Can A Christian Be Demon Possessed?
By Timothy S. Morton
Demons, devils, Satan,
and other aspects of the "supernatural" have in the last few
years become a fascination among many Christians. Several books have
been written and sermons preached speaking about the amount of access
or contact those in the spiritual realm have with mortal man. Opinions
vary greatly as to the amount of influence or control Satan can have
over a Christian. Some claim the Devil has relatively little influence
over a believer while others insist Satan can actually "possess" a
Christian much as he can a lost person. What does the Bible say
about Satan and his demon's influence over believers? Is Satan of
little threat to Christians or is he a formidable adversary that can
actually rule or control a believers life?
That Satan has some access to
Christains is of little dispute among believers. The Bible plainly says
Satan can tempt a believer to sin and further influence him for
evil. The question we will address in this "Taboo Text" is,
what are the limits of Satan's influence, and is demon
possession of a Christian a possibility. The large majority of
Christians don't believe a born again Christian can in any manner be
possessed by a devil or demon, but facts and truth arenot determined
my majority opinion. The final authority for ALL matters is the
Holy Bible (KJB) and there is where we will look for our answers.
What Do You Mean, "Devils"?
Anyone that has read the Bible at
all knows it speaks of people being possessed by "devil(s)" or "unclean
spirits." Christ and His disciples dealt with possessed people
regularly and always cast the invading spirits out (Matt. 4:24; Mark
6:7, etc.). As to how these spirits originated or became evil, the
Bible is mostly silent. There is some indication they may be the
spirits of the "sons of God" who took on flesh and came unto
the "daughters of men" in Noah's day and later died in the flood
(Gen. 6:1-4), but there is no proof that is the case. Others
suggest they are angels that chose to rebel with Lucifer (Isa.
14; Eze. 28) before man's creation and subsequently became "devils,"
but there is no clear proof of this either. Instead of speculating as
to their origin, let's look at what can be known; what the Scriptures
Mark 5:1-20 is the definitive
passage on demon possession and its effects in the Bible. Some of the
details about demons the Bible reveals in this passage are:
1. Devils want to be near dead
human bodies or tombs (vs. 2, 3, 5).
2. They can cause unusual strength
3. They can make a person unreasonable
or immune to sensible persuasion (vs. 4).
4. They cause excessive crying
5. They cause sadistic and masochistic
behavior (vs. 5).
6. They have an affinity for heights
7. They recognize Christ as
"the Son of God" and appeal to Him (vs. 6-7).
8. They know they deserve torment
and dread it (vs. 6-7).
9. They have names (vs. 9).
10. More than one can possess the same
body (vs. 9).
11. They desire to stay in the same geographical
region or "country" (vs. 10).
12. They would rather indwell an
animal body than none at all (vs. 12).
13. They can cause animals to kill
themselves (vs. 13).
14. They desire to be in a body when
it dies (vs. 13).
15. They have a desire for water
Mark 9:17-29 gives us even more
details about devils:
16. They can cause dumbness and
deafness (vs. 17, 25).
17. They cause rabid animal like
behavior (vs. 18).
18. They can indwell from childhood
19. They cause suicidal
behavior (vs. 22).
20. They resist leaving a body
and violently "rent" it while leaving (vs. 26).
21. There are different kinds of
devils. Some have more power than others (vs. 29).
22. Some can only be removed by prayer
and fasting of believer (vs. 29).
Ephesians 6:12 states Satan has a
hierarchy of "devils" in his kingdom, "For we wrestle not against
flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against
the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness
in high places." Thus some devils have more power and authority
In Daniel 10:13 (as well as Mark
9:29) there is an example of this. "The prince of the kingdom of
Persia" withstood the angel sent to explain Daniel's vision to him
for 21 days. He could only break free when the angel Michael came and
helped him overcome the powerful "prince." The "prince" may have been
Satan, but more likely he was a very powerful devil.
How Does Possession Come About?
