Peter gave us a strategy for discerning and defeating the darkness when he wrote, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (I Peter 5:6-9).
Peter identifies Satan in three ways: first, adversary. We have an enemy, and he doesn’t have flesh on. Our opponent is not the pastor or the principal or the pesky neighbor. To fight against people means losing big. Paul said, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood…” (Eph. 6:12). Unfortunately, our battle often starts and stops here. Second, devil (means “slanderer”). He boldly slandered God when talking brashly to Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:4,5). He slandered Job right to God’s face. Third, he is a lion who roams and roars. He doesn’t sit in a cave. He is out and about, making noise, stirring up fear, ready to attack people who drop their armor.
What do we look for to recognize the presence of demons? Signs of infiltration: compulsive behavior (inability to smile, to look at you, forced laugh), loss of personality (a crushed spirit, hopelessness, person is not really there), history of family lack of health (toxic parents, narcissism, alcohol), cult or occult connections, darkness, so much shame that there is no shame (offensive behavior, strong resistance, the naked Gerasene).
Peter helped us recognize so we can resist. Paul uses the word “stand” to show our posture of resistance. We stand in the character of Christ, resisting lies, immorality, pride, or anything that could compromise our position. Peter says that “we resist him, firm in our faith,” suggesting that we are believing God’s revealed truth, not a replacement. When the serpent offered an alternative to God’s clear word, Adam and Eve should have heard warning bells going off. They must have already considered some of the same thoughts. We must “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). James says, “Submit to God; resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (4:7). The place of resistance is primarily in the mind, because this battle is a thought battle, not a physical one. When we are surrendered to God and in a place of sobriety, we can overcome the enemy.
If we are casting out demons, we speak in the name and authority of Christ. When we heal people, we “speak to the mountain,” to whatever stands before them. The mountain we speak to in this case is a demon or group of demons. We are not asking God to deal with the demons; we address the demons as living beings who can hear us, who are in the room with us, influencing or occupying a body because of walls broken down. Go ahead and yell if it helps you to walk in authority, but volume does not convince the darkness to leave; the authority of Christ does. Have at it!