Am I Demon Possessed? An Important Clarification

A while ago I wrote an article titled ‘Am I Demon Possessed?’ where I argued quite strongly (with verses) that it’s not at all possible for a Christian to be taken over and controlled by a demon (kind of like how you see in the movies). Now, this is true; a person bought by the blood of Christ cannot be ‘possessed’ by a demon. However, the original Greek is much more nuanced when talking about possession. In fact the words “possession” or “possessed” don’t even occur at all. As Arnold puts it in ‘3 Crucial Questions about Spiritual Warfare‘:

“The word possession never even appears in the Bible in the passages where Jesus or the apostles cast evil spirits out of an individual. The expression demon-possessed or demon possession does occur in some English translations of the Greek text, but there is never a Greek word for “possession” that stands behind it. “Demon possession” is always the translation of a single Greek word, daimonizomai. Words for ownership or possession (e.g., huparcho, echo, katecho, ktaomai, or peripoieo) are absent in the original text. … The expression “He has a demon” (echei daimonion) does appear in the Gospels (e.g., Luke 4:33; 8:27), but the inverse, “a demon has him,” never occurs.”

In other words, nobody is “demon possessed” in the Bible, but because of the complexities of language, most English translations have gone for a term of best fit (demon possession). Other translations have gone for more accurate terms such as “tormented” or “troubled”. Heiser even goes so far as to say we shouldn’t even try to translate the word at all but use the transliteration “demonize”. Moreover, the reference to the expression “He has a demon” hints at a coalition between the demon and the person – that the person is giving way to the demon just like a person can give way to sin.

Understanding all this is an absolute game-changer when it comes to matters of spiritual warfare. This means that even though as Christians, we cannot be ‘possessed’ by demons, we can still fall under their influence. What their influence is, or how it works is something the Bible doesn’t really talk about. What the Bible does talk about is their end game. And for us Christians, their end game is simply to lead us away from the gospel (1 Tim 4:1). Because if you get led away from the gospel, its game over. You’re done.

So if you’re a Christian struggling with pedophilia, there’s a good chance that the demonic realm are already driving you towards shame, despair and hopelessness – that your sins are too terrible, that you’re too disgusting, that Jesus can’t forgive you, that God doesn’t love you, that you should just throw in the towel and go hang yourself.

The solution to all this is to believe the gospel, that God does love you, that Jesus has died for you, that your sins are forgiven, that there is a place in heaven just for you.

Yes, demons might haunt and harass you every day of your life. Yes, they may even harm you physically, but don’t be distracted. Don’t let them lead you away form the gospel. Don’t call in an exorcist or ‘pray a hedge of protection’ or whatever. Keep on believing the gospel. Keep your eyes on Jesus and what he’s done for you, and very soon, all of this will be a distant memory as we’re caught up in worship, wonder and praise.

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