When Powerful, Spirit-filled Christians Keep Suffering Demonic Attacks

When Good Christians
Seem Defeated by Evil Spirits

Defeated? Surprise Victory When Demons Seem to have Won

Grantley Morris

* * *




Bible Versions Used
(Unless otherwise specified)

King James Version

Place mouse or equivalent over a Bible reference on-line

World English Bible
(Slightly Modified)

Appears in the text

For more information, see Bible Version Dilemmas

When Christians Seem Defeated by Evil Spirits

When Demons Seem Stronger than a Christian

“I am petrified,” a needlessly distraught Christian told me. Demonic manifestations in Clare’s house had even been captured on a phone camera. “I am so afraid that I have lost my salvation. Will God receive my praise and prayers with demons in me and my house?”

* * *

Common explanations of Christians’ authority over demons are sincerely founded on enough Bible truths to seem biblical but not enough to actually be biblical. Like so many of us, the gap between full biblical revelation and my understanding was small enough to boost my confidence and produce some victories. The ever-present danger, however, is that when reality proves more complex and harsher than our theories lead us to expect, we are left reeling in bewilderment and discouragement, which make us vulnerable to spiritual attack. When our theories do not bring instant deliverance, our temptation is to blame the believer who is still under attack, thus foolishly betraying and abandoning him or her, rather than finally discovering the significance of all the Scriptures we had overlooked.

As we proceed through this webpage, will you join me in looking to God to fill in some dangerous gaps in our understanding of spiritual warfare?

* * *

Clare’s turmoil was not because she lacked spiritual power. She spoke of demons “in” her and feared that God had deserted her, merely because she had not realized how being repeatedly attacked is totally different to being defeated and ruled by an enemy one has surrendered to.

“I have been saved for 20 years, so to be going through this has to be disappointing to God,” she cried.

I explained that there is no shame in coming under heavy attack. In fact, in such circumstances, holding out can be heroic and highly glorifying to God. Rarely, if ever, is an easy victory a glorious victory. Likewise, quick victories are seldom particularly praiseworthy. Horrendous, unrelenting spiritual attacks can be a perfect backdrop for an eventual victory of mind-boggling proportions.

* * *

In exploring these matters, I will not insult your intelligence with superficial answers. Since we must start somewhere, however, I think it helpful to begin with four general truths that might be basic but are too often neglected.

* * *

1. Divine Selflessness

The time will come when all evil will be destroyed. Divine selflessness, however, means that we will not immediately see this.

As much as we might want to focus on demons/evil spirits in this discussion, we should commence with a brief glimpse of the bigger picture: God is far more concerned about good and about humans than about evil and demons. If we think that God is the slightest egotistical, we have not even begun to understand the enormity of his selfless love. Our spiritual development is infinitely more important to God than his reputation as a demon-crusher

As darkness is the opposite of light, and ugliness is the opposite of beauty, so domination and manipulation are the opposite of love. And God is love. So if we imagine that God is into domination and manipulation, we are confusing good and evil, and mistaking Christianity for witchcraft. Tragically, however, this is the very deception that many who think themselves Christian fall into. Although there are those who keep clinging to what they mistakenly suppose is Christianity, I am not surprised that many witches started off as Christians. When God turns out not to be the manipulator they hope for, they go direct to the source of evil. I find myself incapable of despising or fearing such people. Often they do not even realize they are connecting with evil; they are simply following the logical implications of confusing good and evil by defining “good” as getting one’s own way. Of course, they never wanted to be victims of supernatural manipulation but this is the inevitable result craving supernatural power to manipulate others and exalt themselves. Here’s why my heart breaks for them: often such people have suffered appalling abuse and are driven by fear into wanting to be control freaks, in the hope that it will prevent a repeat of such abuse. The good Lord is a disappointment to them because, despite having infinite power, he is not an abuser of his power who manipulates and dominates. And we wants us to be like him.

A man wrote to me, upset with God because his wife, who had taught Sunday School and belonged to an anti-drug organization, had ended up addicted to drugs and left him, taking the children as well. I replied:

    You could have kidnapped your wife and imprisoned her, thereby forcibly preventing her from taking drugs and from leaving you. You chose not to do so because you are too decent a man for that. Do you really expect God to have lower morals than you and forcibly prevent your wife from breaking God’s heart and yours?

    You cannot fervently love someone without aching for that person to love you – especially if you know that person desperately needs you in his/her life. To deeply love someone means you could have everything else in the universe, and yet without that person’s love you would still be heartbroken. To love is to make oneself so vulnerable that even having unlimited power could not help. Omnipotence could easily force someone to obey you. Or it could produce something like a ‘love’ potion, causing a person to be under the illusion of loving you. But genuine love can never be compelled. If it involves force or chemicals or deceit or bribery it is a sham, and can never satisfy your yearning for that person’s love.

