Thursday, June 29, 2017
Can A Christian Be Demon-Possessed?
Many people have been taught to believe that Christians can be demon-possessed, and the whole “deliverance ministry” makes money on this fraudulent teaching. Bible verses teaching against the idea of demon possession are plentiful: John 10:28; Col. 1:13; Col. 2:15; 2 Thes. 3:3; Heb. 2:14-15; James 4:7; 1 Pet. 1:5; 1 John 4:4;1 John 5:18;
Here are some quotations I’ve gathered from various teachers on the subject of demon possession and the Christian:
Every Christian is faced with daily temptations from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Paul wrote that we do indeed have a struggle against various spirits (Eph. 6:12). Therefore, to some degree, every believer is harassed by demon spirits. That is normal, and it is our responsibility to resist the devil and demons by faith in God’s Word (1 Pet. 5:8-9). When we believe and act upon what God has said, that is resisting the devil. …
We must recognize that as free moral agents, we can think whatever we want to think about. If a believer continually chooses to listen and yield to the suggestions of evil spirits, he can certainly open his mind to being oppressed, which is simply a state of being more receptive to, and more dominated by, wrong thoughts. …
It is a fact that there is not a single example in the New Testament of any Christian being possessed by a demon. Nor is there any warning addressed to Christians about the dangerous possibility of their being inhabited by demons. Nor is there any instruction regarding how to cast out demons from fellow-Christians.
The truth is that as Christians, we don’t need demons cast out of us – what we need is to have our minds renewed upon the Word of God. That is scriptural…(Rom. 12:2).
Once our minds have been cleansed of the old thinking patterns and have been renewed with the truth of God’s Word, then we can gain victory over sinful habits and live in a consistent Christ-like manner. The truth is what sets us free (John 8:32). We are transformed as we renew our minds, not as we have all the demons exorcised!
David Kirkwood, Modern Myths About Satan and Spiritual Warfare
…Can born-again Christians be inhabited by demons to the extent where deliverance is attained only by exorcism? This is the true question now dividing many Bible believers.
An increasing number of prominent Christians are reportedly changing their minds and answering Yes to the question…. The reason they are changing their minds is not because of a new understanding of Scripture. It is because of their own personal experiences. They have become involved in exorcising demons from people whom they are convinced are truly born again.
I believe the crux of the issue reverts back to the question, “What is a Christian?” I personally do not believe truly born-again Christians can be so inhabited by demons necessitating an exorcism. I see the problem as basically soteriological, that is, relating to the doctrine of salvation. …
I strongly believe that there are thousands of people in evangelical churches who are utterly confused concerning the nature of saving faith. It is very possible that these professing Christians are the ones being currently delivered from inhabiting demons. If this is the case, then following their deliverance they should be immediately and properly evangelized….
The lordship of Christ over his children implies his rule and reign. In Scripture believers are represented as entering into his kingdom at the time of their regeneration. At the same time they are represented as being delivered from the kingdom of Satan – Christ “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13; also Heb. 2:14, 15). And the Christian is declared to be “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (1 Peter 1:5). …
True, born again believers are represented as not being “touched” by the evil one because “he that is begotten of God keepeth himself” (1 John 5:18; also John 10:28). Believers persevere and do not give themselves over to demonic possession, by God’s grace. Believers are assured of victory because they are children of God, and the “seed [of God] remaineth in him’ (1 John 3:8-10). If Christians can be inhabited by Satan’s angels then they are actually the temple of God and of Satan at the same time. Paul asked, “What concord hath Christ with Belial?…for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people’ (2 Cor.6:15, 16).
The teaching of Jesus in Matthew 12:43-45 is pivotal in understanding demonic possession and re-inhabitation. Demons can leave a person and return with greater severity when the demon perceives the person’s life to be “empty, swept, and garnished.” If Jesus had not been enthroned as Lord and Savior in the person’s life, he or she is inhabitable by satanic forces. Moral reformations, professions of faith, and spiritual activity are like cleaning a house. Unless those activities lead to the powerful, regenerating presence of Christ in one’s life, the person is susceptible to further demonic control. Where Christ is, the house is not “empty,” and Satan cannot inhabit it.
