All that came or were brought to Lord Jesus were healed by Him and set free from control of the demonic spirits. But the Jewish people were chosen of the LORD God, then how could a demon take possession of their body and soul to harass them? In today’s scientific era also do demons exist and can they control someone, especially a believer? Lord Jesus had sent the disciples and the seventy followers with authority and power over demons, do we as believers have and need this authority?
Where do the demons come from? The question that is normally asked is how can a righteous and loving God create Satan and demons? After completion of all work of creation God inspected all of that and declared it ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31). On the seventh day God rested ‘from all His work which He had done’ (Genesis 2:2). God was not tired of His work, for everything happened at His command and in any case the Almighty God does not get tired. God rested for He had appointed a ruler over all the earth and all that was in it, man, and he was to work thereafter. God’s command to man and woman was to ‘fill the earth and subdue it’ by bringing all forces under their control (Genesis 1:28) and God was available to them for guidance for they had been given all the authority and power.
God created a covering cherub, perfect in wisdom and beauty, a great musician and covered with precious stones but he rebelled against God and wanted to be like God and became Satan (Ezekiel 28:12-15). The All-knowing God could have stopped before creating him but that would amount to punishment before any sin is committed and a righteous judge would not do that. He led a large company of angels with him to rebel against God and was expelled from heaven, but he was in the Garden of Eden. Satan and demons are fallen angels or evil spirits who are supernatural beings with their nature to do evil through any means including possession of a living being and lead them in opposition to God and His kingdom. They have no authority of their own except what is given by the affected person through disobedience to godly commands and sinful acts or from God. Satan and all demonic spirits are not outside God’s control and though no longer living in heaven, still have access to God.
Prophet Micaiah told Ahab, king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah, about the angels standing on the left and right of God’s throne and a lying spirit being sent to mislead prophets of Ahab (1 Kings 22:19-22). Those who stand on God’s right hand are blessed to eternal life while those on the left doomed to eternal damnation. The sons of God or angels ‘came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them’ to give report of their activities (Job 1:6). They are subject to God’s control and the devil on both occasions was given specific permission only for Job and his family. Though Job’s sons and daughters and all his wealth was taken, but his wife was not touched to fulfill God’s future plan for Job.
A thief would generally see everyone else with his own perception as a thief, who must be robbed of what he has. A third of angels were convinced by the devil for they saw the same evil in themselves and were convinced to rebel against God. Satan’s other argument for his rebellion would be that there is no possibility of perfect love in created beings. Adam and Eve failed in this test and Job’s testing did not fully settle the issue, for he failed in proving that true and perfect love is possible in man. Only God’s Son, Lord Jesus, proved that perfect and true love for God and for other created beings is possible in man and it was proved beyond any doubt. He was seen in heaven by all angels as God, the Word that created everything with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. But He gave it all up, to prove the devil’s lies, and put on the ‘finite nature’ of man on His ‘in finite Nature’ as God. Acting in total obedience to God the Father, He accepted the humiliation of scourging, mocking, spitting on the face, nakedness and finally even death on the cross like a common criminal while suffering heat of the sun (Philippians 2:5-8). His physical suffering caused such great damage that ‘His visage was marred more than any man’ beyond recognition (Isaiah 52:14).
God’s unimaginable love for mankind led to His Son becoming Man and the Son’s love for His creation led Him to the cross (John 3:16). Through His sufferings, Lord Jesus not only paid in full the condemnation that was our due for our sins but also earned the right to judge the devil and his accomplices on the Final Day. In the meanwhile God uses believers’ sufferings at the devil’s hand to test and strengthen their faith. If God has to immediately judge and punish Satan and the demons, then judgement must come on all of creation. God’s intention is clear, for He desires to give maximum chances to a wicked person to repent, ‘turn from his ways and live’ for God has ‘no pleasure in the death of the wicked’ (Ezekiel 33:11). The criminal on the cross realized the real identity of Lord Jesus and was assured eternal life for his repentance (Luke 23:42-43). Eventually all efforts of Satan will fail and he will have to face judgement before the White throne of Lord Jesus and only till then he is roaming free.
Can a believer be demon possessed? – Apostle Paul has defined our enemy, ‘We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places’ (Ephesians 6:12). These are spiritual forces that we cannot see, though they do use an individual as a front to attack us.
How do these forces attack us? – There are two aspects of any action, one spiritual, for a man is a spirit with heavenly connection and one physical/material, for body is of the earth. Thus one effect of sin is on the body in the form of disease and the other removal of protection from God due to break in fellowship with God. Sexual sin is considered one of the most grievous deeds for it affects the two individuals and their families but also God who loves us. King David, after his sin with Bathsheba, sought forgiveness from God that, ‘Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight’ whereas his sin had resulted in Uria, Bathsheba’s husband getting killed. Lord Jesus confirms His oneness with each believer, ‘I in them (believers) and You (God the Father) in Me’ (John 17:23). In this way God the Father, God the Son and a believer are one.
Apostle Paul clarifies that a believer is one with the Lord and sexual sin is joining into oneness with another person for ‘the two shall become one flesh’ (1 Corinthians 6:15-19). Thus a believer gets out of union with God and His protection and the demons or curses of the other person will have free access into the believer. The Apostle further clarifies that ‘every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body’ and the body being the temple of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the sin is against God. In this way a believer is likely to fall under the curse of demon possession and all resultant curses of that.
