Deliverance – Can a Christian be possessed?

There is divided opinion within NCMI as to whether a Christian can be possessed by a demon.  Within the church that I went to, the doctrine was officially addressed by the eldership and rejected, but this did not stop the congregants from continuing the practice of delivering Christians from demonic bondage.
After the rejection of the doctrine certain elders decided to carry on the practice within the church. The rest of the eldership objected to it and said anyone that exclusively attends their church is forbidden from being delivered. The elders that where for the practice instructed people to attend the church only in the morning and another NCMI relating church in the evening. This way they where not exclusively attending the one church and could still be delivered and indeed perform deliverance.
As you can image this caused a substantial split within the church and after some time it appears that all the elders have now agreed that Christians can be possessed by demonic forces.

What argument do they offer in defence?

When I have approached people about the biblical basis of such a belief I always seem to get the same defence in return. It is a defence that is not based on scripture, but it appears to be all they can offer.
According to them a person is like a glass or cup. If they are free from demons then they are empty. If they are possessed then they will contain stone a various sizes ranging from small pebbles to large stone. These stones represent the demons.
When someone receives salvation it is like the glass is being filled up very rapidly with water (the indwelling Spirit of God). The smaller stones are dislodged and washed out of the glass and the larger ones remain.
So according to their illustration, the Holy Spirit has a limited effect on some of the more powerful demons.

How does this belief affect a Christian?
Everyone that I met that holds to this belief have one thing in common. They believe that they are not responsible for any, or very little of the sin that they commit. They believe that the only way that they can stay sin-free is to be delivered regularly. I can’t help but place connections here again with the Roman Catholic practice of confession. I am sure that I am not the only one that sees the parallel.

Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust” (James 1:13,14).

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these” (Gal. 5:1921)

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness” (Mark 7:21,22)

Well is it biblical or not?
I have to say that it is not. Demons can oppress, attack, and tempt from the outside, but Scripture is clear that a demon cannot indwell a believer and control him.

You, as a Christian become the Temple of the Most High; your body is the residence of the Holy Spirit. It belongs to Him, not to us or the devil, or any form of demonic power.

Titus 2:14 says that Christ redeemed us to be “a people for His own possession.” We are God’s property. To say that the devil can live in the body of believers makes nonsense of what the Scripture teaches:

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

The “He” is God, and He is greater than “he” that is in the world who is the devil. To say that a Christian can be possessed is blasphemous to the Holy Spirit, because is lowers his Sovereignty. Even to the point where he can’t deal fully with the servants of the devil without the help of men who perform deliverance. If the Holy Spirit is greater than the devil, then is He not greater that any demonic power that possesses you.

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12 comments

  1. “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit” – Acts 5:3

    While I believe Christians can not be possessed by demons it is clear that they can open the door to demonic influence. Acts 5:3 shows that Satan had filled the heart of Ananias. While Christians cannot blame the devil for their sin (as scripture also clearly teaches), it appears that we can allow Satan to gain a foothold (Ephesians 4:27 & 1 Peter 5:8).

  2. I have to say that it is not. Demons can oppress, attack, and tempt from the outside, but Scripture is clear that a demon cannot indwell a believer and control him.

    As you can see from the quote above I agree with you. Thanks for your comments.

  3. This separation between possession and oppression is common within the charismatic circles [Anglican and Vineyard] that I have moved in. Pentecostals [from my experience] frequently don’t separate the two. Every Anglican diocese has a staff exorcist but from my knowledge they are not kept very busy.

    I agree with your scriptural basis but it is implicit rather than explicit from scripture – ie logically deduced rather than specifically expressed. Much of our theology is implicit, in fact.

    What you raise is the more significant issue in my mind and that is responsibility and abdication of responsibility within a believer. This is especially relevant to abusive accountability relationships where the person abdicates responsibility for their actions [which I believe is implicit within scripture] to another person who tells them what to do or, in this case, ‘delivers’ them from the satanic oppression or possession.

    Regardless of whether someone is oppressed or possessed they can be pretty screwed up. However, stirring up a hornets nest of demons but not ‘kicking butt’ and getting rid of them all in one go sounds like downright stupid and dangerous to me.

    There is one passage where the disciples attempted and failed to kick the demons out or off someone and Jesus remarked that those sort of demons only come out with prayer and fasting. There is no record of repeated deliverance in scripture.

    What I do observe is some people seem to like the attention of ‘going forward’ and being prayed for/delivered. It seems to me that they ought to be delivered from ‘attention seeking disorder’ rather than demons!

  4. Has anyone connected to this blog read healing through deliverance by peter horrobin? I had a Christian friend who was delivered from demons on two occasions and has been changed ever since. He sent me these books to read. It seems pretty legitimate, considering the logic that once a person is set free, the only way they can become possessed/oppressed is through invitation by unconfessed sin. any thoughts?

  5. OK, then what is the bible say on a Christian being delivered. You said the book was legitimate so what legitimate biblical knowledge does it shed on Christian deliverance?

  6. Christians have the Cross.. It is finished.. nothing in my eyes needs to be added to what Jesus has already done for us. Chrisitans have Jesus.. that’s it. I honestly believe once you accept Jesus as your Lord and saviour you are delivered full stop! I immediately lost my desire to get drunk when I came to Jesus.

    There is nothing we can add to what Jesus did. He paid such a dear price to set us free and we christians go and complicate things. I do believe that some can be oppressed but no possessed. You have the holy spirit.. you can’t have the holy spirit and a demon.. that doesn’t make sense.. it’s either … or.. I have come across christians who have been oppressed, loss of sleep, fear, depression that is oppression and one can pray for them. I prayed for a man who was oppressed and what ever it was left him.

    Oppression and possession I think are two different things totally!

    Then we have a choice in our own actions.. we can be tempted but then we choose, pray and lean on God.

  7. Oppression comes when people forget what Jesus did for us on the cross. The power of his name and the power of the bible, prayer etc. The blood of Jesus needs to be remembered. There is so much freedom in what He did for us.

  8. There is no distinction made in the bible between oppression or possession. The greek word refers to influence (if my memory serves me correctly) and its fairly obvious that what you yield to, has influence over you. God – good, devil – bad.

    I’d like to share my experience but that won’t get us anywhere. If you have not read ‘They shall expel demons’ by Derek Prince – its worth a read. You might not agree with everything he says – ok, you won’t agree with everything he says, but he looks at the oppression/possession stance and as a greek scholar, shares much light.

    That glass and pebbles explanation is awful. Crumbs – get into bible!

  9. There is a difference between being totally possessed or demonized.. The devil influenced the heart of judas… but he was not possessed… not in my eyes.. demonised.. influenced, yes.. Thank you for telling us to get into our bibles… i agree.. now can I give you some advice.. Pray!!! pray for truth. coz both go hand in hand 🙂

  10. That has been such an eye opening for me and I thank God for that light that shines through you today and for ever. The clarity of these two elements was made to the last degree of the truth and nothing else but the truth. We truly misunderstand the word of God and complicate things to suit us and the world, which to me is temporary and not everalsting truth. Jesus said: I am the way the truth and life, so how can we fail when we know the way, the truth and the verlasting lijfe. We fail because we made a wrong choice.
    Remain blessed!

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