Messages, book 3, p. 326.

23 E. G. White, Great Controversy, p. 510; see also 4SP p. 330; RH 12-17-08; SC p. 47; CG p. 466.

24 E. G. White, 4SDABC, p. 1153.

25 E. G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 125; see also 2MCP p. 420.

26 E. G. White, The Faith I Live By, p. 327.

27 E. G. White, 1TC p. 301, 433; 5T p. 293, 341. Through prayer: AG p. 239; RH 06-15-86.

28 “Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Ministry” and Seventh-Day Adventists: A report of the Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1983, p. 52.

29 For further discussion of this, see section 3 below.

30 “Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Ministry” and Seventh-Day Adventists: A report of the Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1983, p. 1-2; this point being repeated on p. 42, 44, 46, 49-50.

31 E. G. White, Great Controversy, p. 560.

32 E. G. White, Maranatha p. 275; CG p. 165.

33 E. G. White, 1888, p. 802.

34 E. G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 589.

35 E. G. White, DA p. 258-259, as quoted above.

36 E. G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 294; 5SDABC p. 1102.

37 E. G. White, Education, p. 92.

38 E. G. White, Temperance, p. 198; GCB 04-01-99.

39 E. G. White, Temperance, p. 127.

40 E. G. White, An Appeal to Mothers, p. 10.

41 E. G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 650.

42 E. G. White, Adventist Home, p. 106.

43 E. G. White, Sanctified Life, p. 16.

44 E. G. White, Manuscript Release, Vol. 20, p. 78.

45 L. & L. Rosenvold, The Battle for the Mind: Spiritual Warfare- False and True, 1987, Hope International, p. 212. This book provides the most thorough analysis of Ellen White and demon possession and exorcism.

46 E. G. White, MH p. 92-93.

47 E. G. White, MH p. 91.

48 E. G. White, MR 234.

49 E. G. White, DA p. 323-324.

50 E. G. White, GC p. 517; TM p. 475.

51 E. G. White, DA p. 341.

52 E. G. White, DA p. 258.

53 E. G. White, DA p. 257-258; see also 1SM p. 17; AA p. 474; Ed p. 227; MH p. 142; RH 06-06-93 and 03-16-97; BEcho 02-01-97 and 06-01-93.

54 E. G. White, GC p. 517.

55 E. G. White, Sons and Daughters of God, p. 159; FLB p. 220; ST 01-19-82; 5MR p. 346; BEcho 10-24-98; DA p. 341; GC p. 517.

56 E. G. White, 5T p. 294; MB p. 248; Colossians 1:27.

57 E. G. White, 4T p. 343.

58 E. G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 323-325.


  
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Chapter 2: Satan as an Instrument of our Omnipotent and Sovereign God


The Omnipotence and Sovereignty of God

God is all powerful. Nothing is impossible to Him and so we can be assured that He accomplishes whatever He purposes:

(Dan 4:17 NIV) ‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.’

(Dan 4:25 NIV) You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.

(Dan 4:35 NIV) All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”

(Ps 135:6 NIV) The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.

Though it is evident that God is omnipotent and sovereign, He is not the author of evil. Evil is only part of His permissive will, subordinate to Him. Throughout most of the Old Testament, God is seen as taking full responsibility for evil. But in the book of Job and in the New Testament, these avoid identifying evil with the direct will of God (Mt 13:28).

Nevertheless, “God uses wickedness: Satan, evil spirits, false prophets, the evil of Joseph’s brothers, Chaldean oppressors, Judas. What the wicked mean for evil, God works for good. God uses the evil of the evil to demonstrate his justice and purify the righteous. He uses the evil of the righteous to demonstrate his mercy and to define the terms of our ongoing spiritual warfare (see Isaiah 53:6; Psalms 51, 103, 131; Eph 4-6; 1 Tim 1:15).”59

The healing of the Gerasene demoniacs (Mk 5:1-20 par Mt 8:28-34 par. Lk 8:26-39) are an example of the working of evil being overruled for good. After the healing, the legion of demons entered a herd of swine which rushed over the cliff to their destruction. Why did this happen?

In causing the destruction of the swine, it was Satan’s purpose to turn the people away from the Saviour, and prevent the preaching of the gospel in that region. But this very occurrence roused the whole country as nothing else could have done, and directed attention to Christ. Though the Saviour Himself departed, the men whom He had healed remained as witnesses to His power. Those who had been mediums of the prince of darkness became channels of light, messengers of the Son of God. Men marveled as they listened to the wondrous news. A door was opened to the gospel throughout that region. When Jesus returned to Decapolis, the people flocked about Him, and for three days, not merely the inhabitants of one town, but thousands from all the surrounding region, heard the message of salvation. Even the power of demons is under the control of our Saviour, and the working of evil is overruled for good…

And souls that have been degraded into instruments of Satan are still through the power of Christ transformed into messengers of righteousness, and sent forth by the Son of God to tell what “great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.”60


Satan as God’s Instrument

The Scriptures provide examples when God permits Satan to afflict Christians externally with adversity. Since God’s sovereignty controls every situation to accomplish His purposes, He causes all such adversity to work for the believer’s good:61

(Rom 8:28 NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

a) Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh

(2 Cor 12:7-10 NIV) To keep me from becoming conceited [too elated] because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger [angel] of Satan, to torment [beat, buffet, harass] me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

