The Demonization of Christians – Jack Deere

Originally from pages 26-27 in Jack Deere’s The Vineyard’s Response to “The Briefing”

This issue has been hotly debated among evangelical Christians. In the Vineyard we believe that the Bible teaches that Christians can be demonized. By “demonized” we mean coming under the influence or control of demonic power, whether that power is exercised externally or internally against the victims. Our reasons for believing this may be briefly summarized:

1. There is no text in the New Testament or Old Testament that says Christians cannot be demonized or have a demon. The most commonly used argument against Christians being demonized is theological rather than Biblical. The question is usually asked, “How can Christ and a demon inhabit the same home?” or “How can light and darkness dwell together?” The answer to this may also be stated in the form of a question, “How can Christ and sin dwell together?” Jesus dwells with sin any time He inhabits the heart of a new believer. If He can dwell in a sinful person why could He not dwell in a demonized person?

2. In the Old Testament Saul is described with language that is appropriate for a believer. The “Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul,” he “was changed into another person” and “was given a new heart” (1 Sam. 10:6-9; 11:6ff); and even in his rebellion the Spirit still came upon him and he prophesied (1 Sam. 19:23ff). Yet the Lord gave Saul an evil spirit to torment him (1 Sam. 16:14; 18:10-11).

3. The crippled woman in Luke 13:10-17 seems to be a believer for Jesus calls her a “daughter of Abraham” in verse 16. The expression “daughter of Abraham” seems to designate a believer. Jesus used this phrase to refer to Zacchaeus’ salvation experience when he said, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham” (Luke 19:9). Yet an evil spirit bound this daughter of Abraham for eighteen years.

4. The man in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 was delivered over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. This man was going to die or suffer significantly as a direct result of demonic activity. Yet he is clearly a believer because Paul refers to his spirit being saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus Christ in verse five. It also stands to reason that prolonged, voluntary sin could remove the protection of the Lord and open one up to some form of demonic influence.

These are the main reasons why we believe that Christians can be demonized. Our experience in ministering to the demonized also confirms our interpretation of the Biblical texts. However, these texts do not conclusively demonstrate that Christians can be demonized. There are other possible explanations for each text mentioned above. An internationally known and respected theologian, Charles Ryrie, has evaluated the evidence of both positions and found it to be inconclusive for either side (Basic Theology, [Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1987], pp. 167-68). What Ryrie does not do, however, is ridicule either position as unBiblical or the product of fanciful exegesis. We may be wrong in what we believe on this point, but we sincerely believe it because we think the Scripture teaches it and our experience confirms it.

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