Demons and Christians

I’ve been led by the Holy Spirit to read some Charles Kraft this summer.  In “Behind Enemy Lines,” Kraft addresses whether Christians can be demonized.  (Many use the term “demon possession,” but this language is not biblical. Demons that dwell in or around people can exercise varying levels of influence on them depending upon their history and actions.)  Kraft has helped deliver hundreds of people from the influence of demons, including many Christians.  He writes:

The way the Holy Spirit enters [a Christian] is, I believe, by uniting with the spirit, the “heart” or innermost being of a person who gives him or herself to God.  I have tested this scores of times by commanding the demons (under the power of the Holy Spirit, who forces them to tell the truth) to tell me if they live in the person’s spirit.  They consistently reply something like, “No, I can’t get in there.  Jesus lives there.”  Then, when they are commanded to tell when they had to leave the Christian’s spirit, they give the date of the person’s conversion.

I conclude, therefore, that demons cannot live in that innermost part of a Christian, the spirit, since it is filled with the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:16).  That part of us becomes alive with the life of Christ and in inviolable by the representatives of the enemy.  Demons can, however, live in a Christian’s mind, emotions, body, and will.  We regularly have to evict them from those parts of Christians.  I suspect that one reason a demon can gave greater control of an unbeliever is because it can invade even the person’s spirit (p. 91)

He later points out that most Christians he counsels are not demonized, and that those demons who are in Christians are usually weak.  If they are present, it is usually due to the person’s pre-conversion involvement in the occult or a few other scenarios.  Here’s an account of a very weak demonization of a Christian from Defeating Dark Angels:

I was discussing demonization with a couple of pastors during a seminar lunch break.  The topic was quite unfamiliar to them.  One of them I’ll call George, began to share with us a lifelong problem he had had with fear.  Though George had been in counseling for some time, his fear had not been overcome.  Indeed, he said, he was highly anxious at that very moment.  After a silent prayer, I looked straight at George saying, “If there’s a spirit of fear here, I command you to leave, in the name of the Jesus.”

Shock was on George’s face as I looked directly at him but talked “past him” to the demon inside.  For a pastor who wasn’t sure he believed in such things, the approach seemed awfully direct, and I seemed overly confident in my diagnosis of what lay behind his problem.  Then amazement filled George’s face as he said over and over, “The fear is gone!  The fear is gone!”

…My theory is that a fairly weak demon was living within him, whose assignment was to use fear to hamper his effectiveness as a servant of Christ.  My analysis is that the demon did not cause the fear.  Talking with the pastor, I discovered that he had experiences in early childhood that predisposed him to fearfulness.  This weakness allowed the demon in during his early life, providing the “food” on which the demon fed to keep him off balance.  I think the demon had been very greatly weakened as the pastor dealt with the problem through counseling.  All that remained, then, was for the demon to be banished once and for all.  And that seemed to happen that day at lunch (p. 31-32)

This story does not seem to be typical for Kraft, as he normally spends 90% of his time with people in either pre-deliverance or post-deliverance counseling.  Obviously he had discernment from the Holy Spirit in this particular case to do what he did.  He compares demons to rats who feed on garbage.  If we want to be rid of the rats, we clean up the garbage.  We repent of our actions, renounce past choices, seek God’s healing for deep wounds that cause bitterness in our hearts, etc.  When we clean up the garbage within, the demons have no legal rights (turns out demons are very legalistic…interesting) to remain and then can be removed.

If I want to do the ministry of Jesus, I need to learn how to war against the enemy in order to help set people free.  Lord, please give me the discernment to know the enemy’s work and the wisdom to do battle against it.  And may I keep love at the center, avoiding the errors of seeing demons around every corner or not seeing them at all.

14Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. 16He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:14-19)

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  1. Brian Forbes

     /  August 14, 2009

    So my reluctance to be seen by a crowd might stem from some minor demon influencing me. When I think about the idea of being free from this, I am torn. The fear seems so deep that I don’t even want to have it removed for fear that it might make me want to stand in front of a crowd. I almost feel I want to be ineffective. And yet, I know objectively that I don’t want to be hindered! On the one hand, I don’t want to heal people or drive out demons because of the burden it would be and because people would look at me. On the other hand, objectively, I know that this is stupid. It’s far better to have a small burden on me to have a great benefit for others. I have this war inside me.

    Very interesting. Also very hard issue to work through.

  2. Interesting Brian. Kraft says that most Christians are not demonized, and that some are disappointed to find out that they are not, because they feel that deliverance would be an easy fix. But regardless of demonization, we have to want to be free for freedom to come. Fear is very powerful, but the perfect love of God does indeed cast it out. I will pray for his perfect love to overwhelm you so that you just want to give it away.

  3. hi mr. schmus. long time. 🙂

    so here’s my question–how can we draw the line between figuring out whether the Christian just needs to have proper accountability (e.g. consistent prayer, daily Bible devotionals, fellowship with solid brothers and sisters) in terms of getting through the struggles that they experience and being in need of an actual forceful spiritual deliverance of demons?

    it’s not that i don’t believe in demon possession or that God can deliver us from it today (that’s the one facet of John MacArthur’s theology that i don’t agree with–cessationalism)…but i’m just wondering where we draw the line between just simply concluding that the person is just “possessed” (or, in bondage) and needs a “cast out” and the person just needing the discipline and desire to overcome the spiritual struggles in partnership with God.

    an example could be an addiction, whether it’s games, food, pornography, etc.

    how do we discern where to draw the line? is there a line? if not, then how so?

    • Good question Emily! I have learned from my reading that Satan and his demons are sterile. They can’t create anything. They cannot create addictions. What they do, if present, is exacerbate addictions and lower the individual’s ability to resist. Most Christians are not demonized (according to Kraft), and some Christians are actually disappointed in that because they see deliverance as an easy fix to their problems. The truth is, the hard work of repentance, confession, prayer, and seeking the Lord for victory (and doing this all in community, as that’s the only way it works) is going to be necessary, regardless of any demonization. The demon didn’t create the addiction, and getting rid of it won’t make it go away, although it may bring about dramatic change in the ability to resist.

      If a Christian is fighting an addiction, and typical methods aren’t bringing increasing amounts of freedom (support groups, counseling, etc.), then I would seek a person experienced in deliverance and at least look into it. The neat thing is that as we fight against our addictions, any demon that might be present grows weaker, and is easier to remove. But again, based on Kraft’s experience, the vast majority of Christians are not demonized. We shouldn’t look for demons as always the source of our problems and around every corner, but shouldn’t be unaware of them either.


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