Friday, March 2, 2012

Can children be possessed by a demon?

Someone asked me this week if a child could be demon-possessed. There are occasional cases in the news where a possession seems to be a central focus, or there exists a problem with a child or youth that medicine or psychology cannot solve. So the question was asked. Clearly, every tantrum a two year old throws isn't a demonically inspired rant. Often, medicine or therapy can aid the child who is exhibiting symptoms of uncontrollable behavior, and demonic possession is not indicated. But cases where a spiritual problem is the root cause do happen and as John MacArthur says below, "I think much more common in the world today than we understand or the demons want us to understand.”

Medieval illumination
People are  fascinated with the demonic. I was riveted when I read the scene with Jesus and the Gadarene demoniac. (Mark 5, Luke 8, Matthew 8). Just as we are fascinated with the physics and biology of how the Holy Spirit indwells Christians, we are equally fascinated with how it works when a non-believer has a demon inside him. We love to get glimpses of the other side, of the heavenly glories and also of the demonic.

MacArthur preached a sermon called Jesus' authority over demons, and in it he stated, "And as I said last time, the victims of demon possession are not necessarily the most evil people, sometimes children were possessed, as we shall see in the New Testament. And they're not to be confused with people who somehow aren't functioning normally, mentally, because every time Jesus confronted a demon, the conversation was always comprehensible and rational cause you're dealing with a rational being in dealing with a demon. Somebody who is completely spaced out, flipped out, incomprehensible, talking double talk, nonsense is...you're probably not engaging a demon."

In the scenes in the bible where a demon is present, whether inside a human or as a spirit, we see that they are vocal. In 1 Kings 22:19-23, a lying spirit came forward when God inquired of them how Ahab should be brought to the fullness of his iniquity. The lying spirit spoke aloud and had a rational conversation with God. You often find that when the demons speak, they are rational, lucid. The slave girl following Paul around had a spirit of divination in her and she kept shouting, "These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation." (Acts 16:14-21). Not wanting satan's publicity, Paul commanded the demon to come out of her, and it did that very moment. But she was shouting rationally, and what she was shouting was true.

I've often mused about the impact to our biology when we as Christians host the Holy Spirit inside us and when a non-believer hosts a demon. We don't know what it feels like to have the Spirit leave us, because He is sealed within us, (Eph 1:13, 2 Cor 1:22). And we don't know how it felt to have the Spirit come into us. He is gentle, merging seamlessly and painlessly into our body. But when a demonic spirit enters or leaves an unsaved person's body, it often is recorded that it rips and splits the biology. Going in and coming out are hard on the person. While it is in there, they could cause the human host to cut themselves, they are thrown about, they are caused to scream till hoarse, hurl themselves into the fire, and other biologically hurtful things. Sometimes they are seemingly calm, like when the slave girl was following Paul, but the bible says she was shouting, not speaking. When it is time to leave, demons don't go willingly, as we see in the scene of the Gadarene demoniac. When they left the man they went into the pigs, who immediately went mad and hurtled down the hill and drowned in the lake.

Doing a study from the bible on all the instance of demons inside a person or oppressing a person would be interesting. Look at the person they harass or possess, and their biology. What changes do they cause to their human host physically? Mentally? Emotionally? How do they go in or come out of a person? Do they speak, and if so what do they say, and why? How do they interact with Jesus or God? Those are a few of the ways one could approach a study of the subject.

As to the question of whether children could be demon possessed, first we look to the bible to see if there are any instances of demon possession in children. Is this thing even possible? Always, brother and sister, go to the bible first when a question comes up. We could read books on the subject, but nowadays so many books are fraught with error that I hesitate to recommend even one. So, if child possession is even possible, what does the bible have to say about it?

The bible records several instances of demonic possession. Matthew 9:32-33; Mt 12:22; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 4:33-36; Luke 22:3; Acts 16:16-18.

