Can a Christian be Inhabited by Demons?

By Pastor Tony Butler

Prattville Alliance Church


            The legitimacy of deliverance ministry stands or falls on whether or not a Christian can have a demon/demons inside his/her body. There are many that deny that possibility. If they are correct, then deliverance ministry is completely false, and thousands of people are being led astray by a false teaching. On the other hand, if they are wrong, then thousands of people who truly need help will not be able to get it. Therefore, the matter must be considered carefully in the light of the Holy Scriptures.

            Experience can also legitimate as long as it doesn’t conflict with scripture and if the individuals are credible. I pray that the following information will be helpful to you in reaching a decision in this matter, or at least help you to be open-minded.


Biblical Terms

The Hebrew terms for demons in the OT.


Spirit – Heb. Ruwach, roo-akh

This is the primary word for demon in the OT. (see I Sam. 10:6) When it is used for a demon, the adjective (evil or unclean) is placed in front of the word to reveal the character of the spirit.

Familiar spirit – Heb. Owb, obe

This word is used for spirits that impersonate the dead. People who are mediums for these spirits are called necromancers.

Devils – Heb. Shed – shade also Sa-iyr – saw-eer


The Greek terms for demons and their vexing in the N.T.


Spirit - pneuma – new-mah

This word is used for every kind of spirit, such as angels, demons, and the Holy Spirit. When used for demons, adjectives are placed before it to reveal the character of the spirit.

Demon – daimonion – dahee-mon-ee-on

This word is only used for evil spirits.

Demon-possessed – daimonizomai - dahee-mon-id-zom-ahee

This word is the verb noun form of daimonion that describes their vexation in people’s lives.

Possessed – echo – ek-oh

This word is a verb meaning to have or to hold.


Note- The terms relating to demons, possessed with devils, possessed of devils, or possessed is found twelve times in the NT. Ten times the Greek word “daimonizomai” is used. (Mt. 8:16; 8:28; 9:32; 12:22; Mk. 1:32; 5:15,16&18; Lk. 8;36) The word is a verbal noun. It means to vex. This vexing or oppression is always seen in the scripture as coming from the inside of a person.

*      Two times the Greek word “echo” is used. (Acts 8:7; 16:16)  The word means “to have” or “to hold”. It has the idea of having a firm hold on one so he can’t get loose.

*      Neither term means to possess in the sense of ownership.

*      The words “ktema” Mk.10:22 and “huparchonta” Acts 4:32 are the primary words used for ownership. God is the only one who truly possesses all things.


The bible makes it plain that, “earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof: (I Cor. 10:28)  As Christians we have been bought with the blood of Jesus. We belong to God. No Christian can be possessed in the sense of ownership by Satan, but he/she can be vexed or demonized.

Even the most demonized unsaved person in the world is not owned by the devil, and can come to Jesus. (See Mk. 5:6)


Arguments That Say A Christian Can’t Be Demonized


1. There is no N.T. example of a born-again Christian ever being demonized/possessed by a demon.


(Response – If we argue that because there is no N.T. example of a demon being expelled from a believer, therefore it can’t be true, then we must understand that our stand or belief is being built on silence, rather than the word of God itself.

            The same argument could be used for the O.T. There is no internal evidence that a covenant child of God, namely the Jews could be demonized. However, the silence of scripture didn’t prevent the reality of the event. Jesus came under the O.T. economy to the Jews and cast demons out of His own people. If the Pharisees had said to Jesus, “Where do you find this in the scriptures?” He could not have pointed to any scripture stating that a child of Abraham could be demonized.

            However, we have a very plain example of a saved woman who was demonized in Luke 13:10-16. Jesus called this woman a “daughter of Abraham”, which is a term in scripture denoting genuine salvation. (See Rom. 4:8-22) All true believers are the children of Abraham, whether Jew or Gentile. (Gal. 3:7) In Jn. 8:31-41;44, Jesus told the Jews who were the physical descendants of Abraham that Abraham was not their father, rather Satan. Being a Jew did not make one a child of Abraham.

            The argument naturally develops to the difference between a saved person under the O.T. economy, and a saved person under the N.T. economy. Those that believe that a born-again believer can’t be demonized/possessed say that the O.T. believer did not have the Holy Spirit, but the N.T. believer does. This leads to the next argument or objection.)


2. God and demons could not possibly dwell in the same body simultaneously, because God would not tolerate the presence of evil.


(Response – It is understandable that many would have great difficulties in believing that God would share the same space with the presence of evil, especially as one contemplates the stark contrasts of character between the two.

