Demonization and the Christian Life

How the Devil influences Believers

by Doug Lowenberg

Some may question theologically1 and practically if spiritual warfare is real and relevant to their lives and ministries. Missionary to the Islamic world, Sobhi Malek, claims, “There is a relentless conflict between God’s kingdom and the temporary rule of Satan, the prince of this world, who is assisted by demonic forces under his command.”2

Psychologist Richard Dobbins states, “I believe in the realities of a spirit world as revealed in the Scripture.”3

Theologian Edgar Lee notes, “The Bible clearly teaches the existence of an unseen enemy devoted to the destruction of humanity.”4

Cultural anthropologist Charles Kraft asserts, “Scripture clearly portrays human life as lived in a context of continual warfare between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.”5

Immediately after the Holy Spirit anointed Jesus to begin His public ministry, Jesus experienced a personal confrontation with Satan (Matthew 4:1–11; Mark 1:12,13; Luke 4:1–13). Later He declared, “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:286). Peter summarized Jesus’ ministry stating, “He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38). The apostle Paul warned the Ephesian church, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Western Worldview and the Spirit World

Scripture authenticates the reality of the spirit world, including angelic friends and demonic foes. But many Western Christians, including Pentecostals and evangelicals, struggle to explain and address this transempirical dimension of reality. A Western worldview, traditional theological assumptions, and a predetermined biblical-theological vocabulary make it difficult to discern and deal with a vast array of spiritual realities that operate beyond people’s sensory perceptions.

Since the Enlightenment, the West has adopted a rational, humanistic, scientific orientation that tends to skew spiritual discernment. Confidence in the rational and logical mind, humankind’s ability to problem solve, and science’s ability to penetrate to the depths and structures of what is real make it difficult to detect, confront, and harness a hostile spirit realm.

The Western tendency to fragment life leaves limited ideological space for acknowledging spirit beings. Westerners tend to place spirit beings in some small subcategory of theology, safely siloed from education, technology, economics, agriculture, nature, and entertainment. The cognitive domain for considering demons is in a thin sliver of one’s spiritual considerations removed to a vault, like a computer virus, where only minimal influence by demons from outside a person can occasionally arise. Many evangelical Christians have concluded that their salvation experience immunizes them from the devil and demons. For Pentecostals, their initial baptism in the Holy Spirit encounter does the same. Thus, once saved always saved — at least from demons. Theologians propose that Jesus has bound Satan as far as the possibility that his evil powers can enslave a believer.7

Some Pentecostals are functional theists believing in the triune God who rules with unlimited power from His heavenly throne. He engages in the world of humans and nature to provide salvation and to do occasional miracles. But theists give minimal consideration to the realm occupied by God-created spirit beings. For Pentecostal theists, reality consists of God, humans, nature and outer space, laws of nature that govern life and the world, and occasional supernatural interruptions by the Holy Spirit to save, baptize in the Spirit, perform miracles of healing, and deliver reprobate sinners from demonic control.

Paul Hiebert critically describes this perspective as “the flaw of the excluded middle”8 — ignoring the significance and vitality of the spirit realm that exists between the transcendent God and the world of humans and nature. Tragically, Christianity that emphasizes individual, soul salvation is ill-prepared to address hostile spiritual powers at work under God’s supreme sovereignty. This type of Christianity has limited ministry effectiveness for people, especially in the majority world where multitudes believe spirit beings influence all aspects of life.

The majority world operates from a power orientation where spirit beings including God, Satan, angels, demons, and ancestral spirits control all dimensions of life. The minority world of the West, likewise power-oriented, locates power in education, politics, finances, positions of authority, social systems, and technology and inserts humans at the center of their worldview. And in the West, whether the motivation is the desire to avert accusations of sensationalism or irrationality, or due to a suspicion of overly spiritualizing abnormal human behaviors and events, Westerners usually limit their diagnoses to medical and psychological impairments or dramatic “acts of God.” Fearing the extremes — “the devil made me do it” along with “demons are under the table” to “demons are mythological creations of overactive, premodern imaginations” — people find safety, healing, and academic respect in the secular sciences.

Christian Anthropology

Christian anthropology — the study of the nature of human beings — can further complicate our understanding of spiritual warfare. Christian anthropology assumes people are tripartite creations consisting of body, soul, and spirit. An integrated whole — following Hebrew beliefs expressed by the authors of the Old and New Testaments — acknowledges the external, visible body and an internal, complex spiritual nature. According to the Hebrew worldview, humans consist of three dimensions (see Deuteronomy 6:5): the inner, invisible life called the “heart” (lebab); the external body or the entire human person known as the “soul” (nepesh) as created by God (Genesis 2:7, KJV); and all of one’s life endeavors, accomplishments, and commitment to Yahweh called “strength” (me’ od).

