Demons in or demons out
What can Satan do to a believer?
Can a Christian be possessed by the devil or a demon?

What can Satan do? Read the entire book of Job. The quick answer is: Whatever God allows and only what God allows! 11

Job 1:12 The Lord said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he [Job] has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger." (NIV, parenthesis for clarification)

Job 2:6 The Lord said to Satan, "Very well, then, he [Job] is in your hands; but you must spare his life." (NIV, parenthesis for clarification)

What can a demon do to me? This seems to be the heart of most questions we have received on this subject over the years. Ignoring those who casually dismiss the existence or effect of any malevolent spiritual beings, this work begins with the premise that such exist as taught by Scriptures. Some books1 and speakers, in Christian circles, have claimed that not only non-believers may be possessed, even believers can be under some circumstances. Anecdotal stories seem to be the primary "proof" offered in support of this view. The Christian life is not to be about stories2 but solely based in the Word of God. Within His word God has revealed everything we need to know about these spiritual forces and any danger they offer to a believer or non-believer. To go beyond what is written3 and fall into the trap of speculation is a dangerous and time wasting endeavor. Again, the specific statements and described circumstances of individuals throughout the pages of the Bible provide us all the answers we need.

For the believer, Jesus is the best and first example that must be considered. Satan threw everything he had at Him (Mark 1:12-13), so what could the devil do with Jesus?

Luke 4:1-13 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." 4 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone.'" 5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 So if you worship me, it will all be yours." 8 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'" 9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" 12 Jesus answered, "It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" 13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. (NIV) 4

Even in His physically weakened state the devil could not "possess" Jesus, or make him do any thing he did not want to do. In summary, here's what the devil was capable of...

  1. External oppression

  2. Used physical infirmities and needs to create mental torment

  3. Misused Scriptures in an effort to deceive

  4. Showed images in an effort to deceive

Some would add that the devil was capable of physically moving Jesus, but a careful read of the text shows that the devil led Him. Jesus didn't go anywhere that He didn't want to. Others say that this whole incident isn't applicable to understanding what the devil can do to a believer because Jesus is God and, of course, the devil can't possess Him. In fact, Scripture clearly points to the truth that Jesus was tempted in the same manner we can be. He is our perfect example, the One we are to imitate by the power of the Spirit that lives within us. 5

Hebrews 4:14-16 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (NIV)

Something that clearly shows, in this account of Jesus, is that the devil finally left Him. Certainly verse 13 leaves it open that the devil could and would return at a future point, but as for that time of temptation, it was over. Jesus perfectly illustrated what we are commanded to do...

James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (NIV)

This statement by James is an absolute, the devil will flee! Of course, the key to why is not in the resisting, but the means of resisting. Only when we have submitted ourselves to God are we able to resist.6 Don't forget that God knows what each and every believer can endure. Another related promise also carries with it great comfort...

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (NIV)

Few would disagree with all we've examined so far; most have actually heard it all before. "But" they would ask, "what about the more severe internal attack, or true possession?" A first response to this question is to ask where possession of a believer is found anywhere in Scriptures. Don't you think that if the devil could do it; he would have tried it on Jesus, or any one of the other noted believers in Scriptures? If any answer is offered it is likely to be Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Jesus.

Luke 22:3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. (NIV)

John 13:27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. (NIV)

Unquestionably Judas was possessed, as noted by both Luke and John. The real question is whether or not Judas was a believer - something Scriptures emphatically shows not to be true.

John 6:70-71 Then Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.) (NIV)

John 13:18 "I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: 'He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.' (NIV)

John 17:11b-12 Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. 12 "While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. (NASU)

Jesus chose his disciples and He intentionally chose Judas even though not a believer and never to be. From the very beginning Jesus knew what the outcome would be for this unbelieving disciple. The Hebrew idiom Jesus used for Judas, in John 17:12, "son of perdition" means "one destined to perish." Judas was readily able to be possessed because he was not a believer.