As a matter of fact, Jesus and the disciples spent a good deal of time exorcising demons and dealing with harassing demons. But were any of them children? Yes. There are two recorded instances of demonic possession in children. In one, the demon-possessed is referred to as a boy, and in the other, the possessed person is referred to as a daughter, later as a child. So we take from these facts that it is possible for demons to inhabit children.

In this example the father said of his boy that his son has been possessed "since childhood":

"Mark 9:14-29-- "And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him. And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?” Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.” He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

"When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”"

The demon's exit was so horrific, the boy was as dead. I'd surmise that the demons want to do so much damage that though they must obey the voice of God, they shred as much flesh as they can on their way out.

In the second case of a demon-possessed child, it is recorded in Mark 7:26-30; "The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

So a boy and a child are shown to be possessed by a demon. The answer to the original question is "yes." MacArthur expounded in his sermon 'Food from the Master's table'.

“Now she [the mother] has a problem. She kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. She kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. Matthew says the demon was an unclean spirit...an unclean spirit. In a sense, all demons are unclean. Demons are fallen angels who operate in the kingdom of darkness. They indwell unbelievers. This is a little girl. This is a young girl, an unmarried girl under the age of twelve, thirteen, when people got married. Who knows? Eight, nine, ten...seven...who knows? A demon-possessed child. Horrific experience for a mother. I think much more common in the world today than we understand or the demons want us to understand.”

I agree with this statement. Demons are still around. They possess people, adults and/or children. Their presence on earth increased as Jesus first came to earth and their presence will increase in advance of the second time Jesus comes to earth.

MacArthur again:
"Demons can take up residence in non-believers and they did that in an escalating fashion during the time of Christ, at least they manifested it in an escalated fashion. As I said, they like to stay hidden but under the confrontation of Jesus, they just literally blew their cover. They were just traumatized."

The next logical question comes, "How could God do this to the innocent children!" But that is a false question. He doesn't do it to people, sin and satan's evil causes demon possession. And I often get a reply like, "OK, well, how could He allow it, then?! They're children!"

We have to remember that the world is corrupt. Rather than see the "badness" of God, see the evil of sin and its corrupting effects. Society's most vulnerable are not immune to the ravages of evil in the form of demon infestation. We may live in a beautiful place with green grass and swaying pine trees and undulating blue ocean, with stars twinkling overhead, and all that is beautiful to be sure. But creation groans for release from the evil that permeates it. We humans are corrupt too, Christians are only cleansed because we are saved by the blood of Jesus.

It is a fallen world and all societies that try to create civilization in this fallen world fail. Society's most vulnerable are always most vulnerable. Children, the weak, the lame, the mentally retarded, all vulnerable. Herod killed thousands of children under the age of two because he feared the new King spoken of by the Wise Men. Imagine being that Roman soldier, given a duty to stab babies.

In Ezekiel 5:10 the siege went on so long the people began to eat their children. Children are passed into the fire of Molech. The Old Testament records many such atrocities against children. God allows people their sinful desires and the outcome of those are evil. However, He is always working within our society for the good! What mans sinfully creates as an evil, He turns to the Good.

Remember, He also offers a remedy to those who are lost. We do not have to remain vulnerable to demonic possession. He offers His Son and showers unto us grace through Him. If one repents and accepts His salvation, then one will not be vulnerable to demon possession, not you or your house. Being saved, walking with the Lord, raising up your family in Godly statutes means you are likely to be harassed, but with prayer and constant repentance and bible study, you will recognize demonic attacks when they come- and have the faith to oppose them.

The day is coming when no more atrocities against any person, especially children, will occur ever again.

Here is a final thought from the sermon I quoted earlier, "The point of the text is that Jesus meets this demon-possessed situation and totally dominates the demon. The demon panics under the preaching of the gospel because the gospel raids the kingdom. The gospel steals the man that he's living in and plying his wicked influences and so the demon panics under the preaching."