The Bible says very little about
what gives devils the "right" to possess someone. Obviously, demons
cannot possess anyone at any given time or all people would (or could)
be possessed from birth. Thus there must be some sort of threshold
one must pass which gives devils freedom to invade his body. When Adam
chose to obey the Serpent (through Eve) instead of God, he, in effect,gave
his "dominion" over the earth and all that was in it to Satan (Gen.
3). This is how Satan became "the god of this world." God
originally gave the earth to Adam (Gen. 1:28), but Adam through his
eating of the tree of knowledge forfeited it to Satan. This is why the
Devil has a "right of access" to every man (even Christ, Matt. 4),
because the world and everything in it is under his dominion. This is
one of the reasons Christ had to come to earth and die as a man; to
redeem back what Adam lost. But until Christ returns as found in
Revelation chapter 19, His redemption of the earth will not be applied.
So even though Christ has already paid the redemption price, it has
only been applied to a Christian's soul and nothing else,
including the earth. Therefore, Satan still has limited control and
dominion over the earth and every thing in it.
The features that most distinguish
man from animals is man was originally created in the image of God
and has afree will. These were both manifested in Adam in the
garden. Adam chose to follow the Serpent's word rather than
God's and we all suffer the consequences of his actions. But the same
is before us today. We can choose whom we will serve. We can
serve the true God according to the Bible or we can serve Satan through
the guise of "self will," and "worldliness." Satan does not
portray himself as a devil to man, he is best manifested by self will
and desire; by people following what they think is their own thoughts
and way. This is the same way he beguiled Eve and influenced Adam.
He got Eve to believe her opinion of the tree was more accurate and
reliable than God's! Adam knew better, but when he had to choose he
selfishly chose Eve over God, and as a result brought subjection of
himself and all descendants toSatan and death! Both Adam's and
Eve's acts were deliberate self will. So from this we can conclude, and
it concurs with the experiences of those who have dealt with demon
possession, that the more one moves toward Satan's methods and
mentality (self will, occult, etc.) the more susceptible he becomes to
Satan's domain and influence, even to the point of possession.
Those who have much experience with
demon possession claim persons usually became possessed by dabbling
in the occult and "experimenting" with the "supernatural."
These are areas which have been Satan's domain since the beginning and
when anyone moves, by choice, in that direction (whether ignorantly or
not) are opening themselves to demonic attack. 2 Pet 1:3 says, "According
as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto
life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to
glory and virtue," thus everything a person needs to live and be
godly comes from God, but when someone strays away from God and seeks
things He is not the source of (but Satan is), then God often allows
them to suffer the consequences of their choice.
Below is a partial list of forms of
occult activities and movements that can be Satan's domain and should
be shunned by everyone, especially Christians. Failure to do so may
have devastating consequences.
Fortunetelling and Soothsaying
Goblins and Elves
Magic, Magic Charms
Rod and Pendulum
Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses
Speaking in Tongues
Spirit of the Age
Spiritist Healing, Operations
Oppression And Possession Of Believers?
To sum up what we learned
above, we know Satan and devils do exist, we know they
are unembodied spirits that work in the spiritual realm, they
desire to and are able to indwell humans (also animals) and influence
their bodies and minds for evil, they vary in power and authority,
but all are more powerful than man, and they can be controlled
or cast out by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. But how
much power does a devil have over a Christian? Can devils or demons
control a believer as they can a lost person?
The Bible mentions basically two
types of satanic or demonic influence or control over men:
1. Satanic or Demonic
Oppression, where Satan or devils contact and influence people externally;
from the outside in.
2. Demon Indwelling or
Possession, where the devils actually dwell inside the person,
influencing and manipulating him internally.
Practically all will agree Satan
has access to every believer from the outside to tempt him and
appeal to his self-will, in effort to make him useless for the Lord.
Else why would the Bible warn believers to "resist the Devil"
(James 4:7) and "neither give place to the Devil" (Eph. 4:27)?
However, few will allow Satan's power to go so far as a devil actually
indwelling or possessing a believer. Granted, the thought of a foreign
spirit controlling a Christian's body and mind for destruction and evil
is one of the most harrowing thoughts one could imagine and no
sensible believer would want such a thing to occur, but what are the
facts? Is it possible? To find the truth we must ignore all
emotional appeals and simply examine the biblical facts.
