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Can Believers have an unclean spirit? Created 28 April 2014

  1. The crux of the matter 4. What some preachers say
  2. The Foundation of the argument 5. What the Bible says
  3. How does it work practically? 6. Footnotes

If the question is, 'Can a Christian be influenced or even filled by an unclean spirit?', then the answer is Yes.

Some rather prolific church leaders and authors will tell you "No!!", but, I believe - from the Bible - they are mistaken. To back it up they appeal to out of context Scripture and deny any validity to personal experience or "testimony", choosing instead to question the authenticity of a testimony-giver's salvation. Thank goodness some of these men, by and large, see the good in having (their own) teaching tested by Scripture, which is what I will be doing. My interpretation my be wrong also, that's why you should be searching the Lord for yourself on this. Thus, I try to put my point across based on arguments to the contrary.

The crux of the matter is whether or not God - through His Holy Spirit - will 'enter into and remain' within an 'unfit vessel' - a person who is "defiled" or a person who is in obvious pursuit of ungodliness. Or a person who is host to an unclean spirit. Most will argue that He will not, from which they also say that a born-again believer cannot 'have an unclean spirit'. But that's not what I read in Scripture.

What then is a "defiled person"? Jesus gives us the answer: 20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man. (Mark 7:20-23). The condition of a person's heart, which sometimes lead to actions defile a person. It makes them 'dirty', 'unholy'. It is a state in which they are in that can be described as the opposite to what God called "clean" when speaking to Peter about (traditionally) 'unholy food'. You will remember that God had made all traditionally unholy food "clean"[12]. Thus, what is "clean" is acceptable to God. What is "unclean" is not acceptable to God. So, will God dwell in an "unclean" vessel? That's the crux of the matter.

Alright, so let's go with that which the above authors have suggested; let's cut out completely any subjective testimonies of believers. But let's not pass judgement on the authenticity of their salvation. And let's then also go all the way and illiminate all out-of-context Scripture in dealing with this matter as well.

Here are some good articles that take another view on the issue. You may find others too. Either way, make up your own mind and may God give you insight:

Whilst it is true that some of the above articles speak about "possession" (a person who is owned and controlled by a demon), the point I am making is not about "possession" but about being "demonised" (influenced by demons or unclean spirits to perceive or to do things). Whilst we agree that true, born-again believers cannot be possessed, I do believe they can be "demonised".

As I see it the question revolves around the definition of the biblical concept of a "soul". The best description of a "soul" probably comes from the creation account: And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7). We see that God breathed the "breath of life" into Adam and he became a "living soul". From the Hebrew, God breathed spirit into Adam's flesh and he became a living soul.

In English the term "breath of life" comes from the Hebrew word "nshamah"[2], which is one of the words used for "spirit". Further, in English the term "soul" comes from the Hebrew word "nephesh", which is also sometimes translated "mind" or "heart"[1]. The word "spirit" carries with it the idea of 'attitude', 'predisposition', or even 'understanding' with which things are approached. A person may have a "quiet" or "gentle spirit", for instance[19], which are godly attitudes, Or they may have a spirit of "fear"[20], which is not a godly situation.

We see that natural body plus spirit equals soul. Without the spirit of a person there is no life in the person. There is no "nephesh". There is no soul. It is the spirit of a person which interacts with the physical brain of a person to make up the "mind" of a person, or the soul of a person. So, a soul is the interaction between the spirit of a person and the natural body of a person. We see the picture vividly unfold as Jesus "gave up His spirit" and so also gave His last breath. As His spirit departed from His natural body, so did His life as a natural person cease: And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit! And with these words, He expired. [Psalm 31:5] (Luke 23:46 AMP)

From what we read in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, this idea (that people comprise spirit (eternal), soul (temporal) and body (temporal)) is confirmed: Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Note that "spirit" is mentioned first - it is the essense of a person and the very thing that is renewed at rebirth into Christ. So, there no doubt there are three parts to all humans: spirit, soul and the natural body. Note that in New Testament Greek the English words "spirit" and "soul" are from the words "pneuma"[3] and "psuche"[4] respectively. So, they are different concepts altogether.

