Complete lesson below
Subjects to be Explored
Verses that would support demonization of Christians
- You will write out scriptures that can be used as evidence demonization of Christians
- For each of the scriptures you will learn arguments that would weaken the case for Christian being demonized
Verses Used As Evidence Supporting Demonization of Christians-A Response
In this section we want to look at Scriptures that some have used as an argument that Christians can be demonized.
Write Out 2 Corinthians 4:3-4
Response: No clear evidence of demonization of the unbeliever or believer.
Write Out Thessalonians 2:18
Response: Passage says nothing of demonization in any clear sense.
Write Out I John 4:1-4
Response: Does not present any sure evidence that believers can be inhabited by demons.
Write Out 1 Peter 5:8
Response: The apostle Peter warns believers in Asia Minor to be strong in their faith because of the real possibility that they could be “devoured” (katapino) by the devil. Peter compares Satan to a lion that paces back and forth and creates fear through his awful roar.
This passage clearly has believers in view and, at the minimum, envisions the potential for Satan to have extensive and dominating control over the life of a Christian. The term for devouring (katapino) was commonly used for wild animals that tore apart their prey and swallowed all that was edible – a term quite appropriate for the hungry lion. Because of the context of intense, localized persecution of Christians, J. Ramsey Michaels thinks that the imagery of the passage point to Satan working in the hearts of believers in such a way that they break, shatter, cut-off, dissolve and destroy their allegiance to Christ. The fear and dread Satan creates by his roar – perhaps signifying the threats to family members, friends, and acquaintances by the persecutors – was one of the principal means he used to carry out his designs.
In this verse, the devouring does not suggest demonic control in the sense of dramatic manifestations of demonization, but it does convey the idea of near-total dominance.
Write Out 2 Peter 2:1-22
Response: “Christians stand in real danger of being tempted, attacked, and even controlled by evil spirits if they are not careful to be fully protected by the whole armor of God and the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ensign and Howe). No clear evidence of the demonization of genuine believers.
Write Out Col. 2:8
Response: Paul’s motive for writing his letter to the Colossians was to prevent these believers from falling captive to a demonically inspired teaching. He warns them, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8 NRSV).
Once again he sees Satan operating powerfully through inspiring a teaching that would keep believers away from the Lord Jesus Christ. On the surface, it would appear that the teaching of the faction in the church at Colossae could be explained strictly on a human level (it “depends on human tradition”), but ultimately it can be traced to demonic powers, which Paul here calls stoicheio tou kosmou.
Paul’s anxiety over the danger to the church is expressed by his choice of the rare term sulagogeo, “to take as plunder” or “to take as captives.” Paul sees the possibility that Satan could victimize these Christians through this factional teaching in a way that once again brings them under satanic bondage.
The group within the church advocating this variant theology and practice certainly would not have seen themselves as demonized or even demonically influenced. They thought they were living on a very high level of spiritual existence and experience. Paul sees things quite differently, however. He describes their teaching as deceitful (Col. 2:8) and insists that they are not walking in a close relationship with Christ (Col. 2:19).
The deluded Christians purveying this teaching did display many facets of overt demonic influence. They sought contact with spirit-beings, visions played a significant role in their experience, they may have engaged in ritual forms of initiation (modeled after the local mystery religions) (Col. 2:18), and their mode of worship may have bordered on the “ecstatic” (Col. 2:23). Paul unmasks their deviant beliefs and practices as inspired by demonic spirits. They were already captives and threatened to lead others astray.
Write Out I Corinthians 2:11
Response: No conclusive evidence of demonization. Unger states that receiving another spirit does speak of demonization of Christians.
Write Out I Timothy 4:1
Response: It is unclear if teachers are Christian or not and as to whether the demons involved are outside or inside the false teachers.
Read Eph 6:10-18
Response: No definite evidence as to the location of the demons themselves.
Write Out Ephesians 4:26-27
Response: Paul does not state how or where the demonic forces operate.
Write Out I Timothy 3:6-7
Response: Passage does not support the concept that believers may be inhabited by demons.
Write Out I Peter 5:6-8
Response: No evidence as to the possible demonization of a believer.
Write Out 2 Timothy 2:26
Response: No evidence that a believer can be demonized.
Write Out Genesis 31:19,34-35
Response: It is not clear whether this attack was external or internal
Write Out Numbers 22-24
Response: No evidence as to whether demons can invade a believer.
Write Out Matthew 8:16
Response: Were only unbelievers brought to Jesus? Cannot assume either way. No hard evidence for demonization of believers here.
