Can a Christian Have A Demon?
By Tom Pillsbury
In this paper I would like to examine two related but slightly different questions. First, can a Christian have a demon, and, second, is deliverance ministry to Christians valid?
First, let us examine what the word demonization means. Look at Matthew 4:24.
24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them.
The Greek word daimonizomai which is translated here as demon-possessed is more accurately translated demonized (NASB) or under the influence of a demon. The concept that demonization means total control by a demon is beyond the scope of its meaning. In Mark 5:6, even the Gadarene man who had a legion of demons ran from a distance toward Jesus while his demons feared being tormented by Jesus. Also, the meaning of daimonizomai does not indicate whether the demons were inside or outside the person.
In Matthew 10:8 Jesus commanded His disciples to cast out demons. This implies that their location is sometimes inside a person. Can a Christian have a demon inside him? I donít know of any Scriptures which definitively answer this question. Jesus ministered deliverance to many people, often as part of healing their bodies. But believers were not called Christians until after Jesusí ascension into heaven.
Now lets examine two passages written from the apostle Paul to Timothy.
1 Timothy 1:18-20
18 Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. 20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.
Hymenaeus and Alexander had faith. Paul did not say they were never real Christians, rather that they had shipwrecked their faith. As Christians, they had been deceived into blaspheming.
Possibly the same Hymenaeus is also mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:17.
2 Timothy 2:17-18
17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.
Whatever Hymenaeusí specific sin was, Paul was concerned enough about the damage it was causing to hand him over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. Once Paulís spiritual protection over him had been reduced to provide Satan access to him, it was very likely Hymenaeus would come under the influence of demons. That is what made Paulís action a punishment for his sins. Satan or his demons would likely act against Hymenaeus at their first opportunity. Paulís words also show that he believed the enemyís actions against Hymenaeus would teach him to turn from his specific sin. Paul hoped for a redemptive result from this disciplinary action. If Hymenaeus, who was a Christian, repented, would deliverance ministry from other mature believers help a weakened brother return to freedom?
Now look at Romans 6:15-18
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Donít you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obeyówhether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
Here Paul writes to Christians that yielding to temptation to sin to the point of offering ourselves to it leads to slavery to sin. Slaves have lost the ability to freely choose their actions. When temptations come through demons they gain influence as they are obeyed. Satan gained influence when Adam and Eve obeyed him. Freedom from sin comes through obeying God. If a Christian falls into sin to such an extent that he consistently serves the sin in obedience to demonic pressure against him, would deliverance ministry from mature Christians help him?
During Jesusí ministry and the ministry of His disciples, many people were physically healed by deliverance from demons who were afflicting them. Examples of this are the healing of a man who was unable to speak in Matthew 9:32-34, the healing of a man who could not see or speak in Matthew 12:22, and the healing of a boy from epilepsy (or seizures). If it is impossible for a Christian to have a demon, that would mean conversion would produce instantaneous deliverance from all demons and significant healings. Large groups of conversions at evangelistic meetings would commonly have deliverances and healings for everyone to marvel at. That conversion does not produce instantaneous, total deliverance is shown by the sustained, hard work often needed to bring new believers from occult backgrounds into freedom.
The cost of the belief that Christians cannot have a demon is that it allows demons who have obtained a position of influencing or harassing a Christian to do so unopposed. If the Scriptures do not clearly specify for us whether demons can be inside or outside a Christian, let us trust God that this information is not essential for us to know. However, let us also be sensitive to the schemes of the enemy against us and minister freedom from sin including deliverance from demons when we encounter them.