Over the years, while reading and
discussing demon possession with other Christian's, your author has
found many are repulsed by even the suggestion that a Christian may be
susceptible to demon possession. They talk as if one is extremely
ignorant or even demented to even think such a thing, but when asked
for theirbiblical proof that it is not possible, their position
becomes desperate. They simply cannot produce a passage or verse
that PROVES their argument, yet they still cling to their belief.
Over the years your author has
found that all the arguments against demon possession of Christians are
either based purely on emotion or on a misapplication of Scripture.
You may be thinking, "Are you saying a Christian can be demon
possessed? No, I didn't say that. What I am saying is there is no
place in the Bible that conclusively says Christians can't be possessed.
But, on the contrary, there are passages that seem to indicate
(though not conclusively prove) that demon possession of believers CAN
When asked for reasons why they
think Christians can't be demon possessed one will usually hear, "It's
not possible for the Holy Spirit and a demon to dwell in the same
body," "It is unthinkable to believe the Holy Spirit would let a devil
in a Christian's body, which is God's temple," A born again believer
has been redeemed by the blood of Christ and because of that no devil
can indwell him," etc., etc. But such arguments are purely
emotional without a single Bible verse to stand on. These people
have convinced themselves of something that is not true because of the repulsiveness
of the question, but emotion and feelings do not make "sound
As for the argument the Holy Spirit
will not dwell with a devil in the same body, we ask, why not?
There is no verse we know of that even suggests this is impossible.
Furthermore, the Holy Spirit dwells in the same body the Christian
dwells in, and the old nature of a Christian is as wicked as
the devil if not more so. Have you not read, "The heart is
deceitful ABOVE ALL THINGS, and desperately wicked: who can know it"
(Jer. 17:9)? The heart of man, including Christians, is extremely
wicked. When it comes to a inclination toward evil and ability to sin, Satan
has nothing on man's deceitful heart. Though the Devil has much
more power than man to bring his evil intentions to pass, there is no
proof he has more of a capacity for evil than man. In fact Jeremiah
17:9 indicates man may be more deceitful than he! When a born
again Christian yields to his old nature and sins, the Holy Spirit
is no less exposed to evil than if a devil was indwelling the believer!
Another argument against possession
is since the believer has been born again, redeemed by the blood of
Christ, and Satan has been defeated at the cross, Satan has no right of
access to the believer's body, but this is just more wishful thinking.
True, Satan is a defeated foe, but he has not been taken out of the
picture yet and won't be until Revelation 20:10. Furthermore, even
though Christ's blood is sufficient to redeem all things, all things, including
a Christian's body, have not yet been redeemed (Rom. 8:23). When a
Christian receives Christ nothing happens to his body. The
believer's soul is redeemed and his spirit reborn but his body remains
unchanged. The proof is his body can still die and decay.
The only nature a lost man
has is the fallen, Adamic nature he was born with, and through
it Satan has full access to him. Christians also have this old, fallen
nature and will retain it until death or the rapture, and since it, in
itself, is no different than the lost man's, Satan still has access
to them too (Eph. 4:27). That Christians also have a new, righteous
nature they received when they were born again (which is actually
Christ's very own nature andnot susceptible to Satan's attacks,
Eph. 4:24), does not alter the fact their body is yet unredeemed and
their "old man" is still vulnerable to satanic temptation,
oppression or even more (Eph. 4:22-32).
When asked to produce Scriptural
support or proof that it is impossible for a Christian to be possessed,
one verse that is almost universally referred to is 1 John 4:4, "Ye
are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is
he that is in you, than he that is in the world." This verse is
quoted as if it removes any threat of satanic or demonic influence over
a believer, but look at the passage closely. John is simply reassuring
believers they are of God, over comers in Christ, and have the
ultimate victory over spirits that "confesseth not that Jesus
Christ is come in the flesh" (1 Jn. 4:3).
