Demonic oppression and deliverance — even for Christians?
Every day, people are learning about the power of the Holy Spirit amid spiritual darkness and worldwide financial uncertainty. Whether it's the revival that began at Asbury University, the massive popularity of the "Jesus Revolution" film or the mainstreaming of demonic deliverance, we are witnessing an extraordinary move of God.
It is not only hearing the Gospel, but society is witnessing the supernatural transformation that occurs from a radical encounter with the Risen Savior.
As a result of the sudden popularity of spiritual gifts, social media is filled with passionate arguments over the biblical authority of Christians to heal the sick and cast out demons. The most controversial aspect of which is whether Christians can be demon possessed. I have spent many hours learning the perspectives of respected scholars on this issue to better understand my faith journey. Though I cannot offer a professional conclusion, here are some lessons I have learned along the way.
When I came to saving faith in Christ, I was breaking with patterns of my ancestors that dated back thousands of years. There were countless generations of idol worship, polygamy, sexual immorality and debauchery — without the blood of Jesus anywhere to be found. I had no idea whether these habits were passed down to me genetically like heart disease, or spiritually through demonic strongholds. However, I knew that complete regeneration required my conscious commitment to walking in Christ's victory for me at the cross.
The process began with prayer and repentance.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Without bringing it to Christ, the actions that trapped me in sin continued to plague my mind and affect my behavior. I had to lay each one at the feet of Jesus, believing in His purification, while praying for the Holy Spirit to do the rest. Without belief, repentance, and the power of the Holy Spirit, there is no victory. Yet, the process of restoration and regeneration took time. We do a disservice to our fellow brothers and sisters when we do not acknowledge the spiritual warfare it takes for some believers to break those strongholds. I am so grateful for the compassionate prayer warriors who walked alongside me to encourage and keep me accountable.
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).
In the Church, everyone acknowledges the importance of praying for others, but it gets testy when someone needs deliverance from demonic oppression. Personally, I do not believe any other being can inhabit a Christian who the Holy Spirit possesses.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
I cannot envision a situation where He allows a roommate in that temple. However, I do think the Scriptures teach that believers can be demonized or afflicted by evil forces, or we would not be putting on the armor of God every day (Ephesians 6: 10-18). When we read the account of the demoniac living in the cemetery in Mark 5:1-20, the demons recognized the authority of Christ, and they begged Him to enter the pigs instead of the abyss. After the man was free of his demonic torment, Jesus told him to tell the others what happened. Two audiences needed to hear that Jesus held authority over the demons: the demons and man. We find a similar story in Mark 9:14-27 when the father brings Jesus his demon-possessed son, a crowd gathers, and then He casts the demon out. Again, His authority is demonstrated to both demons and men. Christ passes that authority to members of His Body, the Church, so our authority is a derived one. Believers cast out demons in the name of Jesus Christ, not by any power we possess outside of Him.
So whether that demon is inside a person or just tormenting their thoughts, let's not be overly concerned about where the evil force is located and instead focus on how Jesus helps us achieve victory over it.
In addition to fervent prayer, repentance, and studying God's word, believers must renounce any activities that expose them to demonic activity. This includes everything from unforgiveness, anger, idolatry, sexual immorality, and occult practices (Ephesians 4:17-29; 5:13, Colossians 3:5). Our victory emanates from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but we cannot continue to live recklessly and expect that power to be the dominant force in our lives.
None of us can say with absolute certainty how the powers of evil operate in the life of a believer, but I find comfort in the fact that the solution is the same. It is putting our faith in Christ and pursuing a life of holiness alongside others who encourage and love us. It is meditating on God's word, praying over ourselves and others, and repenting and renouncing sin that keeps us bound. “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Hedieh Mirahmadi was a devout Muslim for two decades working in the field of national security before she experienced the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and has a new passion for sharing the Gospel. She dedicates herself full-time to Resurrect Ministry, an online resource that harnesses the power of the Internet to make salvation through Christ available to people of all nations, and her daily podcast LivingFearlessDevotional.com.