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Self Help for Violent and Non-Violent Hauntings
(This topic is covered in the Precautions section of this site)

Seven Steps to Self-Deliverance

How Can You Become Demonized?

The sources of demonization are various but generally fall into three categories:

  1. Inattention or Failure to live the Christ-Life: Whenever we move away from God we move away from His protection. As one old Baptist preacher said once, “The best way to keep the devil out of our lives is to keep Christ in our lives.” We need to develop our faith and devotional life with God. Inattention to this leaves us vulnerable to the attacks of the Evil One.
  2. Sins of Commission and Omission: Living a sinful life guarantees vulnerability to the Evil One. We need to deal with sin in our life — both the sins we actively or habitually commit and the sins that come from not doing what is right. Sin pokes holes in the hedge of protection that God has erected around us; it leaves the gate to our live unlocked.
  3. Sins of Others: The “sins of the fathers” is often a sad reason for the problems and even the demonization of the children. One of the most famous cases of possession was in Iowa in the 1920s. (To read an account of this case see, Begone Satan!) This was a case in which the possessed woman had been repeatedly cursed by her wicked father. The poor girl suffered terribly due to her father's sin.

    On occassion we can also suffer from curses and spells perpetrated upon us any anyone who is evil enough to wantto do such a thing.

    In these cases, there is nothing we have done to cause the demonization. We are innocent. We are, rather, victims of other people's sin.

Can You Deliver Yourself from Demonization?

The answer is, “It depends.” Sometimes one can, with their own will united to Christ in prayer, devotional practices, and frequent participation in the Sacraments, be delivered from the harassment and bondage of the Evil One without any additional assistance.

In more difficult situations, a person may need the help and prayer support from others, especially that of a priest laying on hands in prayer, and/or the help from a Deliverance Counselor to guide and advise a person in how to find freedom and healing.

Once harassment or bondage has developed to more intense levels, however, and with the more serious levels of demonization, a person may not likely find freedom and healing without the help of someone like a Deliverance Counselor to lead the person through a complete deliverance process.

In the most serious cases, commonly called “possession”, freedom and healing may only be possible through the miraculous intervention of God by His own initiative or through the Solemn Sacramental Rite of Exorcism performed by a designated priest with the permission of the Bishop.

When Deliverance is Delayed or Does Not Happen?

Deliverence does not always happen quickly. It can take months or even years of prayer and work, even with Solemn Exorcism, to finally achieve deliverance and freedom. We believe that some of the reasons for this is that the afflected person may need to learn some things about himself, about God, and about his spiritual life. God may use the affliction as an opportunity to teach a person something about His glory or about some spiritual truth the person needs to know. Some people are slower to learn than others!

Another reason for delayed deliverance is that “hooks” may be present in a person's life that need to be removed before deliverance can be completed. “Hooks” are various behaviors and circumstances, attitudes and ideas, or emotional attachments that allow demons to “hang on” to a person's life.

Some examples of this hooks include, but are not limited to...

Behaviors or Circumstances: involvement in astrology or the occult, the New Age, membership in heterodox or heretical groups, sexual sins (fornication, masturbation, adultery, pornography, homosexual sin, “living together without marriage”), other sinful lifestyles, maintaining friendships that are harmful, and for Catholics in particular—remarriage without annulment of previous marriages or any other marriage that has not be properly regularized and blessed in the Church.

Attitudes and Ideas: rebelliousness or a spirit of disobedience against some Church teaching, holding heterdox or heretical viewpoints, pride, prejudice against against certain people, gossip, selfishness, uncharity, lack of compassion or love toward others.

Emotional Attachments: this area is perhaps the most common “hook”, after that of sexual sins and pride— unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred, hopelessness, despair.

Deliverance is rarely possible, or unlikely to be permanent, if any of these or any number of other “hooks” remain in our lives. To find freedom, we must locate and remove all the “hooks”. Any “hook” in our life can be the excuse the demons use to hang on to us.

Searching for “hooks” in our lives can be very difficult both to recognize them and to overcome them. It can also be emotionally painful, but it is critically needed if we are to find freedom and healing. A Deliverance Counselor can be very helpful, and sometimes critically necessary, to assist a person in finding and ridding themselves of these “hooks”.

In rare instances, God may allow the devil to bother us as a test of our faith even though we have done nothing, and others have done nothing, to cause the troubles. Although this is fairly uncommon, it can and does happen; it happened to Job.

There are also instances in which God denies our request for deliverance for our own good. St. Paul speaks of his own trials in this area, namely...

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
—(2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

Finally, in very rare cases, God may deny deliverance to someone because He is calling the person to be a “suffering soul” for the Kingdom of God as a witness to the world.

