Can Christians Have Demons?

The following question was received:

“I wanted to ask you a question. My daughter is worried about my grandson. She said that every time he gets mad or upset he growls. I have heard him do this and she has read your articles about angels. She is afraid he has a bad angel. I told him when he did that it sounded like the devil growling and he says he doesn’t want to be like the devil. He is raised in a Christian environment and goes to a Christian school and loves Jesus. I think it may just be something he picked up a school or from another playmate. But to have my daughter’s mind set at ease, I would like to know what you think.”

– Anonymous

Response:

Whether a demon lives on the inside of a person, or affects that person from the outside, that person can said be be “demonized” — or “affected by a demon.” There is no such thing, in my understanding of Scripture, of a demon being able to “completely overtake” a person. Even Judas Iscariot, when Satan entered into him, had his free will, and was accountable to God for it. Thus in Luke 22:22, Jesus said, “And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!” Notice that he did not say, “Woe unto Satan who will indwell him.” That is because ultimately, Judas still had his free will, and it was his free will that permitted Satan to come inside. Thus a person who is demonized, or affected (or indwelt) by one (or more) demons, is still “in control” and “accountable” in a very real way. It takes the cooperation of that person for the demon to operate. And that is a key point here. The devil does not indwell, or affect, those people who are uncooperative with him. But rather, he affects those who are willing to cooperate with him.

Now concerning mankind in general, I really think it is true to say that none of us (except Jesus himself) has ever been completely free from the influences of demons. After all, demons are all around us (in the unseen realm, of course). We are affected by them due to our sin. As mentioned above, we give permission for them to operate in our lives when we “open the door” through sin. In my own experience, I don’t think a demon has permission to actually enter inside a person and affect that person from the inside except that he “abides” (dwell on) his sin for some length of time. For example, a person may become bitter towards someone else. I don’t think that will necessarily mean that that person will become demonized from the inside. But I do think it begins to “open a door” for the devil, or one of his demons, to operate in that person’s life (from the outside). If that person chooses to dwell on (brood over) his bitterness for any length of time, he is running the risk of becoming demonized from the inside. Something has changed. He has “abided” in his sin too long. God’s disciplinary hand has started to take effect. It is the disciplinary hand of God, working through the agent of Satan. Yes, God can do that. A person may become tormented, even, by a demon, if he refuses to repent. As Martin Luther once said, “The devil is God’s devil.” In other words, God can use anything he wants to accomlish his purposes, even the devil (we are all, ultimately, in submission to God, whether we like it or not).

The person who is not willing to forgive is subject, by God, to “the tormentors”, as desribed in the following passage of Scripture. I think it can be easily reasoned that these “tormentors” are actually demons, who are permitted, by God, through a person’s sin, to enter into that person’s life in a big way: “Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” (Matthew 18:32-35)

I see the main difference between being demonized from the outside, and demonized from the inside, as this: the person who is demonized from the outside has only begun to dwell on sin. He can repent easily. The cost at this point is quite low. Repent quickly. Change your mind. Do it now, and don’t delay. Otherwise, you’ll be subject to the tormentors in a big way. The person who is demonized from the inside has “incubated” a demon inside of him; he has allowed that demon to “make his home” inside him and has entered into “full cooperation” with that demon, and has, in a very real way, become that slave (servant) of that demon. This is a very scary thought. If you’ve ever been there, you know what I mean. It is a scary thing to think about a demon actually living inside of you! I believe it is a very true and real statement that there are many people who have demons living inside of them who do not suspect that this is the case at all. They would never realize it. They think that the demonized person is the crazy person on the street, but they don’t realize that it could very well be the well dressed businessman at work. There is so much that could be said on this topic that I can’t get into now for lack of time.

Now concerning the boy (your grandson) who his growling. I wouldn’t automatically assume that he has a demon, but I very much think that if he has a stubborn or rebellious heart or is not willing to submit to his parents then the door could very well be open for him to being affected by a demon from the outside. If this has become a habit pattern, however, then the chances of being demonized from the inside are quite strong, since it is my conviction that, basically, once a negative habit pattern has been established in a person’s life, then there is really nothing stopping the demon at that point, from entering inside that person’s heart (please notice that the growling itself is not the bad thing; it is the stubborn heart that is the bad thing and that needs to be dealt with. The growling may be but an outward expression of the stubborn heart).

Now it is possible for the person to be a Christian and be indwelt by a demon. The demon does not take up residence in the “exact same spot” as the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives on the “bridge” (main control center) of that person’s heart, as it were. But the demon lives inside one of the “rooms” of that person’s heart. In the same way that Jesus himself did not evict all of the demons of the world when he came to live in it, except those that were present in people who were willing to cooperate with him, the Holy Spirit will also not “evict” (force out of that person) the demons living inside of him except by way of cooperation of that person. Let me also mention something from a “time/space” standpoint, as well. The person who says that a demon cannot come and live inside a Christian does not understand time and space in the spiritual realm.

When Jesus came to live inside this world, how “big” was he? Jesus is the God of the universe. Yet he came to live inside it. He is “bigger” in a sense, than the whole world in which he came. All of the demons should have just “fled” the entire earth, should they have not? But no, they did not! In the same way, the Holy Spirit, when he comes to live inside a person who has just become a Christian does not necessarily come to live inside every part of that person’s heart — only those areas that are yielded to Christ. In my estimation, we are talking about a relatively small area of that person’s heart, not a “big area” at all. There are still many areas to be conquered (as I think I mentioned above, this is big topic, and I can’t possibly get into all of it here.) Thus it is that daily, we must yield ourselves to Christ; and we may sometimes be surprised to find out that there are areas that are not yet submitted to him. These are those “rooms” that I was talking about. These are rooms that the devil has access to; because if the Holy Spirit doesn’t, then who does? Based on the following passage, I have to assume that the devil has access to every area of a person’s life that is not filled with the Holy Spirit:

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes he finds it empty [without the Holy Spirit], swept, and put in order. Then he goes and brings with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. So shall it be also with this evil generation.” (Matthew 12:43-45, RSV)

Thus the teaching here is, “ask God to fill every area that is not yet filled with the Holy Spirit, lest the devil again access. And if the devil already has access, ask the Holy Spirit again to fill that area, and ‘evict’ those demonic squatters.”

Love conquers all, and it is the Holy Spirit’s job to evict a demonic squatter, not man’s. Men and women, parents and children alike, only work alongside the Holy Spirit to do as he directs, so that the power of Satan can be broken in each and every person’s life. As you can imagine, to really become free from all oppression, and to be able to stay free from it, means a lifetime of “walking in Christ” and “abiding in Christ.” This takes knowledge, experience, will, discipline, holiness, etc. Walking and abiding in Christ is indeed a lifetime experience. We all need to practice that on a day by day basis. None of us, and I repeat, none of us, is at all exempt from being affected by a demon at any and every point along thew way. God bless you as you pursue Him.