Demon Possession

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John Bunyan

Puritan Board Freshman
It is quite interesting as the demons uses the words one is thought to be placed in the mouth of the exorcist. (Since the discovery of the Greek magical papyri our understand of exorcism has improved tremendously.) The demons are unable to exorcise Jesus.
Please tell me more about it, or point me to places where I can read about this.
 

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
I think you're right, Eric. We first need to define our terms. I would say demon possession proper is when one's volitional faculties – and consequently one's actions – are under the control of a foul spirit (aka devil, demon), at least some of the time. Demonization may also be of lesser degrees, such as causing hallucinations (visual, auditory, olfactory), bodily sensations, physical infirmities, mental images, unwanted feelings, etc.

What people in the Western countries (the "civilized" world), including the genuine Christians, categorically deny, missionaries and Christian workers in primitive cultures take for granted, i.e., that occurrences of the full spectrum of demonization exist today, and manifest often.

Christ came to set the prisoners of Satan free through the preaching of the Gospel in the power of the Spirit of God; His coming did not automatically release all the devil's prisoners from the time of His appearing; the laborers in His vineyard carry on His work. Here in the West, when a person starts showing signs of that mental deterioration that comes with demonization (note: not all such deterioration is directly from demons) they get incarcerated and/or sent to a psych ward and given various kinds of drugs that deaden such activity. In some circles this is called "chemical restraints". That's why we don't see more of it.

Steve,

I think you make some excellent points, and I think I would agree with the definitions that you laid out. For instance, when I think of demon possession, I think of a person as, in a sense, no longer being themselves. They no longer act 'human', and might communicate in a way that could not possibly be 'themselves'.

As an example I would point out in Mark 5:9 that the demon, when asked its name, called itself 'Legion', for it was many. Now today we could perhaps categorize such a person as having 'multiple personalities', where there are 'many' persons inside one human. Would it be wrong to allow the possibility that some people with multiple personality disorder today might be demon possessed?

I also like your definition of demonization (or simply put 'demonic influences'). In my mind such a person is still 'in control of themselves', and they are still 'themselves'. They still act 'human', but are simply being attacked or influenced by demonic forces.

In the end, I wholeheartedly believe that anyone who is a Christian, who has the Holy Spirit living within them, CANNOT be 'possessed' by a demon. As for being 'influenced' or 'attacked' by demons, it seems that this still might happen to a Christian today. That is not to say that the Christian is powerless, or that Christ cannot protect his sheep. Some Christians I know claim to have felt at times that they were being attacked and discouraged, or made to feel sudden fear or dread. Of course, calling out to the Lord in prayer was their reaction to these situations, and so they found peace and safety in the Lord (and rightfully so, since He never fails).

Finally, when it comes to demonic possession occurring in unbelievers, I honestly do believe that this still happens today, though not necessarily to the extent that it happened in the New Testament. I certainly believe that Satan has been bound in a sense, but I also recognize that according to 1 Peter 5:8, Satan stills prowls like a lion seeking whom he may devour. Now I know that 1 Peter 5:8 is not specifically talking about demonic possession, but it seems that Satan is bound in one sense while still roaming in another (and I am trying to figure out how to best understand that).

I guess my question is: Is Satan bound in such a way that demonic possession (in unbelievers) no longer takes place at all? Similarly, has demonic influence (as defined above), become less common due to Satan being bound, or is it still as common as it was at the time of Christ?
 

JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally Posted by JennyG
Does the Bible ever mention mental illness/insanity without an evil spirit's being involved? I can't think of anywhere.
The case of Nebuchadnezzar seems to be one such, and there are probably more.

oh yes, thanks for reminding me! I'd forgotten that one
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Eric, the understanding of Rev 20:2-3 where Satan is said to be bound usually – at least by the amillennial school in its interpretation of prophecy – is said to refer to his ability to deceive the nations qua nations. During the "thousand" years of this binding the nations were no longer under satanic thrall due to the gospel being preached in them. In the old dispensation salvation was generally confined within the precincts of Israel, whereas in the new it went forth through all the world. The "thousand" is a symbolic number meaning completeness, fulness, as in Ps 50:10's "the cattle upon a thousand hills" are the LORD's, that is to say, not only on a thousand hills, but the cattle in all the world are His.

So while the nations, having the gospel during the period of Satan's binding (he cannot stop the spread of the gospel – not even by killing the messengers of it) are freed from deception, when that "millennial" period is finished the nations will once again be in the bondage of deception. That is often understood to mean that the gospel of Christ, and its messengers, will be outlawed – officially deemed invalid, negligible – and Satan will once again seek to establish his own kingdom in the earth. This period, although short, will be a time of great persecution and affliction for true Christians and their churches. This loosing of Satan is by the hand of the sovereign Lord.

But even though – during the thousand year period – the nations as such are not deceived, the demonic legions still deceive individuals and groups, as much as they ever have, if not more – or at least as much as in the pagan nations before the first advent of Jesus Christ.
 
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Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
Eric, the understanding of Rev 20:2-3 where Satan is said to be bound usually – at least by the amillennial school in its interpretation of prophecy – is said to refer to his ability to deceive the nations qua nations. During the "thousand" years of this binding the nations were no longer under satanic thrall due to the gospel being preached in them. In the old dispensation salvation was generally confined within the precincts of Israel, whereas in the new it went forth through all the world. The "thousand" is a symbolic number meaning completeness, fulness, as in Ps 50:10's "the cattle upon a thousand hills" are the LORD's, that is to say, not only on a thousand hills, but the cattle in all the world are His.

So while the nations, having the gospel during the period of Satan's binding (he cannot stop the spread of the gospel – not even by killing the messengers of it) are freed from deception, when that "millennial" period is finished the nations will once again be in the bondage of deception. That is often understood to mean that the gospel of Christ, and its messengers, will be outlawed – officially deemed invalid, negligible – and Satan will once again seek to establish his own kingdom in the earth. This period, although short, will be a time of great persecution and affliction for true Christians and their churches. This loosing of Satan is by the hand of the sovereign Lord.

But even though – during the thousand year period – the nations as such are not deceived, the demonic legions still deceive individuals and groups, as much as they ever have, if not more – or at least as much as in the pagan nations before the first advent of Jesus Christ.

Thanks Steve! That does indeed help to clarify things.
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
It is not valid to argue from the silence of scripture that believers cannot be posseessed. By the same logic, one could say that cars don't exist because scripture doesn't mention them. In the case of my patient who had postpartum psychosis (by stateside criteria), it was the unanimous opinion of all those around that she was demonized. It seems a little inappropriate to maintain from two continents away that it could not have been because of one's theoretical theological framework. What else, besides demonization, responds dramatically to exorcism? Incidently, the stateside medical establishment is helpless to deal with postpartum psychosis aside from mitigating the symptoms with brain-numbing drugs. This woman was totally mentally normal instantaneously and stayed that way over a matter of weeks with no psychotropic medication whatsoever.

Mary,

Granted that one of your patients might have changed due to an "exorcist" doesn't give reason for demon possession. Also, I'd like to note that even though scripture doesn't particularly have the phrase "believers can't be possessed" it would be wrong to suggest they can. As we are the temple of the Holy Spirit (according to 1cor) and the Spirit does indwell within us, keep in mind that this is God. Knowing that God is amongst us, do you think scripture implies He would let an evil spirit possess one of His children? Also, I'd be interested if you could point me to a passage that shows a believer being possessed, since I'm pretty certain a passage like that is non-existent. I could be wrong though.

Like I said before, I'll say again, demon possession, within scripture, was done most specifically during the time of Christ on earth and His apostles. It was to demonstrate the power of God at work. Before and after that time, there would be no reason for demon possession.
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
It is not valid to argue from the silence of scripture that believers cannot be posseessed.

You just defeated you're own argument. It's not valid to argue from the silence of scripture that believers CAN be possessed (according to your own reasoning).

Also, i pointed out quite clearly that there is no purpose for demon possession anymore. It would be quite a thing for God the Spirit to indwell a body with an evil spirit inside. Interesting how one can put the Holy Other in the same room with evil. I don't believe scripture is utterly silent on this issue. I have pointed out that scripture implies such.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
The scriptures do not have a term that directly translates as demon possession. There is being demonized and having a demon, which are used interchangably in the Greek. Possession is an extra-scriptural concept and probably is not valid. The scriptures are totally silent on whether believers can or cannot be demonized. However, in Luke 11, Jesus implies that casting out demons from unbelivers is not a good idea; it may leave the patient in a worse way. Hence, I'll never ever attempt or refer for exorcism if the patient is an unbeliever.

Last year I had a patient, a woman who went crazy right after childbirth, first baby. She was totally catatonic, refused to nurse the baby who was critically malnourished. I have pictures. We "borrowed" the baby to care for her, and promised to have a pastor come pray for the woman. There was a delay. After 6 months the woman showed up at the clinic after the family got tired of waiting and found their own exorcist. She was totally sane, wanted her baby back (which she got). She was a believer, both before and after.

When I had a clinic in an occult-ridden area, I hired a local pastor part-time to deal with demon problems, we had so many. I had three events where patients were thrown into a fire by a demon (two patients, happened twice to one of them) resulting in extensive burns.

I find mistakes in this comment.