Divider

Whatever the causes of our spiritual afflictions, there are seven proven steps we may try to help ourselves find freedom and healing. If these steps do not resolve your situation, then perhaps it is time to ask for help:

Step 1 — Conversion

Deliverance from any level of demonization, bondage, or harassment (collectively called, “spiritual afflictions”) cannot be achieved without personal conversion. Deliverance from milder forms of spiritual afflition may often be achieved by the various acts of personal conversion—Acts of Contrition, Faith, Hope, Charity, and Consecration (see Examples of these prayers. Such “Prayer Acts” and other prayers, with fasting, frequent reception of the Sacraments, and various devotions are often effective to drive evil spirits away:

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. —(James 4:7,8)

The first step, therefore, is make up your mind to live the Christ-life; or if already doing so, to persevere in living the Christ-life. This internal conversion, which is a conscious decision and determination to follow Christ and all of His teachings, precedes all other steps to deliverance. Without conversion to the Faith in Jesus Christ and participation in His family, the Church, deliverance, even if seemingly effective for a while, cannot be successful in the long run. It is the “Truth” that makes us free (John 8:31b), not prayers, rituals, counseling, or personal will in themselves. It is the confrontation with Truth that sends the demons running back to hell. This is why the method of Deliverance Counseling we use is called a “Truth Encounter”. As demons are confronted with the Truth, and as we are confronted with the Truth, of who we are in Christ, we gain freedom. The foundation of all truth is Jesus Christ, who is Truth (John 14:6). Without our Lord Jesus Christ we can never know truth or obtain it.

Some people believe they are unable to make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. In such cases the person should ask God for help—ask Him for the faith that will save, deliver, and heal.

If we are willing to accept the gift of faith from God, our Lord will give it to us when we ask:

And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! —(Luke 11:9-13)

Sincerely ask God for the faith that brings saving faith, the faith of conversion to the One, that is Jesus Christ, whom who declares:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me (John 14:6).... Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).... I will not reject anyone who comes to me (John 6:37).... [rather] take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matt 11:29-30)

Step 2 — Repentence

Essential to growing closer to God in faith, devotion, and love is to repent of those behaviors, desires, beliefs, and ideas that are sinful. The definition of sin is much broader than most people imagine. A full and complete definition of sin according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

1849 — Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is a failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. Its wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”

1850 — Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight” (Ps 51:4). Sin sets itself against God's love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin (of Adam and Eve), it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become “like gods” (Gen 3:5), knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.” In this proud self-exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation (cf. Phil 2:6-9).

We must repent of our sin, but repentence involves more than merely “turning away” from sin. Repentence must also renounce all that opposes God and all that He finds sinful. This includes renouncing Satan and his ways, renouncing personal sins, and renouncing all that leads us to sin. Some of the common sins and situations that interfere with deliverance include: involvement in non-Christian activities like the occult, new age, astrology, Eastern meditation, yoga; role-play games like Dungeons and Dragons; persistent situational sins such as living together without marriage or remarriage without annulment of previous marriages; maintaining improper or problematic friendships; illegal activities of any sort; and sins that have become habitual such as pornography, masturbation, fornication, gossip, lying, stealing, etc.

The three greatest stumblingblocks to deliverance is Pride, Rebellion, and Unforgiveness and all the things that go along with those three sins. Repentence of Pride, Rebellion, and Unforgiveness is required to even hope for deliverance. (We will discuss these stumblingblocks in detail in Step 4.)

Repentence also includes the firm amendment to avoid avoid sin, and the near occassion of sin, in the future. Repentence requires a complete turn around of our lives, a becoming a “new man”, so that...

...you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God's way in righteousness and holiness of truth. Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another...(thus) do not leave room for the devil (Eph 4:22-25,26b)

Step 3 — Confession

With faith and contrition of heart, repentence of mind, firm purpose to avoid sin and that which leads us to sin, we must now confess our sins before our God who is a God of forgiveness and mercy. This is a critical step that we will discuss at length.

The manner of our confession differs between Catholics and Protestants, but within our respective traditions, confession is required:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

... if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. (Romans 10:9-10)

For Catholics, confession of serious (grave) sin must be achieved in the Sacrament of Confession. Although venial sins are not required to be brought to the Sacrament, the Church recommends it as the Sacrament is also efficacious for healing and strengthening of all sin.

For Protestants, the Sacrament of Confession is not part of their tradition, but one is still bound by the teaching of Holy Scripture to not only confess one's sins to God (cf. 1 John 1:9; Roman 10:9-10) but to “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results” (James 5:16).

Catholics have a built-in “accountibility partner” in which to confide and confess their sins — a priest. For Protestants, it is encouraged to find a trusted confidant in which one has the confidence that the confidant will keep private all you tell him. This confidant may be one's pastor or other minister, or a trusted friend.

There is wisdom in presenting oneself to an “accountibility partner.” Personal accountability is upheld when we confess to another person whom may hold us accountible for our actions. Confessing our sins to one another is a powerful way to break the bonds of sin in our lives. It is much harder to confess our sins to one another than to simply say, “Lord, forgive me”. While God is forgiving, of course, it is the demands of personal accountibility before another human being that brings our confession into grounded reality that strengthens our commitment to turn away from sin in the future.

We must be careful when choosing an “accountibility partner.” Since we will be revealing very private and sensitive information about ourselves, it is critically important to trust whoever we choose as a confidant to be discreet and to keep absolutely confidential the information we tell him.

