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THE CHRISTIAN AND DEMONIC OPPRESSION: What Does Scripture Say?

Pastor Gary Nelson
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When it comes to the matter of "spiritual warfare" the most difficult, and most disagreed upon, question is whether a genuine, born-again Christian can be significantly "set upon" by a demonic spirit or spirits. This morning we look at what Scripture has to say about this difficult question.

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Memorial Drive 9/8/19 THE CHRISTIAN AND DEMONIC OPPRESSION: What Does Scripture Say? Various Texts Things to Keep In Mind … … CAN A CHRISTIAN “HAVE” A DEMONIC SPIRIT OR BE DEMONICALLY OPPRESSED? … THERE IS NO BIBLICAL INDICATION THAT SPIRITUAL NEEDS OR CHRIST’S KINGDOM MINISTRY HAS SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGED • Demons were clearly active in both O.T. and N.T. days. • When Christ comes on the scene, there is remedy and relief for oppression • Christ, the apostles, and others were entrusted with ministry to the oppressed • There’s no indication that demonic activity has diminished or disappeared • There’s also no indication that “setting captives free” is no longer needed • Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered ministry continues as “kingdom work” … CORRECT TERMINOLOGY HELPS TO CLEAR THE AIR “Possession” implies ownership, an impossibility for a born-again Christian The best interpretation is “demonized” or “to have a demonic spirit” “… demon possession (is) a misleading phrase found in some English translations of the Bible that seems to suggest that a person’s will is completely dominated by a demon. The Greek term is better translated ‘under demonic influence’, which could range from mild to strong influence or attack.” (Systematic Theology, Grudem, 1239) … CLEAR THINKING ABOUT A COMMON SYLLOGISM CAN HELP CLEAR THE AIR • PREMISE 1: The Holy Spirit indwells every born-again, genuine, believer. • PREMISE 2: The Holy Spirit cannot co-inhabit a person where there is an indwelling evil spirit. • CONCLUSION: Therefore, no Christian can be severely oppressed or “indwelt” by a demonic spirit. Premise 1 is true: “… if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Rom. 8:9b) If we strip away the underlying thought of ownership from Premise 2, do we find IN SCRIPTURE that the Holy Spirit can’t inhabit a person where an evil spirit is exercising some significant influence, even, at times, a certain amount of control? “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom? But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is EARTHLY, NATURAL, DEMONIC. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is DISORDER and EVERY EVIL THING.” (Jas. 3:13-16) “You once walked, following the course of this WORLD, following THE PRINCE OF THE POWER OF THE AIR, THE SPIRIT THAT IS NOW AT WORK in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of OUR FLESH” (Eph. 2:2–3a). I’m not at all sure that my sinful nature is any “better” than a demonic spirit or any more “desirable” to the Holy Spirit that lives within me and within every born-again Christian. … SCRIPTURES NEED TO BE BALANCED BY OTHER SCRIPTURES “Proponents of today’s spiritual warfare movement say yes, but they base their answer on subjective experience, not on God’s Word. The Bible makes it clear that such a claim has no justifiable basis.” (Can Christians Be Demon Possessed?, John MacArther) “What harmony has Christ with Belial … what agreement has the temple of God with idols? (I Cor. 6:15-16) Just as true is the fact that there’s no “harmony” between Christ and His Spirit and my old sin nature that still indwells me! In fact, they couldn’t be more opposed either! (Gal. 5:16-17) “For He RESCUED US from the domain of darkness, AND TRANSFERRED US to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:13-14) This guarantees that I can’t be stolen away from the Kingdom of the Son, but does it guarantee protection from demonic assault? And what do the following texts guarantee? “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us!” (Rm 8:37ff) “… you have overcome the evil one” (I John 2:14) “… you are protected by the power of God through faith” (I Peter 1:3b-5) “… the evil one does not touch him” (I John 5:18) … DO OUR CONCLUSIONS FROM CERTAIN TEXTS GUARANTEE ABSOLUTE PROTECTION FROM DEMONIC INCURSION? If you’re a Christian, it can’t be demonic. If it’s demonic, you aren’t a believer! So … Accept Christ! Or … Try Harder! Or … It’s All In Your Head! Or… See a Psychiatrist or a Dr. The texts above must be read in the light of OTHER TEXTS as well … “… our STRUGGLE is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12) “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to DEVOUR.” (I Peter 5:8) Is this theoretical? “I’m saying this but you can’t REALLY get swallowed up by your enemy!” … WHAT ABOUT “SPIRTUAL WEAPONS” TEXTS? “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” (2 Cor. 10:3-4) … EXPERIENCE DOESN’T TRUMP SCRIPTURE, BUT SOMETIMES IT CAUSES US TO RE-EXAMINE SCRIPTURE FOR FALSE ASSUMPTIONS While I could wish differently, I believe demonic oppression (sometimes severe) CAN and DOES happen, and I believe that Christ’s church should be ready to help when God brings oppression to light in the lives of some of His children.
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