    There are things that not even omnipotence can achieve. It cannot, for example, produce a square circle. It can easily turn a circle into a square, but the instant it has straight sides it is not a circle. Likewise, when someone is forced to act in love, it is not genuine love. Even with unlimited power, there is little anyone could do to induce genuine love in a person, other than be loving and wait for a response.

No one yearns for justice with the intensity that God does, and yet everyone who gets to heaven will spend all eternity thanking God for delaying justice. Had God not mercifully restrained his passion for justice until we finally came to our senses and sought forgiveness through Jesus, we would all be in hell.

To be power hungry is to be like the devil. To be Christlike is to have supreme power and yet surrender it all and let oneself be humiliated to the extreme of death in order to save one’s enemies (Philippians 2:5-8).

As so eloquently expressed in the Bible’s love chapter, love is patient and kind. It does not envy. It is not self-seeking. It keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Pure love refuses to abuse power but exercises stupendous self-restraint. Love sacrifices everything for the beloved and endures to extremes. This is foundational to Christianity but many refuse to go that route, even while duping themselves into thinking they are followers of the one who declared that we must love our enemies and insisted that to follow him we must deny ourselves and take up our cross (Matthew 10:38; 16:24; Luke 14:27).

We can rejoice in the many Scriptures that speak of Christ’s emphatic victory on the cross. No matter how many such Scripture we cite, however, the fact remains that Satan and his cohorts have not yet been totally stripped of power:

    1 Corinthians 15:24-25 Then the end comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until [i.e. there is delay between Christ reigning and all his enemies being put under his feet] he has put all his enemies under his feet.

    Hebrews 10:12-13  . . . when he [Christ, the ultimate High Priest] had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; from that time waiting until his enemies are made the footstool of his feet.
    (Emphasis mine.)

Just because the Almighty has the ability to crush his enemies this instant, does not mean that this instant is the best time for it to happen. Our Lord could have destroyed all demons thousands of years ago but divine wisdom and goodness has moved him to restrain his stupendous urge to do so until the perfect time. Similarly, the omnipotent Lord could have destroyed all the Israelites’ enemies the moment they entered the Promised Land, but wisdom dictated that it was better to keep some of their enemies alive for generation after generation to test the Israelites’ devotion and teach them warfare (Judges 2:21-3:4). Even the enemies who were eliminated were best removed slowly (Deuteronomy 7:22).

The Almighty, of course, has always had the raw power to annihilate his enemies, whilst mercifully sparing those who have ceased their rebellion and willingly surrendered to him. There is so much more to our beautiful Lord, however, than raw power. Through the cross, the Just and Holy One added to his raw power the legal right to do what he longs to do, both to those who persist in evil and to those who choose to let his love and righteousness reign in their lives. All that now remains is the perfect time for him to fully enforce both Christ’s total victory over evil and the legal means he won whereby those who turn to him in faith can be spared. The perfect time is the “harvest time” in Jesus’ parable, when the product of the enemy’s seed can safely be destroyed without harming any of the product of the good seed (Matthew 13:24-30).

That time has not yet arrived but it is fast approaching:

    2 Peter 3:9-10 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief . . .

    Revelation 12:12  . . . Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil has gone down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time.

So just because God has unlimited power does not mean he will abuse that power to get his way – or even our way. If greater good can be achieved by temporary restraint, the selfless Lord will take that course, no matter how much it costs him.

* * *

2. Faith Means Waiting

Many of our spiritual problems stem from failing to understand God’s timeframe. Despite it being contrary to Scripture, most of us somehow fall into the delusion that great faith brings nearly instant results. In reality, the opposite is true: great faith empowers us to wait and wait and wait until God’s perfect time.

The Old Testament Scriptures were divinely provided to lay a firm foundation for understanding God. Among its vast array of precious revelations is that waiting for God is virtually synonymous with having faith in God:

    Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord. Be strong, and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the Lord.

    Psalm 37:7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. Don’t fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who makes wicked plots happen.

    Proverbs 20:22  . . . Wait for the Lord, and he will save you.

    Isaiah 8:17 I will wait for the Lord, who hides his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.

    Hosea 12:6  . . . Keep kindness and justice, and wait continually for your God.

    Many more examples.

Of course, this concept continues throughout the New Testament:

    Hebrews 6:12  . . . imitators of those who through faith and patience inherited the promises.

    Luke 2:25 Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.

    Luke 12:35-37 Let your waist be dressed and your lamps burning. Be like men watching for their lord . . .

    Romans 8:23-25  . . . ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in hope, but hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for that which he sees? But if we hope for that which we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.

    1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. . . . (NIV)

    James 5:7 Be patient therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it, until it receives the early and late rain.

    More examples.