Firstly, let's talk about the Scripture you gave. I don't agree that it was Christ's caution to not cast out demons from an unbeliever. I believe the point he was making was this: unbelievers who were demon possessed and then were freed from them didn't have the capability of keeping out demons bc they don't have the Holy Spirit within them to keep out the demons. Even his disciples had to cast out demons using Jesus' name for only God has authority over demons. On the other hand, believers are the temple of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit isn't going to share his temple with demons. Since this Scripture is talking about the unbeliever and it states that since the unbeliever had put his "house in order", the one demon on his own was incapable of entering the man/woman alone and would have to go out and recruited more demons to overcome the unbeliever. How much stronger would the believer be who is filled with the Holy Spirit? The devil and all his legions wouldn't be more powerful to overcome the Holy Spirit and enter the believer. It's just ridiculous to think that is even possible, bc what you are saying is that the Holy Spirit is too weak to keep out demons from his own. I think if you think about it you would agree to that. I also don't see the purpose God would have in allowing a believer to be demon possessed. Sanctification process is actually a process he demands (does within us) from believers and allowing demons to inhabit us just goes in the wrong direction.

Secondly, if she is a believer having the Holy Spirit within her Who isn't too weak to keep out demons and Who would have no good reason to allow demons within his temple, she couldn't be demon possessed....thus she actually did have PPD as defined by the medical community.

Thirdly, you don't find the reformed church going around casting out demons. That's more of the Pentecostal denomination who has a lot of incorrect doctrine.

Fourthly, I would have to question the believability of a family who sends a new born infant home with a medical caretaker and wants that same caretaker to find an exorcist for their loved one. Then gets tired of waiting SIX MONTHS (really? they are ok with missing the first six months of a new born's life?) for you to find an exorcist and then just like that they find one and boom she's free from the demons by the exorcist. Why did they wait that long for you to find one? I'm not saying that where you live isn't dark with demonic powers (I'm thinking they have pagan worship in that country), and that it isn't beyond God to have a pastor who can cast out demons. But if he does and can, then I would also have to believe that he can discern between ppl who do and don't have demons. Since it's impossible for believers to have demons, then I have a problem believing that he is in fact that man. BTW, if you don't think the Bible is talking about oppression as being possession, why do you use the term exorcism? Wouldn't exorcism imply possession?

You see how this just doesn't make any sense. Medical caregivers shouldn't see demons in any mentally ill patient and should treat these ppl. As a caregiver, you should know that antidepressants are not brain numbing medications which is the first line of treatment for ppl with PPD.
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I do think the Lord Jesus cast demons out of unbelievers, though I think some did become believers as a result. We have so many accounts of His healing and casting demons out of masses of people. Some of these were Jews, but unregenerated (I think) and others Gentiles (in both groups some of whom afterwards became believers).

What Mary says is true though, that if – per Matt 12:43 ff – someone has a devil expelled and is not converted to Christ, the devil can return and bring seven worse devils with him (although He was talking of the case of unregenerate, unrepentant Israel in this saying).

Is there no purpose for possession in these days? Is there any purpose for any evil? We know there must be, for it exists. Hell has its purposes as well as Heaven. Of course the sovereign Lord overrides all evil and works it to His good ends. If one were to go to primitive lands (in Asia, Africa, South America, etc) one might see things unheard-of here in the West; I refer to places where the Gospel of Christ and the power of God is not known, or is rejected. Has the human condition undergone massive change (immunity from demonic attack) because Christ came into the world? In 2 Tim 2:26 Paul says that some are caught in “the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

Now, I often hear it said that Christians are immune from possession of the devil, and I fully agree, with this caveat: there is a difference between full possession, where a person’s volition and hence their actions are taken over by an evil spirit, their personalities “submerged” in the evil spirit’s takeover, and the lesser varieties of influence and infiltration by devils.

Consider what Calvin says in his comments on Eph 4:27, "Neither give place to the devil"?

Neither give place (τῷ διαβόλῳ) to the devil. I am aware of the interpretation which some give of this passage. Erasmus, who translates it, “neither give place to the Slanderer,” (calumniatori) shews plainly that he understood it as referring to malicious men. But I have no doubt, Paul’s intention was, to guard us against allowing Satan to take possession of our minds, and, by keeping in his hands this citadel, to do whatever he pleases. We feel every day how impossible, or, at least, how difficult it is to cure long-continued hatred. What is the cause of this, but that, instead of resisting the devil, we yield up to him the possession of our heart? Before the poison of hatred has found its way into the heart, anger must be thoroughly dislodged. [Taken from this post: http://www.puritanboard.com/f64/how...itually-attacked-37281/index2.html#post469974]​

To give you a more current example with respect to a believer: Take someone who has been genuinely converted to Christ, but has backslidden and reverted to taking drugs – the psychedelic, pharmakeia variety – and has opened him or herself to demonic influence deep in their being. Now, that one who belongs to Christ, and has been indwelt and sealed (unto eternal salvation – Eph 1:13-14) by the Spirit of God – is His beloved possession – cannot be possessed by another, for who can overpower the Almighty or take what is His? But there is such a thing as spiritual fornication – adultery – whether it be deliberate or through deception, and one might expect God to act in reclaiming one of His children from such; how He acts will depend of the circumstances of the situation. He will not lose a one of those who are His!

