Monday, June 29, 2009

Can Christians Have Demons? Pt. 1

Matthew 12:43-45 ~ “43- When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44-Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45-Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.”

In 1973 Frank and Ida M. Hammond released a book called “Pigs In The Parlor: A Practical Guide to Deliverance” which has become a staple of what is called modern day “deliverance ministry”. Many Christian leaders have used this book as a “how to” guide in “delivering” other Christians from satan and demon possession in particular. The book affirms that a Christian can be demon possessed, oppressed, and demon cursed and that certain mental illnesses are actually cases of demon possession and infestation.

Unfortunately many of my fellow pentecostals ate up the Hammonds book (almost like pigs) and began to use it in their ministries, laying hands on fellow Saints, casting out demons and calling the ensuing bolus of mucus and sometimes vomit that came up, demons that were departing from the body. After all, the book said that mucus and vomit were signs of departing demons. Not only that, but the list of demons was so long that almost any behavior that one could think of was listed as a demon or as demonic activity. The Hammonds knew how to make the money and they tapped into a lucrative market in doing so.
Item 1: A False Biblical Premise

The whole premise of the book is based on the parallel between Herod’s Temple found in the New Testament and the “temple of the body” or physical abode wherein God (the Holy Ghost) dwells. The scripture records this:
1 Cor. 6:19-20 ~ “19-What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20-For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

The Hammond’s make the assertion that just as the Temple of Herod was unclean and needed to be purged by Jesus, that our physical bodies, wherein dwells the Holy Ghost, can become unclean and in need of purging also. Here’s an excerpt from the book explaining their foundational principle:
  • “All four gospels record the event of Jesus cleansing the temple. This is an unusual picture of our Lord. He was filled with righteous indignation at what he found in the temple. It was no time for mere words; it was time for action. He began personally and determinedly to purge the temple of every defiling thing. This is an illustration of the cleansing of our bodies, which are temples of the Holy Spirit, from all that is unclean. Demon spirits provide nothing good. They only defile. They have no more place in us than cattle, birds and money changers had in the earthly temple. We can act in the same authority with which Jesus cleansed the temple and rid ourselves of defiling evil spirits. Jesus did not make any pretty little speeches or debate with those who defiled the temple-he drove them out!” Frank & Ida Hammond “Pigs In The Parlor” 1973 Pg. 3
There are some pretty disturbing notions set forth in just that one paragraph. The premise of this book is not only questionable but also based on a false interpretation of scripture which I will demonstrate in this writing. If the Hammond's book had been read more critically, much of what we see from so called "deliverance ministries" wouldn't exist today. Some of the initial questions that should be asked are as follows:
  • Is the Temple an apt parallel or type for the temple of our bodies?
  • Were the sacrifices and the exchange of money the defilement of the temple?
  • What relationship does the moneychangers have to our physical bodies?
  • What relationship does any of those things have to our spirit or souls?
  • Can a Christian be demon possessed?
Biblical Understanding:

In all 4 gospels it is recorded that Jesus overturned the moneychanger’s tables and scourged them for making mockery out of he house of God. In three gospels, known as the synoptic gospels, this event is recorded shortly before the passion of Jesus crucifixion. (Mt. 21:12, Mk. 11:15-17, Lk. 19:45) In one gospel (Jn. 2:13-17) the temple cleansing occurs at the beginning of Jesus ministry long before his passion indicating that Jesus cleansed the temple more than once and may have done this annually during his ministry.
Special Note: Moneychangers were essential in ascertaining the value of imageless silver coins “drachma’s” which were used to pay the necessary temple tax that was required at the Passover. This type of transaction was instructed by God for the upkeep of the temple:
Exodus 30:11-16 ~ “11-And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 12-When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them. 13-This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD. 14-Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD. 15-The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls. 16-And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.”

The tax was the same for every individual no matter their personal wealth or status. Jesus himself honored this temple tax by paying it for he and Peter when they were confronted with it. The interesting part about that is that as a part of the royal family, Jesus was actually exempt from paying the tax but humbled himself to do so:
Matthew 17:24-27~ “24-And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? 25-He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? 26-Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. 27-Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee”

The problem was not the tax or those that were selling sacrifice as many individuals would come and purchase a sacrifice as prescribed by law. The problem was exorbitant fees that were being charged. Fees ranged anywhere from 20% to 300%. This was extortion and profit making at its worst. Administration of the sacrifice was the problem and why Jesus purged the temple area. Not the sacrifices or exchange of money itself.
Additionally, scholarly consensus is that Jesus actions may have been in accord with Messianic expectation as found within Malachi 3:1 that says, “And the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple,”. Although there is healthy debate over whether Jews actually expected the Messiah to be divine, according to this Midrash interpretation of the passage, Jesus could have been acting in accord with Jewish expectation of what the Messiah would do. As revealed by the recording of this event by each gospel writer, there was an expectation that Jesus would reclaim the temple of God reminding the nation to turn to God in repentance.

