Saturday, August 30, 2008
Can Christians be demonically attacked or influenced?
This is a bit of a hot topic between various Christian circles. Some charismatic believers will tell you that a Christian can actually be demon possessed. Others will tell you that a believer can not possibly have a demon live within them because the Holy Spirit is already living within them. Often the verse "Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" (2 Cor 6:14) is cited as evidence of this. It is important when reading scripture to always take the whole passage into account. In full the scripture reads:
14Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial[b]? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."[c]
17"Therefore come out from them
and be separate, says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you."[d]
18"I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
The scripture is exhorting the believing person to not marry the unbelieving person. This is the strictest sense of the meaning "to be yoked together". It is referring to sexual union, and is therefore an exhortation to not sleep with a temple prositute.
This does not necessarily mean that a believing person may not have been opened up to demonic influence in their life. In the old testament law in the book of Deuteronomy (chapter 5) the Lord teachers his followers to not worship idols and false gods. The consequences of such actions bring a curse upon someone's life. If this curse is not broken then it will carry on to the third and fourth generations (verse 9). The good news though, is that Jesus can break the curse and then his blessing carries on for a "thousand generations" (verse 10).
People who come from animist backgrounds have been highly exposed to demonic influences. An animist culture has much idol and demon worship. This opens individuals and families up to demonic influence and possession. The demons have actually been given permission into these peoples lives. This is known as spiritual bondage. It is these bondages that often keep people from coming to know the truth of Jesus. But even when people do come to believe in Jesus, there is much healing to go through. A person can make a choice to believe and invite the Holy Spirit into their life. But this does not mean that the demon will automatically leave a person's life. The demon needs to be told to leave, since it was first given permission. The Holy Spirit enters someone's life when given permission. In fact as the Holy Spirit is gentle, He will not force any deeper into a person's life than the permission given. The Holy Spirit will draw back when grieved. A demon on the other hand will cling on very tightly when first given any permission, a little like "given an inch, a mile is taken".
When a person gives their life to Jesus, they are then in a position to command demons to leave, in the name of Jesus. Before this step, they do not even have the power to tell a demon to leave. So a demon will not leave someone unless commanded to do so in Jesus name. It may be possible to command a demon to leave a non-believer, but unless that person then believes, the demon will bring even more back.
Last year I met a Siberian pastor, from the Eveny people group. He came from an animist background and knows a lot of which he speaks, from personal experience. He is from a Baptist church. He has a lot of believers come to him for prayer to be set free from demons. Other Baptists disagree with him because it is not part of their doctrine. But this pastor has prayed with many believers for deliverance from demons within their life. The demons are commanded in the name of Jesus to leave the person's life. Their permission is revoked.
So it is possible that someone may have brought demons with them from their past life before they believed. But is it possible for a person who is already a believer to allow a demon into their life? Well not unwittingly, I would say. A person who is a believer has the Holy Spirit, and should be able to listen to the Holy Spirit, and therefore not partake in activities that are occultic, demonic etc. But sadly today there are so many noises in a person's life, that we rarely take the time to slow down and just listen to God. Therefore many believers do not know the voice of God very well, or choose not to listen when the Holy Spirit warns that something is sinful.
I recently became aware of a young girl, who is a believer but had been taking part in Zen Buddhist meditation. It was her misunderstanding, that Zen is not a religious practice. To know whether this is true or not it is necessary to understand what Zen meditation is. In a book called "Zen for Christians" the following is laid out:
"Zen for Christians does not mean Zen adapted for Christians in the way that yoga for pregancy means yoga adapted for pregnant women. The Zen in this book is just plain Zen, but the presentation of Zen in this book is especially for Christians..... Zen is a way of liberation from suffering- both the suffering we experience ourselves and the suffering we cause others. It is a practical and experiential tradition, centred in a form of meditation..."
"Zen is a way of selflessness, in two senses of the word. First, Zen is a way of directly experiencing what Buddhism calls "no-self" - realizing the distinction between "me" and "not me" ..."
It is clear that Zen meditation is simply not a "non-religious" practice. The idea behind Zen meditation is for the meditator to "empty" themself of all consciousness, to become aware that they are really nothing. The goal is to reunite with the universal consciousness, to reach enlightenment or "nirvana" as the Buddha (Suddarthu Gautuma- a mere man) supposedly did. The goal of Zen is to detach oneself from suffering. However Jesus teaches us to go through suffering. And we are made in God's image. Therefore Christian meditation is to realise that we are made in God's image. Zen meditation is the opposite of this. In deed in a person's involvement in Zen meditation they are opening themself up to demonic influence, giving a demon permission in their life. It is my clear hope and prayer that this girl will seek prayer deliverance ministry after opening herself up in such a way. If she does not, she will face much trouble in life.
At the start of Jesus' ministry he went around all of the Galilean countryside casting demons out from peoples' lives. He was preparing the ground for the word to be preached later on. Demons produce barriers to people listening to the gospel. In any place of ministry demons need to be bound and cast out before any real success will follow. Is it any wonder that many churches in the west do not grow, when we allow so many demonic influences into our midst?
Jesus would rather that we were hot or cold, but not lukewarm in our love for him. It is when we are lukewarm that we compromise and allow lies into our midst. Let's find a passion for Jesus and for holiness, cast out the demons from our midst and invite the Holy Spirit to minister in our communities.