From Our Team

Bray Park Community Church

Words of thought from our Church Team

Can a Christian be demon-possessed?

Any time the topic of spiritual warfare is raised—as it was last Sunday in the sermon on Ephesians 6:10-13—good and plentiful questions are sure to follow. One question that often comes up is: Can a Christian be demon-possessed? 
 
Now, at one level, this question is relatively simple to answer. If by “demon-possessed” we mean that a Christian is so controlled by Satan they are unable to worship God, obey Him, or control their behaviour, then the answer is clearly ‘no’. Scripture is gloriously clear about the radical change that occurs when someone becomes a child of God. In short, believers are indwelt by God’s Spirit (John 14:17; 1 Cor. 6:19-20), they are united with Christ (Eph. 1:3-10; 2 Cor. 5:17), all of which ultimately means they are “rescued… from the dominion of darkness and brought… into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Col. 1:13). Or, in the words of 2 Corinthians 6:15: “What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil?” 
 
However, the Bible is equally clear that while believers will not experience demonic ‘possession’, they will almost certainly undergo demonic ‘oppression’. In other words, whilst the devil and his minions cannot force you to sin, they can certainly influence, tempt, and incite you to sin. We see an example of this in the life of Job (Job 1:6-12), in David’s prideful decision to take a census of Israel (1 Chr. 21:1), in Jesus’ encounter with Satan in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11), and in the mysterious “messenger of Satan” that harassed the apostle Paul (2 Cor. 12:7). Likewise, we know that the devil prowls around looking for believers to devour (1 Pet. 5:8), and that he schemes against God’s people, attacking them with fiery darts (Eph. 6:10-20). All of which leads us to conclude that, as believers, we should not be unaware of the devil’s schemes (2 Cor. 2:11), and we should expect demonic attack and oppression, but we should not be fearful of demonic possession.
 
This distinction between the work of evil spiritual forces is important if we are to properly and biblically understand how we should engage the demonic. It is interesting that after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, there is not one example in Scripture where we are commanded, or even explicitly encouraged, to attempt to cast out demons. Instead, as Christian’s we are instructed to use the spiritual gift given to discern where demonic influence may be at work (1 Cor. 12:10), to resist the devil causing him to flee (James 4:7; 1 Pet. 8:9), and to put on the armour of God in order to spiritually protect ourselves (Eph. 6:14-20). Of course, I’m not suggesting that occasions of overt and extraordinary demonic activity will never occur; to do so would be naïve. But I am suggesting that the Bible rarely—if ever—commands us to go demon-hunting.
 
In fact, while it is true that a large portion of Jesus’ ministry was spent actively engaging demonic forces, it is also true that Jesus never commanded us to go looking for a fight with demonic forces (outside the contested ending of the Gospel of Mark). In fact, Jesus seemed to caution us against pre-occupation with the demonic. In Luke 10:19-20 he said: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 
 
Jesus instructs us to rejoice, not in our authority over evil spiritual forces, but rather in our adoption into God’s heavenly family. And this is how we should engage the demonic in our lives today; not by focusing on the devil, but by focusing on our Deliverer. Influential 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon said: “The preaching of Christ is the whip that flogs the devil.” 
 
So, how do you overcome demonic influence in your life, in your home, in your relationships? Focus on Christ. Grow in Christ. Stay near to Christ. Remember, the goal of Satan and evil spiritual forces is to destroy your faith in Jesus. So, what is the antidote to such scheming? Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Why? Because He is the one who has already “…disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross” (Col. 2:15). Praise be to God.
 
Grace & peace,
Adam
 
 
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