If the signs of a victorious Christian life are speedy answers to prayer and instant deliverances from oppression and hardship, then our Lord and all the divinely inspired authors of the New Testament were deluded when they repeatedly emphasized the need for patience, perseverance and endurance:

    Matthew 10:22  . . . but he who endures to the end will be saved. [Repeated in Matthew 24:13]

    Luke 8:15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (NIV)

    Romans 5:3-4 Not only this, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope

    Romans 12:12 rejoicing in hope; enduring in troubles; continuing steadfastly in prayer

    Romans 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that through patience and through encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

    2 Corinthians 1:6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.

    2 Corinthians 6:4, 6 but in everything commending ourselves, as servants of God, in great endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses . . . in pureness, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in sincere love

    Galatians 6:9 Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don’t give up.

    Colossians 1:11 strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, for all endurance and perseverance . . .

    Hebrews 6:12  . . . imitators of those who through faith and patience inherited the promises.

    James 1:3-4 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

    James 5:8-11 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. . . . Take, brothers, for an example of suffering and of patience, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we call them blessed who endured. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the Lord in the outcome, and how the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

    (Emphasis mine.)

    Very Many More Examples

God’s ways are not our ways, says a well-known, much-loved Scripture (Isaiah 55:8). What is less well known and less loved, is that one of the biggest ways in which the Eternal Lord differs from us is in his attitude to time. In short: God’s timing is not our timing.

Little children are almost hopeless at waiting. A few hours – sometimes even a few minutes – seem an eternity to them. The more we mature, the better we get at waiting, but we find it a torturously hard skill to master and, relative to God, the best of us are still like little children and desperately need to develop our ability to wait many years or decades for the perfect moment to arrive.

My guess is that people were more laid back and better adapted to waiting in an era when they had to wait until winter for an ice cold drink, when “fast” meant not eating for forty days and travel time was measured by the cracks in wine skins and how much mold had grown on their bread (Joshua 9:11-13). Nevertheless, even they could get infuriated by how slowly God moves:

    Psalm 6:3 My soul is also in great anguish. But you, Lord — how long?

    Psalm 13:1-2  . . . How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart every day? How long shall my enemy triumph over me?

    Psalm 74:10 How long, God, shall the adversary reproach? Shall the enemy blaspheme your name forever?

    Psalm 89:46 How long, Lord? Will you hide yourself forever? Will your wrath burn like fire?

    Psalm 94:3 Lord, how long will the wicked, how long will the wicked triumph?

    Habakkuk 1:2 Lord, how long will I cry, and you will not hear? I cry out to you “Violence!” and will you not save?

    Other examples.

History is littered with disasters resulting from people getting so impatient with God’s timing that they took things into their own hands. Here are some examples, divinely recorded so that we might not make the same mistakes:


    Abraham gave up waiting for his miracle child and tried to force the pace. He conceived Ishmael, and even to this day the dangerous conflict continues between Ishmael’s descendants (Arabs) and the miracle child’s descendants (Jews).


    The Lord told the Israelites they would have to wait forty years before entering the Promised Land. That seemed far too long. So they tried immediately. They were defeated (Deuteronomy 1:34-44).


    When the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land, the plunder from the first city belonged to God; the rest was theirs. Achan opted not to wait for the next city and sampled Jericho’s plunder. He died, his family died and thirty-six others died (Joshua 6:17-19; 7:1-25).


    King Saul panicked when Samuel failed to arrive as quickly as he had expected. Instead of waiting for Samuel to perform his divinely-assigned task, the impatient king did it himself. As a direct result, Saul’s dynasty lost the kingdom and it was given to David, “a man after his own heart” i.e. a man willing to submit to God’s timing, no matter how challenging that was (1 Samuel 13:7-14).

(I need to move on to other points but it would be a gross distortion of truth to imply that the waiting game is one-sided. The Bible is crammed with instances of God asking people how long he must wait until people finally do the right thing [Many Examples].)

* * *

3. Understanding Satanic Strategy

A battle strategy that has sometimes proved devastatingly effective is to attack hard at one point; tricking the opponent into focusing all their attention there, when the critical attack will actually come from a direction they least expect.

Let’s first see how this works in the realm of temptation. From there it is just a small step to understanding the strategic goal of many demonic manifestations.

To be repeatedly and horrifically tempted to do atrocious things in no way suggests we are less than holy. (If you have the slightest doubt about this, see Temptation.) On the contrary, all of heaven might want to sing our praises for the way we endure such an onslaught. Nevertheless, it would weaken us spiritually if we mistakenly supposed that being sorely tempted is a sign of spiritual inadequacy and we imagined that God frowned on us just because the deceiver and his filthy underlings make certain sins seem enticing.

This misconception would undermine our relationship with God, not because of God’s attitude, but because we naturally shrink from anyone we imagine disapproves of us. Any tendency to even slightly distance ourselves from God, our only source of divine strength, will weaken us and make us spiritually vulnerable.