When a person is born again he is
placed in Christ and Christ comes in him, and the believers destiny
with Christ is certain. John is here comforting believers by
reminding them of this and reassures them by insisting there is nothing
Satan or anyone else can do about it. He isnot saying believers
are immune any type of satanic influence or cannot suffer in the
flesh. As we have seen, other passages clearly state Satan does have
access to believers. In fact Peter said to believers, "Be sober, be
vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh
about, seeking whom he may DEVOUR" (1 Pet 5:8).
The Case For Possession
As we stated earlier, we know
of no passage in the Bible that says, in so many words, that a
Christian can be demon possessed. But as we have just seen, there is no
verse that conclusively says one can't. However, there is a passage or
two that strongly suggests the possibility of possession and
they deserve examination.
In 2 Cor 11:3-4 Paul makes a rather
revealing statement about Christians and other spirits, "But I
fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his
subtility, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that
is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we
have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not
received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well
bear with him."
By saying, "if ye receive ANOTHER
SPIRIT, which ye have NOT received" Paul is indicating that
a Christian who already has the Holy Spirit can receive another
spirit besides! Some may argue Paul is speaking to lost people in
the Corinthian church, but that doesn't hold up. First, Paul is
concerned their minds have been corrupted by Satan (through a false
teacher) from the simplicity of receiving and resting in Christ for
salvation. He said in verse 2 he was "jealous over [them] with
a godly jealously: for I have espoused you to one husband..." that
is, Christ. Paul wouldn't espouse lost people to Christ. Furthermore,
he says they could receive "ANOTHER spirit" which they did not
receive previously (when he was with them). The Spirit they received
when he presented them the gospel was the Holy Spirit! He also
said they could receive another (false) gospel which they "have
not [previously] accepted." This indicates they accepted the true
gospel while Paul was with them because the "another gospel"
was not preached by him. I know this passage is somewhat confusing, but
read it carefully with prayer and the Lord will help us understand.
Paul was aggravated with the
Corinthians because after he presented them the gospel and they
accepted it, someone else came along preaching another Jesus,
gospel, and offering another spirit other than what Paul preached.
Paul bluntly and somewhat sarcastically tells them if they think they
will fare better with the other Jesus, gospel, and spirit, "ye
might well bear with him" (the false teacher). The point we are
trying to make, however, is the possibility of a Christian being
able to accept and receive another Jesus (demons have been known to
call themselves "Jesus" to fool people), gospel, and spirit is
implied in this passage. Since they already had the Holy
Spirit, the only other spirits that indwell people are devils. Though
angels are "ministering spirits," there is no indication in the Bible
that angels can indwell anyone. There is nothing to indicate Paul was
referring to something that was impossible for them. Christians still
have their free will after they receive Christ.
In light of the above one could
ask, "If a Christian could be possessed, is the possession as extensive
as that of a possessed lost person?" Here we must answer "yes and
no." If it is true a Christian can be possessed he cannot be
completely possessed becausethere is a part of every believer (the
new nature) that is of God and is incorruptible; Satan can't touch
it. If a believer is possessed, he is only possessed in his old, Adamic
nature. This is unlike the lost man who only has the old nature;
therefore, if he is possessed, he is completely possessed. But, on the
other hand, to the Christian who is possessed (if possible), the
possession would have the same effect as it would to a lost person.
The person's body and mind would be subject to a devil.
One may ask, here, and it is a
reasonable question, "Why would the Lord allow one of His children to
become possessed since He indwells him and has redeemed him?" But let's
not stop with just this question. Why would the Lord allow a
blood-bought believer to fall in love with the world and live after
the flesh after he gets saved? Why would He allow them to lie,
cheat, steal, deceive, cause trouble with other believers, ruin his
testimony, malign God's name, be vain, proud, arrogant, envious,
jealous, and a dozen other sins and vices? The simple answer is God
does not override or nullify man's free will.
