Christians with demons?

Can a Christian be physically afflicted by demons, even when there is no sinful point of access? [a response to a question that came up at a prophetic school]
According to Lk. 10:17,18 (emphasis mine): The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” Jesus replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from the heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
In the Greek, adikeo means “harm,” physical or otherwise. This verse is in the context of doing deliverance. Can a righteous man be physically harmed during a deliverance session? Nowhere have I read an account of this, either in Scripture or in the historical record. By contrast, in Acts. 19:14-16, the Seven sons of Sceva were beat up because they were not Christians, yet were doing deliverance. We have seen no instances where Christians suffered a similar fate, although we have seen instances where unconfessed sin gave demons the right to afflict emotionally. For instance, a certain man became demonized when he assisted a deliverance minister in casting a demon out of a homosexual. Because the man hated homosexuals, the demon transferred to him. It afflicted him by causing him to become sexually attracted to other men until he repented of his hatred, and was delivered of the homosexual demon.
So, does Luke 10 imply that no demon can ever harm a Christian physically (even outside of a deliverance session), unless there is a sinful point of access? According to Mt. 4:5, demons can at least affect a righteous person physically without harming him: “Then the devil took [Jesus] to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.” In the Greek, histemi means, “To cause to stand, to set” (literally, the devil “stood him”). Satan physically transported Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple. But surely he did this only with God’s permission.
But can a demon directly harm a righteous person physically? According to Scripture, the answer is yes, but once again, only with God’s permission. Satan obtained permission to afflict Job physically, with boils: “The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life'” (Job 2:6).
On rare occasions I have heard Christians claim that when Jesus came, he prevented this kind of thing from ever happening again to a Christian. For Jesus defeated the demons: And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Col. 2:15). Therefore, Satan cannot use any sin that we have repented of. However, Job was not afflicted because of any personal sin. He was afflicted because God gave Satan permission, in spite of Job’s righteousness. For that reason, I know of no commentary claiming that a predicament like Job’s cannot occur today.
2 Cor. 12:7 might confirm this. Paul said, To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” All commentators agree that the thorn had nothing to do with any sin in Paul. Rather, as the passage says, it was sent to keep him from sinning. The Greek word, “torment,” is kolaphizo, to strike with clenched hands, to buffet with the fist. Even though Paul offered Satan no sinful point of access, God allowed him to be buffeted with the fist. Does this mean demons physically harmed him, perhaps through discomfort or a physical ailment (some commentators suggest that Paul’s “thorn” was poor eyesight–see Gal. 4:15)? Or did Paul use the phrase metaphorically, of a spiritual or emotional buffeting? We don’t know. No one knows exactly what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. However, we do know the following:
—(1 The thorn was in his flesh. The word, “flesh,” can be used of the sin in us, but it is also used of the body. This makes it possible that the “buffeting” was physical.
—(2 The word for “buffet” means a physical beating. Although one might use any word metaphorically, this word’s customary meaning was physical. Elsewhere in scripture, the word is used in this way (for instance, of the soldiers beating Christ (Mt. 26:67; Mk. 14:65).
—(3 The thorn was “from Satan;” Satan was afflicting a righteous man.
—(4 The thorn was sent only by God’s explicit permission, to accomplish God’s purpose.
Conclusion: in rare instances and only by God’s permission, a demon may afflict a person who offers it no point of sinful access. In the vast majority of cases, physical demonic affliction has been invited by sin. But it may at least be possible that in rare cases, it is not. To determine whether this is so, careful discernment is required.

Leave a Reply