Okay, the foundation is thus laid: spirit plus body equals soul; three parts of every human being. A triune creation. (TOP)

Now, let us look at the Gospel and how it relates to firstly the spirit of a person: Jesus said that Christians are those who have been "born again"[5]. Paul confirms this by the phrase "... you He made alive" in the text below. So, Jesus and Paul agree on the need to be born from above.

But consider also how he - Paul - describes how the Ephesian Christians once walked according to Satan's direction or control: And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (Ephesians 2:1-3). So, it was a spiritual being - Satan - who once directed their ways, and who now still directs the ways of those who have not been born again. How did he do that? He did it on account of their 'dead spirits'. So, it is clear he cannot do it to people who have renewed spirits. But, there is a caveat to this truth; since decisions are made by the soul of a person (the combination of natural body and spirit), if a believer allows his natural instincs to dictate his way, he can (and will) follow the ways of the "prince of the power of the air". If the same born-again believer listens to the renewed spirit within him, he does things God's way. Of this tussle between spirit and flesh Paul - a born-again believer - laments in Romans 7.

So, what was made alive? The spirits of the born again Christians. Since there was no possibility of being physically born again, their souls (comprising both body and spirit) could not be born again either. So, we see that the only thing that was "made alive" was the spirits of the born again believers of the Ephesian church. It is of this experience that Paul delivers his 'you are a new creation' teaching:

Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)

Okay, so what we see is that as born again Christians we have an old body, an unregenerated or 'unwashed' soul and a completely new, regenerated spirit; a spirit that was given birth to by the Holy Spirit in the same way that He breathed the breath of life into Adam's nostrils (refer Genesis 2:7) in the beginning. When we die it is the regenerated spirit (not the dead spirit as was inherited from Adam, or the soul) that moves on to the next life in as much as Jesus committed His spirit into the waiting hands of the Father (refer Luke 23:46 above). This is why, I believe, being born again is so vital to true Christian living. Our own efforts to being born again (through doing 'good works') can never achieve the desired outcome. It is not possible.

Nevertheless, whilst still on this earth, it is the mind or the soul of a person that makes the conscious decisions before all of that happens; before the spirit moves on unto eternity. So, the soul or the mind of a person is where the real battle takes place, because for the believer, their spirit cannot be touched and, for the unbeliever, it is that part of them (their soul) that moves them towards repentance and faith. So, Satan is keen on occupying that 'space' to keep people from being effective for God, but also to have them do his dirty work for him. This is where the battle between light and darkness takes place. This is why exposing ourselves to the Word of God is so important. It brings light and life to dark minds.

From the book of Romans we see how Paul laments the waywardness of the soul, which, even for a person with a regenerated spirit (Paul), seems to gravitate towards decisions that honour the 'old, unregenerated body' instead of the 'new, regenerated spirit': For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind[6], and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:22-23)

For this reason, the soul or mind of a believer needs to be washed or cleansed from 'old, sinful thinking', for which God has given us the Bible. It is the Word of God at work within us, which then transforms our 'wayward soul' to serve Him in obedience[7].

Now, allow me to explain the clarity of Scripture concerning born again believers 'having unclean spirits' or 'unclean spirits influencing the lives of born-again believers'. The influence of the unclean spirit is not on the spirit of the believer but on the soul or even the body of the believer. It affects their thinking in the same way that Paul says it will in 2 Corinthians 10[11], which tells us how Satan can create 'places of residence' for unclean spirits within the mind or soul of a person. The powers, rulers of the darkness, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places that Paul is speaking about is not found on a physical battlefield but on a battlefield that is spiritual - that is present in the mind and heart of taht which is living on this earth; they are active in the area of the soul. The very fact that Paul is speaking to Christians having an ongoing "battle" makes this an area that concerns Christians in as much as it concerns non-Christians.

