The Greek word doimonizomai (“demonizing”) refers to one who is heavily impacted by demons. It is used 15 times in the New Testament. It does not differentiate between possession (demons within) or influence (demons without). If God doesn’t make that clarification or distinction, I don’t think its something we need to make, either. In the spiritual realm there are no clear-cut divisions like we try to make (demons ‘within’ or ‘without’, etc.). There are, of course, degrees of demonizing depending on the person, the demons involved, the access, etc., but it isn’t always possible or necessary to pinpoint these things. The common denominator is that the person being demonized usually doesn’t separate their own consciousness from the demonic influence. The thoughts and feelings the demon feeds them they assume are their own. A person always has a free will to turn to God for help, but when followed these impulses bring one deeper and deeper into bondage.
Perhaps demonizing can be better understood by thinking of it as a kind of spiritual hypnotism from within. Hypnotism of any kind is something for God’s people to avoid (Psalm 54:4-5; Joshua 1:8; Philippians 4:8).
We don’t need to know the exact extent of demonizing, just that it is taking place. The cause is the same, and so is the cure. We will use the broad term ‘demonizing’ as the Bible does, referring to the whole spectrum of demonic influence/possession. Other words the Bible uses for the same thing are “entered in” (as when Satan entered into Judas – John 13:27) and “filled” (the same word that is used of believers being filled with the Holy Spirit – Acts 5:5 about Ananias and Saphira).
CAN A BELIEVER BE DEMONIZED? While all Christians agree that unbelievers can be demonized, some don’t believe that can happen to believers. Demonizing speaks of influence, not ownership. A believer still has a free will to give soul access to demons, as do unbelievers. His spirit belongs only to God, but it is up to us to allow God’s spirit to control or not.
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 Cor 11:2-4) and there are examples of believers being demonized (Luke 13:10-16; I Cor. 5:4,5). Christians are warned to guard against this (I Pt. 5:8-9; Eph. 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 demonize. When the words ‘possessed’ or ‘oppressed’ are used then the question can asked if a believer can be ‘possessed.’ To answer that then ‘possessed’ must be defined. The Bible simply does not define it, not does it even talk about ‘possession’ – just ‘demonizing’ which means being influenced by a demon. No one would doubt this happens to believers.
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 in us. It is in this area, this sin nature, this capacity to sin, 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.
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. Keep reading these blogs and you will learn how to be free as well as helping others find freedom, too.
Demonizing is not something to fear for God is greater and much more powerful. He alone brings victory and deliverance. Pray for His wisdom, His protection, and for you to be committed to Him and Him only.
(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.)