A theist or a religionist affirms the existence of the demonic. A Senior Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences and a leading researcher in Extra Sensory Perception (ESP), Dean Radin, deems the demonic as the ‘projection of the unconscious.’ The naturalist rejects the existence of the demonic, as he denies God’s existence.
This blog is not a venture to defend the existence of the demonic, instead the Bible is totally trusted. Since the Bible affirms the presence of the demonic, we trust their presence as well.
My title presupposes the existence of two categories of Christians – the nominal and the genuine. Very minimally, the nominal Christian has virtually no relationship with the Triune God, whereas the genuine Christian trusts, loves, hopes in the Triune God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength.
My title implies that the nominal Christian is available for demon possession. The nominal Christian, by virtue of his stark ignorance of the Lord, is perennially available to a demonic occupancy. However, the moot point or the debatable question is whether a genuine Christian, who has an organic relationship with the living God, be demon possessed.
What is demon possession? The technical term is to “have a demon” (Matthew 11: 18; Luke 7: 33; John 7: 20 et al.) or “be demonized,” suggesting a demonic influence. The Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5: 1-20) was unable to exercise his will and was under the total control of the evil spirit. This is an extreme instance of demon possession, where the human will (independency of the human will) is under the domination of the evil spirit.
If by demon possession we mean that the genuine Christian is unable to exercise his or her will to love and obey God, then we should understand from the Bible that such a demon possession is contrary to the Biblical teaching (Colossians 1: 13; 1 John 4: 4 et al.). Therefore it’s a straightforward conclusion that a genuine Christian cannot be possessed by a demon to the extent where he loses the employment of his will to love and obey God.
But we are not done yet, because the question of temptations looms large over us. Does temptation imply demon possession? Who tempts us and how are we tempted?
Of this we are sure that God does not tempt anyone (James 1: 13). We are also sure that temptation causes sin, and sin is an assault on God. So we infer that Satan opposes God ought and tempts mankind. God allows for that temptation to occur in our lives (Cf. Matthew 4: 1).
It was the Spirit of God who led the Son of God to be tempted by the devil. Therefore, we conclude that devil, whose chief occupation is to oppose God and HIS people, tempts people towards sinning.
Temptation does not imply demon possession. Temptation is analogous to bait (read sin) that’s dangling right in front of our eyes, and man decides to bite the bait. In this instance, Satan does the dangling, and man does the biting [willfully]. While Satan causes man to sin, it’s the man who sins.
Since man sins willingly, we infer that the sinful man need not necessarily be possessed by a demon, but he merely could be under a demonic influence. It’s also imperative to note that sins need not always necessarily be a result of demonic influence.
Galatians 5: 19-21 catalogs the acts of the sinful nature or flesh. Let us briefly consider “hatred.” We do not need Satan to entice us into hatred. If a person hurts us, then the default response of anyone, Christian included, is hatred for that person. We could argue similarly for any act of the sinful nature listed in Galatians 5. Significantly, let us remember that these are the acts of the sinful nature or flesh, certainly not the evil spirit.
Thus far, the following is clear:
(1) A genuine Christian cannot be demon possessed.
(2) God does not tempt anyone, but Satan tempts everyone and causes them to sin against God.
(3) Temptation does not imply demon possession.
Is demonic attack an instance of demon possession or demonic influence? Demonic attack is not an instance of demonic possession. For instance, Job and the Apostle Paul were attacked by Satan and not possessed by Satan.
The Bible is sufficiently clear about the demonic attack on genuine Christians. The Bible teaches that being a genuine Christian does not entail a perfect protection from the demonic. Genuine Christians are likely to be attacked by the devil (Cf. 2 Corinthians 12: 7; Ephesians 6: 12 et al.). This is biblical.
Can the Christian overcome the devil? Of course! This is a no-brainer. But the bigger question is if the Christian knows how to overcome the devil.
For many years of my early Christian life, I had not known the power of the Holy Spirit that’s intrinsic in every genuine born-again Christian. It was after I immersed myself into the Bible into reading and studying the living Word of God that I understood the power of the Holy Spirit and the victories that can be ours when we use that power rightfully to our advantage to crush the devil.
It’s casually taught that a Christian can rebuke the evil spirit / demon in the name of Jesus and command it to leave. But this is easier said than done.
Christ’s disciples understood the need for a greater strength when they encountered an evil spirit that they could not cast out (Matthew 17: 21; Mark 9: 29). Christ taught them that they could only cast out such spirits if they were in a greater relationship with the Triune God. The greater relationship is possible when the disciple prays continually i.e. he is 24x7 (always) connected with God.
Make no mistake; the work of Christ on the cross is the ultimate basis for our authority over demons. Satan was decisively defeated when Christ won the victory on the cross. This is the foundation for every believer who intends to cast out demons through rebuke in the name of Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
When Christ was tempted by Satan, HE quoted the Scripture to rebuke Satan. We are to do likewise (Cf. Ephesians 6: 17). Christians should memorize or integrate these Scripture verses to overcome Satan: Matthew 4: 10, 12: 28-29; Luke 10: 17-19; 2 Corinthians 10: 3-4; Colossians 2: 15; Hebrews 2: 14; James 4: 7; 1 Peter 5: 8-9; 1 John 3: 8, 4:4, 5:18.
Satan is always overcome by constant prayer and by the Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit – the offensive weapon in spiritual warfare. Satan flees when believers rebuke him as they pray in the Holy Spirit using the Word of God and in the name of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Finally, what about those Christians who preach false doctrines? Are they demon possessed or under demonic influence?
Any Christian who denies Christ’s Lordship and professes that the Lord Jesus Christ did not come in flesh to redeem the world of its sin and power is under a demonic influence (1 John 4: 2-3; Cf. 1 Corinthians 12: 3). Any Christian who claims to be speaking by the power of the Holy Spirit but denies the necessity of Christ in any form or manner could also be demonically influenced (2 Corinthians 11: 13-15).
Those branding themselves as Christians and denying the necessity of Christ for salvation of mankind are not genuine Christians.
Having said this, it’s also imperative to note that not all false doctrines can be termed as demonically inspired. For instance, a Christian who teaches that water baptism is necessary for salvation need not necessarily be demonically inspired. Similar instance could be a teaching that every pie of a Christian’s sacrificial giving should go to the local church and not to any other entity as how wonderfully Christian they may be.
Last but not the least; let’s not attribute every problem in a genuine Christian’s life to a demon. This relegates the Christian’s ‘walk in righteousness’ to futility, hence it’s remarkably unbiblical.
To conclude, a genuine Christian cannot be demon possessed. He could be under demonic influence. Demonic influence can be resisted and overcome by praying in the Holy Spirit using the Word of God in the name of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Cf. Ephesians 6: 10 - 18). Therefore, let us walk by the Spirit to be victorious over Satan always (Galatians 5: 16). Amen.