So, let's get back to the idea that Spirit-filled people are capable of being demonically inspired to certain activity. Of such we see a few examples in Scripture:

1) Remember what Jesus referred to as a defiled person? Refer Mark 7:21-23, which includes murder and adultary. David, a man filled with the Holy Spirit (refer 1 Samuel 16), was capable of both adultery and murder despite the Holy Spirit indwelling him. His heart - the soul within him which formed his desires - made decisions in line with the flesh, very much like Paul described in Romans 7 above. Of such decisions James writes: But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. (James 3:14-15). James describes bitter envy and self-seeking as wisdom that has a demonic origin.

Thus, decisions, such as those made by David, that are fleshly are what James calls "earthly, sensual, demonic". They are decisions that are influenced by that entity to whom Paul referred to as "the prince of the power of the air" in Ephesians 2. Realising his grave transgressions and his bowing to that which was 'earthly, sensual, demonic', David, subsequent to his sin, pled with God to not have His Holy Spirit depart from him (Psalm 51), which request God then granted. Thus, despite having been influenced by what James calls demonic wisdom, the Holy Spirit very much remained part of the totality of David's person.

We see the Bible testify of a Holy Spirit filled believer who succumbed to the influence of the prince of the power of the air - Satan - so as to pursue his own self-seeking, ungodly, demonic activities. Thus, can a person who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit be influenced by an ungodly spirit - the prince of the power of the air? Yes.

It is a question of control, not ownership. Satan did not 'own' David but he did manage to influence his heart, and therefore his actions. Despite that God's Holy Spirit did not depart from David.

Let's look at another example.

2) ... deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Corinthians 5:5). Here Paul makes the point that the perpetrator's "spirit" (not his soul) may be saved on account of Satan's "destruction of his flesh". Again, we have a Spirit-filled, born-again believer whose soul made such heinous decisions that Paul considers the only reasonable remedy to his situation is for him to be physically tormented by Satan. By implication, Paul was saying that if the church were not to hand this man over to Satan his body (as directed by his soul) may have got him into such trouble that even his spirit may have been lost (so much so for the Eternal Security doctrine).

Note that for this born-again member of the Corinthian church - the perpetrator of gross incest (having had sex with his mother-in-law) - there would be a life spent in obscure duality; having had his spirit renewed through repentance, faith and likely water baptism, and so being counted as a member of the (spiritual) Body of Christ, he would now need to put up with Satan practically gnawing away at his natural body just so that his soul may turn to God in dire need. Still, I do not believe the man's spirit would be touched else Paul would have given instruction about that. So, the man's spirit would remain 'with God', but, seemingly, only on the basis that his body would be so tormented that his soul would turn to Him with no wavering as well.

Leaving his spirit untouched, an unbridled license would thus be afforded to Satan to that end so as for this man's soul to turn from subscribing to the influence of what James called "sensual" and "demonic" in order to being influenced by the Spirit and the Word instead.

It is clear that whilst the spirit of a believer would remain untouched by Satan, their unregenerated soul and their corrupt body may still be affected or influenced by him.

3) When Paul says, "let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, .." he is speaking to born-again, Spirit-filled believers in Jesus Christ. Clearly, what he is saying here is that these believers in Jesus Christ were not absolutely "clean" in spirit. Their spirits - as opposed to their bodies - had been 'defiled' (made dirty, unaffected, encumbered) by what is unclean in the eyes of God.

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1-3). When we see the totality of the context[21] in which the above was written, it becomes clear that Christ's Spirit is not supposed to be associated with ungodliness (note, Paul is not saying 'it is not possible') and thus spurs the believers of Corinth on to "cleanse" themselves of whatever may tarnish their otherwise 'clean spirits'.


How does it work practically?

I don't believe the Bible tells us explicitly how exactly it is that an unclean or evil spirit may "possess" a person. But that does not mean that it cannot happen. There are numerous examples in the Bible of evil spirits possessing people and then being "cast out" by Jesus or an Apostle. It is clear, nevertheless, that Jesus' authority over darkness (evil) is that which is effective in forcing unclean spirits to depart from a person, not to have an effect on them any longer[14]. The Bible also tells us that a person does not have to be a follower of Jesus to have an unclean spirit cast out of them. They only have to be a follower of Jesus to genuinely appreciate that a person has been set free[15].

