Can a Christian have a demon?
Can light dwell with darkness?
First, let's expose the most common argument against believers having demons... they say that light cannot dwell with darkness. This is merely an assumption with no real Biblical basis. The verse most often used to back up this theory is 2 Corinthians 6:14, and it's speaking about believers marrying unbelievers. Is it saying that light 'cannot' dwell with darkness? No, it's asking what communion (partnership) light can have with darkness. In other words, is a non-believer going to have the same spiritual goals in life as a believer? No. How can they partner if they don't have anything in common spiritually? Are demons and God going to work together in a person's life? No. Can the two coexist? Yes!
Another good question is, can a Christian be in bondage to pornography? Lust? Is a Christian capable of even committing sin at all? If so, then how can that kind of darkness (sin), which God absolutely repels, dwell in a body where the Holy Ghost is? Or how can the Holy Ghost remain in a human being who is capable of committing sin, and does so from time to time?
Another point is that the Holy Spirit covers the earth (Jeremiah 23:24), so if the Holy Spirit covers the earth, then how can darkness (demons and sin) freely roam this earth if the Holy Spirit is covering it? And if Satan will not approach the presence of God, then how come did Satan tempt Jesus in the desert? And visit heaven to talk with God concerning Job?
We are composed of three parts; a body, a mind (soul) and a spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). The spirit of a man belongs to God, and their spirit is united with the Holy Spirit, but their bodies and minds (souls) can still be afflicted by evil spirits. Just like you can turn a light on in one room, and the next room in the house can be dark, the same is true in the spirit realm.
The soul versus the spirit: The spirit of a man is where the Holy Ghost dwells, but the soul or mind of a man is where dirt can still remain long after he or she accepts Christ. We are told to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (souls) through the Word of God. Our spirits are instantly made new the moment we are saved, but our souls can take time to renew and 'clean up'.
Where demons do their work: I do not believe a demon can touch the spirit of a man after he's accepted Jesus, but where demons do their work is in the soul or mind. How do you see demons affecting people in the Bible? Through their mind (the lunatic boy, the man with the legion, etc.), and their physical body (the woman with the spirit of infirmity, the man who couldn't speak because of a demon, etc.). Demons can try to get our spirits overwhelmed, worn out, or tempt us to sin, but their way of operating in our lives is through our minds (souls) and by troubling our physical bodies.
Demonic bondage demystified
What do demons do to people? Many people believe that only the extreme cases of mental problems are caused by demons, or that you have to be heavily involved in the occult or Satanism in order to have demons, but the Bible is clear that this is not true. The Bible speaks of perfectly sane people who have been crippled by demons. It is perfectly normal to have absolutely no demons affecting your mind in any way, and still have a demon. The Bible speaks of people who were perfectly sane, who Jesus cast spirits of deafness or dumbness, even blindness or infirmities out of (Luke 13:11, Mark 9:25, Matthew 12:22)!
What it means to be possessed with a demon: Another misconception is that a person who is demon possessed is owned and fully operated by a demon. This is not true either. As I pointed out earlier, you can be perfectly sane, and yet have a demon. The word possessed in the NT Greek actually means to be under the power of a demon or to have a demon. This is like being under the power or influence of alcohol, the more you drink, the more you come under it's power. Same is true with demonic bondage, the more bondage you are in, the more you will come under that demon's influence or power. The Bible makes it clear that there are different kinds of demons that cause different problems the person to whom they dwell. Some demons cause blindness, others cause deafness, others cause madness (mental illness), others cause fear and depression (King Saul), others cause epilepsy (Matthew 17:15-21), and so fourth. Therefore, if a person is under the power of a spirit of blindness, they won't see (Matthew 12:22), if they are under the power of a spirit of infirmity, they will have some sort of physical infirmity (Luke 13:11), if they are under the power of a spirit of fear, they will be fearful, or if they are under the power of a spirit of anger, they will have uncontrollable anger.
Can a Christian be demon possessed?
If the word 'possessed' refers to ownership, then absolutely not! Can a Christian have a demon? Yes, but not be owned by one. I believe the meaning to this word has changed from those days, and the modern English version is not the correct term to use for somebody who has a demon. A Christian can have a demon, just as they can have a sickness or disease. Many sickness and diseases for that matter are caused by a demon.
