DEFINITION:   Demons are fallen angels who joined Satan’s rebellion against God and were cast out of heaven (Revelation 12:7-9).  They were originally angels of God but are now evil spirits operating under Satan’s control.   They are also referred to as “devils”, as distinct from the Devil who is Satan.  People affected by demons are in need of deliverance from captivity and/or the influence of demonic powers.


    Spiritual warfare is a battle with the forces of evil, Satan and his hosts of demons (Ephesians 6:12). Our armor is truth,  righteousness, the Gospel, faith, and salvation. The Word of God and prayer are powerful spiritual weapons (Ephesians 6:14-18). Our authority and power is from Jesus (Mark 16:17).

    How demons operate.  Demons oppose God, His plan and purposes, and His people.  They also war against unbelievers to keep them from the truth of the Gospel.  Demons control specific territories (principalities) such as the prince of Persia mentioned in Daniel 10:12-13.  Demons also work through personalities–through men and women–to accomplish Satanic objectives in the world.   Opposition to God’s will and His Word is Satan’s main objective.  The word “Satan” means “adversary.” Satan and his demonic host are primarily God’s adversary (Job 1:6; Matthew 13:39).  He is secondarily, man’s adversary (Zechariah 3:1; 1 Peter 5:8).

    Demons have different natures.  One demon identified himself as a “lying spirit”  (1 Kings 22:23).   A “deaf and dumb” spirit is identified in Mark 9:25.  Demons of various natures operate as spirits of infirmity, seducing spirits, and unclean spirits.

    -Spirits of infirmity afflict the bodies of believers as well as unbelievers. See the story of the daughter of Abraham (a Jewish believer) in Luke 13:10-17.  For other examples of demonic powers afflicting the body see Matthew 12:22; 17:15-18; Acts 10:38; 1 Corinthians 12:7.

    -Seducing spirits afflict the spirit of man, seducing him to believe doctrinal lies and be condemned to eternal punishment.  They are deceptive spirits of false doctrine, cults, false Christs, and false teachers (1 Timothy 4:1).  They do miraculous works which lead some to believe they are of God (Revelation 16:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).  Seducing spirits include the “spirit of divination” mentioned in Acts 16:16 and “familiar spirits” that operate in fortune tellers, witches, and palm, crystal ball, and tea leaf readers.  Through unscriptural methods of divination, these spirits foretell the future and reveal things not naturally known.   Warnings against familiar spirits are given in Leviticus 19:31; 20:6; Deuteronomy 5:9; 18:10; Leviticus 20:27; and 1 Samuel 28:3.   Seducing spirits sear the conscience, seduce, entice, tempt, allure, interest, fascinate, excite, arouse, attract, and deceive.  They are operative in every cult and wherever doctrinal error exists.  Seducing spirits entice men and women to worship idols and even Satan himself.

    -Unclean spirits afflict the soul.  They are responsible for immoral acts and unclean thoughts.  When Satan controls individuals with unclean spirits, he uses them to cause problems in homes, churches, and nations.  This is how Satan works in the various levels of structure in society (Matthew 10:1; 12:43;  Mark 1:23-26).

    Demonic oppression.  To oppress means to bear down, come against, or bind from the outside.  This oppression is accomplished by evil spirits in various ways.  They cause depression, create negative circumstances, and cause wrong thoughts such as of suicide, immorality, unbelief, fear, etc.

    -A physical binding: The “daughter of Abraham” who Jesus relieved of a spirit of infirmity was bound physically (Luke 13:10-17).  Chronic sickness may be demonic oppression, although all illness is not caused by demonic powers.

    -A mental oppression: Disturbances in the mind such as mental torment, confusion, doubt, loss of memory, etc.  Restlessness, an inability to reason or listen to others, abnormal talkativeness or reserve  may be exhibited.  All mental problems are not caused by Satan, but some definitely are caused by demonic influence.

    -Emotional problems: Disturbances in the emotions which persist or recur, including resentment, hatred, anger, fear, rejection, self-pity, jealousy, depression, worry, insecurity, inferiority, etc.

    -Spiritual problems: Extreme difficulties in overcoming sin and sinful habits.  Spiritual solutions are rejected and doctrinal error is frequent.

