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Can a Christian Be Demon-Possessed?

Mark Virkler's picture

Here is a link to a 90-minute video session where I participated in a panel that was answering questions about deliverance. I discovered that people in the group were using the phrase demon-possessed, which is an expression I quit using years ago. Here is the reason why.

The word translated as "demon-possessed" in the King James Version of the Bible is daimonizomai in Greek. The literal definition of daimonizomai isunder the influence ofor vexed with. This is a very different picture than that of possession.

Yes, a demon can influence a Christian. Demons don’t possess Christians. I have been through deliverance on a couple of occasions and become free in areas that were under the influence of demons, but I would never say I was possessed by those demons.

Removing an unbiblical picture from our mind

The word daimonizomai is used 25 times in the Greek New Testament. The King James Version only translates it “possessed” 11 of the 25 times. It is translated as simply “devil(s)” 13 times and “vexed” once. Well, having a devil or being vexed by a devil is a whole lot different in my mind than being “possessed” by a devil. So more than 50% of the time it is not translated “possessed.” (Above information is excerpted from the book Prayers That Heal the Heart, as is the picture at the end of this blog.

Using the correct definition of daimonizomai - being under the influence of - really clears up the unbiblical picture in our minds of a person being “possessed by” (totally controlled by) a demon. So let’s drop the unfortunate translation of this word, and remove “possessed by” from our vocabulary, along with the unbiblical picture. Let’s adopt a new phrase, “under the influence of,” and a new biblical picture of “an area of my life that is under the influence of a demon."

Below is how Young’s Literal Translation translates daimonizomai

Young’s Literal Translation, which I love for its precision, never once translates daimonizomai as “possessed.” You can download Young's Literal Translation free as part of e-Sword. The list of verses below were instantly collected for me by e-Sword. Here is a blog describing why I love e-Sword.

Translated "demoniac" in the Young's Literal Translation

  1. Mat_9:32  And as they are coming forth, lo, they brought to him a man dumb, a demoniac,
  2. Mat_12:22  Then was brought to him a demoniac, blind and dumb, and he healed him, so that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
  3. Mar_5:15  and they come unto Jesus, and see the demoniac, sitting, and clothed, and right-minded—him having had the legion—and they were afraid;
  4. Mar_5:16  and those having seen it declared to them how it had come to pass to the demoniac, and about the swine;
  5. Mar_5:18  And he having gone into the boat, the demoniac was calling on him that he may be with him,
  6. Luk_8:36  and those also having seen it, told them how the demoniac was saved.
  7. Joh_10:21  others said, 'These sayings are not those of a demoniac; is a demon able blind men's eyes to open?'

Translated "demon" in the Young's Literal Translation

  1. Mat_9:33  and the demon having been cast out, the dumb spake, and the multitude did wonder, saying that 'It was never so seen in Israel:'
  2. Mat_11:18  'For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a demon;
  3. Mat_17:18  and Jesus rebuked him, and the demon went out of him, and the lad was healed from that hour.
  4. Mar_7:26  and the woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phenician by nation—and was asking him, that the demon he may cast forth out of her daughter.
  5. Mar_7:29  And he said to her, 'Because of this word go; the demon hath gone forth out of thy daughter;'
  6. Mar_7:30  and having come away to her house, she found the demon gone forth, and the daughter laid upon the couch.
  7. Luk_4:33  And in the synagogue was a man, having a spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a great voice,
  8. Luk_4:35  And Jesus did rebuke him, saying, 'Be silenced, and come forth out of him;' and the demon having cast him into the midst, came forth from him, having hurt him nought;
  9. Luk_7:33  'For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and ye say, He hath a demon;
  10. Luk_9:42  and as he is yet coming near, the demon rent him, and tore him sore, and Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the youth, and gave him back to his father.
  11. Luk_11:14  And he was casting forth a demon, and it was dumb, and it came to pass, the demon having gone forth, the dumb man spake, and the multitudes wondered,
  12. Joh_7:20  The multitude answered and said, 'Thou hast a demon, who doth seek to kill thee?'
  13. Joh_8:48  The Jews, therefore, answered and said to him, 'Do we not say well, that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a demon?'
  14. Joh_8:49  Jesus answered, 'I have not a demon, but I honour my Father, and ye dishonour me;
  15. Joh_8:52  The Jews, therefore, said to him, 'Now we have known that thou hast a demon; Abraham did die, and the prophets, and thou dost say, If any one may keep my word, he shall not taste of death—to the age!
  16. Joh_10:20  and many of them said, 'He hath a demon, and is mad, why do ye hear him?'
  17. Joh_10:21  others said, 'These sayings are not those of a demoniac; is a demon able blind men's eyes to open?'

Action Step

I encourage everyone to drop the phrase “demon-possessed” and the picture of “being demon-possessed” completely from their vocabulary and their thinking. It is a mistranslation of the Greek and an evil imagination (Jer. 7:24) that stirs up needless controversy in the body of Christ, taking us backward and not forward.

Resources for deliverance

These seven prayers remove all legal rights for a demon to be present. This makes deliverance easy.


Related Resources: 

Prayers That Heal the Heart   
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