Spiritual Warfare - Lesson 21

Assessing Demonic Influence

In this lesson, you will gain insights into the assessment of potential demonic influence in individuals' lives. The focus is on four key areas: accusing voices, oppressive presence, occult involvement, and signs of demonic activity. By examining real-life cases and experiences, the lesson demonstrates how to distinguish between personal issues and potential demonic influences. The ultimate goal is to empower individuals to confront and overcome any such influence with the authority of Jesus Christ, thereby addressing underlying problems and finding liberation.

Gerry Breshears
Spiritual Warfare
Lesson 21
Watching Now
Assessing Demonic Influence

I. Assessment of Demonic Influence in People's Stories

A. Introduction

B. The Eight Areas for Assessment

1. Accusing Voices

2. Oppressive Presence

3. Occult Involvement

C. Stories as a Basis for Assessment

1. Example 1: Woman with Two Demons

2. Example 2: Extreme Sports Enthusiast

3. Example 3: Eating Disorder Case

D. The Role of Reflective Questions

E. The Importance of Identifying Demonic Influence

F. The Role of the Holy Spirit in Assessment

II. Accusing Voices

A. Types of Accusing Voices

1. Fear-Based Accusations

2. Self-Worth and Self-Image Accusations

B. The Goal: Dissecting the Person from the Voice

C. Exploration and Dissection of Accusing Voices

1. Identifying the Voice

2. Evaluating the Voice's Impact

D. Spiritual Authority in Dealing with Accusing Voices

III. Oppressive Presence

A. Variations of Oppressive Presence

1. Dark Presence in the Room

2. Sleep Paralysis

3. Invasive Sensations

B. The Importance of Direct Eye Contact

C. Spiritual Authority in Confronting Oppressive Presence

1. Using the Name of Jesus and His Authority

D. The Expectation of a Response from Demonic Entities

IV. Conclusion and Break

Class Resources
  • Dr. Gerry Breshears discusses some of the main teachings of the Bible on Spiritual Warfare and then participates in a live question and answer.

