November 30, 2022

Are Angels and Demons Real? (Part Two) 

Inside This Episode

As strange as it may sound, the Bible repeatedly makes the case that there really is another realm in which spiritual forces of Light and Darkness wage war against each other. So if we’re going to believe what we heard in part one of this episode about angels, we should also have the courage to explore the dark side of the spiritual world - Satan and his dark angels. In part two, Father Vincent Lampert, exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis of the Roman Catholic Church, reveals how evil seeks to work in all of our lives, and how to stop it. Also, testimonies from four people who say they’ve experienced demonic influence ranging from sleep paralysis to demonic possession.


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Episode Transcript

Eric Huffman: Hey everyone. Welcome to part two of our exploration of the spiritual realm of angels and demons. We really hope that you enjoyed part one. We're gonna jump into part two in just a minute but first, I'd like to ask you for your support in a way that I've never done before on this podcast.

As you probably noticed, we've really begun to up our game here at Maybe God. We used to release episodes whenever we could get around to it. But this year we've committed to releasing new content every single week on all of our podcast platforms, in addition to all the video content that we're putting out on our YouTube channel, like my full-length interviews with fascinating guests like William Lane Craig and Dr. Anna Lembke, former bachelorette contestant Cam Ayala and country music legend Randy Travis.

Now, as you can tell, we're pouring a lot of time and a lot of resources into this podcast now to reach as many people's ears and eyes as possible. But we can't keep going at this pace without your support. Ever since we launched this podcast in 2018, we've never asked our listeners for money. But with Christmas fast approaching, I would be so grateful if you would include Maybe God in your gift-giving tradition this year. You can help us maintain this momentum that we're building by making your tax-deductible financial contribution of any amount. Just head over to as soon as you can. And I want to thank you in advance for your support.

[00:01:20] <music>

Fr. Vincent Lampert: Whenever we turn our backs on God, is when the devil seems to have the upper hand.

Announcer: On this episode of Maybe God, he's an official exorcist for the Roman Catholic Church.

Fr. Vincent Lampert: The demon is giving me this hideous glare and smiles staring right at me, and the person's body begins to float, and I'm kind of looking at this even in disbelief. Like, "What in the world is going on here?"

Announcer: We're continuing our exploration of a world that is mostly unseen and can't be explained by science but a world that is undeniably real to the countless people who have experienced it.

Lisa: I felt like this pressure on my chest and I felt that this dark entity was trying to enter my body.

Sarah: I would hear this voice. It was like, "If you don't do that again, I'm gonna kill your family. If you don't do that again, I am going to hurt your sister."

Matthew: Then I knew right there they were trying to kill me because my heart was trying to stop, and then it skipped, then slammed and I felt like I was gonna die. And instinctually I just cried out, "Jesus, save me."

Announcer: Personal encounters with Satan and his dark angels and convincing evidence that spiritual warfare is real and learning to identify our enemy may be the only way to win the war.

Fr. Vincent Lampert: I believe the more we understand who the devil is, the more we come to realize that the devil is nothing to be afraid of.

[00:03:09] <music>

Eric Huffman: You're listening to Maybe God. I'm Eric Huffman. If you've spent much time around born again Christians, you've probably heard them talking about the enemy and the need to pray a hedge of protection around somebody who's engaged in spiritual warfare, or to cover them with the blood of the Lamb, or to outfit them with the full armor of God. There was a time in my life when I ridiculed and roasted those Christians for their seemingly nonsensical supernatural rhetoric.

Man: "Dark island, a place for evil that it can take any form. It can make your darkest dreams come true. It seeks to corrupt all goodness, to steal the light from this world."

Woman: "How do we stop it?"

Man: "It will do everything in its power to tempt you, to defeat the darkness out there. You must defeat the darkness inside yourself."

Eric Huffman: Scenes like this one from the Chronicles of Narnia always felt to me like modern mythology. Spiritual Warfare sounded to me like Christian fanfiction. Fun to talk about, perhaps, but not really true. I also felt as though Christians used Satan and his demons as a crutch at times. By blaming the devil for all the world's problems, believers could excuse themselves from the hard work of dismantling systems of social injustice that make life miserable for so many people or so it all seemed to me back then.

But in the nine years since my conversion to Christianity, my eyes have been opened to another reality. I now believe that human beings are not merely physical, but we're spiritual beings as well, and that there is more to this life than just the things we can see and touch and test in a lab and buy off the shelf.

As strange as that may sound, the Bible repeatedly makes the case that there really is another realm in which spiritual forces of light and darkness wage war against each other. So if we're going to believe what we heard in part one about angels, we should also have the courage to explore the other side. Even though it's unsettling, it's important. Because until we're able to identify the enemy, we might never be able to win the war.

When the team and I decided to produce an episode about demons, I knew exactly who I wanted to talk to because I've been watching his videos on a loop on YouTube for years now. He's the exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis of the Roman Catholic Church.

What originally drew me to him was his ordinary deadpan approach to something as extraordinary and sensational as exorcism. Father Vincent Lampert has seen it all. Knowing that we were about to delve into some pretty deep and dark territory, I decided to start our conversation with something on the lighter side.

So we'll get into your story in just a minute, but first, I just want to get to know you a little bit. And my way of doing that is by asking you your favorite, let's go, top two or three exorcism movies of all time.

Fr. Vincent Lampert: We'll go with The Exorcist back in the 1970s.

Eric Huffman: Classic.

Fr. Vincent Lampert: The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

Eric Huffman: Ooh.

Fr. Vincent Lampert: And then more recently, the movie The Rite.

Eric Huffman: The Rite. I don't think I've seen that one yet.

Fr. Vincent Lampert: That starred Anthony Hopkins.

Eric Huffman: Okay. So what do these movies get right and what do they get wrong? Just generally. 30,000-foot view.

Fr. Vincent Lampert: I think what they get right is the fact that evil is a reality that tries to attack and afflict us. I think what they may focus on too much is what the devil is doing as opposed to focusing more on what God wants to do in the lives of people who are suffering. And certainly, that would be the perspective that I have in this ministry.

Eric Huffman: Interesting. You should make a movie someday. That'd be great. So, Father Lampert, what actually led you to become a priest?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: I grew up in a traditional Catholic family. I have eight brothers and sisters. So we were products of Catholic education. Faith was always important in our lives. I think the vocation to the priesthood was instilled in me by the priests that I knew growing up, as well as the religious sisters who taught me in grade school and in high school. So I think it was a vocation that was fostered very early on in my life.

Eric Huffman: Catholic priests are appointed by their bishop to lead a parish ministry and sometimes to fulfill other specific duties as well. In 2005, Father Lampert's Bishop not only appointed him to lead a local church in Central Indiana but also to serve as the leading exorcist in the region. That year, Father Lampert became one of only 12 priests in the US who were appointed specifically to the ministry of exorcism.

