The guy I’m praying for—and I’m praying real chill, totally sedate, like a Sade jam—starts breathing heavy, at which point I cut my now-open eyes in his direction. He starts mumbling something unintelligible, then starts dropping to the floor. He’s “looking right at me” (though his eyes were closed—yes, that was different) as he points a long finger right at my nose and begins to scream at me: “F- you! F- you!”
Thing is, I knew this guy. Still know him. He is not nuts. This guy is normal: family, job, etc. He doesn’t hold seances in his home. He doesn’t use Ouija boards. Heck, he’s not even that into Halloween. A normal guy! After the fact, he said he kind of saw it happening but he “wasn’t driving” and didn’t remember what he’d said. So what was this thing inside him that started screaming at me?
You can go wherever to get answers to a way-out question like that. I go to the Bible. There’s a whole lot I don’t understand about life, not to mention eternity, and the Bible addresses all sorts of “beyond the pale” issues on which I’d be taking massive stabs in the dark otherwise. The Bible’s timeless truth, to my outrageous relief, gives us some really important hand-holds to this sort of situation. Here’s my dumb-guy summary:
There are invisible creatures all over the place who work evil in the world. The Bible calls them demons. That’s just from the Latin of “evil spirit.” Their presence explains all sorts of things like physical, emotional, and spiritual torment. The Bible doesn’t say that all trouble is from demons, but that some of it most certainly is. Havoc is their calling card. Fear, rejection, bitterness, anger, jealousy, hatred—if it causes pain to you and those you love, demons are into it and making it happen right now all over the world.
These spiritual beings can get inside people when given permission to do so. Basically, pursuing evil of any kind gives them access; you don’t have to make some great dark covenant with the devil. Just make a habit of lying to your boss, for instance, and that’ll do the trick. Or hold a grudge against your dad. That’s an open door for these guys to waltz in and set up their malicious workshop.
One of the hallmarks of the presence of demons is a lack of self-control, which the Bible says is a gift from God. If you want to change a behavior, but no matter how much you try it stays entrenched, you’ve got a spiritual problem. “I wish I wasn’t so cutting to my friends.” “I wish I wasn’t so stressed out that I can’t sleep.” “I wish I could just believe my husband when he says he loves me.” Pretty common sentiments. And finding out that you’re powerless over your own impulses or thoughts or addictions is a sure way to start driving you mad (which is something a demon would love, by the way).
The only way to get these suckers off the premises of your soul, according to the Bible, is to let a different, more powerful Spirit enter in and shoo them away. That’s where Jesus comes in: He is the Demon Exterminator. And when He shows up, he doesn’t make you an out-of-control madman. He ushers in peace and kindness, love and joy. He makes you more of “the real you,” not less. He sets your heart and mind at ease, and he can deal with all those parts of you that you just couldn’t get under control before.
So, knowing all that, I was undaunted (surprised and a little intimidated, maybe) when this invisible spirit started cussing me out while pointing this guy’s finger at my face. “He’s mine!” it yelled. “You can’t have him!” I felt like that line had been cribbed from a horror movie somewhere, but that’s what it said. So, what was I to do? I just did what Jesus did in these situations (read about some of them here and here): I calmly told this unseen spirit to leave this guy alone, and get out of him. Then I just asked the Spirit of God—also an unseen, but very real person, with invisible but very real power—to come in and bring his peace instead of the madness.
The guy calmed down. Breathed normally. Started tearing up a bit as he had a moment with God. He’d told me that his thoughts had been running away on their own and he’d started to think he was going nuts. “You’re not going nuts,” I said. “You’re going to be free.” He said he felt back in his right mind after we prayed (another concept with Jesus-y biblical precedent) and that the feelings of torment and anxiety were gone.
I said, “Hey, man. Jesus saves.”
He gave me a relieved smile.
“Let’s do this again sometime, without you cussing me out, please?”