Spiritual Warfare - Lesson 19

Demonic Attacks

This lesson provides a comprehensive understanding of the influence of demons and Satan on believers' lives. It challenges the idea that sin is the only pathway for demonic influence and emphasizes the dangers of falling for lies, curses, and accusations. The text also highlights how believers can be entangled in destructive behaviors through demonic exploitation of weaknesses and sinful desires. It closes by assuring believers that they will never be abandoned by the Holy Spirit.


Gerry Breshears
Spiritual Warfare
Lesson 19
Watching Now
Demonic Attacks

I. Introduction

A. Overview of the lesson

B. Emphasis on the importance of understanding spiritual warfare

II. Satan's Attacks and Deceptions

A. The misconception that sin is a prerequisite for Satan's attacks

B. Examining the biblical examples of Satan's attacks on Job and Jesus

C. Highlighting the lie that Satan can effectively use regarding sin and attacks

III. Demonic Influence and Believers

A. Understanding how demons can oppress individuals apart from specific sin

B. The story of a pastor who wrongly associated epilepsy with demon possession

C. Recognizing the complexity of determining whether certain conditions are demon-related

IV. Lies and Curses from Satan

A. Identifying lies that Satan can use against Christians

B. Understanding how believers can agree with lies, accept curses, and receive accusations

C. The potential for these lies to become strongholds in a believer's life

V. Strongholds and Spiritual Warfare

A. Exploring the concept of strongholds as belief systems contrary to God's truth

B. Demolishing strongholds through a presentation of truth and discipleship

C. The importance of understanding how belief structures can hinder the gospel's truth

VI. Satan's Premier Works: Deception, Accusation, and Temptation

A. Recognizing Satan's primary tactics against Christians

B. Emphasizing the importance of not engaging in doctrinal debates with demons

C. The role of believers in commanding demons to leave in Jesus' name

VII. The Impact of Demonic Influence on Believers

A. Acknowledging the potential for believers to yield to demonic attacks

B. Understanding how demons can exploit believers' weaknesses, unbelief, ignorance, or fear

C. The analogy of believers becoming entangled in behaviors similar to domestic violence victims

VIII. Believers Never Abandoned by the Holy Spirit

A. Addressing the false belief that God has abandoned believers during trials

B. The need for nuance in theological phrases like "God is in control"

C. Emphasizing the believer's responsibility to stand on truth and avoid falling prey to simplistic beliefs

IX. The Common Pattern of Prayer

A. Referencing the common pattern of prayer against demonic influence

B. Teasing the upcoming sections that will delve into these prayer methods

X. Conclusion and Transition

A. Highlighting the commonality between Jesus' response to Satan and believers' response to demonic attacks

B. Preparing for the next lesson, which will provide methodologies for dealing with demonic influence in practical scenarios

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
Demonic Attacks
Lesson Transcript


Well, let's take another look at this handout and work through a few more things and then we'll get into some specific how-to's as I do them. One of the things really important to me is that for many, they're going to argue that if you have sin in your life, it's an opening for Satan and he can attack you. And I think there's a lot of truth to that, but the biggest thing is to understand that you don't have to have sin in your life in order for Satan to attack you. And one of the lies I've seen we used effectively by Satan is, especially in certain contexts of the gospel encounter, the classic model, is I'm attacking you, therefore there's sin in your life. And the picture in scripture is that demons can oppress people apart from any specific sin or any window opened or something like that.

I mean, look at Job. God himself says, "This is a righteous, blameless, upright, fears God, shuns evil guy," and Satan attacks him. And you say, "Well, that was with God's permission." Yeah, but he's still attacked. And Jesus, I mean, if anybody's righteous, it's him and he's attacked by Satan not once, but repeatedly. So the idea that we're attacked by Satan does not mean that we are sinful. And that's a lie that Satan can use quite effectively. I don't think that, well, look at Jesus, he never ever addressed sin footholds or sin as openings for demons to get at, but he deals with demonized people there. So he heals, cures, drives out demons without any repentance of sin as a prerequisite for casting out the demon.

So I think that as the devil harassed and inflict Job, demons can cause physical maladies and to direct evildoers to assail others, to inspire nightmares, and all that sort of thing. However, I want to be very quick to say that just because I'm having things happen to me, nightmares or terrors, or anxieties, or something like that, that doesn't mean that I have a demon.

