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How to Detect the Presence of Demons

Being able to detect the presence of demons is a key part of setting people free from their influence. And since demons like to remain in the darkness, influencing a person without being recognized, it is not always obvious when they are at work. How can we discern when these invisible enemies are at work?

I wrote recently about three ways that demons seek to influence people: torment, oppression, and bondage. Sometimes it is possible to discern the presence of an evil spirit by looking at these “symptoms” in a person’s life, as well as getting some background information about them. But I want to cover two supernatural ways in which we can detect the presence of demons.

1. The gift of discerning of spirits

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is called “discerning of spirits” (see 1 Corinthians 12:10). Discerning of spirits is the supernatural ability to perceive what is happening in the spiritual realm and judge between the Holy Spirit and demonic spirits.

This gift may function in recognizing the work of the Holy Spirit, like when John the Baptist “saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him” (John 1:32). It also may operate in making us aware of the presence of angels (see 2 Kings 6:14-17).

And discerning of spirits certainly operates is in exposing the presence of evil spirits. Some believers report “seeing” the presence of a demon as a creature, serpent, black spot, dark cloud, or other image. Others may feel or sense something indicating demonic presence. Sometimes it may come as an impression from the Holy Spirit about demonic presence or the specific name of a demon.

While on staff at a church, one Sunday morning I was praying for a woman whom I had never met. I prayed as I felt led by the Holy Spirit, and an intercessor who was standing behind her discerned a spirit of fear was present. When I addressed this spirit, the woman began to manifest a demon and was set free from its power.

 2. A demonic manifestation

This is when an evil spirit comes to the surface and begins to make itself known in some way. It typically happens in what is referred to as a “power encounter”; where the kingdom of God collides with the kingdom of darkness, forcing demons to manifest so that they can be driven out. I have seen this happen during times when the Holy Spirit was moving powerfully through preaching, worship, or prayer.

In Mark 1:21-26, we see an example of this:

Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him.

Jesus was teaching in the Synagogue, when all of the sudden a demon manifested in a man sitting in the congregation. It seems that the authority of Jesus’ teaching forced the evil spirit to come to the surface so it could be driven out. I have seen similar things happen at times when praying for people or teaching on the subject of deliverance.

I have found that the more experience you have with deliverance, the easier it becomes to discern the presence of evil spirits. I believe this is true of the supernatural discernment mentioned above, but also when it comes to observing natural signs and gaining information from the person you are ministering to.

As we grow in the Word, walk with the Holy Spirit, and gain experience in deliverance, our discernment will increase. And as our discernment sharpens, we will be more effective in setting people free from the influence of evil spirits.

About Jake

Jake Kail is a teacher, author, and speaker who is passionate for the kingdom of God. He was called into ministry during his college years, after a life-changing encounter with God. The focus of his ministry is on teaching and equipping believers, strengthening local churches, and seeing awakening and restoration come to the church. He also ministers often in the area of deliverance from evil spirits, seeing people set free from bondage, torment, and oppression. Jake is the author of three books: Restoring the Ministry of Jesus, Can a Christian Have a Demon?, and Abiding in the Vine. He speaks at churches, retreats, conferences, and other venues. Jake lives with his wife and family in Lancaster, PA where he serves on the pastoral team at Threshold Church. Check out Jake’s website and blog here: http://www.jakekail.com.

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  1. Jake,

    Great article. I’ve experienced demons on both levels. Before I became a Christian, I was having encounters with demons but I didn’t fully understand it. God was gradually exposing them in and around me. After that, they began manifesting more in the physical world around me. Funny thing is it was actually demons that God used to draw me to Him. I became highly aware of the spiritual realm, and it wasn’t until there was a major encounter in a church where both kingdoms hit head on, that I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. When I look back, it was a war. Actually I know it still is. We’ve even had battles over this website, especially when it began. I am so glad you are writing articles for this site and making people aware of the reality of spiritual warfare and the opportunity for deliverance through Jesus Christ. Thanks so much for sharing. God bless.

