Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. –1 Peter 5:8
Recently one of my readers asked me the question of whether I believed a born again Christian could be indwelt by a demon. I answered yes, but I refused to admit the word possession, which implies total control over the will. Salvation to me involves too much of the will being under the influence of the Holy Spirit. I do, however, believe that when demons tempt or influence Christians, through trials and temptations, they usually implant bad thoughts in their heads, but then they fly away. But I believe that if a Christian, through indiscretion, or lack of confession and repentance on certain types of sins, that Christian can be additionally indwelt by a spirit of that sin, to keep the man in addiction to that sin. Pornography, homosexual thoughts, rage, fear, depression, etc. can all be empowered by evil spirits; and because sanctification is a process, it is highly possible that these spirits, if not identified, confessed, and repented of, can live inside of the same body of a Christian that has the Holy Spirit living on the inside too. Obviously, the demons cannot live in the same place of the body that the Holy Spirit does, namely, the heart (Rom. 5:5; 8:15-16). But demons can live in the head, the lungs, etc. and still cause emotional and psychological turmoil inside of the Christian, disturbing his thoughts and feelings and dreams, even causing mental imbalances.
Assemblies of God rejected this idea in 1972 with the release of their position paper, “Can Born-Again Believers Be Demon Possessed?” In my mind, this is without a doubt a reaction to Derek Prince’s increasing influence during this time, as it was mainly due to him popularizing this teaching; it could have also been a reaction to Don Basham. I agree with Prince, and see him as teaching what the Bible and the church have historically taught throughout the early church, the Middle Ages, and the Reformation. The devil was then seen as an enemy of the church and of the saints in particular. Someone who was experiencing demonic torments, Martin Luther for example, was not considered unsaved, but under attack. The New Testament prescribes prayer in Jesus’ name as the means for casting out demons (Mark 16:17). The Assemblies of God, and those like them, try to make a big deal over the demon coming inside of the body, and they use a word called oppression, as opposed to possession, because they are all dwelling on “the demon inside versus the demon outside” subject rather than just doing what the Bible says. This is not meant to be an entertainment Sci-Fi topic to tickle your fancy as an armchair theologian. Its meant to get your facts straight so that when the going gets hard in the Christian life, and demonic activity increases, you’ll know what to do to make it stop.
One last thing: unlike some of the teachers here, I believe that the majority of deliverance ministry should be performed in private to anonymous individuals. This is how the Catholic exorcists have handled the problem for centuries. Some people who genuinely need need deliverance might shy away from it simply because they are afraid of manifesting a demon in a public church service. It is best to offer deliverance services in private to people who wish to remain anonymous, so their dignity remains intact. But things aren’t always so cut and dry; sometimes you might have people interrupt a normal church service and they start manifesting a demon right away: in that case, it is better to just start casting out the demon (see Matthew 8:28; 9:32; 17:14-18; Luke 9:42; Acts 16:18).
I found a good book called Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views edited by James Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy. The view described as “The Ground-Level Deliverance Model” probably comes the closest to my view. Here are books by those that fall into this school of thought about demons, spiritual warfare, and deliverance ministry:
1970 – Derek Prince’s Expelling Demons (this 20 page pamphlet possibly started it all) – listen to “Steps to Deliverance” – I differ with Prince on some finer points. I disagree with his persuasion that demons could be the disembodied souls of a pre-Adamite race of men (implying Neanderthals and theistic evolution), and that they are not fallen angels. I think that is an error. Might be from G. H. Pember’s Earth’s Earliest Ages (1876) and Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible (1963). He also believed that demons cause compulsive masturbation, ulcers, and tumors. Perhaps this is true, but ultimately, in the discerning of spirits (1 Cor. 12:10), it is best to rely on dreams, visions, voices, and impressions to identify demon spirits as in Athanasius’ The Life of Antony. Otherwise, it just becomes a guessing game.
1971 – Merrill Unger’s Demons in the World Today – Coming from a dispensationalist and cessationist background, like Jack Deere. Believed in eternal security like Hammond; but he believed that backsliders could be demon indwelt. AG and Prince too, I believe, believed in conditional security, and either way, that backsliders could be demon indwelt. The state of salvation is questionable in either case, and how you might label it, but in either case, the person seeking deliverance classifies himself as a “Christian” or is trying to be.
1971 – Don Basham’s Can a Christian Have a Demon? – listen to “The Deliverance Ministry” – also, like Prince, denies that demons are fallen angels and speculates that they are the souls of a pre-Adamic race of men or the souls of the damned (I totally reject both speculations). At least Basham admits the idea can’t be supported by the Bible. In “The Origin of Demons” he says he believes in the day age theory and millions of years; he also speculates that demons are disembodied giants or Nephilim (Gen. 6:4). So, for Prince and Basham, demons are either the souls of evil Neanderthals or evil Nephilim, but not fallen angels. This is a really bizarre idea; and they are not alone in it, but it is very strange and unorthodox. The one interpretation assumes Darwinism, which is unprovable; the other assumes that evil Nephilim were not sent to Hell after the Flood, which goes against 1 Peter 3:18-20 and especially 2 Peter 2:4-5: “If God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to Hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if He did not spare the ancient world when He brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others…” This passage says that the people of Noah’s time, the giants of Genesis 6:4 included, were sent to that same Hell with its gloomy dungeons as all the fallen angels were. The giants were not, as is taught by Prince and Basham, allowed to haunt this world and possess humans under the name of demons. The giants of Noah’s time are in Hell. Some fallen angels are in Hell, but some of them, which we call demons, are permitted by God to roam the earth and demonize, possess, and wreak havoc in people’s lives. This is what I believe.
