In our daily meditations we are continuing to talk about deeper levels of sin that bring a person to be oppressed and demonized. Yesterday, we talked about the first two levels, a Foothold, and secondly, Manipulation. The third level is Oppression:
3) Oppression. If a person does not cast down thoughts and imaginations of the mind they know to be evil, the enemy manages to get a level of control. Whoever we choose to obey is the one who will rule our lives (Romans 6:16). Sin desires to shape us into the image of the one we have decided to obey (Genesis 4:7). An oppressed person often has negative and somewhat more compulsive thoughts that suggest going down a particular avenue of sin. We could use the Star Wars movies as an analogy to describe what happens to a person oppressed by demons. In that movie, the Jedi knights dropped suggestive thoughts into their enemies' minds, which gave them a compulsion to act on the suggestion. At this level, a person does have the power to resist but finds it harder to say no.
4) Obsession. In this stage, a person becomes a slave to sinful habits and demonic control. When this point is reached, it is quite noticeable to those around the person. They can often seem "weird" or "out there," or just plain different. A believer can sometimes perceive that a person at this stage of obsession is not altogether there but maybe cannot put his finger on what it is. A more mature believer discerns quickly that which is demonic. When a person is demonized to this level, there is often a breakdown in their sanity and ability to reason due to the compulsive nature of the person's character. The demons have control to a degree where thoughts of harm to others and themselves come to mind. Suicidal people are often at this stage, driven by guilt and wicked thoughts, and unable to find inner peace. There are chemical imbalances that can be at work in some instances, and there may be an overlapping of physical, mental, and spiritual issues. However, it is my opinion that just as physical sickness is linked to emotional and spiritual matters, the same is true of the mental state. Jesus came to bring deliverance to our whole being: body, soul, and spirit.
5) Demonization. The demons (called Legion) that inhabited the Gadarene demoniac brought the man to the level of demonization (Mark 5:1-20), i.e., crying out in anguish day and night in the graveyard. He was driven by the demons (Mark 5:5). When sin is expressed and allowed to corrupt a soul to this level, the enemy has such a degree of control that, at times, the person's spirit is set to one side and bypassed. When that kind of phenomena happens, the person demonized can be in a sort of dream-like state. Think Judas, who, through his deception of stealing from the money bag, was brought to a point where Satan entered him and used him as his tool (Luke 22:3). In our day, there are mind-altering drugs that can also bring a person to this point. Sometimes, a different voice can be heard as the demons use the vocal cords of the individual. It can be quite scary to listen to a man's voice coming from a woman!
People demonized to this degree often report that they hear destructive voices, although they hesitate to share this with a counselor. Remember the story of the boy whose father told Jesus that he often “falls into the fire and often into the water” (Matthew 17:16). A stronghold of demonic control will often seek to drive the person to suicide. The demons often claim that the person belongs to them at this stage. Demons are liars and not to be trusted. I don't believe a person is ever too far under Satan's dominion that he or she cannot be brought back. Think of Legion running to Christ, even though he was demonized by many evil spirits (Mark 5:6).
There are different degrees of bondage to Satan and demons, but every person on Earth can call on the name of the Lord and be delivered. Those who are in the early stages of being demonized are, I do believe, able to cast down evil thoughts, temptations, and habits. The prophet Isaiah says: “Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion” (Isaiah 52:2). I believe it is possible to free oneself at all stages, but often harder due to the level of control given to the enemy. If a person is in the last stages of demonization, it is always best to have a trained team of mature Christians that will minister deliverance. The Scripture is never without hope and deliverance: “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21), and the Greek word translated as saved can also be translated into English as “delivered.”
If you feel you are demonized, you are never without help! Call upon the name of the Lord. Call urgently with great pathos and feeling. Lay down everything that has got you into such a condition. Renounce every dark deed that has allowed the enemy to gain territory in your life. Repent ("repent" means to have a change of mind concerning your sin, to turn around and live your life toward Christ), and make no excuses to God. Ask Him to forgive you for whatever is heavy on your soul. I don't believe that God ever leaves us without help. Keith Thomas.
This meditation is a shortened version of the more in-depth study: Satan's Schemes.