Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Jer. 17:9 π Mt. 16:18 π Mt. 22:37 π Mt. 26:63-65 π Lk. 4:33-35 π Lk. 4:41 π Lk. 8:36 π Jn. 3:19-21 π Jn. 7:47-49 π Jn. 8:30-31 π Jn. 8:30-32 π Jn. 8:41 π Jn. 8:44 π Jn. 8:48 π Jn. 8:52 π Jn. 8:59 π Jn. 18:37-38 π Acts 13:6-7 π Acts 16:17 π Acts 19:14-16 π 2 Cor. 4:3-4 π 2 Cor. 7:1 π 2 Cor. 11:3-4 π Eph. 6:12 π 1 Ths. 5:23 π 1 Tim. 3:6-7 π 2 Tim. 2:26 π Heb. 6:4-6; 2nd π 2 Pet. 3:16 π 1 Jn. 5:19

There is currently (especially in “church” circles dominated by blind “pastors”) a complete ignorance of the true nature of “being demonized.” Though this topic can be searched out in the Scriptures – there is indeed a solid Biblical basis for understanding the demonic – most decline to explore this area because it leads to a spiritual life of danger where one must surrender everything to God or be subject to oppression, deception or control by the demonic. Most “believers” seem to prefer blind ignorance that allows them to feel like they are in control of their own lives (in reality they are not) rather than launch out into new and unexplored (by them) territory that forces them to let God really be their God.

Let us begin by examining the idea of “being demonized.” The original Greek word is “daimonidzomai” (Strongs No. [1139]). It appears 11 times in the four gospels. Demons and the closely related words (demon, god – [1140]; demonic – [1141]; and demon – [1142]) are mentioned in the four gospels, letters of Paul and James and in The Revelation. They are also called unclean and evil spirits throughout the New Testament. Interestingly, the King James Version renders these words as “devils,” completely bypassing the notion of demons though this does clearly establish the close connection of the demonic with the devil.

Strong’s Greek dictionary says the word daimonidzomai comes from “daimon” (demon or super-natural spirit of a bad nature – [1142]) and that it means “to be exercisedby a daimon.” (emphasis added)

Vine’s Greek dictionary says daimonidzomai “signifies to be possessed of a demon, to act under the power of a demon.” (emphasis added)

Zodhiates’ Greek dictionary says it means “to be violently possessed by, to be in the power of a demon.” (emphasis added)

A.T. Robertson, perhaps the most respected Greek scholar to date because he never let his theology color his understanding and explanation of the Greek (unlike both Vine and Zodhiates above), seems to also prefer the term “demonized” to translate the KJV’s “possessed with devils” (Word Pictures in the New Testament, Lk. 8:36; top )

The emphasis of most definitions by scholars focuses almost complete on the word “possession” – so much so that the word Strong uses (“exercises” - like manipulating a puppet on strings. Notice also that Strong complete avoids the notion of possession in his definition.) and the secondary definitions of Vine and Zodhiates (that still use the terms “under the control” and “in the power” of) are almost completely overlooked as if they did not exist. The truth is, that neither the idea of “possession” nor the idea of “control of or power over” cancels out the other. We will see this as we pursue the matter in more depth.

The popular misconception that is regularly taught is that “a Christian cannot be demon-possessed. Period.” But this is a complete misunderstanding of a) the demonic, b) the nature of being human, and c) being demonized.

First, the demonic are spiritual beings. Whatever their origin (and there are Scriptures that give hints about their origins as a pre-Adamic race) they are present and active in our world and in our midst today. As the henchmen of the devil, they use deception as their “native language.” ( Jn. 8:44; top ) Wherever someone believes a lie (and since we were born in darkness under the sway of the wicked one – 1 Jn. 5:19; top - there are many unchallenged lies in what psychologists call our “subconscious” and which the Bible refers to as our deceitful, unknowable heart – Jer. 17:9; top ), there is an access point for these spiritual beings in that person’s soul. When that person rejects the work of the Spirit of truth and chooses to hold onto that lie, a place is made within the soul of that person whereby the spiritual demonic being can come into the soul and begin to “push buttons,” “pull strings,” etc. – in a word, exercise power and control over that person without being in complete possession of the will and body of that person.

