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Should The Christian Worry About "Demon Possession"?

Copyright (c) 2005-2019

Can believers be demon-possessed? What about unbelievers? What should I do about demon possession?


CAN I AS A CHRISTIAN BE DEMON-POSSESSED?

We see in the Gospels and a bit in Acts (though nothing in the epistles or even Revelation!) people being possessed by demons. We'll define "demon-possession" as when one or more evil spirits or demons inhabit the body of a human being and can take control of their victim at will. The Spiritual Warfare Movement (SWM) has made much of this phenomenon, and seems to base its theology on these happenings.

Pretty scary stuff! This seems like it would be a very strategic thing to guard against, but according to contemporary SWM theology, almost impossible to do.


From Scripture, though, it appears that Christians cannot be demon-possessed, for a wide variety of reasons:

* Christ didn't warn us about the possibility. It makes sense that He would have if it were necessary.

* Christ didn't tell us how to deal with demon-possessed believers. In John 14-16, on the night He was betrayed, Christ gave His disciples specific instructions for how to get along without His personal presence. He didn't mention anything about how to deal with demon possessed believers or unbelievers.

* Not only was Christ silent on the issue, but Paul was also. The Apostle that understood truth that no other Apostle or prophet did didn't warn us about the possibility of believers in Christ becoming demon-
possessed. The Apostle that was specifically revealing truth for us also didn't give us instructions on dealing with believers so possessed, or even unbelievers for that matter!

* Not only were Christ & Paul silent about it, but the other epistle writers were as well. They addressed the issue of spiritual warfare, and gave us all necessary information to "stand against the enemy," but didn't say anything about demon-possession.

* In the epistles, we have no recorded instances of believers being demon-possessed. The writers of those letters never tell people to deal with the sin in their midst by casting out demons. We don't sin because of some internal demons, but because of our own sin nature. Freedom from sin is reckoning yourself dead to it (see Romans 6-8).

* The most common reason given about Christians not being able to de demon-possessed is that the Holy Spirit resides in us; we are His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 talks about that, in a corporate sense). Will the Holy Spirit and a demon share residences?

* In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, we are also reminded that we are God's possession: can the Devil make us belong to him instead? Can a demon possess (claim as his) something that the Holy Spirit already possesses? The Holy Spirit has made His permanent abode in us. Certainly a demon can influence us, and that very strongly, but can't take possession of us.

* The thought out there with demon-possession is that we need to "bind the strongman" (Matthew 12:29; Satan or his demons being "the strongman"), if we are to help anyone out. But Christ "bound the strong man" already with His sacrifice (Matthew 12:29, compared with Colossians 2:14-15 and Hebrews 2:14-15). It's not for us to do!

* We've been delivered from the power/authority of the enemy and the realm where the enemy rules (Colossians 1:13).

* Look at 1 John 5:18-19: "18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. 19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness." But "that Wicked One" (Satan) does touch us, does harm us, so what does this mean? Verse 19 says that the unsaved world "lies in the lap" of the Wicked One; it is under his control and domination. We, however, cannot be "touched." These 2 parallel ideas are talking about control: The world is controlled by the Wicked One, but we cannot be controlled by him. Instead, we are kept by God.

* Also, the believer can always say no to sin he knows about (Romans 6:2,6,7,11,12,14,16; 8:2,12; etc), whether fleshly or demonically enticed. Anything the enemy tries to make us do is sin, but we can say no to him (but we can also say yes!). This isn't to say that saying no will be easy, or that it will even be understood as an option. Nor is it saying that the believer couldn't be so demon-influenced or oppressed that he would feel like he is being controlled. But there will always be the opportunity to say "no." He has a choice to yield to the Spirit or the sin.


All these reasons taken together add up to the Biblical fact that believers in Jesus Christ cannot be demon-possessed.


OK, BUT WHAT ABOUT UNSAVED PERSONS? CAN'T THEY BE POSSESSED OR "CONTROLLED" BY THE DEVIL OR HIS DEMONS?