But do not be deceived: sin will give entrance to the spirit of ungodliness. How? Well, take sins of the flesh, sexual lust, gluttony, sloth, habit-forming drugs, alcoholism . . . continual indulgence weakens the volition in man, leading to passivity of the will and the giving of oneself over to strong desires of various sorts – do you think that such passions cannot be amplified by the demonic, that giving place to the devil’s temptations will not also give opening to his activity, the end of which is the enslavement of the whole person?

Then we have the modern “arts” – the arts of Babylon I call them – wherein we are addicted to entertainment, fantasies that we utterly delight in . . . I refer, of course, to the movies and television. For some, they turn over the exploits of Batman or – you name your favorite superheroes – in their minds far more than the exploits of the Champion of Heaven and His singlehanded warfare against the entire demonic realm, and the stunning way He became the “Death of death” that we might no longer taste its horrible bitterness.

Who is the brilliance, the genius, behind the Babylonian arts that so enthrall us? When we give our imaginations to the panoply of demi-gods – contemplating their powers, might, victories, adversaries, defeats, triumphs, etc – what are we doing? There are some who give themselves over to this to such an extent that their spiritual lives are perfunctory – functionally negligible – exercises, while the real action in their hearts are the high-tech wonders that have captivated their souls. Is there demonic activity in such?

Please note: I make no law whatsoever with regard to movies, TV, books, comics, graphic novels, computer games, etc. I have the freedom to watch or read what I will, and I would take it from no one. But I guard my mind against the entrance of that which is filthy, or which would ensnare me in its power, that which would take up too much of my time. Spiritual awareness is of the highest importance to me. Awareness of what? The King of course! Without an ongoing – constant – communion with Jesus I am a broken and weak wretch. He is that which preserves me from temptation, that which upholds me in trials.

We must learn this, each of us who name His name, for the days are coming when we shall need this cultivated practice of drawing on His presence for every need – in times of peace, and times of trouble.

We are so smug about our supposed “perpetual deliverance” from the demonic that we grow lazy and careless. We give our attention all else but that which is the one crucial thing – it is in the intimate presence of our Savior that we are safe from all that will come to us. And the preaching of the Gospel, be it on the streets, in the pulpit, or individual witness, is the power of God and the weapon of the church.

Sorry to come on so heavy, but I see trouble coming quickly, and we unaware and unprepared.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
Steve, I recognize within your writing that you agree that it is our own sin that trips us up which can lead us astray if we don't constantly "work out our salvation through fear and trembling". We are to blame for our own trespasses. I just wanted to say that first. I'm not denying that there are some ppl out there that are demon possessed, but I believe they are those who practice pagan worship and possibly other unbelievers are. However, I don't believe that all unbelievers are demon possessed and I'm sure you would agree. That said, Calvin is talking about being tempted or deceived by Satan and then we fall into sin not being possessed by him or his demons. We are not possessed by demons when we are tempted and "backslide" (I don't believe in that terminology since I believe in sanctification. I believe that everything that happens in a believer's life happens for further sanctification. God doesn't cause us to sin but he does use each occasion of our lives to further our sanctification.). David, when he was sexually tempted, wasn't demon possessed even though he stayed in his sin for quite sometime. Why? Because he was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 20:42
For David himself says in the Book of Psalms, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand," and I Cor 12:3 "and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.") Don't you find it curious that Jesus states in that Scripture when the unbeliever is freed from the demon and "puts his house in order" the demon is then incapable of reentering that unbeliever and that the demon has to recruit other demons to form a stronger force in order to reenter the unbeliever? Since that is true, why would you think that it would be possible for the whole army of Satan's demons to enter a believer who has the Holy Spirit within them? Do you believe that the Holy Spirit isn't strong enough to keep them out? I don't think you believe that. If he is strong enough to keep them out, to which purpose would he allow the believer to become demon possessed? And if it's ok with the Holy Spirit for the believer to become demon possessed by sinning what would be his purpose for casting out the demons before he was a believer? Why not leave the demons in the believer if they come and go with the believer's sinful acts? I believe that flies in the face of the sanctification process. When I asked Leslie if God would have any purpose for allowing someone to be demon possessed, I was referring to a believer which I clearly stated. I think you didn't understand that part since you talked about its purpose and hell. So all the sin that you talked about of which we may partake is our sinful nature indulging itself. We sin every moment of the day bc we are not yet perfected. However, that doesn't make any believer open to demon possession. I don't care how long they stay in their sin (David being a good example), if they are saved, they are protected by the Holy Spirit who wouldn't allow a demon to possess his temple.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hi Sarah,

Actually it was Andrew I was answering re purpose of demon possession; looking back on his post, I see he also was referring to a believer. To make myself clear, a believer cannot be possessed in the full sense of possession, as they are already the possession of God, and cannot be taken from Him (I did state this above). What I said that did pertain to a believer was “influence and infiltration”, that is, their controlling or influencing some feelings, sensations, thoughts, or actions. You say this cannot happen? Because we are sanctified?

