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by bruno sebrechts  
3/16/2021 / Bible Studies

“Yahweh’s curse is in the house of the wicked” (Prov 3:33).

Working curses can be the outcome of blatant idolatry (Deut 11:28). Missionary reports and classics on spiritual warfare[1] describe houses or locations being delivered from demonic oppressive atmosphere, strange sounds, inexplicable displacements, or spontaneous smashes. This prompts questions about locational links of demonic activity.

Demons and Locations

Job 1:10 records Satan’s complaint that God had planted a hedge around Job, around his house, and around all that he had. Isaiah 13:21 describes evil spirits wandering in ruins and abandoned areas—much like the demon in Luke 11:24 that sought rest in "dry places" before it returned; and Revelation 18 notes evil spirits wandering in the ruins of Babylon. The presence of the devil in the desert at the temptation of Christ is another story. Jesus finally rebuked him and commanded him to leave.

In the Old Testament, we read how God's people had to deal with the impurity of locations such as high places and altars that were devoted to idolatry (Deut 12:3; 2 Kgs 11:17; 2 Chron 14:2–5). The New Testament gives more insight to the demonic background of idolatry. Old Testament references to the god Baal-Zebul, a chief god typically linked to territorial dominion, returns in the derivative term Beelzebub, the ruler of unclean spirits.[2] Paul refers to principalities, rulers, powers, and dominions (Eph 6:12)—a range of terms all used of geographical dominion.

The New Testament instructions on spiritual warfare are very general, such as the use of the word of God as the “sword of the Spirit,” and getting victory by “the Lamb’s blood” (Rev 12:11). The Great Commission of Mark 16:17 mentions evil spirits to be cast out/expelled/sent away (ekballo).

Christ was revealed “that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). In the age to come, the new earth will be cleansed of all evil powers, and in our age, God’s children may experience foretastes and the early onset of that age (Rev 21:1; Matt 25:41; Hebr 6:5). 

“Leprosy” as a Spiritual Lesson

The Old Testament concept of impurity receives more meaning in the New Testament, which sees the symbolic exercises as foreshadowing spiritual applications (2 Cor 6:15–17).

The prophets linked uncleanness mainly with idolatry, as in Ezekiel 36:25: "I will pour pure water upon you to cleanse you from all that is unclean, and from all your idols." The people and the land could both become unclean: "When the house of Israel was living on their own land, they defiled it by their behavior" (Ezek 36:17 NET Bible). The result of defiled land could be "that the land vomit you out" (Lev 18:28),[3] and Micah 2:10 prophesied destruction because of the uncleanness of the land.

Mosaic Law declared that houses and clothes could be unclean, or infested with “leprosy.” This was not the disease we now recognize, but a condition with a religious meaning that could relate to God’s judgment (Lev 14:34; 2 Kgs 15:4–5). [4]

Unclean parts of the house had to be removed and cleansing rituals performed. The impurity was symbolically transferred to two birds, one of which was to fly away (Lev 14:33–53). This ritual strongly parallels the ritual where sin and uncleanness was sent back to Azazel, the demonic figure that symbolized the origin of unclean spirits .[5]

Ancient pagan magic practiced dramatic rituals to attack, exorcise, or ward off local evil spirits.[6] The Mosaic Law’s strong emphasis on the sovereignty of God, to whom all powers are subject, led to a different approach with different rituals, with no emphasis on dramatic demonic confrontation. Yet the Azazel ritual, and the parallel ritual with the two birds, reminded God’s people of the invisible world with hostile, unclean powers.

Since the New Testament links uncleanness with the demonic, we can learn from the cleansing rituals concerning house leprosy, and meditate on how to apply their core principles to spiritual oppression at particular locations. These core principles include a serene approach, priestly service, a focus on separation and removal of the impurity, and full redemption.

Demonic Oppression in Houses: Practice

New Testament ministry is focused on people, not on territories or locations. So, we should not seek out location-related oppression as an end in itself. But if we have pastoral/shepherding responsibilities, we should pray for those who are under attack. Our approach should be to objectively check for causes, and if we cannot make a diagnosis, to dwell on the general promises of God to protect. But if there are strong indications, we should not exclude the option to address evil spirits to claim the victory of Christ.

We need to first determine whether the cause of the problem is related to the current occupant(s), for oppression from evil spirits at a particular location can accompany personal infestation.[7] But a merely location-related phenomenon may also result from dark practices that have taken place there in the past.

Our reason for intervention is not based on an eagerness to fight demons, but on God’s promises to protect and bless those who serve him. So, we first remind the owner/occupant of his responsibility to recognize Jesus as Lord, and to remove any object that relates to the realm of darkness (objects related to idolatry or occultism, certain books or music, etc.). If we get no cooperation on this, we shift our focus from the demonic problem to sharing the gospel.

