Have you ever dealt with a demon-possessed person? This is a question that I have been asked on occasion. My answer is no, not that I know of. I have dealt with many people who have acted like the devil. I have met people in other countries whose pastor said they had been demon possessed. But I cannot recall an encounter with anyone that I could definitely say was demon possessed. I have never cast a demon out of anyone – however – this does not mean that I don’t believe in the reality of demons and their role in the lives of believers and unbelievers. I can remember some of the debates us young preachers would have among ourselves when I was training for the Life . One of those debates would be on whether a true Christian could be possessed by a demon or merely oppressed. Today there seems to be a renewed interest in this subject of angels and demons. Some make fun of and do not take seriously the whole matter; others go to the opposite extreme and live in fear, seeing a demon behind every bush. Perhaps it would be good to see what the Bible actually says on this subject so that we can develop a balanced and healthy perspective.
The Existence of Demons
Demons, like angels, do exist. In fact that is what demons are – fallen angels. Jude 6 tells us, “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of that great day.” Angels were given assignments and territories. Daniel 10:13 talks about the prince of Persia hindering an angel form coming to Daniel’s aid. This prince was a demon assigned to the territory of Persia to exert influence for Satan. Satan and his angels refused their assignments and rebelled against God – becoming demons. According to 2 Peter 2:4, some angels were cast into hell and delivered to chains of darkness awaiting their final judgment. Why are some demons already chained in hell and some allowed to be active in the creation? We don’t really know. Perhaps some were too wicked or vile and God would not allow them to roam the earth. Maybe it is simply a matter of timing. Revelation 9 mentions an angel opening the bottomless pit and locust like monsters coming out of it to torment mankind for a season. Some interpreters believe this refers to the demons of Jude 6. The major point in all of this is that demons are real – they do exist.
The purpose of demon possession would seem to be to attack and destroy the divine image in people. We are God’s special and loved creation. It would seem logical that Satan would hate what God loves – people. In tormenting and hurting people, he hurts God. Satan is also the great imitator not an originator. He tries to imitate the creativity and power of God. God wants to indwell His people by His Spirit to empower us for fulfilling His purposes. Satan’s imitation of this to achieve his purposes would be demonic possession. There are numerous stories in the Bible of demon possession. Mary Magdalene, one of the dedicated followers of Christ had been possessed by seven demons (Mark 16:9). Matthew 8:16 tells of Jesus casting demons out of people. Luke 8:26-40 gives us the story of the demon-possessed man of Gadara. From this account, we learn some of the characteristics of a demon-possessed person. He was possessed by more than one demon. The demon told Jesus his name was “legion” – which would signify many demons. The man had great strength and couldn’t be bound by chains. He was in emotional torment that would appear today as some form of mental illness. Demons can also inflict physical illness and other symptoms upon people such as deafness. They can control the body of a person so that they end up doing things they normally would not do, such as harming their own body (Matthew 17:15). They speak through the voice of the person they have possessed but sound different.
Why have we in our country historically not seen as much demonic possession as other less-developed nations. My opinion is because of the light of the gospel and our nation’s Judeo-Christian foundation. Light dispels darkness and the less spiritual light a nation has along with greater ignorance and superstition, the more demonic possession you will find. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will make you free” (John 8″32). This freedom would include freedom from the bondage of Satan.
God warned us in Leviticus 19:31 to not dabble in the occult: “Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.” We are not to fear demons but we also are to respect the power of our enemy. Our God is more powerful than Satan. 1 John 4:4 reminds us that, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” John is referring to the Holy Spirit who indwells believers as being more powerful than Satan. However, because Satan is the prince of this world (Ephesians 2:2), we will face temptations and attacks from him. Therefore we do not need to unnecessarily open ourselves to more opposition by playing in his world. Spiritual warfare is not a game – it is a deadly reality with eternity at stake (Ephesians 6:10-14).
We see from scripture that demon possession is a reality. Demons are able to possess a human body and accomplish their evil purposes through it. The person possessed usually suffers much torment and harm in the process of being possessed. Exorcism, casting the demon out of the person, is also a reality and the way to deliver the person from their bondage. Once again it is important to stress that casting out demons is not a Life a person seeks out of adventure or pride. This takes a spiritually mature person who has been equipped by God. Forget the Hollywood stereotypes concerning exorcism. This is not about entertaining curious people through a scary movie. It is about spiritual warfare fought with live ammunition. Acts 19:11-20 tells us the story of some men who tried to duplicate the miracles of healing and casting out demons they saw the Apostle Paul doing. The response of the demon was, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?” The demon-possessed man then attacked the men and they fled injured. This illustrates what can happen to those not spiritually qualified who engage in this type of spiritual warfare out of wrong motives.
We have looked at demon possession but what about demon oppression? Is there a difference between these two? And can a believer be demon possessed? There is a difference between possession and oppression. Demon possession is when the demon indwells a person’s body and actually takes control of it; they are now working on that person from inside of them. Demon oppression is a demon working from outside the individual. They are not indwelling the person’s body but they are planting thoughts in their mind. The dictionary defines oppression as feelings of being weighed down with worries or problems. In 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, Paul talks about satanic strongholds we are to cast down. The passage makes it clear these are wrong thoughts we have been programmed with. Paul also tells us in Ephesians 6:16 that we are to take the shield of faith to quench the “fiery darts of the wicked one.” This refers to using the Bible to dispute the wrong thoughts Satan puts into our mind, although Satan may “get into our head” as a believer that is not the same as possessing our body.
Romans 8:8-11, teaches that the Holy Spirit has indwelt a true believer. If the Holy Spirit has not indwelt us we are not a true believer. This is because the role of the Holy Spirit is to make us alive spiritually. He quickens our dead spirit. He enables us to please God by walking in obedience to God’s word just as Jesus did. The indwelling Christ enables us to glorify God through our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5) and will tolerate no rivals. He will not share our body with a demon. God uses marriage as an analogy for our relationship with Christ in Ephesians 5:22-33. Following this analogy, it should be easy to understand why God feels this way. No normal married man wants to share his wife’s body with another man. Once Christ has saved and indwelt us, He is not about to allow a demon to move in with Him. Romans 12:1-2 challenges us “to present our bodies a living sacrifice” to God. It is through our bodies that we live out God’s will and glorify Him. No demon-possessed person would ever be able to do this. We already have a sin nature that wars against us in this endeavor (Galatians 5:16-17). We overcome this nature by yielding control daily of our will to the indwelling Christ. In this life and walk of spiritual warfare we have enough challenges developing the mind of Christ and dying to self-daily. However, demon possession is one challenge we will no longer face as a true believer.
Do you think this article is accurate or no? Tell us your thoughts or experiance with someone who you think may have been demob possessed. Email the editor [email protected].