    -Circumstances: Demons can create difficult circumstances which are oppressive.  These circumstances usually involve confusion and can immediately be identified as demonic because God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33; James 3:16).

    Demonic possession.  Demon possession is a condition in which one or more evil spirits (demons) inhabit the body of a human being and take complete control of their victim at will.  Some people prefer using the word “demonized” rather than possession, but regardless of the term, the possessed person is host to resident demons.  “Possession” does not mean a person is not responsible for his own sin.  His responsibility rests in the actions that led to his condition, i.e., involvement with demonic influences.  Demonic possession can be recognized by the following signs:

    -Indwelling of an unclean spirit: This is demonstrated by a basic moral uncleanness and filthiness.  For examples see Mark 5:2 and Luke 8:27.

    -Unusual physical strength: A person shows strength beyond normal capabilities.  For examples see Mark 5:3 and Luke 8:29.

    -Fits of rage:  See Mark 9:14-29 and Luke 8:26-39.

    -Resistance to spiritual things: In the accounts in Mark 6:7 and 1:21-28, the demons knew Jesus  and asked Him to leave them alone.  Fear of the name of Jesus, prayer, and the Word and blasphemy of that which is spiritual are all symptoms of demon possession.

    -Changes in personality and/or voice:  A person who is normally shy may become aggressive or violent.  Actions as well as appearance may be affected.  Moral character and intelligence may change.  The voice may be altered (Mark 5:9).

    -Accompanying physical afflictions: These appear most commonly as afflictions of the mental and nervous systems  (Matthew 9:33; 12:22; Mark 5:4-5).  They can also include a general wasting away physically. (Mark 9:14-29).

    -Self-inflicted physical injury:  In Matthew 17:1421 there is the story of a man’s son who would cast himself in the fire.  In Luke 8:26-39 this demon possessed man cut himself with stones to inflict physical injury.

    -Terrible anguish: Luke 8:28 relates that this man went about crying because of the inner torment caused by his possession.

    -Incapacity for normal living:  This man could not reside in society, but lived in the tombs of the cemetery (Luke 8:27).

    -Divination:  This is the ability, through unscriptural methods, to foretell the future or reveal that which is unknown.  The woman in Acts 16:16 is said to be possessed by a spirit of divination.

    -Obsessive immorality such as involvement with pornography, adultery, fornication,  homosexuality, and other sexual sins.  Strong compulsions toward eating disorders, suicide, self-mutilation, maiming, and murder.

    -Addiction to drugs or alcohol.

    -Trances, visions, and meditation which are not focused on or from the one true God.

    -Bondage to emotions:  Rage,  hatred,  jealousy, etc.

    Demon obsession.  This is a condition where one is obsessed by an interest in or preoccupation with demons.  It is an unusual interest in the occult, demons, and Satan.  Demonic obsession is recognized by an uncontrollable and unusual preoccupation with demons, Satan, and the occult.  A person may dabble in occult practices, constantly credit everything to Satan or demons, or be preoccupied with the study of demons and Satan.

    A true Christian cannot be demon possessed.  He may be obsessed with demons or oppressed by them, but a true believer cannot be possessed by a demon because the Holy Spirit cannot inhabit the same temple as an evil spirit  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  When you belong to God and are filled with the Holy Spirit, you cannot belong to Satan and be filled with his spirits at the same time.  The Holy Ghost will not abide in the same “temple” with Satan.

    Demons gain control in varied ways.

    -Through generations:  Demonic powers operating in parents and the sins of the parents can affect the next generation.  This may account for demon possession or oppression of children such as recorded in Mark 7:24-30 and 9:17-21.  (See also “Generational Curses” in this database.)

    -Through the mind:  If Satan controls your thoughts, he will eventually control your actions.  Lack of mental control eventually results in lack of use of the will.  This leads to sinful actions.  Continuing in sinful thoughts and actions can lead from oppression to possession and eventually to a reprobate mind such as is described in Romans l–a mind totally controlled by evil thoughts.  Demons also gain access through mind-altering drugs which reduce the ability to resist demons and grant increasing access to the mind.  “Brain washing” and “mind control” also provide entrance points for the enemy into your mind.  (See also “Mind And Thoughts” in this database.)

