Before us this week is the topic of Demonism as it relates to the Biblical accuracy and necessity of “Deliverance” ministries. At the heart of this discussion is, ‘Can Holy Spirit indwelt believers be demon possessed (indwelt)’ and if so, by extension, ‘Is deliverance of said “believer” the proper approach needed.’ To answer yes to the first question leads to the second, however to answer no to the first, if indeed the person is possessed calls for much more than what the deliverance ministry offers; for what is needed is salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ not just deliverance from a demon.
First, ‘Can Holy Spirit indwelt believers be demon possessed (indwelt).’ Now in proper biblical hermeneutical fashion we must observe one of the first rules of doctrinal formation; that clear doctrinal passages have priority over parables, idioms and figures of speech, unclear historic references, Old Testaments types and shadows, etc. and ‘experience’ as well. It is the clear position of the scriptures that once an unbeliever becomes a believer, he is FILLED with the Holy Spirit. Yet those in the opposing view would seek to compartmentalize the believer separating the spirit from the soul thereby allowing God to reside in their spirit and the demon in their soul. One may ask and in fact God does “…what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial” (2 Cor 6:15). Further, the scriptures make no distinction along these lines between the body, soul, or spirit of the believer but declare the believer’s body the temple of God (1 Cor 3:16).
For the purveyors of such doctrine, the scriptures must be often times ripped from out of their context or make claims that simply are not supported by the revealed facts; often reading into them things not stated as with and improper treatment of Luke 13: 10-17. At best it is sloppy hermeneutics, at worst it is a willful twisting of the scriptures to suit sinful lusts. Take for instance the two passages relating to Saul (1 Sam 18:10-11; 19:9-10) often cited by deliverance ministries as proof that believers can be possessed. The scriptures note of (1 Sam 18:10-11) the distressing spirit did not possess but came ‘upon’ him, and this spirit was from God ‘Elohiym’. In 1 Sam 19:9, 10 the evil spirit was not in but upon Saul and, again, the spirit was sent from the LORD ‘Yahweh’. In each case, the spirit was sent by God to oppress not possess Saul. A somewhat similar thought occurs with Job in which Satan was sent by God to “test” Job in Job 1:12 and 2:6.
However, some would attribute these differences to differences in interpretational understanding, but the Bible is not entirely silent on this question. Through the understanding of the Scriptures as a whole, one is lead to the inescapable conclusion that a Spirit filled, blood washed, born again believer cannot be possessed by a demonic spirit. So, by answering question 1 with no, question 2 is negated.
But one must ask why in light of clear Scriptural teaching and church doctrinal history would this heretical teaching be gaining greater acceptance? To answer we must allow for the ignorance of some and affirm the greed of others. Many, especially “laity” are ignorant, some willfully, of the teaching of Scripture and this is to their shame. And of the purveyors, again we must allow for stupidity but many teach this out of nothing more than greed. And this is on both sides of the equation, for the professional money, recognition, and prestige is a strong lure and for the “laity” it removes the responsibility of ones sinful actions. For if a believer can be demon possessed then it is true what the prophet Flip Wilson said in the early 70’s “The Devil made me do it” and he is responsible not me.