"Let me tell you something. People run around, "I cast you out, I bind you," that doesn't do a thing to any demon anywhere, anytime. If they laugh, they laugh at that...exorcisms, human manipulations, like Acts, you know, the sons of Sceva going around...they were Jewish exorcists, you know, they had these little incantations, chants and formulas and the demon said, "Jesus we know, and Paul we know, but who are you? We're not impressed." Basically. They shudder not under human manipulation, they shudder under the power of the gospel because the gospel goes into the kingdom and raids it. The gospel goes into the house, ties up the strong man and plunders his goods. That's what smashes their fortresses. I said, that's...that's what frees the souls of their captives and brings them to Christ."

The captives could be adults or they could be children.

The Gospel. It always comes back to the Gospel. Jesus saves. He is the Victor over sin and death. With His Spirit indwelling us, the demons cannot enter. Glory to Him in the highest!

17 comments:

  1. Excellent! A very insightful article. Thank you for being a berean - We should all be looking into The Word of God for the correct answers. I love reading christian spiritual books (especially classic and older ones), but nothing has the power and authority like the Holy Bible.

    MacArthur is right, we underestimate the enemy. But Glory to God, that old foe can be defeated by the almighty power of the Holy Spirit(All thanks and praise be to Jesus).

    Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding.

    Have a wonderful and blessed weekend!

    -Mark

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  2. Neil Anderson's Victory Over The Darkness is a good study to understand how demons are able to affect people. Those who do not belong to Christ have no hope of permanent relief until the Holy Spirit is invited in. The manifestation of demonic activity is broader than we might imagine. It is responsible for physical uncleanness and disease. The generational physical, psychological disorders, emotional disorders.
    A person's yielding to sin opens them up to demonic activity. A person or child who is subjected to physical, emotional, sexual abuse is opened up to demonic activity.
    God will deliver His own, but that is when they yield to Him.
    Look at Matt. 16:18-23 Christ himself acknowledges the work of the Holy Spirit in Peter and just a short time later he rebukes Satan that clues me to the fact that I still have a fallen nature and bent. The key? Read study and yield to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

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  3. Hi Mark,
    Thank you for your encouragement. I really appreciate it. Jesus is all gory, it is amazing to me how and why He won the victory over the demons, and over sin and death. :) I'm glad we can praise Him together.

    Jeff, I know Anderson wrote many books about the demonic side of things. I am not familiar with the one you mentioned. Thanks! Also, thank you for the rest of your comments. Very insightful

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  4. Very good treatment of the subject. Elizabeth, have you read my comment at the end of your post; " are you tending your anchor?" in which I requested a permission? I know it´s hard to follow the preceeding posts copmments. Thanks. God bless you.

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  5. Hello Jean-Louis,

    Goodness, forgive me! Yes I had read that and had forgotten to answer. Yes, of course, please do use anything you find here as you need. If the material you want to use includes quotes, references, or links to others's works please don't forget to credit them as well. It is my hope that anything I write be of the Spirit and that the Spirit carries it where he knows it needs to go. :) Go right ahead.

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  6. Goodness, you are forgiven! :) Thank you Elizabeth. I try to credit the authors whenever possible. Come and visit, please. I have redecorated my blog and posted several interesting pieces since your last visit. You might enjoy seeing videos and photos of my birth place in Algeria with a continued capital status of 3,500 years of Canaanite, Phoenician,Hebrew-Jewish, Carthagenean, Roman, Christian, Vandals, Arab, Turkish, French, European successive conquests and colonization providing a rich amalgam of culture, history, language, arts, music and religions. I have been privileged and blessed to have spent my youth there until the time of the end of the brutal and atrocious war of independence. Here is the address for one of my testimonies in 3 parts. http://thelightseed.blogspot.com/2012/02/personal-experience-of-very-young.html
    Friends, fellow believers are always welcome my door is always open. Southern hospitality rubbed on me in my 30 some years in the South.

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  7. Thank you for this Elizabeth. Great job!

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  8. I have a relative that is demon possessed. He is 19 and has been possessed for a few years at least. He was a victim of child sex abuse. He is obsessed with violent porn, human torture, demonic books and video games, IMVU, satanic music, etc. I believe he is dangerous to children.

