Jesus ministry had three major components (Luke 4:14-5:26): Teaching, healing and setting people free from spiritual bondage. Jesus confronted demonic powers and freed people from their influence (Luke 4:31-37, 41). The early church carried on the ministry of Jesus as the apostles focused on these same three areas of ministry (Acts 5:12-16). We should do the same – go about doing good, teaching, healing, and helping people find freedom from the work of the enemy. The result will be many people being set free and added to the kingdom of God. Christians cannot be “demon possessed”, as God owns us. However, demons can influence Christians both in the form of various attacks (oppression, affliction, torment, etc) and if we give them a “foothold” through various access points (see Eph.4:26-27). Paul tells us not to give place to the devil, which means it’s obviously possible. If we give place to the devil, we can give demonic spirits the opportunity to have a negative influence on aspects of our lives. At times people have to be loosed or set free from this kind of demonic involvement.
Four Possible “Access Points” for Demonic Influence:
1. Lack of Forgiveness - Hurts or unhealed wounds from the past that may come from things such as abuse, rejection and unresolved conflicts. Unless we forgive those who have hurt us, we can open ourselves up to spiritual “torment” (Mt.18:34-35; Eph.4:27).
2. Involvement in the Occult - Involvement in things like the occult and false religion can open us up to the influence of the evil one and therefore need to be renounced (Deut.18:9-14; Acts 19:18-20).
3. Negative Generational Influences - The affect of sins from previous generations can influence us if they are not renounced (Ex.20:5-6; Neh.1:6; John 9:2; 2 Cor.5:17). This does not take away personal responsibility and we can begin a new godly generation through appropriating the work of Jesus on the cross.
4. Unrepentant Sin - Unless we confess and turn from our sin (“repent”), it can give the enemy an opportunity to take advantage of us (Eph.2:1-2; Prov.28:13; Luke 22:3; Acts 5:1-6; 1 John 1:9-10).
Thankfully, full victory over every work of the enemy is available to us in Christ (Jas.4:7; Rom.16:20; 1 Pet.5:8-9; 1 John 4:4). Jesus Christ came to set us free from every chain and bondage (Luke 4:16-21; John 3:32, 36; 2Cor.3:17; Acts 10:38).Discussion Questions:
1. Do you think there is too little emphasis on the devil and the demonic today or too much?
2. Do you know of anyone that has been influenced by demons?
3. Paul warns us not to give the devil a “foothold” (Eph.4:27). Discuss the four possible “access points” to the enemy shared in this message and ask of any others, people may think of.
4. Mark shared that demons are like flies in that they’re attracted to wounds and garbage. Instead of just swatting at the flies and causing quite a commotion, it is wiser and more effective to help bring healing to the wound and to remove any garbage that may be attracting them. Dealing with symptoms without getting to the root cause will not be helpful. Spend some time discussing this “word picture” and the balanced approach CityLife Church seeks to adopt in this area of ministry. The objective here is to help people see ‘deliverance’ not as an isolated or stand-alone ministry that is the cure-all for everything, but part of a wider approach to ministering wholeness to people’s lives.
5. Attached are the prayers that we said publicly as a congregation. Discuss them and maybe have some time praying over them again and applying personally as appropriate. You may want to have some prayer and ministry time in your LifeGroup. The objective is to deal with anything in our lives that may be hindering our walk with God and thereby give no opportunity for the devil to negatively influence us (John 10:10). Obviously, this must be an ongoing action and not just a one-off even (read Eph.6:10-18; 2Cor.2:11).Prayers of Freedom
Salvation – “Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me so much that you sent Jesus to die for my sin. Please forgive me for everything I have done wrong. Fill me with your Spirit, Make me your child. I will live for you. I will serve you all the days of my life. And when my life is over, I know I will spend eternity with you. Amen.”
Forgiveness – “Father God, I admit that other people have hurt me through their words and actions. Today I choose to let go of all anger, bitterness and resentment. Thank you for forgiving me. By an act of my will, I now choose to forgive those who have hurt or offended me and I let go of any desire to hurt them back. Help me to show them the love and mercy you have shown me. Amen.”
The Occult – “Heavenly Father, I renounce all involvement in the occult, in various cults or in false religion. I renounce any group, practice or belief that does not glorify Jesus. I confess Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. I claim the release and freedom promised by Jesus Christ. The past is dealt with. My future is assured. Today, I will enjoy the abundant life that is available to me in Christ. Thank you for your righteousness, your peace and your joy. Amen.”
Negative Generational Influences – “Father God, I confess and renounce every sin that my parents or my ancestors may have committed which has influenced my life, and I ask for forgiveness and cleansing. In the name of Jesus I break every curse or sinful tendency that may have been passed on to me from my family or previous generations. I am now ‘in Christ’ and I have begun a new generation. I thank you that Jesus took every curse for me on the cross of Calvary. He died and then rose again so that I might be completely set free. Amen.”
Unrepentant Sin – “Heavenly Father, I repent of every sin, wrong action or attitude. Thank you that every sin is completely forgiven and thoroughly cleansed by the blood of Jesus. I now choose to forgive myself for the things you have forgiven me for. I turn from my sin. Give me discernment to recognise temptation when it comes and the strength to resist it. I now declare that Satan has no foothold in my life. I am free in Christ! Help me to live in that freedom. Amen.”