The Bible also does not tell us explicitly how it is that an unclean spirit may influence or (indirectly) control a person. Again, that does not mean that it cannot happen. When we look at the example of Paul and the slave girl in Acts 16, we notice that the young girl seemingly was at her right senses all the time. She worked as a fortune teller, making her masters much money. So, people came to her to have their fortunes told. And, seemingly, she had a reputation of being very accurate. And, clearly, she would have been someone with whom you or I could easily have had a 'normal' conversation with; people weren't scared of going to see her. She seems to have been 'normal' in every respect. Of course, it was the "spirit of divination" that was 'in' or 'with' this young girl that gave her the ability to tell the future. So the Bible says.

The Bible uses very interesting language concerning people and evil spirits. In the case where Jesus cast out a whole group ("legion") of demons out of two men at once and allowed them 'into' a herd of pigs[16] they (the demons) spoke to Jesus in an audible voice through the mouth of the men that were possessed. Thus, they had total control over their faculties (their mouth, language and vocal chords) and they used it for their own purposes, even to make a special request to Jesus, whom they acknowledged as the ultimate authority. Interestingly, the demons went into the pigs. Now this is where it gets a bit puzzling. Pigs do not have "spirits" like humans do. Pigs were not created in God's image as Man was. Presumeably, pigs also do not get judged as Man does. And, they do not get to go to heaven or hell (presumeably). Still, they were able to enter pigs which had no say in the matter whatsoever. So, it seems as if evil spirits - demons - can enter a person if and when they are permitted to, or if and when a door is left open to them[17].

So, there seems to be a difference in the 'demonic control' between the slave girl of Acts 16 and the two "possessed" men of Matthew 8. Whereas the two men were 'out of their minds' the slave girl appeared to live quite a 'normal' life. Whereas people stayed away from the two men, others flocked to the young slave girl. Why? I will suggest that the two men were possessed by evil spirits (their faculties were taken over by them) while the young girl 'had an evil spirit' (it was something that only indirectly controlled her functioning, or something she could - by virtue of applying her will - refuse control over her life (something the slave girl did not do)). The point being that the evil spirit did not do with her as it wanted. She retained total control over her faculties whilst nevertheless allowing the evil spirit to control the course of her life. In a similar way people around us may not recognise that they are being controlled indirectly by an evil spirit. These spirits will have gained access to an individual possibly through an 'open door'.

Such open doors may come in many different forms of which some are: being stricken with deep grief (a spirit of depressionmay enter in[18]), exposure to pornography (a spirit of lust may enter in), exposure to unfair life circumstances (a spirit of control may enter in) or a desire for favour or revelation (a spirit of divination may enter in). These unclean spirits make their home in the heart or soul of an individual (they do not take control over their spirit) on the basis of what I might call 'mental or emotional licensing' - an understanding of or feelings towards things that do not align with God's wisdom (darkness). As noted, I believe Christians can harbour such spirits. Thus, it is a conscious or unconscious choice by a person to allow darkness (evil) into their life. As noted, this is where we need the wisdom of God's word to repell ungodly thoughts or understandings (attitudes) (Paul calls these "strongholds") through the wisdom of the word of God. Other spirts may enter on account of drugs, the occult or even self-inflicted addictions. What may have started as an 'innocent game of Rolette' - in combination with other innate weaknesses - may in fact invite a 'spirit of riskiness'.

Some people give names to these unclean spirits such as "the spirit of Jezebel" on account of the biblical Jezebel's passionate pursuit of manipulation and control. Others see their ability to manipulate and control as a virtue rather than a vice; they may be very successful as sportsmen, celebrities or business people as a result (or, perhaps, clergymen). I do not name these spirits because I think people too often 'see' evil spirits where really there are none. Still, I do not discount them altogether; the spirit lust or of control or of depression for instance. I believe that they are real and I believe they are ungodly. They keep us from delivering godly fruit. And, sometimes, they keep others from delivering godly fruit as well. Casting out these spirits can be done but should only be attemted when the person doing the deliverance is a true believer in Christ's victory over evil and when the person in question will ernestly desire the word of God to keep inate mental or emotional weaknesses from presenting themselves as opportunities for evil to return. A person who is delivered without committing to a concomitant devotion to Scripture is in greater danger than before they were delivered. Matthew 12 tells us so.

