First we must define a “believer” in Jesus. It most often means one who believes that Jesus is who the Bible says that He is.
Next we have to define what it means to be “born again”. Jesus defined being “born again” as being “born of water and the Holy Spirit” (John 3:3&5).
The argument is that a “believer” who is not “Born Again” can be POSSESSED by a devil …
James 2:19 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”
but a “believer” who has been “Born Again” cannot be POSSESSED by a devil.
1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”
Now we see examples of people “believing” and being “baptized” in water but not being “born again” “of water and the Holy Spirit” such as Simon the Sorcerer. So yes people can still have a devil after being “baptized” in water but not after being truly “born again” of “water and the Holy Spirit”. The difference is the result. Are they Free FROM Sin or not? This is how John defined “children of God” as opposed to “children of the devil” (1 John 3:10).
The Biblical Doctrine of Baptism Acts 2:38:
- Repentance/Turning away FROM Sin. See Acts 3:19, Acts 26:18
- Be Born Again / Baptized to Jesus Christ in water for the Remission of Sins. See John 3:3-21, Romans 6:3-7, Colossians 2:8-15, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 John 3:7-10
- The gift/seal of the Holy Spirit resulting in being kept free FROM Sin. See Ezekiel 36:25-27, Romans 8:1-9, John 17:20-23, 1 Corinthians 6:17
Next we must define the difference between being OPPRESSED by a devil as even Jesus (Isaiah 53:7, Matthew 4:1-11) and Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) were and being POSSESSED like the man of the tombs (Mark 5:1-20) and the woman with the spirit of divination (Acts 16:16-18). Of course a person who is not born again can be OPPRESSED and sometimes even POSSESSED, and of course a born again person can be OPPRESSED but they cannot ever be POSSESSED because the seed of God (the Holy Spirit) remains in them (1 John 3:9, John 1:32-34).
2 thoughts on “CAN A BELIEVER BE OPPRESSED OR POSSESSED”
Can you talk a little more on the difference between oppression and possession? I agree that a Christian shouldn’t be possessed or filled by an evil spirit, because how could the Holy Spirit and a devil inhabit the same temple? However the verses you quoted regarding oppression seem more like an approved suffering, something that Jesus and Paul were permitted to go through whether it be the Holy Spirit leading into the wilderness (Matthew 4) or maybe a permitted persecution (2 Corinthians 12). I don’t think that all “oppression” is supposed to be endured but that it should be cast off in the name of Jesus, because He went about doing good healing all who were oppressed of the devil. Any suggestion or clarity on discerning whether oppression is something supposed to be endured as a part of the walk of faith, or something that is supposed to be broken off by faith? Are there different kinds of oppression? Blessings.
Thank you David.
You are absolutely correct but the answer is in how you look at those passages in Matthew 4 & 2 Corinthians 12.
The Holy Spirit did lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil but Jesus did resist Him and command him to go with the authority of the word of God and the devil did leave until a more opportune time. Later we see that Jesus sweated great drops of blood in prayer as he came up to the cross, we can be sure that He was being oppressed at that time. It says in Hebrews 12:2 that “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” In the context we are told that we are to be looking to Jesus as our example.
Paul also asked 3 times that God would remove the oppression that he was facing and was told that God’s grace was sufficient for him. We don’t know if that meant that God’s grace was sufficient to cause the thorn in the flesh/messenger of Satan to leave or if that meant that God’s grace made him strong to resist the oppression caused by it. Different people come to one or the other conclusion but one view or the other isn’t really the point. What we don’t see is God telling Paul that he is supposed to be ok and not resist it. We do know that God gave Paul what he needed to be ok and we must trust that He will do the same for us.
What we need to understand is that if oppression is coming on us because of our calling it is going to keep coming even as it did to Jesus. That doesn’t mean that we are to give up and let it conquer us, rather it means we are to fight back against it like a soldier. We are on an enemy battlefield that we are taking back for God. There will be resistance or we are not in the heat of the fight. We are learning by the leading of the Holy Spirit how to fight the enemy and he is always trying new tactics. It is like a chess match and if we create a doctrine it is like making up a battle strategy, but our opponent is a better strategist. But we have the Holy Spirit who can move us without us having to understand, (John 3:8). The key is to trust in / submit to God no matter what and resist the enemy no matter what and he has to flee.
I often think of James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
In Jesus’s case He submitted to the Holy Spirit’s leading but He also resisted the devil’s temptation. He rebuked the devil, and commanded the devil to go, and the devil had to go.