WHEN DEMONS TREMBLE (An Encouragement to Overcome)
by Ralph Mahoney, Director of World Missionary Assistance Plan in Burbank, CA. Edited by M D Milton, with quotations from "May Your Name be Inscribed in the Book of Life," a Messianic Jewish version of the New Covenant Scriptures, published 1979 by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville. Old Covenant quotations from the King James Version.
What does it mean that the gates of Hell will not prevail against Christ's church? I used to erroneously imagine the conflict between the church and Satan as a game of cat and mouse. Satan was the cat and the church was the mouse. Satan was big and powerful -- the church small and weak, always on the defensive. But that's not what the verse about the gates of Hell means. "... and on this rock I will build My congregation, and the gates of Hades (Hell) shall not prevail against it." [Matthew 16.18] The picture instead is of a victorious church laying siege to Hell and breaking down its gate to release its prisoners.
Likewise, when Peter warned us to be sober and vigilant because our adversary the devil walks about as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour, he did not intend to cause us undue concern. The key word is "as." Satan only goes about "as" a lion. He is not a lion. Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Satan is only an imitator and imposter roaring as a lion, to try to frighten and intimidate. His warfare against us is purely psychological. He is, in truth, rendered powerless by Christ's victory over him at Calvary and he cannot do us any real harm.
For years, whenever I encountered a demonized person, I would get scared. After all, it's often a noisy affair with people frothing at the mouth and screaming. Not the sort of thing to make you feel at ease. But it's really only the devil's psychological warfare. All the noise is intended to distract you from the fact that there is no real danger.
The devil knows he is powerless. That's why he screams so loudly. But all we have to do is resist him, having submitted ourselves to God, and he will flee from us. ("Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.") [James 4.7].
What does this mean in terms of witch doctors, voodoo priests, enchanters, and other devilish practitioners? Numbers 23.23 says, "Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, surely there is no divination against Israel."
I don't care what kind of juju or curse the witch doctor is going to put on you, it won't work. It may work against unbelievers, but if you are a child of God through faith in Christ, you are blessed and protected. Numbers 23.23 applies to you. The Bible says, "Behold, My people shall rise up as a great lion.... ."
We who are followers of Christ take on the nature of Him who is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. We rise up and resist the devil. When we do this, the Bible says (James 2.19) "... the demons ... tremble." Other people may get sick or suffer misfortune or even die as a result of a curse, but not you. As one of God's children you rise up like a lion and roar back at devils if they try to bother you.
That's why it disturbs me to see God's people tremble when a demon manifests itself. Christians should never tremble -- it is the devils who tremble. I used to be afraid until I learned the truth. But since then, I have never been frightened or intimidated in the face of demons. When I hear people ask for prayer because the devil's after them, I want to say, "Wait a minute! The devil shouldn't be after you -- you should be after the devil."
Well, you say, that's all very nice. The church should be triumphant, always on the offensive. But, in fact, it is not. How exactly are we to make all this happen? It seems to be a big order. It is a big order, but it's possible. A few years ago I encountered a demonized child in a church in California. The demons made such a scene. I thought half the congregation was going to jump up and run out. They weren't convinced that their spiritual weapons were effective against Satan.
The first step, then, is to become convinced. On one occasion I stood every morning for two weeks and confessed to God, "The weapons of my warfare are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." I was absorbing the truth of 2 Corinthians 10.3: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh."
My weapons are not mighty in themselves, but rather through God. To illustrate: If I get very close to a microphone and whisper, my voice travels through the amplifier and comes out very loud. Similarly, my weapons -- feeble and weak of themselves -- pass through God and become mighty enough to tear down strongholds. Through God they are amplified, made strong and become mighty to tear down demonic strongholds.
Often, I think, we plead with God needlessly to save the souls of our lost loved ones. After all, God has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation. "And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in the Messiah reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation." [2 Cor 5.18 - 19]. God wants us, the members of His body, the church, to reconcile men to Him. I don't mean that we operate independently of God, but that when we move in the Spirit, we learn to make proper use of the weapons of our warfare.
I had some friends who had been praying for eight years on behalf of an unsaved loved one. They were skeptical about this idea, but, together, we tried it. Instead of praying that God would convert her, we said in faith, "In the Name of Jesus, we take authority over every high thing in that mind which exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We bring it down. We bring her mind into captivity to obey Christ. We do this on the authority of God's Word!"
Within three weeks the woman for whom we thus fought the fight of faith found her way back to God and was gloriously delivered.
