Today we are going to build off of what we talked about last week. We laid a foundation for understanding who our adversary is and his strategy against believers and the rest of God’s creation. If you have followed Jesus for any amount of time, you understand that there is opposition against your walking in God’s plan for your life. You also understand how sin can cause great turmoil and destruction in your life. The Bible is clear that if we sow into the flesh, we reap death; however, if we sow into the Spirit, we reap life.
I have seen people over the years faithfully follow the Lord and then fall away because of sin. I have also seen believers still bound in sin and desperately wanting to be free. This has always baffled me because Jesus has paid a great price for us to be freed. Sometimes you go through life as a believer and begin to experience things that cause you to look at Scripture a little more deeply. It may even cause you to change your theology. Today I want to take a look at how demons can influence the Christian life. I also want to answer the question of whether a Christian can be demon-possessed.
I. We are commissioned by God
Matthew 10:7-8:: Go and announce to them that they Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!
We know that Jesus spent a lot of time with twelve men who would eventually be key to the start of the church and the advancement of God’s Kingdom. He taught them to pray and showed them how to heal the sick, cleanse the leper, and cast out demons.
Mark 16:15-18: And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able t place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.
Jesus goes on to say that these signs will accompany those who believe. They cast out demons, speak new languages, and heal the sick.
I have seen people saved and completely transformed. I have seen people healed, but I have never seen a demon cast out of a person. Why do you think that is the case? Are most demon-possessed people in other countries?
Let me share some interesting things about demons.
The word demon is in the Bible 82 times - 61 times in the Gospels.
I mentioned last week that I can only think of a couple examples from the Old Testament, King Saul with the tormenting spirit being one of them.
I believe that we see most references in the Gospels because no one ever had authority over the demons until Jesus came. We also see other examples in the New Testament. Jesus gave us His authority when He commissioned us to fulfill His Great Commission.
I believe the reason we are not seeing people set free from demonic spirits is because we have not come to a place of walking in the authority Jesus has given us.
II. Demon-possession in Scripture
Mark 5:1-13: So they arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. Whenever he was put into chains and shackles-as he often was-he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones. When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him. With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had already said to the spirit, “Come out of the man, you evil spirit.” Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” And he replied, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.” Then the evil spirits begged him again and again not to send them to some distant place. There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby. “Send us into those pigs,” the spirits begged.” Let us enter them.” So Jesus gave them permission. The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of about 2,000 pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.
What we know about the demon(s) based on Scripture:
Supernatural strength (chains could not restrain him)
Caused harm to his body (he would cut himself)
They talked to Jesus
There were many of them (at least 2,000 because that’s how many pigs ended up drowning)
They were in the man until Jesus commanded them to come out
They caused the man to be insane (he regained his sanity after the demons left)
III. Can a Christian be demon-possessed?
Acts 2:21: But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
“Save” in this verse is the Greek word sozo, which means to be forgiven of sin, healed and delivered.
2 Corinthians 1:10 (NKJV): who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us
We have all been delivered (when we accepted Christ as our Savior) and will continue to be delivered.
I have always believed that Christians cannot be possessed, but only oppressed. Oppressed means outside influence, rather than inside. I was taught that God and evil cannot be in the same place - thus a Christian cannot be possessed.
However, teaching from Robert Morris completely destroyed this reasoning. Think about this - God is omnipresent - He’s everywhere. It is impossible for Him not to be around sin or evil. God is greater than evil. In the book of Job, Satan was in Heaven talking with God about Job. What sealed this debate for me was defining what demon possession actually means.
daimoni means “demon”
zomai means “to possess”
Two Greek meanings for possess:
To gain mastery over
Can a Christian be owned by a demon? No, they are owned by God. However, a Christian can be under the control or influence of a demon. A better word for demon-possessed is perhaps the word demonized. It is more like a squatter.
Imagine you left a window open at your house and a squatter had entered. Does this squatter own your house? No, but they are now in your house. They have control over certain aspects of your house. He may not leave until you have the squatter forcibly removed.
Let’s bring this out in Scripture a little more.
Lamentations 1:10: The enemy has plundered her completely, taking every precious thing she owns. She has seen foreigners violate her sacred Temple, the place the Lord had forbidden them to enter.
This text is talking about the Nation of Israel. It represents believers, who are the temple of God’s presence. The enemy was forbidden to enter the temple, and yet they did.
Joel 2:9: They swarm over the city and run along its walls. They enter all the houses, climbing like thieves through the windows.
The locust that this verse is talking about represent the enemy. Houses represent believers. The locust enter houses like thieves through open windows.
John 10:1 (NKJV): “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
The sheepfold here represent the believer. Jesus is the door. The thief and the robber enters another way.
John 8:31-32: Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (emphasis mine)
Jesus is talking to believers about being free - the people who believe in Him.
John 8:33-36 (NKJV): They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
Jesus was telling them that they could be free, and they answered that they’ve never even been in bondage, because they’re Abraham’s descendants. They were in bondage to the Babylonians, Egyptians, Chaldeans, and to top if off, they were in bondage to the Romans at this very moment. Christians can be in bondage, but the key to get out is to see that you are in bondage in the first place. As believers we can choose to walk in sonship or go back into bondage to sin.
commit: to formulate a plan; whoever is formulating plans to stay in sin by keeping it hidden is in bondage.
Think of being demonized as being under the influence of demonic spirits. If you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they don’t own you but they are in you and influence you. Someone under the influence will do things that are out of character.
A friend of mine from work just went on vacation to Mexico. He told me that everyone went by different names when they were drinking. They did this because they were different people while under the influence. A demon cannot own a believer, but it can influence a believer.
You can’t cast out the flesh and you can’t disciple a demon.”
- Jack Hayford
We have tried to fix people through counseling and discipleship, but people need to be delivered from demonic spirits that have influence over their lives. You can’t fix a demon through counseling.
On the other hand, not every sin issue in life is the result of a demon. Some people just enjoy living by their flesh and enjoy living in sin. You have to want to be freed from the bondage of sin in order to be freed from it.
Deliverance and discipleship must always go hand-in-hand. Getting free is one thing, but staying free is another entirely. Maybe this message has you thinking about your own life. Ask yourself these questions:
Is there an area of your life that you cannot get victory over?
Is there an area that you feel powerless?
Are there sins in your life that you keep confessing over and over again?
If yes, you may be in bondage, but the good news is that Jesus can set you free.