The question asked by the serpent from Eve was, ‘Has God indeed said’ (Genesis 3:1). A similar question was posed to Lord Jesus also by the devil, ‘If You are the Son of God’ (Matthew 4:3 &6). The attack is first on the mind by creating doubts about the Word of God and for this no possession is required. A believer who is leading a normal life, who is not going to reach out to others with the message of the Gospel is no threat to the devil and such a person generally will not be touched by the demonic forces except for training purposes of a new demon. Devil’s energies are directed towards those who are active workers of the heavenly kingdom.
A believer has the indwelling Holy Spirit and is least likely to be demon possessed but may definitely come under demonic control through evil thoughts, fear, anger and other emotions leading to sin. A friend’s God fearing daughter finished her nursing degree, passed the practicing exam for Canada and migrated there. She gained additional qualifications and landed a very well paying job. Her parents arranged her marriage with the son of a believer family; spent a huge amount on the marriage and finally the boy also migrated to Canada. He took up no job, lived off his wife for a while and then temptation came to leave his wife and live independently. The girl respected his decision and packed and gave him all the gifts and new things that she had bought for him and he left the house. He lost a loving wife who was financially, socially, psychologically and spiritually supporting him and his parents and was willing to help him set up something of his choice. The devil puts thoughts in the mind that you will be better off independent and makes us suffer.
Second way is by inflicting some physical ailment or loss of property or sickness of a family member to test our faith. Job was tested in this manner with permission from God. Sickness may also be the result of our own sinful deeds and may not always be from the devil. Even God may use this to lead us back to Him. God can never be tempted by evil nor does he do this with a believer (James 1:13). The Holy Spirit departed from King Saul due to his continuous disobedience of God and a distressing spirit from God troubled him (1 Samuel 16:23). God does this to lead us to repentance and submission to His Divine authority. Continuous life of sin will definitely lead to affliction by the devil and his forces for God would permit that.
However, a believer may suffer the effects of sins committed by his ancestors that turn into generational curses. Science has proved that degenerative changes in human DNA occur due to life style of the parents and children are affected as a result. Worship of any other thing or a created being, and not the Living God, results in a curse that carries on till four generations and may continue when someone in line again commits the same sin (Deuteronomy 5:9). Also sins may be pronounced by others or by parents on their children inadvertently by speaking evil against them.
The first emotion after the sin is fear and ‘do not be afraid’ is mentioned in the Scripture innumerable times (Genesis 3:10). Joshua, who had been with Moses for forty years as his assistant was told this repeatedly, first by God Himself and then by the Israelites. God promised to be with him, ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go’ (Joshua 1:9). The same promise has been given to all believers by Lord Jesus, ‘I am with you always, even to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20). Despite all this we get filled with fear for this is the strongest emotion after love and Satan uses this fully to lead us away from our faith and a loving God, who is ever ready to help.
How can a believer escape demonic control/affliction? Most important is to never ever try and experiment with things that deal with spirits or mediums for demons are powerful spirits and engaging with them is seeking avoidable trouble. May fun games, like Ouija boards, if indulged in may lead to demonic possession and control. Apostle Peter’s advice is clear, ‘Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him steadfast in the faith’ (1 Peter 5:8-9). First, adequate care and sobriety and second, identifying the enemy and finally, resist him in faith are essential protective steps.
In any battle protection is very important after being watchful and our God has given us His weapons to do this. Apostle Paul the great warrior has listed out these weapons to firstly withstand the devil and then stand, firm in faith.
First is the belt of truth, that all weapons attached to the belt are used in truth, the battle is for and in the power of truth, that is God. Second, breastplate of righteousness which is not ours but the righteousness of the Risen Lord and protects all our vital organs including heart and desires. Third, is shoes of the Gospel of peace, to be in faith as also to enlist others with the message of salvation. Fourth, shield of faith to quench the devil’s arrows of lies and another soldier of God, King David, defines God Himself as his ‘strength and shield and refuge’ (Psalm 28:7-8). He then assures us that God surrounds us all around as a shield to protect us (Psalm 5:12). Fifth, the helmet of salvation, the assured salvation received by every ‘child of God’ in faith and our mind is protected from the devil planted evil thoughts. Also the ears are protected against the lies whispered by the evil forces. Sixth, is the ‘sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God’. This sword is used for self examination, repentance and seeking forgiveness and on the other hand for fighting the distortion of the word of and lies of the devil. Seventh, is prayer in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit prays for us as per the ‘will of God’ and God knows the ‘mind of the Spirit. We pray in Spirit as led, and our prayers then come in conformity with God’s will and this also becomes our protection and a weapon to fight the devil.
Apostle James, Lord Jesus’ brother and head of the church in Jerusalem, has given the answer to escape the devil and his evil forces, ‘Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you’ (James 4:7-8). The closer we are to God through daily prayer and fellowship, the stronger is His protection and strengthening for us. Devil will try and tell you that it is impossible to challenge him and discourage you to even think about it and that is when he rules and we surrender to him.
God’s command about the Forbidden Fruit was to protect mankind from the knowledge and then curiosity to experiment with evil to be finally ruled by that. The fall of a righteous person may not be sudden but through small and insignificant compromises made daily. At no stage God who is love, will desire His children to be manipulated by evil and uncontrollable passions of the flesh. Satan did tempt the Son of God but failed since Lord Jesus chose to be led by the Holy Spirit. Who do we want to lead and guide us for we shall then draw and give authority to that!