EVIL: Answers To Common Questions About Christus Victor, by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears

From Death By Love

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 people mean 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 respond wrongly 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 (Matthew 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 resist, we need not suffer from his influence (Ephesians 6:10-18; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:7-9; 1 John 4:1-4, 5:1-5 & 18-19).

What can I do if a demon attacks me?

It is vital to remember that Jesus has already disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them at the cross. (Colossians 2:15)  We don’t have to do anything to win authority over a demon.  That victory has already been won for us by Jesus.  Our challenge is to believe and live in that authority.

Jesus is our example.  When he was attacked by a demon, he refused to argue theology.  Jesus didn’t get into whether the Devil actually could have given him the kingdoms of this world, and he didn’t ask for names or information but quoted scripture and commanded the demon to get away. (Matthew 4:1-11)

Below is a typical pattern of prayer to employ when dealing with demonically empowered desires.  It is important to note that the specific working is unimportant, because our power does not come from speaking a mantra but rather from Jesus and the truth:

  1. “Lord Jesus Christ, I acknowledge that this [name the specific area of sin] may be empowered by demons and evil spirits.  If it is, I want nothing to do with it.”
  2. “Lord Jesus Christ, I confess that you triumphed over these demons and evil spirits by the power of your shed blood that purchased forgiveness for all my sins, and by your death, burial, and resurrection that provided my new life in you.”
  3. “Lord Jesus Christ, I ask that you send any demons and evil spirits away from me.  Demon, in the name and authority of Jesus, I command you to get away from me now.”
  4. “Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you for hearing and answering my prayer.  Please fill me anew with your Holy Spirit so that I will be empowered to live in obedience to you and in freedom from sin and harassment.”

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.  Such 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.  The removal of defilement is usually not immediate; it is more likely to be a process, 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 2:1-1)


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