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"For we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not of ourselves."

How Christians Cast Out Demons Today

Book: How Christians Cast Out Demons Today, by Kent Philpott

by Kent Allan Philpott

Chapter 5:

"How people are indwelt by demons"

It is a mystery how people are indwelt by demons, since Scripture is not definite on the subject. The following is based primarily on personal experience.

During the Jesus Movement, many Christians across the country were engaged in the casting out of demons, which we normally termed “deliverance ministry.” This ministry became a common topic of conversation. There were those who had a position that casting out of demons was something that belonged strictly to the days of the early Church, and others avoided the ministry all together, believing that it is not possible for Christians to have demons. Many of us who engaged in deliverance ministry compared notes and found a surprising uniformity of experiences. A common understanding of casting out of demons emerged, some of which I yet embrace, and some of which I now reject. The common understanding I appeal to now is not science, and probably cannot be tested to meet scientific criteria. 

My experience leads me to point to occult practices, mindlessness (as in trance states), and certain religious practices, especially involvement with idols, as the chief means by which people deliberately or inadvertently open themselves up to indwelling spirits.

The occult

Occult practices may be broken down into three categories: fortune telling, magic (which would include sorcery and witchcraft), and spiritualism (or spiritism). Fortune telling may have many faces, among which are astrology, palm reading, the consulting of psychics who claim to know the future, interpretation of omens, reading the tarot, manipulating a rod and pendulum, crystal gazing, psychometry, playing the ouija board, and many other forms of divination. The central dynamic is a desire to know the future and therefore acquire power.

Magic also has many faces. It may be divided into white, neutral or natural, and black magic. At the end of the spectrum is Satan worship. Magic is an attempt to manipulate gods, celestial beings, guide spirits, ascended masters, forces, energies, angels, demons, and so on, to do ones bidding. The healing or therapeutic touch is a form of magic built on Hindu concepts of energy flow and chakras, which is quite popular today. Periodically, forms of magic will actually enter a culture’s mainstream, and few there are who recognize the fundamental magical principles behind them.

Spiritualism’s must common form is the séance, or necromancy, which is the attempt to contact the dead. The medium or psychic goes into a trance, becoming, as is supposed, a conduit for a spirit who communicates messages.

The Scripture does give a rather comprehensive list of occult practices:

“When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a wizard or a necromancer, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do this (Deuteronomy 18:9-14).

Additionally, in the Old Testament there are other references to occult practices. In these passages the King James Version of the Bible used the phrase “familiar spirit(s)” to describe mediums, fortune tellers, and magicians: Leviticus 19:31, 20:6, 20:27; 1 Samuel 28:3-9; 2 Kings 21:6, 23:24; 1 Chronicles 10:13; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Isaiah 8:19, 19:3, and 29:4. The origin of “familiar spirits” is obscure, but it may have been meant to convey the idea that the mediums and fortune tellers knew the identity of the spirit indwelling them, or that the spirit presented itself as the presence of a deceased family member.  

The occult is real — that is, it is not entirely smoke and mirrors. Those who have involved themselves in these areas often find that they are in touch with entities or beings who are indeed supernatural. It is quite convincing; and unless someone understands that, however real and powerful, even helpful, these practices are, they are nevertheless unholy and dangerous.

My view then is that by participating in activities that are empowered by the demonic, a person enters, however unwittingly, into Satan’s sphere and is vulnerable to invasion.

Jesus promised that where two or three gather in His name, or because of Him, He is present. The exact counterfeit exists in the occult world. When people engage in Satan’s religion, then he is present as well. In addition, the counterfeit extends even further. Upon conversion, a person is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God and becomes a temple of the Spirit. The indwelling of a person by an unholy spirit is the counterfeit, evil opposite of the working of the Holy Spirit. And every spiritual gift, as listed in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, has its demonic counterfeit.

Often those who engage in occult practices actually seek to be indwelt by guide spirits, angels, energies, celestial beings, and so on, and they are indwelt, but that which indwells is a demon.


Mindlessness means a deliberate attempt to empty the mind of all conscious thought. This is a hallmark of some religions, particularly forms of Buddhism and Hinduism. Meditation, where the goal is to empty the mind and achieve peace, centeredness, spiritual balance, absence of suffering or passion, oneness with the universe, and so on, exposes the mind and body to invasion by spirits who, seeing the normal protective walls of the mind taken down, come in and fill the empty space. Despite its origins in the above religions, these practices are becoming ever more popular in mainstream western cultures.

Though not entirely to the point, a story Jesus told bears some weight on this issue:

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation (Matthew 12:43-45).

The empty mind, the mind in trance state, or the mind numbed by extended periods of chanting designed to achieve a kind of mindlessness or cessation of conscious thought, exposes one to the demonic.

Let it be noted that biblical prayer and meditation is conscious and focused on God Himself or His word or His work. It is far from mindlessness or blanking out of the mind.

The demon behind the idol

There is yet a third way that my experience has shown me that demons will indwell people: by sacrificing to or making offerings to idols.

Preceding the Jesus People Movement was the explosion of interest in eastern religious teachings. A typical practice of some of these was the making of sacrifices to images and idols representing the religion’s gods or to the likeness or picture of a chief or founding guru. Sometimes a mantra or other special name or word was given to a devotee at an initiation ceremony, which was tantamount to an invitation for the spirit of the guru, or the god, or some other spiritual entity, to come into the devotee. Once understood, some mantras were literally words of praise to a demon.

That was my experience. And yes, during those years it was not uncommon to cast out from a person a demon disguised as a guru. Paul, writing to a people who lived amongst idol worshippers, said, “flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14). He went on to explain himself:

What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons (1 Corinthians 10:19-20).

            When a demon entered the person, a profound spiritual experience might have occurred, which brought some consolation and exhilaration. But over time, as usual, the spiritual presence would turn ugly and begin a tormenting process. Oddly, some of these people would begin to trust in Christ as a result and seek to find relief. Some of them would find that there was relief and deliverance only in Jesus Christ.

Concluding remarks

Some writers will point to other avenues of invasion by demons, such as traumatic emotional experiences like fear, anger, or rage. Additionally, the use of drugs and other substances like psychedelics, including marijuana, may expose one to demons. Though this is not as clear as occult practices, it should not be ruled out. Anything that takes us substantially out of our mind has the potential for trouble. However, there does not appear to be any concern with the medical procedural use of anesthetics. This is a murky area, so probably the less said the better. It is not necessary to know how demonic invasion took place but rather how to know if they are present and, if so, how to cast them out.

A point to emphasize here is that demons will entertain, assist, please, comfort, and otherwise seem to benefit those whom they indwell. Demons will become even best friends with their host. The final intention of a demon is to separate forever the person it indwells from God. The demon will use whatever means necessary to achieve that goal. Suicide is the final solution; that is, the demon drives a person to suicide. This does not mean that every suicide is demonically inspired — no, not at all. However, once dead, a person’s eternal destiny is forever fixed.

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Read previous chapters of the book online:


Chapter 1: Jesus Casts Out Demons

Chapter 2: Jesus' Disciples Cast Out Demons

Chapter 3: Casting Out of Demons After the New Testament Era

Chapter 4: A Theology of the Demonic


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Last Update: 2013-08-12 16:41