Demonic manifestations are often a similar ruse. Like temptation, it is no sin to suffer demonic manifestations, and all of heaven might be proud of how we endure them, but if we let the deceiver trick us into thinking that suffering such attacks is a sign of spiritual weakness, it will discourage us and entice us to wrongly imagine that God is a little displeased with us. This, in turn, will hound us into distancing ourselves from him a little, which is just what the evil strategist was working toward.

* * *

4. Half Measures are Doomed to Fail

It is possible for one’s longing to be rid of demons to be like someone who wants to eliminate hangovers from his life but is not willing to stop getting drunk, or someone who wants both to please his wife and to continue having an affair. People can yearn to avoid the negative side of demonic oppression but, through fear, ignorance or addiction to what seem desirable things demons offer, are unwilling to stop cooperating with demons. People will find themselves powerless to order demons around if they do not really want to be rid of demons but merely want to tame them and, as it were, keep them as pets. We must keep asking God to reveal to us any way in which we could be acting like that.

This webpage, however, is for those who have fully resolved such matters but still suffer demonic attacks.



When Demons Seem Stronger than a Christian

When Christians Seem Defeated by Evil Spirits



When Spiritual Victory Looks Like Defeat

* * *

Tried Everything but Demons Will Not Leave

The divinely inspired writer of Holy Scripture, the great Apostle Paul, included himself when he wrote:

    Ephesians 6:12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

We tend to be so familiar with this Scripture that we do not consider the implications: you don’t wrestle vanquished foes; they just cower in defeat before you. Neither do you wrestle anyone who instantly flees from you.

Despite such a powerful apostle including himself in this on-going battle, some of us mistakenly presume that we will never suffer a demonic attack unless we do something wrong (such as involvement with the occult). Still more of us wrongly presume that if we are attacked and stand against it, we will always experience almost instant deliverance. When our theory fails, our mistake worsens: rather than see the flaw in our logic, we imagine that either we have failed God or that he has failed us. We have already begun to discover that this is not how God’s Word sees it, there is much more to come.

One of the greatest dangers for us Bible lovers is not blatant error but oversimplification. Certain glorious truths shine so brightly that we let them blind us to other, equally vital, biblical truths. Like chocolate-coated poison, oversimplification is a particularly sinister form of error. We come to trust oversimplification because in easy situations it works but just when we are most vulnerable, it lets us down. Even worse, we are then tempted to imagine it is God or his Word that has failed us, when the real cause is letting a shallow reading of the Bible entice us to leap to false conclusions. Just as a concealed booby trap is more dangerous than an obvious trap, half-truths are more dangerous than blatant lies. Unfortunately, half-truths are as exciting and addictive and deceptive and dangerous as the early stages of heroin addiction.

Nevertheless, when our theories get smashed by reality, it is our opportunity to grow closer to God, whose ways are higher, wiser and more glorious than ours.

What some of us rather proudly think of as our theology or doctrine would better be called a set of presumptions. I’m just as fallible as the rest of us. So I don’t want you taking my word for these vital matters. Instead, my yearning is for you to seek God and his Word for the truth that will empower you to face head-on reality in all its complexity, and triumph.

Like Clare, the dear woman introduced at the beginning of this webpage, few of us grasp that the Bible teaches that Spirit-filled Christians can be subjected to horrific demonic attacks and that victory does not always mean the end of the attack; victory means triumphantly clinging to God in faith, despite the ongoing severity of the oppression. To crystalize this important truth I will draw upon some of my other writings but the goal is to focus your attention not on my insight but on God’s heart and his Word.

Let’s start with the matchlessly holy Son of God, through whom and for whom all things exist. None of us have the slightest hope of exceeding him in power or righteousness or wisdom or any other good and desirable quality.

Have you noticed the first few words in the following?

    Matthew 4:5 Then the devil took him into the holy city. He set him on the pinnacle of the temple

Who, according to this Scripture, took the holy Son of God to the top of the temple? It wasn’t Jesus’ doing, nor was it God’s.

And consider this:

    Matthew 4:8 Again, the devil took him to an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory.

Everyone knows there is no mountain in the world from which one’s natural eyes can see “all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory.” The devil not only somehow managed to get Jesus’ body where he wanted it to be, he thrust a vision into Christ’s very mind. This is the spiritual equivalent of rape.

Our exquisitely perfect Role Model suffered highly invasive attacks from the Evil One. He was victorious in the sense that he remained sinless and did not cave in to the attack, but not in the sense that he was never attacked. In fact, not only during this time, but probably in other instances that the Bible did not bother to detail, our Lord suffered spiritual violation.