Fr. Vincent Lampert: A lot of times when priests have this role, they may prefer to remain anonymous but I've always felt the importance of trying to educate people. Because if you keep something secret, then perhaps it kind of takes on a life of its own. I believe the more we understand who the devil is, the more we come to realize that the devil is nothing to be afraid of.

Eric Huffman: So I wouldn't say that the majority, even Protestant pastors in America, believe in exorcism as a valid form of ministry these days. Is this a universally held belief among priests?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: No. I would say that it would be the same mentality from your experience. So even within the Catholic Church, there are priests who would say, "Aah, if evil does exist, it's perhaps nothing more than humanity's inhumane treatment of one another. Therefore, something of our own making."

The official Church teaching is that evil is personified in what we call the devil and his fallen angels. But even though that may be the official church position, you always find some people who doubt whether or not that's something that's truly real. But what the Catholic Church believes is based on biblical belief, so biblical teaching, and then also the tradition of the church.

So when you look at scripture, for example, when Jesus sends His disciples out, He gives them the authority over unclean spirits, but He also gives them the authority to heal physical disease, if you will. There was a lot of people they would say that Jesus was just playing up to His audience, and because people back then didn't understand mental illness that Jesus has played into the mentality of the day. But Jesus makes the difference between physical ailments and those that are caused by demonic attacks. And so the church today herself still makes that distinction.

Eric Huffman: What do you chalk it up to that so many church leaders today seem less inclined to believe, to take the Bible at face value, or even Jesus Himself at face value where the demonic realm is concerned?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: I think the danger might be that maybe we're not focusing on biblical principles enough and maybe we're becoming more political. But the purpose of the church always points towards salvation. You know, it's pointing us to heaven. You go back to the book of Genesis when Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise, then God put a plan in place to bring us back to give us the opportunity to enter into paradise.

So recalling the story of Genesis, Adam and Eve are expelled, they're prevented from approaching the tree of life. But God wanted to give humanity the opportunity to repent. And then, of course, as Christians, we believe that that opportunity comes in the person of Jesus Christ.

So Jesus is the one who gives us the opportunity to approach the tree of life. And I believe the devil is the one who tries to trip us up on our journey through life, so that rather than walking the path that leads to life, he would want us to walk the path that leads to death.

So, to me, the main focus of the church, and that's broad church, all Christians, it's to get to heaven. But I think there's a lot of people today that have reduced the church, perhaps, as just a social institution. And certainly, we should be concerned for the welfare of people as they live in this life. But again, the church should always be focused on the life to come, recognizing that we are simply pilgrims on a journey in this life being prepared for something much greater than God has in store for all of us.

Eric Huffman: It really must be 'both... and', right? And I think part of the reason the ministries you're doing in dealing with the spiritual realm, tend to take a backseat in people's minds is because it feels less efficacious. It feels like it's not doing enough to bring about social justice or change the world here and now. And to just try and get people to heaven seems to be throwing earth under the bus in a way. And it doesn't have to be that way. I think it's important that we have a holistic approach to salvation. It's here and now and in heaven and forever, all at once. So I appreciate that perspective.

Now, we've been talking about Christians being the skeptical of the spiritual realm. But even non-Christians are pretty skeptical of things like hell and Satan. How do you talk to non-religious skeptics about the reason you believe in the dark side and why you think they should too?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: Well, I think the reason people focus on the positive things such as heaven or angels is because we all want to think about that which is good. We can all desire to be in heaven. But we also have to realize that if we don't live in the manner that God has created us to live, there are consequences to that. The consequences would be eternal damnation, separation from God. Again, you think of separation from God, you think of the devil and his angels.

We live in an age where I think people believe that freedom means that we can do whatever we want. But I believe that freedom in the true sense of the word means to be obedient to God. That when we are obedient to God, that's freedom in the true sense of the word. When we start to believe that freedom means we can do whatever we want, then we ended up becoming slaves to our own passions and desires.

There's a lot of people today that I believe live by three guiding principles: you may do whatever you wish, no one has the right to command you, and you are the god of yourself. But at the end of the day, when I go to heaven. But again, the choices we make, do have consequences, on our eternal salvation.

Eric Huffman: It's not just that I want to go to heaven, it's almost like I deserve it. That's what I hear a lot. I'm entitled to it in a way. It's human nature, I guess. You've talked a lot already about the devil and demons. Before we get too far, I want to make sure we're being clear on what we're talking about. So who is the Devil and what do we know about him?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: So who is the devil? You know, it's based on biblical teachings. It's also based on some of the tradition that comes out of the early days of the church. There's some writings by Pseudo-Dionysius who wrote The Celestial Hierarchy.

So Lucifer is believed to be the greatest of all the angelic creatures closest to the throne of God. Lucifer is the name that means "light bearer". We think of God we think of light. You think of a picture of a saint, there's a glow, a halo. It's not their glory they're radiating but the glory of God.

So God created angels, He created humans, and gave us free will. The goal of the spiritual life would be to unite our wills to the will of God. So God created the angels, gave them intellectual knowledge, and then basically said, "With the knowledge I have given you, with your freewill, will you now turn towards me."

And then Lucifer rather than turning to God, turned away from God. And His decision to rebel against God influenced 1/3 of the angels. The book of Revelation speaks about how his tail swept 1/3 of the stars out of the sky. Sometimes stars are references to angels. And then after the fall, Lucifer becomes Satan, the devil. So he now was cast down from heaven and down to the earth.

After Lucifer rebelled, it's important to note he was not cast out of creation, he was cast out of heaven. God still had a role for him to play. And we see that role being played out in our lives today. And what he tries to do is to get humans to turn our backs on God and literally become gods ourself.

What did He said to Eve in the garden? "Surely you will not die, you will become like gods." In other words, you don't need god. You can be gods yourself.

[00:16:04] <music>

Kate: I was very depressed, very abandoned, very lonely. But I don't think people on the outside or people in the world would ever really know it, if you were to ask them. You know, I would put on the fake face but I was just banned dating everything. I was just filling that void with sex, drugs, and rock and roll, basically. People relationships, alcohol, drugs, whatever could get me to not feel what I was feeling.

Eric Huffman: Before Kate became a married mother of two, she spent years dealing with the trauma of losing her mother when she was just 8 years old.

Kate: She took her life. She was very depressed. We did not know it. She hid that from us, sadly. And she didn't know what was wrong. But she ended up dropping me and my sister at school one morning, and then just did not pick us up. So that has just been a huge wound that I never really felt like I dealt with.

Eric Huffman: When she was 30, Kate began attending a church led by her friend, Pastor Jim Stern. That's where she started learning about Jesus for the first time in her life.

Kate: I had a woman, very shortly after I joined the church, invite me to lunch. And she was asking me questions, and we were talking and catching up and she said, she looked at me and all of a sudden there was this block and there was this strange look in my eyes and she didn't really quite know what to make of it.