I said nothing about the expelled demon being incapable of reentering on its own and needing other devils to gain entrance! I think he takes 7 others more wicked than himself because there is room for them and a fully empty heart is an attractive dwelling for them.

Nor did I say a word about “a whole army of demons . . . [entering] a believer who has the Holy Spirit within them” – where did you get that from? What I do say is that we can be influenced and even infiltrated either through deception or through sin. By influenced I mean “influenced to act or think or feel a certain ungodly way” through thoughts, feelings, or leadings prompted by Satan (or his underlings). Do you not think this can happen? What then is temptation?

To repeat, a believer cannot be possessed by the or a devil, not in the proper sense of possession. That we are in the process of being sanctified – or even once and for all set apart for God’s use and purposes – does not exempt us from falling prey to temptation or deception, and consequent alignment with the will of the evil one. There is no such thing as “automatic protection” for the believer; he or she must ever be watchful and prayerful.

Jesus said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me . . .” (Matt 16:23), for Peter had aligned himself with the will of the devil. The Lord also said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not . . .” (Lk 22:31-32).

So, please, Sarah, don’t get me wrong when I talk of believers vulnerable to be influenced or even infiltrated (not possessed, but inroads made into their lives and hearts) by the demonic through their own (the believers) sinful opening themselves to do evil, or their being deceived that something evil (such as the so-called Holy Laughter spirituality) is good and thus embrace it.

You think there is automatic protection for the believer whatever he or she does? Can you show me this from Scripture (if this is even what you are saying – it is possible I am not understanding you)?
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
Hi Sarah,

Actually it was Andrew I was answering re purpose of demon possession; looking back on his post, I see he also was referring to a believer. To make myself clear, a believer cannot be possessed in the full sense of possession, as they are already the possession of God, and cannot be taken from Him (I did state this above). What I said that did pertain to a believer was “influence and infiltration”, that is, their controlling or influencing some feelings, sensations, thoughts, or actions. You say this cannot happen? Because we are sanctified? My bad... i thought you were talking to me since it was right under my comment and you didn't link your comment to anyone else. I do believe that we are tempted by evil spirits but that's all. I don't believe they are capable of infiltrating or controlling our minds. I believe that they tempt us and that our sinful nature chooses to sin. I don't believe we can blame the Devil and I doubt you are saying that we can.

I said nothing about the expelled demon being incapable of reentering on its own and needing other devils to gain entrance! No I didn't say you said this I said the Scripture says it. I think he takes 7 others more wicked than himself because there is room for them and a fully empty heart is an attractive dwelling for them.

Nor did I say a word about “a whole army of demons . . . [entering] a believer who has the Holy Spirit within them” – where did you get that from? In light of the Scripture I mentioned (where Jesus says that after a man is freed from a demon, that demon goes through dry places and then returns to the "home" he came out of and seeing it swept clean he finds he cannot enter on his own and then goes and finds more help to enter the man), I wondered why you would think that even a the whole hoste of Satan's army could enter a believer who had the Holy Spirit. However, since I misunderstood you what i said then this is a mute point. What I do say is that we can be influenced and even infiltrated (I guess you would have to define this word according to what you mean by using it bc I see it the same as possession. either through deception or through sin. By influenced I mean “influenced to act or think or feel a certain ungodly way” through thoughts, feelings, or leadings prompted by Satan (or his underlings). Do you not think this can happen? What then is temptation? I believe that temptation from Satan means that he puts some sin in front of us and we either choose to participate in that sin or we don't. It's our sin nature that influences us we are responsible for our actions.

To repeat, a believer cannot be possessed by the or a devil, not in the proper sense of possession. That we are in the process of being sanctified – or even once and for all set apart for God’s use and purposes – does not exempt us from falling prey to temptation or deception, and consequent alignment with the will of the evil one. There is no such thing as “automatic protection” for the believer; he or she must ever be watchful and prayerful. There certainly is automatic protection of the believer against demon possession (which is the title of the OP) and you already stated that you didn't believe in demon possession of a believer and that's the protection to which i was referring.

Jesus said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me . . .” (Matt 16:23), for Peter had aligned himself with the will of the devil. The Lord also said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not . . .” (Lk 22:31-32). Jesus didn't say that to suggest that Peter had Satan inside him. I'm not sure why you're bringing this up since you agree that a believer can't be possessed by Satan or his demons. Is this the "infiltration" part of which your referred to earlier? If so, I still don't know what you mean by that on a personal level. As to the second Scripture... Satan didn't get Peter.

