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Can a believer be possessed
Brad Sadler

Much of the reasoning behind the demonisation concept is the personal experience of seeing someone who was “definitely” a Christian exhibiting evidence of being controlled by a demon. It is crucially important, though, that we do not allow personal experience to influence our interpretation of Scripture.

Seeing someone whom we thought to be a Christian exhibiting the behavior of being demonised should not cause us to question the genuineness of his/her faith. Perhaps the person truly is a Christian but is severely demon oppressed and/or suffering from severe psychological problems. But again, our experiences must meet the test of Scripture, not the other way around.

The Bible does teach that demons and the actions of demons are real. In general demons try to prevent people from having faith in God, create fear or distract people with greed, conflict, entertainment or a number of other preoccupations.

When we speak of demon possession, we mean it involves a demon having direct/complete control over the thoughts and/or actions of a person. When we speak of Demon oppression or influence, we take it to mean the involvement of a demon or demons attacking a person spiritually and/or encouraging him/her into sinful behavior.

A believer can be oppressed by a demon, but a christian cannot be possessed by a demon. It is clear from scripture that it is impossible for a demon to possess a christian.

When you and I accept the gift of salvation, we are “indwelt” by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 3:16 (ESV) says “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you“. Surely God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, would not allow a demon to possess that same person He is indwelling.

In all the New Testament passages dealing with spiritual warfare, there are no instructions to cast a demon out of a believer (Ephesians 6:10-18). Believers are told to resist the devil (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9), not to cast him out.

Yes, as believers, we wage war with Satan and his demons, but not from within ourselves. The apostle John declares, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Who is the One in us? The Holy Spirit. Who is the one in the world? Satan and his demons. Therefore, the believer has overcome the world of demons, and the case for demon possession of a believer cannot be made scripturally.

Some scripture to ponder on :

The Bible does describe followers of God coming under the influence of evil spirits.

King Saul disobeyed God’s instruction, and the Bible says, “The Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit … tormented him” (1 Samuel 16:14, NIV). Notice though, the Holy Spirit left Saul. There was no indwelling by the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament activity of the Holy Spirit and the New Testament activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers, is different. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon a person or dwelt in them for a time, a purpose and/or need. However, in the New Testament, believers are indwelt permanently by the Holy Spirit at salvation (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was possessed by Satan (Luke 22:3). Again, this was before the Holy Spirit indwelt believers. Jesus had not yet ascended and the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon believers permanently at salvation, which began at Pentecost.

And an evil spirit influenced Ananias and Sapphira, husband and wife, to lie to their fellow Christians and to God (Acts 5), leading to their deaths. Here in Acts, Luke tells us that Satan “filled their heart. Both Ananias and his wife Sapphira were not possessed by rather influenced by Satan.

Scripture References :

Luke 22:3 (ESV)
Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (ESV)
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

James 4:7 (ESV)
Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

1 Peter 5:8-9 (ESV)
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.