A couple of days later, I call her, and I was screaming and yelling, and really distraught. And she said, "I'm on my way." On her way over to my apartment, she called Pastor Jim, and said, "I don't know when I'm about to walk into. Something is going on with Kate." He said, "I don't want you to go alone. I am on my way, I will meet you there."

So, Jim and my sweet mentor came over and sat on my couch, and began to describe what they were about to do. That Jim was going to be entering in to the spiritual realm, that there could possibly be some demonic attachments and he wanted me to just answer his questions with whatever came to my mind.

So he began to ask me questions and one of them was who this demonic presence was. And there was no name that came up for me like a person's name. What came up for me was rejection. So I began to say rejection. And then he said, "At what age did rejection come into your life?" And I said, "Eight years old." And then he said, "What is your mission with her?" And I began to say, "To kill her. To take her out."

This whole time, my friend and mentor was praying in the spiritual realm very powerfully in the name of Jesus. Jim began to reject and command this demon to flee from me in the name of Jesus. And I slowly turned my head and looked at her and she said that the look I had on my face was, number one, the scariest thing she's ever seen. That it just wasn't me. It was this glossed-over but very deep, very dark look. And she said, "You looked at me and it was like your look penetrated my soul."

So Jim just began to get after it and literally fight this thing in the spiritual realm, and he would have me repeat prayers. And then it just did not seem to be lifting. This feeling I had was like somebody was sitting on my chest. It was like this heavy, just this heavy, heavy, dark feeling. He began to ask more questions, and what we got to was that there was some unconfessed sexual sin that I was living in. And I began to confess and repent.

And at that point, Jim came over to me and he got on his knees, and he put his hands on my arm and he just started praying so powerfully, and so loud, and just so much authority. And then, all of a sudden, I just felt this huge lift. I just felt like something just broke off of me, or that pain, that heaviness just lifted completely off of me. I felt so much lighter.

And we just invited the Holy Spirit in to fill up the places where the demonic had left. From that day on, I was like a different person. It absolutely changed the trajectory of my life.

Eric Huffman: Why does he care? What is he and the demons... Why did they come after people? What's at stake for them?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: What's at stake is the human person has been created in the image and likeness of God. We know from Genesis that the human person reflects the divine image. And the devil believes that by afflicting humans, he's indirectly afflicting God Himself. So the devil believes that by afflicting the human person, not only does He indirectly affect God, if you will, but he wants humans to join in his rebellion against God.

Eric Huffman: Okay.

Fr. Vincent Lampert: Sometimes I'm asked, why would the devil want to possess the human body? What's so great about that? And the answer is at the very core of our Christian faith, the greatest thing that God did for us is the incarnation. God took on human form in the person of Jesus Christ. And the devil in his own twisted sense believes that he can take on human form when he possesses the human body.

But again, we're in the image of God. And because the devil wants to distort the image of God, when the devil possesses the human body, what does he do? He makes it something ugly and despicable.

Eric Huffman: In 2006, to train for his new role as an exorcist, Father Lampert was sent to Rome, where he apprenticed under a Franciscan priest for three months. There he witnessed over 40 exorcisms, but he is always the first to admit that demonic possession is extremely rare and that other types of demonic activity which have the power to influence Christians and non-Christians alike are much more common.

Fr. Vincent Lampert: So the devil can attack us in two primary ways. His attacks can be ordinary or extraordinary. Ordinary would have to do with temptation. So the devil just wants us to make bad choices to rebel against God. He did that to Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry.

Jesus is baptized by John in the River Jordan, the Spirit drives Him out into the desert. And then after 40 days, the devil comes to tempt Him. So we all experience temptation in our lives. But there are four extraordinary ways that the devil tries to use his activity against us.

There can be demonic infestation, the presence of evil in a location, or associated with an object. Think of something like playing with an Ouija board, or a voodoo doll, something that was created strictly for the purpose of creating a connection with the demonic world. So infestation, there's a presence of evil in a location or with an object.

Demonic vexation. These are physical attacks. People are receiving bites, bruises and marks, and things that appear on their skin, sometimes even incisions of letters that pop up on the skin for a while, and then they subside. So again, physical attacks is vexation.

Next we would have obsession. Literally, the devil is trying to get inside of somebody's mind. So everything that they experience is fostered through this presence of evil. People might see the number of 666 for example, wherever they turn. And then demonic possession, that's when the devil treats the body as if it were its own.

Eric Huffman: I don't think we got into this today, but I've heard you talk about the four Ds, the ways he wants to-

Fr. Vincent Lampert: That's the ordinary activity of the devil. So we talked about the extraordinary. The ordinary activity of the devil would be how he tries to trip us up in our daily lives. It begins with deception, which leads to division, which leads to diversion, which leads to discouragement.

So deception: the devil gets us to buy into his lies. When we do that, we're divided, we're broken. When we're broken, certainly God would want us to repent but more often than not, we go to diversion. We look for a substitute for God. Sometimes it's ourselves, addicted behavior, pornography, drugs, whatever it might be.

And then when we succumb to all of these things, where do we find ourselves? Discouraged. When we arrive at discouragement, we have a choice to make. One path leads to death. Always spiritual—we completely abandoned God. Sometimes physical. Think of the rising trend for suicide in our society. But as Christians, we're a people of hope.

The other pathway leads to discipleship. We have an awakening, the importance of faith in our lives. And in the ministry of exorcism, ultimately, that's what I want to do. Certainly casting out... the demonic is a component of that. But to me, it's really about bringing people to a solid relationship with Christ.

Eric Huffman: Amen. So is it just possession that you work against? Or is it all four manifestations, all four types?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: I deal with all four types. Primarily in my role should be demonic possession. It should be that any minister or pastors should be able to go and pray in a location and bless it, should be able to pray over someone. When it comes to vexation and obsession, I would suggest that deliverance prayers can be prayed over these people. Any ministers should be willing to do that. But I will say because a lot of priests, can really be terrified of this reality, so they don't want to deal with any of that four types of extraordinary activity.

Eric Huffman: I remember seminary very well. You can probably guess how many hours of training they gave us in seminary on dealing with the demonic. It's not much. In fact, it's zero. But how common are these four types of demonic activity that you outlined earlier?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: Well, demonic possession is extremely rare. In the 17 years, I've done this ministry, I've probably done 12 major exorcisms for people who are possessed. But I've done thousands of exorcism prayers for those dealing with infestation, vexation, and obsession.

I will say too that some of the people that contact me who believe they're dealing with the demonic, that's not the case. Some of them are dealing with mental health issues, and maybe even physical health issues. You know, as an exorcist, I've been trained to be a skeptic. I should be the last one to believe that somebody is truly experiencing extraordinary demonic activity in their lives.

