On the Demonization of Believers -- By: Tom Austin

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 04:1 (Winter 1995)
Article: On the Demonization of Believers
Author: Tom Austin


On the Demonization of Believers

Tom Austin

There is a novel movement afoot. It has been given the name spiritual warfare or sometimes, more narrowly, deliverance ministries. Actually the reality of spiritual warfare has been with us since the Fall. Therefore this movement is nothing more than an inventive approach dealing with an age-old problem—Satan. Others will speak to this approach on a wider scale. My purpose is to speak to one specific aspect of this movement—the demonization of believers.

Satan and his demons are very real, powerful, and active in the world today. That we have a faithful and a dangerous adversary, there can be no doubt. The Bible teaches us much about Satan’s authority to rule the earth and those on the earth who are his. However, what about those who dwell on the earth but do not belong to him? What can be said for those of us who are regenerated, new creatures in Christ?

Proponents of this spiritual warfare movement tell us that we, too, can be ruled by Satan very much in the same way as those who belong to him naturally.1 This is obviously a very controversial theory in the church today. Those who teach this theory explain that they avoid using the word possess when speaking of demons controlling believers, but prefer the word demonize. There are several reasons for this, but the main reason given is that the word possess gives the idea that the person is under total, absolute ownership and control by satanic forces, and they do not believe that this can be true for Christians.2 However, they do use such words as control,3 infest,4 attach,5 enter,6 inhabit,7 indwell,8 bound9 and enslave10 in relation to the demonization of Christians. Definitions of these words can get confusing as one reads the various authors. However, it does seem to me that “a rose by any other name....”

Identifying those who believe this theory is not easy. It is sufficient to say that those authors who are supporting and defending this view are, for the most part, evangelicals who are either in the Third Wave movement, or with interests

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