Christians can not be possessed by demons.
- The Bible does not explicitly state whether a Christian can be possessed by a demon.
However, since a Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-11, 1 Corinthians
3:16, 1 Corinthians 6:19), it would seem unlikely that the Holy Spirit would allow
a demon to possess the same person He is indwelling. We definitely recognize that
this is a controversial issue. However, we strongly hold to the belief that a Christian
cannot be possessed by a demon. We believe there is a sharp difference between being
possessed by a demon, and being oppressed / influenced by a demon.
- Demon possession involves a demon having direct control over the thoughts and/or
actions of a person (Luke 4:33-35, Luke 8:27-33, Matthew 17:14-18).
- Demon oppression / influence involves a demon or demons attacking a person spiritually
and/or encouraging him/her into sinful behavior (1 Peter 5:8-9, James 4:7).
- You will notice that in all the New Testament passages dealing with spiritual warfare,
we are never told to cast a demon out of a believer (Ephesians 6:10-18).
- We are told to resist the devil (1 Peter 5:8-9, James 4:7), not to cast him out.
- It is unthinkable to me that God would allow one of His children, whom He purchased
with the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19) and made into a new creation (2 Corinthians
5:17) – to be possessed and controlled by a demon.
- Yes, as believers, we wage warfare with Satan and his demons, but not from within
ourselves. 1 John 4:4 declares, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome
them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
- Who is the One in us? The Holy Spirit. Who is the one in the world? Satan and his
It is critical that Christians understand their vulnerability to demonic influence.
Those who say a demon cannot influence a believer's life have left us with only
two possible culprits for the problems we face: ourselves or God. If we blame ourselves
we feel hopeless because we can't do anything to stop what we're doing. If we blame
God our confidence in Him as our benevolent Father is shattered. Either way, we
have no chance to gain the victory which the Bible promises us. In reality we are
in a winnable war against the defeated kingdom of darkness. But the lies of Satan
can gain a measure of control if we believe them.
What right did Satan have to sift Simon (Peter) like wheat? The context reveals
that Peter and the other disciples were arguing who was going to be the greatest
in the kingdom of God. In other words, they were exercising pride. Sinful pride
affords Satan a huge opportunity. Peter protested that he was willing to die or
go to prison for the sake of Christ. But Jesus told him that, before the day was
over, Peter would deny Him three times, and he did.
There are many believers who profess their faith and commit themselves to behave
appropriately but can't seem to follow through. Why? We dare not overlook the reality
of Satan and the ground we give him through pride and disobedience. God intervened
in the early church and struck down Ananias and Sapphira because they allowed Satan
to fill their hearts to lie to the Holy Spirit. The word filled in Acts 5 is the
same word found in Ephesians 5:18: "Be filled with the Spirit." God delivered
a dramatic message early: To whichever source you yield, by that source you shall
be filled or controlled.
Is Demonic Possession Still Possible Today?
The Bible gives some examples of people being possessed or influenced by demons.
From these we can find some symptoms of demonic influence as well as gain insights
as to how a demon possesses someone. Here are some of biblical passages: Matthew
9:32-33, Matthew 12:22, Matthew 17:18, Mark 5:1-20, Mark 7:26-30, Luke 4:33-36,
Luke 22:3, Acts 16:16-18. In some of these passages, the demon possession causes
physical ailments, such as inability to speak, epileptic symptoms, blindness, etc.
In other cases, it causes the individual to do evil, Judas being the main example.
In Acts 16:16-18 the spirit apparently gives a slave girl some ability to know things
beyond her own learning. In the case of the demoniac of the Gadarenes who was possessed
by a multitude of demons, he had superhuman strength, went around without clothing,
and lived among the tombstones. King Saul, after rebelling against the LORD, was
allowed to be troubled by an evil spirit (1 Samuel 18:10-11, 1 Samuel 19:9-10) with
the apparent effect of a depressed mood and an increased desire and readiness to
Thus, there is a wide variety of possible symptoms of demon possession, such as
a physical impairment that cannot be attributed to an actual physiological problem,
personality changes such as major depression or uncharacteristic aggression, supernatural
strength, a disregard for modesty or “normal” social interaction, and perhaps the
ability to share information that one has no natural way of knowing. It is important
to note that nearly all, if not all, of these characteristics may have other explanations,
so it is important not to label every depressed person or epileptic individual as
demon possessed. On the other hand, I think that in our western culture, we probably
don’t take Satanic involvement in people’s lives seriously enough.
In addition to these physical or emotional distinctions, one can also look at spiritual
attributes as showing demonic influence. These may include a refusal to forgive
(2 Corinthians 2:10-11) and the belief in and spread of false doctrine, especially
concerning Jesus Christ and His atoning work (2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 2 Corinthians
11:13-15, 1 Timothy 4:1-5, 1 John 4:1-3).
Concerning the involvement of demons in the lives of Christians, the apostle Peter
is an illustration of the fact that a believer can be INFLUENCED by the devil (Matthew
16:23). Some refer to Christians who are under a STRONG demonic influence as being
“demonized,” but never is there an example in Scripture of a believer in Christ
being POSSESSED by a demon, and most theologians believe that a Christian CANNOT
be possessed because he has the Holy Spirit abiding within (2 Corinthians 1:22,
2 Corinthians 5:5, 1 Corinthians 6:19).
We are not told exactly how one opens himself up for possession. If Judas’ case
is representative, he opened his heart to evil (in his case by his greed (John 12:6).
So it may be possible that if one allows his heart to be ruled by some habitual
sin...it becomes an invitation for a demon to enter in. From missionary experiences,
demon possession also seems to be related to the worship of heathen idols and the
possession of occult materials. Scripture repeatedly relates idol worship with the
actual worship of demons (Leviticus 17:7, Deuteronomy 32:17, Psalm 106:37, 1 Corinthians
10:20), so it should not be surprising that involvement with those religions and
practices associated with those religions could lead to demon possession.
Thus, it is believed that based on the above Scriptural passages as well as some
of the experiences of missionaries that many people open their lives up to demon
involvement through the embracing of some sin or through cultic involvement (both
knowingly and unknowingly). Examples may include immorality; drug/alcohol abuse...as
these alter one’s state of consciousness; rebellion; bitterness; transcendental
meditation. In our western culture, we see an increase of eastern religious teachings
under the guise of the new age movement.
There is something that must not be forgotten. Satan and his evil host cannot do
anything the Lord does not allow them to do (Job 1,2). And this being the case,
Satan, thinking he is accomplishing his own purposes, is actually accomplishing
God’s good purposes...even as in the case of Judas’ betrayal. Some people develop
an unhealthy fascination with the occult and demonic activity. This is unwise and
unbiblical. If we pursue God with our lives and are clothing ourselves with His
armor and relying upon His strength (not our own) (Ephesians 6:10-18), we have nothing
to fear from the evil ones, for God rules over all!