Two Bizarre (and Powerful) Stories About the Devil

In the face of enormous, heinous, senseless evil, most of us sense, “There is something dark and powerful going on here.” More than just a few bad people. More than just wrong-headed ideologies. Even more than systemic injustices. We all sense, in our gut, that something bigger is at play.

That’s probably why the vast majority of people throughout history—and the vast majority of people in the world today—recognize the reality of supernatural spiritual forces at work. It’s not that people in centuries past were more superstitious; it’s that they assumed there was much more to the world than they could see.

And when we read Scripture, it’s clear that Jesus and the apostles saw the world this way, too.

In Luke 11, Jesus tells a confusing little pair of parables about a strong man, a “stronger man,” and a wandering spirit. Here’s how they go:

“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. …

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:21–22, 24–26 ESV)

The second parable is a little easier to understand, so let’s start there: It’s easy to imagine someone wanting to reform their life, getting rid of whatever “demons” (literal or otherwise) are bothering them. So this person, tired of the chaos of an unclean spirit in their life, decides to drive it out. Maybe he reads a bunch of books, or gets rid of bad habits, or cuts off bad influences. However he does it, he turns over a new leaf.

But if he does any of that apart from the power of Jesus, it won’t last. The unclean spirit returns, bringing seven other spirits more evil than itself to dwell there. After all that self-reform and cleanup, the current state is worse than the first.

If that were the only parable we had about demonic activity, it might sound pretty hopeless. Fortunately, it’s not.

Look back at the first parable: Who is the strong man in that parable? It’s not you; it’s a demon, the “unclean spirit” of verses 24–26. And if the “strong man” is a demon, who is the stronger man?

That’s right—Jesus.

Jesus is the Stronger Man who overpowers Satan and drives him out. We’re not even a man in this story: We’re the property they’re fighting over!

The only way to keep out Satan, the strong man, is to be possessed by the Stronger Man. The only way to keep our house clean isn’t to drive out unclean spirits, but invite in the Holy Spirit.

James says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Not because our words have magic powers, but because we resist the devil in the power of Jesus.

So when we’re in Christ and we suspect demonic activity in our lives, we don’t need an exorcist. Jesus has given us the power to drive the demonic away through simple surrender and faith. We pray—alone and with others—to discern where the Enemy is at work and speak truth into that situation.


It can sound like this:

Jesus, I recognize by the despair this creates in my heart that this flaming dart is from my Enemy. I don’t even know how to answer his accusations. But I recognize in the despair and doubt growing in my heart that this voice is not your voice, it is his. So I counter his lies with your truth.


Though my sins were as scarlet, you have made them white as snow. You have put them away, as far as the east is from the west. I am now fully loved and accepted by you. There’s nothing I could do that could make you love and accept me more; nothing I have done that makes you love me any less.


I am seated with you in the heavenly places. You have given me a future and a hope. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I have been created for good works. Nothing can ever separate me from your love. Neither height nor depth nor principalities nor powers nor anything in all creation can separate me from your love, and as high as the heavens are above the earth, that’s how high your love is for me.


I have nothing to do but to stand and be still, for the Lord, my God, will fight for me. And my God shall supply all my needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus.