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Sermon No: 64309-Can a Christian be demon-possessed


SERMON TOPIC: Can a Christian be demon-possessed

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 9 February 2020


Sermon synopsis: Some started teaching many years ago that Christians can be demon-possessed. This false doctrine is unbiblical and implies that demons are more powerful than Christ indwelling the Christian. The Bible says that the one who indwells believers is greater than any other spirit.
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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?




Can demons possess a child?

Yes. We have 2 cases in the NT.

the boy who took seizures:

Matt 17:18 (NIV) Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy

Mark 9:21 (NIV) Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered.

the daughter of the Syro-Phoenician woman:

Mark 7:30 (NIV) She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.


Can they possess an animal?

Yes. In the case of Legion, after leaving him the demons entered the herd of swine, who subsequently went berserk and became self-destructive.

Spirit guides associated with mediums are often said to assume the form of an animal (e.g. a companion cat or raven).


Can they possess or attach themselves to an object?

Demons are associated with objects like idols but do they possess them?

Occult practices may attract evil spirits, and, since certain objects are used in those practices, it might seem that the demons are attracted to the objects; however, this does not mean the demons are in the objects. It is the occult activity itself that attracts them. When people who have been involved in the occult come to Christ, they are often advised to get rid of their occult books and objects, not because the objects have demons in them, but because the books and objects would be a source for future temptation. 1

1 https:// demons-objects.html


Can a Christian be possessed?

Some started teaching many years ago that Christians can be demon-possessed. This false doctrine is unbiblical and implies that demons are more powerful than Christ indwelling the Christian. The Bible says that the one who indwells believers is greater than any other spirit.

1 John 4:4 (ESV) Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1

1 NOTE: In context, the “spirit of antichrist” being talked about in 1 John 4:1-6 is a reference to doctrine or possibly the spirit that inspires the prophet. But “he who is in the world” is generally believed to be reference to Satan, the ruler of this world.


We saw that there are three generally accepted stages of demonic possession.

Manifestation and Infestation


Full Possession – Only unbelievers

While a believer can be oppressed (demon attacking from the outside) they cannot be possessed (demon inside).

According to GotQuestions “in all the New Testament passages dealing with spiritual warfare, there are no instructions to cast a demon out of a believer (Ephesians 6:10-18). Believers are told to resist the devil (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9), not to cast him out.” 1

1 https:// Christian-demon-possessed.html


What is the view of the Assemblies of God?

The Assemblies of God believes it is possible for people to be demon possessed and be delivered by the “power of the Spirit, and the name of Jesus”. However, it cautions against overemphasis on demonology and rejects the belief that Christians can be possessed by evil spirits. 1

Luke 11:21,22 further implies that Jesus has bound Satan as far as Satan’s power to enslave a believer is concerned. Only when a demon returns and finds the house empty is he able to re-enter (Luke 11:24–26). 2

1 https:// wiki/ Assemblies_of_God_USA 2 https:// Beliefs/ Position-Papers/ Demon-Possession


An official A/G position paper entitled “Can Born-again Believers Be Demon Possessed?” states:

It seems evident that the term possessed should not be applied to true believers. What the Bible does show is that Satan and his cohorts are external foes. We are in a warfare against Satan’s forces and they are looking for opportunities to attack us. (See Eph 6:12.) The biblical emphasis is on what we must face in the very atmosphere around us. The call is never for us to get someone to cast the demons out of us. They are out there attacking us, testing us, not possessing us. The call is to be vigilant and to put our armour on and take our stand (2 Cor 10:3–6; Eph 6:10–18; 1 Pet 5:8,9). 1

1 https:// Beliefs/ Position-Papers/ Demon-Possession


That the attack is external is seen in the case of Job; and also case of Paul’s thorn in the flesh, which he called a messenger (or angel—Greek angelos) of Satan sent to buffet him (beat or strike him with the fist). (See 2 Cor 12:7.) Paul besought the Lord three times that it (the messenger of Satan) might be removed (more literally, “Keep away from him”), but God refused and said His grace was sufficient. The result was that Paul learned to depend on God in his weakness, reproach, or distress. Whether the messenger of Satan was a demon, a sickness, or a person, the Bible does not say. Just what it was, however, is beside the point here. The attack, the buffeting, was from the outside, and Paul sought for it to be kept away, not cast out. 1

1 https:// Beliefs/ Position-Papers/ Demon-Possession


Some refer to Christians who are under a demonic influence as being “demonized” and try argue that the Greek word used in the Bible conveys a different idea to demon possession.

But none of the Greek concordances or study helps support this notion:

Strong’s Concordance (ref: 1139) defines daimonizomai as a verb meaning “to be possessed by a demon”.