So, please, Sarah, don’t get me wrong when I talk of believers vulnerable to be influenced or even infiltrated (not possessed, but inroads made into their lives and hearts) by the demonic through their own (the believers) sinful opening themselves to do evil, or their being deceived that something evil (such as the so-called Holy Laughter spirituality) is good and thus embrace it.

You think there is automatic protection for the believer whatever he or she does? Can you show me this from Scripture (if this is even what you are saying – it is possible I am not understanding you)? I'm not sure why you think I said there is automatic protection for the believer no matter what they do when i was talking about protection by the Holy Spirit from demon possession.
..............
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
The scriptures are silent as to the spiritual status, believer or unbeliever, of those who were demonized. Hence scripture is silent on this. Hence we cannot say that only believers or only unbelivers can be demonized. Where the scriptures are silent, we must be silent.


It is not valid to argue from the silence of scripture that believers cannot be posseessed.

You just defeated you're own argument. It's not valid to argue from the silence of scripture that believers CAN be possessed (according to your own reasoning).

Also, i pointed out quite clearly that there is no purpose for demon possession anymore. It would be quite a thing for God the Spirit to indwell a body with an evil spirit inside. Interesting how one can put the Holy Other in the same room with evil. I don't believe scripture is utterly silent on this issue. I have pointed out that scripture implies such.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hi Sarah, I’d like to keep this simple, and to-the-point. So I’ll only focus on one thing, that which seem to be the main difference we have. We both agree that a born-again child of God cannot be possessed of the devil. By possession I mean being taken over in such a sense that the personality (including the volition) is “submerged” beneath the personality of the devil. This is a full takeover of the person, full-blown possession, and cannot happen to a believer.

Where we differ concerns what I call influence or infiltration, which are lesser encroachments of the devil against us (I quoted Calvin on such in post #40 above). With regard to my using the word infiltrated, you said, “I guess you would have to define this word according to what you mean by using it bc I see it the same as possession.”

It is not the same. Peter was not possessed when he rebuked the Lord and told Him He should not go to Jerusalem to be killed (Matt 16:22), but where did he get that thought? Where did it come from? Did it originate from Peter’s own heart? The Lord seems to think otherwise as He turned to Peter and addressed Satan directly. Hendriksen, in his Matthew commentary, says on this passage,

“. . . the Lord recognizes that Satan is using Peter as his agent in an attempt to seduce Jesus to try to obtain the crown without enduring the cross. So Jesus, in speaking to Peter, is actually addressing Satan, or if one prefers, is addressing whatever in Peter has been perversely influenced by the prince of evil . . . Jesus continues: You are a trap [an offense AV] to me, for you are looking at things not from God’s point of view but from men’s. Jesus immediately recognizes the ‘trap’ Satan is setting. Not for a moment does he entertain the devil’s suggestion. He knows that he is being confronted by the same tempter who at a previous occasion tried to inveigle him with a false promise . . .

“Peter, allowing himself to be influenced by Satan, was speaking from the foolishly human point of view . . . [and] did not realize that he was asking for his own eternal damnation [if Christ had not gone to the cross].” (pp. 655, 656)​

This is an example of both being influenced by Satan, and having one’s thoughts and even volition infiltrated. By infiltrated I refer to the evil suggestion of the devil taking root within Peter’s mind and then expressed and spoken to Jesus. The devil had gained entrance to Peter's mind and his thoughts were channeled through him. The Lord reproved this instantly, and no doubt Peter was stung by this fearsome rebuke of Christ and repented instantly. This was the Lord, but sometimes evil advice – suggested by Satan – takes root in people’s hearts.

Consider the other verse I mentioned, where Jesus says to Peter when he insists he will not deny Him: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not . . .” (Lk 22:31-32).

You answered to this, “Is this the ‘infiltration’ part of which you referred to earlier? If so, I still don't know what you mean by that on a personal level. As to [this] second Scripture... Satan didn't get Peter.”

Oh no? He did indeed get him, but only for a while – till he repented. Both of these instances reflect satanic influence to the extent of infiltration, a) in the first case, being the personal messenger of Satan delivering a horrific temptation to the Savior (of course Peter’s indwelling sin was involved, but this does not negate the yielding of his mind and voice to be instruments of Satan, if but for a moment), and b) denying before the world that he even knew Christ, this through intense fear, but a wicked lie nonetheless. What did Jesus say to the crowd come to arrest Him in the garden? “. . . this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Lk 22:53). This same “power of darkness” – the age-old fury and murderous rage of the prince of demons against the God he sought to supplant, and Who cast him from heaven – was there in those same men in the courtyard with Peter, and Peter, brash and brave as he was, could not stand up to this invisible torrent of satanic rage coursing through these men (and women). He folded due to the intensity of this Christ-hating fury that pervaded the high priest’s palace (in the council chambers of the high priest this fury was focused like a laser against the Lord, and they illicitly sentenced him to death – men, filled with the rage of Satan their father (John 8:40-44) – condemning the most high God for blasphemy. They could not have done any of this in their own puny strength. The power of darkness was afoot in Jerusalem that night, and struck at the Lord, and His apostle.

