I hear people who say they rebuke Satan or another demonic spirit. What does that mean? Is it necessary? I want to give you my perspective as a Christian counselor and deliverance minister and also give you another option that might be more helpful to you.
Dictionary.com defines “rebuke” as follows: to express sharp or stern disapproval of; reprove; reprimand. It is used in the context of dealing with another person. The word rebuke is not commonly used today and when I hear it used in a spiritual sense, my sense is that it’s likely being used religiously and with little understanding of proper context.
There is often a presumption of anger or a raised voice that must accompany rebuking Satan and while that may be part of it, there can be other elements.
We see in scripture that the word, in various forms, is used at least eight different times (KJV) and is in the context of Jesus dealing with people, demonic spirits, and the physical elements:
- He rebuked a fever in Simon Peter’s mother-in-law [Luke 4.38-39 (also Mark 1.29-30)]
- He rebuked demons after he had cast them out of people [Luke 4.40-41 (also Mark 1.32-34)]
- He rebuked the wind and waves to bring calm to the sea [Matthew 8.26]
- He rebuked the waves a second time [Mark 4.39; Luke 8.24]
- He rebuked Satan when Peter was influenced and spoke to him [Matthew 16.23; Mark 8.33]
- He rebuked a deaf and dumb spirit [Matthew 17.18; Mark 9.25-27; Luke 9.42b]
- He rebuked two of his disciples who wanted to call down fire from heaven [Luke 9.54-55]
- He rebuked the eleven disciples after his resurrection because they refused to believe the reports [Mark 16.14]
It is my experience that people who want to rebuke demons may not have complete understanding of our present day power and authority over the demonic realm. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and defeated him (and his hordes) on the cross.
Jesus rebuked people, demons and physical forces of nature. His rebuke of the waves and winds is clearly to deal with the demonic forces that were behind those as Satan was seeking to destroy Jesus and his band of followers when the storms arose.
Even when Satan prompted Peter to speak out against going to Jerusalem and being killed, Jesus discerned the source (Peter was not demon-possessed) and rebuked the spirit, not the man. He recognized and resisted the devil’s plan to derail his mission. Similarly, he rebuked the spirit behind the fever afflicting Peter’s relative.
He also had stern words for his disciples for ill-advised counsel and for their unbelief.
Jesus gave his church dominion over them and we are to drive them out (Mark 16:17) and also resist them (James 4:7). Being able to resist successfully requires that we also see when the demonic realm is active in a particular situation, but that is a topic we’ve covered previously (xxxxx).
An Alternative to Rebuking Demonic Spirits
When we discern that the source of the temptation is demonic and not our own flesh, we need to submit to God and resist that devil. Speaking to the spirit (for example, “You spirit of fear, you get out of here and you leave me alone, in Jesus name” is one response. The next step is to choose the correct course of action in response.
Also included with resisting and driving out spirits, binding spirits (as described in Matthew 16:19) is another way to deal with the demonic realm. Coupled with loosing the Holy Spirit upon a person or situation, binding demons, by speaking out loud, neutralizes them for a season. The duration of the binding can be short or long, depending on the free will that the affected person chooses to exercise. We have covered this topic in greater detail in another article (Binding Demonic Spirits: Why It’s Important).
I’d like to suggest an alternate approach to rebuking spirits. Let’s summarize below:
- Discern the spirits at work: it’s a spiritual gift, so ask for it, study some good teachings about it, believe that you have received it, and begin to walk in it.
- Submit to God and gain insight on how to proceed
- Resist (and bind, as necessary) the demons by taking thoughts captive and speaking to them. Demon spirits cannot read your mind. They will flee.
- Make right choices in each situation.
If you are stuck or cannot seem to get the victory in a particular area of your life, you may need deliverance from demonic spirits. Resisting, binding or rebuking spirits will provide only temporary relief at best; victory will not come until the spirits are driven out.