HELPS Word-studies says “demonized, i.e. coming under the power of a demon”.


Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says it refers to “whose bodies in the opinion of the Jews demons had entered, and so held possession of them as not only to afflict them with ills, but also to dethrone the reason and take its place themselves; accordingly, the possessed were accustomed to express the mind and consciousness of the demons dwelling in them; and their cure was thought to require the expulsion of the demon.”


According to GotQuestions:

With the strong biblical evidence that a Christian cannot be demon possessed in view, some Bible teachers use the term “demonization” to refer to a demon having control over a Christian. Some argue that while a Christian cannot be demon possessed, a Christian can be demonized. Typically, the description of demonization is virtually identical to the description of demon possession. So, the same issue results. Changing the terminology does not change the fact that a demon cannot inhabit or take full control of a Christian. Demonic influence and oppression are realities for Christians, no doubt, but it is simply not biblical to say that a Christian can be possessed by a demon or demonized. 1

1 https:// Christian-demon-possessed.html


Believers have nothing in common with darkness or Satan. The Holy Spirit and a demonic spirit cannot cohabit in the same person.

2 Cor 6:14-16 (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 ? … What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.


Jesus and evil spirits have no business together.

Matt 8:29 (NASB) And they cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God?”

Demons are driven out by the Spirit of God.

Matt 12:28 (NIV) But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

And we have the Holy Spirit inside us.

1 Cor 3:16 (ESV) Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?


When Jesus simply came into the presence of those who were demon possessed they started screaming and begging him for mercy.


What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God! [Mark 1:24, NIV]

Other Charismatic deliverance ministries teach that although a Christian cannot have demons in their spirit because the Holy Spirit lives there, they can have demons in their body or soul due to inner emotional wounds, sexual abuse or satanic ritual abuse. This is known as partial possession… 1

But the Scripture teaches that as Christians our “bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19).

The “house” of the person (the body) can only have one of three conditions: inhabited by demons, uninhabited, or inhabited by the Spirit of God.

1 https:// wiki/ Demonic_possession


As in English, the Greek word for spirit (pneuma) and the Hebrew (ruach) are multi-faceted words meaning different things depending on the context. 1 They can refer to:

spiritual beings (God, angels, demons)

the human spirit



attitudes, thoughts or emotions

atmosphere (as in mood, tone or the modern slang “vibe”)

Yet some naively view any reference to “spirit” as being a spiritual being.

1 cf. https:// Appendix/ 6/ bb


For example, the “different spirit” referred to below is not a demon any more than “another Jesus” in the verse is. It is another false gospel which brings bondage.

2 Cor 11:4 (ESV) For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

Some teach that since the Bible speaks of a spirit of cowardly fear, any deliverance from fear must be by the casting out of an evil spirit or demon of fear.

2 Tim 1:7 (NKJV) For God has not given us a spirit of fear


An examination of the same passage shows it speaks also of a spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind.

2 Tim 1:7 (NKJV) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

If people interpret fear to be an evil spirit needing to be cast out, to be consistent they would need to beseech three good spirits to come in. The fallacy of this reasoning is obvious. Love and self-control are fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives. By a spirit of love and of self-control is meant the attitudes that result from our cooperation with the Holy Spirit. 1

2 Tim 1:7 (NIV) For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

1 https:// Beliefs/ Position-Papers/ Demon-Possession


Actually, the word spirit in many cases means an attitude or a disposition. 1

David spoke of a broken spirit (Ps 51:17); Solomon of a humble spirit (Prov 16:19).

Paul wanted to come to Corinth, not with a rod, but with love and a meek or gentle spirit (1 Cor 4:21).

Peter spoke of the adorning of the heart with the imperishable gift of a meek and quiet spirit (1 Pet 3:4), actually meaning a quiet disposition.

This is in line with the frequent use of the word spirit for one’s own spirit and its expressions (Hag 1:14; Acts 17:16; 1 Cor 2:11, etc.). 1

1 https:// Beliefs/ Position-Papers/ Demon-Possession


Thus, unless the context shows that an independent spirit-being is meant, it seems best to take most phrases such as a haughty spirit, a hasty spirit, a spirit of slumber, a spirit of jealousy, etc., to be sins of the disposition or lusts of the flesh (Galatians 6), and not demons. 1

A serious danger in considering all these sins of the disposition to be demons is that the individual may feel no responsibility for personal actions and feel that the necessity for repentance is removed. Actually, the Bible calls people to repent of these things and to put off these attitudes. The great conflict within us is not between the Holy Spirit and demons, but between the indwelling Holy Spirit and the flesh (that is, all the sensory apparatus that tends toward sin). 1

1 Ibid.


Being downhearted at times is not indicative that a believer is possessed.

