I can’t breathe. My throat is constricted like hands grasped around my neck.
I can’t move. What’s holding me down?
I can’t see. Heavy darkness surrounds me.
I can’t speak. I’m yelling and nothing is coming out because the hands are too strong around my throat.
“In….the….name….of….Jesus…” I try to scream out but there’s no voice. I try again. Again. Silence. Suffocation.
“BRETT!” I try instead, forcing my arm to try and hit it him as I lie paralyzed in bed.
Finally after fighting, I feel him. He moves but rolls over.
Then I’m released. I sit up exhausted. Confused. I lie back down and fall asleep.
Yes, this happened to me one night last year. When I woke up in the morning, I asked Brett if he felt me grab him. He said no. I told a close friend of my experience and she said it was similar to what she experienced in her life from her past: demonic physical oppression.
The next night, Brett and I prayed over our bedroom asking God to remove any spiritual darkness and protect us. However, for whatever reason it happened to Brett. I woke up to him screaming, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!” over and over again, which released the demon’s hold on him. Prior to the oppression, Brett was dreaming about the calling God has given him to be a missionary who makes movies.
Some people may read this and be skeptical or think it was just a dream. Or wonder why we would be spiritually oppressed like this. It was real, and here is why. Let me start from the beginning.
Brett became very active on Facebook at the beginning of 2016 using it as an avenue to share the gospel and minister to people. Brett led a girl to Jesus, whose powerful transformation by the Spirit was a domino affect to leading others to accepting Jesus into their life as well. However, this new daughter of God had a horrific past of abuse, and specifically to this topic, demonic oppression. Let’s just say, Satan was not happy that he was losing more and more people from his grasp as they were found by the Savior. And if Satan can’t have our souls, he will try to ruin us in any way possible by distracting us from our mission on this earth and forgetting that he is the real enemy. He causes as much confusion and disunity among believers as he possible can to deter us from our calling and winning more souls for Jesus.
Facebook can be a great tool for Christians to use to share the gospel; however, more often than not Satan is in the background playing his games of destruction. Brett, this girl, and others were being attacked by satanists on Facebook. Yes, you can block and report, but it won’t stop Satan’s work. Then one February night, Brett was messaged by a satanist. Over the course of 2 days, Brett talked to him. He could feel the presence and weight of darkness through his computer screen. He responded with the only thing that has power over the darkness: the Word of God. The man was demon possessed at times throughout their conversations and the Word penetrated making him physically sick and blurring his vision, until Brett told him to cry out to God and ask if He was real. Immediately he was made well. Sadly, he still did not choose Jesus in fear of what his cult would do to him. He ended his conversation with Brett by telling him he failed his mission to distract Brett from serving God. Then the words that I try not to let haunt me, “Just know that the demons now know your name.”
Brett and my physical oppression is one evidence from this past year that the demons know our names. The satanist told Brett that since Satan and demons are not omnipresent like God, they do not know every Christian. They know only the ones who are a threat to their mission to keep souls from Jesus. This is not bragging rights; this is the reality that we are in war. This may be changing very soon, but here in America we have not been in war against other people for our faith. Yes, you may get criticized, rejected by a friend, unfriended on Facebook, laughed at, questioned, etc. However, unlike our brothers and sisters over seas, we are not getting tortured, shot, burned, beheaded. It may only be a matter of time, but at least right now, Brett and I are not being thrown in jail or threatened for being missionaries who make movies. No one is stopping us. Except….Satan and his demons.
The year of 2016 has been a year of waiting. God has made his mission for us known, yet like David, Joseph, and even Jesus, we must wait for His timing to live it out. And in the wait, Satan has been working behind the scenes trying to distract with sin, plant seeds of fears and insecurities that have grown to paralyzing mountains, discourage us from our calling, doubt who God really says He is and who we are in Christ, destroy relationships….all to hold us back from obeying God even in the wait.
Satan is the real enemy. Even for other believers who face persecution from people, Satan is still the enemy behind it all. This sounds pretty discouraging and even haunting, especially since our culture has its own ideas of the spiritual forces around us. My response can be to fear him and be intimidated by him. Honestly, that is has been my initial response and I’m still battling it. And I can tell you by experience, that’s exactly what he wants. It gives him more power; he knows my weaknesses and can shoot his flaming arrows right where my armor his down. He sets up camp in my territory and whispers that lie. That thought of doubt or insecurity. That tempting fruit of desire that if I don’t take captive it will lead to sin. He also likes to give me the club and I beat myself over and over with it while he sits back and enjoys the show. Many times I think I came up with the thought or lie, and because “there is a way that seems right to a man (Proverbs 16:25),” I don’t instantly shove it out. I easily think it could be truth. Where as if I focus that my enemy, the devil, who is prowling around like a lion looking to devour me (1 Peter 5:8), spoke that lie, doubt, tempting desire, it’s easy to fight back! To face him and chase him out of my territory. To speak the truth of God’s Word to shine the light which scatters the darkness (1 John 2:8).