While most consider the symptoms of demon possession to be severe physical and emotional disturbances, take note that Judas' external symptoms did not single him out as being different than the other disciples. From the account of Judas we can discern these possible characteristics of one who is (or became) demon possessed.

  1. He pretended to be a believer (literally a follower of Jesus)

  2. He was involved in full time ministry

  3. He taught Scriptures and witnessed/participated in many miracles.

  4. He acted "normal", blending in with Christians

  5. He was secretly a thief and (by implication) a liar - John 12:4-6

This is certainly a warning for the church and all believers that there may be demon possessed, good talking, normal looking, wolves ministering among the flock (Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:29).

The more readily recognizable demon possessions mentioned in Scriptures tend to have external symptoms that most would consider "abnormal." Unlike the subtlety of Judas', these other overt external characteristics were often identifiable even by non-believers. Most, if not all, of these symptoms would now be considered medical or psychological problems by our anti-supernatural society.

Luke 4:33-36 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 "Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!" 35 "Be quiet!" Jesus said sternly. "Come out of him!" Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. 36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, "What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!" (NIV) [See also Mark 1:23-26]

Once again we find a demon possessed individual in a religious setting, namely a synagogue. No undue inference should be drawn from this, other than it was a public place where many in their culture were apt to go. It does show that demon possession does not cause an individual to fear going to places that represent God or where His word is preached - contrary to Hollywood's stereotypical portrayal. The sole external manifestation of this demon possessed man was his vocal antagonism to Jesus and its' subsequent ability to physically throw the man down while being cast out. Another occurrence in a synagogue...

Luke 13:10-13, 15-16 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. ... The Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?" (NIV)

This woman may not have been possessed in the classic sense of that term, mostly because the text does not say that she was indwelt by a demon, only that her infirmity was caused by the evil spirit. Whether internal or external it is clear that a demon can cause a physical affliction. Note that it is said of this woman that she was bound by Satan. Clearly this is not terminology ever used throughout the New Testament, for a believer, as we have been set free in Christ (Ephesians 2:1-10; Galatians 5:1).

Mark 5:1-20 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!" 8 For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!" 9 Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many." 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. 11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, "Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them." 13 He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. 14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man - and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. 18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. (NIV) [See also Matthew 8:28-34 and Luke 8:26-39]

This account provides additional details of demon possession.

  1. A person can be possessed by multiple demons

  2. The demon can give super or extra natural strength

  3. Demon possession can cause a fascination with death (i.e. the trappings of death and dead bodies.)

  4. Demon possession can cause a person to try and hurt themselves.

  5. Animals can be possessed as well.


Another striking occurrence of demon possession comes from Jesus' visit to the region of Tyre.

Mark 7:25-30 But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And He was saying to her, "Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." 28 But she answered and said to Him, "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children's crumbs." 29 And He said to her, "Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter." 30 And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left. (NASU) [See also Matthew 15:21-28]

Notice that the one who was herein possessed was a little girl. While some believe in the spiritual neutrality of little children, Scriptures make it clear that this is not so (Psalms 51:5). It is not improbable, with the pagan religions of that region, that this little girl had been dedicated to pagan gods (demons) at birth by her parents. What is not made clear was how this demon possession manifested itself, yet it is obvious that it somehow made her act abnormally in such a way that her mother (even as a non-believer) could see that there was a problem.

The primary protection children have from demon possession, apart from becoming a believer (and very young children can!), are the prayers of another caring Christian, especially a parent or grandparent. There is not intrinsic power in the prayer itself, only that we have specifically committed them to God's gracious care and protection. Another occurrence of possession from childhood...

Mark 9:14-30 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. 16 "What are you arguing with them about?" he asked. 17 A man in the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not." 19 "O unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me." 20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?" "From childhood," he answered. 22 "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." 23 "'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." 24 Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, "He's dead." 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. 28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn't we drive it out?" 29 He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer." (NIV) [See also Matthew 17:14-21 and Luke 9:37-43]

This son, who had been possessed from childhood, exhibited a number of symptoms including some already seen.

