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Core Christianity: Tough Questions Answered

Christians and Demonic Activity Today

by Michael Horton posted October 22, 2020

Editor’s Note: Can someone who is truly a Christian be possessed by a demon? Demons and their relation to Christians is an important topic and not one discussed very often or openly among Christians. Dr. Horton gives an answer in Episode 21 of the Core Christianity Radio Show. 

Christians can be demon oppressed, but never demon possessed.

In the Gospels, wherever Jesus goes, he casts out demons. The demons just really came out of the woodwork with Jesus’ ministry. Because the Empire of Satan focused all of its concentration on Jesus of Nazareth, it was no holds barred.

This is the last opportunity to snuff out the possibility of this One who is going to crush his head. And so this is a real grace that’s meant to illustrate the gospel of the kingdom of God. He has power over Satan, whose head he actually crushed in his own death and resurrection.

Still, today, of course, demons possess people. I just heard the other day, an NPR story where a woman channeled her dead brother, and it was, I believe, a clear instance of demon possession. I remember just a couple of years ago, my time on the Ganges in Varanasi, the capital of Hinduism. I have never felt such a level of demonic oppression at any point in my life than I did there.

It is not stories that you just hear from other people. I experienced it. It was a demonic party. And it’s like the demons are swirling all around you, but they aren’t indwelling you. We’re indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will not tolerate Satan as a guest.

Scripture tells us that believers are sealed and indwelled by the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 1:13-14. Baptism is a kind of exorcism with Satan and his hosts cast out. The demons try to lead us into temptation to bear the fruit of the flesh instead of the fruit of the Spirit, and they work desperately to cause us to question our salvation.

One of the key passages here is John and what he says in 1 John 5:18,

We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning. But he who was born of God protects him and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

We’re indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will not tolerate Satan as a guest. Christians can never be demon-possessed because they have the protection of the one who crushed Satan and his demon host on the cross.

Adapted from an answer given in Episode 21 of Core Christianity.

Recommended Resources

Demonology 101

The Devil, Demons, and You

How to Fight Off the Devil’s Desperate Attacks

What You Need to Know about the Devil’s Tricks

What Every Christian Needs to Know about Evil and Suffering

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Michael Horton

Michael Horton (@MichaelHorton_) is the Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California. The author of many books, including Core Christianity. He lives with his wife Lisa and four children in Escondido, California.

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