V.7. The apostle further describes the thorn in his flesh as a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. In the story of Job, Satan is allowed to harass that great hero of faith and endurance, but only within the limits set by God (Job 1-2). In 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18 Paul tells his readers how he longed to revisit them after he was forced to leave Thessalonica (cf. Acts 17:1-10), but could not do so because Satan hindered him. And in the present context Satan is allowed to harass the apostle by means of a thorn in the flesh. It is important to recognize that, in both the Old and New Testaments, Satan has no power other than that allowed him by God. In the Gospels Jesus has complete power over all the forces of darkness. Satan has no power over him (Jn 14:30-31), and demons must obey his will (Mk 1:21-28; 5:1-13). This power Christ gave to his disciples (Mk 6:7). And yet we see in the case of Paul that Satan is allowed to hinder the apostle’s plans and harass him with a thorn in the flesh. However, it must be said that in both cases the actions of Satan, while in themselves bad things, are made to serve God’s purposes. In the first case the hindrance kept Paul on the move and that meant the gospel came to Beroea, Athens and Corinth. In the second case, the harassment served to keep Paul spiritually well-balanced. It was a weight upon his spirit preventing him from being blown away by [conceit] excessive elation [clearly not what Satan had in mind].62

V.8. Noticed that Paul prayed to the Lord, (he did not address the messenger of Satan), for its removal. He did not attempt to bind, rebuke, or cast out this satanic messenger. If he would have been able to remove the thorn by saying, “Messenger of Satan, I bind you,” he would have spoiled God’s spiritual plan for his life.63

V.9-10. Instead of removing the thorn, God gave him grace to endure it patiently.64 Paul willingly accepted God’s plan for his life. He knew that God knew what was best for him. “In v. 10 Paul applies the lesson he learnt from the Lord through the experience of the thorn in the flesh to all the various difficulties he experienced in his apostolic mission.”65

b) The Sifting of Peter

(Luke 22:31-32 NIV) “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you [plural] as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back [converted], strengthen your brothers.”

Satan has no rights here, he has to ask God permission to sift the disciples. All the trials and testing that come to God’s people are only those that the Almighty allows. Satan desires to test them, hoping to bring them to spiritual ruin.

Notice Jesus’ prayer. Christ did not ask that his servant might be freed from trouble. Why? Because the undergoing of difficulty and hardship is essential for strengthening our faith,66 for our purification, for our character development, and for making us fit for service. Notice the assurance of His intercession on Peter’s behalf. He assured Peter that his faith will not completely fail, and after his restoration he is to fortify the faith of the other disciples.


Why does God allow us to be tempted?

The followers of Christ know little of the plots which Satan and his hosts are forming against them. But He who sitteth in the heavens will overrule all these devices for the accomplishment of His deep designs. The Lord permits His people to be subjected to the fiery ordeal of temptation, not because He takes pleasure in their distress and affliction, but because this process is essential to their final victory. He could not, consistently with His own glory, shield them from temptation; for the very object of the trial is to prepare them to resist all the allurements of evil.

Neither wicked men nor devils can hinder the work of God, or shut out His presence from His people, if they will, with subdued, contrite hearts, confess and put away their sins, and in faith claim His promises.67

Why was Satan permitted to tempt and sift Peter? For Peter’s spiritual benefit and for the church’s. “Had Peter earnestly and in humility looked for divine help, had he been searching his own heart in secret, he would not have been sifted when tried.”68 Peter had to learn that if he trusted in himself, in the time of trial, defeat was sure to come.69 “Peter fell because he did not know his own frailty.”70

But notice that even though Peter failed, sinned, and denied His Lord, God had not abandoned him to spiritual ruin. Satan was only allowed to go so far:

Satan was permitted to tempt the too-confident Peter, as he had been permitted to tempt Job; but when that work was done he had to retire. Had Satan been suffered to have his way, there would have been no hope for Peter. He would have made complete shipwreck of faith. But the enemy dare not go one hairbreadth beyond his appointed sphere. There is no power in the whole satanic force that can disable the soul that trusts, in simple confidence, in the wisdom that comes from God.71

The watch-care of Christ for Peter was the cause of his restoration. Satan could do nothing against the all-powerful intercession of Christ. And the prayer that Christ offered for Peter He offers in behalf of all who are humble and contrite in heart…Peter sinned against light and knowledge, and against great and exalted privileges. It was self-confidence that caused him to fail, and it is this same evil that is now working in human hearts.72

Thank God we are not left alone. This is our safety. Satan can never touch with eternal disaster one whom Christ has prepared for temptation by His previous intercession, for grace is provided in Christ for every soul, and a way of escape has been made, so that no one need fall under the power of the enemy.73

Christ will never abandon those for whom He has died. We may leave Him and be overwhelmed with temptation, but Christ can never turn from one for whom He has paid the ransom of His own life. Could our spiritual vision be quickened, we should see souls bowed under oppression and burdened with grief, pressed as a cart beneath sheaves, and ready to die in discouragement. We should see angels flying quickly to the aid of these tempted ones, forcing back the hosts of evil that encompass them, and placing their feet on the sure foundation. The battles waging between the two armies are as real as those fought by the armies of this world, and on the issue of the spiritual conflict eternal destinies depend.74

As long as we maintain our union with Christ, nothing can separate us from His love,75 even if we sometimes sin. “Thank God, we are not left alone. He who “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), will not desert us in the battle with the adversary of God and man… Live in contact with the living Christ, and He will hold you firmly by a hand that will never let go. Know and believe the love that God has to us, and you are secure; that love is a fortress impregnable to all the delusions and assaults of Satan.”76

What did God teach Peter through this sifting of Satan? He learnt that he could not stand on his own. He learnt humiliation, tenderness, repentance, a transformation of character which regulated his zeal, making him no longer impetuous, self-confident, and self-exalted, but calm, self-possessed, and teachable, which equipped him for the feeding of the lambs and sheep. “The Savior’s manner of dealing with Peter had a lesson for him and for his brethren. It taught them to meet the transgressor with patience, sympathy, and forgiving love. Although Peter had denied his Lord, the love which Jesus bore him never faltered. Just such love should the undershepherd feel for the sheep and lambs committed to his care. Remembering his own weakness and failure, Peter was to deal with his flock as tenderly as Christ had dealt with him.”77 He was made a more useful vessel for God as Christ had told him to strengthen others after his repentance (v.32).

