I do not believe that demon spirits can read our minds, but I am certain that they can hear us (and maybe “sense” what we are thinking or feeling)—and I believe they often pay close attention to what we say. (This is not a “paranoia,” as I do not dwell on it nor have anxiety because of it. Nobody should. It should be accepted simply as a fact of life in this realm.) If a spirit transmits a thought or idea into a person’s mind, that spirit is not certain whether or not it “registered” unless that person opens his/her mouth or performs an action which verifies that it did register.
When we talk to ourselves or to someone else without thinking about what we are saying, we may be giving away valuable information to the enemy. For instance, if we say, “I’m sure I’ll fail if I try to do that,” or “I always get the flu about this time each year,” we are setting up our minds or our bodies for an easy attack by the enemy (James 3:6). But if we take control over our thoughts and our tongues (2 Cor. 10:5b), keeping oral responses to questionable thoughts and ideas to ourselves, the enemy is at a disadvantage. “Silence” is an excellent spiritual weapon. Of course, when we have a compelling urge to vocalize something, it is best to speak positive rather than negative statements; favorable declarations, I believe, make spiritual enemies “think twice” before they act upon us.
Paul spoke of how someone who has become God’s “workman” or “servant” must “gently instruct” those who oppose him/her (and, therefore, oppose God). This mild correction is done
...in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will (2 Tim. 2:25,26).
People do not like to have fingers pointed at them (literally or figuratively) and be told how bad they are. Doing so is more likely to turn someone “off” and to push him/her further away from a true knowledge about God than anything else will. Humbly pointing out another’s errors may meet with more success.
Christians and their beliefs can be opposed in various ways. For instance, one might be slandered or met with other resistance when pointing out to a person something he/she should not be doing (that is, something which is against God’s Law). This opposition or resistance may invoke an emotional response of anger within the soul of the accused and even a “how dare you” reaction of retaliation. This reaction can occur within an unbeliever, or even in a believer, no matter how close he/she is with God.
We are to exhibit patience with those who oppose us, remembering that the real battle is not against them but, rather, against the evil forces influencing their minds and hearts. (“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”—Prov. 15:1). Furthermore, we ourselves should not over-react when someone else corrects or reproves us. (“A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly”—14:29). It is natural for someone to react negatively toward someone else displaying a superior, “know-it-all” attitude. Therefore, approaching someone from a standpoint of humility is more likely to bring positive results and, in fact, may turn someone with a mind and heart set against God to a point of repentance and acceptance.
“Repentance” involves “changing one’s mind.” It entails grieving or feeling deep regret for the sins (negative actions against God and other people) one has committed—to the point that one decides that one does not want to do them anymore. Only true repentance, with a real desire not to offend God and others by sinning and transgressing, can bring God’s forgiveness. This does not mean that one will not sin again, but it does involve the recognition by the individual and the admission to God that one’s sins are detestable in God’s eyes. Repentance is one of the best spiritual weapons, because it shows that one refuses to be held captive to sin by Satan and that one is aware of the devil’s schemes and snares.
Jesus told Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:19). Some feel this means that Peter, as well as any believer (18:18), was given the authority (by Jesus, Who now is in heaven) to determine the rules for Church doctrine and, thereby, to demand obedience to the Church. They feel that “binding” implies the forbidding of a certain action and/or the condemning of the person performing it, while “loosing” connotes the person’s acquittal and forgiveness and return to fellowship. The rationale for this, in the case of Peter, is based mainly upon the statement by Jesus to him, “Blessed are you, Simon.... And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (16:17a,18).
At first glance, it seems as though Jesus is telling Peter that His (Jesus’) Church would be built on the foundation or “rock” of Peter; therefore, Peter (and other leaders in the Church) would have the authority to “bind” and “loose” actions by its members, to the point of “excommunicating” members from or “reconciling” them to the Church. Although there may be some substance to this, I feel that this is not the main point of binding and loosing.