Because we only have a general mandate for dealing with evil spirits (i.e., no specific mandate for expelling them from houses), we must stick to the general rules.[8] If we discern that our involvement is appropriate, we must base ourselves on the biblical truths that we are protected in any confrontation with evil, as long as we do what we are called to do.

In the desert, Jesus sent the devil away only after quoting Scripture to disprove Satan’s wrong interpretation of Bible verses. We do not bind or expel demons loosely, but only after first confessing Christ's victory in prayer, and then disproving or removing all links to the demonic.

As the Holy Spirit confirms our prayers and actions, we can be confident of deliverance from demonic interference, as we can testify from practice. Our confidence is rooted in the victory of Christ through the cross and resurrection, his victory over all evil powers. We overcome because of “the Lamb’s blood, and because of the word of [our] testimony” (Rev 12:11). We pray for God's protection on all those directly and indirectly (e.g., close family members) involved, relying entirely on deliverance and victory through the shed blood of Christ.


"Aftershocks," or minor demonic after-attacks, may follow a successful intervention. The occupants might have become hypersensitive to demonic activity and should be educated to regain the proper focus. Trusting Jesus and living under divine protection is an ongoing concern.

Text is available in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Chinese, Russian, Arabic and Farsi. 

For a general treatment of the theme of spiritual deliverance, see
"Light In Our Darkness, Essentials of Spiritual Deliverance" –
 Bruno Sebrechts.­­­
Humble Joy Publishing  ISBN 9789083136400
Spanish Edition ISBN


[1] E.g., “Some people who occupy houses, where evil spirits have been worshipped for many years, are afflicted by those evil spirits.... Sometimes there are idols. Behind these idols are evil spirits. Sometimes a portion of the wall is marked out for pictures to be worshipped. Those pictures must be scraped off, the wall must be whitewashed and a man of God must pray. When God takes us to such homes, they are permanently relieved of all those troubles.” Taylor, 'Demon Experiences in Many Lands', 22–23; Augustine described this phenomenon in 'De Civitate Dei', xxii. 8, 6; Origen explained: “It is certain wicked demons … frequent unclean places upon earth.” 'Contra Celsum', IV, 92; See also John and Mark Sandford, 'A Comprehensive Guide to Deliverance and Inner Healing' (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), 208ff.

[2] The name Baal was often added to that of a locality, e.g., Baal-peor, Baal-hazor, Baal-hermon.

[3] “Graphic is the picture of the land loathing its burden and vomiting forth its inhabitants. As a leprosy infected walls and garments, so the abominations of the heathen defiled the land itself that it stank.” H. D. M. Spence-Jones, 'Leviticus' (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1910), 286.

[4] “‘And I put the plague of leprosy in a house of the land of your possession’; by which it appears that this kind of leprosy was from the immediate hand of God, and was supernatural and miraculous, as the Jewish writers affirm.” John Gill, 'An Exposition of the Old Testament', vol. 1 (London: Mathews and Leigh, 1810), p. 614; “What was in the house became unclean only when the priest had declared the house affected with leprosy. The reason for the defilement is not to be sought for in physical infection, but must have been of an ideal or symbolical kind.” C. Keil and F. Delitzsch, 'Commentary on the Old Testament' (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), Lev 14:35, 36.

[5] Jozeph Michman and David Sperling comment on the Mosaic leprosy rituals: “The purpose of the ‘leper's’ ritual of the first day (Lev. 14:2–8) was to exorcise the demonic disease and banish it to a place of no return, e.g., the desert (see *Azazel) or the open country in the case of the leper (ha-sadeh; Lev. 14:7, 53).” 'Encyclopedia Judaica', “leprosy”,;
It is striking that Jesus made a distinction between healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, and casting out evil spirits (Matt 10:8). “Leprosy” is not just a disease or a typical demonization; the “leper” first and foremost needs cleansing. However, the absence of explicit address regarding dark forces in redemptive acts does not necessarily mean that no forces could be involved (see Luke 13:12); See Guelich, 'Mark 1–8:26', 74.

[6] “Ritual in early Israelite religion took the place of magical apotropaic practices intended to counter demonic influences.” Hyam Maccoby. 'Ritual and Morality: The Ritual Purity System and Its Place in Judaism' (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), IIX.

[7] “An infested place is not even recognized as a disturbance until its influences impinge on people. The ministry involving places is usually a ministry to distressed people and the causes of their distress.” Richards, 'But Deliver us from Evil', 134.

[8] Peterson deals with the subject and recommends a prayerful approach. He cites an example of a believing woman who destroyed idols in a pagan temple without meeting the required conditions and then met with all kinds of mishaps, including mental problems caused by demonic attacks. Peterson, 'Roaring Lion', 9.

Bruno Sebrechts is a counselor and Bible teacher with over twenty-five years of pastoral experience. He saw God at work, especially in the healing and deliverance of the most damaged believers. His writings are the result of his extensive experience and continuous study.

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