We do not know much of these raging passions and furies of opposition to Christ channeled through men here in the “civilized” West – not yet – but Peter knew it and fell. Satan had him. But the Lord had asked the Father to save him, and the Almighty delivered him from Satan’s snare – through granting grace and repentance.

We may sing this hymn (although better known in the UK), Will your anchor hold, but we don’t know it as our persecuted brethren do.

At any rate, Sarah (sorry to go on so long), the word of God does show the wiles of satanic influence and infiltration in a person. (It may be argued that Peter was not filled with the Spirit yet, and that’s true, but the principle remains: we are responsible for staying in the Lord’s presence and depending on His power to sustain us through all, and not to “give place to the devil” (Eph 4:27), but resist him and his wiles in the power of the Lord’s might (Eph 6:10 ff).)

This all is a matter of personal consciousness as well; how aware are we of our thought life? The fleeting thoughts that pass through our minds, are they all simply of us? Are any of the Holy Spirit bringing His word to mind? Are any of the adversary seeking to counter God’s word with error, various temptations – fear, lust, anger, pride – catering to our indwelling sin. How aware are we of what goes though our perceptual fields? What happens when we allow something in because a) we believe a lie, thinking it a truth, and embrace it and build part of our lives around it? Or b) because the extreme delight of it overwhelms our defenses against what we know is a forbidden pleasure – and if we keep indulging it, our will to resist growing weaker and weaker, till it has complete mastery over us, does not this become a stronghold of darkness? Is this merely a work of the indwelling sin in us, or has a satanic hand been stoking the infernal fires of our passions?

We need to know the wiles of our adversaries. Our comfort zones won’t always protect us. But the Lord will.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
Steve, I got this from Calvin's commentary on Matt 16:22-23

"Matthew 16:22. And Peter, taking him aside, began to rebuke him. It is a proof of the excessive zeal of Peter, that he reproves his Master; though it would appear that the respect he entertained for him was his reason for taking him aside, because he did not venture to reprove him in presence of others. Still, it was highly presumptuous in Peter to advise our Lord to spare himself, as if he had been deficient in prudence or self-command. But so completely are men hurried on and driven headlong by inconsiderate zeal, that they do not hesitate to pass judgment on God himself, according to their own fancy. Peter views it as absurd, that the Son of God, who was to be the Redeemer of the nation, should be crucified by the elders, and that he who was the Author of life should be condemned to die. He therefore endeavors to restrain Christ from exposing himself to death. The reasoning is plausible; but we ought without hesitation to yield greater deference to the opinion of Christ than to the zeal of Peter, whatever excuse he may plead.
And here we learn what estimation in the sight of God belongs to what are called good intentions. So deeply is pride rooted in the hearts of men, that they think wrong is done them, and complain, if God does not comply with every thing that they consider to be right. With what obstinacy do we see the Papists boasting of their devotions! But while they applaud themselves in this daring manner, God not only rejects what they believe to be worthy of the highest praise, but even pronounces a severe censure on its folly and wickedness. Certainly, if the feeling and judgment of the flesh be admitted, Peter’s intention was pious, or at least it looked well. And yet Christ could not have conveyed his censure in harsher or more disdainful language. Tell me, what is the meaning of that stern reply? How comes it that he who so mildly on all occasions guarded against breaking even a bruised reed, (Isaiah 42:3,) thunders so dismally against a chosen disciple? The reason is obvious, that in the person of one man he intended to restrain all from gratifying their own passions. Though the lusts of the flesh, as they resemble wild beasts, are difficult to be restrained, yet there is no beast more furious than the wisdom of the flesh. It is on this account that Christ reproves it so sharply, and bruises it, as it were, with an iron hammer, to teach us that it is only from the word of God that we ought to be wise.
23. Get thee behind me, Satan. It is idle to speculate, as some have done, about the word (ὀπίσω) behind; as if Peter were ordered to follow, and not to go before; for, in a passage which we have already considered, Luke (4:8) informs us that our Lord used those very words in repelling the attacks of Satan, and the verb ὕπαγε (from which the Latin word Apage is derived) signifies to withdraw Christ therefore throws his disciple to a distance from him, because, in his inconsiderate zeal, he acted the part of Satan; for he does not simply call him adversary, but gives him the name of the devil, as an expression of the greatest abhorrence.
Thou art an offense to me; for thou relishest not those things which are of God, but those which are of men. We must attend to this as the reason assigned by our Lord for sending Peter away from him. Peter was an offense to Christ, so long as he opposed his calling; for, when Peter attempted to stop the course of his Master, it was not owing to him that he did not deprive himself and all mankind of eternal salvation. This single word, therefore, shows with what care we ought to avoid every thing that withdraws us from obedience to God. And Christ opens up the original source of the whole evil, when he says that Peter relishes those things which are of men. Lest we and our intentions should be sent away by our heavenly Judge to the devil, let us learn not to be too much attached to our own views, but submissively to embrace whatever the Lord approves. Let the Papists now go and extol their notions to the skies. They will one day learn, when they appear before the judgment-seat of God, what is the value of their boasting, which Christ declares to be from Satan And with regard to ourselves, if we do not, of our own accord, resolve to shut ourselves out from the way of salvation by deadly obstacles, let us not desire to be wise in any other manner than from the mouth of God."

