Possessed by the Devil 2 Tim 2: 26 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
People often ask if a Christian can be possessed by the devil. The answer is “yes.” Of course, the trouble they have with this answer is that it doesn’t seem reasonable that a person can be saved by the Spirit and at the same time possessed by the devil.
It would help for you to understand what “possessed” means. The word possessed is defined in Webster’s Third New International Dictionary as “influenced or controlled by something (as an evil spirit or a passion).” Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines it as, “affected by demons or invisible agents.” In either definition, possessed doesn’t mean “owned by.” Think about it. When a person is driving drunk he is said to be “driving under the influence.” The alcohol is influencing him or controlling him; it doesn’t own him.
Likewise, possessed by the devil, then, doesn’t mean that the devil owns a Christian. God owns him (1 Cor 6:19-20). It means that the devil is influencing him or controlling him. And the devil can surely influence and control a Christian. Consider a couple of examples.
In Matt 16:16-23, look what happened to Peter. Peter was the Lord’s disciple and, in spite of his impetuosity, the Lord never “lost” him (Jn 6:37-39; Jn 17:12). Yet, in Matt 16, after Peter made the confession that Jesus “is the Christ, the Son of the living God,” he rebuked the Lord. When the Lord replied to Peter’s rebuke, he said to Peter, “Get thee behind me Satan…” (Matt 16:23). He was talking to the devil, who was talking through Peter. The devil influenced Peter to rebuke the Lord. He had to have been in Peter for the Lord to say to Peter, “Get thee behind me Satan.”
In Acts 5:3, when Ananias lied to Peter about the price of the land he and Sapphira had sold, Peter asked Ananias, “why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?” Satan had filled Ananias’ heart. Do you know what that is, by definition? That is being possessed by the devil despite the fact that Ananias was saved.
And whether Satan, himself, fills the heart or an unclean spirit fills the heart, the man is still possessed by the devil. Consider the case of the man in Mk 5:1-16. He is said to have been a man, “with an unclean spirit,” (v.2, 8), “devils,” (v.12), “unclean spirits,” (v.13), and “the devil,” (v.15, 16). All these words are used interchangeably to describe what possessed this man. Therefore, whether a person is possessed by unclean spirits or devils, he is still possessed by the devil.
The devil’s main tool is deception (Rev. 12:9). That is, he will make you believe something is true that is really false, or he will make you believe that something is false that is really true (2 Thes. 2:10). That’s what he did to Peter. The best defense against this deception is to find out what the truth is and believe it. The main reason that people get deceived is that they will not receive “the love of the truth,” (2 Thes. 2:10).
So, what are some indications that a person is possessed by the devil, other than the more obvious symptoms like the man in Mk 5 who was not in his right mind?
A blind mind – The devil can blind the mind of them which believe not (2 Cor. 4:4). You can watch this take place when you witness to people who don’t believe the truth of the gospel. They can’t “see” the simplest explanation of the gospel because the devil has blinded their minds.
A void heart – Before people get saved, the devil can come and take away the word out of their hearts lest they should believe and be saved (Lk. 8:12). Mk 4:15 shows you that this work takes place immediately after the word is sown. In personal work, we have seen this. You sow the word and follow up to water and it’s like the word was never sown in their heart the first time.
A corrupt mind – The devil can corrupt your mind from the simplicity that is in Christ through his subtlety (2 Cor. 11:3). Paul’s warning was addressed to Christians. He warned against getting suckered into following another Jesus, or another spirit, or another gospel. The most vulnerable time for a Christian is right after he gets saved. Often a new Christian will get corrupted by someone from a cult. That is often the work of the devil in direct opposition to the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God is in him but the devil is controlling him.
A lascivious life – As the prince of the power of the air, the devil works in people to fulfill the desires of the flesh and of the mind (Eph. 2:2-3). When a Christian goes back to a life of fulfilling those desires (Eph 4:17-20), sometimes it is due to the fact that he is possessed by the devil. Obviously, that is not always the case (Jas 1:14-16), but sometimes it is. He is literally taken captive by the devil at his will (2 Tim 2:26).
A sensual wisdom – this is a wisdom that doesn’t come from above which is earthly, sensual and devilish (Jas 3:14-16). There is a propensity toward this devilish wisdom today in modern churches and modern translations of the Bible. The devil is leading them more on feelings and emotions than on doctrine. When a Christian demonstrates this kind of wisdom, it can be an indication that he is possessed by the devil.