Resisting the Devil: A Catholic Perspective Book Summary

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Title: Resisting the Devil: A Catholic Perspective on Deliverance
Author: Neal Lozano

TLDR: This book explores the Catholic understanding of spiritual warfare, emphasizing the distinctions and connections between exorcism and deliverance. Lozano argues that deliverance, a ministry available to all believers, should be a normal part of the Christian life, equipping Catholics to resist the devil’s lies and claim their authority in Christ.

Chapter 1: Exorcism and Deliverance: Two Paths to Spiritual Freedom for Catholics

Neal Lozano opens this chapter by highlighting the prevalence of mental and emotional struggles in the modern world, particularly among young adults. He contrasts this reality with the freedom promised by Christ, prompting the question: How do we experience this promised spiritual freedom in the midst of such struggles? Lozano emphasizes that true spiritual freedom goes beyond the mere absence of fear or stress, encompassing a deep sense of belonging, identity, and purpose as sons and daughters of God.

The author then delves into the traditional means the Church offers for encountering God and finding freedom: baptism, repentance, the sacrament of Reconciliation, and the Eucharist. He acknowledges, however, that for many, these traditional means alone do not bring lasting freedom from compulsive sin, inner torment, and the grip of darkness.

Lozano introduces the concept of the devil, Satan, as a real entity who actively opposes God and seeks to enslave humanity. While Christ has ultimately conquered Satan, the author acknowledges the reality of ongoing spiritual warfare where demonic forces can inflict harm and influence our lives.

Two special provisions for spiritual warfare are then introduced: exorcism and deliverance. Lozano distinguishes between exorcism, a rare liturgical rite reserved for extreme cases of demonic possession, and deliverance, a more common and less formalized ministry for helping individuals break free from demonic oppression. He emphasizes that deliverance should be a normal part of the Christian life, encouraging Catholics to take responsibility for resisting the devil and claiming their authority in Christ.

The author closes by highlighting the confusion surrounding exorcism and deliverance, noting the lack of understanding among both clergy and laity. He emphasizes the need for clarity and balance between these two approaches, ultimately aiming to demonstrate how both contribute to the ultimate goal of finding freedom in Christ and knowing the Father’s love.

Chapter 2: Do I Need an Exorcism?

This chapter delves deeper into the distinctions between exorcism and deliverance, aiming to address the confusion surrounding these ministries. Lozano begins by recounting two anecdotes: a woman gripped by intense fear following a prayer session involving renunciation of the Antichrist, and a Kenyan community where a large number of people manifested demonically upon hearing the name of Jesus. These anecdotes serve as case studies to explore whether exorcism or deliverance is the appropriate response to such situations.

Lozano clarifies that the term “exorcism” specifically refers to the formal liturgical rite of the Catholic Church, authorized only by a priest with the bishop’s permission. This rite, he argues, should be reserved for extreme cases of demonic possession where the individual has lost control over their will and body to a demonic force. Deliverance, on the other hand, encompasses a broader range of prayer and counseling practices aimed at helping individuals overcome lesser degrees of demonic influence, such as oppression or obsession.

The author then cautions against misinterpreting the signs of demonic influence and rushing to label individuals as “possessed.” He draws an analogy to medical diagnosis, arguing that just as a doctor carefully evaluates symptoms and tests before determining a definitive cause and treatment, so too should those involved in spiritual warfare carefully discern the nature and extent of demonic influence before recommending exorcism.

Lozano challenges the idea that a true believer can be completely possessed, arguing that baptismal grace and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit provide protection against such total demonic control. However, he acknowledges that individuals who have not fully embraced their faith, or who have engaged in practices that open doors to demonic influence, can experience varying degrees of demonic control.

The author emphasizes the importance of ministering to those struggling with demonic influence with compassion and sensitivity, avoiding language or practices that further diminish their sense of identity and authority in Christ. He criticizes the tendency to overemphasize the power and presence of the devil, arguing that this can lead to fear and distract from the focus on Jesus as the ultimate source of freedom and deliverance.

Finally, Lozano returns to the anecdotes that opened the chapter, offering insights based on the distinctions he has made. He argues that the woman gripped by fear, while experiencing genuine demonic oppression, could find freedom through deliverance practices focused on renouncing the lie that fueled her fear. Similarly, he suggests that the Kenyan community, while heavily influenced by demonic forces due to their past dedication to the devil, could find liberation through deliverance prayer focused on reclaiming their authority in Christ and renouncing their past dedication.

Chapter 3: Do I Need Deliverance?