Please note that these events had nothing to do with demons in the temple or temple courts as much as it had to do with wicked and evil men in the temple and the temple court.
“Unclean Spirit & Spirits”

The phrase “unclean spirit” is mentioned in 10 verses of scripture. (Mt. 12:43, Mk. 1:23 & 26, 3:30, 5:2 & 8, 7:25, Lk. 8:29, 9:42 & 11:24) at no point is “unclean spirit” mentioned as being the temple or a part of the temple. The term that indicates more than one unclean spirit, “unclean spirits”, is referenced another 10 times within scripture. These spirits would, at times, cry out for Jesus not to cast them out, or to identify who Jesus was (Mk. 3:11, 5:11-18, Lk. 6:18)

In fact the times that “unclean spirit” or “unclean spirits” are mentioned within scripture in no way is indicative of a problem with the temple itself. In Mk. 1:23-26 there is a man in the “synagogue” who has a demon that is cast out by Jesus. Please keep in mind even as reading this scripture that the “synagogue” was not the Temple. The synagogue was equivalent to the local meeting place to listen to scripture and offer prayers, but there was no sacrifice or expiation of sin done there, and there was certainly no buying and selling of sacrifices or sacrificial offerings. The only expiation of sin was done at the Temple itself.

Item 2: What Do We Find In Scripture?

In Lk. 13:11 there is a woman with a “spirit of infirmity” that is bowed down and cannot straighten herself up. Jesus “loosed” her from her infirmity with no reference to casting out a demon. Although Luke had previously used the word (daimonion) to indicate demon 2 times prior to this event. (Lk. 9:42 & Lk. 11:14). It is important to know that the gospel writer of both Luke and Acts wrote what many scholars believe to be one volume. Luke spoke, at times, in the greater context of the actions that the demon or evil spirit actually caused its host to perform. Acts 6:16 is an example where Luke says that there was a damsel that had a “spirit of divination” instead of a just simply saying that she had a demon.

Other references of demonic possession in the New Testament deal with individuals who were:
1- In the graveyard cutting themselves at Gadara (Mt. 8:28-34, Mk. 5:2-8, Lk. 8:29)
2- In the ‘dumb’ or speechless man (Mt. 9:32-33, Lk. 11:14-15)
3- In he ‘blind’ and ‘dumb’ man (Mt. 12:22)
4- At Simon’s mother-in-law’s home many “possessed with devils” were set free (Mk. 1:32-34)
5- Many individuals healed at the seaside that had “unclean spirits” (Mk. 3:11)
6- The daughter of the syrophonecian woman (Mk. 7:25)
7- In the child whom Jesus disciples couldn’t cast out (Lk. 9:42)
Peter “healed” those that had “unclean spirits”(Acts 5:16). Deacon Philip changed Samaria with his preaching and service causing “unclean spirits” to cry out causing the lame and those with palsies to be healed (Acts 8:7). Apostle Paul was confronted with a lady who had a “spirit of divination” which he cast out. (Acts 16:16-18) There were seven Sons of Sceva who tried to cast the demon out a man who had what the scripture described as an “evil spirit”. Because the Sons Of Sceva had no relationship with God through Jesus, they had absolutely NO success. (Acts 19:16) In fact the demon was able to overcome them quite embarrassingly.

The word “possessed” is used 15 times in the New Testament. With the exception of Acts 4:32 and 1 Cor. 7:30, “possessed” is usually connected with either a “devil” or as in the case of Acts 16:16-18 a “spirit of divination”. (Which effectively would be a “devil” also). Once again, at no time does the scripture suggest or intimate that the “Temple” was possessed or needed to have demons exorcised or that there was demons exorcised from within the temple.

There is no credible, biblical evidence that can be rendered to make the case that demonic activity was associated with the temple in any way, or that Jesus viewed the temple as a parallel or type of the body of the believer. As noted, cases can be made that there were persons who had an association with the temple (synagogue) and the Jews in general that had demons. In every case the demons were cast out and they were not in or associated with the temple in any unusual or abnormal way.

Are Demons Real?

Of course. There are a multitude of references as noted that demons do exist. Aside from the vast amount of scriptural references to the fact as listed above, I have my own personal experiences with actual demons and know that they are real entities. The question is how do they exist and what purpose or function do they have and most importantly can they possess a believer?

