I’ve experienced an uptick of spiritual assaults lately. It might not be more than usual. Maybe I’ve just been more aware of it or more vulnerable to it by token of my own divided heart. It’s well known that hell has committed a sizeable legion to my city, some are of Satan’s foot soldiers rage out in the open and others, more subtle, do their best work in more secretive ways. Since I doubt that San Francisco hosts the only satanic military base in America I thought I might share a few thoughts about spiritual battle from one particular passage that has appeared on my radar recently.
The point of these few posts is not to say everything you wanted to know about demons or to reveal some special prayer to pray to get rid of them. I don’t claim any sort of expertise on the matter of the mechanics of deliverance or taking down territorial spirits. Instead, I want to share about the danger of divided soul and how the adversary is skilled at taking advantage of a “house divided against itself.”
You would best served to take a moment and begin by reading Luke 11:14-28 on which my comments are based.
An onlooking crowd was amazed at Jesus’ demon-kicking power but some looked for an excuse to avoid having to admit that he was who he said he was. “He does it by Satan’s power!” they said. Jesus saw this as a teaching moment and coined the famous saying, quoted by the likes of Lincoln, “A house divided cannot stand!”
The “house” that Jesus was talking about is a person’s soul. In his unconverted state, the human soul is, at least in some way, Satan’s house. He was saying that if he were casting out the devil by the devil’s power it would mean that the devil’s house (his dark “kingdom”) was at odds with itself and therefore wouldn’t last. Their suggestion was nonsensical.
Then he expanded on the image. The devil, he said, is like a “strong man” who lives in the house, i.e., his subject’s soul. He “guards his house” with a full armory of weapons to keep his possessions safe. In order to keep his house from be overthrown, Satan employs whatever armaments he has at his disposal. Unless confronted by “someone stronger” than him he’s safely ensconced in his house. He and his demons appeal to their legal right to maintain control over their usurped property.
As long as the enemy is unopposed, his possessions in the house are “safe,” that is, safely under his control. He has eminent domain, squatter’s rights to the person’s soul, finders-keepers, so to speak. He is a “strong man” with a strong hold in his “stronghold.” Unless he is evicted from the premises by “Someone stronger” (guess Who that is!) he has the legal right, along with the strength to protect that right, to the souls of people. He defends his usurped position with a vengeance unless Jesus breaks through his fortified position with overpowering siege craft.
Jesus has infinitely more strength than the strong man and overpowers him. When he gains control of a previously demonized soul he “takes away the armor” in which that devil “trusted.” That is, he not only disarms him but he destroys the trusted defenses behind which the adversary lurks.
The armor in this passage seems to refer to the stronghold that the adversary constructed in the person’s soul in order to guarantee a place to reside as long as possible. His armor is made of any number of behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs, which might include unhealed soul wounds, unyielding bitterness, unrepented of sin, and/or unconfessed rebellion to name a few.
When Jesus takes possession of a soul, right away he begins demolishing these demonically constructed behaviors and beliefs. He incinerates some of them as soon as he takes over and gradually removes others one layer at a time as we yield more of ourselves to him. The degree to which we cooperate with him in the destruction of the evicted spirits’ protective armor is the degree to which Jesus can fill our soul with new and more impervious armor that serves to protect us from their return.
Jesus breaks into the devil’s former safehouse, kicks him out, and “divides up the plunder.” I take this to mean he shares the riches of his kingdom with those he’s set free. He takes all that the adversary controlled and puts it under our control again.
Solomon captured the concept when he wrote, “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls” Proverbs 25:28. What a vivid metaphor to describe Satan’s captivity of a person’s soul and how Jesus reverses his captivity into freedom! And he does it all without breaking a sweat, by simply using God’s “finger!”
So, done deal, right? He evicts the “strong man” and all is well! Well…
What happens to the spirit that he kicked out? Jesus went on to say:
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’
He forces the demon out of his place of control in the person’s soul and the homeless spirit wanders around for a while in uninhabitable places. The adversary requires a comfortable base of operation in order to be satisfied and effective. He can’t “rest” until he finds such a place––such a soul.
There’s an old saying: “Never give the devil a ride, because pretty soon he’ll want to drive!” I’d add to this: And once he gets behind the wheel it’s hard to get him to relinquish the keys!
The good news is that Jesus takes the keys, pushes him out from behind the wheel, and kicks him out of the car. The spirit then is left to wander in the hot desert sun!
The bad news is after he’s ejected, Satan tries to talk his way back into the car and make his way behind the wheel. The evicted spirit wanders in arid places seeking rest, and when he doesn’t find it, he determines to return to the soul from which he came.
In the meantime, in order to end on a positive and practical note we’ll skip over to the last verse of Jesus’ teaching:
“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
If you want to live free of fear and demonic bondage, listen to what God says and obey him!
I have a bunch more to say about that, but we’ll have to wait till next time to say it… Until then, in addition to the blessing that Jesus promises to obeyers, pray David’s prayer:
Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. Psalm 86:11
In the meantime, may I recommend a book as a Christmas present for someone you love––or someone you don’t?
Speaking of which, I’m near publishing my next book called: Reaching Rahab: Joining God in His Quest for Friends. I would appreciate any help you could give me now by sharing the link of your favorite posts of mine with your friends and encouraging them to follow the blog and my Facebook. That way, when the book comes out they’ll be in the loop if they want to get it. Thanks!