Lastly, I believe there are two main reasons why evil sprits are allowed access to the heart or soul of an individual: bitterness through unforgiveness and pride. The Bible warns us very clearly not to harbour these thoughts and attitudes. Get rid of these and you get rid of a clear 'launching pad' for Satan to direct dustructive activities in your life.

Now let us look at some of the text that are used to try and refute demonic influence over born-again believers:

a) 1 John 4:4.

He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

But let us read the whole passage: 1 John 4:1-6 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

The passage has nothing to do with believers being controlled or influenced by demons or demonic activity. Instead it is speaking about the witness of the Holy Spirit in a believer who helps them discern truth from error, true prophets from false prophets. Thus, John says, the Holy Spirit will advise them on which prophets are truthful and who are not. In order to do so, the spirits of those prophesying must be tested. Refer also to 1 John 5 where the Holy Spirit is referred to as a 'witness of truth'.

John is saying, 'he or she who has been born again will understand what we are teaching'. The passage does not say that 'where the Holy Spirit is there can be no demonic or demon-inspired activity.

b) 2 Corinthians 6:15-16
What harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (2 Corinthians 6:15-16).

Whilst this text relates to the lack of agreement between two diverse parties it is quotes to mean that Satan cannot be in God's presence; where God is there Satan cannot be. We know this is not true because the Bible tells us so: And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14). There's more; Satan even enters into the presence of God in heaven: Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” (Job 1:6-7)

In the text quoted above, clearly, Satan and God find themselves 'in the same place', even the 'place' where God's throne is. So, to suggest that where God is there Satan cannot be, is just not correct. As noted, the 2 Corinthians 6 text used to back up this assertion is not correct.

c) Colossians 1:13
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, ...

This is a great verse to contrast the Kingdom of God with the dominion of darkness. You will notice that the emphasis of the verse is on the conveyance of believers to the Kingdom of God. As per Jesus in John 3, this relates to being born again. See what it says in John 3 from verse three onwards: Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:3-8)

Can you see that Jesus and Paul were speaking of the same things: believers being conveyed from the dominion of darkness to the Kingdom of God by being "born again"? Now, lets go back to Colossians 1: We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit. For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:3-14)

What is at stake here is the question of entrance being given to a believer into the Kingdom of God by having their spirit regenerated (to be "born again"). What the text does not say is that the Holy Spirit who gave birth to and now indwells the spirit of a person and an unclean spirit which indwells the corrupted body and/or unwashed soul of a person cannot share the same 'space' within a person.

Whereas Satan cannot touch the spirit of the born again believer, he still has access to the body of a person (refer the man who was handed over to Satan) as well as the soul of a person (refer how David was capable of essentially demonic activity (refer how James refers to it). This was true for David despite being filled with the Holy Spirit, and despite having been called a man "after God's own heart".

It is the very nature of that triune person which was created a human being; it has three parts to it. Having their spirit transferred (note, not their body or soul) into the Kingdom of God, Satan cannot touch it. Notwithstanding, their body and their soul are still subject to evil if we allow it, .... if we do not have our hearts and minds "washed by the water of the Word"[8].

Then we can understand that it is in the interest of the unwashed soul - the mind and heart of a person - that Paul and Peter and others wrote their letters of teaching and correction to the churches of Corinth, Colosse, Ephesus, and others. It was done so that the spiritually born again believers there may have their souls redeemed from the wicked influence of Satan and his cohorts.

Thus, it is clear that Satan may still have an influence over born again believers. Such influence may come in the form of addictions, mental illness (was Martin Luther afflicted by it?), fearfulness, controlling attitudes, illnesses and disease as well as false teachings, false prophesies and even false biblical exegesis.

