How to Slam the Door in Satan’s Face

When it comes to demons, I’ve found that most Christians believe there are only two categories in which the demonic operate: oppression, where bad things happen around us; and possession, where a demon completely takes over someone’s body. (Of course, some Christians ignore the presence of the demonic altogether, which—as C.S. Lewis pointed out in The Screwtape Letters—pleases the devil just as much as fascination with him.)

Demonic oppression and demonic possession both have some biblical foundation. But there’s a third way demons operate, one that is far more common in Scripture. This third category provides a more accurate and full view of how demonic forces work against the lives of believers.

This third way is occupation.

Dr. Karl Payne, in his book Spiritual Warfare, uses this paradigm of occupation to illustrate the role of demonic forces in our lives. More often than not, he says, the Bible uses the word “demonized,” not “possession,” to refer to demonic activity, which indicates that it’s not nearly as all-or-nothing as we might think. The image he uses, borrowed from Jesus in Luke 11:24–26, is that of a house:

Imagine leasing a large house from someone and subletting several of the rooms to other tenants. Some tenants are great and cause no problems. Other tenants are less than ideal, playing loud music, leaving trash all over the place, stealing your neighbors’ packages. At any point, because they didn’t own the room, the landlord could ask the tenant to leave by the owner’s authority.

The house represents our lives. And Jesus is the owner of that house. But Jesus has given us, as managers or landlords, the ability and responsibility to sublet rooms. We don’t own them, but we have the freedom to use them. But when we entertain a sin or believe a lie, we open the door to one of those rooms, allowing demons to inhabit it. It’s not that the house suddenly changes ownership. It still belongs to the owner, Jesus. But one part of the house is now occupied by some really bad tenants. They move in and bring all kinds of destruction with them, destruction that affects not only that part of the house, but the entirety.

That’s why the Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 4:26–27, speaks of holding onto bitterness as “giving place” to the devil. “Giving place” is essentially subletting a room to the devil. When we “give place” or “sublet a room” to demonic powers, they do what demons do—bringing more lies, more confusion, and more problems. They do their best to ruin not only that room, but the whole house.

But here’s the thing: At any point, we can, in the name of the Master, tell them to leave. And they don’t own the place, so they’ve got to go.

What does this look like, practically? It means you give Jesus back control of that room, believing his truth in that area. And when you do, he will drive the demonic out.


So if you feel overwhelmed with guilt and shame, Jesus declares, “Though your sins were as scarlet, I have made them white as snow. I have put them away, as far as the east is from the west.” Believe that truth, and boom, Jesus slams the door on Satan’s face in that room.

If you feel insignificant and unworthy, Jesus declares to you: “I have seated you with me in the heavenly places. Every promise of God for you is ‘Yes’ in Christ Jesus. I have given you a future and a hope; before I formed you in the womb I knew you; you are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Believe that truth, and boom, Jesus slams the door on Satan’s face in that room.

If you have this feeling of dread and anxiety about the future, Jesus declares: “But [your] God shall supply all your need according to his riches in Christ Jesus, so be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Believe that truth, and boom, Jesus slams the door on Satan’s face in that room.

It doesn’t matter what truth you need to believe or what lie Satan is struggling to get you to believe: Our Messiah is a door-slamming Messiah. And so long as you believe his truth in that area, the occupation will end.

And that door will stay shut.