Charles Spurgeon (d. 1892), known as the “Prince of Preachers,” pastored Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England for 38 years. As a master communicator, Spurgeon told many modern day parables. One of his parables was about a tyrant and a blacksmith. It went like this:
There was once a tyrant who ordered one of his subjects into his presence, and ordered him to make a chain. The poor blacksmith—that was his occupation—had to go to work and forge the chain. When it was done he brought it into the presence of the tyrant, and he was ordered to take it away and make it twice the length. He brought it again to the tyrant, and again he was ordered to double it. Back he came when he had obeyed the order, and the tyrant looked at it, and then commanded the servants to bind the man hand and foot with the chain he had made and cast him into prison.
Pastor Spurgeon would tell this story and then say, “This is what the devil does with man. He makes them forge their own chain, and then binds them hand and foot with it, and casts them into outer darkness.”
The Demonized Man of Gerasene
Immediately after Jesus rebuked a diabolical storm (Luke 8:22-25), He encountered a demonized man in the “region of the Gerasenes” (Luke 8:26). No background is given about this man. There is no hint as to what had happened to cause him to be possessed. We are only told that “For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs” (Luke 8:27). This man was homeless, clothes less, and probably friendless. His only companions were the bones underground and the voices in his head.
Luke writes, “When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, ‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!’” (Luke 8:28) The man really wasn’t the one speaking to Jesus. Rather, it was the demon inside the man. We know this because Luke continues, “For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places” (Luke 8:29). The body was the body of the man, but the voice was something more sinister.
Years ago I was with a popular youth speaker/evangelist at his radio studio in downtown Columbia, Tennessee. Every week this guy hosted a call in radio show that dealt with issues facing teenagers. No one over 21 years of age was allowed to call the show. On this particular evening the topic was suicide. One girl called in who was contemplating ending her life. My friend was lovingly talking to her when he said something about Jesus. (Remember, I was in the room with him while this was happening.) At the mention of Jesus’ name, a horrifying voice replaced the girl’s voice and started hurling vulgar insults toward my friend. My friend, immediately broke to a commercial, but during the commercial break continued talking to the voice on the line. He was rebuking the voice in the name of Jesus and commanded it to leave. It did, and then the voice of the girl came back on the line. She said she was alone and had no memory of what had just happened. She simply said she had blacked out for a moment. I think this is what was going on with the man in this story. He had blacked out and the demon had taken over.
Luke continues, “Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’” (Luke 8:30). In my experience, I have found this an important question to ask. If a person can name the spirit tormenting them, that’s a good sign the spirit is real and it is more than mental illness. Also, if you can name the evil spirit, you can rebuke the evil spirit.
“‘Legion,’ he replied, because many demons had gone into him” (Luke 8:30). This is important as well. A “legion” was a unit of 3,000 to 6,000 men in the ancient Roman army. There were thousands of demons tormenting this pitiful man! In a few moments I am going to go over a process of deliverance I have used with several people. Jesus is going to take care of all the evil spirits tormenting this man at one time. Often, in my experience, it takes several times and several prayers for a person to be completely delivered.
The story continues, “And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss” (Luke 8:31). Satan and his demons know where they are eventually headed. They know who Jesus is, they know what He has come to do, and they know there is nothing they can do about it. Remember, Jesus promised, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18, English Standard Version).
“A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission” (notice the authority of Jesus over the evil spirits). “When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. When those tending the pigs saw what had happened (their livelihood had disappeared), they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left” (Luke 8:32-37). This is a typical response. Often, when Jesus shows up and demonstrates His power, instead of being drawn to Him, people are afraid of Him and want nothing to do with Him. Prepare yourself. When you get serious about following Jesus, you will lose some of your former friends.
“The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him…” (Luke 8:38). I am sure the man was overcome with gratitude for Jesus and didn’t want to stay around people who had avoided him for many years. “But Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him” (Luke 8:38-39). As difficult as it may be, your most important mission field, and the place you will have your greatest influence, is at home, among your family and friends.
You may think this story is extreme. You may think things like this don’t happen anymore. Well, it may be a little extreme, but it still does happen and everyday we are surrounded by demonic activity. Before I explain, let me make one thing clear: Satan (and demons) are not the exact opposite of God! God created Satan. In fact, the Bible teaches us that his original name was Lucifer and he was the greatest of all God’s creation and the highest ranking angel (Isaiah 14:12-15). But he wanted to be God and so he rebelled against God and convinced one third of all the angels to rebel with him. When his coup failed, God threw Lucifer and his followers out of heaven. He is now the “prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; and 2 Corinthians 4:4). While Satan is powerful and while he controls the values and philosophies of this age (Colossians 2:8) and while his influence if felt everywhere, he is not omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), or omnipresent (all-everywhere). There is no need to fear him nor his demons.
As a follower of Jesus we are aliens in a strange land. This world is not our home. We live behind enemy lines. As such, every day we are confronted with demonic activity. The only difference is the level of that activity. Demonic activity can be described as being somewhere, at all times, along a spectrum of intensity. At one end of the spectrum is demonic activity (the lowest level). At the other end of the spectrum is demonic possession (the highest level). In between the two extremes is demonic influence and demonic oppression (see diagram below). Again, this is a daily battle.
Demonic activity (the lowest level) is mostly seen in our culture. The Bible says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces, of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8). You can see, and hear, demonic activity through the music and movies and websites that our culture likes. You see it in our confusion about sexual identity and which restroom a person should use. You can see it when abortions are used as a form of birth control. You see it in our love of violence and war and in our hatred and bitterness toward those who are different from us. You see it in beheadings over seas and mass shootings at home.