For that reason, what I am saying here is this: learn from this and other articles as much as you can. But, in the end, search God for yourself and learn to hear Him speak to you beyond that which appeals to human understanding: theological degrees and diplomas, command of the Greek or Hebrew languages, years in ministry, the eloquence of a preacher, his command of the English language, ... the size of his church. There are not many things wrong with any of these except where they become the assurance of the quality of any one person's teaching. Take note.

d) Romans 8:37
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

As with others this verse is not used within proper context. See what the preceding verses talk about; believers being able to deal with their temporal physical circumstances on the basis of their eternal destiny: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:“For Your sake we are killed all day long;We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

Did you notice the last parts "For I am persuaded that ...". What that says is that nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ. Thank God for this wonderful assurance of His love for us. But what it does not say is that Satan will have no control or influence or bearing on our lives. See what the Bible says about this born again believer whose heart (his soul) was "filled" by Satan: But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled[9] your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? (Acts 5:3)

Can you see that Satan can indeed fill a part (in this case the soul or heart) of a Holy Spirit birthed and filled believer?

In like manner, Satan also "entered" Judas - one of Jesus' inner circle - a man who witnessed many God-powered miracles and likely performed[13] some too: 3 Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. 4 So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. (John 22:3-4) As noted, that was the case for Ananias as well as his wife Sapphira. This verse represents a spectacular denial of the claim by some preachers that the Bible "never gives any example of a true believer being influenced or controlled by Satan". It simply is not correct teaching, no-matter how prolific and learned they are. Regrettably, their teaching has served to do at least three things:

- dismiss as false teachers who have taught a contrary doctrine as highlighted here.
- question the faith and the fruit of genuinely born again believers.
- stopped the many genuine Christians who have struggled with this issue from seeking help.

e) 1 Corinthians 15:57, 2 Corinthians 2:14, 1 John 2:13
I write to you, fathers,Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one.I write to you, little children,Because you have known the Father.

Indeed, we, through our faith in Christ's victory have overcome Satan. See how John the Revelator puts it: And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. (Revelation 12:11) You see, what Revelation 12:11 tells us is that believers need to be doing stuff - in the name of Jesus and in true faith - to overcome Satan. It is not a case of believers simply needing to sit back and enjoy the ride because they have 'a ticket to heaven'. On the contrary, the very notion of having faith, as James explains, is dependent on exercising your faith in overcoming this world, and overcoming Satan. This we could never have done in our own strength. But Christ's victory on the cross has made it possible for everyone who believes.

Again, simply quoting "you have overcome the wicked one" to try and show that true Christians cannot be influenced by Satan is perhaps a bit misleading. Scripture does not tell Christians to sit back and enjoy the ride because Christ has done it all. In fact it explicitly teaches the exact opposite[10].

f) 1 Peter 1:5
... who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Now, let us read the context and it will become clear that Peter was referring to that part of our triune beings that has been born again (or "begotten again" in Peter's language) - our spirits:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Clearly, it is the spirit of a person (Greek "pneuma") that has been "begotten again", which Satan cannot touch. And again, thank God for that because born again believers' spirits have been conveyed to the Kingdom of God. This is how Jesus could say to Pilate "my Kingdom is not of this (natural) world".

g) 1 John 5:18
We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.

As was the case with Peter's "begotten again" above, the Apostle John says exactly the same thing: "... he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him." The spirit of a born again believer cannot be touched by Satan because it has been transferred into the Kingdom of God. But, as was the case with David and Ananias and Sapphira, their hearts or souls may still be filled by Satan and the wickedness that it produces.

h) Lastly, the 'temple of God' argument is used.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19)

This is a wonderful privilege. The God of the universe stoops down to live in a temple made by human flesh. As such, the argument goes that, based on 1 Corinthians 6:19, Satan cannot co-inhabit the body of a person. But that is not what the texts says. Instead, it makes the very opposite point. It says, 'you should not do things that forces the Holy Spirit to share your body with ungodliness'. Let's refer to the context: Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:15-20)

Paul raised the issue simply because he needed to bring correction to a wayward church. They had been sexually immoral. Thus, they - the born again, Spirit-filled believers of Corinth - by virtue of their ignorance and waywardness, were bringing patent ungodliness into the temple of God. Paul was saying 'stop doing that!', not 'it is not possible to do that' as some would want to read it: Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.” But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him. (1 Corinthians 6:15-17)

Can you see what Paul is saying, 'Run from whatever may bring ungodliness into the temple of God'. This teaching still stands to this day. We are to heed it, not simply say, 'it cannot happen!'