As I have written elsewhere:

    When the all-powerful Son of God was gloriously victorious over a temptation in the wilderness, Satan did not slink away in defeat. Undeterred, the Evil One moved straight on to trying to seduce the Holy One with a completely different temptation. And when Jesus again delivered a crushing defeat on the enemy, he pounded the Son of God with yet another insidious temptation. Finally, after being beaten yet again, Satan left – but only, as the King James Version puts it, “for a season” or in the words of the NIV, “until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13).

    Demons leave only with great reluctance. Like naughty children, they will test us to the limit to see if we really believe we have authority over them or whether they can bluff their way into staying by pretending to be stronger than us. Don’t be surprised or think it indicates you are weak when demons put up a fight.

    When we read, “resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7), let’s not get so carried away with the final result (him fleeing) that we forget that the key word is “resist”. If we have to resist, it must be because he and his minions will put up a fight.

    You can expect quite a battle of wills. But even when they finally leave, that is not the end of the story. Jesus spoke of a demon who left a man and then returned. The man happened to have his defenses down and so the demon not only re-entered the man but invited seven other demons to join him (Matthew 12:43-45). The point I must emphasize is that it is typical of demons to keep coming back, checking one’s defenses to see if they can re-enter.

    As I so often find myself reminding Christians: Satan and his evil hordes are sore losers. Once they find something that shakes you up they will keep trying it over and over relentlessly until they are absolutely convinced that their tactics will never again work with you. When, finally, they seem to leave, it is only to bide their time for a surprise attack. Their persistence is exceedingly unpleasant. The positive side, however, is that it will make you stronger and stronger as you keep resisting their lies.

    The enemy of our souls is the master deceiver because that is all he can do. The devil cannot change reality. He cannot change the fact that God loves you with all of his unlimited love and that Christ died for the sins of the entire world, which has to include every sin you have ever committed. So all he can do is mess with your feelings, hoping that you will start to believe them rather than believe in the power of Christ and the love of God.

* * *

Anyone thinking himself more Spirit-filled or power-packed than the Apostle Paul is almost certainly deluded. Let’s look at him:

    1 Thessalonians 2:18 For we wanted to come to you – certainly I, Paul, did, again and again – but Satan stopped us. (NIV)

Zero in on those last words: “ . . . again and again – but Satan stopped us.” The great apostle and his Spirit-filled companions on a mission from God tried over and over but were stopped, not by the will of God, but by Satan. Paul must have had strong reasons for yearning to minister to the Thessalonians and yet, despite several attempts, the anointed apostle was repeatedly prevented by Satan from doing so. This was the man of God renowned for casting out demons and performing extraordinary acts of supernatural power (see Paul’s Extraordinary Spiritual Power); the divinely chosen spiritual leader who, under the inspiration of God declared, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Perhaps this startles you or you presume this series of events must be exceptional but this key apostle in the New Testament church considered it so normal that this is his divinely-inspired comment about it:

    1 Thessalonians 3:2-4 and sent Timothy . . . to comfort you concerning your faith; that no one be moved by these afflictions [i.e. by the satanically-driven events causing Paul to flee]. For you know that we are appointed to this task. For most certainly, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction, even as it happened, and you know.
    (Emphasis mine.)

And then there is this famous Scripture:

    2 Corinthians 12:7-9 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you . . .” (NIV)

Despite all his efforts, nothing the apostle did could remove this “thorn” in his flesh; this “messenger of Satan” that was tormenting him.

This, and scriptures like it, might seem to undermine faith. We must ensure our faith is based on the entire Word of God, however, not on our presumptions and half-truths. Correctly understood, every part of Scripture strengthens faith and makes it genuine. By this we are not only able to cope with easy situations but are empowered to triumph over the harshest of realities. God never makes a promise he does not keep. Sadly, the same cannot be said for every preacher and Bible teacher. Even those of us who read every word of the Bible have a tendency to gloss over parts that do not fit our preconceptions.

Being confident that demons will flee the instant we take a stand might give the illusion of great faith but it is only baby faith over-inflated by hot air; ready to pop the moment the going gets tough. Quick, easy victories take little faith. God wants us to grow in him until we can endure when the battle is far more intense and goes on and on and on and on. There is indeed great need for endurance:

    Matthew 24:13 But he who endures to the end, the same will be saved.

    Galatians 6:9  . . . we will reap in due season, if we don’t give up.

    Hebrews 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm to the end

    Revelation 13:10 If anyone is to go into captivity, he will go into captivity. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, he must be killed. Here is the endurance and the faith of the saints.
    (Emphasis mine.)

Look deeper into the following Scripture:

    Romans 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet . . .
    (NIV)(Emphasis mine.)

“Soon” means it has not already happened. It indicates there will be a delay, and with the God for whom “a thousand years are like a day,” (2 Peter 3:8, NIV) and who, two thousand years ago declared four times, “I am coming soon” (Revelation 3:11; 22:7,12,20, NIV), it could take a while. There was even a frustrating delay between Paul penning those words and them reaching the Roman Christians he was addressing. (E-mail and Facebook were not as reliable back then. Even planes, trucks and motorized ships were rare.)