The fact that so many involved in deliverance work deal only with Christians is distressing. The profession of these believers must be carefully tested and proven. I would recommend that no one inhabited by a demon be accepted as a born-again believer. To do so is to relinquish cherished and certain doctrines concerning the Christian’s perseverance and preservation. It is a denial of Christ as both the Savior and Lord of his children. It is yet another evidence of capitulating to phenomena, rather than accepting God’s Word.
Edward N. Gross, Miracles, Demons, & Spiritual Warfare: An Urgent Call for Discernment
If…we apply the term demonization in its proper scriptural context to mean being controlled by demons, then the question of whether or not Christians can be demonized without God’s permission comes into play. Equally important is the question of whether or not God would even allow his children to become controlled by demons in the first place.
This is critical to the issue of repentance versus deliverance. If we can be controlled, then we are not responsible for our actions other than committing some heinous sin that would prompt the Father to give us over to the control of Satan in the first place. On the other hand, if all our actions are ultimately within our own power, then we cannot blame the devil for our sins or for their consequences. We must blame ourselves and, in humble repentance, ask God’s forgiveness.
While the Scriptures do not offer a single mention of the possibility of true believers being controlled by demons, they do speak clearly to this issue of our own responsibility for our sins and the need for repentance [see 1 John 1:5-10]. Temptation by Satan and/or his demons may afflict us, but so, too, do temptations of our own flesh. In neither case can we say that when we are tempted we are demonized. God has given us the grace to resist temptation from the enemy and from our own sin nature. But it is up to us to exercise our wills in deciding to resist that temptation.
In the case where we may be tempted by the devil we are instructed plainly to “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). When we are tempted by the lusts that war in our members we are told to flee them and to follow after godliness (2 Tim. 2:22)
According to Scripture, it is our own lusts that tempt us. If Satan tempts us it is primarily in those areas that constitute our secret desires for particular sins in the first place. He works on our own areas of lust. If we succumb, the solution is not deliverance but repentance. …
[There is no] question that some who claim to be Christians are demonized at least to some extent. A great number of people in the pews are nominal, not true Christians. But because someone has made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, or has attained leadership in the Church, or can be credited with many good works, does not mean that he or she is a true believer.
In spite of Scripture’s clear teachings on repentance while remaining relatively silent in regards to deliverance, most deliverance ministries deal with those whom they perceive to be Christians rather than with unbelievers. Thus there is cause for serious concern as to whether they even properly understand the definition of demonization or, for that matter, if they understand what constitutes a true believer in Jesus Christ.
The definition of a true believer in Jesus is one whose spirit has been regenerated by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, given at the moment of conversion. He is a saint, set apart from out of the world for the Father’s use. …
The true believer is holy (i.e., sanctified – set apart for God) even if not perfect, just as any vessel used in the service of God is holy yet not perfect. The imperfections will remain until we have put on the new body fashioned after that which the Lord Jesus inhabits as a result of the Resurrection. …
A person who does not grow in the grace of God, but after making a profession of faith continues in spite of instruction from the Scriptures to live according to his own will, has demonstrated that he lacks the faith necessary for salvation and sanctification….
The true believer will receive correction from God’s Word and will submit to the Holy Spirit (perhaps after some struggling), thus exhibiting spiritual growth toward conformity to the image of Christ.
Among the unbelieving there are those who claim Christianity but refuse correction. They continue in sin openly.
There are also among the unbelieving those who claim to be Christians but whose works are motivated by a religious spirit rather than by the spirit of God. These are they who attain positions of leadership through their own volition; their works are not submitted to the will of the Father, but are performed with the expectation that any good work is pleasing to God.
This isn’t to say that true believers do not fall into these traps themselves. But their willingness to receive correction results in their consistently being conformed to the image of Christ. Those who continue in sin without repentance have not been regenerated by God’s Spirit. …
In every case, it is repentance that sets us aright with God and enables us to live the sanctified life. Nowhere in Scripture is deliverance for the true believer established as a requisite to sanctification.
This being the case, how do we address the fact that deliverance ministries attain a degree of success in the apparent casting out of demons from Christians? In view of Scripture alone, we must conclude that these were not true believers, but merely professing Christians who, in their own consciences, would swear on a stack of Bibles that they are true believers. Among them are even pastors and teachers.