The Western mindset shaped by Greek philosophy divides humans into component parts that seem to operate independently of each other. Many Western believers refer to the three dimensions of humans: physical body; emotions, mind, will, and feelings; and the spirit, the inner sacred abode reserved for God or Satan. For example, Dobbins explains that the spirit is the deepest part of a human and becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit on Christian conversion. The spirit remains “inviolate throughout Christ’s residence there.”9 Yet he admits, “The spiritual component of health is the area of man’s greatest ignorance and Satan’s most profound expertise.”10

Christians who acknowledge spiritual assaults against God’s people while maintaining a tripartite anthropology explain that demons attack only from outside the person as “external foes.”11 Should evil spirits gain some influence or inflict bondage, at worst it is located in the body or soul, but never the human spirit.12 This explanation, however, seems artificial when it limits temptations and spiritual enemies to locations outside the believer or to supposed impenetrable inner barriers between soul and spirit. “Temptation comes to us through our thought realm. … Satan entices through thoughts planted lavishly by the culture and worldly activity around us.”13

Words and Their Implications

Vocabulary limits one’s understanding of spiritual realities. For example, one could translate daimonizomai, a frequently used Greek word in the New Testament, as demonize.14 In all cases, Bible translators translate this word “demon possessed.”

The term demon possessed describes extreme demonic control in the life of a person where a demon expresses itself through the body and personality of the individual on an occasional or regular basis. This implies that demons dominate a person and manipulate the individual’s body, mind, and spirit for their purposes. Because this manifestation of evil is so extreme, Christians assume the presence of God and demons cannot coexist in a person’s physical body. Dobbins, for example, states that the Holy Spirit will not share His habitation with the spirits of demons.15 Others claim “God’s presence guarantees that there is no power present that is not subject to His will.”16

The belief is that Christ dwells within the believer and occupies spirit, soul, and body. No demon possession can occur where Jesus is Lord. It is an “all or nothing” understanding of the body and of Lordship. If this perspective is accurate, it is difficult to explain how the serpent entered the sinless Garden of Eden where God ruled (Genesis 3); how Satan could use Peter to become a stumbling block17 in the presence of Christ (Matthew 16:23); how Satan could invade Judas, who had just participated in the Passover Seder with Jesus (John 13:2,27); and why Paul would prohibit Corinthian charismatics from feasting in pagan temples which were the locus of demons (1 Corinthians 10:14–22).18 Gordon Fee comments, “What most Western Christians need to learn is that the demonic is not as remote as some of them would wish to believe.”19

Alternatively, Werner Foerster claims that the word can mean to suffer from a demon.20 Edgar Lee observes, “The New Testament does not have a word that means literally ‘demon possessed.’ ”21 He explains that demonize could mean “to have some demonic affliction … not necessarily to be demon possessed.”22 He adds, “No scriptural evidence warrants the assumption that an evil spirit can invade the soul but not the spirit.”23

While using etymology to define words can be misleading, at times it can provide beneficial insights. Based on the components of the word (daimon-iz-omai)24 the verb could mean being made passive by a demon or living under some degree of demonic control. The first syllable, daimon, refers to a demon. The second syllable, izo, usually appears in verbs indicating a causative action. The subject is causing something to happen. The third syllable, omai, is the typical ending of a passive verb where the action is not done by the subject of the sentence but is done to the subject. One could summarize that the subjects of the sentences, in the cases where the biblical writers used daimonizomai, have been made passive or caused to be in a passive, controlled state, by a demonic power. The degree of passivity on the part of the subject is not indicated: it could be minimal or complete.

Consider a few biblical examples from Matthew where he used daimonizomai. In Matthew 4:24 and 8:16, others brought demonized people to Jesus, and He healed them. Matthew gives no details of their condition except to record that others brought them to Jesus. In Matthew 8:28, two men who were demonized approached Jesus. These men were violent having superhuman powers and superhuman discernment, having knowledge of the true identity of Christ and their own ultimate destiny. With a single word from Jesus, “Go!” (verse 32) they departed and the men were made normal.