Even the prophet Elijah, after his great victory over the prophets of Baal, was disillusioned and depressed when Jezebel wanted to kill him (1 Kings 19).

Nicky Cruz notes that “just as oppression is not the same as possession, so oppression is not the same as depression”. 1

1 “The Devil Has No Mother: Why he's Worse than You Think - but God is Greater”


John Todd (1949-2007) maintained that simply listening to rock music (even with Christian lyrics) would cause possession. Jack Chick’s comic book Spellbound features Todd under his pseudonym Lance Collins. The book claims that the entire rock music industry is controlled by witches, who cast spells on the master tapes to cause evil spirits to follow all the recordings thus produced, resulting in kids becoming demon possessed by listening to rock and roll. Todd claimed to have started Christian Rock as part of the Illuminati’s plan to infiltrate the churches with the Satanic beat by giving a $8 million check from Illuminati HQ to Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel.


In 1972 Todd became associated with a Jesus Movement coffeehouse. Allegations surfaced that he had been making sexual advances toward young women there, was incorporating witchcraft teachings into his Bible studies, carrying a handgun into church meetings, and using drugs. In addition, he impregnated his wife’s teenage sister. Todd was dismissed from the coffeehouse ministry. 1

Todd falsely claimed to have served as a Green Beret in the Vietnam War. In 1974, while still claiming to be a Christian, he moved to Dayton, Ohio, opened an occult bookstore and began recruiting for a Wiccan coven. In 1988 he was convicted in South Carolina on charges of rape and sentenced to 30 years in a prison. On his release in 2004 he was placed in a psychiatric facility, where he died in 2007. 1

1 SOURCE: https:// wiki/ John_Todd_(conspiracy_theorist)


Dr. Rebecca Brown is the author of “He Came to Set the Captives Free” and “Prepare For War”, both stories about someone named Elaine she supposedly rescued from Satanism.

Brown claims that “many children’s toys are actually statues of demon gods… designed to lead children into contact with demon spirits.”

Her premise is that most Christian’s problems stem from unbroken demonic curses of poverty, calamity, temptation, misfortune and struggle. These are placed on them through inheritance, trespassing on the devil’s territory, breaking vows to God, or forgetting a sin and failing to confess it.


We serve a God of new beginnings. Jesus doesn’t half-save people. According to Col 2:14, Jesus cancelled the debt and the record completely. There are no legal demands on us!

(NASB) … having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

When you are a Christian, your past does not dictate your future. Neither do the sins of your family. You are a new creation in Christ:

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.


Jesus gives abundant life, not a life with residual curses from the past.

John 10:10 “…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36). Not “half- free”, “almost there” but FREE INDEED.


Like John Todd and Mike Warnke, 1 Brown has been proved to be fraudulent in terms of several discrepancies in her testimony. 2 Among her more bizarre claims is that Elaine married Satan himself, who wore a white tuxedo and rented a Presbyterian church for the ceremony. The newlyweds were subsequently taken by limousine to the airport to board Satan’s luxurious private jet.

She had her medical license revoked by the state of Indiana for a repeated pattern of misdiagnosing serious illnesses as “demonic possession” and for inappropriately prescribing large doses of narcotic drugs to her patients, including to Elaine.

1 In 1972 Warnke released his book “The Satan Seller” which became a religious best-seller. But his claims of having been a Satanist high priest were discredited in 1991 by the Christian magazine, Cornerstone.


The phrase “pneuma astheneias” (spirit of infirmity) is used in the account of the woman with curvature of the spine or sclerosis.

Luke 13:11 (NKJV) And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.

Jesus referred to her as someone “whom Satan has bound” (v. 16) yet Jesus calls her “a daughter of Abraham.” Some claim this to be a clear case of a demon working within a believer.


However, it is unclear whether “daughter of Abraham” indicated a believer or only that she was – by virtue of birth – part of the Jewish race.

Jesus could also have been simply pronouncing her future destiny as a liberated believer.

Furthermore this is possibly not a case of possession:

Jesus “laid his hands on her” (13:13) which he never did in other cases of possession.

Unlike his other exorcisms, Jesus does not address any demon and command it to come out; his actions are more similar to when he prayed for healing.

This might have been a case of oppression rather than full-blown possession.


Acts 5:3 clearly states that Satan filled the heart of Ananias (a professing believer) to cause him to lie to the Spirit. The word “fill” is the same as used in Ephesians 5:18 of the filling of the Spirit.

But Satan is a fallen angel, not a demon – and he does not possess people in the same sense that a demon does. Earlier he was able to influence what Peter said without the apostle being possessed.