  1. The demon made him unable to talk and hear.

  2. He foamed at the mouth, was thrown to the ground, and had convulsions.

  3. It tried to harm him.

When the heart of following God includes loving your neighbor "as yourself" (Matthew 22:27-40), it shouldn't surprise us that demon possession would work to make a person despair of living or to hate themselves. How much of today's epidemic of suicide might be demon inspired? The Bible is clear about what the devil's goals are...

John 10:10 The thief [devil] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus] have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (NIV)

Another two occurrences of demon possession in the gospels provide little detail.

Matthew 9:32-34 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel." (NIV)

Matthew 12:22-23 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?" (NIV) [See also Luke 11:15]

These demon possession again displayed themselves with severe physical symptoms namely the inability to talk and, for one, also with blindness. Certainly both of these can have natural causes; the great difference here is that both were completely healed through the banishment of the possessing demons.

Other mentioned occurrences include Mary Magdalene, who had been delivered from seven demons (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2), and several statements concerning the disciples casting out demons (Mark 3:14; Mark 6:7 & Matthew 10:1 & Luke 9:1; Luke 10:17-20; Mark 16:17; Mark 9:18, 28 & Matthew 17:16, 19 & Luke 9:40).

Through all of these gospel accounts there isn't the slightest indication that the demon possessed was of a believing individual. In fact, for a number, their belief specifically comes following the exorcism of their demons.

The apostle Paul also encountered a demon possessed individual.

Acts 16:16-19 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" At that moment the spirit left her. 19 When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. (NIV)

This demonic spirit had enabled a successful deception in fortune-telling, not to mention a mocking antagonism to Jesus. The commanded departure of the evil spirit must have effected such a dramatic change in the girl that even her non-believing owners could see it. We are not told if the girl subsequently believes or not.

Immediately following an account of Jesus driving out a demon who caused its' host to be mute (which was examined previously), much more is revealed regarding demon possession.

Luke 11:14-26 Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. 15 But some of them said, "By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons." 16 Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven. 17 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. 18 If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. 19 Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you. 21 "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22 But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils. 23 "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters. 24 "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first." (NIV)

Who do you belong to? Jesus clearly portrayed Himself to be stronger than the devil, the One who had every right to command these fallen created beings to leave. Some things to consider from this message...

  1. If demons possessed believers, would not God's kingdom be divided? (Luke 17:20-21)

  2. For a demon to enter into a believer or remain in a believer (from before they were saved, as some profess) wouldn't that make the demon the stronger?

  3. Isn't a believer's bodily "house" far different from the empty house of this message? Any non-believer who has a demon cast out can have an empty house, only a Christian has a full house. [God living in us! See John 14:16, 23]

It becomes clear from Jesus' words that the non-believer is in danger of re-possession, and perhaps even worse than before, if they do not have Someone stronger living there. The key to His entire message is that a believer rests secure in the constant presence of God and by His power. 10

In Old Testament times, when the Holy Spirit had not been universally and permanently given to the church, things are not as clear. God's spirit came upon whoever He chose for whatever time frame He deemed necessary. To say that the Spirit moved or enabled someone was not to say they were even a believer. Likewise, those who prophesied (speaking God's word), where not always believers either. The pagan prophet-for-hire Balaam is constrained by God into speaking the truth for a time but this does not make him a true prophet of God, much less a believer (... any more than his donkey who also spoke what God revealed. See Numbers 22). Saul is another great example. God removed his Holy Spirit from Saul and sent an evil spirit to torment him.7 While it is uncertain if this torment was external or internal, the mere fact that God's spirit was removed shows how different things were prior to the coming of Christ. We, in the New Testament church are permanently given the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (NIV)

Since the giving of the Holy Spirit, following Jesus' resurrection, if anyone doesn't have the Spirit of God they are not a believer.