  • Discover Dr. Breshears' journey from science to spiritual warfare, debunking scientific explanations for demons. Unveil a seminary student's anxiety battle, uncover curses, theological misconceptions, and inner demonic voices. Prepare for a course on spiritual warfare and staying loyal to God.
  • Gain insights into worldviews within Christianity, including polytheism, American monotheism, and Christian monotheism. Explore the nature of spiritual beings and idols.
  • Gain insight into powerful spiritual beings tied to nations in the Bible. Warning against intermarriage and foreign gods emphasized.
  • You'll gain insight into spiritual warfare through Genesis 11, where human defiance led to the scattering of nations and involvement of angelic beings.
  • You will gain insight into a distinct biblical interpretation that views the universe's creation as an act of shaping Eden within a pre-existing cosmic war, and the role of humans in this ongoing battle by cultivating goodness and order to combat evil and chaos.
  • In this lesson, the story of Adam and Eve is analyzed within the context of spiritual warfare, highlighting the serpent's strategy to question God's goodness and encourage independence, while God responds with a call to confession and hints at a future Messiah's role in redemption.
  • This lesson offers an insightful interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4, presenting the "Sons of God" as angelic beings who sinned by marrying humans, leading to the Nephilim, linking this perspective to New Testament passages and the symbolism of baptism as a victory declaration against evil forces, deepening your understanding of the nuanced interpretation of these biblical passages and their importance in Christianity.
  • The passages reviewed in this lesson reveal a unique portrayal of God's actions, using unconventional methods. Challenge common interpretations, caution against single-verse doctrines. Embrace the mystery of God's ways, avoiding rigid interpretations when context is unclear.
  • This lesson reviews a passage in Colossians, offering insights into spiritual warfare and the dichotomy between the kingdoms of light and darkness, emphasizing believers' rescue from darkness into the kingdom of the Son of God, forgiveness of sins, and the essential elements of faith, all of which are vital for confronting demonic accusations and oppression.
  • Learn the core of Ephesians: spiritual warfare, dedication to God vs. Satan, moral maturity, and becoming Christ's partner. Emphasizes unity, living in light, using God's Word, and the power of prayer in this battle.
  • Learn to resist the temptations of the world and the devil by humbling yourself, casting anxiety on God, being self-controlled, alert, and standing firm in faith as taught in James and 1 Peter, emphasizing the importance of using your strengths for God's kingdom and opposing pressures and distortions from the enemy to avoid being devoured.
  • This lesson highlights the significance of facing spiritual forces in Jesus' name, stressing that authority alone isn't enough. Faith, confidence, and prayer-driven competence are vital for effective spiritual warfare. It inspires you to confront spiritual battles like Jesus did, with authority and unwavering faith.
  • This lesson delves into a biblical narrative highlighting Jesus' authority over evil spirits. It emphasizes the transformative power of His deliverance and the profound change it can bring to those tormented by demonic influence.
  • This lesson provides deep insights into Satan's fall in the Bible, covering Old Testament passages (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28) linked to it, addressing their ambiguity. It also discusses withholding Satan's name due to his evil nature and how Jesus broke his authority in the New Testament, though he remains a threat to believers.
  • This lesson delves into the intricate dynamics between believers, demons, and the world in the biblical context. You'll uncover Satan's mysterious role in Judas's betrayal of Jesus, posing questions about the motivations and divine alignment in this pivotal event.
  • This lesson equips you with the knowledge of how Jesus confronted temptation and spiritual warfare, emphasizing three essential steps: quoting Scripture to the devil, commanding the devil to leave in Jesus' name, and shifting your focus from demonic attack to Jesus' provision.
  • This lesson explores 3 Deliverance Ministry models: 1) Classic - resist Satan's temptations, 2) Power Encounter - deal with sin before casting out demons, 3) Truth Encounter - dispel lies, reclaim identity in Christ. Dr. Breshears prefers the Truth Encounter model while allowing for diverse biblical approaches.
  • This lesson provides comprehensive insights on dealing with the demonic from a biblical perspective, emphasizing the triumph of Jesus over Satan, the ongoing spiritual battles, the importance of faith in the midst of adversity, and the need to follow biblical patterns while avoiding unnecessary fascination with evil and excessive fearfulness.
  • This lesson explores demons and Satan's impact on believers, emphasizing that even righteous individuals can face their influence. It reveals how deception, curses, and accusations can create strongholds in belief systems, perpetuated by Satan. Demons exploit weaknesses, desires, and ignorance, leading to destructive behaviors. The lesson ends with the assurance that believers are never abandoned by the Holy Spirit.
  • From this lesson, you will gain insight into the Dr. Breshear's approach to identifying potential demonic influence in people's lives, focusing on areas like accusing voices, oppressive presence, and occult involvement. He emphasizes the importance of assessing these influences when individuals face issues like anxiety, addiction, or persistent problems. By probing into their experiences and thoughts, the goal is to recognize and address these negative influences, ultimately seeking to remove them from the person's life.
  • This lesson provides insights into assessing potential demonic influence in individuals' lives, offering strategies to distinguish personal issues from demonic influences and empower individuals to confront and overcome such challenges with the authority of Jesus Christ.
  • From this lesson, you will gain insight into the controversial topic of demonic influence and possession within Christianity. The lesson explores the various meanings of "possessed" and the debate surrounding whether a Christian can be dominated or influenced by a demon. It emphasizes that while ownership by a demon is generally denied, the extent of demonic influence remains debated.
  • You will learn a comprehensive approach to address demons in a pastoral setting, emphasizing individual empowerment, cooperation, and the transformative potential of confronting these malevolent forces to achieve freedom and healing.
  • This lesson delves into spiritual warfare, discussing curses, demonic attacks, and their real-life impact. It highlights curses arising from disobedience, similar to God's curse in the Bible. Instances like a cursed object in Africa demonstrate their harm. The lesson promotes rejecting curses and dedicating spaces to God while emphasizing that curses have power only when received, suggesting turning to Jesus for protection and deliverance.
  • This lesson explores demon nature, influence, and approach. It dispels the myth of immunity in the US, highlighting demons' subtle tactics. Demons' origin is unclear, and prayer and fasting aren't mandatory. Living as children of light and invoking Jesus' name is key. Mind-reading by demons is uncertain, but they exploit confessed sin. Whether they can inhabit believers is unanswered, but they influence through deception. Demons may dwell in specific places and require confronting with Jesus' authority. Believers engage in spiritual warfare to deliver the oppressed, empowered by Jesus.