Matt 16:22-23 (ESV) And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”


In the case of Paul’s thorn in the flesh, which he called a messenger (or angel – Greek angelos) of Satan sent to buffet him (2 Cor 12:7).

If you honestly believe this was possession, you’d have to admit that as God never answered Pauls’ request to remove the thorn – that half of the New Testament was written by someone who was demon-possessed.

There are only three options regarding a person who is possessed, while claiming to be a Christian:

They may be a Christian in name only (what we call a nominal Christian) who was never truly born again.

1 John 2:19 (NIV) They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us…


They might not be possessed at all and are mistaking a carnal habit for a demon.

1 Cor 3:1-23 (ESV) But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ…

Like Saul, they might be a former believer, who have apostatised from the faith.

1 Tim 4:1 (ESV) Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons


Some object that they know of a Christian who was, or is possessed. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is a Christian. If they are possessed, then they were not truly born-again or they are apostates.

According to GotQuestions: It is crucially important, though, that we do not allow personal experience to influence our interpretation of Scripture. Rather, we must filter our personal experiences through the truth of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Seeing someone whom we thought to be a Christian exhibiting the behaviour of being demonized should cause us to question the genuineness of his/her faith. It should not cause us alter our viewpoint on whether a Christian can be demon possessed / demonized. 1

1 https:// Christian-demon-possessed.html


In the case of King Saul, a former believer who apostatized, we read that “the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.” (1 Sam 16:14, NIV)

Note the sequence; the Spirit of God first left before the evil spirit could torment him.




Nicky Cruz writes that he is “often asked if Christians can be possessed by demons.”

The answer is no. As believers, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and he will not share space with unholy spirits. Only people who have never yet trusted in Christ, or who have renounced him and walked away from him, are susceptible to being possessed. Christians can, however, be oppressed by demons. Rather than being inhabited on the inside by demons, we are attacked by them from the outside.” 1

1 “The Devil Has No Mother: Why he's Worse than You Think - but God is Greater”


Demons are also 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).

Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 240 AD) relates the story of a Christian woman who went to the Roman theatre – where people slaughtered and maimed one another as a form of entertainment for the masses – and “came back possessed”.

Why may not those who go into the temptations of the show become accessible also to evil spirits? We have the case of the woman – the Lord Himself is witness – who went to the theatre, and came back possessed. 


When the unclean creature was reprimanded for having dared to attack a believer, it replied that “I found her in my domain.” Tertullian cautions his Roman readers:

How many other undoubted proofs we have had in the case of persons who, by keeping company with the devil in the shows, have fallen from the Lord! For no one can serve two masters. What fellowship has light with darkness, life with death? 1

The point is that the woman had “fallen from the Lord” and then placed herself in a situation which made her vulnerable. Like Saul, the Spirit of God had departed before the evil spirit could trouble her.

1 Ibid.


A man in the Corinthian church was committing sexual immorality, and they were instructed to “hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord” (1 Cor 5:5, NIV). It is also applied to apostates:

1 Tim 1:19-20 (ESV) … some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

These cases do not imply possession, simply that the protective hedge around a believer - referred to in Job – is now removed and oppression is possible (without permission from God). Yet in both cases the process still appears to be restorative – not punitive - to “save his soul” and “that they may learn not to blaspheme”.


Jesus made a statement that has troubled many:

Matt 7:22-23 (NIV) “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not… in your name drive out demons ...’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you…’”

As Jesus taught elsewhere that Satan doesn’t drive out demons (or his kingdom is divided), do the people referred to here use the power of God to exorcise? If so, why would Jesus say “I never knew you”?

The claim to drive out demons came from these people themselves and was not confirmed by Jesus. I believe that this refers to fake deliverance ministries “driving out” demons that aren’t there. This is confirmed by the fact that those non-Christians who invoked Jesus’ name to drive out a real demon (the sons of Sceva) got a severe beating.


1 John 3:8b The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

In the context of driving out demons, Jesus made it clear that the strong man is bound by someone stronger and that his house is plundered.

Luke 11:20-22 (NIV) “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armour in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.”


Saying that a Christian can be demon-possessed overstates Satan’s power and minimises the work of Jesus on the cross. Those who have trusted Christ have been delivered from curses and the possibility of demonic possession.

Eph 2:1-2 (NASB) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked … according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

Believers do not live under the authority of the power of darkness anymore.

Col 1:13-14 (NASB) He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.


Salvation brings deliverance and protection from Satan.

Rom 8:37-39 (ESV) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither … angels [angeloi] nor rulers [archai] … nor powers [dynameis] … will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Cor 15:57 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 2:13 says we “have overcome the evil one”. How can we accept these glorious truths, yet believe demons can indwell genuine believers?



Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http://

Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV: Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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