Demonic activity is all around us and, even as followers of Jesus, it affects us. However, while demonic activity does affect us, it doesn’t have to influence us. While you cannot keep birds from flying over your head, you can keep them from building a nest in your hair. In other words, while we cannot stop evil from happening, we can choose whether or not to participate in the evil. We can change the channel. We can turn off the radio. We can block that website. We can speak out against injustice. We can love. We can forgive. We can pray. We have been called to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). While salt cannot cure corruption it can keep it from spreading. Instead of cursing the darkness, we can light a candle.
If we don’t stand guard against the demonic activity all around us, and if we let it influence us, it can lead to demonic oppression. This is why James tells us to “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Oppression can start with temptations, and continue as we live to satisfy our physical desires instead of living by the Spirit. We open the door to oppression through drug and alcohol abuse and pornography and dabbling in the occult through things like fortune telling, Ouija boards, and horoscopes. These things may seem innocent, but they can lead to oppression. Sometimes, demonic oppression can be the result of things that are not the person’s fault. For example, being sexually abused as a child, or growing up in a family where drugs and alcohol were abused, or where there was occult activities taking place. Being exposed to those things can lead to demonic oppression.
On the extreme, far side of the spectrum, is demonic possession. This is what was going on with the demonized man of Gerasene. Possession is when an evil spirit actually takes over a person’s life. Since possession involves ownership, a follower of Jesus cannot be possessed because Jesus has purchased your life with His blood. However, a believer can be oppressed and tormented by evil spirits. Thus, the difference between oppression and possession is not that great. (See diagram below.)
The good news is Jesus has come to set us free. Jesus proclaimed He came “to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18). Jesus can set us free from from demonic activity, demonic influence, demonic oppression, and/or demonic possession. “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4, King James Version).
Jesus set the demoniac free and placed him in his right mind. He can do the same thing for you. He wants to do the same thing for you. How? Let me share with you something I have learned and shared with several people over the past few years. (See diagram below)
The diagram represents the property of your life. Once you place your faith in Jesus Christ, He takes over the deed to your life. Your property (life) now belongs to Him. Jesus purchased your life with His own blood. His death, burial, and resurrection was a legal, binding agreement. This transaction has been paid in full. Your life is now lived in Him (Romans 14:8).
However, on your property are squatters. These squatters may have set up camp before Jesus purchased you, but now they are trespassers. These squatters are evil spirits that are unlawfully occupying space on your Christ purchased property. They have no rights to be on your land. These squatters are called “strongholds.”
Ask Jesus for discernment to name these squatters. Then, in the name of Jesus, take authority of these strongholds (or encampments) and kick them off your property. How? By saying a simple prayer like this: “I am a child of God. Jesus has purchased my life. In the name of Jesus I take authority over the spirit of lust in my life and command it to leave. In the name of Jesus I take authority over the spirit of addiction in my life and command it to leave. In the name of Jesus I take authority over the spirit of anger…of fear…of worry…of depression…of anxiety…of greed…etc., etc., etc.,” Name each of the squatters, and rebuke each of them in Jesus’ name.
Once the trespassing spirits are gone, you have to check the perimeter of your property to make sure they cannot get back in. You have to mend the fences and close the gates that let them in. If you do not do this, the trespassers will return with more trespassers.
Furthermore, on your property is a house (see diagram below). This house is a three-story generational dwelling place. The first floor represents your life. Some strongholds have been formed by you. The second floor represents your parent’s life. Other strongholds were formed by your parents. The third floor, the attic, represents your grandparents’ life. Some strongholds were formed generations ago. Jesus has broken all generational curses. You are in no way held accountable for the sins of your parents or grandparents or great-grandparents. However, there could be trespassing spirits upstairs, or in the attic. They may have been living there, rent free, for generations. In the name of Jesus, name those spirits, (those ancestral strongholds), and take authority over them and command them to leave. They have no rights to be in your house or on your property. And then, lock the doors!
In his book Teaching the Elephant to Dance, James Belasco describes how trainers shackle young elephants with heavy chains to deeply embedded stakes. In that way the elephant learns to stay in its place. Older, powerful elephants never try to leave—even though they have the strength to pull the stake and walk away. Their conditioning has limited their movements. With only a small metal bracelet around their foot attached to nothing, they stand in place. They are free but they don’t know they are free and so they live as if they are not free.
I think those elephants illustrate many Christians. We have been shackled by sin or by addictions or by our past or by a host of other things, for so long, that even though we are now free to run and dance, we bind ourselves by things that are no longer there. In Christ, we have been set free! Nothing should keep us in bondage. In Christ, all tormenting spirits have to flee!
I know what I have shared is a lot to take in. I know I have probably confused some. I know I still have a lot to learn about deliverance and what it means to be truly set free. However, there is one thing I want to be very clear about: In Jesus Christ there is hope! Desmond Tutu defined hope as “being able to see there is light despite all the darkness.” Jesus Christ offers hope, regardless of the situation, regardless of the sin, and regardless of how you feel about yourself. Jesus lived, died, and rose again to set you free. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
 From my personal notes.
 The city of Gadarenes (gad-uh-REENZ) was on the northeast side of the Sea of Galilee in the province controlled by Philip, the brother of Herod Antipas. The citizens of Gadarenes where known as “Gerasenes.” Most “Gerasenes,” including the demonized man, were Gentiles.
 Parenthesis added for explanation and clarification.
 Parenthesis added for explanation and clarification.