Neal Lozano starts this chapter by recounting the experiences of a priest fielding numerous calls from Catholics who believe they might need an exorcism. He describes the wide range of struggles people express: compulsive thoughts, blasphemous images, feelings of evil presence, and voices. This multitude of experiences underscores the reality of spiritual warfare and the often-misunderstood nature of demonic influence.

Lozano then delves deeper into the concept of deliverance ministry, highlighting its multifaceted nature within the broader context of the Catholic faith. He emphasizes that deliverance is not limited to driving out evil spirits, but encompasses any authentically Christian means by which individuals are helped to overcome the devil’s influence and claim the full freedom offered in Christ.

The author then presents various expressions of deliverance ministry within the Church, showcasing its pervasiveness:

  • Baptism: The initial and foundational act of deliverance, transferring us from the dominion of darkness to the Kingdom of God.
  • Reconciliation: A renewal of baptism where we break free from sin and reclaim grace through confession and absolution.
  • Eucharist: A sacrament of healing and transformation, drawing us closer to God and strengthening our resistance to demonic influence.
  • Preaching: The Word of God, proclaimed with power, exposes lies, brings revelation, and opens the door to freedom.
  • Evangelization: Leading individuals to a personal encounter with Christ, prompting conversion and a decisive break with darkness.
  • Healing Services: Retreats and ministries focused on healing, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, often involve deliverance as part of the healing process.
  • Praying for Deliverance: The Our Father, as well as other prayers of intercession, directly petition God for deliverance from the evil one.

Lozano then shifts focus to the specific practice of “deliverance prayer,” aiming to differentiate it from the more formal Rite of Exorcism. He introduces the “Unbound Model,” a non-confrontational approach to deliverance focused on five key elements: Repentance and Faith, Forgiveness, Renunciation, Authority, and the Father’s Blessing. This model emphasizes personal responsibility, empowering individuals to take their stand against demonic influence and claim their authority in Christ.

The author explains that the devil gains power only through our agreement with his lies. Therefore, deliverance prayer seeks to expose these lies, renounce them, and break the enemy’s legal right to influence our lives. This process involves listening to individuals’ stories, identifying the entry points for demonic influence, and leading them through the five keys to break free from bondage.

Lozano concludes by encouraging readers to assess their own need for deliverance, not necessarily in the extreme sense of needing an exorcism, but in the broader sense of needing to deepen their relationship with Christ, break free from sin and deception, and claim the full freedom offered in the Gospel.

Chapter 4: Reclaiming Our Lost Weapons of Spiritual Warfare

This chapter delves into the concept of charisms, those gifts given by the Holy Spirit to empower believers to participate in Christ’s mission and advance the Kingdom of God. Lozano emphasizes that these charisms, including the casting out of demons, are not exclusive to clergy or saints, but are available to all believers through baptism and faith.

The author then explores the historical reasons for the decline of charisms, particularly among the laity, highlighting:

  • Prevalence of Infant Baptism: Diminished the expectant faith and intentional preparation for the release of charisms that characterized adult baptism in the early Church.
  • Reaction to Montanism: A second-century movement characterized by prophecy and other charisms, was condemned due to abuses and anti-hierarchical tendencies, leading to a general suspicion of prophetic gifts within the Church.
  • Charisms as Signs of Holiness: The association of charisms with extraordinary saints fostered the belief that they were rare and unattainable for ordinary believers.
  • Rise of Hierarchal Power: The increasing institutionalization of the Church shifted responsibility for unity and doctrinal purity to ordained leadership, leading to a decreased emphasis on the workings of the Spirit through individuals and local communities.

Lozano argues that this historical decline has resulted in a loss of spiritual vitality and power within the Church, leaving many Christians trapped in repetitive sin patterns and with little expectation for deliverance. He emphasizes that regaining the charisms, particularly the charism of casting out demons, is essential for restoring the Church’s power to set captives free and advance the Kingdom of God.

The author then highlights the simplicity of deliverance ministry in the early Church, noting that early Christians cast out spirits simply by invoking the name of Jesus and the power of the Spirit. He argues that this simple yet powerful ministry has been largely lost, leaving Catholics overly reliant on the formal Rite of Exorcism and neglecting their own authority and mandate to participate in Christ’s liberating work.

Lozano encourages readers to reclaim these lost weapons of spiritual warfare by cultivating an expectant faith for God’s transforming power, seeking encounters with the Holy Spirit, and joining with others who are experiencing the release of the Spirit in their lives. He challenges Catholics to move beyond a passive faith focused on avoiding sin and reaching heaven, and instead embrace a dynamic faith empowered by the Holy Spirit to actively participate in advancing the Kingdom of God on earth.