There are good people who teach not so good things. Perhaps I am one of them? If this is your view, please let me know. But, like I try to do, please back up what you're saying with Scripture. It is not for me to call those who disagree with my reading of Scripture false prophets or false teachers. Still, if it is my impression that some or other teaching is incorrect, particularly if indeed God has given me that impression, then who am I to deny His work through me?

I understand from the Bible that born-again believers' spirits can be unclean, or be affected by what is unclean. Paul urges the Corinthian church - people who already had been born again and filled by the Holy Spirit - to have their bodies and spirits "cleansed" (2 Corinthians 7:1-3). The Bible also tells us that David (a man after God's own heart) at one point had both the Holy Spirit in addition to being a "defiled" man, in the way Jesus defines defiled. David, as we know, was guilty of adultary and murder: For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mark 7:21-23). It does not seem reasonable to me to suggest that believers - those who have been filled by the Holy Spirit - cannot house a spirit (an attitude or understanding) that is not clean before God. As such, I believe those who believe it cannot happen are likely blind to those believers (including themselves) who, in addition to the Holy Spirit, do in fact house a spirit of fear, or of control, or lust, or the like. As a result, they are clueless as to what to do about it because they simply do not recognise that it exists.



[1] Nephesh: from 5314; properly, a breathing creature, i.e. animal of (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental):--any, appetite, beast, body, breath, creature, X dead(-ly), desire, X (dis-)contented, X fish, ghost, + greedy, he, heart(-y), (hath, X jeopardy of) life (X in jeopardy), lust, man, me, mind, mortally, one, own, person, pleasure, (her-, him-, my-, thy-)self, them (your)-selves, + slay, soul, + tablet, they, thing, (X she) will, X would have it. (back)

[2] Nshamah: from 5395; a puff, i.e. wind, angry or vital breath, divine inspiration, intellect. or (concretely) an animal:--blast, (that) breath(-eth), inspiration, soul, spirit. (back)

[3] Pneuma: from 4154; a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy Spirit:--ghost, life, spirit(-ual, -ually), mind. Compare 5590. (back)

[4] Psuche: from 5594; breath, i.e. (by implication) spirit, abstractly or concretely (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from 4151, which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from 2222, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Hebrew 5315, 7307 and 2416):--heart (+ -ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you. (back)

[5] That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3:6-7) (back)

[6] this is not the same word used for "soul" but is better translated "intellect" or "understanding". (back)

[7] Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. (John 17:17) (back)

[8] ..., just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25-27) (back)

[9] Pleroo: from 4134; to make replete, i.e. (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), etc.:--accomplish, X after, (be) complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfil, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply. (back)

[10] To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. (Ephesians 3:8-12) (back)

[11] 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. (2 corinthians 10:3-6) 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) (back)

[12] 7 And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I said, ‘Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.’ 9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’ 10 Now this was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven. (Acts 11:7-10) )back)

[13] Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. (Luke 9:1) (back)

[14] 17 Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” (Luke 10:17) (back)

[15] 16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” 18 And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. 19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. (Acts 16:16-19) (back)

[16] 28 When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes,[a] there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. 29 And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding. 31 So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.” 32 And He said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water. 33 Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region. (Matthew 8:28-34) (back)

[17] 43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.” (Matthew 12:43-45) (back)

[18] I do not believe all cases of depression are on account of teh presence of an evil spirit. But some are. (back)

[19] 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, ... (1 Peter 3:3-5), (1 Corinthians 4:21). (back)

[20] 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) (back)

[21] 11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open. 14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you[a] are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them
And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” 17 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” 18 “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.” 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. The Corinthians’ Repentance 2 Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.
(2 Corinthians 6:11-7:3) (back)


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Please consult the Bible and test what is written here. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom in this area. Keep that which is good and reject that which is not Scriptual. Should you come to a different understanding than I please let me know - perhaps I can learn from you.

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