In Matthew 9:32, people brought Jesus a “man mute demonized” (my woodenly literal translation). “And after the demon was cast out, the mute spoke” (translation mine). The demon seems to have made the man mute. After Jesus cast out the demon, this man’s behavior was normalized, and he took the initiative to speak.

The Canaanite mother said of her child, “My daughter is badly demonized” (Matthew 15:22, translation mine). The woman came to Jesus without her child. According to the mother’s faith, Jesus healed the daughter at a distance.

In summary, only in the case of the Gadarenes (Matthew 8:28) does Matthew clearly portray the demonized in our category of “demon possessed,” completely dominated and maneuvered by demons. It is interesting to note that Mark’s description of this same incident reports “a man with an unclean spirit” (Mark 5:2, my translation), avoiding altogether the use of the verb demonized.

Timothy Warner notes, “A Christian may be attacked by demons and may be affected mentally and sometimes physically at significant levels, but this does not constitute possession or ownership.”25

Complexity of a Human Being

Rather than an all-or-nothing view regarding the demonic in the life of a Christian, it would be helpful to first consider the complexity of the nature of a human being. People are far more intricate than a one-room house where Christ occupies all or nothing. One might visualize closets and rooms where unconfessed or unaddressed sins and evil spirits are hiding. As an illustration, an individual could invite Christ to enter as Savior into the living room and kitchen of his or her home without allowing Him to occupy and cleanse all. For some people, cleansing and freedom are a process that continues relative to their cooperation. For others, Lordship is instant and complete.

Influences of Demons on a Continuum

When people become Christians, they confess their sin, ask Jesus to forgive them for their rebellion, and invite Him to enter into their lives as Lord. This forms a new covenant; they make a new commitment; and establish a new loyalty. The process of transformation and sanctification begins. But it seems apparent and part of our common experience that perfection and purity are not instantaneous. Some attitudes, values, and habits are slow to change.

For Christians who have surrendered control of their lives to Christ, demon possession cannot occur. Demon possession refers to a person where one or more demons inhabit the individual and exert complete domination periodically over the individual’s thinking and behavior. In those moments, the individual is a tool of the devil, manipulated by evil powers for destructive purposes. We should view demon possession as an extreme case of demonic control noted only among those resistant to the lordship of Christ.

Is there any middle ground between the perfected saint and the demon possessed? And, is there a place on a continuum between full sanctification and demon possession where carnality gives way to sinfulness and sinfulness to some degree of demonic control we can distinguish from demon possession? The majority world is unruffled by such carnal Christians who have demonic powers at work within their lives. They simply pray, cast out the demons, and incorporate the believers into discipleship programs that practice prayer, Bible study, fasting, and accountability. In the middle are Christians who have plateaued in their spiritual growth; they may live carelessly and inconsistently in seeking the will of God and in avoiding carnal temptations. At the other extreme are those who are demon possessed. Between the carnal Christian, somewhere in the middle of the continuum, and the demon possessed could be those who could be demonized. When they came to Christ, they may have kept back areas of their inner life from His cleansing. Or after coming to Christ, they may have grown careless and surrendered a “place” within their affections26 for the devil to control such things as greed, anger, lying, lust, and hunger for power. Christians can sin willingly27 and lower their defensive shield against temptations and the fiery arrows of Satan (Ephesians 6:16). While the Spirit of God promises to provide a way of escape from every temptation, some believers ignore the opportunity to flee (1 Corinthians 10:13). James admonishes believers to “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (4:7). But some believers put up little resistance.

The preponderance of biblical warnings to Christians about alertness, preparation, and active resistance against Satan — described as a roaring lion seeking to devour God’s people,28 — demons, principalities, and powers should sensitize believers to the reality of the battle and the possibility of casualties. The force and frequency of these warnings seem to caution believers to be alert and prepared to battle the satanic realm.