The author concludes by emphasizing the transformative power of personal encounters with God, where the love of Christ is revealed and our lives are realigned with His purpose. He stresses that conversion, empowered by the Holy Spirit, is not only about personal transformation but also about releasing God’s power through us to bless others and advance the Kingdom.

Chapter 5: Exorcism and Deliverance in the New Testament

This chapter explores the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ ministry, highlighting the pervasiveness of exorcism and deliverance as expressions of the advancing Kingdom of God. Lozano argues that Jesus’ entire ministry could be viewed as a deliverance ministry, liberating people from the grip of sin, sickness, and demonic influence.

The author emphasizes that Jesus did not view healing and exorcism as isolated acts, but as integral aspects of his proclamation of the Kingdom of God. These acts demonstrated the reality of God’s reign breaking into the world, offering tangible evidence of the freedom and wholeness available in Christ.

Lozano then examines several key New Testament passages to discern guiding principles for understanding exorcism and deliverance:

  • Matthew 12:22-37: This passage recounts the healing of a blind and mute man through the casting out of a demon. Jesus challenges the Pharisees’ accusation that he casts out demons by the power of Beelzebub, declaring that he does so by the Spirit of God, signifying the arrival of the Kingdom. This passage highlights the danger of attributing the work of the Spirit to the devil, a sin against the Holy Spirit.
  • Luke 11:24-26: In this passage, Jesus contrasts his method of casting out demons with the methods of the Jewish exorcists of his day. He warns that simply driving out a demon without filling the “house” with the Kingdom of God leaves the individual vulnerable to greater demonic influence. This passage emphasizes the importance of combining deliverance with conversion and submission to the lordship of Christ.
  • Mark 9:14-29: This passage recounts the healing of a boy tormented by a demon that caused seizures. Jesus engages in a dialogue with the boy’s father, challenging his faith and uncovering the connection between the father’s belief and the son’s deliverance. This passage highlights the importance of addressing the root causes of demonic influence and involving family members in the deliverance process. It also emphasizes the role of faith, prayer, and fasting in spiritual warfare.
  • Luke 8:22-38: This passage recounts the dramatic healing of the Gerasene demoniac, a man severely tormented by a legion of demons. Jesus confronts the demons directly, inquiring about their name and granting them permission to enter a herd of pigs. This passage reveals that demons can have legal rights to operate in certain regions based on the actions of the people who live there. It also highlights the importance of uncovering the true identity of the individual submerged under demonic influence and helping them reclaim their true name and purpose in Christ.

Lozano concludes by drawing out key principles from these New Testament accounts that should inform our understanding and practice of exorcism and deliverance today:

  • Authority in Christ: Jesus cast out demons by his own authority and empowered his disciples to do the same in his name.
  • Power of the Holy Spirit: Deliverance is accomplished by the Spirit of God working through those who believe.
  • Proclamation of the Kingdom: The ultimate purpose of exorcism and deliverance is to usher in the Kingdom of God and bring individuals into submission to the lordship of Christ.

Chapter 6: Encountering the Truth

This chapter explores the transformative power of deliverance through a personal story, demonstrating how confronting the lies of the enemy and reclaiming our true identity in Christ leads to deep and lasting freedom. Lozano shares the story of Mary Anne, a woman who struggled for decades with feelings of rejection, self-hatred, and a pervasive sense of worthlessness.

Mary Anne’s story unfolds in three stages:

  • Childhood Rejection: Mary Anne describes her early experiences of feeling unwanted and rejected, particularly within her family. She developed coping mechanisms of self-deprecation and passivity, ultimately leading to a sense of inner death and a belief that she belonged to Satan.
  • Encountering Unbound: In her twenties, Mary Anne began to engage with Scripture and prayer, drawn to the possibility of a relationship with God. However, she still felt blocked by a deep-seated fear and an unwillingness to confront the root of her pain. Reading Lozano’s book Unbound and attending a Freedom in Christ conference provided her with tools for repentance, forgiveness, and renunciation, giving her hope for a breakthrough.
  • Confronting the Lie: After a year of wrestling with her fear, Mary Anne finally allowed the Holy Spirit to reveal the source of her bondage: a feeling of rejection stemming from her parents’ difficult circumstances at the time of her conception. Through prayer with a friend, she confronted this lie, renounced the spirit of rejection, and experienced the overwhelming love of God, finally understanding her true identity as a beloved daughter of the Father.