Not only do I need to remember that Satan is the enemy, but that people are not the enemy. Even people who do not have the Spirit inside them are not the enemy. They have been blinded by Satan from the truth of Jesus Christ and his saving gift of grace that He offers them (2 Corinthians 4:4). I was once lost and blinded; yet in God’s grace I have been found and forgiven. This past year I have understood the grace of God more than ever before. And because of that, the Spirit has enabled me to show more grace to others and look at them differently, no matter who they are and what they have done. I have been living my life with fuzzy blinders over my eyes. Now, God’s grace, unconditional love, and forgiveness towards me overflows even more to others. Whether it’s someone from a completely different walk of life or someone who has sinned against me, they are never the enemy. I can love with open arms. I can be rejected and know that I’m still a daughter of the King and no one can change that. I can forgive completely when someone has hurt me.
Instead Satan wants division, arguing, unforgiveness towards one another. When we see people as the enemy, it is so easy to do this! Someone hurts us or someone we love, and we want to fight back and get revenge. We feel unloved or unwanted by someone who should love or want us, so we start to believe we are unloved and desperately try to find love in the wrong places. Or we stuff down pain from the past and put up a wall from those who do love us, causing bondage rather freedom. We fight over the meaning of a Scripture passage and churches are split into two. Our spouse sins and we add it to the list of wrongs, and even bring it up in a later argument. Our children are acting like little demons (can I get a raised hand!?) and we yell, become impatient, and frustrated that they are not obeying every word we say. We even can struggle to forgive ourselves for hurting the people we love.
And Satan loves it. He is the master of disguise. He is not the devil with the red suit and pitchfork. He’s beautiful; he even twisted our minds in our culture to think that beauty is to strive for and without it, you are not worthy. Another deception. So he is weaving himself unnoticed throughout our minds and our relationships, and without realizing it you are believing that you (beating myself with the club example) are the enemy, or your spouse, children, friend, coworker, annoying Facebooker who won’t shut up about the election, the persecutor, yes, even the ISIS leader who has been brainwashed by THE enemy.
My friend who is reading this, there is hope. Satan is a wimp. It doesn’t sound like it from what I wrote above. And as I said, I struggle with seeing him for who he really is: a punk with cheap parlor tricks as Brett tells me. But the only way I put him in his rightful place (um…hell), is to look to the One who is on the Throne. When I see Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, in His rightful place, everything changes. I remember that the Spirit of God lives in me! He’s not in a tabernacle where I go worship. He’s not here in flesh and bone like Jesus walked on the earth 2000 years ago. He is here with me. In me. And that blows my mind. That God the Creator, the powerful I AM would come live inside me. I have the same power to defeat Satan and my sin as Jesus had to raise from the dead! I do not live like this every moment of every day. What would my days look like if I did? Satan’s doubts, lies, deceptions, luring temptations would have no place in my mind.
Oh but if only it was easy. This is war. It’s a daily battle. Some days the struggle is so real and I feel so weak. I have sat in my shower crying out to God to take the battle away because I don’t want to fight anymore. I have 2 choices in that moment:
1. Allow Satan to stay in my territory, giving in to despair while focusing on my fears, doubts, insecurities, and temptations of sin. Which then paralyzes me and weakens my effectiveness in the mission God has called me on this earth. Causing me to miss out on receiving and giving blessings. Wondering through life without joy or peace.
2. Ask God to fight for me, to give me the strength I need when I am weak. Take his grace that is sufficient for this day (2 Corinthians 12:9). Give up control. Close my eyes and see Him as John did: “…like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” (Revelation 1:13-16) Then I stand up and be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that I am ready to take my stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:10-11)
The best part: we already know who wins the war. And it surely is not Satan. He will be thrown into the lake of fire for all eternity (Revelation 20:10). Meanwhile….
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:11-16)
This rider called Faithful and True is on my side. I have nothing to fear when I trust the Word of God. What about you? Do you see the war around you? Is the king of kings and lord of lords on your side? If so, are you allowing Satan to devour you or are you standing firm in the strength of the Word of God? Do you think the demons know your name?
The battle has been won. The victory is ours. Let’s live with this Truth in mind.