Just as I was preparing for a much-needed night’s sleep, I received an unexpected (and somewhat unwelcome) phone call. Tempted to ignore the relentless ringing of my cell phone, I glanced at my phone to assess the call’s importance. Despite my lack of enthusiasm, I reached out, perhaps by impulse, and answered the call. I immediately recognized the caller’s voice. He was a friend and fellow Christian leader. I could tell by his tone that he knew his call was an imposition. He was sincerely apologetic but frantic and panicky.
“Hey can I tell you something please?” he asked timidly. Still trying to commit my mind to conversation, I answered, “Yes, sure.”
He explained, “Well, I’m here at the home of a friend. I was ministering to the family who lives here, and this lady started acting very strange. She appears to have a manifesting demon. I think she is demon-possessed.”
“What makes you say that?” I asked.
“Well, when I started to pray for her, she started screaming, saying weird things, and shaking. And she—or maybe the demon—is mocking me. What should I do?”
I pulled the phone away from my face so I could sigh without the caller hearing me. I was frustrated that he was calling me because he was a Spirit-filled believer. Had it been a new convert or an inexperienced believer who asked me that question, I would have been more understanding of his nervousness. Internally I was praying for the Lord to give me patience. I mustered all the kindness I could in that late hour of the night, and I gently said, “Well, brother, you should cast the demon out of her.”
He paused for a moment. “I can do that? Are you sure you don’t want to do it? We’d rather have you do it. Can you come over? Am I allowed to do that? I don’t need a special anointing for that or something? Won’t the demon get on me? What about everyone else here?”
His frantic questions didn’t leave me even a second’s opportunity to respond. I waited for him to calm down. “My brother,” I replied, “you can cast the demon out yourself. The same Holy Spirit who lives in me lives in you.”
There was another moment of pause. His tone was one of both excitement and concern as he replied, “OK. Thank you. … but are you sure?”
My tone tipped slightly toward irritated. “Yes, my friend. You can cast the demon out.”
After reiterating that point for about a minute more, I ended the call with my friend. Then I began to think about what had just occurred. I thought to myself: How is it possible that a fellow Christian leader doesn’t know how to cast out a demon?
Say what you will about my frustration, but Jesus Himself expressed this sort of aggravation toward His disciples when they were unable to cast out a demon of a little boy (Mark 9:19). I know that some demonic beings rank higher in power and are more difficult to deal with. But I was astonished that my friend didn’t even attempt to cast out that demon.
Most believers have the same state of mind my late-night caller had. He was living righteously. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was walking with the Lord. Yet he hesitated to confront the powers of darkness.
If one is living a spiritually compromised life, then hesitancy in the face of demonic activity is expected. But just as the compromising Christian can be too confident, so the battle-ready believer can be too doubtful. I don’t care what anyone says; the Bible tells us that “those who believe” the gospel message will be endued with the power to drive away demonic forces from enslaved souls.
“He said to them, “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. But he who does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues” - Mark 16:15–17, MEV
Who will the signs follow? He who believes! He who believes what? He who believes the gospel message preached by the disciples of Christ. The moment you believed is the very moment you received authority over demonic forces.
Dear reader, you don’t need to be a “demon expert” to be a threat to hell. Should you know the dynamics of spiritual warfare and demonic activity? Absolutely. But how much more do you really think you need to learn before you begin to exercise your authority over them? The ability to cast out demons and destroy the works of hell is not necessarily about how much you know about demons; it’s about how much demons know about Christ in you.
While the “inexperienced” believer may not always be able to discern the difference between a genuine demonic manifestation and emotional hype, that individual still has the ability to cast out demons. Might the one who is unfamiliar with casting out demons do some foolish things? Of course. But his ability to cast out demons is still there.
For example, I’ve heard of some believers who, while trying to perform deliverance, smack the demon-possessed individual in the face with a Bible. The enthusiasm is good, but the actual act of hitting a person in the face is not. We know that while there is power in the Word of God, there is no actual power in a book’s leather, paper or ink. We also know that we “wrestle not” against the flesh or against people themselves. So smacking the flesh with a leather-bound book serves no actual spiritual purpose. You may even be able to expel a demon while using such silly methods, but the exorcism would have to succeed despite the foolishness, not because of it.
As believers grow, they will move beyond hype, bizarre methods, unhealthy fear of demons and superstitious thinking. But regardless of any need for growth, every Spirit-filled believer has the power to cast out demons. How effectively they exercise that authority depends upon their spiritual maturity.
My caution here would be to tell you that if you are compromising in sin, demonic beings will be able to resist your commands. They may even retaliate against your attempts to expel them. However, I am compelled to remind you that there are limitations to a demon’s attacks on a believer.
The Believer’s State of Being
Authority flows from the top down, so you need to be positioned under authority in order to exercise authority. For example, a police officer has authority to enforce certain laws. He can command you to do many things, but the moment he commands something outside the scope of what the law allows, he loses legal authority to give orders. An employer has the authority to make demands of his employees, but if that employer steps into the home of one of his employees, he loses the right to make certain demands.
Government leaders have the authority to enact laws upon their citizens, but the moment those leaders step foot outside sovereign soil, they lack the authority to command the people of that different country. If you want spiritual authority, then you need to remain in your spiritual place of authority. Once you step out of the Spirit, you step outside your jurisdiction.
Speaking analogously, a police officer with a California badge can’t enforce the laws of Florida. A police officer with a U.S. badge cannot enforce American laws in the country of Japan. It doesn’t matter if you have a badge if that badge isn’t used in your place of influence. Jurisdiction is the key to having authority.
In the spiritual realm for the believer jurisdiction isn’t found in a physical place—it’s found in a state of being. The believer has jurisdiction in the state of righteousness, in the state of peace, in the state of faith and so on. When you live a lifestyle of compromise (the state of unrighteousness), you step out of the state in which you have dominion. You don’t lose your badge (your authority), but you do leave the state where that badge works.
How can you command a spirit of perversion to leave when you’re in the state of perversion? How can you rebuke a spirit of fear when you live in the state of fear? When you leave your jurisdiction, it’s not that you don’t have authority; it’s that you’re walking in the wrong state.
When you walk in holiness, everywhere you go is God’s dominion—and when you live in dominion, your authority works to its fullest. Simply put, this dominion, this full realization of authority, is found in the state of submission to the Lord. Our authority is fully realized in submission to God. And that submission to God precedes our ability to resist the enemy.
”Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” - James 4:7, MEV
God’s authority upon you will always work when you’re living in the right state of being. This is why you can have authority everywhere you go: Dominion goes with you! Your authority over fear works in the jurisdiction of faith. Your authority over demonic beings works in the jurisdiction of righteous living, and so on. The key is in remaining in the right jurisdiction.