Second, a human being is made up of three different aspects. The Bible clearly speaks of the human being as having “spirit, soul and body.” ( 1 Ths. 5:23 ; etc.; top) The body is the physical parts of ourselves. Though one can have spiritual knowledge, emotions and choices, the soul is primarily the intellect, the seat of emotions and the will. The spirit is that part of us most like God. As such it severely resists intellectual definition but it is that “essence of being” where God, by His Spirit, co-mingles with our spirit and we live forth the life of Christ from within the depths of our existence. A demon gains access to our soul – thoughts, feelings and choices – and uses that place to either torment and/or control its victims either physically or emotionally or to deceive us into further defiling our spirits. (see 2 Cor. 7:1; top ) If the demon continues to be successful for too long a time (by virtue of our own actions and choices) even the holy life of God will be driven from our spirit and we are eternally lost. ( Heb. 6:4-6; top )

Third, demonization therefore refers to the possession, the manipulation and/or the control of one’s soul’s thoughts, feelings, choices and the body’s actions. It is not a static state of existence so much as a spiritual condition which can be experienced in various levels. It is much like calling a person “drunk” means they are “under the influence or control” of alcohol and calling the person “a drunk” means they are “addicted to alcohol.” But either way, if they’ve been drinking, they’re inebriated, under the control and influence of alcohol (which, interestingly, has often been referred to as “a demon”). But so too, whether the person’s thoughts, feelings, choices and actions are controlled only a little or completely dominated – or if one demon or thousands of demons are involved in controlling the victim – the condition is still called “demonized.”

As for the question of whether a Christian can be demonized, consider John 8:30-31; top . It is certainly no proof text but we should take note that the Jews who had believed in Jesus and believed Him – the text is careful to say this both ways. And is this not the faith that makes one a Christian? – still manifested the hatred of their father the devil and tried to kill Jesus. ( Jn. 8:41 , 59; top )

One should also note that a great many of the men teaching that a Christian cannot be demon-possessed are deceived themselves and show many other signs that they too are demonized! Beware!

One can use the Scriptures to argue endlessly about this however. Of course, those who are untaught and unstable spiritually – however “advanced” intellectually or “theologically” they may be – twist and distort the Scriptures to their own destruction ( 2 Pet. 3:16; top ) and declare the Scriptures to be “inconclusive” on the matter. But those who have stepped out into the arena of combating evil spirits readily attest to the fact that Christians can have a demon exercising control over them. In part, this is God’s protection over foolish people. Suppose there were a Scripture proof text that said a Christian could be demonized. Believers (in a frenzy to set their loved ones free but armed with only the soulish, intellectual knowledge that what they were facing was really a demon) would show up armed with their carnal weapons to take on a spiritual adversary. Can you say “sons of Sceva” seven times real fast? (see Acts 19:14-16; top ) It wouldn’t take that long for the demoniac (the person demonized) to thrash or for the demonic (the controlling spirits) to take internal control of those believers! No, God was far too wise to include such a proof text. To truly overcome the demonic and their deceptions, we must operate in close cooperation with the Spirit of Christ.

The people who actually cast out demons say they find them in Christians but those who only theorize (drawing their theories from their own vain imaginations and the inspirations of the demonic who work very hard to remain hidden in the realms of Christians’ souls) are the ones who generally deny that Christians can have demons. Notice here the difference between real-life experience and scholarly theorizing. Truly following Christ is not about being scholarly – it’s about abiding in Him and living abundant, real life. Yes, dealing with the unseen spirit realms can be very strange to our rational, intellectual reaonings and we are never to completely bypass or leave passive and dormant any part of ourselves (for example, we are to love God with all of our mind – Mt. 22:37; top ). If we allow intellectual study to replace a spiritual life with Christ and God, deception (the “language” of the demonic) has taken root in our lives.

Those people who merely cast out demons come up way short too though. Casting out is not the only way – in fact it is only a limited way – in which we are to deal with the demonic. Paul clearly says, “…we do not wrestle against flesh and blood…” No, we wrestle against the spiritual, the demonic, the satanic. He goes on to list four types of these spiritual beings. “We wrestle…against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” ( Eph. 6:12; top )

Most Christians don’t even know what these beings are, let alone how to wrestle against them. Tracking down what each type of these four types of satanic spiritual beings are throughout the Scriptures is a major study in itself – far beyond the scope of defining demonization. Suffice it to say, however, that Jesus Himself faced each type in the gospels but He reserved “casting out” only for the fourth category – the spiritual hosts of wickedness. The other types are removed from the life of their victim only by truth. ( Jn. 8:30-32 , 18:37-38 , Mt. 26:63-65; top )

Some mistakenly suppose that we must make judgments about the hearts and eternal condition of a man to diagnose him as being demonized. This is simply another part of the deception that is taught in “church” circles by blinded, often demonized “pastors” regarding demonization. But it is not the truth. We need only hear from the Spirit of truth whether or not some demonic spirit has taken up residence or gained control over that man.

