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Major Spiritual Warfare Principles: Biblical Do’s and Don’ts of Warfare (book by Eric Gondwe, BMC, MBA, DD)
Chapter 6. Can a Christian be Demon Possessed?
CHAPTER 6. SUB-TOPICS:
- Can a Christian Be Demon Possessed?
- Deception in the House
- Summoning Spirits -Occult Vs Church Practices
- Our Belief Systems Influence Our Outcomes
- If the Son Sets You free… (John 8:36)
“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed,” John 8:36.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is IN you, whom you have received from God?” 1 Corinthians 6:19.
“What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God,” 2 Corinthians 6:15-16.
“Do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?” James 4:5 (New King James Version).
“Let God be true, and every man a liar,” Romans 3:4.
Can a Christian Be Demon Possessed?
Can Christians be demon possessed? This is a question many ask over certain matters among some Christians. The most prominent area some label as demon possession among Christians concerns demonic manifestations. However such demonic manifestations are an aspect of demonic influence (or demonic interference) not demonic possession.
These demonic manifestations may be through visio perceptions, body sensations, auditory sensing, olfactory sensing, sensing a presence, or frequent dreams of demonic manifestations. A chapter that deals with this in detail is in my other book, Breaking Spiritual Strongholds and Healing the Wounded Spirit: Dealing with Root Causes. In the book see chapter 13, “Deliverance from Demonic Experiences and Demonic Manifestations.”
What some believers and ministries easily classify as demonic possession is actually demonic influence. Demonic possession and demonic influence are two completely different realms of demonic activity. Please read the previous chapter which clarifies the distinction between demonic possession and demonic influence.
Possession is ownership of demons from within. The unclean spirits possess, occupy or own an individual that is categorized as possessed. He/she is a prisoner to the demons that live inside him/her.
Demonic influence on the other hand, is interference of demons from an external position. It is not internal. It is from an external position in the spirit realm where evil spirits can freely operate among believers and non-believers. In this spiritual realm they have no ownership over anyone yet constantly operate to influence people through temptation, deception, and manifestation for some.
Can a Christian be demon possessed? A few fellow evangelicals recently began to believe it is possible. A deeper scrutiny of scripture shows believers cannot be possessed or owned by evil spirits. As long as one is born again there cannot be any evil spirit living inside of him/her.
How could the Holy Spirit, from the Jealous God, be sharing a bed with demons? We are temples of the Holy Spirit. Can we be at the same time temples of demons? So the doctrine of Christians having demons is false. It is also dangerous doctrine.
“Don’t you know that you yourself are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple,” (1 Corinthians 3: 16-17).
There is nowhere in scripture where evil spirits are cast out of believers. Secondly demon possessed people never went round looking for Jesus hoping to be delivered from evils spirits. The demon possessed were so out of their mind or so bound that they had no control of themselves. The demons owned or possessed them. So either people who knew them sought Jesus or Jesus and his disciples came across such people as they went about preaching the gospel.
Recently (from the late 1970s and early 80s) some believers began to categorize certain problems they found among other believers as aspects of demonic possession. Church history of over 2,000 has had its share of false teachings resulting from scriptural misinterpretation. Many of our recent waves of false teachings among fellow evangelicals have come from the spiritual warfare and deliverance movement.
For example if a believer had a serious temper problem he/she was said to have a spirit of anger. If he had a problem with lust he was said to have a spirit of lust or spirit of fornication. If it was woman disputing with her husband she was said to have a Jezebel spirit. And so on.
The categorization of evil spirits went out of hand and so did casting out these spirits. And many strategies were developed to get rid of the evil spirits out of Christians. Some included coughing them out, cursing them, rebuking them, stomping on them, and son on. Whether or not scripture had any backing to such practices did not matter. No wonder they continue to fail in bringing any lasting deliverance on those seeking deliverance.
There are many problems sincere Christians may go through that we may never fully understand why nor have the grace to solve all of them. We've got to be humble before our sovereign Lord and seek his perfect will while acknowledging that our understanding is limited. We prescribe biblical prescriptions to problems but beyond that would be going outside what the bible says.
In the bible, demon spirits, also known as evil spirits or fallen angels, are characterized as having extreme control over people who are categorized as demon possessed. We have an account where Jesus’ disciples failed to cast out an evil spirit from a demon possessed child.
The evil spirit controlled him to the extent that it often threw him in the fire or tried to drown him whenever the opportunity came. When the boy was brought to Jesus he said, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again,” Mark 9:25.
