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Can a Christian have a demon?

A couple of days ago, a blog reader raised a good question: “Can a Christian have a demon?” My quick and dirty response: Hey, Christians can have just about anything they want! If they want to invite demons to hang around and whisper suggestions, they can do that, just like they can invite the…
By Seth Barnes

A couple of days ago, a blog reader raised a good question: “Can a Christian have a demon?” My quick and dirty response: Hey, Christians can have just about anything they
want! If they want to invite demons to
hang around and whisper suggestions, they can do that, just like they can
invite them to go to hell.

The problem with the way this question is
often answered is that the answer may have nothing to do with either what the
Bible says or any actual experience. I’ve
heard Christians who wouldn’t have the first clue about what to do with a
demonized person give categorical answers (see my earlier blog). “No, Christians can’t have demons,”
they assert.

Well, what does that mean? Can they be tempted? Yes. Can they be seduced and lied to? Yes. Can they be troubled and tormented?

Yes.
That’s what demons do to people.
The real question is, “Can a demon control a Christian’s behavior like a
puppet?” That’s what people usually mean and the word they associate with that
behavior it is “possession” – the point of reference being the movie “The
Exorcist.”

M. Scott Peck has written some great stuff
on the subject, beginning with the classic overview of the problem of a
personal evil, People
of the Lie
and concluding with Glimpses
of the Devil
, which looks at the issue of possession. If you’re really interested in the subject, I’d
begin there.

It’s probably best to look at the issue as
one of degree of influence. Rather than
getting caught up in a conversation about semantics, recognize that we are all
influenced to one degree or another by demonic activity. Demons whisper lies and people listen to them
– that’s part of the natural order of things. The
more we dally in realms controlled by demons: drugs, criminal activity,
pornography, and violent video games for starters, the more we give them
permission to influence us. Check out 2 Peter 2 for a great description of where all this leads.

Ratchet up the time you spend in any of
these areas and you’ll open yourself to greater demonic influence. Pornography, for example. On a 100-point scale, you may start out at a
15 on the scale of demonic influence as a good Christian adolescent. Yes, you’re regularly tempted, but you
usually resist. Then as a college
student, hanging around your fraternity as a senior, you find yourself daily
looking at your friends’ Hustler magazine – you’ve jumped to a 50 on the
scale. It gets worse, after college, you
regularly frequent the nearby “Adults Only” store and unwittingly you’ve given
a demon of lust and his buddies significant access to your life – you’re at a
74 on the scale. The demon doesn’t even have to whisper anymore, he just nudges
you and you feel helpless to resist.

At that point you “have” a demon in same
sense that you’d have a good friend. And
to the degree that you’re easy prey for the demon, maybe it’s more accurate to
say he has you. Do you as a
Jesus-follower also have the Holy Spirit and the power to resist evil? Absolutely.
But demonic temptation is a fact of life for Christians as well as
non-Christians. You’re never completely out of the woods.

Also, check out the article “Sons of Sceva: Wielding true spiritual authority” for more on  what demons can do to Christians and people who think using the right words is all they need to do.

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