I said yesterday that demonization is much more common than we think. I said that it's as common as A positive blood type. Now some of you might have gotten curious enough to look up the prevalence of A+ blood type in the general population. For most of you, you didn't bother. I don't blame you.
For those who did not look up the percentage of A+ blood type, let me give you the answer:
Among Caucasians 33%, among African Americans 24%, among Hispanics 29%, and among Asians 27%.
It's a total guesstimate, but the figure of around 30% (of Christians!) have some level of demonic oppression or demonization, according to people involved in deliverance ministry.
For the sake of definition: demonic oppression is demons "on" a person; demonization is demons "in" a person.
The biggest question when I broach this topic is, "How can Christians be demonized?"
Here are some passages to consider:
1 Pet. 5:8
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Peter is writing to Christians! There's a real threat from the devil who seeks to "devour" Christians. This is figurative language for a very real attack from the enemy.
Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet. Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God." When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, "Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?" "Yes," she said, "that is the price." Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also." At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
This passage is about two Christians, Ananias and Sapphira, who lied about their offering. Peter's address to Ananias is telling: that Satan [used often for demon(s)] had filled Ananias' heart, tempting him to lie to the Holy Spirit.
Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, "This man is the divine power known as the Great Power." They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin." Then Simon answered, "Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me."
In this passage we can see that Simon is a believer. But because Simon did not break cleanly from his occultic background, he still operated with the heart of an occultic sorcerer. Simon needed deliverance from the occult and the spirits that animated his occultic practice. He was still captive to the sin of bitterness and the occult.
Besides other passages, there are thousands upon thousands of verifiable testimonies of Christians who got set free from demons in their lives. Pastors and missionaries included.
To return to the difference between demonic oppression and demonization, the former happens to almost everyone sometime in his or her life. A short term missions trip to a heavily demonized place can get you oppressed, spending time with someone who is strongly demonized, being exposed to demonically charged entertainment, etc. The oppression, once recognized, can be removed with a "cutting" prayer and a persistent command for the demons to flee.
Demonization, on the other hand, tends to be a bit more tenacious. Demons in this case have found a "legal" ground for occupying someone. I say the word 'legal' because whenever a demon is inside someone, there's been a legal or spiritual permission for that demon to "occupy space" inside the person. I know, it sounds a little creepy. But it's true. The legal grounds are basically of two types: (1) being sinned against and (2) being a sinner in a certain area. (1) When we are sinned against -- e.g., through abuse, trauma, a curse -- we are susceptible to demonic intrusion. (2) When we give ourselves over to sin, usually habitual, we open up ourselves to demons associated with that sin. Gambling, sexual immorality, violence, lying, gossip, addictions, etc.
Freedom from demonization usually takes the form of (1) releasing/forgiving the person who sinned against us and (2) repenting of our area of sin. Sin is like garbage. Remove the garbage and then the rats can be easily removed. The rats in this case represent demons. If we don't deal with the garbage, the rats will come back again. Inner healing is thus important for deliverance. Forgiveness is essential for deliverance. Once these are taken care of, then it's a matter of breaking demonic bonds and power, and finally casting out the demons themselves.
I've written in greater detail than perhaps I should have this morning, but I do want to give you all a sense that there's a "logic" to our deliverance in the name of Jesus.
Boy, I'm looking forward with greater anticipation to this coming Sunday!
Blessings to you all!