This is one of the biblical examples of those owned or possessed by demons: they had no control of themselves. The spirits living inside them were their masters, manifesting their will whenever it pleased them. Such are the people that need believers to go to them and cast demons out of them or preach the gospel which miraculously overcomes demonic bondage and strongholds.
We meet such people in our towns and cities that we categorize as extremely insane. This is not the insanity that psychiatrists measure on normal people with one psychological problem or another (e.g. depression, anger, obsessive compulsive disorders, and so on). This kind of extreme insanity we’re talking about makes people to be helpless due to being under heavy demonic bondage. The people under such demonic bondage are temples of demons or temples of idols, with demons referring to each of them as their house (Luke 11:24-26).
Contrast this with believers who are temples of the Holy Spirit. We're under God's ownership with God living in us. Each believer is a house of God where God lives through his Holy Spirit. We are therefore not vulnerable to demons living inside us. We cannot be temples of God and temples of idols at the same time. It is one spirit or the other, not both at the same time. One spirit is from God, the other from Satan thus personifying their respective sources.
While it is possible not to be possessed by either spirit (as is the case for many unbelievers) it is impossible for both spirits to live in (or possess) the same person. It is impossible for God and Satan to live in the same house. It is actually an insult to our holy God to assume that he is willing to possess and dwell in the same house as unclean spirits.
“What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God,” 2 Corinthians 6:15-16. A believer has nothing in common in his/her spiritual makeup with an unbeliever.
Secondly there is no agreement between the temple of God and idols. A person cannot be both. He/she is either a temple of God or is a temple of idols. The two are mutually exclusive, meaning that they are night and day apart.
Other cases of demonic possession are people who get involved in the extremes of Satanism and the occult. These are not insane and deranged people in our society. People in extremes of Satanism and the occult are among the most talented in our society. Through desire for more power, wealth, and other influences they find themselves caught up in occult practices.
Many of the individuals who find themselves in extreme occult practices willfully invite Satan to come in and possess them during their rituals. It is similar to us believers who willfully invite Jesus to be our Lord and Savior. We ask him to abide in us and we occasionally take communion to symbolize his indwelling or possession of our lives.
People in the extremes of Satanism and the occult do just the same, except to a different master -Satan. They drink each other's blood, blood of animals and at worst levels, blood of people in sacrifice to Satan, their god. A different spirit enters them as they willfully summon Satan to take over their lives. They become possessed from within. Evil spirits enter their lives and begin to exercise control over their lives. Needless to say that there is plenty of hope for such people to find salvation.
If we fully understood the implications of inviting Jesus into our lives to possess us and be Lord few believers would entertain the idea that a Christian can be demon possessed or evil spirit possessed. We become spiritually reborn (born again) into a new spiritual identity where we become God’s owned and possessed vessels. A person who has received Christ as his/her Savior cannot have a demonic possession problem. She has willfully embraced Christ as her Savior and invited him to live inside her through the Holy Spirit. She is now the temple of the Holy Spirit, with God living INSIDE her.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is IN you, whom you have received from God?” 1 Corinthians 6:19. Can the Holy Spirit, who is holy, holy, holy, tolerate sharing his temple with evil spirits? He does not tolerate our sinful tendencies, how much more will he tolerate living together with an evil spirit?
The bible says, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? James 4:4-5.
The Holy Spirit yearns jealously when we live worldly lives. He considers such indulgence with worldliness as adultery. Adultery is a big sin in the bible. Worldliness is spiritual adultery to God because it serves the fallen nature and lusts of the flesh. The Holy Spirit wants all our attention to him. He is grieved if we live worldly lives. How much more would he be grieved to see evil spirits living inside us? This would devastate him.
Thus God ensures the temple that the Holy Spirit will live in is first cleaned before the Holy Spirit can live in it. He cleans it of evil spirits, if they are any living in that temple. This happens at salvation. At the moment we’re getting saved something amazing takes place in the spirit world. God cleans us up, reconnects the human spirit of each of us to his Spirit, seals us as own, and allows the Holy Spirit to come and live inside of us. What kind of cleansing would end up leaving evil spirits to continue living in a person?
Thus every angle about this topic on Christians being liable to demonic possession keeps pointing to the fact that it’s not true. Christians are liable to demonic influence but not to demon possession. Some observable matters in certain Christians may look like demon possession yet they’re merely aspects of demonic influence. Otherwise God’s word, the bible, would be lying.
