The story I am about to share with you is over two years old. Of course, you only have my word for it, but I would put my hand on a stack of Bibles or get hooked up to a lie detector and tell you that I have not made up a single word. I recently had an “experience” I am trying to make sense of and it got me thinking of this story – originally published at sbcIMPACT in June of 2009.
I can tell you two things – I still don’t know what to think about this, because it doesn’t match my theology of the demonic. Secondly, the young man the story is about is now married, studying for the ministry and has not had a single reoccurence of the fits that are at the heart of the story. The names remained changed. You are free to tell me what you think at the end.
I cast a demon come out of a young man recently. Well, I was there when it happened anyway, praying that God’s power would break any hold the demon had on that young man. It was scary, invigorating (Christ is victorious) and very confusing because it does not fit my biblical understanding of demon possession. I want to tell my story and ask your input in trying to figure the story out.
I am relating this story exactly as it happened, though I have changed the names of the participants other than myself and I have left details sketchy – there are several locals who read what I write here. I wish to protect the anonymity of this young man. Everything else is related exactly as it happened.
A young man I know well, we’ll call him Ken, has been having seizures recently. Doctors could find nothing wrong with him, but the seizures have continued to grow worse. I observed that the spells seemed to come almost entirely in church situations or other Christian gatherings. A couple of weeks ago he had a particularly strong seizure and became violent with those around him. Another young man I know well, whom we will call Jake, was concerned. Not knowing what else to do, he rebuked Ken in the name of Jesus and Ken calmed down.
He made contact with me, and I told him to come over to my house. They got there around 3 AM, and we sat in our family room. Ken appeared to be drunk, but he had been in a group of Christian young people all evening and there had been no booze. He was dazed and groggy, slurring his words. We talked a little.
I shared with them that I do not really believe that demons can possess Christians, but the more we talked, the more suspicious I became that there was some sort of spiritual dimension to this occurrence. It only happened in Christian settings and seemed to have no physical cause. When Jake invoked the name of Christ, he settled down. Maybe God was giving me some spiritual discernment. I don’t know.
I do not have lots of experience with the demonic. I’ve studied it, but haven’t had much time for the practicum. I did not know what to do, so I looked at Ken and said something like, “In the name of Christ, I want to know if there is any demonic involvement in this. I command any demonic forces that are involved here to manifest themselves so we will know you are here.”
When I said that, Ken began to shudder and shake for a second or two, then suddenly he sat up, perfectly sober. It happened in an instant. He looked at Jake and me and asked, “What time is it?” He could not remember anything that had happened in the hours before he awoke, nor did he remember coming to my house. It was strange.
As they left, I began to think that I should probably have prayed to cast out the demons if there were there, but I was tired, I didn’t know what I was doing, and Ken was okay now. I went to bed.
That Friday night I got a text message from Jake at about 11 PM. It was happening again. Ken was having another seizure and Jake had again invoked the name of Christ and things had calmed down. I knew I couldn’t put it off anymore and told them to come over. They showed up and we started talking.
As I understand scripture there could be certain triggers that would open a person to demonic involvement, so I asked about them. He had never been involved in occult practices or in mind-altering drug use. Nothing seemed to indicate openness to the demonic.
I have to clarify one thing here. I cannot know another person’s spiritual condition, but I have every reason to believe that Ken is a Christian – genuinely born from above. I have seen him growing in Christ and he is beginning to develop a heart for ministry in Christ’s name. Ken is saved, as best I can tell.
There was one interesting thing. Jake observed and Ken admitted that he has had a real problem with anger and with rebellion against authority. He was often at odds with teachers and others who tried to tell him what to do. There were some things that happened in his home that left him with anger issues as well. I remembered what Paul said in Ephesians 4. “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath. Do not give the devil a foothold.” Did Ken give Satan a foothold in his life by a long held anger and spirit of rebellion?
