Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Answers to Common Questions about Spiritual Warfare

Can Christians be possessed by demons?

This is one of those questions that many people answer too quickly. The problem is that the word possess has several meanings. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary it can mean three things. First, possess can mean “own” so that a Christian would essentially belong to Satan. Second, possess can mean “dominate” so that a Christian would be controlled by Satan. Third, possess can mean “influence” so that the life of a Christian would be marked by the influences of Satan. Obviously, what one means when they use the word possessed matters very much when answering the question, “Can Christians be possessed by demons?”
In the first sense, the devil never owns a Christian. We have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of the Son, Paul tells us in Colossians 1:13.
In the third sense, the devil can influence a Christian. We are in warfare against the enemy who seeks to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10). Even Jesus was attacked by the devil in this way according to Matthew 4:1–11 and Luke 4:1–13.
It is the second sense where there is a lot of debate among Christians. Can demons dominate a Christian? While some teach that through personal sin, generational sin, or even curses, demons can have authority to dominate believers, Scripture is clear that Christians are never under the ruling authority of darkness. The devil can never take authority over a Christian. Others teach that if we pray and feast on God’s Word we never need fear a demonic attack. But if Jesus can be attacked, how can we say we cannot?
We believe Christians may be deceived, accused, or tempted by Satan and may yield to those attacks (though they do not have to). If believers begin to wrongly respond to such things, they may give demons influence in their lives. Apparently an evil spirit can empower, energize, encourage, and exploit a believer’s own sinful desires. Examples would include Peter (Matt. 16:22–23) and Ananias (Acts 5:3). As children of God, regenerated and indwelt by the Spirit, we are responsible to and empowered by God to resist Satan and if we do we need not suffer from his influence (Eph. 6:10–18; James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:7–9; 1 John 4:1–4; 5:1–5, 18–19).

Can sins done against me defile me?

They can. But Jesus can cleanse that aspect of sin too. For example, Matthew 8 begins with Jesus healing a leper instantaneously by his power, and ends with Jesus driving demons out of two men instantaneously by his power. The point is that whether we are physically or spiritually defiled, Jesus can cleanse us. In 1 John 1:9 we are told to confess or talk about our sin. That sin can be either sin we have committed or sin committed against us. In either case, bringing the sin to Jesus and his people will result in forgiveness of any and all guilt and cleansing of any and all defilement. This usually involves a process, not an immediate result, but the outcome is sure because “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1–2).

I have some questions about Satan and demons. What else can I read to learn more?

Books on the world and flesh:

Books on the devil:


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