Catholic priests are sworn to secrecy — they are forbidden to reveal anything that they hearfrom a penetant (person seeking the Sacrament of Confession) to anyone, even the Pope. If a priest were to break the “Seal of Confession” (the secrecy of Confession) he is automatically excommunicated and can be “defrocked”. Should such a priest refuse to repent of this most serious sin, he endangers his soul to hell. No one, not civil courts, not church courts, not even the Pope can command a priest to reveal the secrets of the confessional.

Other religious ministers, psychologists, counselors, and others including the Deliverance Counselors of our agency, are also bound either by law, ethical codes, or contract with the client (or bound by any combination thereof) to keep private and confidential all that is revealed to them. In addition, those in the ministerial and helping professions are usually trained in the ethics, legalities, and culture of maintaining confidentiality. They are use to keeping private the personal information of their patients and clients. Friends, on the other hand, may not have such training and may not be use to the culture of confidentiality. Thus, if one's confidant is not a priest, or at least a minister, psychologist, or counselor bound by law and/or ethical codes, take care to ensure the chosen confidant understands thoroughly that he must keep private all that he hears and may not discuss it with anyone, not even with his spouse.

There is a great psychological comfort in hearing the words, “I forgive you” or the equivilent, “I absolve you of your sins.” Our Father in heaven understands this psychological need. Thus, in His great love for us, He provided a way for us to hear those words in His name. It is God who ultimately forgives sins, but God, according to His sovereign authority chose to delegate this authority to His validly ordained priests. This power was given to the Apostles in Jn 20:22-23 and was passed on from them to those whom they appointed. Through His priests, when God forgives, the penitent can literally hear the words, “I absolve you...” God is great and so loving to understand our need to hear the words and provide a way for us to experience that forgiveness in an audible way.

Our Father in heaven also knows and understands our need to be a family and for the family to come to our aid when we are hurting, to offer forgiveness when we fall, and to provide healing and strength to help us grow in faith. The Sacraments, such as the Sacrament of Confession, is part of that “family” economy in which God created us. Even God Himself is family —God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We come into the world through our biological families, are raised by families, and come to God through the family of His Church. Thus it is natural that when we fall, we return to Him through the family of His Church. The Catholic Church has always believed in what God has taught about the need for confession and has followed the teachings of our Lord in this matter.

If you are Catholic you have a great privilege of the Sacraments; seek the Sacrament at least monthly. When you sin gravely, offer an immediate prayer of Perfect Contrition. This prayer brings forgiveness, but you must followup with the actual Sacrament of Confession as soon as possible, and always before receiving the Eucharist.

If you are Protestant, this wonderful Sacrament is not available to you, but God forgives you when you appeal to Him with your heart-felt and sincere repentance and confession. Follow the tradition of your denomination and always offer a prayer for forgiveness as soon as possible after sinning. Then, in obedience to the Bible, seek accountibility by confession to a confidant to complete your healing.

Step 4 — Removing the Greatest Stumblingblocks: Pride, Rebellion, and Forgiveness

We have already mentioned that the three biggest stumblingblocks to deliverance is usually Pride, Rebellion, and Unforgiveness. These three sins distances us from God. To draw closer to God we need to give up our pride, obey our Lord's teachings, and forgive those who hurt us.

In Deliverance Counseling we help our clients through exercises to locate pockets of pride and rebellion and to rid themselves of these sins with the help of God through prayer. Forgiveness, however, tends to be the most difficult, partly because of pride or even rebellion perhaps, but mostly because of deeply emotional issues surrounding the circumstances of the hurts someone has given us. Whatever the causes of our unforgiveness, deliverance is not possible until we can come to forgive, thus we shall discuss this topic at some length too.

The following guide is rather long, but this step is one of the most important. One simple MUST deal with Pride, Rebellion, and Unforgiveness if deliverance and healing is to be permanently possible.

Divider

Pride: Pride is the essential sin that leads to most other sins. It is the sin of Lucifer that lead him to rebel against God resulting in his expulsion from heaven and becoming Satan.

Pride is a killer. Pride says, “I can do it! I can get myself out of this mess without God and without anyone elseís help.” No we canít! We absolutely need God, and we desperately need each other.

Pride also says “I know the best and most efficient way and how dare others get in the way of that” or “How dare things not go my way” or “How dare some person or something get in the way of what I want to do.” Impatience is a factor of pride. Other ways impatience reveals our pride is getting impatient when we cannot find our car keys, or when we are late to a meeting, or if someone is driving too slow for us on the hiway, or when the computer acts up and interrupts our train of thought.

Impatience is the sister to Pride because it is caused essentially by our desire to have things our own way, in our own time, and according to our own preferences.

Pride is also the engine behind egotism (thinking more of oneself than one ought) and behind false humility (putting oneself down to be less than what one actually is). Pride is the force behind resistance to lawful and appropriate authority — whether that authority is a parent, teacher, police officer, government, employer, or the Church.

Pride is the basis of thinking of oneself as better than others, being pompous, and having contempt toward oneís neighbors, employers, other family members, or the Church and her ministers.