1972 – Don Basham’s Deliver Us From Evil
1973 – Frank and Ida Mae Hammond’s Pigs in the Parlor – In the Foreword, Hammond says, “I acknowledge with deep gratitude the influence that Dr. Derek Prince has had upon my ministry. Many of the principles of deliverance reflected in my writing are products of his sound foundational teachings.”
1973 – The Exorcist film comes out (don’t recommend watching, bad language).
1977 – Merrill Unger’s What Demons Can Do to Saints – listen to “Demonic Intrusion” – a sermon delivered after the publication of this book. He believes that pornography is a huge cause of demonization in backsliders. In “The Gifts of the Spirit” he teaches cessationism; and that Pentecostalism is demonic. He believes deliverance is only through Bible counseling.
1980 – Win Worley’s Eradicating the Hosts of Hell
1980 – Michael Scanlan’s Deliverance from Evil Spirits
1987 – John Wimber’s Power Healing – Founder of the Vineyard churches, which are sadly now LGBT-affirming; his legacy mainly continues in the New Apostolic Reformation. See also his four Spiritual Warfare DVDs for $75. Wimber’s main influences came from Francis MacNutt’s Healing (1974), The Power to Heal (1977), Michael Scanlan’s Inner Healing (1974), Deliverance from Evil Spirits (1980), and Rita Bennett’s How to Pray for Inner Healing for Yourself and Others (1984). Wimber later emphatically endorsed Francis MacNutt’s Deliverance from Evil Spirits (1995). Wimber never tinkered with pre-Adamite ideas; he is probably the most theologically solid out of all the deliverance ministers listed here. He was aware of Derek Prince (ex-AG) and put him in the deliverance-Pentecostal model of ministers along with Gordon Lindsay (ex-AG), T. L. Osborn (Church of God, Cleveland, TN), Lester Sumrall (ex-AG), and Kenneth Hagin (ex-AG) (p. 284). Wimber identified more with the mainline neo-Pentecostal model or what came to be called “charismatic renewal” teachers such as Francis MacNutt (Catholic), Michael Scanlan (Catholic), and Rita Bennett (Episcopalian) (p. 283).
1989 – C. Fred Dickason’s Demon Possession and the Christian
1995 – Francis MacNutt’s Deliverance from Evil Spirits
1996 – Richard Ing’s Spiritual Warfare – Ing is influenced by Worley, Hammond, and Prince. This is the book that turned me on to this teaching during my college days, around the year 2006. No pre-Adamite ideas that I know of; he does, however, see masturbation as a demon, as well as cancer. Like Wimber and MacNutt, he believes in using visions to identify demons in discernment; and I respect that. I think that Richard Ing, Francis MacNutt, and John Wimber are likely my favorite teachers on deliverance.
1997 – Clinton Arnold’s 3 Crucial Questions About Spiritual Warfare
1998 – Derek Prince’s They Shall Expel Demons – This book also influenced me in 2006.
2003 – Ed Murphy’s The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare
Prayer for Self-Deliverance
Taken from John Eckhardt’s Prayers That Rout Demons
I break all generational, curses of pride, rebellion, lust, poverty, witchcraft, idolatry, death, destruction, failure, sickness, infirmity, fear, schizophrenia, and rejection in the name of Jesus.
I command all generational and hereditary spirits operating in my life through curses to be bound and cast out in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits of lust, perversion, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, and immorality to come out of my body, my mind, my will, my emotions and my character in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits of hurt, rejection, fear, anger, wrath, sadness, depression, discouragement, grief, bitterness, and unforgiveness to come out of my emotions in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits of confusion, forgetfulness, mind control, mental illness, doublemindedness, fantasy, pain, pride and memory recall to come out of my mind in the name of Jesus.
I break all curses of schizophrenia and command all spirits of double-mindedness, rejection, rebellion, and root of bitterness to come out in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits of guilt, shame, and condemnation to come out of my conscience in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits of pride, stubbornness, disobedience, rebellion, self-will, selfishness, and arrogance to come out of my will in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits of addiction to come out of my appetite in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits of witchcraft, sorcery, divination and occult to come out in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits operating in my head, eyes, mouth, tongue, and throat to come out in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits operating in my chest and lungs to come out in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits operating in my back and spine to come out in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits operating in my stomach, navel, and abdomen to come out in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits operating in my heart, spleen, kidneys, liver and pancreas to come out in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits operating in my sex organs to come out in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits operating in my hands, arms, legs and feet to come out in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits operating in my glands and endocrine system to come out in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits operating in my blood and circulatory systems to come out in the name of Jesus.
I command all religious spirits of doubt, unbelief, error, heresy, and tradition that came in through religion to come out in the name of Jesus.
I command all spirits from my past that are hindering my present and future to come out in the name of Jesus.
I command all ancestral spirits that entered in through my ancestors to come out in the name of Jesus.
I command all hidden spirits hiding in any part of my life to come out in the name of Jesus.