There is an ongoing battle between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. Followers of Jesus, who are in the kingdom of light, have been given authority by God to command demons. By studying Jesus' life and other passages in scripture, we can gain insights into how to respond to the influence of demons effectively.


Dr. Gerry Breshears
Spiritual Warfare
Assessing Demonic Influence
Lesson Transcript


So, I talked about the eight areas that I probe when I'm listening to somebody's story. And as I said there, the areas I'm particularly listening for, for demonic influence is accusing voices, oppressive presence, and a cult involvement. Now, this won't get it all done, but a lot of times it's one of those areas that come up. Now I also have people come in and there's absolutely no doubt they tell me about the demon right up front. At that point, I'm not talking about the assessment. I had a woman talk to me a while back, a pastor friend of mine asked me to work with her. So, I met with her and the pastor and her husband, and she told me about being at a community college as a young believer and became involved with a guy there who was an exciting kind of guy, and he was involved in directorial culty kinds of stuff and was doing openly demonic spiritual stuff, and amazing stuff was happening.

She got involved with him in the group and she got involved with him sexually. And in that process he gave her two demons because she had merited getting them. She had been a good enough partner to him that he gifted her with two demons. And when I talked to her it was about 20 years later. And what I found out, and she told me, I mean she told her pastor is she was getting tired of these demons and the impact it was having their life, but she said, "I can't get rid of them." And so, the pastor called me and so I talked to her, heard her story. Again, she knew it was a demon. In fact, she described where it was and things related to that. And what I had to do with her was not discover the demon but deal with getting rid of the demon.

So, I'm not talking about that kind of thing. I'll come back to that in a bit because getting rid of the demon's the same no matter where it comes from. I'm talking about people come in and they're dealing with anxiety. They're dealing so suicidality, they're dealing with addictive behaviors, they're dealing with common pastoral problems, marital issues that just won't go away, a persistent problems. And I'm listening for these areas. So in Bill's case, like I said when I heard the voice there, from the pastor, that's one thing. Another story I had come up, and these are all related to stories just because narrative works better sometime. I had a fellow who, a counselor friend of mine had been talking to him and he was doing extreme sports. And this Bill was doing stuff that landed him fairly regularly in the hospital because of injuries in extreme sports.

And he was probably early thirties, maybe late twenties, good shape. And so, what he was doing was these kinds of things. And the counselor asked me to talk to him because the counselor suspected there was more than just narcissism or something like that. So, tell me your story. And in all the stuff he's talking about, in extreme sports and all that kind of stuff, and the things that he really thought was great, funny, and really enjoyed telling me some of these stories. But as he was talking, he was talking about this one thing that landed him in the hospital with pretty bad injuries. And I said, "I just got to ask you man, it's going to hurt. What are you are you thinking?" And he laughed and yeah, he said, "Sometimes it doesn't even feel like me doing it. Sometimes it doesn't even feel like me doing it."

Ding, oppressive presence. That's not me. Now that can be a very throwaway kind of line. It can be no big deal, just something he says offhand. But see what I do as I'm listening for those kinds of stories, those kinds of words, those kinds of passing comments, and I highlight them because that can be a window in demonic stuff. So, he was telling me some of the stuff we finished back and I said, "You know, you something kind of intrigued me. You said not even me doing it. What does that mean?" And what I do in those kinds of things is I don't assume it's demonic because it may well not be, but what I'm going to do is I want to probe into that and I start asking questions about that. So, in this particular case, I was probing on things. I said, "No, what do you mean?"

"I don't know. I don't know. I hadn't even thought about it." I said, "Well, let's think about it a little bit. What do you mean it's not even me? It's like somebody else is doing it." And it just like you just never thought about that before. And so, I just did some reflective questions, whatever you'd tell me, I just put it in my own words and reflect it back to him. And after a little bit he just like, you just never explored something like that before because it's an obvious question if you're injuring yourself, why are you doing it? Because there's no thrill in getting injured. And that's why he's seeing a counselor with stuff that was going on in his life. And so, to shorten a much longer story, he came to a spot and he said, "Oh, that's really perplexing." And so, the heart of what I did was I said, "Okay, here's what I want you to do. We're going to pray a prayer, child of God, we're going to pray a prayer.