Peter knew the value of the refining process. Notice what he wrote, years later to persecuted believers:

(1 Pet 1:3-7 NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

c) The Perseverance of Job (Job 1-2)

(Job 1:7-22 NIV) The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.

But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Satan came before God in heaven and accused Job of serving God for selfish reasons- for protection and prosperity. If it can be showed that Job’s righteousness is the worst of all sins, then a chasm of alienation stands between Job and God, that cannot be bridged. Then even redemption is unthinkable, for the godliest of people will be shown to be the most ungodly. God’s whole enterprise in creation and redemption will be shown to be radically flawed, and God can only sweep it all away in awful judgment. The accusation, once raised, cannot be removed, not even by destroying the accuser. God accepted the challenge and permitted Satan to afflict Job in taking away his family and possessions, but was prohibited from harming Job himself. Satan was strictly limited within God’s permissive will.

What was the outcome? Notice verses 20-22. Satan intended to break Job’s faith but it didn’t work. Job bowed to the Lord in prayer and worship, accepting God’s sovereign design and purpose, even though he didn’t know why he was suffering.

So Satan challenged God again, accusing Job of remaining faithful to God to protect his health:

(Job 2:1-10 NIV) On another day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.

And so God permitted Satan to afflict Job’s health with painful oozing sores all over, but he was not allowed to take Satan’s life. His condition was so deplorable that his wife urged him to curse God, but he refused to do so, even though he did not know why he was suffering. During it all, God never chose to reveal to him what went on behind the scenes.

If he would have known, would he have prayed to “bind Satan” in the name of God? I don’t think so, because he understood that these sufferings, were something that God allowed in his life, even though he did not know the reason. Job’s main focus was in wresting with God because he knew God was sovereign. He didn’t focus on the raiders, thieves, sores, rejection of his wife and relatives.

We too have to suffer. Most often we do not know the reasons why God allows these to come upon us. But through the stories of Job, Peter, Paul, and others, we know that God can use Satanic afflictions to benefit us in a spiritual way. By looking at their examples, we can find comfort, encouragement, and hope. Our attitude should be one of submission for God’s plan in our lives: (1 Pet 4:19 NIV) “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator.”

If the book could be heard as speaking to sufferers in Job’s position (people who are suffering, that is, for no reason they themselves can think of), what it would be saying is: Let Job the patient sufferer [Chapter 1-2] be your model, so long as that is possible for you. But when you cannot bear that any longer, let your grief and anger and impatience direct you towards God [as exemplified by Job in chapters 3-33], for He is ultimately the origin of the suffering, and it is only through encounter with Him that the anguish can be relieved.78

How did these afflictions of Satan benefit Job? He “came away with an increased awareness of God’s greatness and his own sinfulness (40:4-5). He also learned the necessity of submitting to God’s sovereign purposes no matter what the cost might be (42:2-6).79

“From the depths of discouragement and despondency Job rose to the heights of implicit trust in the mercy and the saving power of God. Triumphantly he declared: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”80 “When he hath tried me,” he said, “I shall come forth as gold.” So it came to pass. By his patient endurance he vindicated his own character, and thus the character of Him whose representative he was.”81

In the story of Job we see that “God can actually transform evil into good, so that in retrospect it is seen to have actually been good, without diminishing in the least the awful actuality of the evil it was at the time.”82


Summary

More Scriptural examples could be given (1 Cor 5:5; 1 Tim 1:18-20) but suffice it to say that “God used Satan’s afflicting hand for the spiritual benefit of Job, Paul, and Peter. None of them sought to command, rebuke, or bind Satan. For them, the real issue was not the activity of Satan, but the accomplishment of God’s sovereign purposes. Our attitude should be no different.”83


Footnotes.

59 David Powlison, Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare, Baker, 1995, p. 58.

60 E. G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 340-341.

61 John MacArthur, Jr., How To Meet the Enemy, 1992, Victor Book, p. 25.

62 C.G. Kruse, 2 Corinthians, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 1987, Eerdmans, p. 205-206.

63 John MacArthur, Jr., How To Meet the Enemy, 1992, Victor Book, p. 29-30.

64 E. G. White, The Present Truth, 01-30-90; In Heavenly Places, p. 82.

65 C.G. Kruse, 2 Corinthians, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 1987, Eerdmans, p. 207.

66 E. G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 175.

67 E. G. White, Great Controversy, p. 528-529.

68 E. G. White, This Day With God, p. 260; see also Sons and Daughters of God, p. 91.

69 E. G. White, Education, p. 88.

70 E. G. White, Sons and Daughters of God, p. 91.

71 E. G. White, My Life Today, p. 316.

72 E. G. White, Sons and Daughters of God, p. 91.

73 E. G. White, That I May Know Him, p. 286; see also OHC p. 311, CC p. 313.

74 E. G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 175; see also Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 118-119.

75 E. G. White, Acts of the Apostles, p. 552-553.

76 E. G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 119.

77 E. G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 815, see all of p. 812-815.

78 D. J. A. Clines, New Bible Commentary, Fourth Edition, 1994 Inter-Varsity Press, p. 460.

79 John MacArthur, Jr., How To Meet the Enemy, 1992, Victor Book, p. 28.

80 E. G. White, My Life Today, p. 328.

81 E. G. White, Sons and Daughters of God, p. 95.

82 F. I. Anderson, Job, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, 1976 Inter-Varsity Press, p. 69.

83 John MacArthur, Jr., How To Meet the Enemy, 1992, Victor Book, p. 31.

 
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Chapter 3: Evil Spirits and Believers


Geographical Binding of Evil Spirits

Is such a notion Scriptural? Can we bind or keep the devil out of our churches and our country?84 Such a notion is not in the Scriptures. Evil angels are present at every gathering of the saints (Mt 13:19 par. Mk 4:15 par. Lk 8:12).85 Satan was dogging Christ’s footsteps continually during His earthly ministry.86 When Satan was there blinding the minds of the masses, why did Christ not rebuke, cast, and bind Satan out of there? It would have made his job a lot easier. Evidently, it was not within His right to do so. Nor is it ours. We are never asked to cast evil spirits out geographically but to prepare our hearts in consecration to God for the reception of His message,87 so that their influence has no effect upon us. At this time, God does not always remove the temptation but He will most certainly provide a way out. However, at the very end of time, the Lord will indeed destroy forever the devil and his angels.

