Possession, deliverance and exorcism are vast topics that require comprehensive spiritual understanding and perception. Some aspects of possession and exorcism are discussed here in layman’s terms.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about the term ‘’possessed”. Many a time during a retreat, when the worship, singing, and deliverance prayer are at its pinnacle, we see believers chanting, breaking down, rolling on the floor, losing consciousness, and getting epileptic attacks; very common manifestations that happen during a spiritually charged atmosphere.
Therefore, the moment we see people screaming and going through violent episodes of such outbursts, we tend to think that they are possessed. Here, we need to understand that these kinds of manifestations are not all related to a person being possessed. Some could be mental illnesses and inner wounds that are psychological, and require treatment, support, and care.
What is Possession
There are different steps to reach the stage of ‘being possessed’. The first being temptation, followed by infestation, obsession, oppression, and finally possession.
Temptation is the first stage when the Devil tries to enter our body stealthily. He can’t fully take control of our body without our cooperation. He will gain entry gently, if you care to open the doors for him. He will then gradually invade every aspect of your life, one by one…
From there, he will start expanding his horizon cunningly, and oftentimes without our knowledge, until it’s too late…
Doors of Evil
Now, which are the doors through which the devil can enter our minds? The easiest doors are our five senses, internal, as well as external.
Internal sense is what we call ‘the inner eye’. When you close your eyes, you see many things evil and sinful. When you entertain anything evil in your mind, you are welcoming the devil into your life…Everyone who commits sin is entertaining the devil, one way or the other.
1 John 3:8 says that if we commit sin through a sense, that aspect of our body is influenced by the devil. Don’t we want to get rid of this sin immediately through vaccines that can prevent us from getting infested again?
Confession is the best vaccine that protects you from falling deep into sin.
The easiest way to remove infestation of evil and prevent further damage is to confess our sins immediately rather than dwell on it and progress to the stage of obsession and possession.
Certain manifestations like screaming can be healed through a good confession. However all these manifestations do not fall within the category of possession and hence we need to tread really carefully here.
For example, some people who have terrible unforgiveness in their hearts can also bring it out through violent physical manifestations.
One of the easiest ways by which devil can enter our lives is through harbouring unforgiveness in our hearts.
Evil Infestation and Nakedness
Luke 8:27 talks about a man being possessed by the evil spirit for longest time.
One of the main characteristic of evil infestation is nakedness. ‘’For a long time this man had not worn clothes’’ (Luke 8:27)
When Adam and Eve first committed sin, they suddenly became aware of their nakedness. God immediately covers them to protect them. Covering is done by God; exposing by the evil one.
How do we identify evil infestation?
Let us take a simple worldly example.
When God covered Adam and Eve to protect them from humiliation, he gave us a legacy to take forward with us; the legacy of modesty or covering our body the right way.
When we choose clothes, our main focus should be on covering our body and preventing other people from getting distracted and committing sin through their senses. Remember, that the easiest way that the devil enters our body is through our senses.
A person who is infested would look at creating a semblance of covering oneself and appearing modest; at the same time trying to expose through subtle ways to attract attention. This can happen even without our knowledge.
When we are able to identify this trait in ourselves or others, we must at once know that the evil one has influenced us in some way or the other.
Being comfortable with your loved ones
The second warning signal of an evil influence is not being comfortable at your own house or around your loved ones. In Luke 8:27, yet again we see the demoniac not having lived in a house but among the tombs for a long time.
My dear brothers and sisters, if you are not comfortable around your father, mother, brother, or sister, and are prone to lock yourself up inside a room, coming out only to feed your stomach; be sure that the evil one is slowly taking control or your mind and body.
At this stage, the person is not yet possessed, but infested. His will, thoughts, and actions are slowly getting controlled by the devil.
We need to support, help and pray for such people.
Mark 14:51-52 talks about a certain young man who was following Jesus, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. When Jesus was arrested, they caught hold of this man, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.
When you move out of the presence of God, the result is nakedness, just like Adam and Eve.
Some people thrive in the presence of evil and the spiritually dead, just like the man affected by demons who loved to live among the tombs.
Are you comfortable in the presence of evil? Do you have friends who are spiritually weak and revel in sin? Then we must understand that we are being hauled away from God’s protection.
Slowly obsession, oppression and possession will set in. Be very careful if you have these tendencies. Until you voluntarily try to get out of it by repenting and confessing, the devil will consume you entirely.
Let me remind you that the evil one is a fallen angel created by God. His capacities are limited and he cannot attack us with horns, and in different incarnations. But instead, the evil one can attack you only through human beings.
St Padre Pio and St John Maria Vianney have gone through such spiritual tormentations of the greatest order by the devil.
A Thirst to Violate
A person with evil infestation has an inner thirst to violate everything.
Mark 5:3- ‘’and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain;’’
If you cannot accept authority, it is a sign of evil infestation. There are certain people who cannot accept even the good advices that their near and dear ones give them. Any control, advice, rules and regulations etc. can greatly disturb their mind.