Calvin doesn't seem to speak of Peter being "infiltrated" by Satan. I don't believe Satan controls the believer's mind for if he did then we could blame our sins on him. Sproul once said (this isn't a quote word for word) "that Satan cannot be in all places at once like God is, and that he doubts seriously that Satan has ever looked his way. Satan is after the "big fish" (Peter would have been one) and tempts them. For the rest of us, his demons tempt us." Do his demons whisper deceit into our ears? Yes, but neither Satan nor his demons control our minds or infiltrate our minds/bodies.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Sarah, your post makes it clear that Calvin does not agree in this instance as to what motivated Peter to rebuke the Lord, though the quote below does show him to agree with the principle I have stated as regards influence and infiltration; Calvin on Ephesians 4:27:

Neither give place (τῷ διαβόλῳ) to the devil. I am aware of the interpretation which some give of this passage. Erasmus, who translates it, “neither give place to the Slanderer,” (calumniatori) shews plainly that he understood it as referring to malicious men. But I have no doubt, Paul’s intention was, to guard us against allowing Satan to take possession of our minds, and, by keeping in his hands this citadel, to do whatever he pleases. We feel every day how impossible, or, at least, how difficult it is to cure long-continued hatred. What is the cause of this, but that, instead of resisting the devil, we yield up to him the possession of our heart? Before the poison of hatred has found its way into the heart, anger must be thoroughly dislodged.​

You will no doubt be aware he is not talking of full-blown “possession”, but a far lesser (usually temporary) control given to the devil by our yielding to sin. Also, you should know that when speaking of “the devil”, by metonymy this may refer to the lesser devils. I think Sproul is correct in the loose quote of him you gave.
 

Elimelek

Puritan Board Freshman
In answer on John Bunyan's request

Dear John Bunyan

I am not sure how to point or tell more about what I have previously written. More than a century or so after the Gospels was written, some Greek magical papyri were written which could serve as manuals for exorcisms. These were discovered in the middle of the 20th century. The interesting thing was that these exorcism formulas not only contained the names of ancient deities but even Jesus' name and the Lord's name were used. Here is the biographical details of two of the books in which the magical papyri was published:

[FONT=&quot]Preisendanz, K., 1973. Paryri Graecae Magicae: Die Griechischen Zauberpapyri (volume I). 2nd edition Stuttgart: Verlag B.G. Teubner.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Preisendanz, K., 1974. Papyri Graecae Magicae: Die Griechischen Zauberpapyri (volume II). 2nd edition Stuttgart: Verlag B.G. Teubner.

Unfortunately I was not able to look at the third volume myself.

In Mark 5:7 Legion addresses Jesus with the following words, "
[/FONT]τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, Ἰησοῦ υἱὲ τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ὑψίστου; ὁρκίζω σε (horkizo se) τὸν θεόν, μή με βασανίσῃς." (What do I have to do with you, Jesus son of the Most High? I beseech/ exorcise you God, do not martyr me.) (own translation, I usually translate into Afrikaans, so I don't take it as a final translation).

We find in Papyrus XVI (9 times) the formula [FONT=&quot]"[/FONT]ὁρκίζω σε" (horkizo se) on the lips of the exorcist followed by the type of demon, "demon of death." A small variant is found in Papyrus XVIII "exhorkizo se." You can look at papyri XXII, XXXIX, P56, P9, P10, P12 as further examples.

It is clear that the general practise was to gain control over the demon through using powerful names of which the names of Jesus, God and other ancient idols were used. The exorcist exorcised a demon by identifying which sort of demon he was (the demon already knows that Jesus is the son of the Most High), the seal of Solomon (the David star) could also be used as a symbol of which the demon would be scared and it could extract him from the person. Like always, Jesus doesn't conform to exorcism practises.

Commentaries that might help is M Eugene Boring's Gospel of Mark in the New Testament Library and more critical Adela Yabro Collins' Gospel of Mark in the Hermeneia series. Unfortunately prof. Richard Horsley has hijacked the interpretation of the text with a post-colonial reading of Mark 5. I see that even NT Wright has reflected his ideas in his "Mark for Everyone." The problem with Horsley's approach is, that he imposes ideas that he wants to find in the text on the text.

Kind regards
 
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