Lozano uses Mary Anne’s story to illustrate the powerful connection between deliverance and evangelization. He argues that deliverance is not merely about driving out demons, but about exposing the lies that keep us bound and revealing the truth of God’s love in Christ. This encounter with truth, he argues, is at the heart of evangelization, both for unbelievers and for those who have embraced the faith but remain trapped by the enemy’s deceptions.

The author then shifts focus to the broader need for deliverance within the Church, highlighting statistics from Europe and anecdotal evidence from Africa and the United States that reveal the prevalence of spiritual bondage among Catholics. He argues that the Church is not adequately equipped to address this need, primarily due to a lack of understanding and training regarding exorcism and deliverance, as well as a pervasive fear of the devil and the spiritual realm.

Lozano concludes by calling for a renewed emphasis on the message of the Kingdom of God, a message that not only proclaims the love of God in Christ but also confronts the powers of darkness and offers tangible freedom and wholeness. He argues that reclaiming the charism of casting out demons, along with a deeper understanding of deliverance ministry, is essential for restoring the Church’s power to set captives free and effectively advance the Kingdom in a world desperately in need of Christ’s liberating grace.

Chapter 7: Deliverance Ministry — A Pastor’s Insight

This chapter delves into the practical aspects of deliverance ministry, drawing upon the insights of experienced priests and offering a nuanced understanding of the various levels of demonic influence. Lozano begins by revisiting the central message: true union with Christ overcomes fear and gives victory over the enemy. Deliverance ministry, he argues, aims to remove the obstacles, lies, and fears that prevent this union.

The author then introduces the work of Fr. James Wheeler, SJ, who identifies five types of demonic bondage, ranging from mild to severe:

  • Negative Emotions: Evil spirits can exploit negative emotions like guilt, resentment, or jealousy, intensifying their grip on individuals who have not dealt with underlying patterns of sin or self-negation.
  • Possessive Relationships: Demonic forces can attach themselves to possessive relationships, both with living and deceased individuals, fueling unhealthy attachments and hindering freedom.
  • Harassment: Evil spirits harass individuals through suggestions, thoughts, and temptations, preying on their weaknesses and drawing them into compulsive sin patterns.
  • Obsession/Oppression: This category describes a more serious level of demonic influence where significant areas of a person’s life are controlled by the enemy. Wheeler notes that obsession can manifest as extreme affliction in one particular area or as multiple areas of bondage affecting the personality.
  • Possession: The most extreme form of demonic influence, where a force outside the individual’s will takes total control of their personality.

Lozano emphasizes that the common thread running through these various levels of demonic influence is deception. He reminds readers that Jesus identifies Satan as the father of lies, and argues that every sin, negative emotion, and unhealthy attachment is ultimately rooted in a lie about God, ourselves, or the world.

The author then presents the Unbound Model as a practical and effective way to address these lies and break free from demonic influence. He emphasizes that this model does not require esoteric knowledge of demonology or confrontational tactics. Rather, it focuses on identifying the specific lies fueling the bondage, repenting of sin, forgiving others, renouncing the lies and the spirits behind them, and claiming authority in Christ to command the enemy to leave.

Lozano argues that confronting demons directly, while sometimes necessary in extreme cases, can be counterproductive for individuals struggling with lesser degrees of demonic influence. He suggests that such confrontation can increase fear, create unhealthy dependence on the minister, and distract from the essential work of identifying and renouncing the lies that empower the enemy.

The author concludes by reiterating the simplicity and accessibility of the Unbound Model, demonstrating its effectiveness through the story of Joan, a woman struggling with depression, self-hatred, and a critical spirit. Joan found freedom not through exorcism or confronting demons, but through uncovering the lies about her worthlessness that fueled her bondage and renouncing them in the name of Jesus.

Chapter 8: Deliverance and the Sacrament of Reconciliation

This chapter explores the relationship between deliverance ministry, particularly the Unbound Model, and the sacrament of Reconciliation. Lozano addresses the concern that deliverance prayer might somehow diminish or replace the importance of sacramental confession. He argues, however, that these practices are complementary, with deliverance preparing the heart for a deeper and more fruitful encounter with God’s grace in the sacrament.

