Part of me marvels when I see a near perfect illustration in a secular movie of how the spiritual realm may manifest in the physical realm. I doubt this is intentional which makes it all the more marvelous. While some believers don’t acknowledge that there are spiritual entities outside ourselves that operate in a spiritual realm to try to prevent us from living in health and freedom both spiritually and physically, many of us do recognize this to be the case. And because God is such a good Father, He has gifted some of us with discernment to recognize when these entities or evil spirits are operating in a person’s life and triggering some of their thoughts and behaviors. I believe most of us, even if we aren’t gifted with spiritual discernment, can learn to recognize when this is occurring in someone or in our own life so that we can take the correct spirit led actions to find freedom from the manipulation and control of these spirits.
For those of you who are fans of Stranger Things, the story line of the second season has a great illustration of this. If you haven’t seen the series, I’ll do my best to recap. One of the main characters, a boy named Will, is the victim of a traumatic experience being abducted and trapped in a very dark and frightening place in the first season. At the end of the season, he is rescued from that dark place and restored to his family, but we see that part of that dark place still lingers and is attached to him. In the second season, we find Will being stalked by an enormous, shadowy entity from that dark place. After a few encounters where he narrowly escapes the entity, he decides to face his pursuer and it possess him and takes over. His Mom and friends connect his ensuing strange behaviors to his past traumatic experience, but they have no idea that his behaviors are being triggered by this possessing entity.
Thinking they are helping, they indulge Will’s behaviors to make him comfortable
Thinking they are helping, they indulge Will’s behaviors to make him comfortable, not realizing that they are really just making the dark entity comfortable and enabling it to gain more and more power over Will. Eventually his Mom figures out what is going on and recognizes that the answer is to stop indulging the entity and start resisting it by making it as uncomfortable as possible. This approach works and Will gets stronger as the entity gets weaker until he is finally freed from its control.
I couldn’t help but notice as I watched this unfold in Stranger Things how much the dark entity reminded me of how the spirit of offense and the victim spirit operate, and how we often act as unwitting accomplices. As I elaborate on this, try to think of instances where you may have seen something similar unfolding in you or someone you know, because identifying the spiritual component of behaviors and feelings is the first step in getting healing and freedom.
The spirit of offense and the victim spirit often show up in the wake of a traumatic event in a person’s life.
The spirit of offense and the victim spirit often show up in the wake of a traumatic event in a person’s life. The individual is not always aware of how deeply they have been traumatized and may downplay its significance, or others may tell them what happened to them was insignificant. Even small incidents that have to do with how a person views or feels about themselves can cause trauma. It is in this vulnerability these spirits go to work and attach themselves, hoping that their intended victim and those around them will play along and feed, comfort, and strengthen their hold and ability to manipulate thoughts and behaviors. If these spirits find enough play, they can eventually attach to the person’s identity. Once that happens, their extrication can be quite daunting.
Both the spirit of offense and the victim spirit thrive on attention. They love to be coddled, consoled, and soothed. They may push an individual to need constant validation in their thoughts and feelings around their original traumatizing experience. They may also drive an individual to need to blame and insist that the focus of blame feel and express shame. This empowers these spirits who are making the person feel better about themselves while they stay stuck as a victim of the trauma. As time passes, the individual may begin to believe there is much more to be gained by continuing to identify with victimhood than by being healed and set free. And so they begin actively, although not necessarily consciously, looking for occasions to be offended and further victimized.
These two spirits are also highly manipulative and accomplished at coloring an individual’s ability to correctly perceive the words and actions of others toward them. They not only influence the thoughts and feelings of the individual they have attached to, but they also try to manipulate others around that person to cater to and reinforce their lies and deceptions. Those who don’t play along are sabotaged and removed from influence by triggering the individual’s sensitivities. It’s important to ask God to make you aware of this kind of manipulation. A caring person will naturally want to comfort someone who is upset, but sometimes our care for an individual can be expressed in ways that inadvertently strengthen the attachments of a harmful spiritual condition.
Environment can also be a major factor in whether a spirit of offense or a victim spirit easily thrive. This is especially true in our current culture where identity politics have popularized identifying as a victim and belonging to a class of victims. Not only does this roll out the red carpet to forming attachments with these evil spirits, but it also sets in play the manipulation of others in order to be compassionate. We have even enshrined the manipulation in terms like “political correctness” and movements like “me too.” I’m not suggesting that there is no value in treating people with compassion and recognizing what they may have been through. What I am suggesting is that we need to use wisdom to avoid contributing to keeping someone bound and trapped by the spirit of offense and the victim spirit.
Going back to Stranger Things, I find it interesting that the author named the character Will. Freedom and healing come through the will of the afflicted individual. When you recognize that these evil spirits are afflicting someone you know, you want to speak and act in ways that strengthen their will to break the attachments to offense and victimhood and discourage their will to continue to identify with and feel validated by an identity as a victim. You should also know that if you make those evil spirits uncomfortable and they see their attachment being threatened, they will set you up to offend and hurt that person. They may even manipulate others to accuse you of causing hurt. Get used to feeling like the “bad guy.” Recognize these manipulations and patiently work through them with lots of prayer and love. Reinforce correct identity as a victor through Christ. Do your best to avoid responding to ploys for attention and validation. Wait for a pause and then continue to restate correct identity. Consider helping them find a healing ministry that works with spiritual root causes. Don’t give up on them! Don’t get discouraged by setbacks. Be there for them and love them even if you have to do it from a distance.
If you suspect you may personally have an attachment to a spirit of offense or a victim spirit, I encourage you seek qualified help, and remember that you are not a victim.
If you suspect you may personally have an attachment to a spirit of offense or a victim spirit, I encourage you seek qualified help, and remember that you are not a victim. You are a conqueror who God loves dearly, so much so that He says NOTHING can separate you from his love! (Romans 8:28-38) Remember, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Gal 5:1a) So don’t surrender that freedom to a spirit of offense or a victim spirit! Let’s walk in the freedom God has made available!