Check out the new Convergence Church Network! 

Visit and join the mailing list.

Enjoying God Blog


Much is being written and said these days about demonic activity in relation to Christians. Specifically, can a Christian be demonized? This short explanation of what it means to be demonized (and the fact that the terminology of demon possession is nowhere found in the NT) is a prelude to the next two articles in which I address the question of whether or not a born-again Christian can be indwelt by a demonic spirit.

Some of you are probably wondering why I have chosen the term “demonization” rather than the more popular “demon possession”. This may actually come as a surprise to you, but the Bible never once talks about demon possession. Not once!

It was popularized by its appearance in the King James Version, although it had appeared in other English versions prior to the 1611 edition. That should be reason enough to avoid using such language, but in addition we need to consider the emotional impact of the phrase which I believe detracts from an objective discussion of the subject. It is difficult for many to dissociate the concept of demon possession from scenes in the movie The Exorcist. I would also point out that the term “possession” implies ownership, and it is questionable to say that Satan or a demon own anything.

When we turn our attention to the NT, we discover that there are four ways in which it describes demonic influence. First, there is the Greek term daimonizomai which is used 13x in the NT (all in the gospels). It’s unfortunate that the KJV always translates this word as “demon possession” (see Matt. 4:24; 8:16, 28, 33; 9:32; 12:22; 15:22; Mark 1:32; 5:15, 18, 26; Luke 8:36; John 10:21 [the latter being a disparaging remark concerning Jesus]).

What’s important for us to note is that every case of demonization involves someone under the influence or control, in varying degrees, of an indwelling evil spirit. The word “demonization” is never used in the NT to describe someone who is merely oppressed or harassed or attacked or tempted by a demon. In every case, reference is made to a demon either entering, dwelling in, or being cast out of the person. Matthew 4:24 and 15:22 at first appear to be exceptions to this rule, but the parallel passages in Mark 1:32-34 and 7:24-30 indicate otherwise. Hence, to be “demonized”, in the strict sense of that term, is to be inhabited by a demon with varying degrees of influence or control.

On sixteen occasions in the NT reference is made to a person who “has” a demon. It is twice used of John the Baptist by his accusers (Matt. 11:18; Luke 7:33). Six times the enemies of Jesus use it of him (Mark 3:30; John 7:20; 8:48, 49, 52; 10:20). Eight times it describes someone under the influence of a demonic spirit (Mark 5:15; 7:25; 9:17; Luke 4:33; 8:27; Acts 8:7; 16:16; 19:13). Hence to “have” a demon is to be “demonized” or inhabited by a demon (see especially John 10:20-21).

On two occasions (Mark 1:23; 5:2) we find reference to someone who is “with” (Gk., en) a demon or spirit. To say there is a person “with” a demon is to say he “has” a demon which is to say he is “demonized” or that he is indwelt by a demon. Finally, the terminology of being “vexed” by or with an unclean spirit is used only once in Acts 5:16.

In summary, if a demon indwells or inhabits a person it is a case of demonization. Merely to be tempted, harassed, afflicted or oppressed by a demon is not demonization. Demonization always entails indwelling.

In the next article I will explain the reasons why many insist a Christian cannot be demonized. In the final article I will give the reasons why many believe a believer can, in fact, be indwelt by a demonic spirit.


Notice how when someone is demonized in scripture they don’t have control over themselves and their actions. When someone is inhabited by a demon they all have similar characteristics:

1) they don’t initiate the deliverance, someone else brings them or Jesus or the disciples simply cast them out
2) They don’t conveniently behave until “deliverance time”
3) When they encounter Jesus they become very afraid and flee
I look forward to your third article. Dr. Michael Brown wrote the following in a March 19, 2023, article: "Do I believe that genuine believers can be indwelt by demons and need exorcism? Absolutely not." I hope he will read your third article and reconsider his position.

Write a Comment

Comments for this post have been disabled.