It is, depending on your beliefs, very difficult to give an answer to this question. On the one hand you will have people that believe that there are no demons, and at the other end of the scale you will find people who credits everything to the workings of demons.
Who is right?
It is actually very interesting to note that when we look at the happenings in the Bible, we find that everything that was written before Israel went into exile, all things, both good and bad, were attributed to the LORD, and everything that was written afterward, all good was from God and all evil came from Satan.
How do I prove it?
“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye multiplied more than the nations that are round about you, and have not walked in my statutes, neither have kept my judgments, neither have done according to the judgments of the nations that are round about you; Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations. And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations. Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds. Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD; Surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity. A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them. Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted: and they shall know that I the LORD have spoken it in my zeal, when I have accomplished my fury in them.” (Ezekiel 5:7-13)
This does not sound like any good news to me. But, these words were from the LORD. I can already see some of today’s people, if they were alive at that time, breaking curses and declaring Ezekiel’s words null and void.
How do I know that their writer’s attitude changed after being in exile? The books of Samuel were written before they went into exile, while the books of Chronicles were written after. Let us examine the same happenings.
“And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.” (2 Samuel 24:1)
“And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21:1)
Does this confuse you? I did confuse me. But why did this happen, and why the different ways of writing about the same situation? The writer of Samuel attributed everything that happened to God, while the writer of Chronicles could not believe that good people like David, could do something wrong, and hence attributed bad things to Satan. This is exactly how we react also. When I do something wrong and do not want to accept the consequences, I will attribute it to demonic workings in my life. Why? Because I am alright. Me sin? You must be out of your mind. No, I am such a exemplary member of my church. Me, no I cannot sin anymore, it must be demonic.
We always want to attribute that which causes a rift between the LORD and myself, as demonic. Unfortunately it is not what the Bible declares. “For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:11-20)
This scripture tells us the difference between what is right and what is wrong. The first point Isaiah makes is that we shouldn’t always believe everything we are told. No, do not fear what they fear, but fear the LORD. “and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.”
But why do we have to fear Him? We are told that He is love. Is that what you were told? He is also the one that gives both life and death. In today’s life we have forgotten how enormous a God He really is. We treat Him as something we can play with. Something we can switch on when needed, and then put away when not needed.
Let us look at a number of examples we find in the Bible. “And Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of the congregation. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment. And they fell upon their faces. And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun. And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed. Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah.” (Numbers 16:43-49)
When we act incorrectly, or as the Bible puts it, when we sin, either forgiveness but be gotten for it or it has to be requited. The Bible teaches that blood must flow to receive forgiveness. This Jesus came to do, and that is why forgiveness must be asked for in His name in order for His blood to be reckoned for the forgiveness of sins. This is what happened in this scripture. Even though Aaron got forgiveness for the Israelites, fourteen thousand seven hundred people paid with their lives for it. They paid for this sin with their lives.
Another example is from Joshua. “And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:” (Joshua 7:19-20)
What was the reaction to this? “And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.” (Joshua 7:24-25)
This is what happens when we sin. Maybe that is why we want to give the credit to the devil when we sin. Maybe I am too afraid to face the wrath of the LORD. But unfortunately, if it looks like sin, smells like sin, feels like sin, or tastes like sin, the chances are that it is sin, unless I can blame it on the devil. That is why we find people chasing away demons with names like rebellion, greed, fear, fornication, and all sorts of sins. All because we do not want to admit that we have sinned.
“And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” This is what Jesus meant when He told the disciples to take up their cross daily, and to follow Him. I have to know that I will be given choices everyday to sin or not to sin. What are you going to decide?
We are all told to accept Jesus as our Saviour, but once this is done, we can continue with our sinful life. That is not what the LORD wants. He wants that I will turn away from sin, and to be freed from my sinful life. What does Isaiah declare? “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.” He wants us to live an exemplary life, and for people to see that we are His disciples.
What do we have to teach then? “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20) If we do not call sin a sin, and do not live as a testimony to the LORD, then we are a people who do not know what is happening. Then we cannot bear His light. I know we all want to attribute sin to the devil, but the Bible does not give us any right to do it. No, we have to call sin, sin. Only then can we receive forgiveness, and live in victory.
But Jesus declared that we would drive demons from people in His name? Absolutely. But then I have to be able to distinguish between sin and the works of demons. Let us look at an example in the Bible again.
“And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.” (Mark 5:2-5) This person had a problem. But Jesus freed him. It is unfortunately one of the few examples we find in Scriptures that describes how someone reacted that was demon possessed. In most other cases we are only told that people were freed from demons.
How did they know that these people were possessed by demons? Probably the same way we should know. We have to receive and develop the gift of discernment. We must be able to discern between spirits. If someone starts walking up a wall, or starts doing other so-called wonders, like divining for water, or things that have nothing to do with serving others, the origin of this is most probably demonic, and such a person must be set free.
What about heredity illnesses and other bindings? If someone in your family suffers from a heredity disease, or maybe is caught in poverty for generations, it is possible that it may be caused by a binding or unforgiven sin. Let us take an example. Lets say John suffers from asthma, as did his dad and his grandfather and so on. The cause of this is probably sin, as we know that sickness is caused by sin. What do we have to do? John will have to stand in the gap and ask for forgiveness of these sins. If he does not know what is was, then ask the LORD, and He will show you. This way John will be cured of asthma, and none of his descendants will get it.
What about things like poverty? That is most probably due to a curse that someone has uttered over a family. It could even have been done generations ago. That curse has to be declared null and void, but only if forgiveness for the original reason has been asked for. It could also be as a result of the person not understanding the new covenant. According to the new covenant, we become His responsibility, as the LORD will be our Father. Any real father will ensure that his children have food to eat, and clothes to wear. The same with our heavenly Father. Ask Him to supply you your every need as a result of standing in a covenant relationship with Him, and He will. This He will do if you are obedient to Him and the requirements of His covenant. Always remember Hebrews 13 verse 5: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Don’t expect that He must give you a new house or some other asset that you covet.
What now if people still want to chase demons from me? Ask them first if you could ask for forgiveness of the sin causing the current situation. If they persist, ask them to submit to Jesus, to proclaim Him, and not to proclaim Satan. It might sound very hard on them, but unfortunately I know of people who would even try to change your personality, as everything they see, are demons. To them, the following scripture has become a reality in their lives: “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” (2 Peter 2:19)
So, to conclude. There is sin, and there are demons. But we need the gift of discerning of spirits to be able to know which is which.