Pride can also rear its ugly head in more subtle ways such as reluctance to apologize when we need to apologize, demanding our rights merely because it is our right, being inappropriately unkind or rude, jealousy, being quick-tempered, moodiness, brooding over wrongs done by others to oneself, depression and despair, or demanding that we are right about something, when indeed we are right about the issue, even though the issue is unimportant or can be handled differently (this is a major phenomena in marriages, families, and friendships — the phrase “We need to choose our battles” is an important remedy for this).

Other ways that Pride expresses itself include: by taking personal credit for gifts or possessions and thus refusing to acknowledge that we have what we have by Godís Providence; glorying in our achievements as if they were not primary a result of Godís grace and divine goodness; by minimizing oneís defeats; by claiming qualities that are not actually possessed; magnifying the faults and defects of others or dwelling upon the defects and faults of others.

James 4:6-10 and 1 Peter 5:1-10 reveals that spiritual conflict follows pride.

Examine yourself for these and any other attributes of pride and then pray:

Dear Heavenly Father. You have said that pride goes before destruction and an arrogant spirit before stumbling (Prov. 16:18). I confess that I have not denied myself, picked up my cross daily, and followed You (Matt. 16:24). In so doing I have given ground to the enemy in my life. I have believed that I could be successful and live victoriously by my own strength and resources. I now confess that I have sinned against You by placing my will before You and by centering my life around self instead of You.

I now renounce the self-life and by so doing cancel all the ground that has been gained in my life by the enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that You will guide me so that I will do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind that I will regard others as more important than myself (Phil. 2:3). Enable me through love to serve others and in honor prefer others (Rom. 12:10).

I ask this, my Lord, strengthened by the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of Blessed Michael the Archangel, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the Saints, and powerful in the holy authority of Your Name. Amen.

Rebellion: We often place our confidence in the flesh not only with the “I can do it myself” attitude but each time we assert our own opinions above the teachings of Christ. It is a pride and a rebellion to say, “I wanna do it my way” or “I wanna think the way I want” without regard to the ways God teaches us to go and to believe. This is an arrogance that not only can get us into major trouble but also forms a major vulnerability for demons to come into our life.

St. Augustine wrote about this: “Lord, those are your best servants who wish to shape their life on Your answers rather than to shape your answers on their wishes.” We need to conform our lives to the teachings of God, not conform Godís teachings to the way we want to live our lives.

Rebelling against God and His authority gives Satan an opportunity to attack. As our commanding general, the Lord Jesus Christ says, “Get into ranks and follow Me. I will not lead you into temptation, but I will deliver you from evil.”

The Bible teaches us that it is the will og God for us to be obedient to parents, to civil government, to the Church, and to the pastors who are over us. We have two biblical responsibilities in regard to these authority figures: 1) Pray for them; and 2) submit to them. The only time God permits us to disobey those in authority over us is when they require of us an act or acquiescence in ways that are contrary to Church Law, Natural Law, or Divine Law.

Being under authority is an act of faith; we are trusting God to work through His established lines of authority. The authority that God has ordained does not mean, however, that we are to submit to abuse from those authorities. In those cases where someone in authority over us is abusing us in any way, then we need to act in appropriate ways according to the situation — such as appeal to the state for protection and relief for civil or criminal issues; or appeal to Church authorities on some issue involving religion or our parish; or make appropriate decisions such as terminating an abusive relationship, etc. Whoever the authority who is abusing, we need to pray for the offender and to forgive him; but we are not required to be a doormat or target of their abuse.

Some of the lines of authority mentioned in the Bible include:

  • Church leaders (Hebrews 13:17; Matthew 18:15-18)
  • Parents (Ephesians 6: 1-3; Exodus 20:12)
  • Husbands (1 Peter 3:1-3; Ephesians 5:23-24)
  • Employers (1 Peter 2:18-21)
  • Civil Government (Romans 13:1-5; 1 Timothy 2:1-3; 1 Peter 2:13-16)

Examine yourself for any areas of rebellion (deliberate driving faster than the speed limit is rebellion, too, you know!) and then pray:

Dear Heavenly Father. You have said that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry (1 Sam. 15.23). I know that in action and attitude I have sinned against You with a rebellious heart. I ask Your forgiveness for my rebellion and pray that by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, strengthened by the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of Blessed Michael the Archangel, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the Saints, and powerful in the holy authority of His Name, that all ground gained by evil spirits because of my rebelliousness be canceled and taken back. I pray that You will shed light on all my ways that I may know the full extent of my rebelliousness, and I now choose to adopt a submissive spirit and a servant's heart. Amen.

Unforgiveness: Jesus Himself discusses the seriousness of failing to forgive. He tells us that failure to forgive those who hurt us will result in our not being forgiven ourselves by God. “Forgive us our trespasses (sins) as we forgive those who trespass (sin) against us”. The Our Father, the Lords Prayer, which most all of us know and pray, Jesus teaches us that God will be as forgiving to us as we are to others.

Indeed, how can we expect God to forgive us when we do not forgive our brothers? Consider the follow teachings from Holy Scripture:

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:14,15).

But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too (Mark 11:25).

