Where Have All the Demons Gone?

Where have all the demons gone?
It’s a question I’ve been pondering for some time.
Freeing people from unclean spirits was as much a part of Jesus’ ministry as bodily healing, and sometimes the cause of an illness or infirmity was due to the presence of an unclean spirit (demon).

He gave his twelve disciples authority to cast out demons, and then the same to the seventy He sent out later.

And as part of His final words to His followers Jesus said “these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons” (Mark 16:7).

Considering all of the above – why are things so different today? Why are the churches, and therefore the majority of believers, not seeing or expecting to carry out that aspect of ministry commissioned by Jesus?

Probably for a similar reason that most don’t expect to experience or witness healings. I’m sure it’s not because demons ceased to exist, or that they fled from the earth. Like healing, it’s become the norm to consider it’s a part of biblical reality that for some reason has changed; become outdated, no longer valid for today – now  irrelevant in ministry – no matter how much the actual need has remained the same.

Approximately 35 years ago I was involved in “deliverance ministry” for a short time, when the pastor of the church I attended called me and asked me to help after a counselling session had brought demonic influence to light in the counselling subject.

Over the next few weeks I was asked on several occasions to help cast out demons from people  he’d been counselling.

That church seemed to be the exception among those that I attended over the years. Afterwards I started to wonder whether that experience played a part on the “spiritual crisis” I went through during the following 15 years. Had I been invited into that kind of ministry without having a firm enough foundation of faith to remain unaffected myself?

While able to present a convincing spiritual façade, my life at the time was not exactly grounded in the Word of God to the extent that I (and others) thought. Instead I had a convincing security blanket woven out of proof texts learned from recorded sermons.

My recovery from that crisis has been ongoing for a long time – maybe twenty years – during which there have been a series of ups and downs and false turns. Maybe for the first time since I first became a believer, the past several months have been a period of learning, change and establishing a firm foundation through solid and consistent time in scripture and prayer.

During that time I’ve “met” others who are going through a similar process. Often finding themselves on that path through a personal crisis. I suspect it’s not a coincidence that it all started not long before the world itself was also plunged into crisis.

My own experience has made me think long and hard, firstly about the many years of my own compromise, complacency, and failure to live up to the most basic expectations of Christian ministry, and secondly about the wider church being guilty of the same failures.

What Jesus commanded His followers to do and what todays’ “followers” are  actually doing, for the most part have absolutely nothing in common. Take the time to read Jesus’ instructions and commands regarding the mission He gave us.  Then ask yourself why many of those commands have been considered no longer necessary.

Only yesterday I noticed something for the first time in Luke 7.

[John the Baptist’s followers] had come to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ ”

And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.

Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

Read that again, and if necessary again and again.
What actually happens? What was Jesus’ answer to John?

In case you don’t see it, as I had never seen it until yesterday, I’ll point it out.
In answer to their question, Jesus healed the sick, brought deliverance from evil spirits and gave sight to the blind. Then He told John’s followers to tell John WHAT THEY HAD SEEN and heard.
Jesus didn’t send them away with words alone, but with an experience of the power of God. He SHOWED them before He told them anything.

Where have all the demons gone?

Nowhere. In the west at least, they’ve been allowed to take a holiday, We’ve let ourselves become oblivious to their presence, while we’ve become disobedient to the task Jesus commissioned us to do.

In the New Testament, demons always made their presence known, they could not remain hidden when confronted by Jesus or His disciples, walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. No one needed to “hunt” for them or seek them out, they manifested themselves when the authority of God was recognised.

For centuries now the church has abrogated that authority and replaced it with dead traditions and theologies that deny the relevance and need for the power of God today. Those unclean spirits are now rarely confronted by believers walking in the kind of authority that makes them reveal their presence.

I’ve written elsewhere about this current situation of isolation and lockdown being an opportunity for change, giving a chance to strengthen our relationship with God and to get back on track – to break free of complacent, comfortable church life and get in line with HIS intentions: preaching the gospel throughout the world with confirming signs of healing and deliverance.

What are we going to do with that opportunity?

4 thoughts on “Where Have All the Demons Gone?

  1. Very true. And then you have the other extreme in some parts of the church with demon obsessed Christians spending all their waking hours studying them or engaging them (or so they believe). Someone once wisely said “you can’t cast out the flesh, and you can’t crucify a demon”. But where are the wisdom bearers Tim? Where are the elders? Where are those who have proved these things out in their lives and can teach and pass on the art of Holy Spirit discernment? Where are the true, Cross-carrying teachers of the Word with the experience and humility the church needs to reproduce true disciples equipped and ready to deal with demons and carnality and know the difference? I can only trust the Holy Spirit has them working and walking among us, but rarely are they found in what now passes for the church.

  2. Hi Cheryl,
    There is a lot of laziness in the church.
    Apart from those who don’t want to rock their comfortable religious boats and prefer to stick with church programs and rituals instead of obeying Jesus (and we’ve all probably been there at one time or other) – others want to create check lists and formulaic procedures to follow.
    As you say, where is the discernment?

    I’ve started reading a book about deliverance written by someone with a recognised expertise born out of practical experience.
    Early in the book he lists five recommended steps to move into deliverance ministry. Step 2 includes: “read everything you can get your hands on. Listen to audio materials, attend seminars and discuss deliverance with anyone who has experience”. There is no specific reference to scripture – and THAT is where I believe we should go FIRST (and maybe last) for understanding on the issue. Anything else risks stepping into superstition and occultism.

    From my reading of scripture, in every case where an individual example of deliverance is described, the demons revealed themselves when faced with someone genuinely empowered by, and walking in the authority of, the Holy Spirit. There is only one example where it seem that discernment was needed. That example is the woman who followed Paul around in Acts 16: 17-18).
    Unless specifically revealed through the gift of discernment of spirits, there is probably no need to go looking for demons – they will show themselves when they are confronted by an obedient believer.
    A short video of this happening will be posted in the next day or so.

  3. Tim, a great pleasure to be back in touch !

    My teacher-mentor, Derek Prince, was closely associated with the teaching in the modern Charismatic movement of deliverance from demon-possession and -oppression. So I take his teaching as definitive, that there were two ways we miss the reality of demons: that we deny the activity of demons, which Jesus preached (the default position of most modern Christian churches); or that we take EVERY evil and disease as evidence of demon-activity.

    Blessing to all here, Steve

  4. Hi Steve,
    I remember listening to Derek Prince’s teaching series about demons and deliverance in the mid 1980s.
    It was the first time I’d heard anyone speaking on the topic.

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