Do you have a real hesitancy in listening to your parents, authorities, teachers, or spiritual fathers? Unknowingly you are becoming a slave of the devil…
‘’for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him.’’(Mark 5:4)
Many a time we think that we are capable of controlling the evil influences in our lives. But, once you allow the evil one to influence you, even if you want to do good to others, you may not be able to; even if you want to love others, you may not be able to express your love freely.
Overconfidence about ones strength in such circumstances can be dangerous. If Jesus is on your side, no one can exert control on you. Your best protection is holding on to Jesus no matter what…
‘’Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones.’’(Mark 5:5)
Always remember that when you welcome and entertain an evil spirit inside you, the evil spirit is an alien to your body. It has no love or concern for you. Your body is basically created for the Spirit of God and cannot house an evil spirit for long.
The greatest tendency of the evil spirit once he enters your body is to hurt you. He devours you to steal and destroy your joy, happiness and peace of mind; slowly killing the spirit of your life.
We see in the scripture that the moment the evil spirit saw the distant presence of Jesus, he bowed down in front of him. The only way you can get deliverance from the devil is to welcome Jesus into your life. The presence of Jesus is enough to make every devil bow down in front of you.
‘’See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you.’’(Luke 10:19)
This a promise from the Almighty God. The place of the devil is then under your feet.
What are the characteristics of the evil one?
The main characteristic of the evil one is ‘to accuse’. He will always make you feel worthless and unimportant; useless, insignificant and good for nothing.
The next tendency of an evil infested person is to attack everyone associated with you, especially the ones connected to Jesus. Attacking religious leaders, holiness, celibacy, spirituality etc. through all available media is a tactic adopted by the devil. If you see such as person, he is clearly oppressed, obsessed, infested or possessed by the evil one.
The evil one is contagious…
If you lack the presence of God in your life, the moment you read a message influenced by the devil, you will believe it. You need the presence of The Holy Spirit to discern such messages and avoid getting trapped.
My dear brothers and sisters, when you read messages in social media accusing the church and the priests, and if you are given to think that this is right, you are in more danger than the accusers, because there is no spirit of God residing within you.
The spirit of evil is controlling and dictating your mind and actions, and your spirit is getting aligned with the spirit in the message.
The God of peace can crush satan under YOUR feet only if YOU take action. Human beings have full control of their actions. It is your free-will and God does not take decisions for you. God created you with full freedom to deny or accept God.
However, the creatures and animals of the earth are under the control of God. Evil spirits can enter their body only with the permission of Jesus.
In Mark 5:12, we see the unclean Spirit begging Jesus to send them into the pigs, and Jesus gave him permission. We did not see the Spirit asking permission from Jesus to enter the body of a human being. The evil spirit entered the body of the human being because the man acted as per his free will and gave permission for the spirit to do so.
Why did Jesus have to approve the entry of the unclean spirit into the swine when the unclean spirit did not need approval to enter the body of God’s highest creation- mankind?
The answer lies in Mark 5:13, wherein we see two thousand swine rushing down the steep bank into the lake, and drowning. They destroyed themselves.
Jesus might have wanted the people to see for themselves the consequences of evil affliction inside one’s body. Complete destruction!
Don’t we all know who Jesus is? We know the teachings of The Bible, we know the consequences of sin; but, we do not surrender ourselves to Jesus, but continue with our evil influences.
We have to make sure that no unclean spirit is entertained in our family life.
In traditional exorcism, we see the exorcist asking the evil spirit his/her name and ordering him out of the person’s body. The minute a person orders you to do something by calling your name, it is assumed that he/she has a certain control over your existence.
We see in Mark 5:7 the evil spirit trying to exercise control on Jesus by calling Him by His name and trying to establish authority over Him by asking, ‘‘what have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?’’
Jesus uses the same tactic on him asking, ‘‘what is your name?’’ to which he replies, “My name is Legion; for we are many.’’
Even though the devil tried to gain authority on Jesus, he knew that he does not have the power to stand against the son of God. Jesus’ very presence torments him and he ultimately begs Him to send them into the swine and not out of the country. The very presence of Jesus is enough to surrender the devil and disengage his tactics. Jesus does not have to engage in traditional exorcism to remove evil spirits.
When people saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, they were afraid. Note that when the man was cured, he was CLOTHED (nakedness was removed when evil left his body).
‘’They immediately began to beg Jesusto leave their neighbourhood.‘’
Don’t we wonder why they wanted Jesus out of their province when He has done something good?
When Jesus removed the evil spirit from this man, they became afraid of Jesus more than the evil spirit himself. Their comfort zone was shaken.
Aren’t we all like this? When the demoniac is with us, we get used to the presence of the evil spirit.
We know the protection, joy, happiness, and The Holy Spirit present in Jesus. We still tend to persist and allow the evil spirit to dwell within us, seemingly for enjoying momentary pleasures and unholy desires.
Let us examine our conscience and see if we are living for Christ or for the evil one.
Let us gather courage and shout, “Come out of me you unclean spirit’’, and unite our mind and body with Jesus.