Causes of demon possession

SERMON TOPIC: Causes of demon possession

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 26 January 2020


Sermon synopsis: The Bible does not explicitly say what causes possession - only what causes re-possession. Simply being unsaved does not mean you can be possessed, or else all non-believers would be possessed. Even unbelievers seem to have some sort of natural protection against these beings. Many believe that in order to be possessed, a gateway must be opened in the person, giving the demon some sort of legal claim to enter. Typically the person must be indulging in some sort of activity that attracts demons. What are these gateways?
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Satan, his angels and demons are real beings set on our destruction. Christians are warned to “Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:11-12).


We will consider the following:

Are demons real?

What was the origin of demons?

What are the symptoms of possession?

What causes possession?

Can a Christian be demon-possessed?

How do you get deliverance?


We saw that in contrast to angels, demons do not assume human form but instead desire to possess human bodies. The human is used as a host and the person is said to be possessed.

Luke 11:24 (ESV) “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person…”

Jesus speaks of an ousted demon gathering seven other wicked spirits, then returning to the human host “and they enter and dwell there” (Luke 11:26, ESV).


There are three generally accepted stages of demonic possession. While there is some overlap between the stages, there are distinct features in each stage. As the demon works its way into its host, it slowly takes control of the vessel. 1

The three stages of possession are:

Manifestation and Infestation


Full Possession

1 https:// paranormal/ The-Stages-of-Demonic-Possession


1. Manifestation and Infestation

Think of it as a form of haunting with the express idea of the demon introducing itself to the intended target through surreptitious means.

That could mean pretending to be the ghost of a lost little girl or a dead relative, or even coming through a Ouija board session or seance with the express purpose of breaking down your resistance.

The demon is seeking approval at this stage, approval to stay. It almost needs permission to begin to reveal its true self. It will slowly increase in tempo as the demon gains strength as the chosen individual loses theirs. 1

1 https:// paranormal/ The-Stages-of-Demonic-Possession


A person may suddenly become cold although the temperature remains constant. Animals may growl at something they see but others do not.

There may be poltergeist activity – This refers to a spirit which manifests its presence by making noises or moving furniture and objects.

Doors and drawers may open and close on their own. Electrical appliances may turn on or off. Lights might go off or not come on when turned on.

Knocking, banging or pounding may be heard throughout the house or in just one room. There may be knocks at the door but no one is ever there. People might hear their name called only to find that no one is around.


2. Oppression (vexation)

Now we move onto stage two: oppression. This is where the entity makes its true identity known and moves into full attack mode.

This can be physical, mental, and psychical in nature and is designed to break the affected person’s will to live. Sleep deprivation, increased paranormal activity, bites, scratches, and even sexual assaults may take place.

At this point, the victim may call in a psychic or paranormal investigation group. This can be dangerous if they do not know what they are dealing with and will often make things worse. 1

1 https:// paranormal/ The-Stages-of-Demonic-Possession


Some use the term vexation to specifically describe cases of people being physically attacked and the sudden appearance of marks such as bruises, bites or scratches.

But care must be taken before reaching any definite diagnosis as sometimes marks like these by claimed victims may be self-inflicted.

There may be mental attacks, such as persistent thoughts of evil racing through one’s mind.

Depression is often a symptom at this stage, and as the will and faith of the individual is reaching a breaking point, the demonic entity will move onto the third and final stage, possession. 1

1 Ibid.


3. Full Possession

In this final and most dangerous stage, the demon now has sufficient power and hold over the individual to “close the deal” so to speak.

Typically the person affected will have little to no self-worth, will, or faith left. The evil entity will be in control more often than not, and the influenced may well be hearing voices telling them to harm others or themselves. Manipulation is at an all-time high, and the very soul of the individual is at stake.

In the worst of cases, the demon may even have control of the host body like a parasite, which is really at the base level what a demon is. 1

1 Ibid.




How do you open yourself up to possession?