Limitations, Excesses & Restrictions

Remember, the premise of the book and the current hermeneutic of the “deliverance minister” is the discovery of the parallel between the Temple (place of sacrifice) and the body 9of the individual believer) as to indicate that at times the temple can be defiled and in need of purging just like a believers body is in need of purging from demons. According to the book, demons are similar to pieces of lint that may stick to you when you’re not looking or possess you when you are unaware. Further, according to the book and the belief of many “deliverance” ministers today, demons are not restricted to nonbelievers; they also have the ability to infest anyone including believers. According to the Hammonds and many modern day deliverance ministers demons can only be cast out when they are renounced:
  • Trespassers (demons) can continue their unlawful practices (possession) until they are confronted and challenged on the basis of one’s legal rights. Jesus has purchased the believer with HIS own blood and has made him a steward over his own life. The devil has no legal right to him; it is up to him to defend his rights. No demon can remain when the Christian seriously desires him to go! “Resist the devil and he will flee from you”(James 4:7b) Frank & Ida Hammond “Pigs In The Parlor” 1973 Pg. 2-3 (emphasis added)
These infestations may appear in the form of habits, such as smoking, eating, drinking, an all sexual sins such as homosexuality, (which was featured by GCMWatch HERE and most recently by CNN) adultery, fornication. According to deliverance ministry adherants, demons can be the cause of excessive sleeping habits such as laziness, oversleeping, medically diagnosed sleeping disorders and even daydreaming. Demons could be in operation through excessive social interactions. They could be called things like “talking” demons, “walking” demons, “attitude” demons, “partying” demons etc. They even could exist in cartoons such as the Smurfs and other kids shows especially.

According to the Hammonds, demons even show up in the form of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, paranoia, and phobias of all kinds…There is the dreaded “stay at home demon” for those of you who miss church regularly, the “TV demon" for those who like to watch television along with the sub demons of football, basketball and baseball…all the dreaded “sports” demons that would need to be cast out before one could live successfully…There are music demons and spirits that arise from certain things like music to entrap even the BELIEVER’S souls.(we’ll touch on this in part 2). Then there are demons for eating disorders and drug abuse etc.

In fact, just about anything that you can do that is either enjoyable or not strictly focused on Christ or HIS word can be caused by a demon and could need to be cast out. There is an additional problem also; You, even after you’ve come to Christ, may have an “unknown” demon or a demon you may have forgotten about. That’s the one that needs to be cast out but won’t reveal himself until he’s confronted in a counciling session or church deliverance service and specifically asked his name.
I'll conclude Pt 1 here but stay tuned we're just gettin' started up on this one. 

Blessed!

Read: Can Christians Have Demons Pt. 2

Update 7/22/2011:

See Primetime: "Battle With The Devil"

4 comments:

  1. Just to clarify 2 points,

    Mt.12:43-45 doesn't refer to a saved person. It's referring to a person who undergoes self help and self restoration. When Jesus comes in he doesn't leave the house EMPTY. He moves in with all his furniture. The scripture is describing someone who has done many good things but hasn't been saved and is therefore empty and powerless against the devil. That's why he can come back and bring 7 more of his friends...

    Secondly, a homosexual is not saved living in their homosexuality. That act needs to be repented of and walked away from as a sign and evidence of that salvation. Is homosexuality a demon? It could be, depending upon what extent that a person is bound, but we know that all sexual sins are acts of the mind and heart and sex is a choice, straight or gay. Therefore sexual perversion needs an application of self discipline and a turing from selfishness that's the backbone of sexual sin alltogether.

    So the premise is whatever is binding to you, god can and will set you free.

    God bless.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is a powerful topic Pastor Harvey and timely. I have always wonder why people who are "delivered" from Homosexuality tend to still carry the traits of that lifestyle. (ie. the way they walk "literally", different hand motions, how they say certain word) I never really understood this. Hopefully you will also touch on this in part 2 as well.
    Be Blessed!
    Your Sister In Christ,
    Alicia (aka Surokoda)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Sister Surokoda,

    In Part 2 we'll place all of this in biblical perspective in an exhaustive manner.

    Some folk want change but are not willing to do what it takes to see that change. Deliverance ministry is what a quick fix is to a drug addict. If feels like something is accomplished and when it's completed, one says, I'll never do that again, only to become frustrated with the same habits and traits again.

    Believers must be immersed in the washing and cleansing word of God(Jn. 15:3) and live in the freedom of his shed blood. It's a daily job that one has to manage WITH Christ, not burdensome, but one must walk in the light of Christ.

    God bless.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The publication of this book was the vomit of demons! I have ministered to soooo many people harmed by the false premises in this book.

    The list of potential demons in the Hammond's book which included the demon of "feet" was tragically destructive.

    This belief system ignored Ephesians 6 as the model for spiritual warfare for the believer. Our protection is in Christ's finished work on the cross. That is not to say the the enemy has no power but his power is limited as it has to do with the saints.

    Anonymous: There are may people who are free from homosexual behavior who have no tell tale signs; sometimes because they had no "tells" to begin with.
    Freedom from the power of sin has two aspects as I understand it. "If we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Cleanse is the word catharidzo; as in catharsis. The fullest cleansing from sinful behavior may be a process of cleansing. I agree with Pastor Burnett, regarding the application of spiritual discipline(s) as a means for the power of GOD to permeate all behavior.

    ReplyDelete

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