Humans cannot bind Satan, only God can, for Satan “is a smart general, and therefore, no man can handle him. And for that very reason, God sent His Son into the world.”88


Inheriting Demons From Our Ancestors?

Some people believe that it is necessary to renounce the sins of our ancestors and any curses which have been placed upon us. Appeal is made to Exodus 20:4-5 to imply that “familiar spirits can be passed on from one generation to the next if not renounced and your new spiritual heritage in Christ is not proclaimed. You are not guilty for the sin of any ancestor, but because of their sin, Satan has gained access to your family.”89

Does Exodus 20:4-5 teach that demons can be passed down the family line? It simply doesn’t. “This notion of generational transference of demonic agents is quite simply a piece of occult theology”90 that has infiltrated popular spiritual warfare theology that focuses on casting out demons.

Nowhere in the Bible is there an example of a true believer who inherited demons from his ancestors. Nowhere in the Bible is there an example of a true believer who was ever invaded by demons because of former occult practices. Nowhere in the Bible is there an example of a true believer who was inhabited by demons because of a transfer. Nowhere does the New Testament instruct the church to deliver a believer in Christ from demons because of ancestral involvement, personal involvement, transferal, or any other reason. And nowhere does the Bible say a true believer ever needs or is to seek such a deliverance. Why? Because God provides both deliverance and divine protection in salvation.

The Apostle Paul expressed it in this way: “The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thes 3:3). In 2 Timothy 1:12 he echoed the same truth: “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” Paul was sustained by his intimate relationship with God. He personally knew the One in whom he placed his trust. What did he entrust to the Lord? His entire life. Everything! He knew God would guard his life to the day when Christ comes to reward His church. If you are a true believer, God will protect you in the same way.91


What About Previous Occult Involvement and the Christian?

The Bible addresses this issue in numerous places. The cultures surrounding Israel were idolaters. Most Gentiles in the New Testament era were idolaters. The Bible clearly links idolatry with the worship of demons (Lev 17:7; Dt 32:17; Ps 106:36-37; 1 Cor 10:20). So the Scriptures say a great deal about how to view the occult and how to minister to people involved in it.

Take Acts 8, for instance, which focuses on the Samaritan Pentecost.

Acts 8:5-24 tells of Simon the magician who was an occult practitioner of the highest order, manifesting astonishing power. But when Simon heard the Gospel, he believed and was baptized. He had the typical reaction of amazement when he saw Philip casting out demons and healing. When Simon saw the power coming through Peter and John as they prayed for the Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit, he wanted the same power. He even offered money for it.

What does this passage imply for someone coming from an occult past. First, notice that Simon still operated in bondage to occult mentality. He expressed a lust for spiritual power, or a lust to control power, for personal gain. Simon was a professing believer, but sinful patterns of his occult past held him in bondage.

Second… Philip was casting out demons and healing, creating a tremendous stir (Acts 8:6-7, 13). If unclean spirits are slave-masters who inhabit the human heart to produce residual moral bondage in believers, we would expect Philip or the apostles to apply this method to Simon. If an ex-sorcerer, along with any convert out of an occult lifestyle, needs EMM [a casting out of evil spirits] done routinely, we would expect a dramatic vindication of the view that the occult leads to demon inhabitation and that effective ministry needs to bypass the human will to contact deeper, indwelling powers.

But third, notice Peter’s response to Simon’s request for power. Peter delivered one of the most stinging rebukes in all of Scripture, addressing Simon as a responsible moral being: “Your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart” (Acts 8:21-22). Simon’s heart was not right; it was his wickedness; he must repent and pray. Peter describes extreme bondage to sin and danger of damnation. Slavery to sin is a problem of the heart, not of aliens inhabiting the heart.

This passage undermines the presumption that occult involvement entails demonic inhabitation necessitating EMM [a casting out of evil spirits]. In fact we should remember that most converts to the Christian faith in the first century had occult, demon-worshipping, idolatrous backgrounds. The first Gentile converts turned from the outright dominion of Satan to God and were sanctified by faith in Jesus (Acts 26:18), not EMM [a casting out of evil spirits].

No doubt those involved in the occult have engaged in profound iniquity that may have lingering consequences. Residual patterns of evil- evil behaviors, false beliefs, self-serving motives, chaotic emotions, bizarre fantasies- may be strong. Temptations may arrive frequent and fierce, for Satan rages against his betrayers. Renewal of mind, purity of heart, and a lifestyle of love may come slowly. But there is no pattern of bondage to evil that necessitates some supplement to classic spiritual warfare. Occultists need repentance, not EMM [a casting out of evil spirits].92


Footnotes.

84 Neil T. Anderson, Released From Bondage, p. 255-256; see also his The Bondage Breaker, Harvest House, 1993, p. 212.

85 E. G. White, Christ Object Lessons, p. 44.

86 E. G. White, 1888, p. 123-124.

87 E. G. White, ST 05-08-84. For further study on this, see L. & L. Rosenvold, The Battle for the Mind: Spiritual Warfare- False and True, 1987, Hope International.

88 E. G. White, Manuscript Releases, Vol. 9, p. 66.

89 Neil T. Anderson, Released From Bondage, Step 7 of Steps to Freedom in Christ, p. 250-251; see also his The Bondage Breaker, p. 205-206.