As already mentioned, a delay before the full victory is even true of our exalted Lord. Despite Ephesians 1:22 (NIV) triumphantly declaring the truth that “God placed all things under his [Christ’s] feet,” drill deeper and you will discover that this is a prophecy – a certainty that has yet to fully materialize :

    Acts 2:34-35 For David didn’t ascend into the heavens, but he says himself, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit by my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” ’

    1 Corinthians 15:24-25 Then the end comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until [i.e. there is delay between Christ reigning and all his enemies being put under his feet] he has put all his enemies under his feet.

    Hebrews 10:12-13  . . .when he [Christ, the ultimate High Priest] had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; from that time waiting until his enemies are made the footstool of his feet.
    (Emphasis mine.)

What I am saying is no heresy:

    Hebrews 2:6-8  . . . “What is man, that you think of him? Or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels. You crowned him with glory and honor. You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” [A quote from Psalm 8] For in that he subjected all things to him, he left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we don’t see all things subjected to him, yet.
    (Emphasis mine.)

The Omnipotent Lord has always had the raw power to annihilate our spiritual enemies and at the moment of his resurrection our Lord won the right to do so without being morally obligated to destroy us at the same time. (Until he died for our sins and we put our faith in him we, like all his enemies, were guilty of rebellion against God.) Nevertheless, our Lord has mercifully delayed this cataclysmic event to give more of us the chance to repent and so enjoy eternity with him:

    2 Peter 3:9-10 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

This delay is painful for us and for the God who loves us, but it is beneficial for all who are not yet Christians – people whom God also loves dearly, and Christlikeness makes us willing to suffer so that they might be saved, even as our Lord suffered for us so that we might be saved.

Quick deliverances can impress and our Lord often employs them. Nevertheless, as we are beginning see demonstrated in many Scriptures, although God longs to spare us as passionately as he longed to spare his glorious Son, there are times when even more can be achieved by delayed deliverances.

* * *

Job’s friends looked down on him, thinking he must have sinned, and he himself was bewildered and wished he had never been born (Job 3:1-17). Unable to see the bigger picture, he did not realize he had become Satan’s target only because he was particularly righteous, God strongly believed in him and was proud of him (Scriptures). He had no idea he would be forever lauded as a spiritual hero merely for holding on as the trial raged. Neither did he know how many generations of people he would inspire and that without his afflictions we would never have heard of him.

I am intrigued by Jesus telling Peter, “Satan asked to have you . . .” (Luke 22:31). Satan seeking divine permission to test God’s servant is exactly what is described in the first two chapters of Job’s story. Job’s endurance proved to Satan and the forces of evil that, besides Jesus, there has been at least one person on this planet who does what is right without God having to bribe or mollycoddle him. Peter proved to the Evil One and the hordes under his sway that at least one human who, after succumbing to cowardice, will bounce back again and become stronger than ever. I flood with shame, however, to think of the millions that Satan can point to who have gone to extremes, not to do what is right, but in the pursuit of godless selfishness. I ponder all the soldiers, sports stars, thrill seekers, entrepreneurs, adventurers, and so on, who have taken great risks, worked so hard and endured so much in the hope of fame or fleeting riches or to delay their own death, or some other inferior or selfish cause. Then I cringe to think of the shame it brings our Lord to contrast this with how little today’s average western Christian is willing to endure for the infinitely superior, lofty and eternal cause of the One who gave his all for us.

Note that although God allowed Satan to test Job, the Almighty placed precise limits as to how far Satan could go:

    Job 1:8-12 The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant, Job? For there is no one like him in the earth, a blameless and an upright man, one who fears God, and turns away from evil.” Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Haven’t you made a hedge around him, and around his house, and around all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will renounce you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power. Only on himself don’t stretch out your hand.” . . .

    Job 2:1-6 Again, on the day when the God’s sons came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, and said, “From going back and forth in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? For there is no one like him in the earth, a blameless and an upright man, one who fears God, and turns away from evil. He still maintains his integrity, although you incited me against him, to ruin him without cause.” Satan answered the Lord, and said, “Skin for skin. Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will renounce you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand. Only spare his life.”
    (Emphasis mine.)

Likewise, although Paul was satanically prevented from visiting the Thessalonians in person, the Almighty put strict limits on how far Satan could go. God’s plans were not thwarted. Timothy provided the spiritual support the Thessalonians needed (1 Thessalonians 3:1-2). Not only did he minister to them as Paul’s representative, Timothy reported back to Paul, bringing him the comforting news about them that he had craved (1 Thessalonians 3:6-9).

