The demons described in the New Testament do not die. They are allowed to continue to serve their father, the devil, until they are all cast into the lake of fire, at the end. Their objective, in their service of the devil, is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). They hate those made in the image of God---all of mankind. There is not one shred of decency, mercy, or anything good, to be found in one of these evil spirits. They bring torment to humans in horrible ways (Mark 9:17-27) and subtle ways (John 13:21-30; Matthew 27:3-5). An example is that a spirit of fear can cause a person to quietly live in fear every day of his life, being robbed of the joy and peace that could be his if the demon were cast out.
As the Holy Spirit has been moving powerfully in the 20th century, and unto this day, He has been teaching God’s people how to deal with the demons that have afflicted His people. Just as Jesus called the demon in the boy who was a mute by its name, “you deaf and dumb spirit”, we have learned that they have names that describe the primary way in which they afflict people. Examples are: the spirit of divination that was in the slave girl who was bringing her master much profit by fortune-telling (divination, Acts 16:16), a spirit of fear, a spirit of rebellion, or a spirit of anger. In these days when God is dealing with demons in such a powerful way, He is giving discernment to His workers to enable them to know the names of the demons they are about to cast out.
Demons are normally not as flamboyant as the one in the boy described in Mark 9. They have subtle ways. Demons actually want people to think that what is happening in them is really just them. This is a way to avoid being detected and cast out. A spirit of anger will cause a person to think that he just has a “bad temper”. He will try to reason it through, by saying to himself, “My dad has a bad temper. I guess I got it from him”. He believes there is nothing to be done, except for him to try to control it better with his will power than he has in the past. Of course, he will fail in this. Then, he begins to believe he just isn’t as good a Christian as his wife (who has told him how bad his anger is). Eventually, he despairs of ever being a strong Christian, and may slip back into fellowship with his non-Christian buddies (“they’re more like me, anyway”). One demon of anger can bring on just such a tragic outcome. Usually, men will have numerous demons that need to be cast out. Those who work in the ministry of deliverance (casting out demons) have identified in the neighborhood of 200 kinds of demons that torment people. Lists have been made that are quite helpful in doing the ministry.
In 1975, my wife and I were trained in deliverance by a Presbyterian elder and his wife, who had already been in this ministry for about 12 years. We have been actively involved in ministering deliverance ever since. We have encountered about 100 kinds of demons. When we first began, we had to deal with our own question, “how could a Christian have something as evil as a demon living inside him?” We came to the realization that even without a demon, all Christians have evil inside them.....their flesh, which is evil and causes them to sin regularly. Prior to being born again, our fallen nature (which is our flesh) caused us to be enemies of God (Romans 5:10). Even after being born again, we still have a remnant of that fallen nature, or flesh, which still causes us to sin. Thank God, we now have the Holy Spirit living inside us, Who is at work sanctifying us, and causing that remnant of flesh to diminish.
We understand that we are made up of body, soul and spirit. The soul has three parts: mind, will and emotions. Our personality is expressed by our soul. Our soul uses our body to express itself (our soul could not say, “I love you” without the body’s mouth). Demons come into our souls (into our mind, our emotions, and sometimes our will, such as a demon of stubbornness). Sometimes, a demon comes into our bodies, such as a migraine demon....yes, a migraine demon. They do not come into our human spirits. That is where the Holy Spirit comes to live, when we are born again.
Most demons come inside people while they are vulnerable little children. Most children have inadequate spiritual covering, inadequate prayer covering, inadequate teaching, and they are quite open prey for demons. Demons come in primarily through occasions which involve rejection, trauma, fear, or being in the proximity of the sin of the adults around them. A typical occasion is when a three year old gets separated from his mother in a huge department store. He becomes desperate, and fearful, even hysterical. This is a typical entryway for a demon of fear. This spirit comes in to stay, unless it is cast out of the person at some later date. This particular kind of spirit will often begin the torment of the child right away, and continue for his whole life. Other spirits may lay low until a “prime time”, such as a spirit of adultery.
