It was about three in the afternoon when the demon first appeared. My oldest son, Cory, stood in the living room, shocked. Its shaded figure, as real as any stranger standing on a street corner, stood silent and watching. Cory backed away and asked Holy Spirit what was going on.
"This is a demon that represents an assignment against you, the Holy Spirit said. Its job is to make sure you do not fulfill your destiny in Los Angeles."
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Cory took stock of the phantom and strode up like a gunslinger out of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. He declared, "Get out in Jesus's name!"
Without lingering, the spirit vanished. My son looked about the room—in awe of his own spiritual authority.
Many believers are surprised to find that issues they face are caused by demonic activity. Be it a sickness or financial crisis, partnership with sin, or an outright attack, believers can be just as harassed by demons as non-believers. While I do not believe Christians can be possessed (because the Holy Spirit lives inside us), I do believe unclean spirits can attach themselves to us in various ways. I do not say this to imply the devil carries more power than Christ inside of us. Again, there is no equal to God. However, when Christians lack the tools necessary for identifying and rejecting the devil's schemes, they leave themselves open to demonic influence and attack.
Many Christians have no idea how much the spiritual realm affects their health, thought processes, or daily lives. Demonic forces of various levels vie for control. These cohabiters of earth, bound to the unseen realm, include rulers, authorities, dominions, principalities, and powers (see Eph. 6:12). As followers of Christ, our job is to reduce and remove the impact of these evil beings and replace their influence with God's Kingdom.
The first step to becoming victorious in the spiritual realm is to admit it exists. Jim Daly from Focus on the Family writes:
"There is a lack of understanding about the spiritual realm and the influence that it has on the physical realm. The spiritual precedes, influences and, to many degrees, determines the physical realm. The better we understand the spiritual and how it relates to the physical, the better we are able to operate as Christians."
Humanity is made in God's image. However wrecked or broken we may be, we still reflect our Creator. God is Spirit, so we too are spiritual beings (see John 4:24). We are not just flesh and blood. A biblical Hebraic reading of Scripture makes it clear that we humans share biological, physiological, and spiritual realities. We are more than just skin and emotions.
Just as God spoke and the light came into being, we physical beings have an anchoring in the spirit. This is why Christ tells us:
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).
Christ encourages us to keep our citizenship in heaven—for that is where our redeemed selves truly reside (see Eph. 2:6). We must realize that although we experience a period of time on earth, our physical lives possess eternal purpose.
To see our families, communities, and cities brought back to the Lord, we need to recognize that the spiritual realm is very much at work. We have an enemy who recognizes this and does his best to take advantage of our lack of understanding. Denial is a prolific way for us to avoid truth. Yet at some point in our denial, reality intervenes and leaves us in a state of shock wondering, where did that come from?
Many Christians (especially those in Western culture) place a greater emphasis on the physical—things that can be seen or proven. But as Scripture says, the invisible realm is just as real.
"You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:22-24).
God has called us to become beacons of light so we can draw people to Christ and release them from bondage. For too long, Christians have been asleep at the gates—unaware their own souls are oppressed by the demonic. It is time for us to partner with God and help shift the atmospheres of this world to what He originally intended. As we fulfill our calling to be the salt of the earth, we will stop the enemy's broadcasts (lies spoken over a region) and present ourselves as partners of the earth's transformation.
The idea that Satan poses a threat to God is ill-educated at best. The Bible states, "To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One" (Isa. 40:25). There is not and will never be an equal to the Almighty God. Any attempts to raise up Satan as an equal opponent are lies fabricated by the enemy.
Although Satan possessed authority over the earth subsequent to Adam and Eve's sin, Jesus's resurrection reinstated His and man's authority over the earth. When Jesus ascended into heaven, He declared, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matt. 28:18). He then commissioned His followers to go and make disciples of all nations, saying, "I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19-20).
If Jesus has been given all authority and commissioned us with that same power, why then does it seem at times like the world is overtaking us rather than us overtaking the world?
Although Jesus has been given all authority, Satan still desires to disrupt God's purposes for mankind. Satan's army of demons, principalities, powers, world rulers, and deceived humans works to carry out the devil's ungodly schemes of separation and condemnation. Examples of the enemy's schemes abound—divided societies, the poor being forgotten, the rich hated, marriages failing, and perversion being both championed and celebrated. Our role is to fight these corrupting influences—not by engaging in warfare with our neighbors, spouses, or coworkers, but through bringing God's goodness, love, and truth to the situation.
Although there are times when physical warfare is justified, our enemies are not the people themselves but the spiritual forces who advise and rule over them.
Through the Holy Spirit in us, we can take back Satan's occupied land and release God's presence in its place. By exercising our God-given spiritual authority, we can confront the works of the enemy and follow the example of Christ who defeated evil through His love and sacrifice.
It is time to take up our swords of the Spirit and drive back Satan's armies. In these days when violence is promoted, the sex trade booms, and morality fades, the church must stand up, expose evil, and release truth. As we fulfill our assignment as co-laborers with Christ, we unleash more opportunities to secure God's Kingdom on earth. This has been our calling since the beginning and is the worldwide mission of shifting atmospheres:
"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God" (Romans 8:19-21).