If you forgive others, you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37b)

Forgiveness is not about emotions and feelings. You can still be hurting, angry and upset and still decide to forgive. Forgiveness involves a mental decision, a decision of will, an act of your free will, even though you may not “Feel it”.

In our Deliverance Counseling, we teach clients about the true nature of forgiveness:

  1. Forgiveness is not forgetting: People who try to forget find that cannot. It is an unfortunate quirk of the English language with the phrase, “Forgive and forget”. In actuality this phrase does not mean to “forget” in the sense of not remembering what happened; of course we will remember. God says He will “remember our sins no more” (Heb. 10: 17), but God, being omniscient, obviously cannot literally forget. “Remember no more” means that God will never use the past against us (Ps. 103:12).

    To forget is really “to let go”. We need to “let go and let God”. We let go of the past, but more importantly we let go of the hurt. As long as we do not forgive, as long as we do not let go, we allow the offender of our wounds continue to hurt us.
  2. Forgiveness is a choice not a feeling: Since God requires us to forgive, it is something we can do. God will NEVER ask us to do something that is impossible for us to do; that would be cruel and God is a loving God.

    Forgiveness, however, is difficult for us because it pulls against our feelings and emotional hurts. Forgiveness is not about forgetting our feelings or our emotional hurts. We often will not “feel” like forgiving, but we must forgive anyway. As the Lord Prayer teaches us, God forgives us “as we forgive others”. But how can God require this of us when we have been hurt so badly?

    God does not expect your feelings and emotional hurts to be healed overnight. He knows and understands our feelings and our hurts. He is a compassionate God and will help us to heal over time, as we are able. What God expects of us is not an immediate emotional healing, but a decision of will to forgive, a decision of will to trust Him to take care of the offender and to heal us, a decision of will to ask God for, and to commit to, being healed of our wounds.
  3. Forgiveness is not letting the person off the hook: Forgiving is about you letting go, but it is not letting the offender off the hook. He will still pay for what he did, either before the Law or before God or both.

    Forgiving is surely difficult for us because it pulls against our concept of justice. We want revenge for offenses suffered. But we are told never to take our own revenge (Rom. 12:9). Revenge does more damage to us than it punishes the offender. Godís justice will prevail, no one can escape it. Never fear, those who hurt us will be held accountable, but we must let God deal with it. In order for God to deal with it, we need to let Him deal with it by letting go.

    “Why should I let them off the hook?” But doing that is precisely the problem — we are still hooked to them, still bound by our past when we do not forgive.

    To forgive does not mean letting the person off the hook; it means letting yourself off the hook.
  4. But you don't understand how much this person hurt me: The problem is that when we do not forgive we, in essence, allow the person to still hurt us! The question is, “How do we stop the pain?” The answer is to forgive!

    It is important to understand that we do not forgive someone for their sake; we do it for our sake so we can be free. Our need to forgive is not an issue between the offender and us; it is between us and God.
  5. Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of anotherís sin: Forgiveness is costly. We pay the price of the evil we forgive. We are going to live with those consequences whether we want to or not; our only choice is whether or not we will do so in the slavery of bitterness and unforgiveness or with the freedom of forgiveness.

    Jesus took the consequences of our sin upon Himself. All true forgiveness is substitutional because no one really forgives without bearing the consequences of the other person's sin. God the Father “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:2 1).

    Where is the justice? we might ask. It is the Cross that makes forgiveness legally and morally right: “For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all” (Rom. 6: 10). This doesn't mean that we tolerate sin. We must always stand against sin, but we must give the offender to God and get on with our life.
  6. How do we forgive from our heart? First we acknowledge the hurt and the hate. If our forgiveness does not visit the emotional core of our life, it will be incomplete. Many feel the pain of interpersonal offenses, but they will not acknowledge it. Let God bring the pain to the surface so He can deal with it. This is where the healing takes place.

    Do not wait to forgive until we feel like forgiving; we will never get there. Feelings take time to heal mostly after the choice to forgive is made and Satan has lost his place (Eph. 4:26, 27). Freedom is what will be gained, not a feeling.
  7. Summary of Points on Forgiveness:
    • Forgiveness is necessary to have fellowship with God.
    • It is not forgetting.
    • It is a choice.
    • Letting the offender off our hook is what frees us.
    • The offender is not off God's hook.
    • God says, “Revenge is mine.”
    • You must acknowledge the hurt and the hate.
    • Forgiveness means we are agreeing to live with the consequences of another's sin — which we have to do anyway.
    • The justice is in the cross.
    • Choice is between the slavery of bitterness or the freedom of forgiveness.
    • Forgiveness means not using the past against the offender.
    • Forgiveness does not mean tolerating the sin or abuse.
    • Why forgive? To stop the pain! As we live in unforgiveness the offender still hurts us!
    • The issue of forgiveness is between you and God only.
    • The act of forgiveness is for the your sake, and for your freedom.

Think about the people in your life for whom you need to forgive, people to whom you hold bitterness, people who have hurt you or disappointed you in anyway, or for whom you hold any kind of grudge. Be sure to ALWAYS include your parents, siblings, spouse, and YOURSELF. There is always something to forgive in our families and in ourselves.