About the truthfulness of the bible it says, “Let God be true, and every man a liar,” Romans 3:4.
Deception in the House
A believer who assumes he/she is demon possessed because of certain problems being experienced is therefore only deceived. Seeking demons to be cast out of him/her only opens the door to consequences of following false teachings. Those who jump to cast out demons from born again Christians only end up making the lives of these innocent unpossessed souls worse.
Cases of Christians ending up with more mental and other problems after being subjected to casting out of demons are legion. Most of them were victims that fell into deliverance false teachings that treat demonic activity outside biblical teachings. Matters of demonic influence end up being mixed up with matters of demonic possession with unfortunate consequences. Demonic influence is very different from demonic possession as explained in this book.
The demons in many cases put up a show to deceive "deliverance ministers" and the victim that they are really occupying a born again believer. The whole truth is that the demons are summoned through the proclamations of the "deliverance minister," being commanded to come out and sometimes summoned to a lengthy conversation.
This is not to mock ministers and believers caught up in false teachings in some deliverance ministries. Many are sincere in their motives. Bob DeWaay who was once a pastor that practiced deliverance ministry false teachings for more years than some of us says, "I do not doubt the motives of the spiritual technicians (deliverance ministers). When I was one I sincerely wanted to help people. I was working day and night, without salary or benefits. I wanted to serve God fully and advance His kingdom. I sincerely believed I was doing so. However, my deception caused me to put people in more bondage rather than to deliver them. I was unwittingly a bondage maker," (Bob DeWaay in his article “How Deliverance Ministries Lead People to Bondage”).
Summoning Spirits -Occult Vs Church Practices
Some may still think the strange voices that come of a person are actually demons living inside of a person. You may need to ask some who were once in the occult at whatever level. When an evil spirit is summoned to manifest in a realm where our spiritual faculties can relate with spirits it shows up through whoever is made to act as its medium or vessel.
In some Asian and African countries like India, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, it is common among some subcultures to practice necromancy, the practice of communicating with the spirits of the dead.
The necromancers summon the spirits of the dead and sure enough they shows up. The spirits speak through a person who acts as its medium. In actual fact it is not the dead person but a demon that has been summoned. Demons can mimic voices of the dead or the living.
When evil spirits are summoned they show up through practices that invite them. The people that summon them or their companions working in agreement end up being vessels or mediums through which the spirits can express themselves.
Necromancy, transcendental meditation, horoscopes and other occult practices are fast returning to the Western world where Christianity had banished them for centuries. Harry Potter, Star Wars and much of the media make occult beliefs as harmless practices and invite people to try. Unfortunately many do with terrible consequences. My other book, Breaking Occult Spells: Protection from Witchcraft and Occult Influences, has more detailed info on this topic.
Children seem to have become the special target market in promoting occult beliefs. Jeff Harshbarger, a former Satanist now in Christ, says, “Parents, the occult is being marketed to your children at an unprecedented level through movies, television programs, books, games, toys, and trading cards. It’s portrayed as innocent, fun, and entertaining. To see the newest or latest in occult items for kids, turn on the television, browse the children’s department at the local bookstore, or walk the aisles of the toy store nearest to you,” (From Darkness to Light, p.131-132).
However, as Harshbarger points out, the association of occult related content among children does not invite demonic activity. It nonetheless can pose as an invitation for children to experiment with occult practices that tap into the spirit world and summon demonic activity.
In the Christian camp, the calling forth of demons in the name of deliverance on born again Christians is one area believers summon demons to manifest. Demons receive a lot of attention in environments where such practices are common. They freely manifest themselves through people who seek demons to be cast out assuming they have a demonic possession problem.
The strange thing is that the same people keep coming back for deliverance. The demons keep playing games on them that they have a demonic possession problem. For as long as their focus is on demons living inside them the hide and seek game continues.
It is only when matters distinguishing between demonic possession and demonic influence are seen and addressed that deliverance and healing starts. Church ministers ought to stop blaming the innocent souls that they keep trying to cast demons out of and start focusing on revising their non-biblical teachings that keep people going in circles.
Our Belief Systems Influence Our Outcomes
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If the Son Sets You free… (John 8:36)
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Spiritual Warfare book: Major Spiritual Warfare Principles: Biblical Do’s and Don’ts of Warfare © 2008 Eric Gondwe, BMC, MBA, DD