Spiritual warfare is the Christian concept that the Devil and demons attempt to thwart Good and the will of God.

Can Christians Be Demon-Possessed?

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    Can Christians Be Demon-Possessed?

    By John MacArthur

    We must remember, first of all, that God’s Word is our only reliable source of truth about Satan and demons.

    Princeton theologian and scholar Dr. Charles Hodge rightly warned:

    No amount of learning, no superiority of talent, nor even the pretension to inspiration, can justify a departure from the . . . truths taught by men to whose inspiration God has borne witness. All teachers must be brought to this standard; and even if an angel from heaven should teach anything contrary to the Scriptures, he should be regarded as anathema, Gal. 1:8. It is a matter of constant gratitude that we have such a standard whereby to try the spirits whether they be of God (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972], p. 395).

    What does God’s Word, the touchstone of truth, say? Can demons inhabit or spatially indwell a true believer? Can they walk through an open door and become a squatter? Proponents of today’s spiritual warfare movement say yes, but they base their answer on subjective experience, not on God’s Word. The Bible makes it clear that such a claim has no justifiable basis.

    There is no clear example in the Bible where a demon ever inhabited or invaded a true believer. Never in the New Testament epistles are believers warned about the possibility of being inhabited by demons. Neither do we see anyone rebuking, binding, or casting demons out of a true believer. The epistles never instruct believers to cast out demons, whether from a believer or unbeliever. Christ and the apostles were the only ones who cast out demons, and in every instance the demon-possessed people were unbelievers.

    The collective teaching of Scripture is that demons can never spatially indwell a true believer. A clear implication of 2 Corinthians 6, for example, is that the indwelling Holy Spirit could never cohabit with demons:

    What harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (vv. 15–16).

    In Colossians 1:13, Paul says God “delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” Salvation brings true deliverance and protection from Satan. In Romans 8:37, Paul says we overwhelmingly conquer through Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:57, he says God gives us the victory. In 2 Corinthians 2:14, he says God always leads us in triumph. In 1 John 2:13, John says we have overcome the evil one. And, in 4:4, he says the indwelling Holy Spirit is greater than Satan. How could anyone affirm those glorious truths, yet believe demons can indwell genuine believers?

    DEMON POSSESSION AND TRUE CONVERSION

    Many of the leading voices in today’s spiritual warfare movement are too quick to hail every profession of faith in Christ as proof of salvation. That reflects the easy-believism that has swept this generation.

    A thorough biblical understanding of the doctrine of conversion makes it clear that demons could never indwell or possess a believer. Jonathan Edwards wrote about true conversion:

    Scripture describes conversion in terms which imply or signify a change of nature: being born again, becoming new creatures, rising from the dead, being renewed in the spirit of the mind, dying to sin and living to righteousness, putting off the old man and putting on the new, becoming partakers of the divine nature, and so on.

    It follows that if there is no real and lasting change in people who think they are converted, their religion is worthless, whatever their experiences may be. Conversion is the turning of the whole man from sin to God. God can restrain unconverted people from sin, of course, but in conversion he turns the very heart and nature from sin to holiness. The converted person becomes the enemy of sin.

    What, then, shall we make of a person who says he has experienced conversion, but whose religious emotions soon die away, leaving him much the same person as he was before? He seems as selfish, worldly, foolish, perverse and un-Christian as ever. This speaks against him louder than any religious experiences can speak for him.

    In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, neither a dramatic experience nor a quiet one, neither a wonderful testimony nor a dull one, counts for anything. The only thing that counts is a new creation (The Experience That Counts! p. 99).

    In Matthew 12, Christ rebuked those who were following Him just for the sake of witnessing great signs and wonders:

    When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, “I will return to my house from which I came” ; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes, and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation (vv. 43–45).

    Instead of responding with spectacular signs and wonders, Christ addressed their need for salvation. Many people appear to have their lives in order. But in reality, they have not trusted Christ as Savior and Lord. Their souls are “unoccupied” — that is, the Holy Spirit does not indwell them. Thus they are open to demonic invasion. That cannot be true of those whose bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Cor. 6:16).

    According to 1 Peter 1:5, when Christ reigns in a person’s life, that person is kept by God’s power. As a result, “the evil one does not touch him” (1 John 5:18). When the Holy Spirit inhabits a person, no demon can set up house as a squatter. Indwelling by demons is only evidence of a lack of genuine salvation.