90 David Powlison, Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare, Baker, 1995, p. 127.

91 John MacArthur, Jr., How To Meet the Enemy, 1992, Victor Book, p. 136.

92 David Powlison, Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare, Baker, 1995, p. 99-100.

 
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Chapter 4: Harassment or Possession or Illness


Differentiation Between Harassment-Oppression and Possession

It is important that those who confront Satan and his angels in any kind of ministry of deliverance determine first (by earnest prayer and heart searching, subjectively, and a careful examination of the victim, objectively) whether the individual seemingly possessed is simply manifesting the symptoms of a natural illness (epilepsy, for example) which might be a form of mere harassment, or whether the individual is in fact subject to direct demonic control.

It would be unspeakably cruel (for at least 3 reasons) to suggest to an emotionally disturbed or sin-laden person, in the absence of clearly coercive evidence, that he/she were “possessed” when, in fact, such a person was not demon-controlled:

1- It would only serve to make the suffering of a sensitive person more keen- and unnecessarily so. 2- It could, unintentionally, provide for an unstable person an excuse in evading personal responsibility and accountability for his/her actions and problems (not only thereby reinforcing deviant behavior but also retarding the chance for recovery). 3- It might serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy, actually operating in the form of hypnotic suggestion, weakening the resistance of the individual and making him/her subsequently more susceptible to actual possession!

We recognize that often it may be difficult (if not impossible) to determine whether an individual is possessed, or merely the victim of demonic harassment.93


Natural Illness or Supernatural Possession?

Many sincere Christians, unfamiliar with human physiology, are greatly surprised to discover that certain of the more gross, abnormal, bizarre forms of behavior often superficially associated with “possession” are often also present in certain kinds of mental illness in which demon possession does not appear to be a factor. We speak of such things as: foaming at the mouth; noisy, obscene blasphemous utterances in unnatural, altered (and often guttural) vocal registers, or shrill, spine-chilling screams; falling into trance-like states; and violent bodily seizures in which the unfortunate victim may suddenly be thrown to the floor, or violently against wall or furniture. All of these symptoms, sometimes seen in genuine cases of demon possession, are also common responses of victims of various “natural” mental disorders. Thus the ignorance of an individual concerning the nature and operation of nature’s laws could (and often does) result in that person’s seeking to explain these phenomena by means of the spirit world, and thus finding demons where none exist.

(Perhaps at this point it is also worth noting the contrary truth: Some individuals who are genuinely “possessed” may exhibit perfectly normal, natural behavior- and thus are enabled to do Satan’s bidding all the more effectively.)

We quickly grant that all mental (as well as physical) illness is a by-product of sin, and may be said, in the ultimate sense, to be caused by Satan. But a knowledge of certain forms of mental illness is extremely helpful, because apparently some mental illnesses are primarily caused by biochemical, environmental, genetic factors; abuses of alcohol and/or other drugs; and, simply physical illness (Again, in some instances, Satan may also become involved more directly.)

Unquestionably some mental illness is a genuine manifestation of direct demonic control of human neurology and physiology. But because there is no evidence that all mental illness involves demonic possession, it is crucially important that those who venture to grapple with the phenomenon of demon possession should, if possible, first have an intelligent awareness of the many and varied determinants of normal and abnormal perceptions, auditory and visual hallucinations, normal and anomalous physical sensations, speech mechanisms, emotional experiences, and thought processes before attempting to deliver a victim believed to be demon-possessed.

In actual practice, interestingly, there are comparatively few conclusive, telltale evidences of supernatural activity in cases where demon-possession is suspected.94


Some Reservations About Casting Out Devils

Casting out devils is found throughout the pagan, Jewish (Mt 12:27; Acts 19:13), and Christian world. When Jesus commissioned the 12 (Mt 10:1-8) and the 70 (Lk 10:1-17), He did not exclude Judas from having this gift, even though he was not fully surrendered to Christ.95 So having this ability is not necessarily a sign of being a genuine believer:

(Mat 7:21-23 NIV) “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Satan has deceived many in the manifestation of casting out of devils:

By such fanaticism as we have lately had among us in California in peculiar exercises and the claim of power to cast out devils, Satan is seeking to deceive if possible the very elect. These persons, claiming to have a special message for our people, would charge one and another with being possessed of an evil spirit. Then after praying with them they would declare the devil cast out. The result of their work testified of its character. I was bidden to say to our people that the Lord was not in these strange exercises but that such exhibitions would deceive souls to their ruin unless they were warned, and Bible truth would be perverted.96

There are many testimonies referring to the Mackins who, as part of their ministry were casting out devils. The following are a few exerts:

You have even supposed that power is given you to cast out devils. Through your influence over the human mind men and women are led to believe that they are possessed of devils, and that the Lord has appointed you as His agents for casting out these evil spirits.97

I was shown that it was not the Spirit of the Lord that was inspiring Brother and Sister L, but the same spirit of fanaticism that is ever seeking entrance into the remnant church. Their application of Scripture of their peculiar exercises is Scripture misapplied. The work of declaring persons possessed of the devil, and then praying with them and pretending to cast out the evil spirits, is fanaticism which will bring into disrepute any church which sanctions such work.

I was shown that we must give no encouragement to these demonstrations, but must guard the people with a decided testimony against that which would bring a stain upon the name of Seventh-day Adventists, and destroy the confidence of the people in the message of truth which they must bear to the world. The Lord has done a great work for His people in placing them on vantage ground. It is the duty of the church to cherish its influence. Precious are the words, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). The words of inspiration carefully studied and prayerfully obeyed, will thoroughly furnish unto all good works.

