We run our website the way we wished the whole internet worked: we provide high quality original content with no ads. We are funded solely by your direct support. Please consider supporting this project.
Can Christians be Demon Possessed?
The Greek word that is usually translated “demon-possessed” in the Gospels is demonizomai, which literally means “to be rendered passive toward a demon.” It’s unfortunate, in my view, that the term is usually translated “demon possession.” “Possession” implies complete ownership whereas the concept of being rendered passive toward a demon can be reflective of many degrees of passivity. A person can be a little passive or completely passive toward a demon. And a person can have one area or many areas of their life rendered passive toward a demon. But “possession makes it sound like demonization is an all-or-nothing thing. For this reason I prefer to simply transliterate demonizomai as “demonized.”
This point is of some importance, for the question of whether or not a Christian can be “demon possessed” is at stake. One school of thought cites numerous examples throughout church history of Christians who have needed, and benefited from, exorcism. On this basis they argue that Christians can be “demon-possessed. The other school of thought argues that this is impossible, for Christians are owned and indwelt by God, a fact that rules out the possibility that they’re also owned by Satan and indwelt by demons (1 Cor 6:19-20, 1 Jn 4:4).
In my view, there’s truth to both sides. Christians can be, in varying degrees, demonized. They can have areas of their life rendered passive with regards to a demon. Despite the fact that we are owned and indwelt by God, we can give the devil a “foothold” and can have demonic “strongholds” in our life (Eph 4:27; 2 Cor 10:4). This demonization may, on occasion, be strong enough that it leads to a person manifesting bizarre behavior—the sort often associated with exorcisms—when the stronghold is being confronted.
At the same time, however, I think the other school of though is correct in maintaining the impossibility of a person being simultaneously owned by God and owned by demons. A person whose life is authentically surrendered to God may continue to have significant strongholds, but they cannot have every area of their life rendered completely passive toward a demon. In other words, Christians can be demonized, but not demon possessed.
And when Christians are significantly demonized, it’s appropriate, and sometimes necessary, to engage in deliverance prayer (exorcism) on their behalf.
Image by Darren Johnson / iDJ Photography via Flickr
Jesus’ teaching, his exorcisms, his healings and other miracles, as well as his work on the cross, all remain somewhat incoherent and unrelated to one another until we interpret them as acts of war. As in apocalyptic thought of the time of Jesus, the assumption that undergirds Jesus’ entire ministry is that Satan has illegitimately…
Question: You may find this to be an odd question, but is it possible for two Christians of the same gender to remain a couple if they do not engage in sex? My partner and I love each other but our study of Scripture convinces us that having sex is wrong. Now, sex was never…
In this episode Greg gives reasons why we can still believe in demons even now, in the 21st century? With our iPhones and all our modern cooking appliances, even? Links: Greg’s book: “Benefit of the Doubt” Website: ReKnew.org http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0002.mp3
READER: A while back, a friend of mine seriously hurt and betrayed me. After three years of not seeing one another (her choice), she humbly repented, told me she was sorry, and asked for my forgiveness. I have forgiven her and we are starting to be friends again. But now what? How do I open my heart to her again? How do I start “testing the waters” to see if I can trust again?
If the world is engulfed in spiritual warfare, how do we know when we’re confronting a demon that requires deliverance prayer, or simply confronting a “natural” by-product of the fallen world that requires medical or therapeutic attention? A few years ago, a man from my church called me saying that he had been attacked by…
Mark McIntyre shares some thoughts here on the culture wars that often define our relationship to the world outside of the Church. We are called to be a people who are known by our love rather than our stance on this or that social issue. Are we really known this way? Mark’s words are a…