Derek Prince (author of They Shall Expel Demons and a Greek scholar) does a good job at pointing out how the Greek does not suggest that a demon can 'own' a person, but rather a person can be under the 'influence' of a demon.
Saying that a Christian can be possessed, is like saying that a person's body is owned by an infection on that person's finger. The infection may "influence" the body, but it does not mean that it "owns" the body. The same is true here: while a Christian can have a demon and be in bondage (influenced), it does not mean that the person is owned by the demon.
Demons can invade the soul and body of a believer (if given the 'rights' of course), but not the spirit (the real you), because the spirit belongs to the Lord. The soul is where your thoughts, emotions, and thinking is done. Demons can cause fear, depression, lust, uncontrollable anger, and other iniquities in the soul, and sickness and diseases in the body.
To answer the question in a nutshell, it doesn't matter who you are (whether a believer or a non-believer), if you've given the enemy rights to your soul or body, then you are up for a spiritual infection that can result in demonic bondage. There are certain sins and things that a person can do, which can defile (make unclean) the person. When a person is defiled, they are unclean and therefore vulnerable to a spiritual infection, and the 'germs' in this realm are demons.
How do demons gain access into the believer?
Ecclesiastes 10:8, "He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him." There is a hedge of protection around God's people, but if there's a hole in that hedge, it can open the door to the enemy and we can get bitten.
Paul warned the believers in Ephesians 4:27, "Neither give place to the devil." Also, 2 Corinthians 2:11 tells us, "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
Either the demon(s) was there before the person came to Christ (past lifestyle, generational curse, bondages they previously came under, vows they made with the enemy, etc.), or it entered since they became a Christian. If the demon came into the person's life before they accepted Christ, then the demon is likely trespassing because he has no real legal right to be there, and simply needs to be cast out (as Jesus did in Matthew 8:16-17). The way demons gain access into a believer's life, is through open doors. There are certain sins and things we can do that will defile us (make us unclean). For example, having unholy sex can create unholy soul ties, which serve as demonic bridges, and can pass bondages from one person to another. Another example is being bitter or unforgiving; both those are closely related and can defile a person (Hebrews 12:15).
Either way, the open door (if any) needs to be shut, and the demons cast out. Just because the enemy may not have legal rights, doesn't mean he always leaves immediately. Even though Jesus paid the price for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5), doesn't mean the demons won't want to hang around until they are actually kicked out. If demons left automatically when their rights were removed, then there would be no need to cast them out. Sometimes though, they do leave without being told, but that's not always the case. In Matthew 8:16-17, it tells us how Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Him taking on our iniquities/infirmities... it was by the actual casting out of demons.
There are many verses in the NT where it talks about being defiled. What does it mean to be defiled? It means to become unclean, to become polluted or dirty. To become unclean means that the object must first be clean, or you couldn't make it dirty. You could make it more dirty, but you could not make it dirty because it was already dirty. To be defiled means to take something that was clean, and make it dirty. This is why Christians need to heed the warnings that Jesus gave, not to do those things which can defile a man. It can take a clean Christian and make him unclean, therefore vulnerable to spiritual infections (demonic influence).
A lot of people like to believe that we cannot be touched by the enemy, which if we keep ourselves clean and stick in God's ways, we can be "untouchable" by the enemy, BUT if we step outside the lines of protection and get ourselves dirty, we are practically begging for a spiritual infection which can lead to demonic influence and bondage.
The dangers of casting a demon out of a non-believer
Matthew 12:43-45, "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation."
Jesus said that when a demon leaves a person, it likes to come back with 7 more even worse demons, and it is permitted if that person is part of the wicked generation (sinners/unbelievers). Casting a demon out of an unbeliever is not a wise idea. It is wise to first lead the person to Jesus, so that there is a protection upon them to keep the demon(s) from coming back.
Another thing to consider, is that trying to cast a demon out when he has 'legal rights' in that person's life can be very dangerous. Demons can manifest and physically get very violent and cause bodily harm to both the victim and the nearby people. It is a good idea to cut off the demon's legal grounds in the person before attempting to cast a demon out.