    #2
    I agree. What would holiness have to do with unholiness? Further, greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world (speaking of believers only). As far as POSSESSION goes, this is true. Believers are told not to cast our demons for they may do us harm, but they can never possess the believer.
    Comment>

      #3
      Satan and the demons can not bear the presence of Christ nor do they ever want to hear His name said. Any Christian who spends some time in the presence of the LORD can't be possessed by demons. Of course they'll come by when you aren't praying or reading the bible to tempt you but they can't possess you because once you become a Christian you belong to Christ because God the Father has given us to Him and I believe Jesus when He says, "My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand." Once you belong to Christ, you are His. Satan and his demons can't possess your body.
      Comment>

        #4
        Originally posted by Smithee View Post
        Of course they'll come by when you aren't praying or reading the bible to tempt you
        I am sometimes tempted when I am praying or reading the Bible.
        Clyde Herrin's Blog
        Comment>

          #5
          Originally posted by theophilus View Post
          I am sometimes tempted when I am praying or reading the Bible.
          There is no better time to pray than when being tempted. For me, personally, I generally have an issue blocking out worldly distractions when settling into prayer. I have learned to take a few minutes in a moment of silence before beginning prayer in order to focus myself on God and rid myself of those worldly distractions.

          God bless,
          William
          Comment>

            #6
            I believe so, because even Christians can lose their balance sometimes and become targets to evil spirits. I'm not a big believer on demon possession in general but if there is such thing, I don't think anyone can be safe, because we all go through dark periods of our lives that makes us vulnerable and easier to be influenced.
            Comment>

              #7
              That is an excellent article by McArthur. And, indeed, a real believer cannot be possessed. I am aware of bizarre belief system called "deliverance theology" that teaches Christians can be possessed, but I believe it to be wholly unbiblical.

              The articled also touched upon "easy believism" which, imo, is a large part of the reason why the modern church is in such disarray. But, that is likely beyond the scope of this thread.
              Comment>

                #8
                Hi

                I think where the misunderstanding comes from is in the word possession, before a person receives Jesus as there Lord and savior in general people are born in the kingdom of darkness so it is possible for them to be effected by the god of this world and his army of demons as it is his realm and kingdom that afflicts humanity, the enemy will not ask permission to afflict or take up residence in a person’s or non-Christians life as it is sin that gives them the legal right to cause this affliction.

                However once a person confesses Jesus as there Lord and savior, they are transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, and they become the property of God, so technicality they cannot be possessed or remade the property of the enemy.

                However through unrepented sin in their life they can still be afflicted and they may need to be set free of delivered from certain sins, but even though they may manifest in different ways when they are being delivered and set free.

                This doesn’t constitute possession or ownership of the person, it just means areas of their life needed to be surrendered and dealt with to free them from certain compulsions enslavements and bondages.

                So technically this is actually demon trespassing because a Christian remains the property of God, but through there free will can sin and open up doors which permits demons to legally afflict them until they are ready to repent and close those doors.

                We are all transparent before our heavenly father, salvation is free but we are responsible for maintaining our own salvation and personal relationships with our Savior.

                Peace
                Comment>

                  #9
                  I believe that a person can be possessed. I know the bible describes a couple different occasions of possession. I honestly have no idea if a christian can be possessed, I don't remember any situations such as that described in scripture. I know that a person cannot serve two masters, so I'm leaning towards no. I think sin comes in all shapes and sizes and we should flee from it at every possible opportunity. Possession is a fascinating subject, though.
                  Comment>

                    #10
                    I consider anger as a demon, even though it's just an emotion we tend to feel sometimes. However, it's a pretty self-destructive thing. So, to me, it's some kind of a demon. Holding onto anger can really paralyze your mind. That's probably why I've come to this.
                    Comment>

                      #11
                      Originally posted by artyarson View Post
                      I consider anger as a demon, even though it's just an emotion we tend to feel sometimes. However, it's a pretty self-destructive thing. So, to me, it's some kind of a demon. Holding onto anger can really paralyze your mind. That's probably why I've come to this.
                      So when an atrocity or injustice is done and you become angry over it you consider your emotion a demon? Would you rather feel indifferent to a nine year old girl being gang raped? Would that make you feel more divine?

                      God bless,
                      William

                      Comment>

                        #12
                        Originally posted by William View Post

                        So when an atrocity or injustice is done and you become angry over it you consider your emotion a demon? Would you rather feel indifferent to a nine year old girl being gang raped? Would that make you feel more divine?

                        God bless,
                        William
                        Man, you're totally exaggerating the whole thing. I'm not living in the area where children get raped every day. Of course, everyone will be stunned by that here. Or, I guess, everyone will be. Anyway, your example isn't what I really meant.

                        God bless
                        Comment>

                          #13
                          My understanding is that possession is in the spirit realm and salvation is of the soul.
                          A Christian may yield to worldly influences and the Lord may let Satan buffet them thereby but He will not lose one...
                          King Saul was not lost because he was to be with Samuel that day but evil spirits were certainly getting the best of him.
                          Comment>
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