If a man has no free will he is
little more than a robot. God wants people to choose to be
saved by Him (no Hyper-Calvinism here) and also choose to live for Him
once saved. If a believer insists in following his own will and ignores
God's will for him, then the Lord will chastise him one way or
another (sometimes the results of self-will and living after the
flesh bring their own chastisement). And if a believer by dabbling
in the occult or otherwise moving toward Satan's domain ends up
getting oppressed or even possessed by devils, then the believer
has no one to blame but himself. God admonishes, warns, and
instructs His children in His word, but any who fail to heed
His word usually suffer the consequences for their actions. There are
many professing Christians in prisons and hospitals today for that very
The Voice Of Experience
Though your author has no personal
experience in dealing with demons (other than sometimes sensing their
presence), there are several Christians who have much experience. One
is German researcher Kurt Koch, author of "Occult ABC" and many
other books about demons and the occult. He said the following
concerning Christians and demon possession,
"One question is hotly
disputed among believing Christians. This is the question whether or
not a Christian can be possessed. Many years of experience lead me to
the conclusion that those who have no experience of dealing with the
possessed say "no." Those, who have counseled many possessed ones,
know that even believers can be controlled or ruled by demons.
These facts do not follow anyone's preconceived ideas. Our ideas must
be formed, rather, on the basis of the facts.
A Final Word
"I have had many discussions on
this subject, particularly in America. I am therefore more thankful for
the men who confirm my own experience. Among these are Dr. Edman,
former president of Wheaton College, professor [Merrill] Unger.... When
I lectured in various countries, there were other men in conversations
who declared they had counseled more demon-possessed believers than
The reason we published this
article was not to unduly scare anyone or try to stir up controversy,
but to warn Christians who may have a false sense of security about
demon possession. From talking to several fellow believers we have
found most dismiss the possibility of demon possession of believers forpurely
emotional reasons and are not familiar enough with what the Bible
says on the subject to make a knowledgeable comment. They simply don't
want it to be true and like a small child think wishing it so will
make it so. But as we have seen, the Bible makes no such promise
about possession and actually suggests it may be possible so the safest
position a believer could take is even though the Bible doesn't
definitely say either way one must allow for the possibility. This
is the only sensible approach. Unless one is absolutely certain
there is no danger ahead, it is always prudent, in whatever
circumstance, to assume the possibility of danger. This is
prudent behavior whether one driving in his car or dealing with matters
the Bible does not address specifically. Christians can have confidence
and security about their salvation, their destiny, their Bible, and
their Lord because of what the Bible says, but in areas the Bible is
silent, confidence can be misplaced.
Even if demon possession of a
Christian is not possible, that, in itself, is of little consolation.
Until death or the rapture the ONLY part of a believer that is secure
and beyond harm is his redeemed soul. Everything else he has can be
lost or destroyed and is subject to satanic control or
manipulation. Satan can take or destroy a Christian's health, body,
spouse, children, money, job, testimony, church, Bible, rewards, peace,
contentment, safety, security, and even his mind without possessing him!
Again, nothing is secure but his soul, and Satan can even convince a
believer he can take it too! The Devil is a powerful and formidable
adversary and those Christians who smugly make light of his abilities
and dabble in things the Bible warns against are teetering on the very
edge of disaster.
"There is a way which seemeth
right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
Five Paths Toward Demon Oppression and Possession
1. Dabble in the occult and
paranormal. By engaging in occult and most paranormal activities
such as astrology, fortune-telling, clarivoyence, etc., you are
entering Satan's arena and opening yourself to demonic attack.
2. Seek aid or enlightenment
from foreign spiritual influences. Passively yielding one's mind
through meditation, hypnotism, yoga, etc., and seeking
knowledge or information from any type of "spiritual entity" is an
excellent way to become demon possessed.
3. Seek power or authority from
a supernatural source. Using witchcraft, sorcery, magic,
charms, voodoo, etc., to give yourself power or influence over
others in a supernatural manner is asking Satan to use you.
4. Use or become addicted to
drugs or alcohol. Anything that alters one's senses and places him
in a passive state can allow the entrance of devils. Many under the
influence of drugs or alcohol have claimed to see demons or the Devil.
5. Remain addicted to one's
self. Neglecting prayer, Bible study, fellowship, witnessing, and
other faith building activities can cause one to dwell constantly upon
himself. He is following after Satan's will and not God's will.