    -Through sinful actions: Sinful thoughts lead to sinful actions.  For example, the thought of adultery is fulfilled in the actual act of adultery.  Sin is rebellion, and rebellious thoughts and actions provides an entry point for demonic activity. When a believer continues in sinful thoughts or actions they “give place” to the Devil (Ephesians 4:27).   Sins of involvement with the occult, including objects, literature, séances, etc., are actions which are especially dangerous and attract demonic powers.

    -Through desire:  Some people ask Satan for demonic power to enable them to perform supernatural acts.  Others worship Satan or join Satanic cults.

    -Through an empty house:  Demons consider the body of the person they inhabit as their own house (Matthew 12:44).  When a person who is delivered from demonic powers does not fill his spiritual house by the new birth experience and the infilling of the Holy Spirit, reentry may occur.

    -Through permission:  Sometimes God grants permission for demonic powers to operate through a trial–as in the case of Job–or judgment for sin–as in the example of King Saul.

    Jesus dealt with demons.  The teaching and ministry of Jesus demonstrated that demonic spirits are real forces of evil. Jesus accepted the fact that Satan is the ruler of a host of demons.  He taught of the reality and power of demons.  He said that casting out demons was one of the signs that the Kingdom of God had come.  Read Matthew 12:22-30, Mark 3:22-27, and Luke 11:14-23 for a summary of what Jesus taught concerning demons.  Jesus ministered deliverance to all who came with demonic problems (Acts 10:38).

    You do not need to be afraid of demons.  Jesus gives true believers power over all of the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19).

    Jesus commissioned His followers to  cast out demons.  You are not to focus your ministry on casting out demons, but as you go into the world preaching the Gospel you will encounter demons that would hinder your ministry.  You have the power and authority delegated by Jesus you to cast them out of yourself and others (Matthew 10:1,8; Mark 6:7; Mark 16:17; John 14:2).


    Pray for discernment.  Ask God to reveal the cause of the demonic influence.  Ask for discernment in knowing how to minister and/or receive deliverance.

    Faith, fasting, and prayer are essential when dealing with demons.  Read the account in Matthew 17:14-21.   Tools for deliverance include the Word of God (Ephesians 5:17; Hebrews 4:12); the blood of Jesus (Revelation 12:11);  and the infilling power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; 2:38).

    Determine the specific problem.  The problem may be in the:

    -Spiritual realm:  Problems related to sin.  These require a ministry of spiritual healing (repentance and forgiveness of sin).

    -Physical realm:  Bodily sickness caused by demonic spirits of infirmity.

    -Emotional realm: Problems of anxiety, fear, anger, bitterness, resentment, guilt, doubt, failure, jealousy, selfishness, confusion, frustration, perfectionism in the energy of the flesh, unforgiveness, past situations.

    -Mental realm:  Problems stemming from negative thinking and attacks of Satan on the mind.

    Remember: Because man is a triune being, problems in one realm affect the whole person so deal with the whole person, not just one area.  Man is body, soul, spirit.  Wholeness implies dealing with all of these.

    Pray a prayer of deliverance.  Focus on the specific problem–possession, obsession, oppression, etc.   You do not have to persuade God to deliver by your prayer. Just as salvation is readily available, the same is true of deliverance.  Just as salvation is based on the condition of faith, so is deliverance.  God wants to deliver, just as He wants to save.    Here is a prayer of deliverance to pray over yourself or to someone to whom you may be ministering:

    “In the name of Jesus Christ and on the basis of the authority of His power, His Word, His blood, and the Holy Spirit…”

    …This establishes the power base for deliverance…

    “…I bind you….”

    …Jesus taught to bind the strong man first before attempting to cast him out…

    “…and I command you…”

    …Ministering deliverance is a prayer of authority, not of entreaty.  You can speak quietly, but you must take authority over the forces of evil in the name of Jesus.  Look directly into the eyes of the person as you speak.

    “…the spirit of_________” or “…you foul spirit of Satan…”

    …if the spirit has been identified either through spiritual or natural discernment, then name it specifically; otherwise, generally.

    “…to depart….”

    …this is the casting out process…

    “…without harming________(your name or the name of the person being delivered), or anyone in this house, and without creating noise or disturbance”

    …Sometimes the demon will try to harm the person or create a disturbance.

