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Engaging the spirits: 
An Adventist's Perspective on Fighting Spiritual Battles

by Yvon Caza

Chapter 3: Evil Spirits and Believers

Geographical Binding of Evil Spirits

Is such a notion Scriptural? Can we bind or keep the devil out of our churches and our country?84 Such a notion is not in the Scriptures. Evil angels are present at every gathering of the saints (Mt 13:19 par. Mk 4:15 par. Lk 8:12).85 Satan was dogging Christ’s footsteps continually during His earthly ministry.86 When Satan was there blinding the minds of the masses, why did Christ not rebuke, cast, and bind Satan out of there? It would have made his job a lot easier. Evidently, it was not within His right to do so. Nor is it ours. We are never asked to cast evil spirits out geographically but to prepare our hearts in consecration to God for the reception of His message,87 so that their influence has no effect upon us. At this time, God does not always remove the temptation but He will most certainly provide a way out. However, at the very end of time, the Lord will indeed destroy forever the devil and his angels.

Humans cannot bind Satan, only God can, for Satan "is a smart general, and therefore, no man can handle him. And for that very reason, God sent His Son into the world."88


Inheriting Demons From Our Ancestors?

Some people believe that it is necessary to renounce the sins of our ancestors and any curses which have been placed upon us. Appeal is made to Exodus 20:4-5 to imply that "familiar spirits can be passed on from one generation to the next if not renounced and your new spiritual heritage in Christ is not proclaimed. You are not guilty for the sin of any ancestor, but because of their sin, Satan has gained access to your family."89

Does Exodus 20:4-5 teach that demons can be passed down the family line? It simply doesn’t. "This notion of generational transference of demonic agents is quite simply a piece of occult theology"90 that has infiltrated popular spiritual warfare theology that focuses on casting out demons.

Nowhere in the Bible is there an example of a true believer who inherited demons from his ancestors. Nowhere in the Bible is there an example of a true believer who was ever invaded by demons because of former occult practices. Nowhere in the Bible is there an example of a true believer who was inhabited by demons because of a transfer. Nowhere does the New Testament instruct the church to deliver a believer in Christ from demons because of ancestral involvement, personal involvement, transferal, or any other reason. And nowhere does the Bible say a true believer ever needs or is to seek such a deliverance. Why? Because God provides both deliverance and divine protection in salvation.

The Apostle Paul expressed it in this way: "The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one" (2 Thes 3:3). In 2 Timothy 1:12 he echoed the same truth: "I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day." Paul was sustained by his intimate relationship with God. He personally knew the One in whom he placed his trust. What did he entrust to the Lord? His entire life. Everything! He knew God would guard his life to the day when Christ comes to reward His church. If you are a true believer, God will protect you in the same way.91    


What About Previous Occult Involvement and the Christian?

The Bible addresses this issue in numerous places. The cultures surrounding Israel were idolaters. Most Gentiles in the New Testament era were idolaters. The Bible clearly links idolatry with the worship of demons (Lev 17:7; Dt 32:17; Ps 106:36-37; 1 Cor 10:20). So the Scriptures say a great deal about how to view the occult and how to minister to people involved in it.

Take Acts 8, for instance, which focuses on the Samaritan Pentecost.

Acts 8:5-24 tells of Simon the magician who was an occult practitioner of the highest order, manifesting astonishing power. But when Simon heard the Gospel, he believed and was baptized. He had the typical reaction of amazement when he saw Philip casting out demons and healing. When Simon saw the power coming through Peter and John as they prayed for the Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit, he wanted the same power. He even offered money for it.

What does this passage imply for someone coming from an occult past. First, notice that Simon still operated in bondage to occult mentality. He expressed a lust for spiritual power, or a lust to control power, for personal gain. Simon was a professing believer, but sinful patterns of his occult past held him in bondage.

Second… Philip was casting out demons and healing, creating a tremendous stir (Acts 8:6-7, 13). If unclean spirits are slave-masters who inhabit the human heart to produce residual moral bondage in believers, we would expect Philip or the apostles to apply this method to Simon. If an ex-sorcerer, along with any convert out of an occult lifestyle, needs EMM [a casting out of evil spirits] done routinely, we would expect a dramatic vindication of the view that the occult leads to demon inhabitation and that effective ministry needs to bypass the human will to contact deeper, indwelling powers.

But third, notice Peter’s response to Simon’s request for power. Peter delivered one of the most stinging rebukes in all of Scripture, addressing Simon as a responsible moral being: "Your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart" (Acts 8:21-22). Simon’s heart was not right; it was his wickedness; he must repent and pray. Peter describes extreme bondage to sin and danger of damnation. Slavery to sin is a problem of the heart, not of aliens inhabiting the heart.

This passage undermines the presumption that occult involvement entails demonic inhabitation necessitating EMM [a casting out of evil spirits]. In fact we should remember that most converts to the Christian faith in the first century had occult, demon-worshipping, idolatrous backgrounds. The first Gentile converts turned from the outright dominion of Satan to God and were sanctified by faith in Jesus (Acts 26:18), not EMM [a casting out of evil spirits].

No doubt those involved in the occult have engaged in profound iniquity that may have lingering consequences. Residual patterns of evil— evil behaviors, false beliefs, self-serving motives, chaotic emotions, bizarre fantasies— may be strong. Temptations may arrive frequent and fierce, for Satan rages against his betrayers. Renewal of mind, purity of heart, and a lifestyle of love may come slowly. But there is no pattern of bondage to evil that necessitates some supplement to classic spiritual warfare. Occultists need repentance, not EMM [a casting out of evil spirits].92


84 Neil T. Anderson, Released From Bondage, p. 255-256; see also his The Bondage Breaker, Harvest House, 1993, p. 212.

85 E. G. White, Christ Object Lessons, p. 44.

86 E. G. White, 1888, p. 123-124.

87 E. G. White, ST 05-08-84. For further study on this, see L. & L. Rosenvold, The Battle for the Mind: Spiritual Warfare— False and True, 1987, Hope International.

88 E. G. White, Manuscript Releases, Vol. 9, p. 66.

 89 Neil T. Anderson, Released From Bondage, Step 7 of Steps to Freedom in Christ, p. 250-251; see also his The Bondage Breaker, p. 205-206.

90 David Powlison, Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare, Baker, 1995, p. 127.

91 John MacArthur, Jr., How To Meet the Enemy, 1992, Victor Book, p. 136.

92 David Powlison, Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare, Baker, 1995, p. 99-100.

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