Satan do? Read the entire book of Job. The quick answer is: Whatever
God allows and only what God allows! 11
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)
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.
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?
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.
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...
physical infirmities and needs to create mental torment
Scriptures in an effort to deceive
images in an effort to deceive
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
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)
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...
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee
from you. (NIV)
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...
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)
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.
Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. (NIV)
As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. (NIV)
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.
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)
"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)
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)
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.
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.
pretended to be a believer (literally a follower of Jesus)
involved in full time ministry
Scriptures and witnessed/participated in many miracles.
"normal", blending in with Christians
secretly a thief and (by implication) a liar - John 12:4-6
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).
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.
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]
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...
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)
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).
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]
account provides additional details of demon possession.
can be possessed by multiple demons
can give super or extra natural strength
possession can cause a fascination with death (i.e. the trappings of
death and dead bodies.)
possession can cause a person to try and hurt themselves.
can be possessed as well.
striking occurrence of demon possession comes from Jesus' visit to
the region of Tyre.
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]
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.
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...
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]
who had been possessed from childhood, exhibited a number of symptoms
including some already seen.
made him unable to talk and hear.
at the mouth, was thrown to the ground, and had convulsions.
to harm him.
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
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)
two occurrences of demon possession in the gospels provide little detail.
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)
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]
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.
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).
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
apostle Paul also encountered a demon possessed individual.
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)
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.
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.
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
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...
possessed believers, would not God's kingdom be divided? (Luke 17:20-21)
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?
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]
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
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.
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)
giving of the Holy Spirit, following Jesus' resurrection, if anyone
doesn't have the Spirit of God they are not a believer.
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)
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, 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!).
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]
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...
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)
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!
2:24-26 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)
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.
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)
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 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.
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).
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)
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.
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"...
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.
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
Consider these words, of the Apostle Paul, especially for a young pastor...
4:7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales;
rather, train yourself to be godly. (NIV)
1 Corinthians 4:6
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)
Matthew also recorded this temptation of Jesus.
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
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)!
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)
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...
6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil
Another passage to consider is found in 1 Peter 5:8-9...
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)
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).
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.
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.
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)
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
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
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
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.
2:17-19 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)
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
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
Consider the absolute and amazing strength of God...
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)
Another two examples of God specifying an outcome to evil spirits:
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)
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)