Write Out Acts 5:1-3
Response: Dickason-The most it could mean is that inhabiting demons controlled them as they gave themselves to the scheme, to seek to deceive men and God, but the data does not guarantee what exactly took place. Unger writes: “Satan filled their hearts to lie to the Holy Spirit. The same word used of the believer who is filled with the Spirit (pleroo) is employed here of Ananias, whom the powers of darkness filled.” (Eph. 5:18)
Read Acts 8:9-24
Response: The evidence is inconclusive but the possibility exists that he was still demonized.
Read I Corinthians 5:1-13
Response: No evidence of demonization of a genuine believer.
Write Out 2 Corinthians 11:3-4
Response: Paul is speaking of the possibility of receiving a demon to inhabit, but the evidence does not support that conclusion without doubt.
Write Out 2 Corinthians 12:7-8
Response: May indicate demonization but not clear.
King Saul. Saul was a believer (I Sam 10:6-12) received Samuel’s and God’s approval (12:17-18). Saul was invaded by a wicked spirit that controlled his behavior (16:14, 16:18-23, I Sam 18:10-11, I Sam 19:9-10). To God, rebellion is the same as the sin of witchcraft or divination (I Sam 15:23).
Read Luke 13:10-17
Response: Woman bent double. She was a daughter of Abraham whom Satan had bound for eighteen years. The phrase daughter of Abraham can mean she was a believer. (Compare with Luke 19:9)
King Ahab and Jehoshaphat. When they proposed to fight the Syrians, they inquired of the Lord by gathering 400 prophets (I Kings 22:6). It is hard to imagine that Micaiah was the only true believer in the Lord among this large company, because they all inquired of the Lord, not Baal. Yet all except Micaiah yielding to pressure from wicked Ahab, received the spirit of deception and came under demonic control. (I Kings 22:19-22, cf. I John 4:1)
Mary Magdalene was healed when seven demons went out of her, possibly after she had been a believer for some time. (Luke 8:2).
Conclusion: Most of these cases cannot be considered valid evidence for demonization. However, there are some passages that present evidence that cannot be lightly dismissed but must be considered as fairly strong evidence, such as the daughter of Abraham with a spirit of illness.
The Holy Spirit is received to reside in the body. Likewise, a spirit “not of God” may be allowed to invade the body. (I John 4:3)
Hymenaeus and Alexander were delivered over to Satan. There is every intimation that these two believers came under severe demonic control and bondage. Opening their lives to Satan, the powers of darkness entered. (I Tim 1:19-20)
Write Out Genesis 4:7
Response: The Hebrew “crouching” is better translated demon…therefore “a demon at the door.”
Theological Considerations Against the Demonization of Christians
In this section we want to look at theological reasons that some have used as an argument that Christians cannot be demonized.
Spatial considerations-There is no room for the Holy Spirit and demons to inhabit the same body. Spatial considerations such as dimensional limitations do not apply to the spirit world.
How can you be possessed by Christ, and demon possessed? Demonization does not mean owned but demonized or under the control of.
Moral Presence consideration: God cannot dwell with evil. God dwells in every believer, therefore a demon cannot dwell in any believer. The Holy Spirit lives in the believer where there is still a sinful, evil sin nature. Also the real issue is presence and not control. The demon can invade and be a trespasser.
The Bible contains declarations that suggest the possibility that demons can invade and control a Christian. Paul testified that he was “not ignorant of his (Satan’s) devices, lest Satan should be at an advantage.” (2 Cor. 2:11) Satan seeks to gain a favorable and strategic place in the life of the believer to do him harm (Eph. 6:11, 2 Thess. 2:9). Unless we acquaint ourselves with his wiles and subtle strategy, we are bound to fall under his attacks. Paul says “neither give place to the devil” (Eph. 4:27). This is a warning against yielding ground or giving foothold to the devil. Also “resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).” The satanic principle is to take as much ground as possible when not resisted.
Write Out I Peter 5:8
Response: The figure is of the devil tearing his victim apart limb by limb and consuming him. Certainly this conveys the idea that the powers of darkness are able to make a very serious encroachment upon the life of a child of God. In fact, they go so far as to kill the body (Matt 10:28). How dare a believer ignore this warning or naively tone down its terrifying implications?
Lewis Sperry Chafer Systematic Theology, 3:273.-“Grievously sinning saints may go beyond the old nature. In cases of serious, persistent, scandalous sin, such as gross immorality or participation in occultism or occult religious, demons may exercise control over the believer for a time until his sin is confessed and forsaken and deliverance from the evil powers is gained.”
