Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In the first and second quarters of this year we looked extensively at the Believer’s Authority; all in preparation for the “practical aspects” of exercising this authority. In this quarter, we will be looking at practical instances of exercising our authority over the devil and his cohorts. To achieve this, it is very important we understand how he takes over people and keeps them in bondage. The primary way Satan tries to gain access to people is through their minds and bodies. The degree to which a person yields to Satan in these areas determines how much Satan is able to influence him or her. Since man is a spirit, he has a soul, and he lives in a body, demons can affect and influence man in his body and soul (mind, will, and emotions), yet not be present in his spirit. To really understand how demons affect people, it's also important to understand the difference between oppression, obsession, and possession. Many people use these terms interchangeably when they are actually referring to three separate degrees of demonic influence.
Oppression is the state of being subject to oppressive treatment. Evil spirits can exert a certain amount of influence as they seek to oppress mankind. Evil spirits can oppress anyone, even Christians if they allow it, from within or without their body or soul. Oppression is an attack against us, from the outside, with sickness, trials, persecution, poverty, etc.
Of course, evil spirits have their widest range of influence if they can embody a human because then they can express themselves in the natural realm. If evil spirits can't embody people, they try to exert influence round about people in the spiritual realm. Many times believers, even Spirit-filled believers, can be oppressed by demons from the outside. Satan tries to oppress us by putting all kinds of pressure on us until we are keenly aware of that pressure. There are also degrees of oppression. In other words, a person can be more oppressed or less oppressed.
Forms of Oppression
1. Sometimes oppression can be manifested as a bad "mood" that tries to come over us (our emotions). That can be the direct result of satanic oppression. Like when you hear people say “It just seems like there's a big black cloud hanging over my head." That's satanic oppression. And people are more oppressed at certain times than they are at other times. But as we rebuke that oppression in the name of Jesus, stand against it and resist it, the devil will flee from us (Matt. 18:18; Luke 10:19; Phil. 2:9-11; James 4:7). Believers don't need to live under the oppression of the enemy.
2. Fear is another form of oppression that comes against many Christians and holds them in bondage and causes them to stumble again and again. Fear can take a hold of believers' minds and cause their spirit not to function as they should—that is, not to be in dominion over their soul and body. But the Bible says God has not given us the spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7) so that means we have authority over it. We have a right to stand against fear and rebuke it.
3. Physical oppression can be the direct result of an evil spirit afflicting a person's body with sickness. Luke 13:10-16
Obsession is when the demons take hold of a mind, to make it listen to the words and suggestions of evil, and not the Word of God. Some may be demon obsessed, not knowing they are heeding demonic suggestions, thinking they are doing the will of God. Saul for instance was obsessed with persecuting Christians thinking he was serving God. Acts 8:3
The enemy also follows through from the oppression of bad moods and make its victims to brood and became emotionally upset and increasingly disturbed. The end game is to unconsciously yield to the demon in their minds and emotions.
The enemy tends to make its victims shift their focus from the Word and instead become obsessed with worry. This makes the evil spirit gain more ground in their thinking until their minds are taken over by the evil spirit. This sometimes drive people to a point of entirely losing their minds and become mad and sometimes suicidal!
That's one reason believers need to know how important it is for them to renew their minds with the Word of God and to think God's thoughts instead of thinking on the enemy's thoughts of worry and fear. (Romans 12:2, Phil. 4:8). If they think the wrong thoughts, they can unknowingly open a door to the devil. Believers are not subject to the devil; they instead have authority over him in Jesus' Name. They can resist him (James 4:7), and are not under his dominion in any way, unless they allow him to take dominion over them.
This is usually the final and deadliest stage of the three. Demonic possession happens when a demon moves into the soul of a person, and takes control of the will. Judas for instance opened his heart to evil—in his case by his greed (John 12:6). So it may be possible that if one allows his or her heart to be ruled by some habitual sin, it becomes an invitation for a demon to enter.
Jesus cast demons out of persons that were possessed. The Lord told us, “these signs shall follow them that believe, in my name, they shall cast out devils." Demons once had a body, but in the former creation (as angels - now fallen angels), their souls were not sent to hell and so they were loose, some are still loose today and they desire to possess a body, to do their evil works through such.
It is important to understand these facts about the operations of the enemy and be able to appropriate these truths as we step into what the Lord has called us to do! The enemy starts off by trying to oppress a person by taking control of their thoughts. Thoughts as simple as worry and fear, when the person yields to these thoughts, they become obsessed with them to the point when they finally open the door to the enemy and allow their minds to become possessed with an evil spirit.
Sometimes, obsession is confused with possession, and that makes some think possession can happen to saints. Sometimes, the person is not truly saved, has been pretending, with a religious demon that is good at pretence.
When Jesus dwells in us, the demons cannot move in. True believers are never demon possessed, they may be obsessed or oppressed but never possessed!