Top of the day to you (that's my best Irish accent, as St. Patrick's Day is approaching.) I thought I would deal with a challenging subject for this post: Demons, Evil and Unclean Spirits. In the Gospels we see that Jesus dealt repeatedly with these forces of evil. I count Jesus having six separate encounters casting out and rebuking demons in the Gospel of Matthew alone. In the Book of Acts, the Apostles also have stories where they encounter, cast out and rebuke these forces of evil. So today's post looks at Jesus' authority over demons, evil spirits, and unclean spirits, and whether or not Jesus has provided His authority over these evil beings to His followers in 21st century America.
What does Jesus have authority over? It is clear from Matthew 28:18 that Jesus Christ, the Son of God has authority over all things:
Matthew 28:18 - And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
The Messiah having this kind of power was prophesied about in Daniel chapter 7, where Daniel wrote: "to the Son of Man was given dominion… his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away." (Daniel 7:14-15).
There are also a number of other references to the Authority of Jesus (this is a great topic study, if you have the time):
- All things handed over to Jesus (Matthew 11:27);
- The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand (John 3:35);
- God has put all things in subjection under his feet (1 Cor. 15:27; Eph. 1:22; Hebrews 2:8);
- At his name every knee should bow (Phil. 2:10);
- It was given to him authority to execute judgment (John 5:27).
Jesus healed many people from being tormented by demons and evil spirits. As examples of Jesus' freeing people are the following verses:
- He healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits (Luke 7:21);
- When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word (Matt. 8:16);
- Two demon possessed men at Gergesenes who were cast out by Jesus into a herd of swine (Matt. 8:28-:34/See Mark 5:2/Luke 8:29);
- He healed a demon possessed man causing him to be blind and mute (Matt. 12:22-30);
- He healed Canaanite woman's severely demon-possessed daughter (Matt. 15:22-28);
- He healed a man's son who suffered from epileptic seizures caused by a demon that the apostles could not remove (Matt. 17:14-:18);
- Other examples are also contained in Mark and Luke. And so, one of Jesus' main ministries was to free people from being tormented by demons and evil spirits.
Jesus gave his authority over demons to the apostles:
- And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him,
He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out (Matt. 10:1);
- Peter and the apostles healed all those with unclean spirits (Acts 5:16);
- Phillip cast out and healed those who were possessed by unclean spirits (Acts 8:7);
- Paul cast out evil spirit in a fortune teller (Acts 16:18);
- Even Paul's handkerchiefs and aprons cast out and healed people from evil spirits (Acts 19:11-:16);
Jesus gave authority over demons to the additional 72 followers of Jesus:
- The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." 18 He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:17-19)
Our enemy is not people of different views, ideologies, or religions. Instead, our only enemy are the spiritual enemies around us (Eph 6:12 - For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.)
So do we in 21st century America have this same authority that the apostles were given over demons and evil spirits? My answer is I don't know, this is one issue that is hard to be certain of. But God's Word says that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:10). And if it is Jesus' authority that demons fear, then we may have the same authority given by Jesus to the 72 followers of Jesus in Luke 10:17. The 72 followers of Christ described in Luke 10:17-19 were not super-Christians. They did not have special powers – they were not special exorcists. They were simply people who called Jesus their Lord and Savior, and it was Jesus' authority that did the rest. And because Jesus' authority has not changed, it seems that we also can use this power for God's glory.
How do we fight our enemy? First, we have the full armor of God described in Ephesians 6:10-18. Start also with prayer, ask God for discernment of what is from God and what is from the enemy. Next, use the name of Jesus and His authority through stern words (Luke 4:35), with rebukes (Mark 1:25), and sometimes even with prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29). Perhaps this is what James meant when he said that we should submit to God and resist the enemy (James 4:7). There is also power in God's Word, by remembering verses and even saying them aloud. If you are feeling overwhelmed with the battles that you facing, it may be a spiritual battle you are facing. Our enemies are not the people around us, but instead our enemies are the unseen evil forces around us (Ephesians 6:12). So the next time you sense evil spiritual forces attacking you or your family, try something new and get into the spiritual battle with the weapons and armor that the Lord has provided. God please be with us in the battles we are facing.