You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (Acts 10:38)
Most Evangelical Christians do not realize that they live in the same world as Jesus did. I’m not talking about culture, institutions, or ethnicity here. I’m talking about the cosmic order of things.
There is only one world. The world of Jesus is the world we live in. People are still oppressed by evil spirits, even to the point of sickness. And the demons do not recognize geographical or philosophical or political borders! In other words, just because your world view does not include evil spirits does not mean they are suddenly make-believe or somehow hedged out of your universe.
I read a statement of a pioneer Pentecostal preacher regarding the verse above. He said that this verse shows us that “all sickness is oppression from the devil.” I don’t agree with his assessment. The verse doesn’t actually even mention sickness (though it is implied). The problem in view is demonic oppression. Jesus very specifically came to overthrow the hard and oppressive control the devil seeks to gain over the lives of men and women.
All sickness is not caused by demonic oppression. Most sickness is purely natural in causes. But all demonic oppression makes people sick in some way or another: spiritually, emotionally, relationally, socially, or even physically sick. And Jesus is still healing those who are oppressed by the devil!
How can a Christian know whether he/she is oppressed by the devil? Though there are several biblical clues, the main fingerprints of demonic oppression are chronic harassing and condemning thoughts. Satan wants to hide the glorious work of the Cross from your conscious thoughts. He wants you to live as if your sins are still held against you. In the Bible He is called “the accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10). People who are chronically harassed by fears that they have “lost their salvation” are very likely experiencing demonic oppression. People harassed by deep and chronic thoughts and feelings of hopelessness and suicide are likely oppressed by the devil. The devil does not play fair and he despises all of God’s creation.
Oppression from the enemy almost always begins with a lie. The Bible says that we can overcome these “fiery darts of the devil” by taking up the “shield of faith” (Eph 6:16). No believer is immune from satan’s fiery darts. These are thoughts and accusations launched into your mind from from demonic sources without. And if we allow these darts to lodge in our thoughts, they can result in oppression. You don’t have to believe every thought that comes into your mind! And you certainly should never believe any thought that comes from the devil! Satan’s power to oppress you is almost solely based upon the foothold he can gain in your thoughts.
This is why “taking up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” is so important to maintaining your spiritual victory (see Eph 6:17). Even Jesus used the word of God to combat Satan’s lies (see Matthew 4:4). It’s ignorance or pride to think that you can win the spiritual battle for your thought life without filling your mind and mouth with God’s word. Too many Christians are passive about this. Somehow they think they can win in this battle without actually suiting up for conflict!
Lot’s of things have changed in our world over the last 2,000 years. But some things haven’t. There is still an unseen spiritual realm and an enemy of our souls. And there is still a Savior on the Throne in heaven who knows us each by name. He is interceding for us. He is still healing all those who are oppressed by the devil. And He is present now to help you – if you will call upon Him and lean upon the truths in His written word.
If you are under spiritual attack and are not being successful dealing with it alone, then get some support from the body of Christ. Call a mature Christian friend or pastor and openly share your struggles. Satan’s lies cannot long exist in the light! You may also be interested in reading a very helpful and practical book on the subject, The Bondage Breaker, by Dr. Neil T. Anderson.