As a denomination we need to look more continually to God for guidance. We are living in an evil age. The perils of the last days are upon us. Because iniquity abounds, Satan presumes to bring in all kinds of delusive theories upon those who have tried to walk humbly with God, and who are distrustful of self. Shall self-confident, fanatical men come to these humble souls assuring them that they are possessed of evil spirits, and after praying with them, affirm that the devil is cast out? Such are not the manifestations of the Spirit of God, but of another spirit.98

One would readily agree that “not all forms of gross human behavior are directly instigated by Satan, nor are they- in and of themselves- necessarily conclusive evidence of demon-possession. Ellen White strongly denounced the practice in her day of certain church members who went around declaring certain persons as possessed of the devil, then prayed with them, and then pretended to cast out evil spirits. She called such work fanaticism, and said it would destroy any church which sanctioned it.99 “We are none of us to seek to cast out devils, lest we ourselves be cast out.”100

Since we humans cannot handle evil spirits,101 we should leave it up to God to dispute with Satan: “Bear in mind that it is none but God that can hold an argument with Satan.”102

Bear in mind that it is none but God that can hold an argument with Satan. The sentiments of the enemy are to be met with a plain “Thus saith the Lord.” Human infirmity, I am instructed, will not be able to resist the devil… Flee from this unequal conflict.103


Footnotes.

93 “Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Ministry” and Seventh-Day Adventists: A report of the Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1983, p. 22-23; see also p. 21.

94 “Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Ministry” and Seventh-Day Adventists: A report of the Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1983, p. 24-25; see also p. 26-28.

95 E. G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 717.

96 E. G. White, Mind, Character, and Personality, Vol. 1, p. 40.

97 E. G. White, Selected Messages, Book 3, p. 376.

98 E. G. White, Selected Messages, Book 2, p. 46-47.

99 “Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Ministry” and Seventh-Day Adventists: A report of the Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1983, p. 58.

100 E. G. White, Manuscript Releases, Vol. 13, p. 324.

101 E. G. White, Manuscript Releases, Vol. 9, p. 66.

102 E. G. White, 5SDABC, p. 1083.

103 E. G. White, RH 09-06-06.

 
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Chapter 5: Ministering to the Demon-Afflicted


Ministering to the Demon-Harassed

No doubt there is a place for ministry to those who are tempted and controlled by Satanic agencies. As Christians, we “may be called upon to participate, or even to lead out, in prayer services for victims of Satanic harassment or possession. An important work of personal preparation is spelled out in Scripture and in Ellen White’s writings which includes close self-examination to discover the possible presence of sin which needs to be repented of, confessed, and forsaken before confrontation with the supernatural forces of evil. Fasting and prayer may be an important part of this preparatory work. There is a place for this kind of ministry, conducted properly.”104

How should this ministry be conducted? John Nevius, a Presbyterian missionary to China in the nineteenth century, wrote a book entitled Demon Possession and Allied Themes. In it he reported healings of hundreds of cases of demon possession among the Chinese. How was this accomplished? Not by attempting to cast out the demons, but by the preaching of the gospel and all that that entails- stressing [what is known in theological circles as the “classic-mode of spiritual warfare”] individual responsibility for sin and the need to repent and seek God’s forgiveness and power to overcome that sin, surrendering to Christ, and maintaining our union with Him, moment by moment. The solution and therapy for those afflicted with demons is the preaching of the Gospel. This is the emphasis of the New Testament Epistles and of the writings of E. G. White.


Ellen White’s Ministry to the Demon-possessed

Repeatedly Ellen White appeals to those in bondage to Satan to break away themselves from the evil one, through God’s power. The victims alone can do this.105 No one else can do this for them. It must be their desire.

The following is but one example106 of a few107 that could be drawn from the writings of E. G. White. It is entitled, “Message to a Sinner: Look to Jesus and Live:”

Dear Brother:

I cannot forbear writing to you. I knew your countenance as you were seated in the tent at my right hand on the Sabbath [Sept. 13, 1891] at Colorado Springs. The Lord has presented your case before me as one who was in need of that help which God alone could give you. I heard words of hopelessness and despair coming from your lips. I heard wicked words, blasphemous words. Said Jesus, as He looked upon you piteously, “These are not the words of the man, but the words of the spirit that has possessed him. God will heal him. He has gone far in resisting the Spirit of God, but Jesus is drawing him by the tender cords of His love. He has separated from God, but God has not separated from him. Through a train of circumstances he has lost confidence in himself, in his best friends, and turned from light to darkness, from truth to error, and has been left to feel his own weakness.”

You were the very one I was shown who was under the power of demons. “When this young man gives himself to Christ, the victory is gained.” Said the heavenly voice, “Break with the deceiver. He is deluding your soul to your ruin. He will not let you go; only the power of the Mighty Deliverer can save you.” Charge not my precious loving Saviour with your unhappiness and your ruin. The storm of temptation has swayed you like a reed in the wind, and through these bitter and almost overwhelming storms you have clung to your mantle of pride, hugging it closer about you. Prostrated in the dust, you are apparently devoid of willpower, without strength to rise. No earthly friend is powerful enough to raise you. You still cling to your pride; you utter the words of Satan abiding in your heart. Said Christ, “It is not he but a demon that speaks. I will save him if he will trust in me as a little child trusts in his father, his mother.”

Lay your pride at the feet of One who owns you, who loves with a love that is infinite. Stand in your God-given manhood, in the strength of Him who can save to the uttermost all who come unto Him. Then your purposes will not be like ropes of sand. In His presence, standing under the shadow of the cross, His mercy, His love, His forgiveness, cover the blackest stains of sin. The Holy Spirit helpeth your infirmities. The Master has work for you to do, to speak words of hope, of comfort, of love, of Christ’s forgiveness, pardon, to the helpless, the wandering, the lost. You have no will that leads you to Jesus, but a will that leads you away from Him. With open arms He will receive you.

The Lord has made provision for your simple necessities. While you need not despise money, you will appreciate it in a different light than you have hitherto done. You will say, “It is all the Lord’s. My skill, my aptness and ability, I have misapplied. I will now let Jesus elevate me by the golden chain of truth that will bind me to His eternal throne.”

I ask you to work and walk out on my faith, if you cannot on your own. Answer the drawings of the Holy Spirit of God. Accept the prayers of the people of God in your behalf. Poor, tempest-tossed soul, only believe in Jesus’ willingness to save you. Let not Satan be your spokesman any longer. Jesus has work for you to do. Satan will speak for you if you will let him, but tell him “No; let my lips utter only words of faith and hope and truth.” Keep talking faith, rebuke the enemy, and the great black cloud of despair will arise and roll back and disappear.