    What is crazy, is that he is able to fool people into letting him play with their kids. He is able to pull it off.

    In fact, just today, I heard other family members calling him a "poor child."

    He is scary.

    I know another woman who is demon possessed too. Her demon tries to embarrass her. I was meeting with her for prayer and Biblical guidance, and I was hoping that the Lord would deliver her; but she didn't want the Lord so she could not be delivered. But she posted on her Facebook such embarrassing posts. She was friends with everyone at church and out pastor, and she would talk about getting "Brazilian" waxes and how good it feels. She would post really embarrassing pictures where you could almost see the demon mocking her through her eyes.

    I hate the enemy.

    I agree that unless a person wants the Lord, there can be no deliverance. I also agree that the enemy is AFTER children. Why else would "My Little Pony" cartoons be straight up satanism? Why else would there be pink princess Ouija boards at Toys R Us? Why else would Barnes and Noble children's literature be mostly vampires, ghosts, pagan goddesses, magic, etc. The enemy is also standing at the door and knocking, waiting for a child to open the door.

    However, I personally believe that the power of prayer is such that if I feel that the enemy is attacking me, or that there is something scary and evil in my house--that I can pray "In Jesus Name" and it will leave. I can always rely on the Name of Jesus and the Power of His Blood.

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  9. My husband and I agreed today that our 19 year old daughter is possessed, which is amazing because my husband is Christian in name only - he's not especially drawn to the things of Christ and is not biblically literate - but even he sees it(as opposed to a psychiatric problem). She listens to satanic sounding music, watches reenactments of murders on T.V. all the time, has tattoos and piercings and claims she is an atheist. Of course there's more but you get the picture. She is often pleasant enough but when she is asked to please do something, such as feed the cat, she becomes enraged and uses foul language. When she is enraged you get the feeling she is capable of murder. She is very beautiful but with the dyed black hair (she's a blonde) and harsh makeup it's almost like she's deliberately making herself ugly. She shares almost nothing with her psychiatrist who prescribes zoloft. Been like this (dark) since elementary school. I will try prayer and fasting - so far I have tried prayer alone. She hates the word of God (when I used to read the Bible out loud to my kids Sundays she would hide her face and practically writhe). I feel as if I am being attacked through her - she is being used as the instrument of my torture. As a Christian I cannot be possessed so I am never afraid of that, but my child is being abused and it is out of my control. I'm glad I found this post - it helps alot although it doesn't solve the problem. Prayer and fasting. And a major league miracle. Any advise will be appreciated.

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    1. Dear Lady, my heart goes out to you. I have raised my nephew since he was a baby. To make a long story short, there is generational satanism on his Mom's side of the family. There have always been disturbing questions raised all throughout his child hood. The tormenting nightmares, fears and dreams he described. Symbols he would draw that no little child should know. Obession with murder and torture movies. Gore and serial killer movies. A few months before he turned eight-teen a bad storm came through and with it came a demon which actually spoke through him to me. I am a serious Christian who has had my years of fiery trial wherein God has proved Himself mighty and faithful. The enemy told me that he would have my nephews soul. Even my nephew told me of his hatred of God and worship of Satan. I immediately sought God and was given a Word of promise to stand upon. Little by little my nephew would manifest demons and have emotional break downs wherein I would pray for him. And he slowly began to give details concerning the satanic ritual abuse he had suffered. It was so horrible. It has been a year now since that storm blew in. Yet God was faithful to let me know that He was going to leave us hanging nor leave us in the middle of the miracle he was going to do in my nephews life. It has been a long season of brokenness and learning to pray in a deeper way. A way of bearing a burden and pouring out my heart to God in many tears of getting very real and humble and dependant upon God. My nephew has a long way to go. But he no longer hates God. He no longer has demonic manifestations or demons speaking through him. He now reads the Bible and no longer walks under that deep sense of hopeless despair and emptyness that once made him long to die and suicidal. He still acts like a spoiled brat and don't like being told to clean up after himself. But he now comes back and apologizes when he cools off and admits he was wrong. I too prayed and fasted, AND LET ME ENCOURAGE YOU. IT WORKS! OUR GOD IS FAITHFUL AND HAS POWER OVER ALL THE POWER OF THE ENEMY. I dont know you or your family but God does, and I am praying for you and your daughter and husband in agreement with you. I've already seen great victories in this situation I have faced and many wonderful answers to prayer. I have faith enough as I trust you do as well. I am sharing a poem that really brought a lot of encouragement to me and which was written by someone I know personally. Hope it is a blessing.

