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).
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Like healing, it’s become the norm to consider it’s a part of biblical reality that for some reason has changed; become outdated, no longer valid for today – now irrelevant in ministry – no matter how much the actual need has remained the same.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?