The Bible does not explicitly say what causes possession - only what causes re-possession. Simply being unsaved does not mean you can be possessed, or else all non-believers would be possessed. Even unbelievers seem to have some sort of natural protection against these beings.

Many believe that in order to be possessed, a gateway must be opened in the person, giving the demon some sort of legal claim to enter. Typically the person must be indulging in some sort of activity that attracts demons.

What are these gateways?


Scripture indicates that demons are the spiritual entities behind the idols that pagans worship. We are told that “the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons (Grk: daimoniois), not to God” (1 Cor 10:20). So it should not be surprising that involvement with idolatry could lead to demon possession.

Rev 9:20 (NIV) The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk.


The Hebrew “las-sedim” is “shade” or demon.

Deut 32:17-38 (NASB) They sacrificed to demons [las-sedim] who were not God, To gods whom they have not known, New gods who came lately, Whom your fathers did not dread.

These shades are synonymous with the demons.

Ps 106:36-38 (NASB) And served their idols, Which became a snare to them. They even sacrificed their sons and daughters to the demons [las-sedim]. And shed innocent blood, The blood of their sons and their daughters, Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; And the land was polluted with the blood.


We have noted that the Babylonians, Greeks and Romans worshipped the offspring of the “gods” and women. As these are simply pagan versions of the Watchers and Nephilim accounts of Genesis 6, these deities are the disembodied Nephilim – aka demons.

The word the Athenians (i.e. Greeks) used for divinities


was the same word used elsewhere in the NT of demons.

Acts 17:18 (ESV) … Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities [Greek: daimoniōn]”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.

The intertestamental Book of Jubilees agrees that there is a correlation between worshipping idols and seduction by evil spirits. (Mastema is likely the equivalent of Satan).

And they made for themselves molten images, and they worshipped each the idol, the molten image which they had made for themselves, and they began to make graven images and unclean simulacra, and malignant spirits assisted and seduced (them) into committing transgression and uncleanness. And the prince Mastema exerted himself to do all this, and he sent forth other spirits, those which were put under his hand, to do all manner of wrong and sin, and all manner of transgression, to corrupt and destroy and to shed blood upon the earth.

1 Jubilees 11:4-6


For this reason we must not indulge in any pagan idolatry:

1 Cor 10:14-22 (NIV) … flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ… Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?


Simply having an idol (for ornamental purposes) would not mean that you are liable to be possessed. However as demons may be attracted to these objects, it is not advisable to keep them. They could lead to some sort of oppression or infestation.

Deut 7:25–26 (NIV) The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the Lord your God. Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Regard it as vile and utterly detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.


Having an altered state of consciousness appears to reduce a person’s natural resistance to possession. This can be caused by:

Relaxation techniques, in particular those linked to eastern religion (like yoga or TM). At its roots, yoga originated from the worship of Hindu gods, with the various poses representing unique forms of paying homage to these entities.

Meditation (emptying the mind) – unlike Christian meditation.


Astral travel is the practice whereby the spirit voluntarily leaves the body to wander on the astral plane. The connection between the spirit and the body is retained by a lifeline which is termed “the silver cord”. Eccl 12:6-7, which refers to the separation of spirit and body at death, is often cited in this respect.

(NIV) Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, … and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

I knew someone involved in the occult who indulged in these intentional out-of-body experiences. They informed me that they had ceased to do so. When I inquired as to their reason for quitting, they recounted that on the last occasion they went onto the astral plane, 


 upon returning to their body they had the sensation that some entity was trying to enter their body and they had to struggle to prevent it. The incident was traumatic enough to prevent them from continuing with something they had formerly proclaimed to be an innocent pastime.

