X Close Menu

The Exorcism of Emily Rose - Part 3

Another issue raised by this film, although not directly addressed in it, is the question of how Emily Rose came under such vicious demonic or Satanic attack. As I said in part one, there is no indication given that she was involved in immorality or idolatry or had committed some horrific sin and had refused to repent.

So we are faced with the question: What are the doors to demonic attack or demonization? Are there things we can do or fail to do that might make us especially vulnerable to the enemy’s assault? Yes.

One of the most difficult lessons for a Christian to learn is that protection against demonic attack is not automatic. Simply being a child of God does not guarantee that we can waltz through life insulated from demonic influence and invulnerable to the schemes and strategies of the enemy. The implements and weaponry of a soldier are not for decoration. They are to be utilized in fighting a war.

Under what circumstances or for what cause might a person experience intense demonic oppression, even to the point of demonization (without at this point addressing the question of whether the latter can happen to a Christian)?

There are, on the one hand, specific things we consciously neglect that can open the door to the devil. The word "neglect" is possibly a poor choice of terms. It isn't that one little, inadvertent, slip-up will lead to demonization, but rather that persistent and unrepentant refusal to do what the Bible says to do may open the door.

For example, what if we fail or refuse to resist the devil (Js. 4; 1 Pt. 5)? Is Satan required to flee from us if we don't resist him? No. Or again, what if we fail or refuse to wear the armor of God (Eph. 6)? What happens if we engage the enemy unadorned? What might happen should we refuse to “put on Jesus” as Paul instructs in Romans 13:14? What might happen should we refuse to pray for protection from the power of temptation as commanded by our Lord in Matthew 6:13?

There are other things one might deliberately pursue that are considerably more dangerous in terms of exposing our lives to the influence of the enemy. Deuteronomy 18:9-14 warns about the peril of occultic activity. In our day that might take the form of astrology, palm reading, any form of fortune telling such as reading tea leaves, using a crystal ball, etc.; Ouija board, tarot cards, witchcraft, sorcery, magic (not sleight of hand or illusion but appeal to supernatural power to effect miraculous events), table lifting, Dungeons & Dragons(?), automatic writing, hypnosis(?), séances, incantations, good-luck charms, amulets, water-witching or dowsing, use of the pendulum, etc., as well as any form of Satanic worship.

Idolatry is mentioned on numerous occasions (see Deut. 7:25; Acts 19:18-19; Lev. 17:7; Deut. 32:17; Ps. 106:34-39; 1 Cor. 10:19-21). Timothy Warner writes: "When objects are made for occult purposes, or when people look to an object with the anticipation that it has power, demons will meet their expectation quite apart from any qualities inherent in the object itself. Or, in other cases, a person engaging in occult practices may invite demons to empower an object, and in this way the demons may become associated with that object" (94).

Then, of course, there is willful, unrepentant, unresolved sin (about which I’ll have considerably more to say when we look at whether a Christian can be demonized; see 1 Tim. 3:7; 1 Pt. 5:8; 2 Cor. 2:11; Eph. 4:26-27). This reminds me of a passage in Lewis’ Screwtape Letters: "Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys" (Screwtape, writing to the demon Wormwood, 39).

There is also the issue of embracing demonic lies or heresy (1 Tim. 4:1; Rev. 2:24) as well as the tendency to make inner vows or oaths.

All of the above have been referred to by some as occasions for “voluntary” demonization, in which unnecessary vulnerability to the Enemy occurs because of deliberate choices or conscious neglect. What about “involuntary” demonization? Some insist there is no such thing. They argue that no demon can gain access or a foothold apart from the willful, voluntary complicity of the individual. But the case described in Mark 9:14-29 may prove otherwise (see the next lesson). Here we see that a child is demonized. What willful sin could he have committed to warrant this condition?

I’ll take up the two most oft-cited instances of so-called “involuntary” demonization in the next installment.