Unger-“In an age of increasing moral laxity and spiritual lawlessness, the more serious forms of demonic influence are becoming more prevalent among Christian people”
Unger-“The demon enters, it is true, as a squatter and not as an owner or a guest or as one who has a right there. He comes in as an intruder and as an invader and enemy…Satan and his minions have no legal right to enter, for the Christian’s body belongs only to God both by creation and redemption. But as a squatter, defined as ‘one who settles on land without right or title or payment of rent’ a demon can come in and settle down for a time. He will leave only if he is forcibly ejected by faith and prayer on the part of Christian warriors who know their position and resources in Christ and use their prayer armor effectively.”
Unger-“Those who maintain, however, that no believer can be invaded by Satan or demonic powers run into a serious problem. In every case of clear-cut demon invasion they must assume that the person in question is unsaved. But the fact remains that numbers of Christians are experiencing vexing problems and grave hang-ups that manifestly go beyond natural infirmities or the struggle between the Spirit and the flesh.”
Unger-“The testimonies of numbers of Christian counselors dovetail. They have worked with scores of people who joyously confessed Jesus Christ as their Savior but who were unquestionably invaded by one or more demons. In each case, the unmistakable indication of the demon’s presence was discernible. There was the speaking out through the affected individual of another person who denied the lordship of Christ and gave allegiance to Satan.”
Unger-“The truth of the matter is that the Scriptures nowhere plainly state that a true believer cannot be invaded by Satan or his demons. Of course, doctrine must always have precedence over experience. Nor can experience ever furnish a basis for biblical interpretations. Yet, if consistent experiences clash with an interpretation, the only inference possible is that there is something wrong with either the experience or the interpretation of the Scripture that runs counter to it. Certainly the inspired Word of God never contradicts valid experience.”
Unger-A Christian psychiatrist, Dr. Marion Nelson, declares that those who hold that a demonic spirit cannot invade the same body as the Holy Spirit must bear the burden of proving that it cannot happen, using Scriptures properly interpreted and applied. This is difficult in the face of numerous reports of people who seem to be real Christians and who apparently suffer from demonic possession.”
Unger-“Dare we be so naive as to believe that demonic powers will not press their claims to the limit in any life? How much more in the case of the child of God failing to count on what he is in Christ, neglecting to use his resources in warfare, and above all, opening the door to the enemy by serious and persistent sin. Does the believer dare to presume that he will not be attacked, defeated, oppressed, or even invaded by the enemy.”
Unger-“To deny the possibility of demonic working in the lives of Christians is to fail to allow Scripture to speak in the full scope of its implications, and to flatly ignore experience. To fail to grasp the full extent to which such sinister power may operate is perilous, for it DENIES TO THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN INVADED BY THE ENEMY THE UNDERSTANDING AND HELP THEY SO DESPERATELY NEED….Those who deny the possibility of a demon invading a believer run the risk of believing the devil’s lie that he will not enter if permitted, or they assume that the believer loses his moral choice in the matter and cannot open the door to demonic powers.”
Unger-“Certainly Satan would like us to underestimate what he can do and how far he can go. How delighted he is to have us theorize in a theological dream world that does not face the relevant Scriptures fully and fairly nor come to grips with the facts of experience realistically. How gleeful he must feel if he can cast the halo of supposed orthodoxy over the whole procedure. He would like us to live in a fool’s paradise so
that we will be unable to sound a full warning to the perils of the occult contamination and other willful sins, as well as the demonic bondage that follows.”
Wagner (Third Wave of the Holy Spirit)-“I now feel certain that the power of evil spirits is real and can have direct influence in the life of a Christian…..almost all those who themselves are actively involved in a ministry of exorcism or deliverance affirm that Christians can be demonized. Those who deny it, by and large, have had little or no direct contact with the demonic.” Charles Swindoll, author of a number of Christian best sellers and former pastor of First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, California, has changed his opinion. In a booklet entitled Demonization he writes “For a number of years I questioned this, but I am now convinced it can occur. Wicked forces are not discriminating with regard to which body they may inhabit.” Swindoll asserts that through the years he has worked with troubled, anguished Christians. And “on a few occasions I have assisted in the painful process of relieving them of demons.”…Southern Baptist evangelist James Robison says there was a time when he did not believe that Christians needed deliverance from demonic oppression. Through a ministry of a friend he was delivered from what he perceived to be a demonic claw, and from that moment he was a free man…Edward Murphy, missionary to Latin American, former professor at Biola University and now vice-president of Overseas Crusades writes. “It used to be thought, and I made this assumption just like everyone else, that the moment the Holy Spirit entered a new Christian’s life, the evil spirits, if there were any there, were automatically expelled.” His missionary experience, however, forced him to change his mind. “I have found,” says Murphy “that people can come to Christ in a genuine salvation experience and still have problems in the demonic realm.”
Material taken from Demon Possession and the Christian – Fred Dickason