Some demons CANNOT get shed (or cast out) without prayer and fasting
Mark 9:17-29 tells us of a story of the disciples trying to cast a demon out of a child. They were unsuccessful, so the boy was brought to Jesus, and He cast it out, but also told us that this kind of demon (a very strong demon) ONLY comes out through prayer and fasting!
Mark 9:29, "And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by NOTHING, but by prayer and fasting."
If Jesus said that prayer and fasting is required, believe me, it ain't coming out with a quick nudge, much less when a person simply accepts Jesus!
Jesus was saying that it requires a lot of faith to cast these demons out... how you get such faith is through prayer and fasting... if His disciples didn't have enough faith to cast it out, what makes us think the average believer has enough faith (without prayer and fasting) to cast it out??
Deliverance is part of the atonement and New Covenant
Let's take a close look at Isaiah 53:5, where it prophecies about some of the things that Jesus will do for us, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities (this is for your deliverance): the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." Do you think this verse was talking about things that Jesus did for unbelievers? Did He shed His blood for the sins of unbelievers (providing they stay in their unbelief of course)? Did His stripes pay for the healing of unbelievers? What about the chastisement of our peace being upon Him, was that for unbelievers? What should make us think that Him taking on our iniquities was for the unbelievers? Where does it say that Jesus took the iniquities of the unbelievers?
Once in a while, it's possible to come across a non-believer who was healed, but it was out of God's mercy that He healed them. Believers are healed out of the covenant, and therefore have something to hold their healing, whereas unbelievers are healed out of mercy and can lose their healing. The same is true with deliverance. Jesus made it clear that when a demon comes out of an unbeliever (wicked generation), it will only return with 7 more evil spirits even worse than itself (Matthew 12:43-45)!
Matthew 8:16-17, "When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses."
If deliverance was part of the atonement and new covenant, then it's meant for believers! But note that even though an iniquity can be forgiven, doesn't mean the demon automatically leaves. Jesus still 'cast' the demon out in fulfilling the prophecy in this situation.
Notice in Matthew 8:16 that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy that He paid for our deliverance, but also notice how He still had to 'cast out' the demon! It didn't leave automatically. The fulfillment of that prophecy was demonstrated by the actual casting out of a demon(s)!
We, as believers, are commissioned to do the same thing concerning demons: Mark 16:17, "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues."
I strongly believe that deliverance is not for unbelievers, but for believers. It is not meant to provide relief to the world's problems, but to bring freedom to the believer who may be struggling with bondages from his past.
Some major flaws in opposing theologies
There are some people who recognize the reality of the demonic realm, and see the need for the casting out of demons, but they don't believe that Christians can have demons. They believe that only unbelievers need demons cast out. This sounds tickling to the ears, but doesn't hold up in reality. Some very simple logic will dissolve this false belief.
Demons like to return to the wicked generation (sinners/unbelievers) with 7 more even worse demons (Matthew 12:43-45), therefore it is very risky, dangerous and unproductive to cast a demon out of an unbeliever. The only way to be safe, is to first lead the person to accept Jesus, then there is a layer of protection there to help keep the demon(s) from returning. Otherwise your just sticking your hand in a hornet's nest and stirring up trouble. If a demon is interfering with the person coming to Jesus, then it's time to bind the demon (Matthew 16:19), minister to the person's need for salvation (bring them to accept Jesus), then cast the demons out.
There is an obvious need for casting out demons (Mark 16:17, Matthew 8:16-17), so who are we to cast them out of, if it's so risky and unsafe to cast them out of unbelievers? Not to mention, unproductive and detrimental if they don't come to Jesus shortly after they are delivered! And if people shed their demons when they became a Christian, then why worry about casting them out at all, if they will leave automatically? If people shed their demons when they accepted Christ, then why not just bring them to Christ? This would defeat the whole purpose of the deliverance ministry. Which would be saying that the early church (which was very active in the casting out of devils) was wasting it's time, and would make no sense that Jesus said that those who believe would 'cast out demons'!
Deliverance and healing was paid for in the same verses (Isaiah 53:5, Matthew 8:16-17), but a lot of Christians are walking around sick and many others are being tormented. Why? Because these two things are received by faith! The price was paid for us to be set free, but if we don't believe it and stand on it, we can miss out in the fruits of what Jesus did for us! The same thing is true with healing!