Another person who practices and advocates astral travel writes, “You can be delayed from getting back into your body, however, and you can be propositioned by a demon wanting to have a go at you. I’ve gotten back to my body to find a negative being standing there asking me if I was sure I wanted to go back. . After that I started protecting my entire bedroom while astral traveling… Call upon God or an angel to help you if you run into a demon gang.” 1

1 https:// blog/ 2006/ 12/ the-dangers-of-astral-projection


Hypnosis – where one willingly allows themselves to be in a state where there is an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion. Regression in particular exhibits symptoms similar to possession in producing false memories:

Age regression has become quite controversial inside and outside the therapeutic community, with many cases involving alleged child abuse, alien abduction and other traumatic incidents subsequently being discredited. 1

Past life regression is a technique that uses hypnosis to recover what practitioners believe are memories of past lives or incarnations. Once created, those memories are indistinguishable from memories based on events that occurred during the subject’s life. 2

1 https:// wiki/ Age_regression_in_therapy 2 https:// wiki/ Past_life_regression


Other high-risk behaviours for oppression/possession due to the fact that they induce an altered state of consciousness, lowering ones natural resistance to possession include:

Abuse of alcohol

Many drunks get delusional and report seeing hallucinations of rats, spiders, “pink elephants” and even figures they believe are demons.


Mind altering drugs

The Bible does not talk about drugs in the sense of our modern understanding with antibiotics, pain killers, and hallucinogenics, so we cannot definitively say that drugs cause demonic possession. But drugs, or more specifically the abuse of drugs where a person is enslaved to them and/or where they induce an altered state of consciousness, can affect a person sufficiently to contribute to demonic oppression and/or possession. We know this because of Scripture. 1

1 https:// can-drug-use-cause-demonic-possession


Gal 5:19-20 (NASB) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery [Gk. pharmakeia]…

The word for “sorcery” in Greek is “pharmakeía” from where the English word “pharmacy” is derived. Besides the its reference to sorcery or witchcraft, most reputable Greek dictionaries link the word to illicit drug use. E.g.

Strong’s Concordance (5331): pharmakeia: the use of medicine, drugs or spells; Usage: magic, sorcery, enchantment.

HELPS Word-studies: pharmakeía (from pharmakeuō, “administer drugs”) – properly, drug-related sorcery, like the practice of magical-arts, etc. (A. T. Robertson).


Thayer’s Greek Lexicon: a. the use or the administering of drugs (Xenophon…) b. poisoning (Plato, Polybius, others)… c. sorcery, magical arts…

Sorcery is the practice of using unbiblical means to foretell the future, summon spirits, cast spells, etc. It is associated with demonic activity in the Bible, is not permitted by God (Deuteronomy 18:10), and was punishable by death (Exodus 22:18). The reason it was so seriously rejected is that sorcery puts the person in contact with evil forces… Therefore, drug abuse, which is associated with sorcery in the Bible, can open a person up to demonic oppression that could ultimately lead to demonic possession. It doesn’t necessitate it, but it should be avoided. 1

1 Ibid.


Amulets, charms and healing crystals

Occultists believe that human beings, and the world in which we live, are permeated by invisible mystical energies. They believe that these energies can be focused and directed by “sacred stones”, such as crystals and other talismans, so as to induce physical healing and spiritual enlightenment. 1

1 https:// en/ questions/what-does-bible-say-about-crystals


According to the Guardian, in recent times interest in crystals has “deepened in so-called spiritual circles and among the business elite”.

…Naomi Campbell carries black tourmaline and a rose quartz in her handbag; before her shows, Victoria Beckham lines the catwalk with black obsidian in an attempt to ward off negative energy. Adele attributed her hiccups at last year’s Grammys to losing her beloved collection. The model Munroe Bergdorf wears crystals in her clothes, following a strict rotation that includes labradorite, fluorite, and selenite – “The ones that really help me in transitional periods and elevate my spirit,” she told Vogue. “The whole witchy vibe is what I’m all about.”


Although some view healing crystals as natural and harmless, I would caution against their use.

There is a potential link to oppression or infestation and crystals may attract unwanted visitors.