Romans 8:9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. (NIV)

Job, a righteous man in Old Testament times (Job 1:1), had the devil unleashed on him with only God's restriction that his life must be spared (Job 2:6). This account shows that all of the "worst" of the devil was external, with no indication of possession or even an attempt to do so. Job belonged to God!

Over and over, throughout Scriptures, those who can be controlled or used by the devil are those who are still in willful sin.9 This included religious looking prophets, who professed to be serving God, but were in fact false prophets full of deception. Even here these demons, regardless of their schemes, could not do any thing apart from God wanting it to happen (and always for His glory and purposes!).

1 Kings 22:21-23 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, 'I will entice him.' 22 " 'By what means?' the Lord asked. " 'I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said. " 'You will succeed in enticing him,' said the Lord. 'Go and do it.' 23 "So now the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you." (NIV) [Also 2 Chronicles 18:19-22]

While God's children may stumble and fall, God picks them up (Proverbs 24:16). It is those who willfully continue in sin who show who their master is.8 Perhaps the most direct and applicable passage to our subject comes in 1 John chapter five...

1 John 5:18-20 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true - even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (NIV)

Notice how great the contrast is between believers (children of God) and everyone else. God has promised to keep his children safe, guaranteeing that the devil cannot harm even one of them! But as for those in the world (unbelievers), they are under the control of the evil one, whether directly or indirectly. Any non-believer is at risk of demon possession, but even if they are never so ensnared they are still being used for his wicked schemes. The good news is that God, who is far greater, can set anyone free by His grace!

2 Timothy 2:24-26 And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (NIV)

Because of who we are in Christ, believers have nothing to fear of the devil. Scripture is clear that we have overcome the evil one. Satan has been overcome by the word of our testimony - which is an anthem in praise to Christ who has done it all for us.

1 John 2:14b I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (NIV)

Revelation 12:9-11 The great dragon was hurled down - that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (NIV)

The worst the devil can do to a believer is external attacks and even then, only as God allows. Moreover, these "successful" attacks are only permitted so that God is brought glory.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (NIV) [Consider also 1 Thessalonians 2:18]

Who do you belong to, God or Satan? God looks after His own. Don't forget that it was Jesus' prayer to His Father that we be protected from the evil one (John 17:15).

Jude 24-25 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy- 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (NIV)


End Notes

1. For example: Demon Possession & the Christian: A New Perspective by C. Fred Dickason. The book, published by Moody Press in 1989, uses the term "demonization" rather than possession but is effectively dealing with the same subject. Though it presents Scriptures for and against the possibility of Christian possession, it functionally descends into giving much weight to experiences. Apart from these sensationalized stories, his extremely weak scriptural premise for such a possibility would not stand.

You have to be almost half way through the book (page 127) to read these words at the conclusion of the chapter "Biblical Evidence Supporting Demonization of Christians"...

We have considered the major passages and cases from Scriptures that have been used or may be used to support the concept that genuine believers may be demonized. Most of these cases cannot be considered valid evidence for various reasons in the context or from other biblical information. However there are some passages that present evidence that cannot be lightly dismissed... However, there still may be legitimate doubts that these are genuine examples of New Testament believers inhabited by demons. Thus we cannot conclusively say that the Bible clearly presents evidence that believers may be demonized.

Sadly, the book continues with another 120 pages of the aforementioned anecdotal stories (one chapter entitled "Case Studies from Noted Counselors") and including chapters on The Dynamics of Demonization, Defence Against Demonization, Deliverance from Demonization - all having failed to prove Scripturally that it is even possible.

2. Consider these words, of the Apostle Paul, especially for a young pastor...

1 Timothy 4:7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. (NIV)

3. 1 Corinthians 4:6

Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." (NIV)

4. Matthew also recorded this temptation of Jesus.

Matthew 4:1-11 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." 4 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" 7 Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." 10 Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'" 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (NIV)

5. Notice that Luke 4:1 states that it was the Spirit of God who led Jesus to the place where He would be tempted. Moreover it also states that Jesus was "full of the Holy Spirit", an example of one living by the Spirit. We - all believers - who live by the same Spirit are capable of being led and empowered to do what Jesus did, as He desires (consider John 14:12)!

