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The Lord Your Healer: 

Discover Him and Find His Healing Touch by Paul J. Bucknell

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The Bible Teaching Commentary on Genesis: The Book of Foundations

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Overcoming Anxiety: Finding Peace, Discovering God


Understanding the Dark World

Understanding How Demons Work

Paul J. Bucknell

Towards a Solution

It is apparent that we do not have a clear perception of the way the evil one works. This is very important for us to clarify. Here are a few proposals.

Firstly, we must eliminate the possessed or unpossessed categories.

These categories are simply not biblical nor helpful. We are not saying that the scriptures do not say that the evil one can enter a person. Clearly he can. "Satan entered Judas."

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Two difficulties arise when we persist in using 'possession' categories.

(1) When we accept only black and white categories, we have an unreal picture of what is happening. John discerned it and wanted God's people to be aware of it. The picture is not clear and thereful deceptive. We are not acknowledging the in-between levels of how the evil one can impact a person's life.

(2) The term 'possessed' gives us an incorrect perspective of a man's accountability. When we speak of a possessed man, we often would conclude that he is not responsible. But all non-Christians are responsible for their evil deeds, though they are all under the evil one's influence. In fact even a so-called 'possessed' man has times when he is in his clear mind.

Secondly, we need to start properly teaching how the evil one influences people.

If we think that only the extreme cases are under demonic influence, then we will not be open to how the evil one can work through other ways such as through hate, false teaching or impurity. Being 'under the influence' is much more clear and allows for various degrees of influence just as a person is under a certain degree of influence of alcohol.

All non-Christians are dominated by the evil one's desire but are differently and to different degrees influenced. Christians are freed by Christ from living by the old nature. That does not mean that they cannot fall to living by the flesh. They can and do. When they do, they become heavily influenced by the whispering of the demons. Demons work in conjunction with our evil desires. The more we tolerate these evil desires, the more we give the evil one a place to work from within our lives. The scripture below was written to Christians.

"BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity." (Ephesians 4:26-27)

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The word for opportunity can also be translated 'foothold', a place from which he can get in and do his dirty work. Attempts to cause us to fall are temptations. They can be considered demonic attacks (1 Corinthians 10:1-13).

What happens after one falls? Sins of idolatry, immorality, jealousy, bitterness, lack of integrity dominate a Christian's life. He can by God's grace repent at any moment, but if he holds onto these sins, darkness settles over his life. This darkness is associated with persuasion and lies from the demons themselves. Paul gets very specific when he says,

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12)

These demonic forces do not only attack but mean to subdue and deconstructively use sin in our lives to cause greater damage to the Head of the body and the church itself.1

Thirdly, we must be intensely concerned with delivering people from the influence of the evil one.

The wrong idea of 'possessed' leads to a misunderstanding that Satan doesn't bother people except by possessing them. They are not aware nor are they praying that God would deliver them from the evil one as Jesus instructed us.

If we see it as a process, then we can reverse that process and take back lost ground, step by step. Jesus said that the way to do this is through learning and implementing the truth in our lives.

sin and guilt

The assumption is that no one for long
can endure the onslaught of guilt.
He must either eliminate (confess) or hide it (cover up).


This is true for extreme or minor cases. Lies are the darkness in which we tolerate and even in delusion enjoy sins. I believe this is because we need to deal with our guilt. Either we confess and turn from it or we cover it up. A new warmth toward truth exposes the lies for what they are much as the sun melts ice. With the right heart we can respond rightly by confessing our sins and eliminate the guilt.

Without recognizing the evil one's influence in a Christian life, we are not able to rightly help them.


Accountability leads a person to deal with his sin.

Two popular diabolical schemes hide this sense of accountability in the church.

'Victim theology'

Devil/demon made me do it

Popular in counseling

Popular in churches

Put the blame on someone else!

They think the person is innocent. They tend to easily accept the victim's story and concur that the blame is elsewhere.

Put the blame on the evil one!

These people think that demons are equated with sins. They tend to believe the reason they sin is the demons rather than their willingness to sin.


Keep the sheep in the church. Care for them. If the pastor or elders refer the person to outside help, then unless there is a special relationship with the counselor, the person needing help is no longer accountable to the brothers and sisters in the church. It is more than likely they will end up finding a counselor that agrees with them.

Compel them to focus on the sin in their own lives. Outline steps to correcting their hearts, relationship with the Lord and with others. This will be a big first step in improving relationships.


Acknowledge the place of demons and their place in temptation and in keeping us in the darkness. Then tell them the way to deal with the problem is to "resist" them (James 4:7). The sins are theirs. They have grieved the Father. They must repent and follow the truth.


The church needs to step out of isolation from the hurt and wounded. We miss responding and ministering to them because we don't even see them.

Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted: (C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988

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