Way back in the day, we had a radio talk show, a Christian talk show here in town, and the host of this show and I got to know each other and he said, "Gary, I want you to debate a pastor on demon possession." I said, "I don't want to debate a pastor on demon possession. That's not my gig." "Oh yeah, you got to do it, Gary. You got to do it." And anyway, he ended up persuading me to do it and I wasn't happy about it.

And I got on the show and I had met the pastor for the first time. And the thing that made it epic was that he claimed... This is a radio show. He claimed on air that anybody who has epilepsy is a result of demon possessions. And this is Lou Davies Live Line, if you old timers may remember that here in Portland. It was a really good show. And I was just incredulous when he said that. And so I took him into some scripture and showed that Jesus healed diseases and cast out demons as different things. And then I made a case that epilepsy can be a physical disease and not just the twitching that demons can do. And Lou Davies joined in, which he's not supposed to as host, but he was also kind of upset with this guy, and some callers came in and piled on the guy.

Well it turned out, I didn't know it, but this pastor was leading a cult, and it was a bizarre story. I mean, I got into it later on. And his cult was around deliverance ministry. He found demons in all kinds of people and he'd cast out the demon to get him into his cult and to the full-on discipleship cult. It was bizarre. I won't tell you all the stories about it, but we embarrassed him on air. And so he repented of his view and came to the view, okay, you can have... Anyway, I'll just go to the end of the story.

He ended up with a whole bunch of people he'd cast demons out of, and he concluded that you can't have a demon inside you if you're a believer, so therefore you're not a believer. And all these people who had come into his ministry as believers getting demons cast out of them, they are not believers, so now they need to get saved to make him happy. The amazing thing is his power was so great that most people did not leave the cult. It was crazy making. I didn't feel good that I kind of busted up a cult, but I didn't know it. But the thing of it is there he was saying, anytime you have epilepsy, therefore it's demonic. And there's nothing like that, I think.

Although demons may cause an epileptic, we see the seizures, we see the shaking and such described in scripture, but that a mute or death or something like that, it's not necessarily a demon, but I do think it could be that. And that's part of the assessment process I do. And I do that. So, thinking of things that demons can do to believers, and to me this is an important kind of thing, is there are without a doubt lies that Satan can tell, that we can get tricked into believing.

So I've got some listed here. No Christian would ever do what you did, therefore, you're not a Christian, or sin gave the demon and right to believe and I'm here it's because you've got a terrible sin in your life or something like that. We can agree with a lie, we can receive a curse. I've got some listed here: you're an idiot or you're going to be sick, or something like that. There are different kinds of curses. Accept an accusation. We can believe a lie, we can accept a curse, we can receive an accusation and they can become a stronghold in us.

But that second Corinthians 10 passage is an important passage. I want to take another quick look at it. Second Corinthians chapter 10, what does it actually say here? It says, "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does".

So the world goes through power and lies and deceptions and those kinds of things. Then he says, "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world, amen. On the contrary, we have power to demolish strongholds." And that word "strongholds" becomes a technical term that many use that you have a stronghold in you, you have a satanic occupation inside you, and that is Satan has a strong hold. But when you look at what that is in the next verse, he says, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. We take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ."

So the strongholds, he's talking about these castles or however you want to do that, are belief systems that are not true. These are pretensions, arguments, captive thoughts that are contrary to the way of God. And those belief structures are what he's talking about as a stronghold. And the way we take them down is by a wise presentation of truth. So I think that they can become a stronghold that must be torn by discovering the stronghold, confessing a lie, firmly receiving God's truth and spirit, heart, mind and strength.

So that work of, we'd call it discipleship really, is an important, what we do as part of spiritual warfare because we have these belief systems in us that become strongholds against the truth of the gospel. I believe that believers may be deceived, accused, or tempted. The primary works of Satan are these three; deception, accusation, temptation. That's the primary work that Satan does against Christians. Ron Michener is a longtime friend of mine, he and Sandra have been missionaries in Belgium for a long time, teaches evangelical theological faculty there in Belgium. And he was in my class long time ago, and I was going through this and he corrected me, said, "No, you need it this way. Deception, accusation, temptation. The letters are D.A.T, and he said, "D.A.T's the devil." So D.A.T, D.A.T the devil. So if you need a good quote, there you go. D.A.T's the devil. That's what he does. Deception, accusation, temptation.

