Dealing with inner demons


The distresses of the human soul and ‘inner world’ can be many. Sometimes people speak of having to deal with their ‘inner demons’. Most of us can cope when this is simply a vivid metaphor. But what happens when we realize the struggler is speaking literally—that is, they think that their inner distress is due to real demons at work in their soul?

Okay, that’s freaky—so medieval.

Unfortunately not.

Over more than a century, the movement loosely called ‘charismatic’ (or even ‘pentecostal’) has emphasized different things at different stages. The current manifestation renders a greatly expanded role to demons. So, for example, what used to be good old-fashioned sins—like anger, lust, greed, pride, and so on—in the present regime, can become demons going by these names: Anger, Lust, Greed, Pride, and so on. This in turn can lead to a call for deliverance from such baleful spirits through a version of exorcism—through more or less direct confrontation between some special minister and the spirits.

So when our suffering individual announces their inner distress is due to demons, in today’s environment, it may indicate that they have been in ‘expansive charismatic’ (as they are called) circles and have picked up some misguided opinions. The result? The distress they previously felt became worse as they now believe they are being directly assaulted by some evil being.

On the other hand, the Bible reveals that there are evil spirits, and they can afflict human beings for harm. What if our distressed friend is not misguided? What if they are a contemporary example of someone who is demonized?

Here’s the interesting thing. The actual state of affairs doesn’t really matter. Our ministry to such a person is exactly the same. They are distressed, and they believe that they are under the affliction of forces out for their harm. The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is clear: Jesus died to deliver us from the consequences of sin. He was our ransom. Then he rose again from the dead to show he has defeated the devil—and all his sulphur-breathing friends. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, high above any other power in the universe. And—and this is the good news— he has taken his people to that position of safety as well.

What is our ministry to our distressed friend? How do we deal with their demons? We remind them of the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus: Christ is risen; Satan has been defeated. And we pray, asking God to help them cling to Jesus, understanding the position of safety into which he has already taken them.

But somehow that gospel-shaped ministry (bathed in prayer) just doesn’t seem as powerful as some dramatic confrontation between a demon and a deliverer. But why wouldn’t it be?

For the doubters, take a look at the testimony of Sharon Beekmann (who wrote Enticed by the Light: The terrifying story of one woman’s encounter with the New Age). Sharon is a family and marriage therapist who absorbed New Age thinking and practice, and even channelled spirits. Then, after unsuccessfully trying to get rid of her spirit guides, she realized she had been possessed by demons. After taking some advice from her Christian friend, she started walking into churches and saying to the minister, “I am possessed by demons and I want to know Jesus”.

After a false start or two, a Presbyterian minister shared with her one of Billy Graham’s tracts. She believed. And gradually (not instantaneously), her troubles with demons subsided. Here was the ordinary means of grace powerfully at work in extraordinary life circumstances—a powerful saviour working through his powerful word.

One thought on “Dealing with inner demons

  1. Many thanks,
    I had a guy last night say to me that he had a vision 2 nights ago that was demonic in its source and wanted to know what to do.
    He said he was subject to these over a long period of time and they came upon him unawares… although he recognised he ahd a part in it through what he was watching on video. These visions were usually predictive of immediate personal events.
    He has recently been attending church and Bible studies regularly over the last 6 months.
    I suggested he read his Bible and seek the Lord. He asked if the Lord had allowed this.  I said yes, as a warning he needed to get sorted out with the Lord. this is a good motive to make sure he is really a christian.
    Thank you Peter for a good and sane word.

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