Can a Christian have a demon?
Why this question is so very important
This is perhaps the single most important question that is asked concerning deliverance ministry. Let me first say that it is Satan's #1 lie to keep demons from being cast out. How is that? Because if Christians could not have demons, then what is the point in driving them out, if all we had to do was get the person saved and their demons would leave on their own? That would leave us casting demons out of people who refuse to accept Jesus as their lord and savior! It is my experience that those who claim that Christians cannot have demons are not even casting them out of non-believers.
Deliverance is NOT for non-believers
The truth is that if we went about casting demons out of non-believers, then we would be ignoring some very important things that Jesus had to say about the deliverance ministry. Consider these passages in scripture:
But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
In the above verse, Jesus was speaking with a woman outside covenant with God, concerning casting a demon out of her daughter. Jesus made it very clear that this ministry was not intended for those outside covenant with God.
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
In the above passage, Jesus was making it very clear that if we cast a demon out of somebody who rejects Jesus as their Lord and savior, then we are setting that person up for a disaster.
One of the serious flaws in the idea of casting demons out of non-believers is that the demons have a right to be there, and unless a person accepts Jesus, that right cannot be removed or nullified. The Bible tells us that when our sins are forgiven, the unclean spirits are stripped of their legal grounds in our lives:
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Unfortunately, a non-believer cannot have their legal grounds removed, therefore, attempting to drive out a demon can be a dangerous scenario.
"But light cannot dwell with darkness!"
Many Christians assume that because they have the Holy Spirit, darkness cannot dwell in them. But they fail to recognize the darkness that can exist in a Christian's mind, such as lust, ungodly anger, weaknesses, and so forth. This is darkness, isn't it? Even Paul said that there was evil indeed present in him:
Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not... I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
How could Paul have evil present in him, and at the same time, be filled with the Holy Spirit? It is because Paul, as any human being, was composed of three parts. He was a spirit, lived in a physical body and possessed or had a soul. A soul is different from the spirit. The spirit is the real you, which is united with the Holy Spirit if you are in Christ. Your soul is your mind, will and emotions. Your mind, will and emotions are where the darkness can remain long after you've accepted Jesus and were washed from your sins. This is where unclean spirits can remain, along with your physical body. The Bible makes a clear distinction between a person's soul and their spirit:
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Also look at this passage where the soul and spirit are said to be separate from each other:
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Your spirit is born again and made new the moment you accepted Jesus, but your mind, will, and emotions were not born again. If this were true, then you would have shed all the evil thoughts, desires and lusts all at once the moment you accepted Jesus. Consider this passage, and it is obvious that all the baggage does not leave a believer's soul the moment they are born again... but something is made new and old things have passed away - that is because it is speaking of your spirit!
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Was this intended for believers? Or non-believers?
When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
Here was Jesus demonstrating the benefits of the new covenant between God and His people, and in doing so, He was driving out demons and healing the sick. Now let me ask you this: Was Christ's payment for our physical healing (by His stripes we are healed) for non-believers or believers? Believers of course! Then I believe this passage makes it very clear that deliverance (involving casting out demons) and our physical healing is a benefit meant for the believer!
You don't have to be a lunatic to have a demon!
A common misunderstanding is that you have to be a lunatic in order to have a demon. This is not true, and any studying of this subject in the Bible will make this very clear. Consider the man who was perfectly sane mentally, but could not speak nor see because he had an unclean spirit which hindered his speech:
Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
Another example is the woman who was bound with a spirit of infirmity. She was clearly not a lunatic, but merely had a physical infirmity caused by an unclean spirit:
And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?
"Possessed with a devil" in the NT Greek
Nowadays, the word possessed infers ownership, such as our possessions. But if you look this phrase up in the NT Greek, we find an entirely different meaning. The phrase possessed with a devil translates back to the Greek word daimonizomai, which means to have a demon or to be vexed (meaning tormented) by one. Demons do not own people, there is no scriptural evidence of such a thing - not even in the life of a non-believer!
If you look up the accounts in the Bible of demon possession, we find people who either have demons or are being tormented by them. This can manifest in both the physical body or the soul (a person's mind, will, and emotions).
"But the deliverance ministry ended with Jesus' ministry!"
This is simply not true, and we don't have to read far into our Bibles to find this out. After Jesus rose again, He appeared to His disciples and gave them the great commission:
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
If we continue reading into the book of Acts, we will find that the early church was also active in the ministry of deliverance:
And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
Also, if you research the early church fathers, those not written about in the Bible, they were also very active in the ministry of deliverance!
Additional resources and scriptural evidence