TITLE: Demon Possession
Resources to aid your Understanding
Subtitle: Is It Ownership Or Just Operation?
Do you know what happens when someone fails to pay the exorcist? They get repossessed!
Seriously though, judging from the questions we receive about the subject of possession, there appears to be a wide-spread lack of understanding as to what it is and how it can happen. And the majority of the questions fall in the category of whether or not a child of God can be possessed. My answer has always been that a genuine Christian can be oppressed--but not possessed. However, for the sake of clarity that answer probably needs to be modified somewhat.
As is often the case with certain words, there is more than one meaning assigned to them. And Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary defines the word possessed as--"1. Having as a possession. 2. Controlled by or as if by a supernatural force: OBSESSED....." (Emphasis in the original). So the answer to whether or not a Christian can be demon possessed depends on which of these two definitions is in view. For the born-again Christian, possession (as in "ownership") changes from Satan to Christ through the new birth and that transaction is irreversible--a joint claim is not an option. So in this sense of the term we can state very emphatically that a Christian cannot be demon possessed.
But what about the second definition, that of being controlled by a supernatually-inspired obsession? Unfortunately, this is where demonic oppression can enter the life of a worldly and unwary Christian. God will not allow Satan to force us to do evil, but he and his demons can sure "push" us in the direction we are already leaning--because ur flesh is weak and highly susceptible to temptation. Any time we neglect the whole armor of God (Eph.6:13), we render ourselves vulnerable to demonic attack and sinful obsessive behavior is often the result. So if we do not recognize the symptoms of the oppression and take care of it by confessing our backsliding to the Lord--asking for forgiveness and cleansing according to 1 John 1:9--we stand the risk of allowing a "stronghold" of sin to be established in our lives. The Apostle Paul mentions this in the following verse:
"(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds)" 2 Cor. 10:4 (KJV).
Chronic behavior and habits in the lives of Christians which are clearly sinful and over which the individual cannot seem to gain victory, are examples of demons at work. Yet, sad to say, far too many of God's people today view this explanation with an attitude of scorn which they perceive as being enlightened. Why is this the case, you ask? Well, would you not work unceasingly to cover up your existence, if you were Satan and had his agenda? Those who can be duped into thinking he and his minions are merely figments of "religious fantasy" allow their nefarious work to continue virtually undetected. And until the problem is faced objectively and the remedy in the Word of God followed, there will be no relief in the lives of those who are thus oppressed.
So perhaps it would be helpful at this point to offer some definition of terms and other information relative to the overall subject of demons. And to do this, we believe some excerpts from W.E Vine's book, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, will prove instructive. To begin our study, we find that the Greek word referring to demon possession (key word) is as follows:
"DAIMONIZOMAI--to be possessed of a demon or demons: see DEMON, B."
(Instances of use are Matt.4:24, 8:16, 8:28, 8:33, 9:32, 12:22; Mk.1:32, 5:15, 5:16, 5:18; and Lk.8:36).
Next, we turn to the reference given for the same Greek word under the heading of "DEMON, B."
" B. Verb. DAIMONIZOMAI--signifies to be possessed of a demon, to act under the control of a demon. Those who were thus afflicted expressed the mind and consciousness of the demon or demons indwelling them....."
So this particular Greek word describes unbelievers--all of whom are slaves of Satan (Eph.2:2)--and many of whom are not only controlled by demons, but literally indwelled by them as well.
The verb daimonizomai is found under the general heading of "DEMON, DEMONIAC" and the noun forms are as follows:
"1. DAIMON--a demon, signified, among pagan Greeks an inferior deity, whether good or bad. In the N.T. it denotes an evil spirit. It is used in Matt.8:31, mistranslated "devils......"
2. DAIMONION--not a diminutive of daimon, No.1, but the neuter of the adjective diamonios, pertaining to a demon, is also mistranslated "devil," "devils." In Acts 17:18, it denotes an inferior pagan deity. Demons are the spiritual agents acting in all idolatry. The idol itself is nothing, but every idol has a demon associated with it who induces idolatry, with its worship and sacrifices.......They disseminate errors among men, and seek to seduce believers......As seducing spirits they deceive men into the supposition that through mediums (those who have 'familar spirits,'.......they can converse with deceased human beings. Hence the destructive deception of Spiritism, forbidden in Scripture.....Demons tremble before God, Jas. 2:19; they recognize Christ as Lord and as their future Judge, Matt.8:29; Luke 4:41. Christ cast them out of human beings by His own power. His disciples did so in His Name, and by exercising faith.....Acting under Satan....demons are permitted to afflict with bodily disease....Being unclean they tempt human beings with unclean thoughts.....They differ in degrees of wickedness, Matt.12:45. They will instigate the rulers of the nations at the end of this age to make war against God and His Christ, Rev.16:14. See DEVIL."
Then we turn to the heading of DEVIL, DEVILISH:
"DIABOLOS--an accuser, a slanderer (from diaballo, to accuse, to malign, is one of the names of Satan. From it the English word "Devil" is derived, and should be applied only to Satan, as proper name. Diamon, a demon, is frequently, but wrongly, translated "devil;" it should always be translated "demon," as in the R.V. margin. There is one Devil, there are many demons. Being the malignant enemy of God, and man, he accuses man to God, Job 1:6-11; 2:1-5; Rev.12:9-10, and God to man, Gen.3. He afflicts men with physical sufferings, Acts 10:38. Being himself sinful, 1 John 3:8, he instigated man to sin, Gen.3, and tempts man to do evil, Eph.4:27, 6:11, encouraging him thereunto by deception, Eph.2:2. Death having been brought into the world by sin, the Devil had the power of death, but Christ through His own Death, has triumphed over him, and will bring him to nought, Heb.2:14; his power over death is intimated in his struggle with Michael over the body of Moses, Jude 9. Judas, who gave himself over to the Devil, was so identified with him, that the Lord described him as such, John 6:70 (see 13:2). As the Devil raised himself in pride against God and fell under condemnation, so believers are warned against similar sin, 1 Tim.3:6; for them he lays snares, ver.7, seeking to devour them as a roaring lion, 1 Pet.5:8; those who fall into his snare may be recovered therefrom unto the will of God, 2 Tim.2:26, "having been taken captive by him (i.e., by the Devil);" .....If believers resist he will flee from them, Jas.4:7. His fury and malignity will be especially exercised at the end of this present age, Rev.12:12. His doom is the lake of fire, Matt.25:41; Rev.20:10. ....."
