What can the devil do?
Demon Possession

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Demon Possession occurs when a person has their mental and physical faculties (in varying degrees) controlled or dominated by one or more evil spirits. Those who find themselves in such a pitiful condition are unable, of and by themselves, to be freed of such bondage. Only the power of God and His Spirit can free a person of the suffering brought on by such "guests."

Possession by a demon is significantly different from being influenced by one. The Bible calls the devil the "god of this world" or "god of this age" (2Corinthians 4:3 - 4) and the "prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:1). He and his evil spiritual followers are referred collectively as "the world rulers of the darkness of this age" (Ephesians 6:12, HBFV throughout). As such, ALL humans (including Christians) are constantly encouraged to sin, with the ultimate decision to do so or not in the hands of each person. A person possessed of a demon, however, is forced to suffer and take on the traits of the spirits inside them.

The most well-known demon possession in the Bible occurred when the devil himself was allowed to control Judas Iscariot in order to insure Jesus would be betrayed to and arrested by those who hated him (Matthew 26:3 - 4, 14 - 16, Luke 22:3, John 13:2, 27). Once Christ was arrested, the devil left Judas and went elsewhere to stir up trouble.

How did Jesus confront fallen angels?
What does the Bible say about GHOSTS?
Did Judas ever repent?
WHY do angels exist?

Freed by Christ

Scripture makes special mention of SEVEN individuals whom were personally freed of devils by Jesus during his three and one-half year ministry.

Man beset by demon by Hieronymus Bosch
Mankind beset by devils
Hieronymus Bosch (1500 - 1504)

Some general references

Those in the Galilee region, as well as those near Capernaum, brought possessed people to Christ to heal (Matthew 4:23 - 24, 8:16, Mark 3:11). After Jesus choose his innermost twelve disciples (apostles), demonic possessed folks from Judea, Jerusalem, Tyre and Sidon were brought to him to heal (Luke 6:12 - 18). The Lord also gave twelve, then seventy, of his disciples the power to cast out demons they encountered during a "training exercise" he implemented (Matthew 10:1, Luke 10:1, 17). After Christ's resurrection the apostles healed many from Jerusalem and the surrounding area of unclean spirits (Acts 5:16).

In the not-to-distant future, the end-time Antichrist (the "Beast"), who will be allowed to rule the world, will be a human being possessed of the devil (see Revelation 13).

Amazingly, evil spirit beings are willing to possess animals to accomplish their goals, such as Satan possessing an animal in order to tempt Eve (Genesis 3). A "legion" of evil spirits, before being cast out of a person, begged Jesus to allow them to possess a nearby heard of pigs rather than be sent out of the area (see Mark 5 and Luke 8).

Other questions answered

Why are certain people possessed while others are not? Scripture does not give a definitive answer in this regard. There are, no doubt, some who "invite" possession by their attitude and behavior (Matthew 12:43 - 45, Luke 11:24 - 26). Others, however, clearly do not. Jesus dealt with both a girl (Matthew 15:22 - 28) and a boy (Mark 9:17 - 27) who had demons. It is incredibly hard to imagine that such young people, with such loving parents (who pleaded to Christ to heal them), brought such a terrible trial upon themselves (especially when adults indulge in behavior far worse than any child could do and yet are never possessed). These examples show that demonic possession can at times happen to otherwise innocent people.

Can a true Christian, who has God's Holy Spirit in them, also be demon possessed? While it IS true that Christians can be influenced or led to sin by the evil spirit world, just like those who are not converted, there is not a single Biblical case where someone who has the Spirit is, at the same time, possessed of an evil spirit. What CAN happen, however, is if the Spirit is removed due to unrepentant sin (as was the case with King Saul - see 1Samuel 16:14) then an evil spirit could enter or otherwise bother a person. The apostle John, commenting on the security of a true believer, wrote the following.

18. We know that anyone who is begotten by God does not practice sin (as a way of life); for the one who has been begotten by God keeps himself by the power of God, and the wicked one (the devil) does not touch him (1John 5:18)

Additional Study Materials
What is SPIRITUAL Depression?
Who are the most EVIL people in the Bible?
Should a Christian attempt to cast out a demon?

What can the devil and
demons DO and NOT DO?
What can they do?

What can they not do?


Series Primary Sources

Adam Clarke's Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the New Testament
Bible Knowledge Commentary
Complete Book of Bible Secrets and Mysteries
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary
John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
Matthew Henry's Commentary
Willmington's Guide to the Bible


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