Demons Causing the Depression?

Late last month, I read on Tim Fall’s blog that Mars Hill church conducts demon trials. In his post on the subject, Tim states, “It’s in comparing Mr. Driscoll’s practices to Scripture that we see he and his leadership team are making things up as they go along. They promote a false doctrine contradicting what the Bible says about demons and about the power of those who belong to Jesus.”

Last week a friend handed me the book They Shall Expel Demons, by Derek Prince. It appears to me that deceased Derek Prince also has a false doctrine contradicting the Bible.

My friend believes my mental health struggles with depression and ADD are caused by demonic attack. This person sincerely believes Prince’s book to be in line with the Bible and that it contains the solution to my mental health battles. However, I have serious doubts that this is the case.

According to my friend, the book teaches that anywhere we have a weakness, such as sickness or injury, is an opportunity for a demon to harass a person, even a Christian. A few reviews on Amazon contain similar descriptions:

Sincere, but is it trustworthy?
“…almost every sort of human evil, obsession, and excess is attributed to direct demonic influence/possession: hate, anger, overeating, smoking, drinking, fear, flatulence, etc.”

Well written, but surprisingly credulous!
“… EVERY character flaw is the result of one of the literally dozens of generic demonoids we all seem to be afflicted with …. [Prince] states  … [demons] for us to do battle with … : compromise, nicotine, cosmetics, infidelity, television, rock music, profanity, shame, sleepiness, masturbation, self-pity, criticism, rebellion, stress, fantasy, gossip, lying, Tourette’s syndrome, and even caffeine! …. Of course ALL other religions and cultures are presented as ‘demonic’…”

(In the above reviews I made spelling corrections rather than inserting [sic] many times.)

I’m not a Bible scholar, but I am fairly well read in it and cannot think of any scriptural support for such a belief that every character flaw, every injury, and every illness is either caused by demons or an entry point for demons. This notion of demons inflicting us at every turn is fear inducing. But God did not give us a spirit of fear, but rather we can be confident in Christ:

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim 1:7)

The Bible’s beautiful solution is so simple:

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:7-8)

I mentioned the book to our pastor, and while he hasn’t read the book, he did a bit of research on Derek Prince and advised reading it with “a lot of caution.” As well, our pastor summed up spiritual battles thus: “We do have spiritual enemies, i.e. the world, the flesh, and the devil.  But our victory has already been won in Christ and we only need to put on the full armor of God (see Ephesians 6).” (emphasis added)

We can “be strong in the Lord in his mighty power”:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Jesus’ death on the cross paid the price for all our sins. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead demonstrates that Satan couldn’t hold him down; it demonstrates that rather than death having power over Jesus, Jesus has power over death. To overcome the devil’s schemes we don’t rely upon our own strength, but on God’s. And how do we “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”? We are able to do this when we “take up the shield of faith.”

The full armor of God, provided by God, is ours when we have faith that Jesus’ claims about who he is and what he has done for us is Truth.

So, do I believe that demons are causing my mental health struggles? No. No, I do not. I do not believe it because my savior has already disarmed and triumphed over them on the cross:

He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13b-15, emphasis added)