By Reverend Mark Hunnemann
Anyone even vaguely aware of the discussions regarding spiritual warfare in general, and demonic oppression in particular, has heard the phrase “legal rights.” My question is: is it right? That is, is it a biblical notion?
I don’t intend this to be an extensive analysis but merely a cursory glance, so I’m sure some questions will go unanswered. Frankly, I don’t have the time tonight….
First, we must define our terms. The phrase is not found in the bible, but the general idea is that for a demon to get a foothold (which IS a biblical term!) in a person’s life, they must think, do, or say something wrong. If they persist in their sin, it gives the devil the right to attack, attach, or oppress—legal rights. For example, in Ephesians 4:26-27, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity (foothold) to the devil.” (ESV) So, here we have at least one sin (letting anger seethe overnight), which gives the devil some ‘opportunity’ for accelerated activity in that person’s life. That seems to give credence to the notion. Nobody is saying that one can sin without any consequences. The question is: when people are being oppressed is it ALWAYS traceable to some serious sin?
When exorcists/deliverance minsters/Christian demonologists/whatever… are exploring how to cleanse a person of demonic oppression, they most often seek to find how and where the demon/s got a legal right to oppress their client. In all fairness, usually there is/was some area that ‘opened a door’. But not always.
What if they are being oppressed, BUT there is no legal right to do so? Job, Paul with his thorn from Satan are just two examples of godly folks who were demonically oppressed but had not given the devil any legal right to do so. The term “man of lawlessness” does not seem to indicate that they are the least bit interested in any kinds of law or legalities, of any sort.
There are folks who move into an already infested home, and come under oppression, but not due to legal rights—at least not how I’ve defined it. (someone else may have sinned before them). Children or the elderly, especially if either are in weakened condition or, say, autistic children are known to become targets of demonic oppression through no fault of their own, or anybody else’s. It is simply an expression of the cruelty of demons preying on the weak.
There are many people today who are under demonic oppression, but they have not given the devil any legal rights to do so.
The flip-side of this is that just because a believer is going through a string of tough circumstances does not mean they are being oppressed. It simply means they live in a Fallen world, where godly people get sick…have rebellious children….get discouraged…have flat tires, etc, etc.
My point is this: the notion of legal rights can become unwittingly cruel if we apply it ‘across the board’. If we’re not careful, we’ll start looking for sin/s which are not there… we’re determined they must be if the person is oppressed. Every case of oppression must be analyzed carefully on its own terms.
I have not even mentioned curses of various kinds that OTHERS may have placed on someone, but we don’t have the time to look at this.
Suffice it to say that, though the term is not in the bible, the substance of the notion is there…GENERALLY SPEAKING. However, we must be careful to not be Job’s counselors…knowing that this dear person under severe demonic oppression may have done NOTHING to bring it on. It takes wisdom, discernment and compassion to deal with this issue on a case by case basis.
Especially since this was brief, I very much welcome questions/feedback.
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