It does seem that the majority of proponents of crystal power are involved in New Age or overtly occult practices. The latter regard crystal healing to be benevolent or “white magic”.

Ezekiel issues a stern warning to the false prophetesses of Israel, who had adopted the pagan practice of wearing amulets, somewhat akin to the modern use of crystals. The Hebrew word “keseth” is rendered as magic charms (NIV, NKJV, NLT) or magic bands (ESV, NASB).


Ezekiel 13:30-21 (NIV) This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Woe to the women who sew magic charms [keseth] on all their wrists … I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds, and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds. I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power.”

As Christians we should avoid the use of all amulets or magic charms – this includes wristbands from sangomas which supposedly ward off evil or bring good luck.



According to Medical News Today “Reiki is a form of alternative therapy commonly referred to as energy healing. It emerged in Japan in the late 1800’s and is said to involve the transfer of universal energy from the practitioner’s palms to their patient. Energy healing has been used for centuries in various forms. Advocates say it works with the energy fields around the body.”


A Wikipedia article discussing the etymology of the word notes that:

… besides the usual Sino-Japanese pronunciation reiki, these kanji have an alternate Japanese reading, namely ryōge, meaning ‘demon; ghost’ (especially in spirit possession). 1

In December 2014, the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) Committee on Divine Worship noted in an article about exorcism that one of the cultural influences that might open a person to demonic possession “includes involvement in the practice of reiki”. I would agree with their diagnosis.

1 https:// wiki/ Reiki


Other practices which possibly lower one’s resistance to a demon attempting to enter are:

Dabbling in parapsychology - these are practices which define the supernatural as the untapped human potential. PSI, ESP (Extrasensory perception), telepathy, mind-control, remote viewing, levitation, psychokinesis)

Demons are attracted by blasphemy, sexual perversion, abuse and violence (whether the acts themselves or watching and listening to it in movies, music, internet sites, books etc).


There is a link to demons and the occult in the book of Enoch. It relates how the Watchers (the fathers of the Nephilim who became demons) revealed the following forbidden practices to mankind :

Barkayal taught the knowledge of astrology.

Samyaza (the leader of the Watchers) is credited with having taught men “enchantments, and root- cuttings”, a reference to the magical arts.

Armers taught the solution of sorcery.


If a person engages in occult activity, then points of contact with demonic entities can occur, making it more likely that they could be infiltrated by demons. Occult activity includes:

Divination: Fortune telling, tarot cards, clairvoyants, psychics, astrology – horoscopes

Necromancy: trying to consult the dead or spirit world using mediums, seances, Ouija boards

Witchcraft: the casting of spells, incantations, use of potions or charms, voodoo, consulting sangomas


The scriptural example of this is the Philippian slave girl who was a fortune-teller, but possessed by a spirit.

Acts 16:16 (NIV) Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.

When the spirit was cast out, she lost her powers – clearly indicating the source of her psychic ability.


Clairvoyants and mediums often claim to be in contact with a spirit guide, but the Bible calls it “a familiar spirit”, which is a demon posing as a benevolent spirit.

The word familiar is from the Latin familiaris, meaning a “household servant” and is intended to express the idea that sorcerers had spirits as their servants ready to obey their commands. Those attempting to contact the dead (necromancers) usually have some sort of spirit guide who communicates with them. 1

1 https:// familiar-spirits.html


Channelling is the act of allowing a spiritual entity to take control of your body and speak through you – using your body as a channel, supposedly to impart wisdom.

Demons act as spirit guides during Shamans rituals and occultic channelling.

At séances where an attempt is made to contact the dead, demons act as impersonating spirits – so called because they impersonate the deceased person.


A medium is one who acts as a liaison to supposedly contact or communicate with the dead on behalf of the living. They foolishly invite close contact with demons while they voluntarily relinquish full control of their faculties, entering a trancelike state in order to allow the impersonating spirit to speak through them.

