Quite often the question comes up concerning believers being demonized. If God is greater and He is in us, how can Satan have any foothold? How wonderful it would be if we were exempt, but while salvation adds a new dimension to us(a new nature) God does not eradicate our old sin nature. Jesus’ first recorded encounter with a demonized person was in the Capernaum synagogue (Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Demons can impact believers as they do unbelievers. Note that the demonized man was not a pagan who worshipped Satan. He was a faithful Jew who regularly attended synagogue, someone familiar to the people there and whom no one previously had suspected of being demonized. Probably he wasn’t aware that the struggles he had in life were caused by demons. This happened at other times as well (Mark 5:39). While we don’t know this man’s exact spiritual state, this still brings up the question of believers being demonized. While there is general agreement that unbelievers can be demonized, some don’t believe that can happen to believers because believers belong to Jesus. That is true, but demonizing doesn’t imply ownership, just influence.
As long as we are in this body we still have a sin nature, a capacity to sin just the same as we did before salvation. Salvation creates a new spiritual nature within us. But the old capacity to sin still remains. It is in this area, this sin nature, this capacity to sin, that demons work. Salvation does not remove our capacity to sin (sin nature) but gives us a new nature so we don’t have to sin but can live in obedience to God. Believers can still sin after salvation as they did before. It is in this area of our ‘flesh’ or sin nature that demons work. Our new nature is greater but doesn’t take away our free will choice to still function in our sin nature. Paul’s struggle as recorded in Romans 7 describes this well.
The Bible makes no distinction between believers and unbelievers as far as demonizing is concerned. In fact, the Bible refers to many believers who were demonized: Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a demon (II Corinthians 12:7), King Saul was a believer (I Samuel 11:6) and was obviously demonized (I Samuel 16:14-23), David was motivated by Satan to take a census of the people (I Chronicles 21:1ff; II Samuel 24:1ff), Ananias and Saphira were believers (Acts 4:32-35) but allowed Satan to “fill” them (Acts 5:3), and Peter was Satan’s spokesman in tempting Jesus to not go to the cross (Matthew 16:23). Paul warns believers to not give Satan a “foothold” in their life (Ephesians 4:26-27), showing such a thing is possible. Jesus Himself called deliverance “the children’s bread” (Matthew 15:22-28), meaning it was for His children. A Christian can receive another spirit (II Corinthians 11:2-4) and there are other examples of believers being demonized (Luke 13:10-16; I Corinthians 5:4-5). Christians are warned to guard against this (I Peter 5:8-9; Ephesians 6:10-18).
A believer belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan cannot own him as he did before salvation (I John 4:4), but he can still influence him, “demonize” him. When the words ‘possessed’ or ‘oppressed’ are used, then the question is asked if a believer can be ‘possessed.’ To answer that then ‘possessed’ must be defined. The Bible simply does not define it, nor does it even talk about ‘possession’ – just ‘demonizing’ which means being influenced by a demon.
A Christian has every right and resource to be free from this demonizing, however. Property which you own can be trespassed on by another person, but you have every right and resource to put him off your property. You just need to learn how to do it. That’s what spiritual warfare is all about.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)