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    2. Grace Abounds

      "Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 5:19-21

      When the battle looks lost and without a hope
      that thy loved ones shall be saved
      Don't forget God's saving grace
      and the costly price He paid

      For Death and Hell will reach out for them
      until the very end
      So it is up to us to pray them through
      from their besetting sins

      Therefore remember that the effectual fervent prayer
      of the righteous availeth much
      For the chains of sin break asunder
      with the Master's touch

      Thus what of sin and the power thereof
      compared to the power of Jesus Christ
      Remember He raised the dead and rose again
      for He is the Resurrection and the Life

      Therefore do not fret or fear in vain
      when Satan comes to steal
      For all it takes is the presence of Jesus
      the way-ward’s heart to feel

      For the Light of Life hath shined out of darkness
      conquering Death in victory
      Thus the prayer of faith shall save the sick
      and set the sinner free

      So no matter how far they seem to be fallen
      lost or backslidden in sin
      Remember God's promises shall never fail
      Yet we must stand in the gap for them

      Because where sin abounded grace did much more abound
      for sin hath reigned unto death
      Thus even so might grace reign unto eternal life
      by Jesus Christ through righteousness.
      © 1992 Raymond Bolton Pena

      "Is any among you afflicted? let him pray....Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:13-16

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    3. Anonymous, thank you for your testimony and the poem. Bless you :)

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  10. my friend i think she might be possesed because she can tell the furture she has been around demons her whole life she gets angery for no reason she she sees things no one dose and she hears a little girl mocking her like the demon girl thinks its funny one the girl showed herself wwith a mind messege she said it was a girl who died in a fire and died with hate and regret she has encredeble strenth and when she thinks bad thoughts she says they happen like she can say the cup will fall in 5 4 3 2 1 and it will fall and shes in another room and i think she has been aroud them her whole life plz comment help her

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    1. Your friend needs to repent of her sins (be sorry and turn away from them) and ask Jesus to forgive them.

      She needs to throw away ALL her occult things, books, totems, jewelry etc. no matter how much they cost.

      "And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily." Acts 19:19-20

      There is good information here-
      http://www.gotquestions.org/demon-possession.html

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  11. Blessings brother and praise the Lord for the insight He has given you to share.

    It is my understanding that the casting out of demons is a sign of miraculous works for unbelievers. Jesus would preach the gospel then heal the sick and cast out demons to confirm His message and demonstrate the power and compassion of God (Matt 4:23; Luke 6:17-20).

    He gave the same commission and authority to His disciples (Matt 10:7,8; Luke 9:1,2; Mark 16:17,18,20; Acts 14:3), and thus all healing/casting out demons is led of the Holy Spirit.

    My questions is, if a child (3 years old) is possessed, should the casting out be done in private (since the believer's heart is for absolute healing) or should it be done in public so that the unbelieving parent (who is not aware of the spiritual influence/warfare) would come to believe in the sovereign, saving grace of God?

    J. LeBron

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    1. J.

      Here are some links to biblical and well-written articles about demon-possession

      What does the Bible say about demon possession?
      http://www.compellingtruth.org/demon-possession.html

      What does the Bible say about demon possession?
      http://www.gotquestions.org/demon-possession.html

      How do we distinguish a psychological disorder from demon possession?
      http://www.gotquestions.org/psychological-demon.html

      Is there activity of demonic spirits in the world today?
      http://www.gotquestions.org/demonic-activity.html

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  12. Very good article .... To Adonai be all Glory ...

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