Q & A: Demonization

Reader: Whilst I believe that demonic possession of an adult who has chosen to take that path is quite genuine, I would still think that demonic possession of a child would be unlikely.

FCET: The word “possession” is an incorrect translation from the Greek, which literally means to be “affected by a demon”, not “possessed by a demon”. So we’re not dealing with demonic possession, but rather demonic “affectation”, if you will (the correct terms is “demonization”, not “demon-possession” (or “possessed of a demon”) — sorry, the King James incorrectly translates it).

FCET: Now concerning being affected by a demon, I really think that most us in the west have it all backwards when it comes to this topic. Like I used to believe (in my early days as a Christian) I believed that it was only the “raving lunatic” that could be affected by a demon. I later found out the hard way that I myself was affected by demons which came in through an emotionally abusive upbringing. I remember reading something written by Floyd McClung (with YWAM) on the whole topic of emotional abuse, and he wrote (to paraphrase, not quote), to the effect that “emotionally abusive upbringings can be among the most damaging to a person and the most difficult to resolve”. I can attest to that. If a person is raised in an emotionally damaging circumstance, it can takes years, even decades, to become free from that (if the person follows Christ closely). It is not just a matter of becoming free from the demonic powers which become involved in such circumstances, it is a matter of “learning again” how to live life and respond to situations all over again (a really “big deal”!).

FCET: Now to deal more specifically with what you have said, that you think that “demonic possession of a child would be unlikely”, what then shall we say about Matthew 17:18? “And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon went out from him, and the boy was healed from that hour” (Matthew 17:18, DBY). Or of Mark 7:29? “And he said to her, Because of this word, go thy way, the demon is gone out of thy daughter.” (Mark 7:29, DBY) Scripturally speaking, I think it is safe to say that a young person can be affected by a demon. Scripture is not meant to be “all inclusive” on this point. We have a few examples here; this is a distillation of the larger picture, which is that demons affect people, whether young or old. None is excluded, and we should not assume by our own reasoning that our own children are excluded, either!

Reader: “Usually, small children are not developed enough spiritually to be able to handle that kind of thing (although I do believe that parents who openly encourage their children to indulge in Halloween are treading on dangerous ground and could be sowing the seeds for involvement in the occult later in the child’s life).”

FCET: We were never designed to be able to “handle” demonization: that is not part of God’s plan for us. All this came in through the fall, which is not part of God’s plan (though the Mormon’s would say it was part of God’s plan, and many others, too. But that is not what the Bible teaches, and it is the Bible that we follow, not our own rendition of what we believe is true). That is why, when we hurt, or suffer, it is quite okay to say to God, “I can’t handle this” — we were not designed to. Be open and honest with God about how you feel, and the suffering that you are experiencing. None of this we were designed to handle. We were designed to live in a perfect world, not an imperfect one. That is why Jesus came to this earth: He knew that we couldn’t handle it without him. God can handle it, and will handle it, as we yield everything to him. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) “[Jesus said,] Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Reader: Adults, on the other hand, have more control over their lives to make good or bad decisions. In a limited sense, children can make decisions, but those decisions are based on influence close at hand (good or bad). A twisted adult who encourages a child to indulge in witchcraft would be particularly abhorrent to God. I believe scripture teaches that children are particularly precious to the Him. Adults have more understanding and more control over what they do, and I believe that a person would have to consciously allow the devil in. Adolf Hitler, for example, showed various symptoms of demonic possession.

FCET: Generally speaking, demons come in through the decision to sin, rather than the decision to let a demon come in. Let me explain. You or I do not need to know anything about demons, or even about their existence, to become demonized. All we have to do is sin. That is one reason (though not the ultimate reason) why we should not sin! Certainly Adolph Hitler was demonized, but again, I point you towards the fact that many otherwise “very sane and ‘with it’ people” have confessed to being affected by demons. As I have written in previous articles, when we sin — perhaps it is bitterness, or any form of wickedness — then we open the door for the devil (or one of his demons) to come in. It is really that simple. More could be said — and I honestly don’t want to over alarm the reader, but please be made aware that demonization is probably a lot more common than you may suppose. Demonization is to be “affected” by a demon, and, again, I say, who is not free from sin or from the possibility of being affected by a demon? The question begs serious thought and consideration in my opinion.

Reader: Having said all this, demonic possession isn’t an area that I’ve delved into much, so I’m on stony ground anyway.

FCET: We’re all learning.