Romans 8:9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. (NIV)

Jesus was tempted in every way we are (Hebrews 4:15), which makes His temptation more extreme than any we are likely to go through. Would the Holy Spirit lead us into temptation as Jesus was? Have you ever wondered why the prayer Jesus taught His followers, as an example, contained these words...

Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.' (NIV)

6. Another passage to consider is found in 1 Peter 5:8-9...

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (NIV)

This passage states that the devil is indiscriminate regarding who he is seeking to devour (verse 8), believer and non-believer alike, but the difference is that the believer has been given the means to stand firm and resist him (verse 9).

7. The Holy Spirit having been upon Saul, in Old Testament times, is not proof of itself that Saul was a believer, only that God had supernaturally empowered him for a time for the sake of His people. Hosts of passages show that the outcome of one's life is evidence to their spiritual condition. A believer who falls into sin is convicted and repents; a non-believer turns away (see Ezekiel 18:24; Ezekiel 3:20; Ezekiel 33:12-13; Psalms 125:4-5; 1 John 2:19; Zephaniah 1:4-6). Saul spent the end of his life rejected by God, hunting the one God chose, consulting with the dead and a witch - all evidence of one who was in rebellion against God.

Some believe that Saul was possessed because he was under the influence of an evil spirit while both prophesying and physically motivated to harm God's chosen. As a non-believer, it is certainly a possibility without the protection of God's spirit.

1 Samuel 18:10-11 The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11 and he hurled it, saying to himself, "I'll pin David to the wall." But David eluded him twice. (NIV)

Even after God had removed His spirit from Saul, and also following some of the occurrences of being afflicted by an evil spirit, God 's spirit came upon Saul again for a brief time and purpose (... not to mention Saul's men).

1 Samuel 19:19-24 Word came to Saul: "David is in Naioth at Ramah"; 20 so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came upon Saul's men and they also prophesied. 21 Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied. 22 Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Secu. And he asked, "Where are Samuel and David?" "Over in Naioth at Ramah," they said. 23 So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. 24 He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel's presence. He lay that way all that day and night. This is why people say, "Is Saul also among the prophets?" (NIV)

Notice, throughout the account of Saul, that the evil spirit departed at times (obviously by God's doing) and that there is no evidence that the evil spirit was (or could remain) with Saul when the Holy Spirit was present.

8. To acknowledge that Jesus is our Lord and Master, is to have yielded our life to Him. Those whose lives are yielded to sin and wickedness have identified who their master is.

2 Peter 2:17-19 These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity - for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. (NIV)

9. Some have said that the account of Ananias and Sapphira, part of the early church, are an example of demon possession in a believer. Peter clearly stated that Satan had filled the heart of Ananias. While this couple was a part of the church gathering, the implication of the whole passage is that they were not believers, merely those who had joined with them. In fact, the result of God's immediate judgment on their deception and lies to the believers and apostles was to prevent others (non-believers) from seeking to join them. Only non-believers rightly fear God to the point of not wanting to gather together with believers. (Along with the following passage, consider also 1 Corinthians 14:23-24).

Acts 5:1-14 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet. 3 Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God." 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, "Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?" "Yes," she said, "that is the price." 9 Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also." 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. 12 The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. (NIV)

10. Consider the absolute and amazing strength of God...

John 10:27-30 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one." (NIV)

11. Another two examples of God specifying an outcome to evil spirits:

2 Chronicles 18:20-21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, 'I will entice him.' "'By what means?' the Lord asked. 21 "'I will go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said. "'You will succeed in enticing him,' said the Lord. 'Go and do it.' (NIV)

Revelation 9:1b-5 I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. (NIV)

Version 2 (c) 2007, 2010 Brent MacDonald/LTM. Duplication is permitted as long as the source is cited.