My last blog post talked about the structure of the spiritual world. One of the primary things that I think is important about the structure of the spiritual world is that God is on the top. He has authority over all other beings. We, as Christians, have authority as well through being seated with Christ. We will talk more about what it means to have authority in the next blog post, but I wanted to answer another question first. That is, how do demons become involved in someone’s life?
Since God is sovereign, demons can only go where God gives them permission to be. They are given permission in two ways. Sometimes God gives permission directly. We can see clearly from the book of Job that God does occasionally give permission for Satan to work in someone’s life. In this case, God gave Satan permission to do some pretty terrible things in Job’s life. However, note the fact that Satan could do no more than what God allowed him to do. He could not touch Job’s body until God allowed it, and he could not touch Job’s life (Job 1:12, Job 2:6).
God also allows humans to give permission to demons. This means that we are able to give permission to demons to work in our lives, and this is done through sin. Anytime we are involved in sin, we are actively shutting God out of that particular area of our lives, and opening that area of our lives to the devil. The Bible calls this “giving the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27).
We may also give the devil a foothold in our lives by believing the lies that he speaks to us. Satan is called “the Father of Lies” in the Bible (John 8:44), and starting with Eve, one of his primary tactics is to lie to us and get us to believe things that are not true about God and ourselves. Satan tells us that we are not worthy of God’s love, that we can never be forgiven, that we cannot be satisfied without revenge, and many other things. Hearing those lies is not a sin, but if we take them in and believe them, we are giving Satan reign in part of our thinking. Instead we must fight these lies with the truth. This is part of taking our thoughts captive, as mentioned in 2 Corinthians 10:5.
A much more serious way that we give demons permission to be in our lives is through the occult. If we are directly engaging with the devil, then of course we are giving him permission to enter into our lives. 1 Corinthians 10:20-22 tells us that this is something that even Christians have to be aware of.
It is also possible for other people to give demons permission to be in our lives. Sometimes a demon has been given permission within a family, region, or institution. These demons may attack us not as a result of our own sin, but as a result of the permission that someone else has given them. That does not, however, mean that we are powerless. We have authority through Christ to protect ourselves. We will talk more about the extent of this authority in another blog post, but I do want you to be assured that you are not powerless against spiritual attacks caused by other people. The same is true of curses. One person can curse another, or send a demon to attack another, but we must remember that through Christ we have the authority to revoke the permission of a demon which has been sent by someone else to attack us.
When we are fighting spiritual battles, the very first thing that we must do is to revoke the permission that has been given to these spiritual forces of evil. Of course, if the permission was given directly by God, as in the case of Job, we will not be able to revoke the permission, but must trust God as Job struggled through. However, if the permission comes from our own sin, we must cancel the permission by confessing our sins to God and turning from that sin. Confession and repentance are absolutely essential to winning spiritual battles. It is not enough to simply confess, we must also turn from sin and allow God back into those parts of our lives that we have been holding from Him. Remember, God is always waiting for us to welcome us back when we turn from our sin and come to Him!
In summary, demons can only go where they are given permission to go because of God’s sovereign authority over the world. They are given permission through God himself, though our own sin, or through the work of other people. We can revoke the permission we have given them by confessing and turning from our sin, and through our authority in Christ. Let’s praise God for His sovereignty over the spiritual forces of this world, and thank Him that we can receive protection as His children!