So here in the United States, Catholic priests will follow a certain protocol. The protocol says, to have some type of mental health evaluation. Sometimes people are turned off by that, and they say, "Well, you don't believe me." But the reality is, you know, if you really believe you're dealing with the demonic, you should be willing to do whatever is being asked of you so that I can reach the point where I believe beyond a doubt that this is truly demonic.

Step two of the protocol, go talk to your family doctor to rule out a physical cause. Step three of the protocol, I have an intake questionnaire. So if it truly is something demonic, I would want to know, what was the entry point for the demonic into this person's life? So what did they do that allowed the demon to have rights over them because knowing the entry point allows me to know how through the prayers of the church, that entry point can be closed.

The fourth step of the protocol to look for, four signs of demonic possession. And these four signs are the ability to speak and understand languages, otherwise known to the individual, having superhuman strength beyond the normal capacity of the individual, having elevated perception, knowledge about things that that person as an individual, otherwise should not know. And then, finally, a negative reaction to anything of a sacred nature, having the Bible read in front of them, being in a church, a sacred space, being blessed with holy water, being shown a crucifix, and so on.

The final step of the protocol is the most important to help the person resume their spiritual life if they walked away from God, or to bring someone to Christ for the very first time. Because it's not enough to cast the evil out. God has to be invited in.

There is a growing trend I've noticed in recent years. People will turn to me and they believe that somehow I'm a magician, that I have powers, that I can make the evil go away but they want nothing to do with God. And I remind these people, God is the one who ultimately will deliver them from evil. It's not me. People relying on me, we're all in trouble. But again, if we're relying on the power and the authority of Christ at work in and through his church and his ministers, that's the right mentality to have.

Sarah: I remember walking into the house and feeling like it was weird. And I remember looking at the people that own the house because they were there for some reason and thinking there was like a weird darkness.

Eric Huffman: When Sarah was seven years old, she and her family moved into a new home.

Sarah: I don't really know if there was something specifically with the house, but I started to have sort of obsessive-compulsive behavior. I started to hear voices. Not literally hear them, but it was like inside of my mind And it basically like kind of started with, you know, "Get into bed a certain way, say good night a certain way, do it this way, do it that way, wash your hands this many times."

I just felt this compelling feeling to do it over and over. Which would feel to my mom, it was like, okay, she's having obsessive-compulsive behavior. I think she had me see a therapist, and they kind of were like, "Yeah, I mean, you could medicate her, whatever." My mom just kind of was hesitant towards that.

So it would get to the point where it's like my hands were bleeding and I would be up half the night, if not all night, just round and round, getting into bed saying goodnight to my parents. It was all basically like, I would hear this voice that was like, "If you don't do that, again, I'm gonna kill your family. If you don't do that, again, I am going to hurt your sister." It was just all this like kill... I think it was like a murderous spirit.

Eric Huffman: Sarah has a twin sister named Kim. And since they shared a room as children, Kim witnessed most of what Sarah experienced at night.

Kim: I was just so frustrated because I would go to sleep and it was so... I was so scared. She would just be doing things and I'm just like, "What are you doing?" She'd be in the closet, you know, and I was laying there and everybody's screaming, like, "Stop doing that. Go to bed. Stop doing that." She'd have to get up, have to walk over the Barbie car near the door a certain way, I'm just like, "Oh, my gosh!"

Sarah: I began to see very vivid, explicit images in my mind. I mean, I've never had anything inappropriate happen. I didn't know what any of it meant. But I asked my mom like, "Hey, I keep seeing this and that in my mind, and I don't understand what it means." And my mom was just horrified.

Then the voices in my head began to tell me, "Okay, now it's not just you have to do all these things a certain way, but I want you to get into your dress up clothes, I want you to wrap those ropes around your neck." One time specifically my mom found me just collapsed because I had wrapped it so tight and kind of choked myself.

I would have rope burns and all sorts of different things around my neck where I would just wrap things. And it wasn't trying to kill myself. But it was like, "You have to do this. You have to do this." It was a voice in my head. It wasn't me. And it wasn't an audible voice but it was like another entity invading my space. It was like I was being tortured. Specifically, I felt like at night it turned... it was like the Twilight Zone.

Eric Huffman: This again is Sarah's twin sister Kim.

Kim: The majority of the weird stuff was that night. And I feel like I would put the covers of my head, shut my eyes, but I see horrible faces with my eyes closed. It's like everything was morphing in the backs of my eyelids. I was so scared. And I would just try to fall asleep. Sometimes she'd be in my bed digging around, doing things, I'm like, "What are you doing. Get out," you know.

Eric Huffman: Sarah's entire family was losing patients with her strange and dangerous behaviors. Things got progressively worse until she turned 9 years old. That's two full years after the demonic activity began. Here's Kim again.

Kim: One night I was scared and I looked towards the window and I just saw a hand. I know that sounds weird but it wasn't scary. It felt cut comforting. It felt like, "You're okay. You're protected."

Sarah: My mom began to battle for me. She began to pray over me at night. As you're laying in bed, and my mom was just bawling and praying over me, and I was just sort of crying. And she's like, "You know, if you gave your life to Jesus, I think that'll fix everything." And I was like, "Yes, I want to, I would love to have Jesus live in my heart."

So I said that prayer, and I invited Jesus into my heart and I instantly felt like I had the power of God. And I just laid in bed feeling like it could never touch me again. And then I got baptized shortly after that. And as I was getting baptized, I was having this flood of bad images. I remember thinking like, "No, no, you can't touch me. Nope." I got baptized, and all of it stopped completely 100%.

Eric Huffman: That was the only time that Sarah experienced OCD tendencies in her life. She believes that multiple demons were tormenting her over that two-year period and that it may have also been her father's frequent use of pornography when she was a child that opened the doorway to those demonic influences, including the explicit images that they put in her mind.

Today Sarah is the mother of two girls and one son. At age seven, her son also began hearing demonic voices as he was preparing for his baptism, voices that told him that Satan is better and more powerful than God. Sarah was surprised since she had never told her son about her own experiences growing up. But this time, she knew exactly what to do. With the help of their family pastor, Sarah, and her husband began praying over their son until the voices went away. And he was baptized shortly after.

Sarah: I always felt empowered that I had Jesus living in me and I had the strongest power of all. I believe that we do not go through things that are hard to keep them to ourselves. I feel like that set the course for my life, no matter what I went through, that God was gonna carry me through it. There's joy on the other side. There's always joy on the other side if we allow ourselves to learn and to grow.

Fr. Vincent Lampert: It will be important to note that demons are only cast out by the power and the authority of Jesus Christ. No individual can claim that power or authority on their own. Anyone who is a Christian would act in the name of Jesus Christ, and by His name, His power, and authority because in an exorcism, Jesus would be the main actor and not a bystander.

So again, I believe that exorcism is based on what Christ Himself has taught us. I would even suggest that Jesus' ministry was a ministry of exorcism. And the word exorcism literally means to cast out. So it really is to bring about an end to the kingdom of Satan and to bring about the Kingdom of God.