Possibly, though the part of the Bible written specifically to us (the Church) doesn't address this. And how are we to deal with those apparently possessed by demons? The New Testament epistles don't tell us! Even though Paul says that the Scriptures are given by God's inspiration and are profitable to make us "perfect," completely equipped for all good works (all required works), Paul doesn't tell us how to deal with demon-possessed people. If the New Testament epistles are "enough," and yet don't include binding/rebuking/casting out demons, then what are we to say about binding/rebuking/casting out? Those things aren't what we need! We aren't to do those things!

The "binding" and "loosing" of Matthew 18 (v15-20, especially 18) is in the context of church discipline and forgiveness. It seems to talk about agreement in prayer, not just saying "I bind you, spirit!"

Maybe this means that people in our day and age can't be possessed by devils? Maybe. It seems like it would be a good ploy of the Devil to make it look like people are "possessed," and then have those demons give up "control" when an "exorcist" comes on the scene. It would very much lend credence to the thought that "you need something more than the Bible!" And Satan's right there ready to offer you that "something more"!

The Devil wants to get us to believe things that are not Biblical, not from the Bible. Once we step out from the protection of "what the Bible says is so," we're open to all kinds of information and direction!


HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THE PHENOMENA, THEN?

What happens when you see someone you think is possessed by evil spirits? How do you handle that? If the New Testament epistles don't address this issue, but we have to deal with it, we may start believing that we need something more than what the Bible offers us. And who is it that wants us to believe that? Open the door to that "something more" than the Bible, and where will you end up? Who knows! You may end up "barking in the Spirit." Or "laughing in the Spirit." Or "vomiting in the Spirit." All of these we see in contemporary fringe Christianity that has left the written Word as their foundation. There are answers for these questions, but they're outside the scope of this article.


WHAT ABOUT THE FACT THAT UNBELIEVERS ARE ABLE TO "EXORCISE SPIRITS" OR "CAST OUT DEMONS"?

The "sons of Sceva" in Acts 19:13-16 were able to cast demons out (or else wouldn't have been known as "exorcists"), and they apparently weren't believers. Certain other religions have appointed or lay exorcists; religions that don't teach that Christ is the perfect sacrifice for sins, and so are not truly Christian. What should we start thinking about that? "Well, obviously, this is God's power, so He must work through them too. God is working through them in this mighty way, even though they believe something incredibly opposite of what the Bible says. Maybe this 'Bible' thing is too narrow. Maybe there are other ways to heaven. Maybe the Bible doesn't have the corner on truth." And who is it that is trying to deceive us with those lies?


SO WHY DOES LUKE MENTIONS PHILLIP AND PAUL CASTING OUT DEMONS IN ACTS (ACTS 8:7 & 16:16-18)?

We see a few instances of casting out demons in Acts, but nowhere near the amount that we'd expect to see, given the amount of attention the Spiritual Warfare Movement puts on it. In Mark 16:17, Jesus prophecies that the apostles will be doing some pretty spectacular things, including dealing with demon-
possession. Did those things happen? Certainly! We read the book of Acts and see people doing those kinds of things. But that was a transitional time, from a focus on Israel to a focus on the Church. If those things were for us to do now, we would be given information on how, why, when, where, etc, in that part of the Bible written specifically to us. We're not given that information. Why is that? Because those things aren't for us to be doing!


THE CHRISTIAN DOES NOT NEED TO WORRY ABOUT "DEMON POSSESSION"!

So-called "demon possession" is a sensational phenomenon in our Christian culture. What is the Christian to think about it? If we should be worried about this experience, either for ourselves or for unbelievers, we would be given more specific instruction in the Word of God for dealing with it. We are given thorough instructions to deal with the forces of evil, but nothing about casting out or binding demons. We don't have to worry about doing that.


About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
Christian Darland has taught at a Bible college for 7 years. He sees plain Biblical answers for many of the questions in the arena of spiritual warfare. We need to think Biblically, not just experientially! His new book is available at http://www.ResistingTheEnemy.com

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