  2. I would like to see things but, too the best of my knowledge that hasn’t happened. However, I do feel an oppressive tightness in my throat when I give in to an unloving attitude. This usually happens when I am tired.Years ago, I have also felt, what I called “the dark burn” when I used to struggle with lust. Even before I was a Spirit-filled believer, I recognized this sensation inside me. It was both painful and desirable. When I gave in, shame and condemnation always followed. Now, I recognize pretty quickly, when I feel tightness in my throat and my biggest struggles with impatience or some other unloving attitude are right around the corner. Often, I for pray the blood of Jesus, in tongues, quote scripture and renounce the “unloving spirit” or even sing of the “wonderful grace of Jesus, which is greater than all my sins!”

  3. Dear Jake. I desperately need advice regarding a phenomenon that I have been experiencing for 26 years, since the day in September 1991 when I became born again. I suddenly became sensitive to demonic presence. I feel or sense their presence on various parts of my body, at various times and in various places, even in Church. I also feel the presence of the Holy Spirit while praying, listening to a sermon, or during a prophetic utterance etc.
    I also sense the Spirits displeasure and warning when I am about to say something hurtful. I have also experienced sudden heart beats when doing wrong or when I am sinning. All these are felt physically, and are not imagined etc. These are very real day to day experiences. Unfortunately, I am misunderstood by the majority of believers, as this experience is most uncommon among them.
    In addition to this, there is a pattern of unemployment, loss and failure that is severely impacting my life in a negative way. My wife, newborn son and I, are virtually homeless. We are unemployed, have no home or car of our own and our finances are fast running out.
    The question is, are these all somehow related? Is this a spiritual gift, or is this a matter of demonic torment and warfare to destroy our lives and to keep us poor and in poverty?
    I would appreciate any advice or comments from yourself or your friends and staff etc.

    Many thanks

    Edwin Stevenson (Durban, South Africa)

  4. I truly need help. I currently broke up with my ex..and then found out he sold his soul to the devil for riches and to be famous. At first I thought I was over thinking but as a couple days passes. I seen confirm emails and ever since last week I been feeling a aura. I’m having night terrors waking up screaming and a covern is helping me with white magic and also have Christians praying for me. I light a candle before bed and pray everyday. I just so tired and drained and scared to go to bed at night .

    • The Very First Thing you want to do is stop your involvement with White magic…. AND THE COVEN!
      GET CLOSER TO YOUR CHRISTIAN FRIENDS let them know about the others that were helping you also.
      Please understand that Demons are

    • That is strait up demonic. White magic??? If you are a believer than you should know full well to not mess with that kind of stuff. And if you are a believer than you know you are washed with the blood of the lamb and demonic things cannot hurt you. It sounds to me like you have not accepted jesus as your personal savior.

  5. Dear Jake, I need some advice regarding a problem that he’s been annoying me for years. I believe that there is something in my house and specifically in my room where it seems that everything happens, I am the only one experiencing anything regarding spirits and I would like some advice on what to do. I have many stories regarding this spirit or many but for the past month or so off and on I have had this petting sensation the left side of my head whenever I go to sleep. One night I came home and I was having a light migraine so I went to my bed to lay down and when I did the petting started, almost like petting a dog but someone was petting my head and I could hear it “are you awake?” It asked and I didn’t know what to do so I kind of nudged my head which now I realize was a terrible idea. So then the petting kept on going and then in a low mans voice (just like the fist time it spoke) it said “you are mine now” or something like that and then I was frozen in fear, honestly before that point I didn’t know if the spirit was evil or not but after that I was so sure it was, then the petting kept going the it finally left with a “goodnight,Morgan” and that scared me too but then it was gone. I still don’t know what it was or if it was a bad spirit a demon or what it was but what I do know is it couldn’t have been an angel since I was frozen in fear half the time but I sensed a presence ever since I was little, it never hurt me and I usually feel quite relaxed in my room and since whenever I lay down still it keeps happening I get really relaxed so can you help me? What is this spirit? What does it want? Is it safe in my room anymore? Should I be scared??

