TO help understand how a Christian can have a demon, we need first to explain the difference between “Demon possession” and “Demon oppression or demonization.”
A believer can be oppressed by a demon or be demonized, but cannot be demon possessed.
In Mark 5: 1-5, the healing of the demon possessed man of Gerasene the Bible presents to us a man who is demonically possessed.
When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
We see a picture of a man who is totally taken over and controlled by an unclean spirit- he could not live with people! This man can be described as being under “a complete and total control” of (someone) or something.
For the man of Gadarene, in Mark 5:1-5, it was demon possession for the demons had captured his entire thought life. Such a person is in a condition where one or more demons inhibit the body and take total control. This person has lost personal control of what they say, what they feel or do. They are in complete possession of a demon or Legion as in the case of this man.
The many evil spirits possessed his spirit, soul and body.
At this point is important to introduce the tripartite nature of man which will help us understand better why a believer can be demon oppressed and need deliverance so that they may experience the fullness of freedom that Jesus died for on the cross. Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, stand firm then and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
The human being has three parts-Spirit, Soul and Body. 1Thessalonians 5:23 “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through, may your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blames at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV).
A human being is the temple of God and His spirit lives in us. 1 Corinthians 6:19 we are told, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives in you?”
How then can evil spirits live in us? Can light really dwell with darkness?
When we accept Christ as Lord and Saviour, the Holy Spirit comes to reside in our spirit. A lot of people have misunderstood 2 Corinthians 5:17 which says, that anyone in Christ is a new creation.
They have assumed that every part of the person becomes new at salvation. However, the change that occurs at salvation only occurs within the spirit. The newness at re-birth occurs only in the spirit where the Holy Spirit enters to indwell, the soul and the body will need continual renewing and discipline.
The soul part of the human being itself comprises three parts-the mind , emotions and will. With our minds we think, with our emotions we feel, and, with your will, you act.
An unbeliever belongs to Satan
An unbeliever belongs to Satan. He or she is owned and controlled by Satan while a believer belongs to the kingdom of God. He or she may be demon oppressed or influenced by Satan to some degree as he or she allows, but they are not totally owned.
For the man of Gadarene, he was totally bought out to evil spirits as exhibited in his bizarre, fierce and violent behaviour however for the Christian, he or she can be demonised that is being demon oppressed but not possessed.
A Christian can be partially under the control of a demon due to its presence in his or her life.
The presence of an evil spirit would be exhibited in the mind, emotions and will areas of the Christian’s life, that is his or her Soul and sometimes in the body through infirmities.
Demons in a Christian are illegal squatters that have invaded a territory that does not belong to them but belongs to God!
When we become born-again it is the Spirit that has changed. The Soul and Body requires a walk with God- constant transformation. Evil spirits may continue to inhibit a faithful believer and oppress them, manifesting in unpleasant behaviour like anger, fear, sexual immorality, unforgiveness, till they are finally acknowledged and kicked out through deliverance.
At salvation, light comes in to drive away darkness out of the spirit, but the soul and body require a constant “renewal of the mind”with the word of God.
A Christian can be demon oppressed
To further understand how a Christian can be demon oppressed ,we need to understand how demons enter people. For an evil spirit to enter something has to happen. Something has to breach the protective wall that God created around us. “Whoever digs a pit may fall into it; whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake,” Ecclesiastes 10:8 .
When a wall is broken, the snake, read Satan, comes in and deposits poison(his demons).If we sin, for example, we break the wall and Satan sends in his demons to oppress us with guilt, shame and condemnation.
There are four things that breach the protective wall- Sin, Lack of self control, Trauma and Inheritance.
Satan constantly wants us to sin so that he may control our lives. Unconfessed sin gives him a spiritual legal right to send his demons to oppress our lives.
Trauma, while is something happening beyond our control breaks the wall and causes doors to open for the evil spirits to enter. Phobias, fears, stress, panic attacks and anxiety will open doors to other evil spirits like addictions and escape or coping mechanisms to come in.
Judas who betrayed Jesus after an evil spirit entered him later committed suicide because of trauma.
Inheritance is known to breaks the wall through the bloodline because of the sin of idolatry that was practiced by our ancestors. Many are born with walls that are already broken.
Repair the wall
We quickly need to repair our broken walls. In Ezekiel 22:30, the prophet says on behalf of God, “I looked for anyone to repair the wall and stand in the gap for me on behalf of the land, so I wouldn’t have to destroy it. But I couldn’t find anyone.”
When a non-believer accepts Christ the spirits that were in his soul will still be there.
That is why we see pastors who lie, are addicted to alcohol or are depressed, and some even commit suicide. When the old has become new at salvation such a change does not transform the persons mind, will and emotions and it may take sometime to be delivered from them.
It takes time to allow the Holy spirit to take control, moving from the spirit region to the soul and finally being in charge of directing the body as well.
Satan will tempt a believer to sin to breach the wall, remember the world and the flesh do not go away at Salvation. “Therefore,” Paul writes in Romans 12:6 “do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”
Demons may still reign and dominate an area of a believer’s life but will only control as much ground as they are permitted. For Christians, the enemy cannot reach the spirit, but he can gain access to the soul and body.