You cannot make yourself any better; Jesus can do all this. When the Israelites were bitten by the fiery poisonous serpents whose sting was certain death, the brazen serpent was lifted up on a pole, and Jesus, enshrouded in the cloudy pillar, bade Moses tell them, “Look and live.” The same Jesus has bidden me tell you, Look and live. Do not climb the pole, but only look. I present Christ to you. Look and live. There is hope, comfort, and peace for you. There is even joy in the Holy Ghost for you. Now I bid you in the name of Jesus, Look and live.

You may say, “Oh, I am a great sinner.” I admit it; Jesus is well acquainted with all this, and He says, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” [Mark 2:17]. He has paid the ransom money for your soul, and the price was His own flesh and blood. The badness of your heart should not keep you away from Christ, but bring you closer to your only Hope, your only Helper. Will you allow Satan to triumph? He has unbalanced your mind, so that you are not able to reason calmly and sensibly. Oh, the marvels of the grace of Christ for you! Behold, how Jesus loves you! Satan is pleased to have you look upon God as a tyrant. There is no wrath in God except for the hateful character of sin. Lay your sin on Jesus; leave it to Him; then do what He tells you to do, as a little child, irrespective of consequences.

Satan is playing the game of life for your soul. Shall he conquer? I say No, a thousand times No. God has a work for you to do, but all you have now to do is to look to Jesus, who was lifted up, and live.

It is the love of Christ for your soul that constrains me. Shall Christ have died for you in vain? You are unconsciously groping after the heavenly light. Satan shall not conquer; he shall be expelled through prayer and faith. When you come to Jesus, you find He comes to you and clasps you in His everlasting arms.

In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, I rebuke108 the foul and wicked spirit that has acted for you.109 Jesus is the conqueror. You may exert all your powers, were they not under the bewitching power of Satan and you echo his sentiments; but Christ will break his power for his work. He testifies [He] is to break every yoke and set the oppressed free. You have been bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ. You feel and see only wrath and condemnation, that you may hate God and all who lead you to Jesus. In Christ you may find all you need. The loving Saviour is already drawing nigh to heal you.

Satan would have your soul; shall he have it? Say, No, never; it is Christ’s property. Satan says, “Curse God and die.” Will you do it? He curses God for you, that you may repeat his wicked blasphemy. Will you do it? No, for Jesus has died; He has purchased your life. Your soul is His property, and He will take you by the hand; He will draw you away from perdition; He will make you, as John, His beloved disciple, to win the crown of eternal life. He bids you, through me, His humble servant, “Look and live.” He opens His loving heart to you that you may hide in the cleft of the Rock. Say not, “There is no hope for me.” Satan triumphs every time you say it. Let these thoughts be in your heart, “Thou, O Lord, hast created me for Thyself.” He has permitted you to live that you might become acquainted with Jesus and be willing to follow Him.-Letter 85, 1891. (Written to J. A. Starr, Sept. 22, 1891, from Healdsburg, California.)


A Modern Example of Possession 110

My daughter Sharon and her husband were in need of someone to help with the house chores. They were apprehensive about having just anyone and did not quite know how to go about finding the right person. Since we have several SDA gospel outreach programs, I thought maybe some poor girl was out there needing employment and we could sure use her help with the new born baby. So I contacted Mr. Subramaniam who is one of our laymen in the Maskeliya area. He inquired around and found a young girl and brought her to Colombo which is a four hours bus journey.

When she arrived, I discovered she was only 10 years old. I was a bit concerned about her age, but Mr. Subramaniam reassured me that she had some experience in working in homes and would be easy to teach and cooperative. So we accepted her as our future helper in our daughter’s house.

Shortly after her arrival, my daughter called for her mother to come over to the house in an intent and concerned voice. Of course my wife went to see what was the. problem. Because my wife did not return right away, I was wondering what had happened to her. After some time, I went dashing to Sharon’s house to find out what was the matter. When I arrived, Sharon met me with a fearfully expression and explained that she feared that this little girl was possessed of evil spirits.

The girl had indicated to Sharon that she was possessed of a spirit and told how she was able to walk on hot coal fires without any signs of burns, and was able to have her cheeks pierced with spikes, and how she would begin shivering when she was really possessed.

The Hindus think that it was not an evil spirit that possessed them but it was their gods that took possession of their human souls. They considered it a blessing to themselves.

My wife and Sharon’s question to me as to what shall we do? Shall we send the girl back home? No, I said, we are going to pray to our God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

We then gathered around and began singing gospel songs and earnestly praying for God’s intervention on her behalf. After finishing praying, the little girl appeared normal and said that she felt very healthy and was quite happy. I then taught the little girl a simple prayer by asking her to repeat it after me several times.

Dear Jesus, please protect me from all harm and danger and from the evil spirits. The little girl learned the prayer very quickly and she went to bed that night after kneeling by her bed-side saying this little prayer out loud to God.

The next morning the little girl explained that during the night, she had a very bad and frightening dream that hundreds of snakes surrounded her to harm her. The little girl got up from bed in fear and trembling. However, she had not forgotten the advice I had given her and she prayed the simple prayer to Jesus. Immediately all fear left her. She crawled back into bed and slept peacefully the rest of the night. Surly the Lord has answered that little prayer of faith by granting her that night a peaceful sleep. Thereafter, the little girl was not disturbed at all by the evil spirits.

Because of sickness and being the child was so small, Sharon thought that this girl was too small to be employed in her home and the girl needed to be with her parents. Before, leaving the house, the little girl told us that she will never forget the prayer she has learned. She would always pray that prayer when going to bed, and in the morning when she gets up from the bed. She also said that she would tell her parents and her neighbors that there is a person called Jesus who will protect us from evil spirits, if a person prays to Him.