Eric Huffman: Why would you go so far as to say that Jesus' ministry was one of exorcism? What gets you to that point of... It's pretty dramatic statement.

Fr. Vincent Lampert: Well, if you think about it, you know the name Jesus means God saves. And what is God's saving us from? And I would suggest that He's saving us from something very real, something very evil, namely Satan himself. When Lucifer rebelled against God, he was cast down to the earth. And then God would permit him to afflict humans who were not being faithful to God.

So when we are faithful to God... and I think that's really the message of exorcism is to tell people to be faithful to God. And again, we're all sinners, we all fall short. And when we fall short, we give into sin, we don't try to justify the sin. What do we do? We repent. Because God's love and mercy is greater than anything that we can do wrong. But we have to be willing to accept it.

Now, Jesus stands at the door and knocks. He doesn't come and kick the door in and say, "I'm here to save the day." We have free will. We have to invite Christ into our lives. As Christians, I always say, if you're going to church, if you're praying, you're reading the Bible, the devil is already on the run. We don't have to do anything extraordinary to defeat the devil. It's a very ordinary aspect of our Christian faith.

But there's a lot of people living in the West who have now turned their backs on God, they may have grown up in traditional Christian homes, maybe they've been baptized. But these are the very people we encounter now who say they no longer believe in God, they're an atheist, they're spiritual, they don't need to go to church. You know, they can find God in nature and all of these things.

In my experience in the 17 years I've done this ministry, demons do seem to have a greater hold on people who have apostatized, who have walked away from their faith. And I think the reason is because they knew the truth but they chose to say, "No, thank you." Again, that's exactly you think of the devil himself. God created him, gave him intellectual knowledge. And God basically said to the angels, "With all that I have given you, will you now glorify Me?" And then Lucifer said, "No."

In our lives, do you think of the human person? You know, with all that we're able to achieve, do we give the glory to God? Or do we start to give the glory to ourselves? "Look at me, look at what I'm capable of doing." And I think a Christian is one who always puts the focus on God, and not on self. And when we start to put the focus on self, again, we turn our backs on God. And whenever we turn our backs on God is when the devil seems to have the upper hand.

Eric Huffman: When we think about people turning their backs on God, we tend to imagine someone who dramatically or announces their faith and becomes an angry atheist spending the rest of their days convincing other believers to de-convert. That happens, I suppose but I think it's pretty rare.

A much more common way that I've seen people turning their backs on God is by trading their faith and the God of the Bible for a less defined, more inclusive belief system, one that often includes seemingly harmless practices like astrology or crystals, card readings, using tarot and angel cards, and even witchcraft. Visit any Barnes and Noble bookstore and you'll see evidence that this sort of Spiritualism is on the rise.

One reason for this seems to be the general sense of entitlement that's so common throughout our culture today. When we give our time and money to something, including religious practice, we tend to expect immediate results or definite answers. A new age practices seem to deliver in ways that feel more immediately efficacious than traditional religions, like Christianity often do.

Fr. Vincent Lampert: I remember, a pastor reaching out to me who said, "I have people in my congregation, they're coming into services on Sunday, but then when they leave the church they're walking across the street, and going to have their palm read by the neighborhood psychic, and then didn't really see anything inconsistent with doing that."

And oftentimes, people might think, "Well, these things are just fun, they're entertaining," but in reality, they are contradictions to our faith. We can't have it both ways.

Eric Huffman: How so? So talk us through that because I think we have a lot of people in our congregation and in our world that just seem to want both sides, and don't really understand the harm in that. Are you saying that some of these, what I would call New Age, semi-pagan practices open us up to demonic influence?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: They can do that either directly or indirectly. Directly when we do things, talk to the new age or the occult, we open ourselves up to demonic influence. You know, Catholics would say that a psychic or a medium doesn't have the ability as they claim to have. No one knows the future, but God alone. Demons can use their intellect to make an educated guess.

So the psychic either knows that it's the demonic working through them, and they go along with it because they like the attention, the notoriety, the money they're making. Or they've been duped by the evil working in and through them in believing that they have the power or the ability. I think it's so important for Christians, basically, to ask a very simple question: "Is this practice that I'm doing consistent with my Christian beliefs? And if it isn't, we have to root it out.

[00:43:57] <music>

Matthew: They all work in the ultimate goal of what Lucifer wants, and that is to deceive the world, to manipulate the world away from God. They even fight against each other for the purpose of creating chaos, to get people away from God.

Eric Huffman: This is Matthew. He's from Ontario, Canada and he claims that he spent 16 years under demonic influence. He grew up deeply involved in church. He's the son of a pastor, and he was homeschooled by his mother. But when he was 16, Matthew began to experiment with the occult.

Matthew: Well, I was always really, really interested in martial arts. I should preface this by saying martial arts themselves and learning self-defense, there's nothing wrong with that. Being able to punch, kick block, protect yourself kind of thing. It was the religious aspects of spiritualism that came with a lot of this other Eastern mysticism, Qi, and the energy-based arts, that's what started to grab my attention.

So I decided to just go for it just to see, "Okay, does it work or does it not?" Believing again, it's just energy. What it is, is the spirits are work with you. When they see you're actually taking it seriously and you are believing it is when they start to actually manifests aspects of this.

So when you start focusing your thoughts and your energy, they start coming in and actually causing things to happen, they start to move objects. You see more, you see more evidence, more evidence, more evidence. And as you start growing in this, and you go all the way where you actually believe that you can move things with your mind, but it's actually not you, it's the spirits.

This is where the Bible talks about the familiar spirits. They become familiar to you, you become familiar to them, and they're working, and they come with information. And they're very good at deception and delusion, to deceive the mind to draw your way to teach you false gospels, teach you false doctrines, these kinds of things.

The devils know scripture, they know what it says and I know how to twist it, they know how to manipulate it. And that's what they would do. So the authority they were using was as angels of God. That they come with this divine message for me, and that because I was chosen, and the Lord wants to use me and this kind of thing. And that's how they would get you in. And it got to the point where I was so familiar with their presence, I would have full-on manifestations of wisps, I would move around the room and they would talk to me.

Eric Huffman: Over the years, Matthew claims to have learned how to conjure spirits, predict the future, and even create storms in the sky. His parents had no idea and neither did his wife, Paris, when they got married at just 23 years of age. He was terrified of the reactions, so he lived a double life for eight years.

Matthew: All of a sudden, it's like I hit a brick wall. It's like everything started to die out, and it was getting harder and harder and harder to do some of the rituals and stuff. And this is where the devils kind of play with you like a cat and mouse.

So I summoned my familiars and I was asked him about this, what's going on? And they told me—literally they would appear and would speak to me—that I had plateaued and I would have to do a breakthrough ritual to be able to get to the next level of power, and I had to do a blood pact. Right there I was like a cold waters. I said, "No, I'm not doing any of that kind of stuff." They're like, "Okay, fine."