Pentecostal ministers cannot afford to be careless or arrogant assuming their immunity to demonic powers. If Satan repeatedly confronted Jesus (Luke 4:13), Christ’s representatives should expect no less. The New Testament calls Christians to alertness and persistent spiritual warfare against Satan and his dominions. The New Testament does not indicate that there is a truce, demilitarized zone, or immunity. Paul speaks in the present tense of “our struggle,” himself included, which is not against humans but against evil spiritual powers masterminded by a scheming devil (Ephesians 6:11,12). To the Corinthian believers, he warns not to be outwitted by Satan (2 Corinthians 2:11). He admonishes the Ephesian Christians to “give no place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27). The command implies it is possible to give place or room to the devil, be it in one’s thoughts, attitudes, behavior, or interpersonal relationships. Writing to the converts in Rome, Paul instructed them: “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires” (Romans 6:12). He continued, “Do not offer any parts of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness … offer every part of yourself to him [God] as an instrument of righteousness. … When you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey” (Romans 6:13—16). A reverse reading suggests that Christians may allow sin to reign in their bodies; they can offer parts of their bodies to be used for sinful purposes, becoming slaves in certain aspects of their lives. The apostle’s admonition is to surrender all to God and have Him reign supremely over all dimensions of one’s life including the heart (inner thoughts, motives, emotions, and values); the soul (the body and outer behavior); and strength (all of one’s life endeavors and accomplishments).

Peter described preachers living among the saints who “have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome” (2 Peter 2:20). He asserted, “People are slaves to whatever has mastered them” (2 Peter 2:19). While not using the word demonized, could Peter’s references to “entangled,” “overcome,” and “enslaved” serve as legitimate synonyms? How would we chart their demise on the spiritual health continuum?

Winning Spiritual Battles

Winning daily spiritual battles requires discernment and balance. While in the process of sanctification, Christians are still human, carnal, and fleshly. Paul instructs them to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Walking according to the flesh is like leaving garbage around one’s house that attracts rodents and pests.29 Unaddressed carnal garbage can create a vulnerable place for attack.

Warfare blends human responsibility and spiritual influences. God’s Spirit assists to remove sins that entangle and provides power to walk in obedience to His will. Satan’s lures cause further surrender to lies and momentary pleasures while numbing the conscience through rationalizations and excuses. Our moral decisions result in growing freedom or bondage. Satan constantly probes for weaknesses. But one’s active resistance through the aid of the Spirit and commitment to preserving a holy mind, body, and interpersonal relationship with others will overcome Satan’s schemes.

Entertaining temptations can lead to carnal thinking and behavior that eventually become habits. Habits lead to addictions, and addictions can result in growing degrees of bondage. If left unchecked, one can slide toward greater spiritual tyranny. Does one instantly lose salvation? Usually believers do not instantly abandon Christ. A slow drift, however, can terminate the vitality of the relationship with Christ while the grip of the enemy, like a python, gradually squeezes out what spiritual life remains. Believers lose their joy and freedom. Demonization or varying degrees of demonic control can ensue. To gain freedom and experience deliverance, one must recognize that the problem is greater than carnality and requires spiritual intervention that includes confession and prayerful assistance from Spirit-filled believers confronting the demonic in the name and authority of Jesus Christ.

Christians must take the offensive and proclaim Jesus as Lord among those who have never heard. Christians must invade and occupy the domains of darkness. While advancing, they must avail themselves of the armor provided by God (Ephesians 6:10–18) and engage in three types of battles.30 The battles include allegiance, truth, and power encounters.

Followers of Jesus must constantly renew their allegiance to Christ and be sure that He is Lord of all dimensions of life. This seems to have been the issue in the city of Ephesus when people who had already believed31 recognized a divided allegiance and the need to cleanse their homes of paraphernalia used in sorcery (Acts 19:18–20).

Christians must seek truth and truthfulness found in Jesus, His character, deeds, and words in the battle against lies and false doctrines. They must subject doubts that undermine their confidence in the goodness of God and in His truth revealed in Scripture (2 Corinthians 10:5).

When necessary, Christians should be confident to engage in power encounters. They should emulate Jesus when, by the Spirit, He confronted Satan. He overcame the devil’s temptation by declaring the truths of God’s Word, safeguarding His relationship with the Father through obedience, and by remaining humble and dependent on God’s provisions, timing, and ways. Jesus has given power and authority to His disciples to drive out demons, heal sicknesses and diseases, and preach the kingdom of God (Mark 16:15–18; Luke 9:1,2). Studying God’s Word, praying, praising God,32 and fasting can bolster one’s dependence on and confidence in the Lord to set people free. Pray for spiritual discernment to make the proper diagnosis and then apply the right solution. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you know if you are dealing with a person who is spiritually fatigued, carnal in his or her thoughts and behavior, demonized, or possessed.

There will be occasions when one discerns that resistance in a person to the gospel is coming from “the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).33 We may observe demonic controls over people through the manifestation of widespread tribalism, racism, idolatry, religious fanaticism, immorality, and certain prevailing sins. Confronting such spirits requires individual and corporate prayers, gospel proclamation, exorcisms, and ambassadors of Christ who make long-term commitments to live and witness for Christ among the people of these regions.