Spirits like adultery, death, suicide, and insanity come into children through a curse on the family line, as the result of the sins of his ancestors (Deut 28:15, see God’s word on blessings and curses, Deut 28:1-68). The child is simply a victim of his ancestors’ sinful behavior. The Lord has said that He will “visit the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate me” (Ex 20:5). The iniquity continues through the power of the curse, as demons empower sinful behavior in these people. In each generation, some will enter into the same sinful behavior, which will perpetuate the curse another generation. So, on and on it goes. Curses like this must be broken, in order to stop the cycle. This is done in a deliverance appointment. For greater understanding in this area, see a powerful little book by Derek Prince, entitled “Blessing or Curse”.
Demons are living beings which do not have bodies. They are real, and have the equivalent of a human mind, will and emotions. They are NOT just a word to describe someone’s emotional problems. They truly are servants of the devil, and there are millions of them around the world, probably billions of them. Just as the devil used to be a magnificent angel named Lucifer, who sinned and was cast down, millions of angels also rebelled, and were cast down (Revelation 12:9). Those involved in the ministry of deliverance generally believe, through observation, that most people have demons.
Most involved in the ministry will not attempt to cast a demon out of a non-Christian. The primary reason is because of the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 12:43-45. He speaks of a demon going out of a man, wandering in “waterless” places, and then returning to the man. He finds the house unoccupied (this is understood to mean that the Holy Spirit is not there), and so he brings seven other spirits with him and re-occupies the house, and the man is worse off than before. It would be a terrible thing to put a person in this vulnerable position, where he could end up with more demons than before we started. A non-Christian ordinarily would seek deliverance only to ease his torment, not because he wants to be free of this evil in order to serve the Lord better. Another reason to avoid ministering deliverance to a non-Christian is because ordinarily he will not be willing to repent of his sins of unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness, and other sins. Repentance is necessary for thorough deliverance. Some would say, “Well, why not cast the demon out, and then lead the person to Christ?” We have no way of being sure the person will receive Christ, even after the demon is gone.
Typically, an evil threesome is found in most people: the spirit of rejection, the spirit of self-rejection, and the spirit of the fear of rejection. These demons come into us as small children through the rejection kind of hurts that all children living in this world are subjected to. The spirit of rejection causes us to feel and believe that we are flawed, substandard, and a reject. We may fill our minds with the truth of the Word, and know that we are truly children of the King, but in our hearts we are still made to feel these negative feelings by the rejection demons. We eventually come to believe these lies from the demon of rejection, down in our hearts, and we begin to agree with the spirit. Then, we are empowered by the spirit of self-rejection in our negative self-talk, “You stupid idiot, now look what you’ve done. You always do things like that”. Then, we begin to fear that people will see what we are really like, so flawed, and fear that they will reject us. The spirit of the fear of rejection empowers these feelings. So, you can see that a primary way that demons torment us is through our emotions, or feelings. We try to fight that off with our rational thought patterns, but the feelings generally win the battle, because they are empowered and manipulated by demons.
There are many other kinds of demons that afflict us, each with its own array of evil tactics, which bring torment, which steal from us, kill us emotionally (and sometimes, actually cause us to die through demon-driven behavior), and destroy at least certain portions of our lives. The primary way they want to torment us is by preventing us from living out “The Great Commandment”, as Jesus taught it. He was asked what is the first and great commandment (Mt 22:36-40). He explained that it is love. He said we are to love God, love our neighbor and ourselves. The demons want us to do none of these. They want us to live our entire lives without experiencing real love. Many of us actually have been taught that we are not to love ourselves; that it is somehow immoral.
In order to love, we must adopt a posture of some measure of openness and vulnerability in our relationship with the other person. There are millions of a kind of spirit called the spirit of the fear of vulnerability. There are plenty to go around. Most people have this one. It has two cousins that will usually come in with it: the fear of emotions, and the fear of intimacy. These seek to prevent any Christian marriage from becoming all it is designed by God to become. These three demons want to convince us that building a wall around ourselves for protection is just the smart thing to do. The demon of control is often there to help them to convince us that this is the only way we can control our own personal safety. In time, they can have us pretty thoroughly walled off from any meaningful source of love in our lives. This sounds like a terrible, evil plot for our torment and destruction. It is. This is why Jesus commissioned His disciples to cast these demons out of people (Mt 10:1,8; Lk 9:1; 10:17-20).