We feel that God had a plan in sending this little girl to us although this little girl stayed in the home only for 7 days. Praise God for His mysterious ways. Do pray with us for this little girl (Manimegala).

Written by Pastor J. Gnanasekeran, Secretary of Sri Lanka Mission.


Footnotes.

104 “Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Ministry” and Seventh-Day Adventists: A report of the Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1983, p. 59-60.

105 E. G. White, Manuscript Releases, Vol. 4, p. 237.

106 E. G. White, Manuscript Releases, Vol. 13, p. 148-152, Manuscript #1020 in its entirety.

107 E. G. White, Manuscript Releases, Vol. 15; TSB p. 77.

108 Notice that this wicked spirit is being rebuked- by appealing to the possessed one to turn to Jesus and live. Repeatedly when E. G. White uses this expression she appeals to prayer, faith and conversion as the means- see chapters 16 & 32 in L. & L. Rosenvold, The Battle for the Mind: Spiritual Warfare- False and True, 1987, Hope International; for more examples of overcoming demonic control, see chapter 14 of the same book. In her experience with Daniel Bourdeau, she states: “I prayed again and again, with strong crying and tears, for God to cast out the devil” (15MR, p. 368).

109 Note that she is not addressing herself to the spirit but to the person. Paul commanded the evil spirit only under inspiration (see AA p. 212-213). Jesus addressed demons. The question remains, should we? The Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy writings uniformly forbid human communication with the evil supernatural world of Satan and his demons (see Lev 19:31; Is 8:19; 1T p. 428-429; 3T p. 482-483; MR #1058). “Bear in mind that it is none but God that can hold an argument with Satan (Letter 206, 1906)” (5SDABC p. 1083). For further study see L. & L. Rosenvold, The Battle for the Mind: Spiritual Warfare- False and True, 1987, Hope International.

110 This true story in its entirety was related on Sabbath School Net, Friday March 21, 1997 by charlest@localaccess.com, who heard it from Pastor J. Gnanasekaran and asked him to put it in writing.

 
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Chapter 6: Summary and Conclusion


The Scriptures teach that Satan and his demonic allies are not coequal with God. He is a created being who has rebelled and can tempt-but not force. The main concern of the Bible is not with the devil but with God and the gospel of His grace. Satan and the demonic forces have been overcome by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The New Testament never allows complete pessimism. In the end Satan and his angels will be completely overcome. In fact, Jesus came into the world to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). The cross was a decisive victory over Satan and Satan’s host (Col. 2:15). This victory insured that countless numbers would be delivered from the dominion of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13).

Today, people continue to concretize their fears. They want a scapegoat to deliver them from responsibility. Satan is a created, rebellious and tempting evil power active in the universe, but his powerful existence does not exclude a person from responsibility. Satan and the demonic forces cannot dominate or possess us except by our own consent. Believers will not be tempted beyond our power of resistance111 (1 Cor. 10:13). The power of Satan is limited. He acts within the limits set by divine sovereignty. The believer has God’s armor-the biblical gospel, integrity, peace through Christ, faith in Christ, prayer-as spiritual security (Eph. 6:11-18).

The recent fascination with Satan and demons is in reaction to an earlier disbelief. Christians should beware of excessive gullibility as well as extreme oversimplification. Knowledge about Satan and evil angels alerts Christians to the danger and subtlety of satanic temptation. We should not become too absorbed in satanic forces.112 Satan and demonic forces are active, but they are limited. We must remember that the main thrust of Christianity is on the availability of God’s power and love in Jesus Christ and the Spirit.113

Every human being has the inalienable right to a free moral choice, even those possessed and/or controlled by demons. Spiritual evil forces cannot force a Christian to sin, nor can they defile or contaminate one’s soul. There is no evidence or precedent in Scripture to portray moral evil [our sinning] in whole or in part as a demonization of inhabiting spirits that need to be cast out, rebuked and bound. Repeatedly the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy emphasize individual responsibility for sin and the need to repent and seek God’s forgiveness and power to overcome that sin, or else death will ensue.

God is sovereign and omnipotent. The Scriptures provide examples when God permitted Satan to afflict believers externally with adversity. Since God’s sovereignty controls every situation to accomplish His purposes, He causes all such adversity to work for the believer’s good.

Geographical binding of evil spirits is unscriptural.

Inheriting demons from our ancestors is unscriptural.

The remedy for previous occult involvement of believers and those who seek to become believers is conversion, and not any casting out of the evil spirits. The latter is unscriptural.

We should focus on ministering to the demon-harassed by the preaching of the gospel and all that that entails.


Footnotes

111 We are admonished to “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Christ, who is our example, did this with the use of the Word of God (Mt 4:1-11 par. Lk 4:1-13). Likewise, we can only resist by the Scriptures- see 1T p. 302.

112 E. G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 493.

113 J. P. Newport, art. “Devil, Satan, Evil, Demonic,” Holman Bible Dictionary, 1994, Parsons Technology.


About the Author:
Yvon Caza is a lay worker in central Alberta, Canada. His interest in this subject developed when family and fellow church members shared with him popular writings on spiritual warfare. As a result of sharing an interest in this subject on the internet, he was alerted to some theological pitfalls. This led him to further research the subject and to the writing of this paper. His study is written with a particular audience in mind--his denomination, but has broad application to any Christian believer.

Permissino was graciously given to use the document on my web site in the following note:
"Permission granted: Dear Dan, feel free to use it anytime and anywhere. Glad I can be of some help. Sincerely, Your brother in Christ, Yvon Caza"

Chapter 1: Freedom of Choice

Chapter 2: Satan as an Instrument of our Omnipotent and Sovereign God

Chapter 3: Evil Spirits and Believers

Chapter 4: Harassment or Possession or Illness

Chapter 5: Ministering to the Demon-Afflicted

Chapter 6: Summary and Conclusion


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