The metaphorical armor described by Paul (Ephesians 6:13–18) includes the “belt of truth.” Cinched around the center of one’s being must be truthfulness, honesty, and integrity. We must protect our affections with the “breastplate of righteousness” — made upright and doing what is right in the eyes of God. Proper footwear ensures that one is ready to instantly go wherever God directs and verbally declare the conditions of peace with God, others, and self. Gripping the “shield of faith,” holding securely to God’s biblical promises, allows Christians to ward off and suffocate the attempts of the devil to bring destruction and death. We need to encase our thoughts in the “helmet of salvation” — salvation that is holistic, transforming mind, emotions, body, and relationships. The weapon is a small, wieldable sword, described as the “word of God,” which drives back the oncoming powers of evil. We must spend time in advance in study, meditation, memorization, and a contextual understanding of God’s Word to use it effectively in the crisis moment. Clothed in armor and holding a shield and sword, God’s representatives enter the fray “praying in the Spirit” — not limited to praying in tongues but including being filled with and sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and dependent on Him for strength, endurance, and the ability to stand.


As a Spirit-filled and Spirit-empowered minister, it is necessary to be on guard both for oneself and for the flock. We need proper discernment to diagnose, defend, and deliver (when necessary) people who look to their pastor as their loving and protective shepherd.

Christians are engaged in the war, like it or not, but they know that the One in them is greater than the one in the world (1 John 4:4). As well, they know that the weapons of warfare are not of the world but have divine power to demolish strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).

We have the assurance of ultimate victory through Jesus Christ who has conquered the world, the flesh, and the devil.


1. We must base our theology on an accurate interpretation of Scripture, although human fallenness and human cultural worldview flaw all exegesis. Theological constructs should be verifiable by experience. Apologists for Pentecostalism take this approach when it comes to explaining and defending the unique experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit as distinct from salvation (according to Luke’s writings). The study of Scripture has led to the Pentecostal doctrine verified by ongoing experience. Experience did not establish the doctrine but confirms its validity and contemporary relevance. In the same way, one’s theological understanding of spiritual warfare must be consistent with all of Scripture as intended by the inspired authors and be verifiable by experiences today. For further discussion on the verification of theology, see Roger Stronstad’s Spirit, Scripture, and Theology: A Pentecostal Perspective (Baguio City, Philippines: Asia Pacific Theological Seminary Press, 1995), 53–78.

2. Sobhi W. Malek, “Islam Encountering Gospel Power,” in Called and Empowered: Global Mission in Pentecostal Perspective, eds. Murray A. Dempster, Byron D. Klaus, and Douglas Petersen (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1991), 189.

3. Richard D. Dobbins, Can a Christian be Demon Possessed? (Akron, Ohio: Emerge, 1973), 5.

4. Edgar R. Lee, “Spiritual Warfare,” in Signs and Wonders in Ministry Today, eds. Benny C. Aker and Gary B. McGee (Springfield, Missouri: Gospel Publishing House, 1996), 99.

5. Charles H. Kraft, “Spiritual Warfare: A Neocharismatic Perspective,” in New International Dictionary of Pentecostal Charismatic Movements, eds. Stanley M. Burgess and Eduard M. van der Maas (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 1091.

6. Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission (

7. General Presbytery of the Assemblies of God, “Can Born-Again Believers be Demon Possessed?” (Springfield, Missouri: General Council of the Assemblies of God, May 1972), 4. Found at Accessed 12 October 2012.

8. Paul G. Hiebert, “The Flaw of the Excluded Middle,” Missiology 10 (1982): 35–47.

9. Dobbins, Can a Christian be Demon Possessed?, 5.

10. Ibid.

11. General Presbytery of the Assemblies of God, “Can Born-Again Believers be Demon Possessed?” 4,5; Dobbins, Can a Christian be Demon Possessed?, 27, 30.

12. Dobbins, Can a Christian be Demon Possessed?, 21.

13. General Council of the Assemblies of God Commission on Doctrinal Purity, “Thought Life.” Found at: Accessed 12 October 2012.

14. Daimonizomai and its cognates are found in Matthew 8:28,33; Mark 5:15,16; Luke 8:36.

15. Dobbins, Can a Christian be Demon Possessed?, 27.

16. General Council of the Assemblies of God, “Spiritual Warfare (Attacks of Satan),” Found at: _warfare.cfm. Accessed 12 October 2012.