It is also true that one who is demonized does not necessarily have to forfeit one’s eternal destiny in Christ. Where there is life, there is always hope for repentance and deliverance! One who is demonized is one who (to borrow pictures from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress) has been taken captive by various traps and made to do the will of their captor, the devil. (see 2 Tim. 2:26; top ) At any time the bonds can be forsaken and shaken off by crying out to the Lord and clinging to Him (any time, that is, before the point of no return – Heb. 6:4-6; top - wherever God knows that point to be for the person concerned). The gates of Hades (the underworld realm of death and darkness) cannot keep us held prisoner in the darkness if we insist and persist in coming into Christ’s light. ( Mt. 16:18 , Jn. 3:19-21 , 2 Cor. 4:3-4; top )

As for the $64k question of whether a “pastor” or the “church” staff can be demonized, Paul writes, “A bishop [overseer – episkopas in Greek] then must…not [be] a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” ( 1 Tim. 3:6-7; top )

There are whole denominations who, because of the “theology” they have embraced, ordain young men (young both in age and in their Christian life) as “Senior Pastors” and send them out as a distorted version of an elder/overseer (episkopas). These young men seldom ever grow into the mature expression that an elder/overseer must be but rather take on characteristics of arrogance, greed and tyranny over their own “church.”

These “pastors” take great care to maintain a good reputation with those who are outside – but they do so by quietly shoving their dirt under the rug and chasing off anyone who dares to challenge or disagree with them. This is truly sinfully divisive and “divisive” is the most-often used label these “pastors” put on those who, however immaturely or imperfectly, recognize and stand up for truth and righteousness. Accusing others of their own sins is also another clear indication of their being demonized. (see Jn. 7:47-49 , 8:48 , 52 , etc.; top)

One of the snares of the devil is spiritual blindness. “Pastors” can preach on topics like clergyism, “church” discipline and hypocrisy right after they have mal-practiced these things. They build up for themselves “church” empires, live in mansions, eat at only the best restaurants and stay in five-star hotels, bilking their congregation of thousands if not millions of dollars, and see nothing wrong with this. And none of his sycophant (yes-men) assistant “pastors” see anything wrong with this either – so long as they’re getting a good take too!

Paul wrote that a different gospel, a different Jesus or a different spirit could deceive our minds and corrupt us away from the simplicity that is in Christ. ( 2 Cor. 11:3-4; top ) Having had to be delivered and cleansed from such demonized preaching and teaching (see Lk. 4:41 , Acts 16:17 ) myself, I can personally attest to the difficulty that is involved in returning to the spiritual simplicity of quietly abiding in Christ.

The actions of such “pastors” and “church” staffs are not from the Spirit of Christ but are rather the signs of the control and darkness that is demonization. The demonic/satanic are not stupid but are actually very dangerously clever – Elymas was sent as a false prophet to deceive the proconsul of Cyprus. ( Acts 13:6-7; top ) The demonic in Elymas never made him convulse with epilepsy or break free of chains – that would have exposed their deceptive scheme to deceive the proconsul. Likewise, the demoniac was completely anonymous and welcome in the synagogue before the demon within him rose up to challenge the Son of God. ( Lk. 4:33-35; top ) Had he been a ranting, raving lunatic (as most presume when they read the word “demoniac”), he would not likely have been either anonymous or welcome in the synagogue – any more than ranting, raving lunatics are tolerated at “church”! The demonic is much more interested in deceiving hundreds, thousands or even millions of people through the demonized preaching and teaching of one man than they are in merely displaying their ability to physically jerk their puppet around on strings. Will the demonic overtly expose their schemes in a “pastor” when they did not with Elymas or the demoniac? Obviously not.

I am not in any way suggesting that any such “pastor” is necessarily condemned – though surely they are not far from the point of no return if not already beyond it. These “pastors” and “church” staff are victims as much as are those they victimize. But these “leaders” have made many choices throughout the years that have brought about their own captivity and the captivity they inflict on others. For that – if these fail to repent – they will face a very stern judgment from God.

As David cried over King Saul at his death, let us mourn the mighty who have fallen so low and pray that they be stopped in their descent now rather than when it is too late for them to change.

Let he who has ears hear.

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