Record all the names you can think of on a sheet of paper and a brief note as to why you need to forgive them. If you do not remember names, list them by what you do remember, such as “the guy in sixth grade with the red hat”. If you cannot remember why you need to forgive someone on your list, that is okay; forgive them for whatever it was — God knows.

After preparing this list ask God to bring to your mind anyone you have forgotten. It is not unusual to forget, or to push aside from our conscious mind, incidents and even the names of people whom have hurt us. These hidden hurts and wounds need to be healed as well. Thus ask God to bring to your mind any person you have forgotten for whom you need to forgive, for whom you hold a grudge against, for whom you are bitter, for those who have hurt you, with the following prayer:

Father in heaven, please bring to my mind the names of any people for whom I have held bitterness towards, grudges against, or have not forgiven for the hurts they have caused me. Help me to remember all these hurts so that they may be offered to You, O Lord, and healed from my soul so that I may live the truly victorious Christ-life. Amen.

Add to your list the names of anyone God may bring to your mind.

Now it is time to Pray...

The following prayer needs to be said for each person on the list for whom you need to forgive. Do not go to the next person on the list until you are sure you have dealt with all the remembered pain.

As you pray, God may bring to your mind various offending people and experiences that has been totally forgotten. Allow God to do this even if it is painful. Remember this process of forgiveness is for your sake because God wants you to be free.

Remember also that by forgiving the offender we are not rationalizing or trying to explain the offender's behavior. Forgiveness deals with the victim's pain, your pain, not another's excuses. Positive feelings will follow in time; freeing you from the past is the critical issue now.

If you are willing to forgive for your sake, so that you can walk away from this webpage free in Christ, free from the past and from person who hurt you, pray the introductory prayer below and then pray the “Prayer to Forgive” for each person on your list:

Heavenly Father, I now ask for your help in forgiving all those people on my list. Although I am still hurt and angry with them, I know that they are your children and that you love them more than I can possibly know. For this reason, my God, I ask you to help me forgive them. I lay down all bitterness, resentment and hatred for this person and I freely choose to forgive them. Teach me to be more merciful, my God, and help me be always willing, just as you are always willing, to forgive those who sin against me. Amen.”

Prayer to Forgive

Lord, I forgive ___________________________ for (specifically identify all offenses and painful memories ).

May God heal you and bless you!

Step 5 — Know Who You Are in Christ!

In order to gain freedom it is important to know who you are in Christ. Thus you need to evaluate the concept you have of yourself, to acknowledge the truth about God and about yourself; about your relationship and ideas about God and about the manner of our lives.

We often deceive ourselves about our position in Christ and our relationship with Him. For example, we may say to ourselves: “This isnít going to work” or “I wish I could believe this but I canít” or perhaps even more direct deceptions or denials concerning the promises of God for His children. Areas of deception that we may have include:

  1. Self-Deception (telling ourselves things that are not true)
    • Listening to Godís words but thinking we do not have to do it (Ja 1:22; 4:17)
    • Thinking we have no sin or do not sin (1 Jn 1:8)
    • Thinking that we are something when we are not (Gal 6:3)
    • Believing that we will not reap what we sow (Gal 6:7)
    • Thinking we are wise and sophisticated in the 21st century (1 Cor 3:18, 19)
    • Believing that the unrighteous will reach heaven (1 Cor 6:9)
    • Thinking we can associate with bad company and not be corrupted (1 Cor 15:33)
  2. Self-Defense (defending ourselves instead of trusting Christ)
    • Denial (conscious or subconscious)
    • Fantasy (escape from the real world)
    • Emotional insulation (withdraw to avoid rejection)
    • Regression (reverting back to a less threatening time in the past)
    • Displacement (taking out frustrations on others)
    • Projection (blaming others or accusing others of things we ourselves have done)
    • Rationalization (defending self though verbal excursion)

To counter these and other deceptions we tell ourselves we need to exercise faith. Faith is the response to Truth and believing the truth is a CHOICE (not a feeling). If we say, “I want to believe God, but I just canít,” then we are deceiving ourselves. Of course we can believe God. We know that God does not lie. Faith is something we DECIDE to do; it is not something we FEEL like doing. Believing the truth does not make it true; rather it is TRUE, therefore we believe it.

View our Who You Are page for a Scriptural list of who you are in Christ. Read these affirmations daily or as often as you need. It is important that you not only understand these affirmations, but hold them in your heart. It may take time reading the affirmations over and over before that happens.

Examine yourself and how you may deceive yourself with “self-deceptions” and “Self-Defense” mechanisms. The pray the following prayer:...

Prayer to Know the Truth:

Dear Heavenly Father. I know that You desire truth in the inner self and that facing this truth is the way of liberation (John 8:32). I acknowledge that I have been deceived by the father of lies (John 8:44) and that I have deceived myself (1 John 1:8). I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, strengthened by the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of Blessed Michael the Archangel, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints and angels of heaven, and powerful in the holy authority of His Name, that You, heavenly Father, will rebuke all deceiving spirits by virtue of the shed blood and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. And since by faith I have received You into my life and am now seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph 2:6), I ask you Father to command all deceiving spirits to depart from me. I now ask You to “search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Ps. 139:23, 24) In the name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.

