Demons are used by satan to oppose God, His plan and purposes, and His people. They also war against unbelievers to keep them from the truth of the Gospel. Demons control specific territories (principalities) such as the prince of Persia mentioned in Daniel 10:12-13. Demons also work through personalities - through men and women - to accomplish satanic objectives in the world.

Opposition to God's will is satan's main objective. The word "satan" means "adversary." Satan is primarily God's adversary (Job 1:6; Matthew 13:39). He is secondarily man's adversary (Zechariah 3:1; 1 Peter 5:8).

Demons have different natures. One demon identified himself in 1 Kings 22:23 as a "lying spirit." A "deaf and dumb" spirit is identified in Mark 9:25. Demons of various natures operate as spirits of infirmity, seducing spirits, and unclean spirits. Satan uses them to war against man in body, soul, and spirit:


These are spirits that afflict the bodies of believers as well as unbelievers. Read Luke 13:10-17. This woman was afflicted with a spirit of infirmity. She was present in the Sabbath services and Jesus called her "a daughter of Abraham." Both of these facts indicate she probably was a follower of God, yet satan had afflicted her body for eighteen years.

For other examples of demonic powers afflicting the body, see: Matthew 12:22; 17:15-18; Acts 10:38; 2 Corinthians 12:7.

These spirits afflict the spirit of man, seducing him to believe doctrinal lies and be condemned to eternal punishment. They are spirits of false doctrine, cults, false christs, and false teachers:
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." (1 Timothy 4:1)
These seducing spirits are deceptive. They actually work miracles that lead some to believe they are of God:
"For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty." (Revelation 16:14)

"Even him, whose coming is after the working of satan with all powers and signs and lying wonders. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10)

Seducing spirits include the "spirit of divination" mentioned in Acts:
"And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying." (Acts 16:16)

Such spirits of divination or "familiar spirits" operate in fortunetellers, witches, and palm, crystal ball, and tealeaf readers. Through unscriptural methods, these spirits of divination foretell the future or things naturally unknown. Warnings against familiar spirits are given in Leviticus 19:31; 20:6; Deuteronomy 5:9; 18:10; Leviticus 20:27; and 1 Samuel 28:3.

Seducing spirits sear the conscience, seduce, entice, tempt, allure, interest, fascinate, excite, arouse, attract, and deceive. Seducing spirits are active in causing "spiritual wickedness in high places." They are present and operative in every cult and wherever doctrinal error exists. Remember that satan craves worship and he will take it any way he can get it. Seducing spirits entice men and women to worship idols and even satan himself.

These demonic powers afflict the soulish nature of man. They are responsible for immoral acts, unclean thoughts, temptations and other strategies of satan used to bind men and women. When satan controls individuals with unclean spirits, he can also operate in homes, churches, and entire nations as these groups are composed of individuals. This is how satan works in the various levels of structure in society. For examples of unclean spirits, see: Matthew 10:1; 12:43; and Mark 1:23-26.

Evil spirits can oppress people. To oppress means to bear down, come against, or bind from the outside. This oppression is accomplished by evil spirits in various ways. They cause depression, create negative circumstances, and insert wrong thoughts into the mind such as thoughts of suicide, immorality, unbelief, fear, etc. Demons create satanic circumstances and situations that tempt men to sin:

"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were OPPRESSED of the Devil; for God was with Him." (Acts 10:38)

Demons can also possess human beings. Demon possession is a condition in which one or more evil spirits (demons) inhabit the body of a human being and take complete control of their victim at will. Some people prefer using the word "demonized" rather than possession, but regardless of the term, the possessed person is host to resident demons. "Possession" does not mean a person is not responsible for his own sin. His responsibility rests with the factors that led to his condition.

Possession can happen willingly. A person may desire to be taken over by spirit powers in order to conduct séances, pronounce curses, become a witch or secure some other supernatural power. Possession can also occur unwillingly. An individual does not ask to be possessed, but through sinful thoughts, actions, or contact with the occult, possession results.

Demonic powers operating in parents and the sins of the parents can affect the next generation. (See Exodus 20:5; 34:7; and Deuteronomy 5:9.) This accounts for demon possession or oppression of children such as recorded in Mark 7:24-30 and 9:17-21.