And he does those things. And I think we can yield to those attacks and give demons influence in our lives, though we don't have to. And to me that's a crucial thing is that demons can deceive, accuse, or tempt us, and we can fall prey to that and we can give a demon authority in our life even though it doesn't have it. So the story that I tell is my son, Don, when he was 18, decided that he would join the army in order to get the GI bill to pay for his college. A good recruiter sold him a bill of goods that wasn't entirely true, but he believed it and joined the army. So he went in the army in July of whatever year it was, and he went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to do basic training. Now, what's Port Sill, Oklahoma like in July of any year? Sweltering hot.

And they do a whole lot of physical therapy, physical training, and there's all kinds of stuff they do there. And a big thing is, they teach you without any question that when the drill sergeant says something, you obey. What does a recruit say to the drill sergeant? When the drill sergeant says something, the recruit says, "Sir, yes sir!" That's the only thing you say to a drill sergeant, "Sir, yes, sir!" And Don learned that fairly quickly. You also learned how to get around authority without getting in too much trouble, which Don had learned well, he grew up in my house.

Let's say that Don dinged his shoulder in drill and the drill sergeant shows up and says, "Soldier, give me 50." "Sarge, my shoulder, little short. Could I to 25 instead?" No, what do you say? Sir, yes, sir!" And you get on your face and start doing pushups, and you may die in the getting to 50, but you don't quit. I'm overstating such, but not by a lot. And so Don for eight weeks, "Sir, yes, sir!" And then they had the graduation from basic training at Fort Sill. And in that process, he got his new orders, piece of paper. It said, go to Fort Lewis, up here in Washington, Tacoma, Washington area, because he had prearranged going in that he'd be at Fort Lewis because he wanted be close to Susan, who's his wife now. And so let's say that he has his orders, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, MRS battalion that's up there was up there.

And Joe Sergeant shows up, looks down in the eye and says, "Give me 50, soldier." What does Don say? Well, if he understands things, he just smiles. Drill sergeant's not his authority anymore. Some unnamed sergeant up at Fort Lewis is. So he just smiles. "Have a good day, sergeant. See you later." But see, if he doesn't understand that, he's on his face doing 50 worthless pushups. That's what Satan does. He shows up and scares you. He shows up and appeals to your life background. He shows up and distorts truth and you're on your face doing, in effect, 50 worthless pushups. Except it's a lot worse than that. That's the way Satan works, is he gets us to believe his deception, believe his accusation, believe his temptation. Gets us to believe God is really not all that good or accusing us of being so bad that even God can't forgive us, or tempting us to think this is a better way to do things than God's way, and all those kinds of things.

And he can get away with that and he does it very, very effectively. So the way I summarize it, and I've got it here in the handout. An evil spirit can empower, energize, encourage, exploit, a believer's own sinful desires, unbelief, weakness, ignorance or fear. And he does that. He will take my stuff and he'll pump energy into it. He will take my stuff and encourage me to do more than I might otherwise do. He will take my stuff and exploit even my good stuff for his advantage. I think the way he does with Peter there in Matthew 16, and he can do that. That's not a possession, that's not an occupation, that's not a domination. It's just that he is good at tempting and such and he does it. And that's why I think it's really, really, really important for us to know truth and to be in community of truth, and try out things on gracious believers and against scripture, of course, so that we don't fall prey to those kinds of things.

And again, I don't think there has to be any sin, but we're not protected against it either. People say, "Oh, God's in control."


Yeah, that's one of those things that Satan can really exploit that. I had a guy, I met him a couple of times, but his wife was a part of our church a while back. And he was a medical resident, well actually, in residency he was a pediatrician. And in residency he was doing his tour during the various areas and he had grown up in a strong Calvinist perspective, and he really believed God is in control. And everything that happened is the decree will of God. I'm not going to argue the Calvin Arminianism thing here, but he believed that deeply. And then in his residency, in his medical training, he'd run into some really, really difficult stuff.

And one day he was working in the ER as a resident and they brought in a little boy, 17 months old who had been savagely abused by his pastor daddy. He'd been abused so badly that he was dying, and the particular kind of abuse was such that they could do nothing to control the boy's pain. And over the next several days, the boy died agonized death, and there was absolutely nothing the doctors could do to relieve his pain or anything else. And the dad walked away Scot-free because of the legal system, the way things worked. And that was the day my friend well took his Christianity and dumped it in the trash bin. If that's God's will, I will never worship a God like that. Now, see, there's a truth that Satan manipulated to destroy the faith, and this is a good man. I mean, he's good.