I have seen way too many Christians being demonically tormented and in bondage, to say that it can't happen. I myself have been a Christian since a young kid, was raised in a Godly home with two great parents, and yet I've experienced demonic bondage too.
Biblical example of Jesus casting a demon out of a believer
Before we begin, let's take a quick look at what Jesus considers a child of Abraham:
John 8:39-40 makes it very clear who are qualified to be called Children of Abraham in Jesus' opinion: "They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham." (In other words, if you aren't doing the works of Abraham, then you aren't really his child. He directly said that they were not Abraham's child because they did not share in the faith.)
Look at what Jesus called the man who became a believer in Luke 19:9, "And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham." To have Jesus call somebody a child of Abraham was quite an honor! It meant that the person was a child of Abraham by faith, which means they were a believer.
Also look at Romans 2:28-29, "For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the Jewish ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not a cutting of the body but a change of heart produced by God's Spirit. Whoever has that kind of change seeks praise from God, not from people." (NLT)
Jesus said that the children of Abraham do what Abraham did (John 8:39). What did Abraham do? Galatians 3:6, "...Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." To believe God means to believe in Jesus as well, because the two cannot be separated! If you reject the Son, you also reject the Father (1 John 2:22-23). Jesus made it clear that the true children of Abraham are full blown believers!
Now, in Luke 13:11, 16 it says, "And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?"
A few things I would like to point out, first, she was in the church hearing Jesus' teachings just moments before He loosed her. When He called her a daughter of Abraham, He made it clear that she was a very special person. He rebuked the Pharisees for calling themselves children of Abraham, but He honored this woman for it. In His opinion, she was a true daughter of Abraham, which meant she shared in Abraham's faith. She was a believer.
Let me briefly summarize this:
(a) Jesus said that in order to be a child of Abraham, you must do as Abraham did. (John 8:39)
(b) What did Abraham do? He believed on God. (Gal 3:6)
(c) You cannot believe on the Father and reject the Son; it is impossible. (1 John 2:22-23)
(d) Jesus said that this woman was truly a child of Abraham. (Luke 13:16)
Jesus Himself told us of the requirements for what it takes to be a child of Abraham, so if He didn't judge her by those requirements, He would be contradicting Himself. Judged by His opinion (which is not just any opinion, but a FACT and TRUTH), He labeled this woman as a child of Abraham. To refute that she was a believer, would be trying to argue with Jesus, because that's what He said, and He made it very clear that those who don't believe, aren't really children of Abraham.
Biblical example of a believer being set free from a curse
Mark 5:25-34, "And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in [her] body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague (curse)."
There was a woman who had an issue of blood as a result of a curse (the KJV refers to it as a plague, which is the same thing as a curse), and though she believed in Jesus, she was released from it when she acted upon her faith and touched the hem of His garment.
It is obvious that she didn't just believe Jesus for her healing/deliverance, but also for her salvation, because Jesus referred to her as a member of His family. Jesus referred to her as a daughter, which meant that they were related. It would have been impossible for her to physically be His daughter, because He was never married, and Jesus made it clear that those who do the will of the Father were members of His family (Mark 3:33-35).
Let me briefly summarize this:
(a) The woman was suffering from a curse (plague) that was affecting her physically. (Mark 5:29)
(b) She believed that if she came in contact with Jesus, she could be released from her curse. (Mark 5:27, 28) She was a believer in Jesus even before she was delivered.
(c) She was released from her curse because of her faith. (Mark 5:34)
(d) Jesus referred to her as a daughter, therefore making it clear that they were related. (Mark 5:34) This also proves that she didn't just believe Jesus could heal/deliver her, but she was also believing upon Him, and it made her a member of Jesus' royal family.
(e) Since it was impossible for her to be related to Him physically (Jesus was never married, so He obviously wouldn't have any physical daughters), the only other way she could be related to Him was spiritually.
(f) Jesus made it clear that the true members of His family were those who do the will of God. (Mark 3:33-35)
She did NOT just believe Jesus was a magical man with healing powers, or Jesus wouldn't have called her a DAUGHTER. She believed that He was the Son of God, which is what is required to be a member of God's family!!