So this should give us a fairly good basis for understanding the difference between a singular Devil known as Satan, and the many fallen angels--demons--who sided with him is his rebellion against God. The atmosphere surrounding the earth is their realm at this present time (Eph.2:2), but Revelation, chapter 12 makes it clear that Satan along with his angels still have access to the throne of God because he accuses the brethren before God day and night! (Vs.10). Note that in this verse the word is "accused" (past tense) only because John is describing the aftermath of him being cast from heaven--an event that is yet future. And verse 9 tells us that Satan's angels will be cast out at that same time. So the idea that Satan and his demons are now in hell shoveling coal for the furnaces, is totally unscriptural. Quite the contrary, they inhabit the very air we breathe and are constantly seeking ways to inflict themselves upon God's people. But as long as we avail ourselves of the spiritual armor God has provided, their efforts will be unsuccessful.
But there appears to be a slowly increasing awareness of demonic interference within Christendom because the term "exorcism" is being heard more often. Some pastors are encountering behavior by people within their congregations that can only be attributed to supernatural oppression. And attempts are being made to cast out the malevolent spirits and free the individuals from their bondage. However, it is our position that the sucess or failure of such attempts depends entirely upon whether the person in question is actually saved or not. We base this upon what the Lord had to say about exorcism in Luke chapter eleven:
"When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, he roams through waterless places in search [of a place] of rest (release, refreshing, ease); and finding none he says, I will go back to my house from which I came.  And when he arrives, he finds [the place] swept and put in order and furnished and decorated.  And he goes and brings other spirits, seven [of them] more evil than himself, and they enter in, settle down and dwell there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first" Luke 11:24-26 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible commentary).
"Turning over a new leaf" or making a resolution to do better, etc., is worthless where the unregenerate are concerned. Even if by following some type of ritual (and all such things are based upon the occult, because the Bible contains no formula for exorcism) the demon(s) are somehow expelled, the Lord's own Words above tell us that sooner or later those evil spirits will come back and bring company with them--the latter state being worse than the original! Only when born-again brethren pray for deliverance from oppression for themselves or one of their own by confession of sin and seeking the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit, is there any real chance of total release. But unlike those who are lost, that freedom is always a definite possibility--contingent solely upon repentance and confession.
And I find it very interesting that the "casting out" of demons, or exorcism, was not only done by the Lord and His disciples, but by others as well--because a comment He made to the Pharisees during this particular encounter strongly implies it:
"And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges" Luke 11:19 (KJV, emphasis mine).
They blasphemed the Holy Spirit by claiming the Lord's power came from "Beelzebub"--one of several names the Jews used to refer to the devil. And the Lord countered their ridiculous claim through irrefutable logic. In other words, if He was in league with the devil, so were they--because it was from them that their followers learned how to exorcise demons! And this strongly hints at David Bay's assertion that the Pharisees were practicing cabalists--members of an occult secret society.
And the point we do not want to miss here is that the Lord and His followers cast out demons through the irresistable and almighty power of the Holy Spirit, by merely commanding them to leave! No drawing of hexagrams and circles on the ground, no incantations, nothing of the sort--just "get out of Dodge!" The demons were absolutely powerless and had to obey, but if in the process the formerly possessed individual was not born again (as was obviously the case with the person to whom the Lord referred in Luke 11:24-26 above), temporary relief may have been the only result. So a legitimate question for us is whether or not "casting out of demons" is still an active gift today? To answer that question, allow me to ask another: what good will it serve, if true? Expelling demons from an unregenerate person is, at the very best, only a sign of supernatural power and does not equate to salvation. So what real purpose would it serve for the cause of Christ? During the days of the Lord's earthly ministry and into the early Church era, such miracles served as a testimony to the Jews--a people whom God had led primarily by sight and not faith throughout their history. The Shekinah Glory cloud was one notable example, as well as the numerous miracles performed by their prophets as demonstrations of their divine calling. Then when the Lord began to reach out to Israel, the miraculous demonstrations resumed to authenticate His credentials as their Messiah. But once this final "altar call" was completed, the miraculous gifts ceased prior to the completion of the canon of Scripture. Why? Because as the Apostle Paul told the Church, ".....we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor.5:7). Miracles were intended to be seen. Faith is another matter entirely:
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" Hebrews 11:1 (KJV, emphasis mine).
But what about Christians who wind up being oppressed by demons--how are they to be delivered? Beloved, 1 John 1:9 functions as the only exorcist any of us will ever need. It starts off by saying, "If we confess our sins...." Recognizing and admitting the problem stems from our own sinful, depraved nature is the first step in getting rid of unwanted "help" from the dark side. Confess that sin to the Lord and ask for forgiveness, then claim the promise, "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" What could be clearer? Admission of guilt is the "soap" that no demon can withstand. Remember, "....greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world" (I John 4:4b). Our Savior and God is infinitely more powerful that Satan and his hordes of fallen angels combined! So, in closing:
"If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" John 8:36 (KJV).
If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
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