            The force behind this objection seems to be that somehow God is tainted, or too holy to tolerate a presence of a demon; therefore one or the other has to be absent. It carries the idea of the attitude of a woman in a gorgeous white wedding dress in a coalmine. The beautiful white dress is so incompatible with the filthy black coal that it must leave or be defiled by the coal, or that the coalmine is transformed into a clean wedding chapel.

            Though this view is very understandable in the realm of human reasoning, it fails to portray the biblical view of God’s nature and character. Does it really matter where Satan or demons are? According to the scriptures they are all in the presence of God. (Ps. 139:7-8) Even if we were in hell, God’s presence is there. The bible makes it plain that the Spirit of the Lord is everywhere beholding the good and the evil.

The bible teaches that the temple of God has three sections, the Holy of Holies, the Holy place and the outer court. Satan has constant access into the very throne room presence of God. (Rev. 1:10; Job 1:6) The scriptures teach Christians are the temple of the Living God and that the Holy Spirit dwells in all true believers. Well, if Satan can roam freely before the very Throne of God in heaven why is it that many presuppose that he can’t enter into the temple of God called “a Christian”? The enemy loves to tread his filth on holy ground. Satan goes boldly before the Throne everyday to accuse the saints before God.

God and demons experience one another’s presence regularly, whether they are inside a believer or outside a believer. What difference does it make? Is God less Holy outside a believer than inside a believer? God has tolerated the world’s sin, Satan and demons in His omnipresence for over six thousand years. Can God only tolerate demons at a distance? Does close proximity cause God to recoil? Can the difference of being underneath the dermis/skin of a believer or above the dermis/skin of the believer cause God to recoil in repugnance? The answer to me is no.

            Another biblical truth that would seem to refute the idea that God and evil can’t dwell together in the same body of a believer is the fact that God dwells in us whether we have a demon or not. The flesh is every bit as evil, corrupt, and sinful as any demon. (Jer.17:9) Yet God dwells in us as His temple. If we are as unholy in our flesh as God says we are and we don’t taint God’s holiness by His dwelling in us, then certainly a Christian that is demonized can’t as well.)


3. The scriptures teach that it is impossible for a Christian to be demonized.


(Response - The evidence from the scriptures that are used to disprove that Christians can’t be demonized are slight and taken out of context. In my studies the following scriptures are used to support the negative argument.


*      You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” I Jn 4:4


(Response - It is argued that this verse makes no sense if a Christian can be inhabited by a demon. However, the context is making a declaration that God is superior in power over Satan. That is the very essence of deliverance ministry. It is the driving force that gives the saints the confidence to dispossess the enemy.)


*      Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” I Cor. 2:12


(Response - If one is honest with the context of this scripture it will be seen that this verse has nothing to do with a demon, but to the world’s system. The word “spirit” is also used to describe an attitude or mindset.) (Eph. 4:23)


*      No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.” I Cor. 10:20


(Response - Once again, if the context is looked at, it will be quickly seen that these verses deal with eating meat offered to idols. Paul declares to eat the meat is to be a participant with the ones the meat is being offered too. He challenges the Christians not to be participants with demons by the act of eating the meat. Isn’t it interesting he declares we can be participants with them.)


*      Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” II Cor. 6:14-16


(Response - This scripture is only dealing with the unequal yoking/marriage between a believer and unbeliever. The unsaved is a child of Satan and the saved is a child of God. The two should not marry. It has nothing to with demons. Besides, having a demon and fellowshipping with it is two different things. This is light as a straw as an argument to prove a Christian can’t be demonized.)


*      Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” James 3:11


(Response - The context of this verse is dealing with the words that proceed out of the mouth of the believer, not the ability of God and demons to co-habitat the same body.)




            Many believers, due personal bias and presupposition refuse to accept that Christians can be demonized, leave the believer defenseless to demonic attacks and demonization? This sounds really good, but is it just false security for the believer? Does it in fact work on behalf of evil spirits pulling down the walls of protection and leaving them vulnerable? Is it Biblical? I believe that this doctrine is a dangerous over simplification. It works on the behalf of demons. It makes no Biblical sense and it leaves the believer vulnerable and a demonic target.

I do not wish to minimize anyone’s feelings, but it is important to understand that a personal opinion is just that, it is not the final authority. All of us are guilty of bias determined by presuppositions that we have been taught and our own personal experiences. Because of our propensity towards bias, we must carefully and earnestly try to establish ourselves in the truth as we prayerfully search the scriptures to see if these things are so. (Acts 17:11)