What the deliverance ministries are attempting to do, therefore, is cast demons out of non-believers, while thinking they are casting them out of believers. …
So the real question is, can a true Christian be controlled by a demon? Does the Lord allow such a thing? The Scriptures say no:… [see 1 Cor. 10:13; John 8:36; James 4:5-10].
These and many other Scriptures tell us that we who are in Christ are free from the control of Satan. Those who are born again by the blood of Christ – who have been washed clean and established in the Kingdom of God by faith can resist the devil. And if we have the choice to resist, then we cannot be controlled. We cannot be demonized.
What we need, then, is constant washing by the Word of God which gives us the knowledge, wisdom and discernment to recognize the evil that besets us. Evil does beset us, but it is external to us; it is not internal, except insofar as our own flesh wars against the Spirit of God within us. This is why we are told to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. But this, again, is a choice we make. …
When we address the issue of true believers we must concede that demonic attacks are possible, not only against those who are disobedient to the will of the Father, but even against those whose lives reflect near-perfect obedience to His will.
In the case of those who are disobedient, such attacks may be permitted by the Father as a means of chastisement. This was the case with the man whose sin of incest scandalized the Corinthian Church, and whom Paul remanded to Satan in order that his body be destroyed that his soul might be saved (1 Cor. 5:1-5) Since chastisement is the manner in which our Father corrects us for unrepentant sin, it should always lead to repentance in the true believer. In that case, since the Father’s purpose has been achieved, the enemy would have to flee and the attack would cease.
In the case of those who are generally obedient, such attacks may be permitted by the Father for the purpose of testing, or to keep us humble, as was the case with Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Here we must rely on His grace to see us through. …
If Christians resist the devil he will flee from them. This, again, is an act of one’s will to surrender to God’s will and to resist sin. To attempt to cast out a demon rather than address the problem of sin will result in the sin remaining. Yet this is the general approach of the modern deliverance advocates. They are treating an imaginary disease and neglecting the real source of infection: the love of sin within the heart of the person. This can only be effectively dealt with through reproof, rebuke, and exhortation from God’s Word, along with prayer and, in some cases, even fasting.
Albert Dager, Media Spotlight Special Report: Deliverance
A Christian – I mean a true Christian, who has submitted to God and His Word – will suffer nothing from demons. For he is mightier than demons. The Christian will suffer nothing, for “the angel of the Lord will encamp around them who fear Him and will deliver them.” [Ps.34:7]
Origen, c.248 A.D.
There is not a hint in the New Testament of the concept of a believer being invaded or inhabited by demons. Something concerning demons so crucial to Christian growth, stability and sanctification surely would be in the Word. …
The fact is, nowhere does Scripture call for “deliverance” when we sin, but rather for repentance, confession and change. …
Christ’s work in the believer makes him a new creature, with a new Father, a new family, a new motivation and internal dynamic. It equips him with an indwelling Comforter who is more powerful than demons. Apart from that belief, the Christian will slip into a practical dualism, with near-equality of God and Satan. … Satan is an external foe. He may harass and tempt the believer, but God has set his limits.
G. Richard Fisher, Personal Freedom Outreach Quarterly Journal, Vol. 8, No. 2
Within Christian circles, there has arisen a new concern for ministries of deliverance. Some of these deliverance ministries have developed a bizarre and radically unbiblical view of demon possession and deliverance.
…There are demons for every conceivable sin. Not only must each one of these demons be exorcized, but there are necessary procedures to keep them from returning on a daily basis. I know of no polite way to respond to this kind of teaching. It is unmitigated nonsense. Nowhere in sacred Scripture is there to be found the slightest hint of this kind of demonic diagnosis. These teachings cross the line into the sphere of magic and result in serious harm to believers who are duped by them. …
If a person indwelt by the Holy Spirit can at the same time be sovereignly controlled by an evil spirit, then our redemption is defeated. … Satan may be our accomplice in our ongoing sin, but we cannot pass the blame and responsibility for our sin to a controlling demon. … We are encouraged to think that we are not really guilty and that we are actually helpless without a minister with special powers of deliverance. This negates the entire biblical concept of sanctification. … Therefore, I say with all urgency that believers must turn away from those who teach such things. Indeed run, for your very spiritual lives.
R.C. Sproul, Pleasing God
Christians cannot be possessed—PERIOD!