Holy Spirit, show us what you want us to see and then we're going to walk inside with Jesus, and just see what you see." And I explain that and I'll talk more about how I do that. So, we did that, just laid groundwork, believer in Jesus Christ, I'm child of Lord, most high. My sins are forgiven, all those kinds of things. And then I prayed and I had him pray same thing, "Holy Spirit, show me what I need to see in my inner world, my thought life, my imaginations, my inner dialogue areas." And so, he looked inside and boy, I saw all of a sudden just a tremendous reaction on his face. And I said, "What happened after a little bit?" And he didn't even have words for it. I said, "Did you see something?" "I did," he said. "Can you tell me what you saw," kind of thing. Now again, shortening a longer story, what had happened when you look at his inner world, his thought life is he saw an alien dark presence that was laughing at his pain.

And he recognized it quickly in that context, this is something evil. Now he didn't use the word demon, but that's what it was. And I said, and did a little bit of work and said, "You don't have to put up with that thing. Do you want to get rid of it?" No, no, he didn't. And we finished the session that night and he left my office now having identified an evil presence in his life. And he walked out the door, which makes me really nervous frankly. He went down the Sand Dunes National Monument down the southern Oregon coast, took his motorcycle and really hurt himself pretty badly doing extreme sports stuff. Went on a motorcycle and ended up back in my office after he got out of the hospital and said, "I'm ready to get rid of it." And we did. But see, that's why I'm talking about the assessment type things. I'm listening for those voices and then I want to follow back on them and assess what's going on. I had another similar kind of thing out of accusing voices. Again, I'm listening kinds of things.

And so, an accusing voice comes all kinds of different areas. I hear just basic fear kinds of things. I am unlovable. I can't love anybody. Those kind of statements come up pretty regularly. I'm a fraud, I'm a failure. If anybody knew what was going on inside me, they would despise me. They'd just roll their eyes and walk if they really saw what was happening inside me. Those are accusing voices. Things like I'm always going to be alone. Those are accusing voices, belief structures that I'm listening for. They can come and these accusing voices can come in all kinds of different things. You can't do anything right.

Things be better if you weren't here, you're just a problem for everybody. Again, I've heard that voice. I've heard people tell me about that voice. One of the more dramatic ones I had was a woman with a severe eating disorder and I don't do eating disorders. It's complicated and I don't know enough about it. I don't want to harm inadvertently. But a counselor friend of mine asked me to do a spiritual assessment on this woman with eating disorder. And in the process of telling her story, I heard and the voice said, "I'm a fat pig." And she said it was feeling, "I'm just a fat pig." Well, she's about five foot six and might weigh to a hundred pounds. There was nothing fat about her, but the voice was saying, "You're a fat pig," and therefore she's controlling and all things relating to eating disorder.

So, I unpack that with her, and when do you hear this voice? And what's it sound like and what do you feel like when it comes? When did you start hearing the voice? I just ask a lot of different questions. And my commitment is demons hate to be looked at in the name of Jesus. And that's what I want to do is I'm going to look at that voice. I want her to look at the voice. I want him, in the case of the oppressive presence, I want him to look at that and come out and just what is that? So, what I do in those kinds of things is tell me about the voice and when is it? What does it sound like? What is the tone of voice? When did you first hear it? What context you hear it in? Those just all kinds of exploratory kinds of things.

What do they tell me? I tend to repeat back in my own words, reflective kind of way. And outcome there, the point is to look at that voice in the name of Jesus. And there are various things I do. One of the things I do is what do you hear the voice saying right now? And I've gotten some interesting responses to that because if it's a demonic voice, it's not just in the history, it's buzzing right now many times. So, the assessment I do because I can't tell from the outside what's going on is same kind of thing. Let's look inside, Holy Spirit, show us what you need us to see. Jesus walk with us and then look inside. Look at the voice. And a fundamental question, is that me? Is that my mom's voice or my dad's voice? Or is that something else? I don't ever introduce the demon word unless it's already in the context. I tend not to use it even then. Is that me, just my negative self talk? We all have negative self talk.

