What many of us know about demonic possession comes from movies, books and bad YouTube videos. In short, the answer is “yes”, but it’s different that what you think.
In this first part of a multi-part post, we’re going to tackle this question. My sole purpose in this article is to make the Christian aware that they can have demons influencing them as well as having them be a part of their lives. We must be aware of our true enemy (Ephesians 6:12) and their existence.
The subject of demons is not lacking in many of the movies we see, but good information is, especially within our houses of worship. I can tell you that, at one time, I did not believe a born-again believer could ever have any demons residing in me, that was until the last week of November 2018 when I have 4 of them cast out that had been with me for 40 years! Yes, I came to the Lord in 2008, was baptized (full immersion), spoke in tongues by the Holy Spirit and yet I had unclean spirits influencing my actions…and that’s where we have to start, possession vs. influence.
Lets get into it, what is being demon-possessed mean?
Our first instance found in the the New Testament can be read in Matthew 4::24, which states:
“Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them.” (NKJV)
The problem is the translation of “demon-possessed” and no, I’m not going to get into the “King James Version only” as that translation is quite off as well:
“And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.” (KJV)
Through these, and other translations, we get into an idea of being “owned” by Satan/unclean spirits (the two are very different, more on that later), which is a direct contradiction to who a Christian is in the grand scheme of things. A true Christian, who has come to Jesus to ask for forgiveness, believing in his/her heart that He (Jesus) is Lord and confesses with his/her mouth that He has be resurrected (Romans 10:9), you are no longer “possessed” by anyone but God:
“For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” ~Romans 14:8 NKJV
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” ~1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV
So, we come to understand through the two (and there are more) passages above that once a person come to Jesus, he/she is not possessed by the temporary ruler of this world, but they are possessed by God. Possession implies ownership, to which we are now God’s through His Son, Jesus Christ. To put a practical sense on things, I own my iPad, I possess it, but I can lend it to someone to use, and THAT’S the big difference! While we may be “owned” by God, we can lend aspects of our existence to unclean spirits/evil spirits/demons (all three are synonymous).
The translation dilemma
To understand more fully the Matthew 4:24 passage (as well as others), we must get into the Greek.
Most translations miss the mark with this phrase. The Greek word for this part is “daimonizomai” (G1139), which means “to be under the power of a demon.” This particular word is used 13 times in the Greek concordance of the KJV Bible. Key passages include the aforementioned Matt 4:24, as well as Matt 8:16, Matt 8:28, Matt 8:33, Matt 9:32, Matt 12:22, Matt 15:22, Mar 1:32, Mar 5:15, Mar 5:16, Mar 5:18, Luk 8:36, and Jhn 10:21.
Probably one of the few translations that hits the mark better than most can be found in the Young’s Literal Translation:
“and his fame went forth to all Syria, and they brought to him all having ailments, pressed with manifold sicknesses and pains, and demoniacs, and lunatics, and paralytics, and he healed them.” ~Matthew 4:24
In understanding this particular translation, we can say that a Christian cannot be possessed, but they can become a demoniac (or “demonized” as I’ve also heard) in an area, or areas of their lives.
We must also understand that while Satan can possess/influence a person, he is not omnipresent (being everywhere at once). While movies/books seem to use Satan as the consequential “bad guy” with regard to possessions, it is usually unclean spirits/demons/evil spirits that are going the possessing/influencing.
So, how can a Christian have demons?
There was a particular part of Jesus’ sermon on the mount that I didn’t quite understand until my deliverance. That passage was
““The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23 NKJV
I could never understand, that is until the last week of November 2018, how Jesus could be speaking this part to His disciples. From Matthew 5-7, Jesus is speaking to those who were following him and not to the world/crowd. In other words, Jesus was speaking to me and to anyone who professes Jesus as their Lord
“And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:…” Matthew 5:1-2 NKJV
This passage, coupled with what I’ve termed “the process of sin” found in the book of James made a lot of sense:
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” ~James 1:12-15 NKJV
Jesus, as well as the other Apostles, were/are warning that when we are enticed (which is one of the ways demons make their way into a Christian’s life), our desires can bring about sin, then they have control over an area of our lives.
Demons are like cockroaches, they are attracted by garbage. None of us want those filthy insects in our homes, but if we leave out garbage and keep our home in filth, they will come and once they’re there, it’s hard to get rid of them. When a Christian lets themselves be enticed and fails to continually “die each day” (Romans 6:6, 8:23, Galatians 5:16), he/she willingly lays out the “garbage of sin” and it will attract unclean things into areas of your life until you are a slave to them (. If you look at the letters that the Apostles wrote to the different individuals/churches found between the book of Acts & Romans, they are filled with warnings, what they should be doing and, just as importantly, what they should be avoiding. Keep in mind that they letters were not written to those who had rejected Christ, BUT TO THOSE WHO HAD RECEIVED HIM! An example of this can be found in the passage below:
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
“Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ ”
Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”” ~John 5:1-14 NKJV
Here we read that Jesus healed the man, but later found him sinning and warned him that if he kept doing what he was doing, something else was going to happen to him that would be worse. We must remember also what Jesus said about an unclean spirit being cast out (Matthew 12:43-45) as well as the “binding of the strong man (“strong man being the Holy Spirit…Mark 3:27), which can be coupled with the above scripture. Basically, Jesus was saying, “hey, if you keep sinning, demons will find their dwelling in you and it’ll be bad.”
Wait! Aren’t demons a thing of the past?
The short answer is “no!” Demons are quite active today and wrecking the lives of a great many followers of Jesus. Anytime you hear a Christian talk about issues with pornography, depression, drug addiction, etc, they are most likely in a degree of bondage. For me, I was in bondage for decades until I began to recognize the signs of demonic influence in an area of my life. Most of the world puts clinical terminology to demonic activity, it doesn’t mean that the underlying cause of much of our mental/physical isn’t caused by demons. Jesus, when He encountered Peter’s mother-in-law rebuked her fever (Luke 4:38-39) and she was made well. Think of if this way, salt can be called Sodium Chloride, but it’s still salt.
Wrapping it up…
Yes, there are many instances where an illness is an illness, but more have their root causes in unclean spirits causing mischief. Jesus and His disciples, didn’t make too much of a distinction between healing the sick and casting out demons. In many cases, they are one in the same.
If we take the book of Revelation as the truth of what is about to come about, then we must realize that demons exist and we are at war with them, but most of the body of Christ fails to acknowledge them and worse yet, doesn’t know how to deal with them when they are a part of a Christian’s life. In later posts, I’ll be getting into their methods of operation, how to get rid of them and keeping them out of your life (fighting, resisting).