In Jesus’ statement, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church...” (Matt. 16:18ab), the Greek word for Peter is “petros,” a fragment of a rock; while the word for “rock” is “petra,” an immovable stone. Many (including myself) believe that Jesus, when He said “rock,” was referring to Himself, the true foundation Stone of the Church (see also 1 Pet. 2:4). “Rock” is a quality of the Messiah (Isa. 8:14b; Dan. 2:34a,35c,45ab—see “names for and attributes of the Messiah”: C-3, P-I). Peter was only a “fragment” or a “part” of the Church—a major building stone, as it were, but not the foundation nor the cornerstone. With this in mind, “binding” and “loosing” may take on another meaning.
After Jesus had healed a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute (Matt. 12:22), He asked how anyone could enter the house of a strong man and “...carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man” (12:29a). The phrase “ties up,” in the Greek, is the same as the word for “binds”; Jesus had bound a demon and released a deaf-mute man from the demon’s evil grip. Moreover, John provides evidence that one day even Satan will be bound—in fact, for one thousand years (Rev. 20:2).
On the other hand, John said, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8b). Here, “destroy,” in the Greek, means “undo” or “loose.” What all this tells me is that the powers and works of evil angels and demons can be loosed (that is, “untied” or “undone”); and, in turn, that these angels and demons themselves can be bound (that is, “tied up” or “rendered ineffective”). Jesus, who clearly had the Authority and Power to “bind” and “loose,” gave the same Authority and Power to Peter—and to all others who believed (believe) they had (have) it. (I suspect that the only demon we lack the capacity to bind is Satan himself.)
Also, in Jesus’s statement to Peter, “bound” means “having been bound,” and “loosed” means “having been loosed.” That is, the process of binding or loosing already will have begun in heaven prior to our binding or loosing something here on earth. All we have to do is to generate the command (keeping in mind that it should align with the Will of the Father and that the Authority and Power to do it is held by Jesus), and it will be done.
I believe that, within one’s own spirit, one can learn to discern a demon (see “gifts of the Holy Spirit”: C-6, P-IV) who is bringing upon oneself (or upon someone else) depression, feelings of lust, or illness. Then one can loose, in the Name of Jesus, the adverse effect of its power and, subsequently, bind the opposing demon, casting it away from one’s (or someone else’s) presence. Now, the evil spirit subsequently may “loosen” itself from its “binding” and return, or a similar spirit may take its place. (I believe this is because we, in our imperfect mortal states, are incapable of maintaining a continuous focus on keeping evil spirits bound.) We then must loose its effect and bind it again (if it is the old spirit) or anew (if it is a new spirit).
It is my belief that there are two types of “strongholds” (or fortresses) which our dark spiritual enemies set up and defend. One is in the heavenlies, and the other is in our minds. In the heavenlies, or in the atmosphere, there are numerous places (“doors” or “gates”) where good angels descend from heaven to help people (for instance, at the location of Jacob’s ladder—Gen. 28:12).
In many localities, evil spirits have set up defenses and can prevent good angels from coming through the strong “gates” to help individuals and, often, even large geographical areas. Battles won or lost on earth often are consequences of those won or lost in the heavenlies between good and bad angels. Finis Jennings Dake has recorded,
Over all the governments of this world Satan has his trusted angels who are responsible to him for carrying out his will in those governments. He seeks to hinder God’s plan in the fulfillment of prophecy regarding world kingdoms. God also has trusted angels, and they carry out His will concerning what He has predicted to take place in the kingdoms of this world...hence, the wars between these two groups of angels in the heavenlies.... All wars lost or won on earth are results of wars lost or won by these heavenly armies.
Not only over every government of this world are there good and evil spirit beings seeking to influence and carry out the will of their masters, but over every individual life the same is true.... Satan, himself, is active along the line of seeking to defeat God’s purpose in the lives of His children.
Sometimes (particularly when petitioned through prayer), God sees to it that a satanic hindrance in the heavenly realm, which otherwise would result in a defeat for the forces of good on earth, is removed. Such apparently was the case concerning Cyrus of Persia, whom God had in Mind, along with Darius the Mede, to conquer the Babylonian empire (Dan. 5:31, 6:28).