Furthermore, not only did Timothy successfully help them, Paul was able to minister to them in writing. This latter point is highly significant because it demonstrates the truth of Romans 8:28 that, for those committed to him, God brings good out of every satanic onslaught. Had Paul visited them in person he would have had no need to write to them, and all subsequent generations of Christians would have had a thinner Bible and been spiritually robbed of the treasures stored in 1 Thessalonians. (We would also have been robbed of the book of Job, had Satan not attacked Job.)

Knowing how God loves piling on the good when Satan seems to get the upper hand, I think it likely that still more benefits flowed from Paul being temporarily prevented from visiting the Thessalonians. For example, Timothy’s added responsibility in going alone probably developed him as a minister of God (Note). Moreover, through this series of events, Paul was forced to flee to Athens (1 Thessalonians 3:1; Acts 17:10-15). The result was conversions and one of my favorite parts of Scripture: Paul’s speech in the Areopagus (Acts 17:16-34).

With the Almighty on our side, what seem like disasters and satanic victories are merely opportunities for God to achieve even greater good.



When You Resist but Demons Persist



When Deliverance Doesn’t Seem to Work

* * *

When Apparent Defeat is Part of the Divine Plan

Divinely ordained spiritual battles can be so prolonged and intense that for a long while they look like defeat. To provide three biblical examples, I will quote from another webpage of mine. If you have already read it, feel free to jump to the next section: Real Victory.

It was a duel between spiritual super-powers: the false gods of Egypt versus the one true God. At Moses’ command, Aaron throws down a rod. The stick becomes a writhing snake. What a victory – the raw power of God spectacularly displayed in the very court of Pharaoh. Face it, Pharaoh, you’ve backed a loser! Heathen sorcerers step forward. They drop their rods and each squirms to life. Before Pharaoh’s eyes is Moses’ solitary snake, hopelessly outnumbered by the magicians’ slithering brood (Exodus 7:9-12).

* * *

A homeward-bound Levite needed to lodge for the night. Though a pagan place was more convenient, he chose the security of an Israelite town. Here he’d sleep peacefully, surrounded by God’s people. But to his horror, he discovered these people, despite having known God’s blessing and his laws, were more depraved than the heathen. Given half a chance, they would have raped him. They abused his concubine all night. She was dead by morning. An Israelite town had slumped to the putrid decadence of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Outraged, the Levite summoned the whole of Israel. God’s law was explicit: those murderous perverts must die. But their tribe refused to hand them over. The entire tribe was so committed to wickedness that the Benjamites resolved to fight, if necessary to death, against the united armies of the whole nation, rather than allow the execution of God’s law.

Greatly disturbed, the faithful sought God. It would have been tempting to by-pass this step. They were obviously in the right and the odds were heavily in their favor. Though the Benjamites had a few skilled fighters, they were their brethren, not some super-race, and Israel outnumbered them, 400,000 to less than 27,000. But they did the right thing. They consulted God, and he so approved that he gave them his strategy. On their side were natural superiority, righteousness, divine approval, and the wisdom and infinite might of the Lord of hosts. In obedience to their Lord, they marshaled their forces, high in faith and in the power of God.

And they were slaughtered. In one day 22,000 of them were slain.

They wept. They prayed. They sought the Lord again. Empowered by a fresh word from God, they mobilized for the second day. And 18,000 more of them were massacred (Judges chapters 19-20).

* * *

The mighty Son of God came to earth. This was the climax of a divine plan conceived before the earth was formed, and for millennia intricately woven into the fabric of human history. It was the showdown: creature versus Creator, dust versus divinity, filth versus purity, mortality versus immortality.

And Jesus died.

* * *

In Pharaoh’s court, occult powers miraculously produce many times more vipers than God. In the time of the judges, God’s forces are routed by an army of inferior strength. At Calvary, God’s Son is dead.

How I thank God for the Bible! Few other Christian books tell it as it really is: you can be flowing in the power of God, following his instructions to the letter in absolute purity and be routed by Satan’s puny forces.

But only for a season.

Moses’ rod swallowed up the sorcerers’ rods. On the third day, Israel crushed the Benjamites. Jesus, on the third day, swallowed up death, having crushed the devil.

(For yet another example of apparent defeat being part of the divine strategy, see Joshua 8:15-22.)



When Evil Spirits Seem to have Won



Spiritual Warfare the Bible Way

* * *

Real Victory

From the moment of his arrest until he died, Jesus become the devil’s plaything. Jesus did not teach that because he suffered on the cross, we would be spared such a fate. On the contrary, he insisted that since evil did this to our perfect Leader and Role Model, we can expect the same:

    Matthew 10:24-25, 28 A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be like his teacher, and the servant like his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household! . . . Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. Rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna [hell]. . . .”
    (Emphasis mine.)

