Could the psychological and emotional struggles I'm going through be an attack from Satan and his demons? Years ago I got involved in the occult. I made some horrible moral choices that left me wrestling with terrible anxiety and deep shame. I've prayed and tried to leave it all behind – but every time I seem to make progress, I spiral back down into guilt, remorse, anger, helplessness, and hopelessness. How can I break this cycle?
As evangelical Christians who take the Bible seriously as the living Word of the one true God, we believe in the reality of spiritual warfare and the unseen spiritual world. So yes: It's possible that your suffering may have a demonic component to it.
But the good news is that Satan and his minions don't have complete or final power over genuine disciples of Jesus Christ – people who've placed their lives entirely in His hands and who claim His blood as a covering for their sin.
Winning the Spiritual Battle
If you belong to Jesus, there's a lot you can do to get out from under the destructive weight of a painful past.
- Admit that you're a sinner, and ask Christ's forgiveness for your sins every day. Then trust God to deliver you from the powers of darkness.
- Pray and read Scripture regularly. Spending time with God and His Word will help you know Him better and be assured of His love for you. Personalize Psalm 91 as a covenant prayer – be confident of the Lord's sheltering care.
- Remember that God is stronger than the devil. Christ defeated Satan on the cross, so He can deliver you from Satan's traps and keep you in the protection of His grace. That's what the apostle James had in mind when he wrote, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).
- Keep a journal of all your thoughts and emotions. Write as if you were talking directly to the Lord; this will help you be honest with yourself about your struggles. Re-read what you've written to identify how Satan is trying to deceive you (for example, through fear, bitterness, or shame). Then shred those pages as a physical reminder that you're laying your struggles at the foot of the cross.
- Turn away from the lies of the devil and his evil spirits. Consider what you uncovered in your journaling. Pray through the Prayer of Deliverance and the Prayer for Repentance & Renunciation if you need to. Be open to any response the Lord might have.
- Find a pastor, Christian counselor, or trusted fellow believer (of the same sex) you can talk with openly. Ask them to pray with and for you. Remember: This isn't the kind of thing you can overcome on your own. As James puts it in another biblical passage, "Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed" (James 5:16).
Where to Find More Help
For an overview of spiritual warfare, we invite you to take a look at the summary from our Counseling department: Satan's Strategies Against Us … And God's Solution.
You're also welcome to call us for a free phone consultation. Our caring Christian counselors would be happy to talk with you about your concerns, and they can give you a list of professional counselors in your area.