I follow his wife on Facebook and I had two long conversations with him. I was a first Christian he'd talked to since that experience, and we had productive conversations, but I didn't change his mind on anything. Satan took the faith of a good man and destroyed it through over implying a truth, and it went in the dust bin. That's what Satan does. He can exploit, energize, and encourage stuff to the destruction of faith. And I think we need to stand on those things and be careful of phrases, especially the bumper sticker phrase, God is in control or to God only be glory or something like that. And he can manipulate those things to his benefit, and we need to be more nuanced in these things and not fall prey to the simplicities that he can manipulate. The typical pattern of prayer I've got in here, I'm going to say more about that you can take a look at on your own, because that's what I'm basically going to work through in the next sections.

When I see what Jesus did, just summarize what it did before. When Jesus was attacked by the devil, he spoke well interpreted scripture aloud to the devil and commanded him to get away. That's exactly the same pattern that believers use against Satan and his demons now, forever. It's really important to notice that even in that case where Satan claimed had authority of those nations and could give that to whomever he chose, Jesus didn't argue with him. He didn't deny it or affirm it. He went to the thing behind it, worship God and him only. And my thing is I never, ever, ever argued doctrine or experience with a demon. I don't have to convince them of anything. I just don't. I don't need information from demons. I really deeply believe that and I think that's a serious mistake to think that I need to convince a demon that it's a defeated foe.

I don't have to do that. What I do is come in the name of Jesus and command the demon to get away. I don't have to convince it of anything. I'll unpack a little more how I do that. A final point that I know here is if believers continue to allow demonic influence in their lives through deception, accusation, temptation, they may become entangled in behaviors so deeply that they have to have the help of other believers to get free. That same thing with any kind of addictive sin pattern. And that's why we're called in the discipline passage in Matthew 18, go privately, take two or three, bring it to the church to bring help to the person to realize what's happening.

And people can be so dominated by a demonic personality, that it's akin to a wife being dominated by an abusive husband. And like a wife and an abusive husband can lose, they can have disastrous personality changes, they can lose control of their life. And that's a domestic violence situation with a human, but I think in front of a demonic attack, those same kinds of things can happen. And that doesn't end up becoming possession necessarily, but just the domination that can happen, just like a domestic violence type thing. I think that can really happen. And that's particularly true when we're involved in occultic activities or cult groups or something like that. But the reality is that the believer will never ever be abandoned by the Holy Spirit and the argument that God has left you alone, that's a lie that's effective, especially when trauma gets to be so difficult. It's just not true. But the thing I'm trying to say here is demons can have a lot of impact in a believer's life.

Their deception, accusation temptation, their subtle trickery, their distorting of things, their exploiting things that are in our lives and can be true belief structures that are overdone. We can consciously or unconsciously agree with what they're saying, follow the direction they're pointing, and we can be entangled to those things. And that's why I think that doing what is called deliverance ministry to deliver people from domination of demons, being taken captive by Satan to do his will, whatever it is, we need to be prepared to do that.

And a fundamental commitment of mine is that there, in many cases, these things are multimodal. So it can be more than just one avenue. It's not just demonic, it can be trauma. It can also be personality, can also be hormonal, it can be family systems type things. And many times you have a lot of these things working together. And so what I want to do as we begin unpacking here is look at some of the methodologies in real life stuff that I've developed for myself and conversation with many others that have proven helpful for me as principles. And that's what I want to unpack in this these next lessons I should say, because I think we need to be prepared to work with people who bring all kinds of problems with us. It's part of the pastoral wisdom, I think that's important. And I want to just speak to a reality that's true for so many who just don't believe there's any demonic stuff around.

It's real and it's present. So let's take a break and then we'll come back and talk about how Gary does things.

The common phrase, well, "I'm being attacked by the enemy, so I must be doing something right." What would you say to that?

Actually, I think there's a lot of truth to that


But I wouldn't say it's because I'm such a cool dude. That can be a temptation to narcissism. But I do believe it's reality that Satan prioritizes people who are most effective in overcoming his kingdom. And so I think in the sniper shot type thing, he's not going to go for some guy sitting over here on his keister doing nothing. He's going to go for the one who's really doing things. So if I'm being attacked, I must be a special person. That's a place, although I may be pushing a little too much, but if I'm effective for the kingdom, I'm more likely to be a special target of Satan's attack. I would agree with that completely. And the temptation is, well, I don't want to be that good because I don't want to get attacked. Well, now you're playing into Satan's hands. That would not be good. But yes, I agree with you. Satan's strategic in what he does.