David Cairn’s talk notes presented on 17th May 2019 can be found here
The phrases ‘unclean spirit’, ‘evil spirit’ and ‘demon’ are used interchangeably in the New Testament.
Demons are persons without bodies Eph6:12(Living Bible). Where the A.V. translation speaks of people being ‘demon possessed’, this is incorrect. The phrase should be ‘demonised’ or ‘having a demon’.
Clearly a Christian cannot be possessed by a demon because possession denotes ownership. However, demons may have access in specific areas where Jesus is not yet Lord.
Jesus encountered demons frequently and much of his ministry was taken up delivering the believers of his day from them. Mark1:39(Phillips) shows that there was a deliverance ‘service’ every Sabbath in the synagogues of Galilee.
In Mark 7:24-30 (esp. v27) Jesus clearly states that deliverance is the children’s bread – not generally for those outside God’s family, unless they express repentance and faith in some way as the Syro-Phoenician woman did.
The key to being delivered is repentance and renunciation of the relevant sin. Unless there is a degree of repentance in a person’s life the demon has a legal right to stay – or a right to return if it is expelled. In the average non-Christian there is no basic repentance, so deliverance would seem to be mainly for Christians, or those seeking God and moving towards repentance. There may be exceptions to this, particularly where demons are causing sickness of some kind and faith is being expressed.
Many sicknesses, diseases and other physical problems are caused by spirits of infirmity. Many references from the ministry of Jesus show that a significant part of his healing ministry involved delivering people from these types of demons. Luke 13:10-16 is a clear example of a spirit of infirmity/disability causing curvature of the spine in a woman whom Jesus called a “daughter of Abraham”. She was obviously a believer who had been bound by this unclean spirit for 18 years and was instantly healed when the demon was expelled.
Mt 17:14-18 and Mk 9: 14-27 esp. v25 gives another example of demons causing illness – in this case epilepsy, deafness and dumbness. It is the experience of many in the healing ministry today that Christians are frequently cured of physical illness as a result of expelling the relevant sickness demon.
Jesus expelled demons with a command and by the power of the Holy Spirit (see Mt 12:28, Luke11:20) and we are called to do the same. The commission to expel demons was given, first to the twelve disciples, then to the seventy and then to all who believe: see(Mk16:17,18; Acts 8:7). Believers should not fear demons, rather they are afraid of the authority we have through Jesus Christ, Luke 10:17-20.
Acts 5:3 states that Ananias had a lying demon (and probably more than one – pride?).
In 2 Corinthians 11:4 Paul writes about the Corinthian Christians receiving a ‘different spirit’ from the one (Holy Spirit) they had received when they became Christians . There is only one Holy Spirit, whose gifts they had exercised ; but they had opened up and submitted to a different – unholy spirit that promoted a ‘different gospel’ and a ‘different Jesus’. So in at least one area of their lives they had become demonised.
Col. 2:15 states that Jesus has disarmed all demon powers and triumphed over them through his vicarious death on the Cross. But we give them power in certain areas of our lives by persistent sin. They lose their power and legal right to trouble us when we repent and renounce these sin areas. We can expel them by breathing in the Holy Spirit (the word spirit means breath) and breathing out the unclean spirit. We may or may not feel them leave. We will, however soon have the evidence, once they have gone.
Mt 12:43-45 warns us that the empty areas of a person’s life, after they have been delivered must be filled with the Holy Spirit or else more demons will return. So be sure to pray for the vacated areas to be filled with the Holy Spirit following deliverance. This warning of Jesus implies that deliverance from demons is not for unbelievers or for those unwilling to submit to him. All those in the New Testament who experienced deliverance submitted, in some way to Jesus. Even the man who had a legion of demons ‘when he saw Jesus from afar ran and worshipped him’ Mark 5:6.
Demons cause restlessness. They drive and compel and provoke many types of addiction and much more. They are generally specific, affecting a particular area of the body or soul. Some Christians gain a victory over a particular sin area; but still find the pressure to sin is intense. In this case there is probably a demon of that particular sin still active; but until it is expelled the Christian will not be properly free from periods of intense pressure. For example: a Christian of about three years was troubled by lust. He had overcome the sin but was frequently hassled, spoiling his walk with God. The demon of lust behind his eyes was commanded to leave in the name of Jesus. It went and he was free and has been since. The session only took a few minutes. Of course, not all our problems are demonic. Much is due to our ‘flesh’ which we are to crucify, see Col.3:5-9; but demons need to be expelled.
Nowhere does the New Testament say that a Christian can’t have a demon. By contrast, the above scriptures either state clearly or imply that a believer can be demonised. It would be nice to think that Christians could not have demons; but it just isn’t true to the scriptures or to experience. The writer knows this from intimate personal experience and also from seeing many Christians delivered from demons. Most left without any fuss or with just minor manifestations. However a few of these demonstrated manifestations (exactly as described in the NT) before being expelled in Jesus’ name.