FAQ: How do you tell if a person is demonically possessed?
This is a serious question, and one that should not be treated lightly. In the early 1970's a Columbia Bible College professor, by the name of Dr. Wentzl I believe, had already done work on the rising tide of active and overt demonic influence in the United States. I well remember listening to his lectures on the subject, which inspired me to put together material of my own to try to wake churches to the reality that Satan and his forces were active and growing in power in America, even as the Evil One had been busy in other countries for years. This is not to say that there had not always been isolated pockets of demonic activity in The New World. What the professor demonstrated was that this land had experienced some protection of God from active and overt demonic activity. This was broken down over time by the growth of spiritualism and the importation of foreign mystic and supernatural religions from such places as India and Africa. I make this point because I want the reader to understand that struggles with demonic forces are on the increase and no place is immune including the country we hail from.
At the same time, the reader should understand that it is erroneous to fall into the error held by many today that see a demon behind every tree, so to speak. The are so busy seeing demons behind every event and action that they have no place for objective observation and assessment of events and people they run into in the course of life. If something they see is at odds with how they view the world to be, they immediately characterize the problem as demonic.The resultant error they fall into brings repraoch on genuine Christian endeavors. For instance, recently some religious group mistook an autistic child for being demonically possessed. In the course of trying to do exorcism the leader of the group managed to crush the child to death. Not only did their misguided actions result in the death of a human being but the impact of their actions on genuine Christian intervention will be felt for some time. How Satan must have enjoyed all that has happened in that case. Not only because of the human suffering and confusion that has resulted but also because of the contempt that will be focused on Christian warfare against real cases and the greater liberty he and his minions will have in working their evil ways.
You must realize that demonic actors, like those of their master, are often deceptive. The persons and actions which have demonic forces behind them often appear as something else. Delusion is the stock in trade. Genuine light is brought upon such persons and activities by trying them by the Word of God. You will be surprised to discover that some famous and prominent persons in even Christian circles will often not survive the investigation which tries their words, actions, and statements by the genuine Word. I could write a great deal and point out specific people, discussing their theology and how it relates to the matter. Perhaps I can reconstruct some of my lectures from past summer seminars on this subject and make them available for the future. I would encourage the reader to always beware a person who goes to the graveside of some past spiritual leader for inspiration. That is called necromancy and is forbidden to believers.
Another point of recognition is when the genuine Christian who is walking in the Spirit encounters a person or situation that is at odds with the Holy Spirit within them. It does not bear witness with their spirit. There is, as a minimum in such cases, almost a grating or sense of wearing. In one situation in Sumter, South Carolina. I spotted a person who was undoubtedly demonically inhabited when she was coming out of a K-Mart. She also saw me and gave me such an evil leering look that I felt like I needed to go take a bath. Her very look made me feel dirty and that was just from the way she looked at me. On another occasion in Tallapoosa, Georgia, I was passing by some houses on a road. A child was playing with his back to me. As my vehicle approached, he stood up straight and turned to look at me. I have seldom seen a countenance with such an expression of hatred even on people of many years of involvement in violence and sin.
Recently my daughter observed a woman attack another. Apparently the woman attacker has a history of doing such things. People who know her believe she has a demon in her. This might be true or she may be demonically oppressed or influenced. Clearly she is not a Christian, so this means she is succeptible to demonic possession. But, I would not be quick to say she whether she is possessed or not. There is not enough evidence. I say this even though there was a chain of circumstances that followed this woman being angry at my daughter for giving a statement to the authorities about her actions. What occurred was the following. I entered the building where the women live and fell down a flight of stairs by the entrance for no apparent reason. That evening my daughters purse was stolen at a restuaraunt, and my truck suddenly developed an electrical problem for no apparent reason. None of these things are evidence of this woman practicing some sort of witchcraft to get even. In the end, if she is possessed she will be the worse off for trying to do us ill, demonic beings have been known to get highly upset and even attack persons who sent them after Christians.
In another case, a young woman I know has an aunt who has been trying to get her into supposed "white" witchcraft (which is itself a satanic delusion). The young woman had come to me for counseling but she has not followed my advice to break all ties with her family, particularly the aunt. I had occasion to meet this aunt in a Walmart some time back. There was little doubt that this woman was inhabited by some evil spirit. Her expression when she was introduced to me was one of loathing in the extreme. I have to confess I did not relish the event either. In this woman's case her servitude to evil is voluntary for what she can get out of it. Until something should happen in her attitude she is without hope.
Not all people who become demonically possessed enter into such a state willingly. A certain J.L. brought home a ouija board and began playing with it, forcing his wife to play also. She had been a member of an outlaw biker gang and done the drugs, booze, etcetera scene, including some pretty weird activities like being put in a coffin in a drug induced state and left on people's front porches. His wife feared the board and did not want to play with it at all, but he coerced her. Pretty soon, the board began to operate on its own. It began to suggest certain sexual actions it wanted the man and woman to perform. After that it began to announce that it wanted to take over the woman. J.L. was gone on a military exercise when he met one of my people who lead him to faith in Christ. The weekend he returned the woman moved out of the house and in with a soldier leaving her son alone in the residence she and J.L. had shared. By the time J.L. was brought to me for counseling and discipleship, she had already left the country. But I have no doubt from all that came to light the being in the board had succeeded in possessing her. Such a shame.
To complicate recognition of people who are demonically possessed as well as those who are demonically oppressed is the fact that so often the symptoms of their situation appear similar to various disorders of the brain and mental function. Schizophrenia has often been mistaken for demonic possession and demonic possession is often mistaken, particularly by secular psychiatric and psychology practitioners, for schizoid and other types of mental disorders. One psychiatrist I know had a former patient, with symptoms of a multiple personality disorder, come back to visit him after she was released from a mental hospital. On the occasion of her visit she tried to throw him out of a third story window. It was not until that day that the psychiatrist, who is also a Christian, realized that he was dealing with a demonic entity who was inhabiting her. After this he did more work on the subject of demonic activity and conducted some workshops for counselors such as myself.
I might also point out that people who claim alien abductions also frequently exhibit the same symptoms as those evidenced by people who claim demonic encounters. The evidence of similarity is so strong that many believe that, excepting those cases of delusional people, what is being observed is the same thing. In short demons masquerading as extraterrestrials. Work was done in this area back in the 1970's by a New Zealander, a Dr. Wilson, I believe his name was, who wrote a book on his investigations.
I suppose what I am really saying is that you must take each situation on a case by case basis. There is no substitute for trying things by the Word of God, and if you are where you should be spiritually, some things will be obvious because of the Holy Spirit within you.
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Buchanan, Georgia 30113