Two weeks ago, my wife Dahl and I were asked to help some Filipinos who were experiencing some demonic activity in their home. Before going, I wondered: “Do evil spirits that are active in Costa Rica communicate only in Spanish? Do they also understand English or Tagalog?” I posted this question on my Facebook page to encourage biblical reflections on the matter. Some were being facetious about their responses probably because they didn’t know we were facing a real, urgent case of demonic oppression.
Engaging in this level of spiritual warfare is not new to me. However, have you ever thought of confronting demons in cross-cultural contexts? I would be hard-pressed to bind these demons in Spanish, but if I address them in English or Tagalog, would they understand me?
I am sure that evil spirits understand the language spoken in the territory they inhabit. For example, the disciples of Jesus spoke Aramaic in casting out demons in the Jewish towns they visited (see Matthew 10 and Luke 10). Most likely, the sons of Sceva spoke Greek to the evil spirit that they encountered in Ephesus (Acts 19:13-20). However, unlike our God Almighty, demons are not all-knowing. I doubt that each demon speaks all the 6,877 languages currently known to be in use in the world today.
So, if these evil spirits were Spanish-speaking, how did they understand our Tagalog language? Why did they leave our friends? Well, it was not because these demons had advanced communication skills or had interpreters on standby. It was not even because of my own ability. They left because of God’s intervention. Two factors were at work when God intervened:
- The authority of Jesus. When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” (Luke 10:17). Dahl and I make the same confession.
- The power of the Holy Spirit. “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). When we prayed, the Holy Spirit interceded for us and communicated effectively to the demons.
Demons oppose the work of God. They relentlessly try to hinder us from carrying out the purposes of God. They may be extremely powerful beings but we are not helpless against them. When you appropriate the authority of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, God intervenes so that you can resist any demon, whatever language it may speak.
The assault of God on evil was manifested that evening not only in the driving away of demons but, more significantly, in the salvation of these Filipino friends, six of them, as they invited Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. Glory to God!