When we think of someone being “tormented by demonic spirits,” we are talking about “demon POSSESSION.” A case in point is the man in Mark 5:1-5 where it specifically says that he was “a man with an unclean spirit” (verse 2). It goes on to say that “no one could bind him” (verse 3) and “neither could anyone tame him” (verse 4). The demon had him under his complete control so that no human could control him. He was surely tormented for we read that “he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones” (verse 5).

We do NOT have any such cases of a born again Christian being under the complete control of a demon. We believe that a believer can NOT be possessed by a demon for he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9 says, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (NKJV). The body of the believer is looked upon as God’s temple in 1st Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that YOUR BODY IS THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO IS IN YOU, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” The thought that a demon could also live inside a Christian is inconceivable, for the Holy Spirit, Who is greater than any demon, would never allow it. This is borne out clearly in 1st John 4:4, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

Though the Christian can’t be POSSESSED by a demon, Scripture does teach us that a believer can be INFLUENCED by Satan and his host of demons. A glaring example of this is in Acts 5:3, “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has SATAN FILLED YOUR HEART TO LIE TO THE HOLY SPIRIT and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself.” Ananias pretended to be giving more money to the apostles and Peter attributes his act of hypocrisy to Satan’s influence. Notice, Satan didn’t “possess his body,” but he did “fill his heart” with the temptation to keep some of the money for himself.

Satan or demons may also influence believers through FALSE DOCTRINE. The Apostle Paul sounded out this warning to the believers in Corinth: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2nd Corinthians 11:3). Satan was using “false apostles” among the Corinthians to spread evil teachings. Paul describes them in verses 13-14, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” It should be said that if we give ear to false teachings, it may very well lead to emotional and spiritual suffering (torment), but this is still not a case of demon possession where one has no control whatsoever over themselves. When a Christian is under the influence of false doctrine they need to be delivered, as we see in 2nd Timothy 2:24-26, “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that THEY MAY COME TO THEIR SENSES AND ESCAPE THE SNARE OF THE DEVIL, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (This passage may speak especially of UNBELIEVERS but the application can be made to BELIEVERS who have fallen prey to erroneous teachings.)

In closing, God has graciously provided us with all that we need to avoid Satanic/demonic influence. We read of this in Ephesians 6:10-13, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” I would encourage you to study the “pieces of armor” in verses 14-17, and be sure to PUT THEM ON! If you do, you will never need to be concerned about Satan and his demons influencing you through false doctrine or through various temptations to sin. (261.7) (DO)