This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip [“loose” or “undo”] kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name (Isa. 45:1-3).
There was no way to enter Babylon except by the Euphrates River channel, which ran under the wall and through the city. But even if an enemy diverted the water so as to be able to walk under the protective wall (which the Medes and Persians did), there were huge brass (or bronze) gates, opening into the channel, which always were shut and locked with bars of iron. What seems to have happened is that God opened heavenly “doors” (guarded by evil angels) so that good angels could descend into Babylon, cut through the iron bars of the city gates, and make sure these brass gates were open, enabling the attackers to enter. The city was assaulted, the Babylonian government was overthrown, and the immense stored-up treasures were taken.
Satanic strongholds (“doors” or “gates”) in the heavenlies prevent God’s blessings and aid, being sent via good angelic beings, from coming down to cities, regions, and even entire nations. The strongholds over the Soviet Union were sealed tightly for seventy years; now help finally is getting through. Spirits of false religion keep the strongholds closed over Moslem, Buddhist, and Hindu countries. And stronghold “gates” are being slammed shut and locked over areas of the USA and within the minds of its citizens; a growing anti-Christian and anti-Jewish sentiment is evidence of this.
Jesus said that “...the gates of Hades will not overcome [the Church]” (Matt. 16:18c—see “binding and loosing” earlier in this part). It is imperative that believing Christians do their part, using intense, concentrated prayer, to break open these strongholds (in the USA and all over the world) to let through God’s blessings. In some cases, fasting combined with prayer may be required, as some spirits cannot be moved otherwise (17:21). It is most effective (and safest) to gather in groups to have concerted prayer; Jesus said, “...I tell you that if two of you on earth agree [with God] about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven” (18:19). Although no amount of breaking down of satanic strongholds will prevent the events of the 70th Week (including persecution of Christians) from occurring (see C-12), at least the minds of many will be opened to the Gospel Truth if some of these “gates” are forced open now.
As stated in the previous section, besides there being strongholds in the heavenlies, there are strongholds in people’s minds. Demonic spirits of various types attempt to turn people away from the Truth, thus causing their consciences to be “seared” (1 Tim. 4:1,2) and making it more difficult for the Holy Spirit to speak to them. It is the Christian warrior’s duty to pray for and to “gently instruct” (not rigidly condemn) unbelievers in the hope that they will change their minds, grasp the knowledge of God’s Truth, and “...come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:25,26—see “instruction and repentance” earlier in this part).
Of course, demons do not set up stubborn strongholds only in the minds of unbelievers; they also attack the minds of Christians, constantly attempting to influence them (by means of temptation) to let down their defenses. The “gate” to the mind begins to swing shut slowly when one compromises one’s values, even just a little, by doing things one’s conscience warns against. Paul described this internal spiritual battle well (Rom. 7:14b-23—see “inner struggle”: P-I.)
We cannot win back our own minds by our own power (at least, I personally cannot). Battles within the mind must be won by surrendering to God, who set the best possible example for us of how to surrender (see “humility, surrender, and exaltation”: C-6, P-III). This often involves overcoming our foolish pride and/or forfeiting our own precious rights on behalf and for the benefit of others (and, in the long run, of ourselves). By the Power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus can and will fight our internal (and external) battles for us. He will reopen—and keep open—the gates to our minds and consciences so that He effectively can remain in constant communication with us and can instruct us in how to aid Him in fighting His important battles within the world.
There is no time to waste; the time is at hand to become a good, competent soldier in God’s army. I believe the people of this generation are the ones who will see the most shocking, incredible events to take place in the history of the world; these are explained partially in C-11 and detailed more fully in C-12. Anyone who cannot “stand the heat” will fall by the wayside; but, to Him who overcomes, Jesus promised many great and wonderful things (see “overcoming”: “repentance, endurance, and overcoming”: C-12, P-III, S-1). With all of these (and other) incomparable and incomprehensible promises and rewards, it is certainly worth one’s while to begin the task of overcoming and helping others to overcome the enemy now.
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Copyright © 1998– by Ted M. Montgomery, O.D. Most rights reserved.