There is also such a thing as demon obsession. This is a condition where one becomes obsessed by an interest in or preoccupation with demons. It is an unusual interest in the occult, demons, and satan, which controls interests and pursuits in a dictating manner. Obsession with demon powers can lead to possession by them.


A true believer cannot be possessed by a demon because the Holy Spirit cannot inhabit the same temple as an evil spirit:
"What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

When you belong to God and are filled with the Holy Spirit, you cannot belong to satan and be filled with his spirits at the same time. The Holy Ghost will not abide in the same "temple" with satan.

But this does not mean believers cannot be affected by demonic powers. It is these powers against which we wrestle. Satan uses demonic powers to attack believers from the outside through oppression, the symptoms of which were previously discussed. But he cannot possess the true believer. To "possess" indicates inside occupation. To "oppress" or bind indicates control from the outside. Believers' conduct can be satanically directed if they allow demonic powers to oppress them. Such oppression or binding by evil powers permits satan to use them for evil purposes.

This is what happened when Peter, a disciple of Jesus, was used by satan to try to divert Jesus from suffering for the sins of all mankind. When Jesus described the suffering He was to go through, Peter said:
"...Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee." (Matthew 16:22)

Jesus said to Peter:
"...Get thee behind me, satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." (Matthew 16:23)

Jesus did not mean Peter was actually satan. He recognized that at that moment Peter allowed satan to operate through him. He was not demon-possessed, but he was allowing satanic spirits to influence him. Believers - by their own actions - can "give place" or make room for satan to use them (Ephesians 4:27).

When a person is born again, his name is written in a special book in Heaven called the book of life. Only those whose names are in this book will be residents of Heaven for eternity:

"And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:15)

It is possible to have your name written in the book of life, but later blotted out because of turning back to sinful living:
"He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels." (Revelation 3:5)

If a believer continues in known, unconfessed sin, there is a point at which he can cease to be a Christian. The Apostle Paul expressed his own concern that he not be "cast away" after preaching to others:
"But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." (1 Corinthians 9:27)

Paul realized that sin, especially continued unconfessed sins of the flesh, could result in the loss of his own soul even though he preached to others.
By continuing to live in sin you will eventually end up in a backslidden condition and you will no longer be a true follower of Jesus Christ. If you continue in known and unconfessed sin, no one can tell you at what point you cease to become a follower of Jesus and again become part of satan's domain. It is God that determines that point. But when it does occur, you open yourself up to greater attacks of the enemy, including the possibility of demon-possession. This is why it is important that when you sin, you immediately confess your sin and turn from unrighteousness:

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us." (1 John 1:9-10)

Jesus is called the Word of God in many places in Scripture. If the Word of God does not dwell in you, then Jesus does not dwell in you.

Demons gain control in several ways:
Through generations: Demons may oppress or possess a person because of previous possession or oppression of the parents. This accounts for demonic influence over children (Exodus 20:5; 34:7; Deuteronomy 5:9).

Through the mind: The mind is one of the major battlefields of satan. If satan controls your thoughts, he will eventually control your actions. Lack of mental control eventually results in lack of use of the will. This leads to sinful actions. Continuing in sinful thoughts and actions can lead from oppression to possession and finally to a reprobate mind such as is described in Romans l - a mind totally controlled by evil thoughts. Demons also gain access through mind-altering drugs, which reduce the ability to resist demons and grant increasing access. "Brainwashing" or "mind-control" teaching also provides an entrance point.

Through sinful actions: Sinful thoughts are soon fulfilled by sinful actions. For example, the thought of adultery is fulfilled in the actual act of adultery. Sin is rebellion, and rebellious thoughts and actions provide an entry point for demonic activity.
When a believer continues in sinful thoughts or actions they "give place" to the Devil (Ephesians 4:27). More spiritual room is given for the operation of the enemy. Sins of involvement with the occult, including objects, literature, séances, etc., are actions that are especially dangerous and attract demonic powers.
An unbeliever who lives in sin is open not only to oppression of demonic powers, but also possession. There is no neutral ground in spiritual warfare. You are either on the side of good or evil. You belong either to God or satan. If you belong to satan and have not experienced the new birth in Jesus Christ, then you are his to use, oppress, or possess as he wills.