Lev 19:31; 20:6, 27 and Deut 18:9-14 refer to “mediums and familiar spirits” and forbids being involved with them.

The impersonating spirits mislead people to believe that no matter how you live, all will be okay on the other side.

But another potential danger is that people open themselves up to potential vexation, oppression and possession by exposing themselves to demons.


Of course it is not just consulting fortune-tellers or clairvoyants that put people at risk of possession. Sangomas far outnumber western-style doctors in Southern Africa, and are consulted first (or exclusively) by approximately 80% of the Black population.


According to Wikipedia, “Some Sangomas have been known to abuse the charismatic power they have over their patients by sexually assaulting them, sometimes dressed up as ritual. Repeated use of the same razor blade to make incisions for Muti carries HIV transmission risks in regions where the disease is rife. Western-style doctors have seen a number of cases of patients with serious gastrointestinal problems through the use of Muti, especially in enema form, and have even coined the phrase ‘ritual enema induced colitis’”. 1

But there is another unintended side-effect you may get from a visit to one of these traditional healers – opening a gateway for demons to either oppress or possess.

1 https:// wiki/ Traditional_healers_of_South_Africa


What should you do to occult books and paraphernalia if you are saved?

Like the Ephesians, you should burn them.

Acts 19:19a (NIV) A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly.


What is shocking is that these were professing Christians.

Acts 19:18 (NIV) Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.

What is significant is that the above incident was prompted by the encounter of the sons of Sceva and their failed exorcism attempt of a demon-possessed man, who only recognized the authority of Jesus and Paul.

Despite the fact that they were valuable they burnt their occult paraphernalia; they did not throw it out, give it away or sell them.

Acts 19:19b (NIV) When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.


Merrill Unger believed that that “in the great majority of cases possession is doubtless to be traced to yielding voluntarily to temptation and to sin, initially weakening the human will, so that it is rendered susceptible to complete or partial eclipse and subjugation by the possessing spirit.”

Yet he notes that “it is scarcely possible to ascribe it in every instance as originating in such moral and responsible conduct; for Mark describes the case of the demonized boy as having been such ‘from a child’ (9:21)”. Thus in some cases, moral responsibility may be less, where the occult sins of the parents have rendered children susceptible.


Raised in Puerto Rico, the parents of former gang warlord, Nicky Cruz, practiced brujeria (Spanish-language word for witchcraft). Nicky suffered severe physical and mental abuse at their hands, at one time being declared the “Son of Satan” by his mother while she was in a spiritual trance.

Sent to New York at age 15, he became a member of the notorious Brooklyn street gang known as the Mau Maus by age 16. Within six months, he had risen through the ranks to become their warlord. Arrested countless times, a court-ordered psychiatrist pronounced Nicky’s fate as hopeless saying he was destined for “prison, the electric chair, and hell.” In his recorded testimony on YouTube, Nicky relates how he was not shocked when he heard David Wilkerson speak of demon-possession, because many in New York - including himself - were possessed.


Nicky indeed displayed many of the hallmarks of possession including extreme blood-lust, violence, substance abuse, night terrors along with open and rabid hostility to the gospel.

Due to the relentless efforts of David Wilkerson who disarmed Nicky by practically demonstrating God’s love, seemingly against all odds, Nicky converted to Christianity becoming a world-renowned evangelist and author.


While the Bible doesn’t spell out all the causes of possession, it does clearly indicate what causes re-possession. If demons are exorcised but the Spirit of God does not inhabit “the house” (or body) the host is described as having a house that is swept clean but empty.

Matt 12:43-45 (NIV) When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.

We need God in the person of Christ to occupy the house.


Christians need to live holy , set apart lives.

Rev 18:2-5 (NIV) With a mighty voice he shouted: “ ‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’ She has become a dwelling for demons and a haunt for every impure spirit…” Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “ ‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes…”

2 Cor 6:14-17 (NIV) Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.

Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

We need to avoid the practices we have just considered.


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