I told the guys that it was the time to pray and ask God for wisdom. I didn’t really know what to do – they never trained us in casting out demons at Southwestern (or Dallas). We prayed together for a few moments. I testified out loud what I knew to be true. “We do not have either the wisdom or the power to handle this situation, Lord. I testify to my weakness and lack of wisdom, but I believe you have all wisdom and power, so I ask for your wisdom and discernment to guide my mind and we plead the blood of Christ for power and strength here.”
As we were praying, things got very weird. Something came over Ken; his whole demeanor changed. I know Ken. He’s not an actor. I do not believe he has the skill to fake this. He appeared disoriented again.
This time, I jumped right in. I asked him, “Are you Ken?” He said no. “What is your name?” I asked. He began to growl, saying something very low, something I did not understand. I’m not sure it was real words. Jake said that he had spoken the exact same way earlier, before they had come to my home. “Are you anger?” I asked again. “Yes,” he answered in a growl.
As I asked this, and as Ken answered me, he leaned back on the couch and his body became rigid. His eyes rolled back in his head. I commanded him to look at me and he glared at me with eyes I could only call hateful – pure hate.
I began to pray out loud, rebuking the demon in Jesus’ name. “I plead the blood of Christ and command you in Jesus name to come out of him. Go away and never return to this place or this man.” Ken was sort of retching and continued to look at me with intense anger and hatred. Nothing was happening. If there was a demon, it wasn’t listening to me.
I switched tactics. “Father in Heaven,” I prayed out loud. “I ask you to assert your power and authority over this demon and make him leave. Make him leave and never come back. Break any hold the demon has over Ken.”
All of a sudden, again, Ken’s demeanor changed. He sat up. The angry look was gone. He said, “All of a sudden, I felt this woosh, and whatever it was left me.” He motioned like the thing had moved down his body and out his feet. But it was gone. He was sober and felt no ill effects from any of this.
I prayed again for everyone that was in the room, for our protection from the return of this evil spiritual being. I have seen Ken often since that night. The spells, the seizures, the events – whatever you want to call them – have stopped since the night we cast the demon out, now almost two weeks ago.
My Thoughts and Questions
1) It is decidedly uncool to cast demons out of American young people. We may tolerate it in Africa or New Guinea, but it is not something we modern evangelicals much practice. If I didn’t feel enough like a dinosaur before, I do now.
2) I have no desire to be Bob Larson. I had one encounter with the demonic about 15 years ago and never wanted to do it again. I do not intend to hang out a shingle as “Dave the Demon Hunter.”
3) I have never believed that demons could possess Christians. I’ve heard the “we cannot be possessed, but we can be oppressed” rhetorical solution, but I am not sure what that means, beyond the simple semantic solution to a difficult problem. But the more I talked to Ken, the more I dealt with him, the more clearly I was impressed with the fact that there was a spiritual component to his problem.
- It only happened in church situations or Christian gatherings.
- When the name of Christ was invoked, things changed.
- When I asked the demon to manifest, whatever was making Ken “drunk” suddenly disappeared and he was okay again.
- Since this encounter, the seizures have gone away.
4) I am still a little bewildered and befuddled by the whole thing. I have never believed in letting experience form my theology. But in spite of the fact that I do not really believe the Bible teaches demon possession of believers, I testify to you of the following things.
- That Ken is a Christian. He is a child of God. He has been saved. The easiest thing would be for me to assume Ken is not a Christian. I do not think that is the solution.
- That Ken was having fits of increasing intensity that had started making him violent.
- That when the name of Christ was invoked, things changed with Ken.
- After prayer, Ken felt something “woosh” out of him and regained his senses.
- Since that day, he has not had the violent fits any more, and the anger he felt so often has not been there either.
I am left with the conclusion that God allowed me to pray and he cast a demon out of a young Christian man. I don’t understand that, but that is what happened.
I would love to hear your insights on this. I have told you the truth as best I can. Something strange happened that does not match my understanding of scripture. I invite you to tell me what you think.
What say you?