17. When Peter objected to Christ’s plan of providing salvation through suffering, crucifixion, death, and resurrection, he was operating from his own human, self-centered, and selfish perspective. But his resistance was motivated by more than his own carnality. Craig Keener claims, “He functioned as an agent of the devil … he spoke Satan’s lines.” See Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 433,34. Donald Hagner observes that Peter’s response was inspired by Satan. See Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 14–28 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 480. Peter aligned himself with Satan as recorded in Matthew 4:8,9 when the devil offered Jesus the Kingdom without the Cross. Jesus’ direct rebuke to Satan (4:10) parallels His command to Peter (16:23). Jesus calls Peter “Satan” (Satana) and uses the same reprimand found in 4:10 for His disciple, “Depart” (hupage). One must wonder as to the powers that were at work in Peter during this dialog.

18. Just as partaking of the Lord’s Supper involves a spiritual partnering with the Spirit of God and fellow Christians, feasting in the pagan temples was a covenantal communion and sharing with demonic spirits. Christians today must avoid any forms of idolatry because idolatry is the habitation of demons. For detailed discussion see Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 462–75.

19. Ibid., 475.

20. Werner Foerster, “Δαίμων,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 2, ed. Gerhard Kittel; trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 19.

21. Lee, “Spiritual Warfare,” 111.

22. Ibid.

23. Ibid.

24. Literally, the demon causes (izo describes a causative) passivity (omai indicates the verb is passive where the subject receives the action).

25. Timothy M. Warner, Spiritual Warfare: Victory over the Powers of This Dark World (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 1991), 80.

26. Place (topos, Ephesians 4:27) is another term that is restricted in its meaning by some. It is translated as place, territory, land, sanctuary, a place that one can occupy. See Helmut Köster, “ΤόÏ€ος,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 8, ed. Gerhard Friedrich; trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972), 187–208. Theological presuppositions that eliminate the possibility of demons gaining a place or foothold in the life of a believer lead to restricting the meaning to an “opportunity” or “chance.” Assuming Paul used “place” (topos) with its normally implied meaning, Christians can give space to the devil within their inner beings and in relationships making themselves vulnerable to carnal bondages such as lust and greed in their personal lives and susceptible to anger, unforgiveness, and disharmony through unresolved interpersonal conflicts (note the context of Ephesians 4:20–5:12). Andrew T. Lincoln comments, “The writer thinks in terms of a personal power of evil, which is pictured as lurking around angry people ready to exploit the situation. … Despite what he said about believers having been seated with Christ in the heavenly realm, he deems it necessary for them to be on their guard against the devil.” See Andrew T. Lincoln, Ephesians (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990), 303.

27. General Presbytery of the Assemblies of God, “Can Born-Again Believers be Demon Possessed?” 4.

28. A lion’s roar can be heard as far away as 5 miles and has an average duration of 36 seconds. Roaring is one way lions communicate among themselves and is used frequently to mark their territory. Normally while stalking and hunting, lions are silent. See P.E. and Jean Stander, “Characteristics of Lion Roars in Etosha National Park,”Madoqua 15 (1986): 315–18. Peter warns the Christian to be sober and watchful, rather than overly confident and triumphalistic, in the face of a sly and powerful enemy who claims this earth as his domain.

29. See Charles H. Kraft, “Spiritual Warfare: A Neocharismatic Perspective,” 1095.

30. See Charles H. Kraft, “Spiritual Power: A Missiological Issue,” in Appropriate Christianity, ed. Charles H. Kraft (Pasadena: William Carey, 2005), 361–74.

31. The word Luke uses is “believed” (pepisteukotōn) which is in the perfect verb tense meaning a past action with ongoing significance. They had and continued to believe in Christ as Lord but persisted in safeguarding objects of evil magic until the power encounter occurred. The demonstrated power of God and demons made it imperative for them to make a total break from their allegiance to their former life. See Richard N. Longenecker, Acts (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 582,83;

32. Denny Miller comments, “When we praise God, His presence and power enter our circumstances.” See Denzil R. Miller, Power Ministry: A Handbook for Pentecostal Preachers (Lomé, Togo: Africa Theological Training Service, 1998), 71.

33. Lee observes, “There is some evidence for the existence of powerful geopolitical angelic beings.” See “Spiritual Warfare,” 102; and consider Ephesians 6:12 and Daniel 10:12–21.


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