Questions for the skeptics:
If this was a deliverance, why did they use the word "healed"? A lot of healings are actually deliverances. Verses such as Matthew 12:22 and Acts 10:38 tell us that Jesus 'healed' those who were bound by evil spirits. Healing and deliverance are very closely related. Healing is often the word used to describe the setting free of a demon spirit that was causing a physical infirmity.
How are you so sure that the word plague means a curse? If you look it up in the Greek, it lists three meanings, the first two use the word scourge, which means punishment (obviously more then merely a physical problem), the last one directly says misfortune or calamity, especially as a punishment. If you want to see for yourself, please click here.
How do you know she really believed in Jesus as the Son of God, and not just believed upon Him for her healing/deliverance? Because Jesus called her a daughter. Obviously, she could not have been a physical daughter, so this means she was a spiritual daughter. Jesus made it clear that those who do God's will are members of His true family.
This is a good example of a believer, who recognized and believed in Jesus, but wasn't released from that curse until she engaged her faith in Him by touching the hem of His garment. Only then did this believer receive her deliverance!
Biblical example where believers can be under an evil spell
First of all, bewitching is no light hearted matter. It's witchcraft to say the very least: Acts 8:9, "But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:"
Galatians 3:1, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?" I like how the NLT words it, "Oh, foolish Galatians! What magician has cast an evil spell on you? For you used to see the meaning of Jesus Christ's death as clearly as though I had shown you a signboard with a picture of Christ dying on the cross."
If you read on into verses 2, it makes it clear that these people were Spirit filled believers: "This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"
You might be asking, but how can somebody place a spell on a Christian? If that Christian opens the door to such a thing, it can happen. The Bible warns us that in the end times, some will pay attention to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1), and therefore depart from the faith. What do you think happens when we pay attention to seducing spirits? Why do you think we are warned us not to do such a thing? Don't give the devil the time of day! That's why Paul referred to them as "O foolish Galatians," because they were giving heed to false teachings and it opened the door for them to be tripped up.
Other Christians who had demons in the Bible
In Mark 5:1-20, a story is told of a man with a legion of demons who saw Jesus, ran to Him and worshiped Him. Demons don't run to Jesus and worship Him. This man recognized that Jesus was the son of God, and therefore able to set him free, and of course, that would mean he believed upon Jesus.
Jesus didn't go seeking demons to cast out of people. He usually waited until people came to Him before He cast them out. If they came to Him, then I believe it can be easily argued that they 'believed in Him'.
I find it interesting that many times Jesus cast out demons, He did it for the people in the synagogues. Mark 1:39, "And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils." It's also interesting to note that Jesus didn't go 'looking' for people to cast demons out of, He waited until they came to Him, and many (if not all) of them referred to Him as Lord. This gives us a good indication that they were believers. Also, those who were in the synagogues were either hypocrites or sincere children of God. Where did Jesus EVER cast a demon out of a hypocrite like the Pharisees? Jesus said Himself that deliverance was children's bread, and therefore not fit to cast before dogs!
Satan HATES the deliverance ministry
As you can see, if deliverance isn't for the unbelievers, then who is it for? The believers! I can honestly testify from experience that Christians can come under demonic bondage and be tormented by demons. The reason the devil doesn't want people to think Christians can be in bondage, is because he wants his work to go un-exposed. This ministry is one of the most hated ministries by the devil, because it is directly stepping on his toes and ripping up his holds in the lives of God's children around the world.
The big test is how a minister would help a Christian who is in heavy demonic bondage break free. The problem is, those who bitterly oppose the idea that Christians can have demons are left clueless when faced with true believers who really do need a deliverance, and the bondage is undeniable. Often, demonic bondage (torment, etc.) is written off as spiritual warfare, or mental illness. I simply do not buy this bogus excuse to allow demonic torment to continue in the life of a believer. Jesus didn't allow demons to continue tormenting people who came to Him, did He? The Bible tells us that He healed (made whole, which includes casting out demons) ALL who were oppressed of the devil. This means even oppression should be dealt with, not written off and considered normal.