Can the devil choke a person? You might say, “Yes, he can! He can do it through one of his followers — say, a thief or a criminal.” Of course, that would be true. But not everyone who follows the devil is a thief or criminal. Some work behind desks!
The following excerpt is from a book, entitled, “The Man in the Leather Hat,” by Paul B. Long. The author was a missionary in different parts of the world. This is one of his experiences. I have great respect for this man, who has served Christ in many countries. There are relatively few people who would do the types of things he has done, so he is to be commended for his work in serving Christ. The experience which I am about to quote is with reference to one particular incident that he writes about in his book, in which he attempted to speak on the “turf” of the local medicine man. Watch what happened.
“You want to worship here?” he [the medicine man] said. “This is the devil’s territory.”
“I can talk with God any place, Mungede, and any time I please. Don’t you know that?” [said the missionary]
“We will see,” he said as he pounded the talking drum … A large crowd gathered around the spirit mound. I was surprised to see that the medicine man and women were amused – it’s always nice to have people happy when you tell them God’s Good News, especially when they are capable of being dangerous.
When I stood to speak, I felt the oppressive presence and power of overwhelming evil. The “utter darkness” was suffocating me. I felt the cold fingers of death press around my throat and I could not speak. As I stood there in foolish helplessness, the medicine people laughed; it sounded like voices from hell.
I turned in utter defeat to sit down with Mungede. “I can’t speak here,” I said when my voice returned.
“You should have known better. This is the devil’s turf. You have no right or power here.”
“Does God have any turf in this village?” I asked. [speaking to his helper from the local community]
“Yes. On the other side of the village we used to have a Christian chapel. The building is gone, but the land still belongs to God.”
“If you will invite the people to go with us there, I will try again.” And when I passed the medicine man, I added, “Come with us, powerful one, and hear about the ‘affair of God.'”
“I will stay on my turf,” he answered. “Here I have power.”
(The Man in the Leather Hat,” by Paul B. Long, 1986, Baker Book House, pages 37-38).
While I do have great respect for this man who was willing to travel far and wide to spread the gospel, because of a recent experience I had, I think there may be a missing component to his faith. In the entire book, we never read of the use of the miraculous spiritual gifts. These include the gift of tongues. This is perhaps reflective of Mr. Long not believing in their use today. He is a missionary with the Presbyterian Church in America. The man who gave me the book, also a Christian minister, was himself a missionary, from a more conservative background.
I could never really appreciate the power of the devil to choke a person before, because I had never personally experienced it. But should this limit our faith? No. The devil afflicted people in a variety of ways in the Bible, from seizures to others means. Under the right (that is, wrong) circumstances, the devil can do these things.
Not long ago, I had an experience of my own, which was stunning. I was minding my own business, at my computer, engaged in writing some software. As I was sitting there, minding my own business, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, an unseen hand grabbed my neck and began to choke me. I literally could not breath and jumped to my feet and began belting out spiritual commands in an unknown tongue. I felt the powerful hand of a spirit against me, but, although I was being choked, I was free to speak in tongues when I did! So when the devil attacks, the Lord’s spiritual gifts come right into action. I was granted instant authority to combat the devil. Talk about a sudden door of victory being opened.
The miraculous gifts is what I think was missing in the missionary’s story quoted above. The missionary simply accepted defeat and sat down when the “cold fingers of death” pressed around his throat. Where was the gift of tongues on his journey? Absent. If the missionary did not claim to speak in tongues, why was he not sent with someone who did?
You are fighting in a spiritual war. You must use spiritual weapons to gain the victory. Had I not been willing to use the gift of tongues at that time, I probably would have been dead. I was literally being choked to death.
Satan asked God permission to do it. God allowed it. God knew that the outcome of Satan’s attempt would be this series of articles on how to fight Satan using spiritual weapons. Believe it or not, it was that one incident — of the devil choking me — that got this entire series going. Without it, I would not even have typed a single word.
No wonder God allowed it!
What “evil” has happened in your own life? How does God want to turn that around for the good? Learn, and apply the lessons. Then, go and spread the good news. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)
“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:1-4, NASB)