Through desire: Some people ask satan for demonic power to enable them to perform supernatural acts.
Through an empty house: Demons consider the body of the person they inhabit as their own house (Matthew 12:44). When a person who is delivered from demonic powers does not fill his house with the new birth experience and the infilling of the Holy Spirit, reentry may occur.
Through permission: Sometimes God grants permission for demonic powers to accomplish special purposes. This can be evidenced by a trial, as in the case of Job, or judgment for sin, as in the example of King Saul.

To overcome demonic powers, it is important to be able to recognize their presence and tactics. The Holy Spirit has provided a special spiritual gift for this purpose. This gift is called "discerning of spirits" (1 Corinthians 12:10). To discern means "to discover, evaluate, and make a distinction between." The gift of discerning of spirits enables a believer to discern the spirits operating in others. It permits him to discover, evaluate, and identify evil spirits.

Not all believers have this special gift. If a believer does not have this gift, there are signs of demonic presence that can be observed. When the Syro-phoenician woman came to Jesus with an appeal that He cast out an unclean spirit from her daughter, she said, "My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil" (Matthew 15:22). How did she know this? She knew it by the symptoms. Detection is simply observing what demonic spirits do to a person.

Here are some symptoms of demonic activity:
Demonic obsession is recognized by an uncontrollable and unusual preoccupation with demons, satan, or the occult. Such a person may dabble in occult practices, constantly credit everything to satan or demons, or be preoccupied with the study of demons and satan.

Demonic oppression can be recognized by the following signs:

A physical binding: The "daughter of Abraham" who Jesus relieved of a spirit of infirmity was bound physically (Luke 13:10-17). Chronic sickness may be demonic oppression. All illness is not caused by demonic powers. Some illness is caused by a violation of natural laws, such as not eating properly or drinking bad water. Some illness is also chastisement. One king in the Bible who did not give glory to God was stricken with intestinal worms and died!

A mental oppression: Disturbances in the mind or thought life such as mental torment, confusion, doubt, loss of memory, etc. Restlessness, inability to reason or listen to others, abnormal talkativeness or reserve may be exhibited. Satan does not cause all mental problems. Discouragement, depression, and disorientation can be caused by allergies to certain foods or a chemical imbalance in the brain. God is able to heal mental problems and illnesses not caused by demonic powers as well as bring deliverance in cases caused by demons. Caution should be taken not to class all illness or mental problems as being caused by demonic spirits. Sometimes a simple change in diet or lifestyle will eliminate a problem if it is caused by physical causes.

Emotional problems: Disturbances in the emotions which persist or recur, including resentment, hatred, anger, fear, rejection, self-pity, jealousy, depression, worry, insecurity, inferiority, etc.

Spiritual problems: Extreme difficulties in overcoming sin, including sinful habits. Rejection of spiritual solutions to problems. Any type of doctrinal error or deception, including bondage to objects and cult literature.

Circumstances: Demons can create difficult circumstances which are oppressive. Such circumstances usually involve confusion and can immediately be identified as demonic because God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33; James 3:16).

Demonic possession can be recognized by the following signs:

Indwelling of an unclean spirit: This is demonstrated by a basic moral uncleanness and filthiness. It might include the desire to go without clothing. For examples, see Mark 5:2 and Luke 8:27.

Unusual physical strength: A person shows strength beyond normal capabilities. For examples, see Mark 5:3 and Luke 8:29.

Fits of rage: These fits may be accompanied by foaming at the mouth. See Mark 9:14-29 and Luke 8:26-39.

Resistance to spiritual things: In the accounts in Mark 6:7 and 1:21-28, the demons knew Jesus immediately and asked Him to leave them alone. Fear of the name of Jesus, prayer, and the Word, as well as blasphemy of that which is spiritual, are all symptoms of demon possession. Excessive blasphemy, contorted physical features, or abrupt behavioral changes may occur when spiritual things are mentioned.