Until I recently delved deeper into this matter, my oversimplified view was that Jesus suffered so that we would not suffer. This holds true from an eternal perspective, and Jesus’ sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection has set everything in place for this to happen. We even see glimpses of it today. Nevertheless, so often does it not apply in the short term, that Christ’s followers suffering under evil, as Christ did, is a critical part of the Gospel message. It is emphasized throughout the New Testament, such as:

    1 Peter 2:19,21 For it is commendable if someone endures pain, suffering unjustly . . . For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example, that you should follow his steps

    1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, don’t be astonished at the fiery trial which has come upon you, to test you, as though a strange thing happened to you. But because you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory you also may rejoice with exceeding joy.

    Ephesians 5:2 Walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God . . .

    Philippians 2:5, 8 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus . . . he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! (NIV)

    Hebrews 12:2-4 looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him who has endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, that you don’t grow weary, fainting in your souls. You have resisted to blood, striving against sinnot yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
    (Emphasis mine.)

James tells us to resist the devil but the last part of the Scripture just quoted implies resistance can go to the extreme of not just claiming the blood of Jesus, but shedding our own blood. This is why Jesus proclaimed:

    Mark 8:35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; and whoever will lose his life for my sake and the sake of the Good News will save it.

He was even more specific:

    Matthew 10:38 He who doesn’t take his cross and follow after me, isn’t worthy of me.

Let’s explore that last quote. Except for play actors, no one takes up his own cross unless he is heading for his own crucifixion, where, though both he and God will remain faithful, evil will triumph over him even to the extreme of death. This is truly following Christ because it is just what Jesus did in order to save lives. It is the ultimate way to win, even though the victory is only fully manifested after death. Anyone unwilling to follow our crucified Lord to this extreme, declared Jesus, is unworthy of him.

We so easily get things hideously twisted; priding ourselves in what should fill us with shame, and considering ourselves defeated when we are having our greatest victory.

Too often we become arrogant when our supposedly victorious life is simply because God does not believe in us enough to trust us with a prolonged battle. Instead of flooding with shame, we bloat with pride over being so pathetic that God is compelled to baby us by giving us quick, easy victories.

When, on the other hand, God demonstrates his faith in us by treating us as those who are worthy, too often we think God has let us down and foolishly consider ourselves failures when all of heaven is giving us a standing ovation for us refusing to turn on God. Continuing to grimly hold on makes us spiritual heroes, even though conditions are so oppressive that they make us feel as weak as a slug.

In every situation we face, we need to avoid presumptions and seek God for his definition of victory. Often it will be very different to what we expect.

Job’s victory over Satan was infinitely more convincing than him uttering a couple of words in an authoritative tone and God responding by driving Satan away. That would have been God’s victory, not Job’s. It would have done nothing to remove the question mark dangling over Job’s head as to whether his apparent righteousness and devotion to God were only because God physically prospered and/or protected him. Only by God trusting Job enough to put the pampering on hold and letting Satan temporarily have his way, could Job be exalted by proving to the entire spirit world the absurdity of Satan’s allegation that Job was a self-serving coward.

You, too, might be honored with the opportunity for a victory of this magnitude. Events like Job’s have continued beyond the supernatural Pentecostal birth of the New Testament church. We see, for instance, the Spirit-filled apostles powerfully declaring the Gospel message to the very leaders who had sentenced the Messiah to death and yet they were not miraculously protected. They had such spiritual perception, however, that even before their blood had dried we see them rejoicing that they had been considered worthy of a humiliating beating (Acts 5:40-41). (If you doubt that supernatural powers were behind the apostles’ flogging see Note.)

Like so many Spirit-filled heroes, these apostles overcame not only by the blood of the Lamb but by the victorious way they endured the spilling of their own blood (Revelation 12:11; 17:6). Later, we see the triumphant, risen Lord prophesying to people he was proud of (Revelation 2:9) that “ . . the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested . . . Be faithful to death . . .” (Revelation 2:10). And we see the Almighty declaring, “It was given to him to make war with the saints [faithful Christians – see Relevant Scriptures] and to overcome them (Revelation 13:7 – emphasis mine).



Defeat Demons the Bible Way



On the cross, the Lord of glory was utterly overpowered by evil. The defeat was temporary but it was total – except that, through it all, our Leader remained faithful to God and it ended up the greatest victory the universe has ever seen. Likewise, if we remain faithful to our victorious Lord, any apparent victory of evil over us will only be temporary – even in the unlikely event of it lasting a lifetime – and, through our heroic Savior, every instance will turn into a spectacular victory that will be celebrated for all eternity.

* * *

Related Pages

The Spiritual Value of Suffering Trials

The Secret to Casting Out Demons, Defeating the Devil, and Overcoming Temptation

[Other Topics] [Daily Quotes] [Bless & Be Blessed by Facebook] [E-Mail Me!] [My Shame]

Not to be sold. © Copyright, Grantley Morris, 2014, 2015. For much more by the same author, see www.net-burst.net   No part of these writings may be copied without citing this entire paragraph.