Knowing the truth about oneself, overcoming self-deceptions and the mechanism of self-defense that hide who we really are, includes understanding our faith in Christ. It is by Christ that our lives have meansing and substance.

The following prayer is the substance of that faith:

Doctrinal Affirmations

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I, __________, do hereby declare and affirm my Christian faith in these following Doctrinal Affirmations:

I recognize that there is only one true and living God (Ex. 20:2, 3) who exists as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and that He is worthy of all honor, praise, and glory as the Creator, Sustainer, and the Beginning and End of all things (Rev. 4:11; 5:9, 10; Isa 43:1, 7, 21)

I recognize Christ as the Messiah, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn 1: 1, 14). I believe that He came to redeem mankind, to offer us a way to freedom from darkness through salvation by the merits of His work on the Cross. I believe that in Christ all works of Satan are destroyed (1 Jn 3:8), that He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public display of them, having triumphed over them (Col 2:15).

I believe that God has proven His love for me because when I was still a sinner, Christ died for me (Rom 5:8). I believe that He delivered me from the domain of darkness and transferred me to His kingdom, and in Him I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:13, 14)

I believe that I am a child of God (1 Jn. 3:1-3) and that I am seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6). I believe that I was saved by the grace of God through faith, that is a gift and not the result of my own efforts or merits (Eph 2:8).

I choose to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Eph 6:10). I put no confidence in the flesh (Phil 3:3) for the weapons of warfare are not of the flesh (2 Cor. 10:4). I put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20), and I resolve to stand firm in my faith and to resist the evil one.

I believe that Jesus Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt 28:18) and that He is the head over all rule and authority (Col 2:10). I believe that Satan and his demons and wicked spirits are subject to the Lord Jesus Christ and therefore to me in Christ since I am a member of Christís body (Eph 1:19-23).

I believe that apart from Christ I can do nothing (Jn 15:5) so I declare my dependence upon Him.

I choose to abide in Christ in order to bear much fruit and to glorify the Lord (Jn 15:8) and to accomplish the work of sanctification that Christ began in me through the Cross (James 2).

I believe that since I am a member go Godís royal family I have the authority, in the name of Christ Jesus, to ask the Father to command the devil and his minions to leave my presence, as I obey the command to resist the devil (James 4:7).

Therefore I announce to all the universe, of men and of angels, of all creatures great and small, and to the infernal creatures below, that Jesus Christ is my Lord (1 Cor 12:3), and that I reject any counterfeit gifts or works of Satan and his minions in my life.

I believe that the truth will set me free (Jn 8:32) and that walking in the light is the only path of fellowship and freedom (1 Jn 1:7). Therefore, as a royal member of Godís household, I stand against Satanís deceptions by affirming all the doctrines of the Faith and by taking every thought captive in obedience to Christ (2 Cor 10:5).

I declare that the Bible and the Church are the only authoritative standards for me (2 Tim 3:15, 16).

I choose to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15).

I choose to present my body as an instrument of righteousness, a living and holy sacrifice, and thus I renew my mind daily by the living Word of God in order that I may prove that the will of God is good, acceptable, and perfect (Rom 6:13; 12:1, 2).

I ask my heavenly Father to fill me with His Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18), to lead me into all truth (Jn 16:13), and to empower my life that I may live above sin and not carry out the desires of the flesh (Gal 5:16). I crucify the flesh (Gal 5:24) and choose to walk by the Spirit.

In making all these doctrinal affirmations that go deep into the holy doctrines of the Faith, I renounce all selfish goals and choose the ultimate goal of love (1 Tim 1:5). I choose to obey the greatest commandment to love the Lord my God will all my heart, soul, and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself (Matt 22:37-39). Amen.

Step 6 — Worship, Pray, and Fast

Worship as a Church Family: One of Satan's favorite lies, apart from having us believe that he does not exist, or that he does exist and is more powerful than he truly is, is that since God is everywhere and we can worship Him anywhere and do not need the “community of believers“, the Church family.

Although it is true that God is everywhere and worshiping Him anywhere is wholesome and good, it is false to believe that the Church, is unnecessary. Since the earliest days of Christianity, communities of believers gathered together on the Lord's Day (Sunday) to celebrate the Mass and to receive our Lord in the Eucharist.

Scripture is very clear on the subject of Church attendance and on how our submission to it's authority is not only good but required. The Church, it's leaders and members, are the Mystical Body of Christ here on Earth. To disobey the teachings of the Church as it relates to faith and morals is to disobey the teachings of Christ. To not attend church is also disobedience to Christ.

St. Paul admonishes those who do not come to Church in Hebrews 10:19-25:

Therefore, brothers, since through the blood of Jesus we have confidence of entrance into the sanctuary by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil, that is, his flesh, and since we have “a great priest over the house of God,” let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy. We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Jesus Himself tells us in John 6:54-56, among other passages, that we must come to the Sacrament in order to have eternal life. We receive the Sacrament through the Church:

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.