Changes in personality and/or voice: A person who is normally shy may become aggressive or violent. Actions as well as appearance may be affected. Moral character and intelligence may change. Voice may be altered. See Mark 5:9.

Accompanying physical afflictions: In cases of demon possession, these appear most commonly to be afflictions of the mental and nervous system. (See Matthew 9:33; 12:22; Mark 5:4-5.) They can also include a general wasting away physically. (See Mark 9:14-29.)

Self-inflicted physical injury: In Matthew 17:14-21, there is the story of a man's son who would cast himself in the fire. In Luke 8:26-39, a demon-possessed man cut himself with stones to inflict physical injury.

Terrible anguish: Luke 8:28 relates that one man went about crying because of the terrible inner torment caused by his possession.

Incapacity for normal living: This man could not live in society but lived in the tombs of the cemetery. See Luke 8:27.

Through unscriptural methods, the ability to foretell the future or discover that which is unknown: The woman in Acts 16:16 is said to be possessed by a spirit of divination.

The following also may indicate demonic oppression, possession, or obsession:

Obsessive immorality such as involvement with pornography, adultery, fornication, masturbation, homosexuality, and other sex sins. They may exhibit strong compulsions toward eating disorders, suicide, self-mutilation, maiming, and murder.

Addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Trances, visions, and meditation that are not focused on or from the one true God.

Bondage to emotions such as fear, anxiety, depression, hatred, rage, jealousy, backbiting, envy, pride, bitterness, negativism, and criticism.


Dealing with demonic powers is not something to be left to professional ministers. Jesus said all believers would have the ability to overcome demonic powers:
"And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils..." (Mark 16:17)
Jesus gave His followers the ability to deal with demonic powers. He first delegated such power to the disciples:
"And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." (Matthew 10:1)
"And He called unto Him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits." (Mark 6:7)

He delegated this same power to all believers:

"And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils..." (Mark 16:17)
"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8)

There is no Biblical basis for believing God intended this important ministry to be restricted to a particular group of people. For example, a layman named Philip* was used by God to cast out evil spirits in Samaria (Acts 8).

{ Note from Priscilla:  layman ???  Philip was an APOSTLE !  Don't know where he got this...but anyone can do it is right. See Mark 16}

This does not mean believers should rush into encounters with demonic powers without proper preparation, as the sons of Sceva discovered (Acts 19). It is also important that believers do not become overly demon conscious. We are not called to major in demons. There is no spiritual gift of "casting out demons." But you are not to fear demonic powers. When confronted with those affected by demons, you should have the power to bring deliverance from God.

Unbelief hindered even the ministry of Jesus in Nazareth. Sometimes Jesus put unbelievers out when He ministered (Mark 5:35-40). Other times He led people out of their village (an environment of unbelief) in order to minister to them (Mark 8:23). On occasion as God leads, you may need to ask those struggling with unbelief, fear, etc., to leave.

Here are Biblical references to how Jesus dealt with conditions caused by demonic influence:

Crippled woman: Luke 13:10-17
Man with unclean spirit in the synagogue: Mark 1:23-28; Luke 4:31-37
Gadarene demoniac: Matthew 8:28-32; Mark 5:1-13; Luke 8:26-33
Woman with issue of blood: Matthew 9:20-23; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48
Syro-phoenician's daughter: Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30
Child with evil spirit: Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-45
Dumb demoniac: Matthew 9:32-33
Blind and dumb demoniac: Matthew 12:22-30; Mark 3:22-27; Luke 11:14-26

Other incidents: In addition to these specific encounters of Jesus, the Bible makes general references of His ministry to those affected by demonic powers:
- In the following references the term "healed" is used to describe how Jesus dealt with the demons: Matthew 4:24; Luke 6:18

- In the following references the term "cast out" is used to describe His strategy: Mark 1:32-34,39; 6:13

- Luke 4:41 simply records that the devils "came out." Luke 7:21 states that He "cured" them. Matthew 8:16 records that He "cast them out with His Word." Mark 16:9 and Luke 8:2-3 state that Jesus cast seven devils out of Mary Magdalene. In large crowds, Jesus did not allow the demons to speak out: Mark 1:32?34.