The author emphasizes that the sacrament of Reconciliation is primarily a renewal of baptism, a return to the grace and freedom received through our initial incorporation into Christ. He highlights that early Church baptism involved a profound turning away from the world, the flesh, and the devil, elements that should also characterize our approach to the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Lozano then explores how the five keys of the Unbound Model align with the core elements of the sacrament:

  • Repentance and Faith: True repentance, he argues, is not merely sorrow for sin but a metanoia, a change of mind and heart that leads to a transformed life. Unbound encourages conversion, a decisive response to the Gospel that aligns our lives with the lordship of Christ. This conversion prepares the heart for an honest confession of sin and a genuine desire for God’s forgiveness.
  • Forgiveness: Jesus explicitly links our forgiveness of others to our reception of God’s forgiveness. The Unbound Model emphasizes forgiveness as a key to breaking demonic strongholds and freeing ourselves from bitterness and resentment. This forgiveness, practiced both in the sacrament and in our daily lives, prepares us to receive God’s mercy with open hearts.
  • Renunciation: Unbound emphasizes the need to renounce the lies we have believed and the spirits behind them, breaking their power over our lives. This renunciation is also an implicit part of the sacrament of Reconciliation as we confess our sins and turn away from the darkness that ensnares us.
  • Authority: Unbound empowers individuals to claim their authority in Christ and command the enemy to leave. This authority, received through baptism, is also expressed in the sacrament as the priest, acting in persona Christi, pronounces absolution and releases God’s power to forgive and set us free.
  • Father’s Blessing: The Unbound Model culminates in praying for the Father’s blessing, seeking a revelation of our true identity as beloved sons and daughters of God. This encounter with the Father’s love is also at the heart of the sacrament of Reconciliation, as we are reconciled to God and restored to His embrace.

Lozano shares several anecdotes from priests who have witnessed the positive impact of the Unbound Model on their parishioners’ confessions. They report that penitents who have engaged in deliverance prayer confess their sins with greater honesty, depth, and conviction, receiving the grace of the sacrament in a more transformative way.

The author concludes by emphasizing that the Unbound Model, when properly understood and practiced, supports and strengthens the sacrament of Reconciliation. He encourages both clergy and laity to embrace the principles of deliverance as a vital aspect of the ongoing conversion and renewal of baptism that should characterize the life of every Catholic.

Chapter 9: Restoring the Message of the Kingdom

This concluding chapter ties together the key themes of the book, urging the Church to reclaim the power of the Kingdom of God as a message of both love and liberation. Lozano begins by sharing his own story of conversion, recounting his struggle with unbelief and anger following his father’s death. He describes his encounter with Jesus, a moment of personal revelation that transformed his life and brought him into a living faith.

The author then reflects on the need for conversion within the Church, acknowledging that many Catholics participate in the sacraments without experiencing the full power of God’s transforming grace. He argues that this lack of transformation stems from a failure to embrace the message of the Kingdom of God, a message that goes beyond simply accepting doctrines or avoiding sin, and instead calls for a radical change of heart and a dynamic life empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Lozano emphasizes that the Gospel is not merely “talk” but “power,” demonstrated by Jesus’ actions of healing the sick and casting out demons. He argues that these acts were not simply compassionate gestures but tangible manifestations of the Kingdom breaking into the world, offering concrete evidence of the freedom and wholeness available in Christ.

The author then revisits Pope John Paul II’s call to unite the two kerygmas: the proclamation of Jesus Christ as Savior and the proclamation of the Kingdom of God. He argues that these two proclamations are complementary, with the message of the Kingdom illuminating the saving work of Christ and giving it a broader context.

Lozano contends that proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom involves more than just using Jesus’ language about the Kingdom; it requires identifying with Christ’s mission to confront the powers of darkness and bring liberation to those enslaved by sin, sickness, and demonic influence. This mission, he argues, is entrusted to the entire Church, not just to ordained clergy or designated exorcists.

The author then highlights several stories that illustrate how the message of the Kingdom is being restored through the practice of deliverance ministry, both within and outside the sacrament of Reconciliation. He shares anecdotes of priests who have incorporated the Unbound Model into their pastoral practice, empowering their parishioners to claim their authority in Christ and break free from spiritual bondage.

Lozano concludes by expressing his hope for a renewed emphasis on the Kingdom of God within the Church, a message that not only proclaims God’s love but also unleashes his power to transform lives and set captives free. He challenges readers to embrace this message with boldness, expecting God to work through them to advance the Kingdom and bring liberation to a world desperately in need of Christ’s liberating grace.

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Note: While content aims to align with Catholic teachings, any inconsistencies or errors are unintended. For precise understanding, always refer to authoritative sources like the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Always double-check any quotes for word-for-word accuracy with the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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