The Church, in obedience to Christ and the Apostles, requires us to assist at the Holy Sacrafice of the Mass each Sunday and on other Holy Days of Obligation. The Bible is clear that we are to obey not only Christ, but also His Church:

Hebrews 13:17

Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Worship and Prayer as a Domestic Family: It is also important to worship and pray as a family unit. In addition to assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as a family unit, the family should be going to adore the Blessed Sacrament together, praying the Divine Office or the Rosary together, praying devotions to patron saints of the family and family members, and devotional fasting. Blessings before meals only begins the need for the family praying and performing devotions at home. Worship and prayer together as a family, both in the parish setting, prayer meetings, adoration, and other corporate settings, and in the privacy of the family at home is critical in developing spiritual health for the family and each family member. Such family devotion forms the foundation for all that each family does away from home in the world of school, work, and society.

Prayer is so important both in the family context and individually. It is important not just because prayer is something a Christian ought to do, but because prayer is communication.

Communication with our Creator engenders a deeper love and dependence on Him. The more we depend on God, the closer He is to us and we are to Him. Aligning ourselves with God, communicating with Him at all times and in all situations and personal decisions will unite our hearts to His. A heart united to the Creator will overflow with graces and blessings.

Prayer and Spiritual Warfare: In addition, a healthy prayer life destroys strongholds that demons may have in our lives and in our hearts. Without prayer we cannot hope to be delivered from spiritual afflictions. It is no secret —prayer, worship, devotion, and living the Christ-Life in all that it entails is the formula not only for deliverance from spiritual afflitions, but for living the victorious life in Christ.

When dealing with spiritual afflictions, however, some special prayer considerations may be needed. Scripture states that there are certain demons that will only respond to prayer as well as fasting: “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:21). If fasting can defeat even the strongest of fallen angels, just how powerful is this sacrifice that we can make?

See the Prayer Page for a link to a Spiritual Warfare Prayer Catalog and examples of spiritual warfare prayers. These spiritual warfare prayers are very effective in defeating the enemy and drawing our hearts closer to God.

Step 7 — Live the Faith and Remain Faithful

Along with all the advice and recommendations of the first six steps, our healing and deliverance cannot be complete unless we act upon our our faith. Doing good works and charitable acts of love are a natural outflow of our faith and necessary to lead a good Christian life. It is not enough to believe. St James asks and admonishes in James 2:19,20, 26:

Do you still think it's enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?

Just as the body is dead without a spirit, so also faith is dead without good deeds.

St. James calls a man a fool who does not act upon his faith in James 1:22-25:

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looks like. But the one who peers into the prefect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does.

It is hard to live the Christ-Life, but we must try. We must not have a faith that is dead and useless. We must not be a fool and not practice our faith. We must, rather, live out our faith and persevere in the faith:

1 Corinthians 9:23-27

All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it. Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I eere shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.

Colossians 1:17-23

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross (through him), whether those on earth or those in heaven.

And you who once were alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him, provided that you persevere in the faith, firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, am a minister.

And thus let us be able to say, with St. Paul, in 2 Timothy 4:6-8

For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his a appearing.

Please pray that you do not end up with the “faith” of demons &mdash dead and without good works. But rather act upon your faith by following the example of Christ. Persevere in the faith and let your life be a living Gospel for you shall thereby “know the truth and the truth shall set you free”

Official Advice from the Church

We have outlined seven steps detailing certain issues that we have found important in gaining freedom for a person in spiritual affliction. These seven steps can be distilled down into five “one-linters”.

Borrowing from the Church's Ritual we find five remedies suggested to the spiritually afflicted that are useful and wise for anyone at any level of spiritual afflition. This five-point advice is also efficacious for all of us in dealing with temptation and trying to live the Christ-life:

  1. Do penance and purify one's conscience by a good confession;
  2. Receive Holy Communion as often as possible;
  3. Implore the mercy of God by prayer and fasting.
  4. With a great spirit of faith, make use of the sacramentals, especially recourse to the invocation of the holy name of Jesus, and as St. Teresa of Avila suggests, that of the sign of the Cross and holy water; and
  5. Recourse to specific spiritual warfare prayers applicable to the situation.

Final Thoughts

Repentance, forgiveness, acting on our faith, praying, fasting, receiving the Sacrament frequently, and all the rest we ought to do as good Christians are very good things and very necessary for this life, but more importantly for the life to come.

The advice contained in these Seven Steps to Self-Deliverance, however, are not “quick fixes”. This advice involves a lifelong commitment for anyone with spiritual afflitions. Freeing yourself from the bondages of the enemy and keeping them from returning requires this commitment to persevere in Christ and in the Christ-life.

There will be dry times. Your faith will be tested. Indeed, the demons may (and more than likely will) try to return. Scripture speaks of what demons do once they are cast out:

Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. (Matthew 12, 43-45).

Do not leave your house (heart) “unoccupied, swept and put in order”; rather be filled with the Holy Spirit.

We can never let down our guard. As a final instruction, remember the teaching of St. Paul in Ephesians 6:10-18. We do not go about our day without putting on our clothes. Do not go into the world with the spiritual cloths of God's armor:

Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all (the) flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones.