Can Evil Spirits Cause Sickness?

The Bible is clear that there is a supernatural world, and that it influences events and circumstances in the natural realm. God Himself is Spirit (see John 4:24) and there are angels and demons that operate in the unseen realm.

I have written previously that sickness was caused by the fall of man, and that it is a work of the devil. I now want to show that evil spirits can be the source of physical infirmities. Certainly, many doctors today would laugh at the notion that evil spirits are the cause of a sickness or a mental disorder. But it is Satan who is laughing while he goes unnoticed bringing torment and sickness to people.

The Bible is our source of truth. Even if many doctors, psychologists, scientists, and even pastors scoff at the idea of evil spirits causing sickness, we must examine the Scriptures to see what they teach in this area. Though there have been great medical and scientific advances, if we see sickness only from a natural standpoint we will often miss the root cause of the problem.

The Spirit of Infirmity

One of the prime examples of an evil spirit being the root of a physical ailment comes from Luke chapter 13. Verses 10-11 read: “Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.” The woman was crippled in her spine, having a condition that we might call a severe form of scoliosis. The cause of this problem? A “spirit of infirmity.” Jesus spoke a word of healing to her and then laid His hands on her. The woman was healed immediately.

When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about performing this miracle on a Sabbath He answered and said, “Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” (Luke 13:16). Jesus clearly stated that the source of the woman’s condition was Satan. And the agent the devil used was a spirit of infirmity; a literal demonic spirit sent to afflict the woman’s body.

Other Examples of Demons Causing Sickness

Matthew 9:32-33 reads: “As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a man, mute and demon-possessed. And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke.” Here we have a man who was mute, and the clear cause of the condition was a demon. Jesus later healed a man who was both blind and mute by casting out a demon (see Matthew 12:22).

In Matthew 17 Jesus healed a young boy who suffered from epileptic seizures. Verse 18 states, “And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.” The source of the boy’s sickness was an evil spirit that needed to be cast out in order for him to be healed.

A Personal Example

I remember praying for a young lady who was having neck pain. I prayed over her for healing, but nothing happened. The following week, she asked for prayer for deliverance. She was aware that there were demonic spirits tormenting her and pressuring her toward sin. Another woman and I prayed over her, and several demons manifested and were cast out. Interestingly, the pain in her neck was totally healed, even though we had not addressed it specifically. Evidently, it had been caused by an evil spirit, and once the spirit was cast out the pain was gone.

Though it may seem primitive to our modern minds, the New Testament is perfectly clear that demons can be the cause of sicknesses. Having this understanding will help shape the way that you pray for the sick. I am not implying that every sickness is caused by an evil spirit. But could it be that we have missed something by not addressing the spiritual cause of many illnesses?

For more information on deliverance ministry, check out my book Can a Christian Have a Demon?

19 Responses to “Can Evil Spirits Cause Sickness?”

  1. That’s quite a story about the woman with the neck pain. It really makes one stop and think. And I can relate to people scoffing at the notion of evil spirits causing mental illness. Someone asked once on a book forum what people thought caused mental illness. When I pointed out the demonic as a possibility, a couple people actually reacted in what I’d describe as violent anger – which I think helped prove my point! 🙂

    • Yeah that’s true Emily; I remember a psychology professor in college mentioning how in the “primitive” days people used to blame mental illness on demons…

      Certainly not all sickness or even mental illness is caused by evil spirits, but probably a lot more than we realize.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Michael says:

    I came across a website that taught its visitors to pray a specific prayer to cast out evil spirits. I prayed that prayer 3 times to cast out the evil spirit of back pains & INSTANTLY, my back pains disappeared! Amazing!! Praise Jesus who arms his children!

  3. Karen Gnitecki says:

    Several years ago, I started having a persistent, nagging pain in my left elbow. I was concerned, not only because it was painful, but because I worked at a grocery store as a cashier, and this problem affected my ability to do my job. It looked like a problem from my job — overuse. I prayed about it for several months, yet saw no improvement, and was a bit discouraged. Then, one night, while sleeping, I began to feel severe pain in my left elbow. I then heard the words “spirit of infirmity”, and knew that the Holy Spirit was revealing to me the source of my pain (though at the time, I wasn’t quite sure what a spirit of infirmity was). In that half-asleep / half-awake state, I cast it out, and it left immediately. Two or three times soon after that, it tried to come back, and once, it actually “jumped” to my right elbow which had never had a problem before! Each time, though, I simply cast it out in the name of Jesus, and it was gone within a minute. I continued in that job for several years, and to this day, have never had a problem with my left elbow again. Praise God!

    • Hey Karen, thanks for sharing this testimony! It is a great example of evil spirits can cause pain and sickness, just like we see in the New Testament. Praise God for revealing the source of the pain to you and setting you free!

  4. Good article Jake, but I thought that evil spirits couldn’t indwell a believer who has the Spirit of God?
    Could you give me some insight into this?
    Thanks,

    Jeremy

    • Hey Jeremy,

      Thanks for the comment! It is a common misunderstanding that a Christian can never need deliverance from a demon. Based on what I see in the Scriptures, and based on my experience over the last 8 years, I do believe that Christians can have a demon (though the word “possessed” would not be the correct term).

      For more insight into this I would recommend these other articles I have written:

      How can a Christian Have a Demon?

      4 Myths About Deliverance Ministry

      God Bless,

      Jake

  5. What is your take on the cause and rapid popularity of breast cancer and other cancers? Do you believe it is caused by spirits? I have recently attended a church where people have been healed by deliverance, and have returned with paperwork from before and after,to prove their testimonies. I have only been to this place three times.First, through a Bible study. Second, on a Sunday for service. Both times, the teaching was based on healing and both times, I felt i’d received a revelation ,even though, I myself, am in excellent health. The following week, I received news of a close relative just being diagnosed with cancer. The third time I attended this church was for a Bible study, I brought the relative. Now I’m beginning to think it was meant for me to go those two times BEFORE receiving this news. But now I am also wondering if the cause of the illness is natural or spiritual?

    • Kristal,

      That is a great question. While the New Testament is clear that it is common for evil spirits to cause sickness, it would be an overstatement that all sickness is caused directly by an evil spirit. I believe that many times sicknesses of a terminal nature (such as cancer) are very often caused by spirits, or at least have some spiritual aspect to them. When praying over someone for healing, I will often deal with it in both spiritual and natural terms (command spirits to go, but also speak healing to the body, etc.).

      I am glad you are in a church that believes in this stuff, and that they are seeing people healed!

      Jake

  6. unbelievable!!! I can’t believe that in the 21st Century people still think this way. demons cause sickness? thinking this way is sad and seriously the sign of someone who lacks education and knowledge.

    • Hey Mark,

      Thanks for the comment and for sharing your perspective. As mentioned in the article, it is not surprising that many in the West would consider it foolish, primitive, or superstitious to believe that demons can be the cause sickness. But let’s be clear about something: this perspective has nothing to do with the time period we live in or the level of education a person has. It has more to do with one’s worldview.

      As far as time period goes: In the days of Jesus, one of the most prominent religious sects (the Sadducees) did not believe in angels or demons (see Acts 23:8). To think that everyone “back in Bible days” believed in demons, but now we are “more educated” and know better is simply not historically true. Back then, just like today, there were different beliefs on this subject.

      As far as education goes: Many very educated and intelligent people (by any standard) believe that evil spirits exist, and can cause sickness. To say that belief in evil spirits makes one uneducated or lacking in knowledge is simply an ignorant statement.

      One thing is clear (which is the main point of my article): The New Testament teaches that evil spirits can cause sickness.

