February 5, 2008
Pastor Mark Driscoll
Christus Victor (Part 3)
THE QUESTION OF WHETHER CHRISTIANS CAN BE DEMONIZED
I'll tell you what I do, we'll get into real practical stuff. I needed to set a bit of a theological framework--world, flesh, devil, categories, buckets, schemes, how to defend yourself, how to train people, how to counsel them. Um, the big issue I wanna hit here is the transition is the doctrine of christus victor. I got a whole sermon on this online. [WtH this would have been in the Christ on the Cross series from 2005, aka the atonement series, which was eventually republished in book format as Death By Love]
Christus victor is the doctrine that Jesus Christ is our victor and he has conquered Satan and demons through the cross; that Satan and demons, because of sin, we have welcomed them into our life and through Jesus' death and resurrection Satan and demons have been defeated. I'll give you just a few verses. I've got a whole list on page 5. These are ones that in your personal study you're gonna want to keep on hand, you're gonna want to familiarize yourself with:
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the son that he loves.
Colossians 2:13-14 is probably the most stunning text on this issue.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins (there's a great truth), having cancelled the written code with its regulations that was against us and stood opposed to it. He took it away, nailing it to the cross (that Jesus takes away sin and Satan has no right to claim us).
I can go on and on and on.
1 John 3:8
He who does what is sinful is of the devil because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the son of God, the Lord Jesus, appeared, was to destroy the devil's work.
I'll just read Hebrews 2, as well:
Since children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity (God became a man, that's Jesus) so that by his death (there's the cross) he might destroy him who holds the power of death (that is the devil) and free those who, all their lives, were held in slavery by their fear of death.
The last few are just psalms talking about how God is a shield, that Jesus takes away our sin, and he is our shield. He defeats Satan and demons and he is the shield that, behind which, we have safety and protection from Satan and demons.
That being said I won't get into it more thoroughly because you can listen to the sermon online. "Christus victor", it's under the Christ on the Cross series. The notes are on there as well. But the big idea is that Jesus crushed Satan and demons at the cross and liberated those of us who are Christians.
What I do then, before I meet with people (page 6), I give them a spiritual inventory before I meet with them. Let's say I meet with someone and I wonder if they have demonic activity going on in their life, I'll give them a spiritual inventory, I send them home, and I tell them this--You know, Satan is a liar (John 4) and we want to be free of those. and the result is we need to speak the truth, walk in the light and be honest--so i tell them: "Look, tell me everything. Don't lie. Don't miss anything." Sometimes people will say, "Well, uh, do I have to put down everything?" It's, yeah, and like whatever you don't want to tell me that's probably the first thing I need to know. If it's so dark you can't tell anybody it's probably, you know, that's probably the big issue we have to deal with to get you some help.
So I'll give them this spiritual inventory on page 6. Read Galatians 5, read Colossians 3, read Mark 7. Is there anything you've done or been done to you, anything that's ongoing and chronic? I also go into have you done or had done to you bestiality, habitual lying, physical unhealth, chronic masturbation, lying, pornography, ongoing depression, suicidal thoughts, alcohol abuse, drug use, anger, blasphemy, violence, self inflicted injury (that would include suicide attempts), rape, incest, eating disorders, mental illness, pedophilia, anything else. I go through all these things. You been involved in a cult? You been involved in a false religion? Do you have any supernatural experiences? Do you hear voices? Do you see apparitions? Do you have any clairvoyant powers? I wanna know everything. I wanna know everything.
I tell `em, "Go home. Answer all this and if you're unwilling to just give me the truth I can't help ya cuz I need to get a snapshot, what are we dealing with?"
