Gossiping, criticism, lying, deception, lust, pride, being judgmental, position-seeking, manipulation of people are common behaviors in some Christian churches. Even believers of long standing can become enslaved to these behaviors, to pornography and secret sin, leading lives of quiet desperation. Why?
We won't like the answer but it's Biblically true -because they are 'demonised' in areas of their personality not yet given over to Holy Spirit control.
Mark 1:23; Luke 4:33 describe a man in church who is demonised. The evil spirit is in the man. The man is in the church. The spirit knew who Jesus was. Jesus muzzles the spirit and commands it to come out. Jesus didn't put the man out of the church. He put the demon out of the man. In most churches today he would've been put out of the church with the demon still in him.
Jesus knew He wasn't dealing with the man, but with the spirit inside the man.
Those watching, questioned this new doctrine. (Mark 1:27; Luke 4:36). We may be tempted to do that too.
Jesus' fame quickly spread. He became known as one who expels evil spirits. Expelling demons became a regular feature of His ministry (Mark 1:39). In Mark and Luke, expelling a demon is listed as Jesus' first miracle. Jesus came to release people from demonic oppression. In the New Testament the word 'demon' and 'evil spirit' are used interchangeably.
We may become indignant that our bad behavior at times could be caused by demon oppression. However, the word in Mark 1:32 is 'demonised'. Demonised means the person is oppressed or afflicted by an evil spirit.
If we find ourselves 'losing it' even after decades of being a Christian, there is something in our personality not yet given over to the control of the Holy Spirit. We may have the spirit of anger or the spirit of pride, lust, falsehood, gossiping. If these behaviors are still with us - even though we are dedicated Christians - the harsh reality is we are oppressed by an evil spirit. The sooner we humbly recognise this, the sooner we embrace the cure.
DEMON OPPRESSION IN CHRISTIANS
Jesus never sent anyone to preach the gospel without equipping them to deal with evil spirits. (MattHEW 10:1; Luke 10:17). Jesus gave His disciples and 70 others the authority to (i) cast out demons and (ii) heal. Casting out demons is listed first. The purpose of so equipping them is to demonstrate that the Kingdom of God is here. There's little use talking about it if it can't be demonstrated.
In the gospel commission, after baptism is listed, five signs are given that will follow those who believe - the first one listed is the ability to cast out demons. (Mark 16:15-20). Jesus included it in the gospel commission. Those He commissioned preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, confirmed with signs that followed (verse 20).
Confidence to cast out demons is rare today - especially among those steeped in theology. This is because we have shifted Jesus' original model to something else. Jesus started His ministry with casting out demons and ended it on the same note. He never changed it. We have changed it. We consider our way today is somehow better than His. We have drifted by being too theological at times. We fear manifestations, even if they are truly from God. Conservatism isn't so wonderful when it blocks Jesus' model.
"If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the Kingdom of God has come to you". (Matthew 12:28).
If we hesitate to believe this or to do it, could it be we are oppressed by an evil spirit ourselves? The spirit of fear, the spirit of unbelief, the spirit of pride. Until we are released from these we cannot fulfill the gospel commission. Let's test ourselves: when we're asked to help someone who is behaving demonically, do we go forward confident in the Lord or do we shrink back, unsure and afraid we may embarrass ourselves if nothing happens? How we answer reveals much about ourselves.
CASTING OUT DEMONS
All the miracles Jesus did (except one) are in the Old Testament: raising the dead, healing the sick, feeding the multitude, miraculous provision etc. Casting out demons is not mentioned in the Old Testament because it is the distinctive sign that the kingdom of God came at Jesus' first advent.
The world today is increasingly becoming a demon-possessed place. As believers we are not demon possessed because we belong to Jesus, but we can be 'demonised' if aspects of our personalities are still angry, vindictive, hostile, lustful, vain and accusatory. Our house was swept and clean some while ago, but by neglect seven extra evil spirits worse than before re-enter the premises and our last state is worse than before. (Matthew 12:45)
GIVING SATAN A FOOTHOLD
Our weakest place is where an evil spirit can easily enter us. It is true we can sin out of weakness without a demon entering in, but if we persist in the same sin, we invite Satan in.
We choose to move onto Satan's ground when we visit a gambling venue, a nightclub, drinking establishment, watch an erotic movie or a violent movie. Christians choose to move onto Satan's ground when they habitually engage in cruel gossip and unfairly judge others. Specific acts such as this invite Satan in because we gave him the legal right to do that when we moved onto his territory. Satan is a legal expert - he knows when he has a right.
Nothing special may happen to us and this emboldens us to do it again and again, not realising the evil spirit has already taken hold of us. We become brazen that we got away with it without being struck down. Our decline is now rapid. Prayer and Bible reading are neglected and within just a few days we are well out to sea - caught in a rip.
The deceitfulness of sin from the master deceiver easily traps any Christian who lets down their guard and who is not daily baptised in the Holy Spirit. This is a battleground, not a playground. It is a spiritual battle between the Holy Spirit and evil spirits and without the Holy Spirit we will be overcome in an instant.
Professing Christians can watch a TV program without falling asleep - but if they try to read the Bible they fall asleep within minutes because they have placed themselves on Satan's enchanted ground and their appetite for holiness has weakened.
We must distinguish between a demon possessed person and a demonised person. The first is in people wholly given over to Satan. The second is in believers not yet wholly given over to the Holy Spirit.