    “I forbid you to reenter…”

    …Remember that Jesus used this command…

    “…and I loose the Holy Spirit to cleanse and fill this vessel through the power delegated by Jesus Christ…

    …We are told to loose as well as bind.  If you have identified a specific spirit, name it.

    “,,,in the name of Jesus Christ.”

    Recognize the signs of deliverance.  In cases of demonic possession, sometimes demons come out with a struggle, such as crying out or throwing the person on the floor. When demons have departed and their hold has been broken,  there will be a sense of release and joy, like the lifting of a weight.

    Take follow-up steps.   Jesus emphasized the importance of follow-up so that demons will not return (Matthew 12:43-45).

    -Pray a prayer of renouncing.  After deliverance, pray a prayer of confession, repentance, and renouncing of any sins or involvements connected with the demonic.

    -Destroy occult items.   These would include idols, voodoo items, witchcraft equipment, books, charms, etc.

    -Fill the spiritual voidWhen a demon is cast out, he will seek another body through which to operate.  A demon is restless and discontent outside of a human body.  It is only by indwelling and controlling a human life that a demon is able to fulfill Satan’s evil purposes.  Because of the danger of a demon returning to his former victim accompanied by worse spirits, the spiritual void must be filled.  A person must receive Jesus Christ as Savior and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  He should continually immerse himself in prayer and the Word of God and become part of a community of believers.

    -Testify of the deliverance.  Jesus told the demoniac of Gadarene to tell others about his deliverance (Mark 5:19-20).  Revelation 12:11 confirms that we overcome the powers of Satan by the word of our testimony.

    Protect yourself from demonic powers.  Here are specific ways to protect yourself from demonic powers:

    -Accept Jesus Christ as Savior.

    -Avoid sin.  After you are saved, keep yourself from sin, for through sin you “give place to the devil” or provide opportunity for him to oppress you.

    -Be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Demonic spirits and the Spirit of God cannot inhabit the same spiritual vessel.

    -Avoid an obsessive interest in demons.  It is not wrong to study what God’s Word says about them or expositions based on God’s Word, but do not read secular books, attend séances, etc., to learn more about demons.

    -Avoid any contact with the occult.  Do not consult witches, shaman, astrologers, horoscopes, or card, palm, or tea leaf readers.  Do not serve false gods or allow idols to come into your home (Deuteronomy 7:25-26).



    Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.  (Leviticus 19:31)

    When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft,  or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.  Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord,  (Deuteronomy 18:9-12)

    My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you.  (Psalm 9:3)

    For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.  (Psalm 27:5-6)

    The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy  and I will give thanks to him in song.  (Psalm 28:7)

    This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.  The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.  (Psalm 34:6-7)

    The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. (Psalm 34:17)

    A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.  (Psalm 34:19)

    Read Psalm 91.

    News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.  (Matthew 4:24)

    When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick… (Matthew 8:16)

    He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.  (Matthew 10:1)

    If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?  And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.  But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.  “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.  (Matthew 12:26-29)

    Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” (Mark 3:11)

    And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;  they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”   (Mark 16:17-18)

    In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice,  “Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”  “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.

    All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!” (Luke 4:33-36)

    When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.  Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ.    (Luke 4:40-41)

    He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.   I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”  (Luke 10:18-19)

    The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  (John 10:10)

    I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

    Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.  (Acts 5:16)

    With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed.(Acts 8:7)

    You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached–how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. (Acts 10:37-38)

    You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.  But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.  And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.  (Romans 8:9-11)

    No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. (1 Corinthians 10:20-21)

    Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.  (Ephesians 6:11-18)

    The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.  Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.  (1 Timothy 4:1-2)

    The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  (2 Timothy 4:18)

    Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

    For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment;  if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;  if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;  and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)–if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. (2 Peter 2:4-9)

    He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.(1 John 3:8)

    Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,  but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.  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.  They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.  We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.  (1 John 4:1-6)

    And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home– these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.(Jude 1:6)

    And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.  But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.  The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.  (Revelation 12:7-9)

    And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.  (Revelation 20:10)

    (See also “Occult” and “Spiritual Warfare” in this database.  For additional instruction in spiritual warfare and the spiritual forces of good and evil, see the Harvestime International Network publication entitled “Spiritual Strategies:  A Manual Of Spiritual Warfare” available at

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