      -Jake

      • Thank you for your response. There are points I agree with you on. Yes, scripture does mention demons/evil spirits. But, at the same time we have to examine how the people of that period viewed disease. Many times evil spirits/demons were a way of explaining something that was not understood at that time period.
        Education and knowledge plays a major part in how someone views the world and things around them. How a person responds to and internalizes experiences is very much based on educational level.
        I never said that belief in evil spirits/demons was the sign of an uneducated person. What I said was that believing that evil spirits cause sickness is the sign of someone who lacks knowledge.
        It is a very dangerous thing for a person to say because it can put someone in danger. I have known people within the past ten years who refused to get medical help for their loved ones because they believed that evil spirits were causing the cancer and only prayer could help to get rid of the demons. Well, guess what, both people died due to lack of medical attention.
        I would like to extend my apologies to you if my comment sounded harsh, but it is in response to what I believe is irresponsibility. You have every right to believe how you believe and you have the right to share those views. But, temper it with responsibility. there must be a balance. Sadly, there are people who will pass on medical help thinking that prayer will exorcise the evil spirits that may be causing their disease. When in fact, it may simply be biological and not supernatural.
        again, I sincerely thank you for your kind response. God bless, stay in faith.

        • Mark,

          I appreciate you clarifying your comment and bringing more understanding to where you are coming from. That is very sad about the one’s who did not seek medical help and died. To be clear, I am not opposed to medicine/doctors at all. And as mentioned in the article, I do not believe that all sickness is caused by evil spirits. But when it is, medicine can only do so much.

          A careful study of the gospels will show Jesus dealing with literal demons. He was not just catering to the people’s education level or present understanding of the way things work. There are accounts of demons speaking, throwing people to the floor, convulsing people, tormenting people, etc. And Jesus spoke about evil spirits in a very literal way (for example, see Luke 11:24-26). I would encourage you to read through the gospels for yourself and do a study on this.

          Again, I appreciate the open dialogue!

          God Bless,

          Jake

  7. Aloha!

    I am looking for advice on what to do about my sickness. I am an 18 year old who is constantly riddled by sickness. I live in Hawaii, a place which is not known for sickness because of the hot climate, yet I get sick at least 10+ times a year. My family is very religious yet even they doubt that spirits can cause sickness. I have gotten nausea almost every night for as long as I can remember and the doctors do not know the cause. I am the only one in my family to get sick (as often as I do), and I am still sick as I write this. I wanted to know if you had any advice as to why this might be happening. Your article was very insightful, so I wish to ask if you have any suggestions or thoughts

    Thank you~

    • Lynn,

      It is not always clear when the cause of a sickness has spiritual or natural causes. Your case does not seem to have a natural explanation, especially with doctors not being able to figure out what the cause is. I suspect that there might be a spiritual root; that there might be an evil spirit involved. Don’t let this possibility make you scared…instead seek God about it and ask if there is anything that happened that could have given a spirit access. Command any spirit of infirmity to go from you in the name of Jesus!

      -Jake

  8. It’s very interesting this discussion. And also the article. Here’s my question.
    If sickness is not spiritual why did Jesus deal with it at the cross? ALL consequences of the fall were dealt with at the cross – I have just been reading Christ the Healer by Bosworth and what an eye opener!

    Smith Wigglesworth the apostle of faith believed that cancer was caused by an evil spirit “the worst kind” and truth is it is renegade cells rebelling against our makers direction for growth. Why would Wigglesworth have seen deliverance if this was not the case of an evil spirit? Also Kenneth Hagin! Could the fact that cancer can’t be cured mean it truly is spiritual? Even though some people go into remission maybe the devil doesn’t mind as he still has them living in fear of it maybe coming back!

    Do you think as people we have empowered disease? Let’s face it the devil was stripped of His power at the cross! The devil actually only has the power in our lives that we let him have!

    Matt8:16 reads When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.

    It the goes on to read v17
    This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our

  9. I felt very sick for the past 16 years of my life. I had all kinds of sickness including scoliosis. I found out about this website in search for what I am missing in my prayers for me to be healed. I’ve been praying and asking God to free me from diseases. I read the article about the open doors of evil spirits, and I fell under all the influences in the categories as a young kid. As I was reading the shooting pain in my neck wasn’t something I have felt before, it felt like it was being recognized. Once I prayed to be delivered, the pain was gone. I also felt a great relief in my entire body.

    Thank you so much for spreading God’s work and His will.
    God Bless you my brother.

    • Alyssa,

      Thanks for sharing this testimony! Glad to hear about your healing. May God continue to bless you and reveal Himself to you.

      God Bless,

      Jake

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