On another occasion I met a woman whose sister was an alcoholic and dope addict. She had been praying for her sister for three and a half years. Prior to that time her sister had known God, but as the result of an auto accident, she became addicted to pain killers and alcohol. Now her husband was getting ready to divorce her. They had three small children. As this woman poured out all this information to me, she wept. It was evident that she loved her sister very much and wanted desperately for her to be released. So I said, "Stop praying for her! Begin instead to wage warfare on her behalf. Use the weapons God gives you -- the ministry and word of reconciliation. The devil has no authority to stop it. "Each day," I continued, "move in against the powers of darkness that have attached themselves to your sister's mind. Drive them back with Christ's authority a day at a time. It may take several days, but keep at it, using your weapons." And then I added one further point,
"Once you have captured this ground in your sister's mind from the enemy, then occupy it by a declaration of faith -- telling the enemy he must not come back. Jesus told us to occupy, or "do business" until He comes (Luke 19.13). This authoritative declaration in the Lord's Name will prevent re-entry by enemy forces."
Together, that night, the woman and I began to take authority against the influence of Satan over her sister's mind. In Jesus' Name we cast down her thoughts, the thoughts which the enemy had built up in her mind as his strongholds. I met that woman only three weeks later. Her face was aglow. She came up to me, "Do you know what's happened to my sister?"
"I can guess," I replied. "After I started doing spiritual warfare for her, she began to change. Within two weeks she had come to Christ in full repentance and found complete deliverance from drugs and alcohol. She's reunited with her husband and with the church and she's been filled with the Holy Spirit!"
God gives certain things to us to do. He never fails to do his part. It is we who have to be careful to remember our part. We must look at the cross and see Satan's defeat. Then we must move out on that basis to do battle as the Lord directs. Our task is not to stand about and pray for God to save those we are concerned about. He has already shed His blood to save them. Now, He has given to us the word and ministry of reconciliation so we can use our weapons to save the lost. Let us go out and do it!
No ministry excels that of intercessory prayer. In fact, I don't want people to stop praying. Instead, I want us to re-focus our thinking so that we realize God has given us weapons to employ in the battle. We don't have to stand by helplessly when our friends and loved ones are threatened or taken captive by the enemy. No, we are equipped to tear down the gates of Hell and bring them out.
Jude tells us to "convince some who doubt; save some by snatching them out of the fire; on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." [Jude 22, 23, KJV] It is our job to do the snatching. Christ has shed His blood and He intercedes on our behalf incessantly. Our part is to pick up our weapons and go out against the powers of darkness and drive them off the land.
Christ bought us with His own blood -- we belong to Him. And so, by the same token, do all men. John said that Jesus "is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world" [I John 2.2] No person is exempt from Christ's work of salvation. What remains is for us to work with God -- to fight the good fight that loosens Satan's hold on lost men and women and compels them to come into the banquet hall.
Do you believe that the weapons with which God has equipped you are effective? Do you believe that merely speaking the word of reconciliation by faith, in utter dependence on the Holy Spirit, will cast down strongholds and bring down every high thing that exalts itself against God? Do you believe that your weapons can and will bring minds -- rebellious minds -- to obey Christ? They will!
I challenge you to put this to the acid test. Surely something is amiss somewhere in your prayer life or the life of someone for whom you care. Stop praying for them (or yourself) and begin in the name of Jesus to take authority to speak in faith against the influence Satan has in their minds. This is the only way that you will satisfy yourself that what I am saying is true.
Let us challenge Hell's gates. Let us break them down in order to bring out the captives that they might serve Christ and know true freedom.
Make this your prayer: "Lord, in the Name of Jesus, I come against the strongholds Satan has erected in the mind of _______________ (person's name). I cast down those strongholds and every high thing in that mind which exalts itself against the knowledge of God. And I release that mind to obedience to Christ. I loose it to be reconciled to God. Amen."
Suggestion of Editor. Make a short list of names of people for whom you desire to pray for release from the stronghold Satan has on his/her mind. Make up a separate 3 x 5 card with one person's name on it. Each day covenant with someone to pray with you for five minutes for one of the people on your list, wherever you two may be. After your prayer time, mark on your card the date and time of your prayer. Observe the persons for whom you have been praying jointly. See the changes and openness for spiritual matters come into their lives. Make notes
on the card for the person for whom you are praying. Praise the Lord for each victory, in their lives and in yours. Tell others of the successes the Lord is bringing about in someone's life, and give Him the praise! Forms of the prayer for protection and deliverance.
"In the Name of Jesus, we take authority over every high thing in that mind which exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We bring it down. We bring the mind of ________________ (person's name) into captivity to obey Christ.
We do this on the authority of God's Word! Amen."
"Lord, in the Name of Jesus, I come against the strongholds Satan has erected in the mind of _______________ (person's name). I cast down those strongholds and every high thing in that mind which exalts itself against the knowledge of God. And I release that mind to obedience to Christ. I loose it to be reconciled to God. Amen."
When challenged by Satan and his demon spirits:
"In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and His shed blood on the cross, I command that you, Satan, and your minions, cease your activity in this place. (Or, in my life, or in the life of _____________). Depart from here. Go to the place reserved for you by Jesus. In His Name, Amen."