So they started pulling away some of my abilities over the next few days and trying to wear me down. I wasn't sleeping well. And finally, it got to a point where I was like, "Okay, fine, I'll do it." I just worked out a special sigil and chanting a special ritual. I had to cut myself and sign it with my own blood. And right when I did that, I felt something inside of me die. But my powers exploded after that. I had no sense of morality, nothing was off limits by then. I started falling into the dark arts, blood magic, really demonic magic. I started getting more into witchcraft, and these kinds of things.

Eric Huffman: Now, I know how all of this can sound, especially if you're a skeptic or even a cynic when it comes to all things supernatural. Maybe it sounds a bit unhinged. Maybe you're thinking that we've lost our minds by even sharing Matthew's perspective. I want you to know that I get it. The truth is we have no way of verifying or validating Matthew's testimony. For all we know, he's made it all up.

But Matthew's story in a vacuum is not what lends credence to his claims. It's the preponderance of evidence in the form of multitudes of other people who have sworn that they've experienced similar spiritual phenomena. In Matthew's case, those phenomena were about to take an even darker turn, as his dabbling in demonic activity gave way to a full-blown demonic possession.

Matthew: I was supposed to do a special ritual for someone and I messed up on the ritual. Generally, they would help you figure out what to do, but no, they got angry. And I started getting quite scared because you could feel it. And they possessed me.

I was at work. I was working as a security guard on a night shift. I was standing at my post and I could feel the presence. They were there and they rushed into it. It was feeling like a wind but there was no wind. They just came upon me and I felt my consciousness pushed to the back of my mind. Something else came over, my voice changed and my heart started skipping like crazy. And I knew right there they were trying to kill me because my heart was trying to stop.

And then it skipped and then slammed and I felt like I was gonna die. And instinctually I just cried out, "Jesus, save me," because I didn't want to die. I wanted Him to rescue me. And I felt another presence fighting over me. And I was freaking out. I called my supervisor, they rushed me to the hospital. I was having a heart attack. They hooked me up on all the stuff, all the blood tests everything, they couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. And that's where the Lord broke through this and showed me what I was doing. That the dark arts that I was doing was wrong.

So I repented of the dark arts, all of it. I acknowledged, "This was wrong, you're right, I shouldn't be doing this." The Lord spared me, drove the devil out of me. And everything just kind of eased off. And they let me go home.

Eric Huffman: It didn't take long for some new spirits to make themselves known to Matthew, saying that they were sent to him as angels of God in their words. Under their influence, Matthew rebranded himself as a magician of light, steering clear of what he called the dark arts, but still opening himself up to their demonic influence. But before things got out of hand, God stepped in again, flooding Matthew's mind with Bible verses that he remembered from his childhood. He did his best to push God away. But one night at work:

Matthew: It was coming in like a flood. Like the dam had broken. I actually had to pull the vehicle over because I couldn't drive because I was starting to cry, and I was starting to shake. You know, picture the angel on one shoulder, and the devil on the other. It was like that.

On this side, I remember that the devil, the familiar spirits on this side screaming at me to stay with them, that God is just trying to steal of your powers and He wants to just ruin your life. You've put so much into it and all that going on. And on this side, I was too terrified to even turn my head. I believed it was Jesus Christ sitting in the passenger seat, and he was staring at me.

This is when I had almost like a vision. I could see the road that I was on, where I was destined, where I was going, and I saw the branch going off. And I was at the crossroads. I had to choose. And then that's where I just surrendered, said, "Yes, Lord, you're right. You're right, I'm wrong."

It was the first time that I could recall in a very long time my mind went completely silent. There was no voices. They were gone. They were driven away. There was such calm, such a peace. And I could feel the forgiveness.

Eric Huffman: Matthew told everyone the truth, starting with his wife the very next morning, and he was shocked when everyone that he told, including his parents and their entire church community, met him with understanding and forgiveness just the way God does.

Matthew: God forgives and forgets your sins. You don't have to atone for anything yourself. You don't have to work for anything yourself. It's all by the sheer grace of God, the unmerited favor of God.

Eric Huffman: Today, Matthew shares his testimony, teaches the Bible, and leads people closer to God through his online ministry called Christian Coffee Time.

[00:53:19] <music>

Eric Huffman: So tell us a story about an experience that you've had, one of the ones that stands out in your mind of the 20 or so exorcisms that you've been a part of.

Fr. Vincent Lampert: There was a lady 50 years old. She had been away from the church for many years. Her neighbor was a very faithful person and invited her to go back to church to talk to the local priest. The local priest went and talked to her and he contacted me afterwards and felt like after that visit, he really felt a presence of the demonic.

So I went and had a conversation with the lady. We met in a church. Her friend came with her. The pastor of the church was there. So we're having a conversation, and she tells me that when she was seven growing up in Mexico, her father began to rape her and it occurred over a five-year period. She was broken, you know, shattered. She even blamed God, she said, for allowing this to happen in her life.

So she turned to quote and curanderos and brujas, shamans and witches who said that they could help put the pieces of her life back together but she felt like she was only shattered and fractured even more. So she's telling me the story about how she believes the demonic came upon her. And as she's telling the story, she begins to sob and she looks at me and says, "Will you help me?" And I looked at her right in the eye and said, "Jesus is the one who's going to help you."

And as soon as I said that, her eyes turned green, and her pupils became slanted like a serpent, and this voice came out of her mouth and said, "Who is He? He has no power over us." And then began to growl and snarl. Now her friend literally jumped over the table to get away from her. This other priest fell to his knees and started to pray. He was so terrified.

And I walked over and put my hands on the head of this person with the demon manifesting these green eyes or looking back at me, blaspheming God and cussing me out. And I was praying. I blessed the person with holy water. And when I did that, there was a shriek and a scream and the demon begin to whimper and collapse to the floor.

I didn't do an exorcism then. As a priest, I wanted to prepare myself. You know, I will celebrate Catholic mass, I will spend time in prayer, I will fast, I go to confession. I want to make sure that before doing an exorcism that I am standing completely right in the eyes of God. And then I determine where it will take place.

So the following week, we were in a chapel. The lady was there, her friend came back, the other priests came back, begin by blessing the person with holy water. There was prayers calling upon the saints. There's reading Psalms, from the Old Testament, passages of the Gospels of Jesus casting out demons. There was trying to get the person to renew their profession of faith. And then there is an insufflation prayer.

And I simply breathe lightly on the face of this person invoking the Holy Spirit, the demons looking at me and laughing and saying, "You can't get rid of us. We've been here too long. You're not strong enough," howling and screaming. But when I breathed on the person's face, the chair they were sitting in flew back about 10 feet, hit the wall. There was a shriek and the scream and the person comes flying up out of the chair, they collapse on the floor.