Is that what this is? Is this a voice of an angry parent or something like that? Or is that something else? I just leave that question. Holy Spirit, show us what we need to see. Have them ask that same question, look inside. In this one with the anxiety or the eating disorder, she was mid-twenties, really sharp college student. Turned out I knew her parents casually. And when she looked inside and actually looked at this voice, suddenly she got really angry when she realized she had been listening to a demonic voice and didn't even know it, didn't even know it. That was one of the bigger piece of things. But we dealt with the demon at that spot, put its influence out of her life, and then the counselor is able to deal with all the complexity of the eating disorder. Now, I got to say, right off the bat, a lot of eating disorders don't have anything demonic in them.

A lot of anxiety disorders don't have anything demonic. A lot of fears are nothing but I want to do that kind of thing. And if it is demonic, my commitment is that when you look at in the name of Jesus, you can see what's going on. Demonic is a personal kind of thing. It's not just an impression or a fear, there's a personal piece to it. And when that negative thing is there, it will respond when we do these kinds of things. So, that's what I do. Same kind of thing with oppressive presence. And the oppressive presence can be like this guy was talking about, that was the most bizarre thing ever. But sometimes the oppressive presence is a dark thing in the corner of the room. Sometimes an oppressive presence can be something that's on top of me and I can't move kind of thing.

Now to be sure if that's a sleep kind of thing, there's a sleep thing where our brain actually disconnects from our body. So, I'm having a violent dream. I don't beat my pretty wife to death in the middle of the dream or she me. So, there's a place where our brain actually disconnects from our body in a phenomenon. And if you are half awake, your brain can still be disconnected from your body. And I want to move and I can't, can be that, but it can also be something else going on. And I've had a number of people tell me about that. And then I want to know what it is, same kind of thing. Let's look, go back and look that experience in the name of Jesus and see what's going on.

So at this point, what I'm doing is looking for that particular kind of thing. The other thing I will do if just my, I don't know my gut, if I'm just, I don't know. This is weird kind of thing. I'm not spiritually sensitive at all. People, didn't you feel the dark presence in that room? No, I didn't. How could you not feel it? I don't know. I just don't. People have different levels of spiritual sensitivity. My spiritual sensitivity is really low. My intuitive ability is really low. Other people are higher on those things. But what I'll do is when I just, I don't know, this is weird. Something's going on here. Things don't match up. What I may do is just look directly into somebody's eyes and make a spirit to spirit connection, same kind of thing. And when Peter's addressing the lame man at the temple in Acts chapter three, he looks directly at the man and says to him, "Look at me."

And the man looks at him expecting it some good, and they have form a spirit to spirit connection. Then he says, "I command you to get up," and he does. But that's what I want to do is assess that spirit to spirit connection, that's eye to eye, looking directly into the person's soul. If you don't believe that's powerful, I got a suggestion for you. Drive down the road in a bit of traffic, stop at a red light and come over and just stare at the person next, and watch what happened. Now be careful, that can get you shot here at Oregon. But there's something that happens with that direct eye to eye kind of thing, and that's what I try to do. And then I'll do say something like, "In the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the power of shed blood and resurrection life, I take authority over every demonic spirit present or around Bill. In the name of Lord Jesus Christ, I rebuke you and speak the strength of the spirit of Jesus into Bill. If there are demons now, you must present yourself before us now."

Something like that. And the words aren't the key point, but what I'm doing in my phraseology, I'm taking a direct shot at the demon. And again, my commitment is that if I speak this with the spiritual authority that I have, not because I'm an ordained pastor, which I am, that's not the point. The point is I'm a child of God, seated with him in the heavens, and I have that kind of authority is I think you can get a response that way. So, those are some things I do to find out if there's a demonic presence in the midst of a more complicated problem. Accusing voice, you're a fat pig. Nobody can love you.

What kind of schmuck are you? You're so filthy. You can't do anything right. Don't even try. You just embarrass everybody when you do it. All kinds of voices like that. Again, that could be negative self talk, but it could be demonic. And again, what I'm trying to do is explore it, dissect out the person from the voice. If it's a demon, you can do that. And then have the person, the believer in Jesus Christ, look at that voice and assess themselves. What do they see? What do they feel? Is this me? Is this my dad talking to me, or is it something else? And what I find is that people can and do that's not me. And that's the key thing. If it's not me, then we ask what it is and we go from there. So, that's the basic assessment work that I do. If I can, I talk to other people involved with that. But many times I don't do that. But that's the base thing I do. Okay, let's take a break.