    • Hello I recently did a ghost tour at Cresson sanitarium in lily pa
      I have always been sensitive so my dad thought I would enjoy this. I was first ahead running down hallways alone with my father yelling wait slow down . The last. Building I went into had a class room on the 3rd floor all the doors to the stair case where the same this one slammed n felt as it was air tight and everything was different smell,the air the sound dead quite. The class room was the very last room to the end of the building of omg at least 30 rooms n a long long hallway at the back of the classroom was a huge desk against the wall as if that was the person in charge watching the teacher on opposite side but the set up didn’t seem right and the windows huge almost felt it was entrance or exit nothing but grass ahead and darkness after hours going thru tunnels and trails and building a to get to the far back side I was calm it scared but intrigued until a epv started picking up a spirit that seeker my help and was shy and scared n wanted me to trust itn befriend it it talked circles around men I felll into a trap after my seeki g to help it I took notice aevery photo there was two huge black dogs and looked like demon dogs a baby constantly playing and running around following amd by the way resembling possible a gremlin or clown mixed with the look of the grinch faintbut if u zoomn enhancement study the room n wats in it makes it easier to find them everywhere i went every since I camehome I feel dizzy Chest tight and a energy precense literally is by my side at all times it started revealing itself ti my four year old and claims it want my father in return for myfreesom I never established a faith but recently priori agreed I was on gods side n anted to further my faith n religion my father don’t believe in god or the devil he is mocking. Me n calli me insane but to many crazy things happened in such a short time my kids are uneasy they r terrified and I can’t ignore them n say they r crazy pure fear in their eyes what do I do? I always seen ghosts n had contact with them perhaps my guilt n sadness of my older sons fathers death and lack of contact I asked if there was a strong sprit if they could open the gates n tell. Him I love him I’d helpless them find their peace after that I took a photo sitting on the back desk recharging flash light batteries it was pitch black I’m thr windows u see on the tar roof two demon dogs and. Baby thats got glowing red eyes. Ficking being held by a big fat baby with no shirt looked like. 12 years old and it seemed to be I infinite then smoke behind them a huge circular dome n between all of that stood the evil looking demon standing reaching his hand out. I feel like A absolute lunatic no one sees or understood me I heard a owl leaving the sanitarium he came n flew up direct I. Front of me n didn’t break eye contact hoots twice mflys off owl was my animal card i picked wen tour guide made me have spirit guess my animal no matter wat I don’t ears buzzing n sounds like a surge a family friend is a pastor he told me exorcism n this is out of his league itattacjed to my rosemary I bought I’m the gift shop area it ripped it as I threw it off my property n seems like it’s messing with my more weak minded and very verbally and physically abused insecure child who my ex recently burned him with a torch on his ear my ex also all the sudden has alot of fancy expensive things he don’t make the amount or have the credit hes a narcissist convict and heroine addict and he never gets consequences for his actions n won’t let me go constantly driving by broke I’m few times noonedoea anything pleasing and begging my caliber bolt fell off theee times in one month almost home from the ghost tour it happened again he bega me always to see him nget back yet he’s nasty n controlling n u swear his love is real but it so acted theu the epv the evil spirit said they already have his soul he is ours how do I save my family? I’m so scared I willlose my children it’s all so insane yet it’s there I. My face

  6. Hey! I just read this. I was looking demonic presence because I had a weird encounter last week. I am washed of the blood of the lamb, they know they cannot touch me. But while in Virginia City, Nevada. I walked by a place called Washoe Club. I did not look at any signs, just was walking with my mom. When I walked past, I suddenly stopped. A feeling passed through me, heaviness, like heavy air, my stomach flipped and my heart began to race. It was this feeling, dread, despair, and evil that washed over me. I looked over at my mom and said, “Mom did you feel that?” She looked at me confused and then looked up and told me that it said, “as seen on ghost adventures.” I knew right away that what I felt was something very demonic and very present in there. My husband said that they may have a low-frequency machine to try to make people feel the way I felt. But if not, and I could not get a clear answer when googling it, then what I felt was not good. I walked past and did not look back.

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