And then myself and the other priests lift her off the floor, and she is glorifying God, she's praising God in a loud voice. There's literally a glow about her. And then at that moment, you know, I entrusted her under the care of the pastor of her church. And then she returned to church and has been doing great ever since.

Eric Huffman: Wow.

Fr. Vincent Lampert: You know, that session only took about 45 minutes of prayer before the demon was cast out.

Eric Huffman: So this sounds to me, like, honestly, stuff that three or four years ago, probably I would not have believed. But I've seen it now a lot of what you describe. And I don't like feeling like a freak, but you can't talk about this stuff and not seem like a freak, because you probably will know I mean, the world and many in the church will doubt this on the face of it because it just sounds too much like the movies.

But in some ways, it's not life imitating art. It's just that the art, in a way, has imitated real life, as movies depict some of these manifestations you've actually seen. What are the more extraordinary manifestations that you've seen while performing exorcisms?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: I would say that all the manifestations are tricked by the devil who wants to shift the focus away from God onto him. The devil is kind of like a screaming child, like, "Look at me. Look at me." There can be eyes rolling in the back of the head, the foaming at the mouth. You know, the person's complexion literally becomes kind of distorted rather than radiating some type of glory. There's kind of a dullness about the person's physical characteristics, uncontrollable hysteria, laughter, screaming. There can be the hissing and the resemblance of the movement of a snake.

I did an exorcism one time where when the demon manifested the person's body fell to the ground and began to slither like a snake across the floor. There can be levitation. I've witnessed that in an exorcism, where literally the person's body begins to rise up out of the chair.

Eric Huffman: And these are all things that you've actually seen?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: Yes.

Eric Huffman: That's a levitation included?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: Included. I saw that. I have witnessed that myself.

Eric Huffman: Did any other people see it? Are you able to have a huddle with other priests after and go, "Did you see that? Am I crazy? Did you see it? What other sort of evidence is there for someone that might be of a mind to say that's made up?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: So during levitation, I was with another priest. It was the priest who was training me. And the demon is giving me this hideous glare and smile staring right at me, and I'm about four feet away, and the person's body begins to float. And I'm kind of looking at this, even in disbelief. You know, I'm kind of new at all of this, like, "What in the world is going on here?"

And the priest who was doing the right, he was praying from the book, and he looks over and sees the levitation. He looks back at his book, he continues to pray. He doesn't even stop for one moment. He continues to pray. And then he simply takes his hand and puts it on the head of the person and pushes the body back into the chair.

Eric Huffman: Wow.

Fr. Vincent Lampert: Basically saying, "Really devil that's all you got? I'm not impressed." He did not even flinch for a moment. And of course, I'm looking at this thinking, "What in the world is going on here?" But it was a very good teachable moment. Great teachable moment about staying focused on what God wants to do not the theatrics of the devil.

Eric Huffman: Do you ever get afraid? Do you get scared?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: I would say I'm not afraid after doing this for so long. I mean, there's natural human reaction. If somebody kind of jumps at me, I'm gonna flinch. That's just a normal reaction. But these things do not terrify me at all. They do not scare me because I know 100% that the power of God is greater than the power of evil.

Eric Huffman: Wow. Have you ever physically seen a demon?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: I have.

Eric Huffman: What does look like?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: They lack a body like we have. But the times that I have actually seen a demonic, I think that's God permitted me to see that, it is like a dark blob, the darkest dark that you can imagine. If you think for a moment, angels, they need to be near God to be in the glory of God so they can radiate God's glory. But being removed from God, they fall into darkness.

Good analogy: I have six brothers. So growing up, we always used to like to play with these little rubber balls, they glowed in the dark. So we put them up against the light, you know, absorb the light, we turn it off, and it would glow. But eventually the glow would start to fade unless we constantly fed it from the light.

Eric Huffman: Wow. So have you ever been personally attacked or targeted by demonic influence or someone possessed by a demon?

Fr. Vincent Lampert: Absolutely. I think anyone involved in his ministry can expect to have some form of demonic oppression. I've experienced that in my life a lot. You might wake up in the middle of the night and feel like a pressure something is sitting on your chest. I've experienced that a lot of times. When that occurs, I simply invoke the Holy Spirit and immediately it stops. So I know I'm not having a heart attack or anything like that.

I do think we were talking earlier about some ministers who just don't want to believe in any of this. I think part of the reason they don't want to believe is they don't want to experience these attacks in their life. You know, when Peter says to Jesus, "we've given up everything to follow you what can we expect in return?" And the last thing that Jesus promises is persecution. And part of that persecution can be in the form of the demonic attacks. And to me, that's a sign that one is doing the work of God.

Eric Huffman: What Fr. Lampert just described, feeling pressure on his chest at night, is actually very common, not just for priests whose occupation is fighting demons. This is what our guest on part one of this episode, Dale Allison, professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and author of Encountering Mystery told us about the phenomenon known as sleep paralysis.

Dr. Dale Allison: It's very common to wake up and to be in a complete panic and to feel that you can't breathe, to feel like you're going to die, to feel like maybe something is pressing down on your chest and you can't move and you can't get out of it. Now, by the way, we do know the chemical explanation for what's going on because when you dream, you may dream of running or hitting people or whatever. When people dream, and they're moving, you can see their hands move a little or their feet move a little. You've seen cats or dogs dream. So there's actually a chemical that comes into the system when you're dreaming that prevents you from acting out the dream.

Eric Huffman: Oh, wow.

Dr. Dale Allison: So the hypothesis is that people are waking up and trying to move and the chemical is still there and they can't do it. But what's interesting about this, from your point of view, is that frequently, not always, but frequently, people who have this experience feel an evil presence in the room. They feel like there's an oppressive force. And they sometimes actually see this figure. More often than not, it's to the left and down by the feet. I have no idea what the physiological explanation of that is.

Eric Huffman: To the feet and down by the feet.

Dr. Dale Allison: Many people who have this experience just chuck it off. They don't know what it is. "Okay, that's terrible." I've had it twice. Both times I was petrified out of my mind. And it did really feel like there was an evil presence in the room.

Eric Huffman: For how long?

Dr. Dale Allison: Ten, fifteen seconds. Now, what I have discovered, through my research is that 15 to 20% of the population in the west right now has this experience at least once in their lifetime.

Eric Huffman: Wow.

Dr. Dale Allison: Some people have it repeatedly. And it very often comes with this sense of an evil oppressive presence. My son had this happen to him a couple of years ago. He had an episode of sleep paralysis. And his description was something like, you know, an ape-like being in the shadows that was threatening him and hit him, and, and so on.

Eric Huffman: Wow.

Dr. Dale Allison: Now, how do you think about these things? Well, I'm not sure, I think we have to have an open mind. I had a student once who wrote up for me in an email, an account of him having this experience. He was sleeping with his son at the time, and his son reported also the next day independently of his father's experience, seeing a sort of shadow figure in the room.

