The perennial question is Can a Christian have a demon? There are those (mostly non-Charismatics) who say categorically no. Usually, however, these people are also those who don’t really believe much in demons at all. In reality, most of us deal with demons and their effects throughout our lives. I’d like to propose this scale:
- Familiarity or “Stronghold”
Possession is what only a non-believer can experience. Where the demon can actually take control over the person’s will. A Christian can be oppressed, and in some cases severely, even with manifestations, etc, but it can’t take over your will. You are able to confess Christ as Lord and seek freedom. These two levels are the most common when discussing dealing with demons. This is where they have the most power and the most dramatic deliverance happens and is needed. This is not what I want to talk about in this post, however. I want to talk about the levels that are most common to the dealings of average Christians.
Familiarity is the level that I believe most people operate on with the devil. He has a stronghold in your behavior and/or your mind, but you don’t know it, because it’s a part of your personality. He’s not controlling you, but he’s “set up” or enmeshed in some part of your personality and he holds a specific demonic thought pattern in place. Now I’m drawing a fuzzy distinction between oppression and familiarity. When it’s a strong uncontrollable thought pattern, I’m calling that “oppression”, when it’s a wrong thought pattern that you think “on your own” that’s “familiarity.” Make no mistake, it’s still the devil who is influencing you to it. As we grow in our walk with God, these are the areas he blows up. He comes into that place and evicts the devil and his thought process, and replaces it with God’s thoughts and Spirit. This can happen in a deliverance session, some kind of “Freedom in Christ” process, your personal prayer time, worship, or a word of prophecy. Whatever does it, the key is that you become aware of something significant that was holding you back that was not in alignment with God, and you repent of it and separate. This could be called “deliverance” but I think it’s something fundamentally different from what happens at the levels of demonic possesion and oppression. This is more of process of externalization or re-identification.
This is God putting his finger on it to be dealt with and it usually results in a funny thing: the demon manifests! Once it’s been exposed and you stop agreeing with it, it’s no longer a part of your personality. It’s not familiar anymore, it’s externalized. You thought all along that it was you, but suddenly you find out that it wasn’t just you. There was something inspiring it. One of the most common ways I’ve seen and experienced this happening is in your dreams. When you evict the devil he tries to come to you to intimidate you or inflict damage on the way out. When you are in agreement with him, he’s happy because the path itself is the damage, so he stays quiet. When you stop agreeing, he turns up the heat. That’s where you have to stand up to him and assert your God given authority. Be aggressive, deepen your repentance, assert your authority in God, and kick him out for good! If you’re above the demonic “oppression” level and he’s coming at you from the outside, that’s usually a good sign, because he’s not on the inside.
Victory is the place you walk when you have dealt with the key personal strongholds that hold you personally back. The enemies goal is keep you at those lower levels with several strongholds. That way if you start to break free of one, he can pull on another to cause the whole door to be reopened. So I believe every Christian has several personal strongholds to defeat before they see the walk of power they long for. See A.A. Allen’s book “The Price of God’s Miracle Working Power” for a similar perspective on this. Your goal is stay in faith and the presence of God as He breaks the series of strongholds in your life. When you have defeated them, you’ll have the authority that the Bible says you are supposed to have because you are no longer under the authority of the devil in some important area of your life. Now God can and does use people at lower levels — in fact that’s where most of us are. It’s just that there are these huge limitations on us. When a man or woman breaks through to victory they operate on a completely different level. Now I’m not saying that everyone who has a major anointing has victory, but I think they had it at one point.