Saturday, October 30, 2010

Can a believer be demoniacally oppressed?

Question: "What does the Bible say about demonic oppression?"

Answer: As background, please read our articles on “What does the Bible say about demon possession?” and “Can a Christian be demon possessed?”. Because there is strong biblical evidence that a Christian cannot be demon possessed, the question then arises regarding what influence/power a demon can have over a Christian. Many Bible teachers describe demonic influence on a Christian as “demonic oppression,” making it clear that a Christian cannot be “possessed,” but can be “oppressed.” So, the question becomes to what extent can a Christian be oppressed by demons?

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that the devil seeks to devour believers (1 Peter 5:8), and Satan and his demons “scheme” against Christians (Ephesians 6:11). As Satan did to Jesus (Luke 4:2), the demonic forces tempt us to sin and oppose our efforts to obey and serve God. Should a Christian allow the demons to succeed in these attacks, oppression results. Demonic oppression is when a demon is temporarily victorious over a Christian, successful in tempting a Christian to sin, and able to hinder a Christian’s ability to serve God with a strong testimony. If a Christian continues to allow demonic oppression in his/her life, the oppression can increase to the point that the demonic has a very strong influence on the Christian’s thoughts, behavior, and spirituality. Christians who allow continuing sin to fill their lives open themselves up for greater and greater oppression. Confession and repentance of known sin is necessary to restore fellowship with God who can then break the power of demonic influence. The Apostle John gives us great encouragement in this area: “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him” (1 John 5:18).

For the Christian, the power for victory over and freedom from demonic oppression is always available. The Apostle John declares, “…the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). The power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9) is always available to overcome demonic oppression. No demon, not even Satan himself, can prevent a Christian from surrendering to the Holy Spirit and thereby overcoming any and all demonic oppression. In fact, Peter went on to encourage believers to resist the devil, “standing firm in your faith” (1 Peter 5:9). Being firm or steadfast in the faith means relying on God and the power of the Holy Spirit to successfully resist demonic influence. Faith is built up through the spiritual disciples of feeding on the Word of God, persistent prayer, and godly fellowship with others who can encourage and pray for us. Strengthening our faith by these means enables us to put up the shield of faith with which we can “extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).

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