Eric Huffman: Wow.

Dr. Dale Allison: So the father thought, "Well, maybe I wasn't just hallucinating it." So I think that the waking up and being scared, and not being able to move that probably can be explained pretty well now.

[01:05:53] <music>

Lisa: My grandmother always talked about bad spirits and good spirits. So it's been ingrained in me. I was taught not to contact them, not to play around with them, to know that they are there but don't tempt the devil.

Eric Huffman: Lisa grew up in a Catholic family in the Philippines before moving to the US at age 11. She never contacted the spirit world since she took her grandmother's warnings to heart. But at age 29, her faith started to slide.

Lisa: At that time, I was going through a very bad relationship with my boyfriend and I was in very bad company, I was drinking a lot, and I wasn't praying as much. I was in a very depressive state at that time due to, you know, my relationship. I kept having these paralyses every night. And I would always be so scared to go to sleep, because every time I did, I would always have a dark figure hovering over me. And I would be awake and half asleep and I can't move. And I felt like this pressure on my chest. So my mouth could open because I was struggling to breathe. And I felt that this dark entity was trying to enter my body.

I honestly think that he saw how weak I was. And I was fighting to get better. I was trying to understand my depression. I was trying to understand why I was going through what I was going through. And it did not want me to be healed. The demon was attacking me at my weakest. Also, I was very suicidal at that time.

And when he couldn't get to me, he was trying to get to my boyfriend. I was praying everything that I knew to pray, the Hail Mary, the Our Father, even parts of the Holy Rosary. And I would fight. Even my boyfriend woke up and he's like, "What are you doing?" And I said, "There's a dark figure that's hovering over me and it's also attacking you." And I pointed to the bathroom, which is right next to our bed and he saw it as well. So when he was able to confirm what I saw, I knew that it wasn't a dream. I knew that I was being attacked by a dark entity.

This was going on for six months. I was losing a lot of weight. I couldn't eat. I was so depressed. And I thought I was going crazy. And I couldn't tell any of my friends because I didn't want anybody to think I'm crazy.

There was one time I woke up in the morning and I saw a light. You know how the sun shines through the blinds? I saw a cross, a golden cross. And that to me, I was thinking, "You know what? At least I know that I am protected, that I'm doing the right thing. Even though I'm struggling through the night, God is confirming that He's with me."

The final battle was when I was wide awake, I got up off my couch and I just started shouting, "You're not invited in this home." And I clearly saw the dark entity and I faced it. I wasn't scared anymore. I think it's like it feeds on your fear. If I didn't have confidence that God was with me, it would feed on that.

Eric Huffman: Lisa's last episode of sleep paralysis was 15 years ago. Today she prays daily and sleeps with images of the Virgin Mary and Jesus in her bedroom.

Lisa: I'm a lot stronger now. After what I've gone through, I feel much better now. I feel more comfortable in myself and I'm closer to God.

[01:10:00] <music>

Fr. Vincent Lampert: People can backslide in their faith. And when they backslide, they can open themselves up to demonic attacks. But there's also examples of demonic oppression. And oppression, I believe is a gift from God. God is allowing someone to be tormented by demons, not because they did anything wrong, but God wants to give them an opportunity to show their fidelity to Him, and then to grow in holiness in virtue.

We think of job in the Old Testament. You know, God permitted Satan to afflict him. Job didn't do anything wrong. His friends kept saying to him, "Obviously, you have. You're in denial." He's like, "No, no, no, I've done nothing wrong." Even Job's wife says to him, "Curse God and die."

And how does Job respond to all of this? He puts on sackcloth and sits and ashes, and he says, by beating his breast, "The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away blessed to be the name of the Lord. If things be good, I glorify God; If things be bad, I glorify God. My personal situation means nothing when it comes to God's rightful place in my life." St. Paul himself talked about the thorn in his flesh, the messenger from Satan sent to torment him to keep him from becoming proud.

So I do think it's possible for people who are Christians to be impacted by demons. It's easy to say "I love God" when everything's going great. But can you still say "I love God" when things seem to be crumbling around you? And we know from the story of Job because he was faithful to God, then God blessed him 100-fold.

And it is interesting in the story of Job, Job keep saying to God, "Why, why, why?" but God never answers his question. But I think an answer may come later on, and one of Paul's letters where St. Paul says, "My grace is sufficient for you." In other words, if we truly give God His rightful place in our lives, if we just trust that God is always there, then we should focus on God, and not the circumstances that we're going through.

[01:12:20] <music>

Eric Huffman: For all the talk that we hear about the decline of religion across America, it seems to me that people today are just as religious as they've ever been. Whether it's an organized religions or through all sorts of new age practices, people everywhere continue to demonstrate their insatiable appetite for the supernatural.

I believe the fundamental reason why so many people crave access to the spiritual world is because every human being was made in God's image. And the Bible tells us that God is Spirit that He created the spirit world and everything in it, and that He made us in such a way that not only do we desire it, but we can gain access to it, which is an incredibly powerful thing.

But its power cuts both ways. And that's why as we've heard throughout this episode, it's so important to proceed with caution when it comes to the spiritual realm and the supernatural entities like angels and demons. If we simply follow all of our spiritual appetites and trust our misguided feelings and emotions, we can very easily find ourselves in a dark place with seemingly no way out.

That's where I believe Jesus comes in. The very first Christians 2,000 years ago, the men and women who followed Him around and saw Him alive again after he died on the cross, they believed that the fundamental reason Jesus came was to claim a decisive spiritual victory over Satan and his forces of darkness. In fact, they believe that after Jesus died, and before He rose, He descended into hell to confront Satan, and to free some of his prisoners there and then He came back to the earth and walked out of His tomb.

That's why followers of Jesus never have to be afraid of the dark. Because no matter how dark things may seem or how bad you may feel, Jesus already knows the way back from hell, and He knows the way back from death. So of course, He knows the way out of the darkest places you might ever be. His name alone has the power to keep your worst enemies at bay.

If you're new to this whole conversation and you're feeling a little overwhelmed or a little lost, I'll offer you this simple guidance. When you face spiritual darkness in whatever form it takes, I pray that you will speak the name of Jesus with confidence and with faith, speak His name as a shield that protects you, and speak His name as a sword that defends you. Even on your darkest days, I pray that you will let the name of Jesus light your way.

Thank you for listening to Maybe God.

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Today's episode was produced by Julie Mirlicourtois and Eric and Geovanna Huffman. Our talented editors are Shannon Stefan and Justin Mayer, and our social media gurus are Justin Keller and Kat Brough.

A special thanks to Mark Calver and Brian Edwards for their amazing work filming Maybe God's interviews for our new YouTube channel, and also to Adira Polite, host of the awesome podcast, Then God Moved, for her help identifying stories for this episode.

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