By Michael Brown
We’re hearing a lot these days of exorcism. The number of priests trained to deliver the faithful from evil spirits is thankfully growing. Even dioceses in England now have one. In the news: a conference about exorcism in Rome. While exorcists remain in woefully short supply (there are dioceses in the U.S. with none, and when there is such a priest, he’s often alone in covering the entire episcopate), at least the issue is garnering much-needed attention.
That’s exorcism — for cases of possession. But what of “deliverance” from lesser manifestations?
The truth is that demonic oppression is far more common than most Catholics realize; in fact rare is the person who doesn’t occasionally contend with it. It’s why Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer (which ends with a plea for exactly this: “deliver us from evil.” The original translation, making it more personal, and perhaps more real, was “deliver us from the evil one.”)
How does the devil — how do demons, and for that matter unclean spirits of any sort — function?
It was the life mission of a Cambridge-educated Christian named Derek Prince to learn their ways and instruct on deliverance. Demons weaken us, he taught. In many cases, they make their targets sick. “They also kill,” said Prince, who was born of British parents in India but also lived in Canada and Minnesota, as well as Seattle. “Remember, Satan is a murderer; he kills people.”
The mind is the “battlefield,” taught Prince. So are emotions. It is in these areas that spirits cause everything from confusion, anxiety, and indecision to insanity and suicide. Just about all suicides he came across were demonically linked, he asserted. They aggravate, do demons. They humiliate. Torment.
They bind and enslave.
“If you can’t resolve [something, such as a bad habit], you can be almost sure you’re dealing with a demon,” Prince asserted.
Often, he said, this comes in verbal form. There is an inner voice that tells us something is okay when it is not. We justify what we really know, deeper down, is not right.
Demons implant lustful notions, lewd images; fantasy; or they tempt us with excess food and drink. The most famous enticement, of course, was in the Garden. How quickly enticement can turn into disaster!
They harass. Who hasn’t experienced this? They instigate us to anger. “They study you,” said the deliverance expert. “They follow your movements. They know your weak moments. They know your weak places. They know just how and when they can get in.”
Take a bad day: when everything’s going in the wrong direction — aggravation after aggravation, irritation upon irritation — and we finally “blow our stacks,” a demon of anger can take root, he said. The dark spirit now has a legal right. It’s self-control that wards them off.
The Bible speaks about the tormentors.
“I believe the demons are the tormentors,” said Prince. “I have met hundreds who have been in the hands of tormentors, and you know why? Unforgiveness. If you have any unforgiveness, you are a legitimate target for the tormentors. And Satan is a legal expert. He knows when he’s entitled to move in.”
There’s physical torments — like arthritis. There are mental torments. Neurosis. Psychosis. Many Christians, said Prince, are silently afraid of going insane.
This comes from evil spirits.
So do many other fears.
Or there are accusations from the devil that you have committed an “unforgivable sin.”
That’s a lie from hell meant to discourage you.
Demons cause restlessness.
A person completely at rest and at peace probably doesn’t need deliverance.
They discourage. They disparage. They compel. Almost anything compulsive may be demonic (of course, it can also simply be from the flesh). Compulsive eating. Compulsive talking. They enslave: If you still have a nearly uncontrollable urge to commit a sin you have confessed in the past, a sin you hate, you may be inflamed by a spirit — or so taught Prince. Returning time and again to a sin can be a sign of this — a sign that darkness has to be cast out in the Name (and by the Blood) of Jesus.
They addict. There are people even addicted to the smell of nail polish! (Upon deliverance, says Prince, the demon came out screaming). TV can be as much an addiction, he says, as alcohol.
They defile. They make you feel dirty and filthy. “You’re just about to worship God and this dirty image is projected into your mind,” he said. “Anything that rises up and opposes you as you are about to worship God or read the Bible is almost certainly demonic.”
Spiritual forces from darkness will even cause drowsiness when someone is reading Scripture, he claimed; a “demon of tiredness.” For your discernment.
And deception always comes in, said this learned man, through pride.
As we can see, we can all use deliverance from time to time, even often.
And so there is his outline of deliverance — one of many long teachings Prince gave on the realm of the demonic, after traveling the world ministering and writing before dying in 2003 in Jerusalem.