Can Christians be demon possessed? What about non-believers, can they be possessed and are some possessed today?
I cannot find one Scripture where a Christian was possessed by a demon or by Satan. Satan seemed to speak through Simon one time when Jesus rebuked Satan who was influencing what Peter was saying but Peter nor were any Christians in the Bible, including the Old Testament saints, every possessed by a demon or by Satan. We will look at several key passages to see why I can say that with authority.
Jesus Rebukes Peter’s Satanic Influence
Mark 8:32-33 “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Right after Jesus told the disciples that He was to suffer and die at the hands of the elders, scribes and chief priests after being rejected Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Him. Amazing, is it not? Peter rebuking Jesus Who is God! Peter didn’t want to believe that Jesus would have to suffer and die but like Satan in the temptation of Jesus who offered Him the kingdoms of the world (Matt 4) Peter wanted essentially the same thing. He wanted Jesus to begin His earthly rule now and to avoid the cross but this meant that we would all still be in our sins if Peter and the Devil had their way. That is why Jesus told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Peter was not thinking about the plan of salvation but about himself and wanting Jesus to stay and set up the kingdom right then and there. Peter was not being possessed of course but Peter was being influenced by Satan. Christians can be influenced or swayed by Satan and the demons and all believers have spiritual attacks but Satan is usually reserved for only those who threaten his kingdom of darkness the most. That is why Paul emphasized putting on the armor of God (Eph 6).
Jesus Rebukes the Demons
There are so many occurrences where Jesus rebukes the demons and it is usually because they were professing Who He for He had “healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him” (Mark 1:34).
Luke 4:33-36 “And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”
In verse 34 where it says “Ha! What have you to do with us” the literal translation of it is “Leave us alone! What do you have to do with us?” By their saying “What have you to do with us” meant that the demons did not want to be judged yet. We can see this in Luke 8 when Jesus cast out many demons called legion. A Roman Legion could have between 3,000 and 6,000 soldiers so the man that was possessed in Luke 8 could have had as many as 6,000 demons in him! These demons knew that their judgment day was coming and shuddered in fear “And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss” (Luke 8:31). That day will come but that day wasn’t their time yet.
Greater is He
In 1 John chapter 4 we see that John is warning the church to not fall for the teachings of the false prophets and here is how you can know if you encounter one, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 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 John 4:2-4). John, nor do any of the apostles in their writings warn a believer about being possessed. John is saying to the church then and for us today that God Who “is in you is greater than he who is in the world” which in the context of this chapter is saying, “Greater is God Who (by the Holy Spirit) is in you than he (Satan, demons) who is in the world.” There is no evidence in all of the Bible where an Old Testament saint or a New Testament saint was ever possessed. The Devil or his demons cannot dwell where God is and all believers have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit and since God is greater than he (or anyone) in the world, there is no fear of a believer being possessed. That is why John said that “you are from God and have overcome them,” with the “them” being the antichrist or the demons.
Nothing or No One Can Separate Us
When Paul was writing to the church at Rome he wrote “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39) and that is why “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom 8:37). Now when Paul says there are no rulers, no angels (fallen), no powers (Satan, demons, human, governmental), nor “anything else in all creation [that can] separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” this means there is nothing created that can ever separate us from God. By saying “anything…in all creation” this must include Satan and his demons for they were a creation of God also.
Can a Christian be demon possessed? No. Can a non-believer be possessed? Yes. If you are not saved then you are separated from God and have no power to resist the demonic attacks, satanic influence, or demon possession. Many today are presently possessed or heavily influenced and may not even know it. You are helpless without the Holy Spirit of God. That is not a good place to be because you will end up in the same place of torment and eternal separation from God someday that they will be at (Rev 20) and that day could come at any time (Heb 9:27). I urge you to repent today, confess your sins, and trust in Christ and it is as simple as it says in Romans 10:9-13: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How about you? How about now?
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon