Demonic possession (Part 1)

Remember that the Christian worldview includes natural and supernatural realms.  But naturalism states that there is no supernatural realm, leaving no room for angels and demons.  Yet Christianity can explain why cultures all over the world believe in spirits. Or why today the Roman Catholic church (and other denominations) perform exorcisms and deliverance ministry on demon-possessed people. For example, the Roman Catholic Church’s New York archdiocese investigates about 40 cases per year and performs exorcisms in about 10% of the cases after ruling out physical or psychological problems. If there’s no supernatural realm of the demonic, what is going on here?

The truth of the matter is that demonic possession occurs–not just in the Bible, but in the world today.  But why would someone be taken over by demons?  Th rationale for such abuse seems to be an attack on God through people, and to separate men from God.  As Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

But what happens in a case of demon possession?  Recall that the Roman Catholic Church will rule out physical and psychological problems before it performs an exorcism.  Some members of exorcism ministry (or deliverance ministry) state that there are three stages of demonic possession: oppression, obession, and possession.  In demonic oppression, the person is not physically possessed, but lied to by the demon, in the hope that the deception will lead to disobedience.  Satan lying to Adam and Eve about not dying if they ate the fruit is one example (Genesis 3).  Another “stage”, demonic obsession, is when the demon is bringing the person more under its control by the constant lies it tells.  An example is 1 Timothy 4:1, which says, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”  The third “stage” is demonic possession, where the demon is taking bodily control of the person.  The effects of possession will be the subject of the next blog.

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