`Kay, and in this what I do not believe is--I'll answer this question, this the one question that everybody asks, "Can a Christian be demon-possessed?" And here's the problem, that's the wrong question because that's not the language of your Bible. Some translations use the language of demon-possessed but the language is actually 'demonized'. Now can a Christian be demon-possessed? Well, technically, no because we belong to Jesus and we're indwelt by the Holy Spirit and greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world; and Jesus says we're in his hand and no one and nothing can take us from his hand; and John 8 says neither height nor depth nor angels nor powers nor principalities nor any other thing can separate us from the love of God in Christ so, no, ultimately can't be demon possessed. Can a non-Christian be demon-possessed? Fully, and they are in the Bible. Jesus deals with many of them. You can, through your flesh and the world, so sort of open the proverbial door to your body and soul and heart and mind that you welcome evil spirits in. Some people have multiples. Jesus calls one guy Legion because he's got many demons in him. Totally.
Now what about a Christian? That's what we're talking about moreover. First thing, the non-Christian needs Jesus. You can't do anything with a non-Christian, they need Jesus. Jesus says even if you cast a demon out they don't have the Holy Spirit. Seven more demons come. So if you're dealing wtih a non-Christian that's, you know, demonized, demon-possessed, you cast demons out of them they're just gonna get seven more demons. You're not helping anybody. They need to get saved. You share the gospel and lead `em to Christ, first things first.
Second thing, what about Christians? Can Christians be demon possessed? Not in terms of ownership, no. You belong to God, right? You belong to God. Some would say, therefore, Satan doesn't work on Christians. Well, sure he does. He attacked Jesus. --say, "Yeah, well, he [Satan] can't internally influence them." Well, yeah, he can. Jesus looks at Peter and says, "Get behind me--" what? Satan. In Acts 5 there's a couple called Ananias and Sapphira. They were members of the church, believers, they were bringing their tithe after selling some land, and they withheld part of their alleged pledged tithe, and Peter looks at them and says "Why has Satan so filled your heart? You've not lied to men but to God the Holy Spirit." Why has Satan so filled your heart? Right at the center and core of who you are. Satan work's from THERE.
The same language again in Ephesians, "Don't be drunk with wine, be FILLED with the Holy Spirit." Why are you FILLED in your heart with Satan? Christians can't be owned, possessed in terms of demons but they can be externally oppressed and (this will be my most controversial statement) internally influenced. Not possessed, not controlled.
I'll use a very simple analogy, very controversial. There are huge books written warring over this. Some would argue, "Well, Satan can't have any access to a believer because God and Satan don't occupy the same space." I said, "Well they did in the days of Job when Satan was allowed to go into the presence of God." In me I have the flesh and my new nature. I have my depravity and the Holy Spirit. The world, God and Satan are at work there. Now God is greater, to be sure, and the only way I believe a believer is really opened up to the demonic is through sin and folly and lies and they open up themselves up. Are they possessed? NO. Are they internally influenced? Possibly. Possibly, for some.
In the same way, okay, I'll give you an analogy. I own my house. It's my house. No one has any right to live there but let's say I just invite over some total losers (drug addicts, alcoholics, freeloaders, whatever) and I let `em eat my food, hang out, sleep on the couch, crash in the bedroom, I just let `em live there. I don't kick `em out, I don't do anything. Do they own the house? Do they possess the house? No. Do they have access to it? Well, yeah, I opened the door, I let `em in. Are they gonna create havoc in my house? Yeah, they're gonna ruin everything. So what do I need to do? I need to kick `em out because they have no right to be there and then I need to lock the door and not invite `em in ever again.
I'm saying in that simple analogy that's kinda how Satan and demons work. If you open up your life, and this is not, not, you know, you had a bad day and said a bad word, this is a Christian who all of a sudden you're into the demonic; you're sick and you want to be healed so you go to some healer and now you're involved in demons; there's sin in your life that you've never really dealt with, that kind of stuff. You're doing drugs, you're opening yourself up to an altered state of conscioucesness (the Bible says to be self-controlled and alert and resist the devil and not you're not doing that cuz you're into drugs and alcohol and bizarre spirituality). You can open the door, bad guys move in, they don't OWN the house, you can kick `em out, lock the door. That's my description of internal influence. It's in very extreme cases and this isn't very often but it's possible.