Can we be oppressed or possessed by the devil?

Question: “Can the devil oppress or possess a non-believer or a Christian?”

Bible Answers

The Greek word “daimonizomenoi” can be translated “possessed” meaning in modern English, to have as property, to own, and to control.  It can also be translated “oppressed” meaning coming under the power of, or influenced by, or to weigh heavily on.  While different Bible versions use both translations, the more accurate translation is “oppressed” as very few demonic cases actually take complete control or possession of a person.

Demons/evil spirits have specialized duties.  One can be a spirit of hate, another anger, and another depression, or hundreds of other specialties.  A person may be attacked by a single demon or multiple demons.  However, while a person may be oppressed by demons, in a specific area, such as a demon of anger, in that one area, the demon may exhibit possessive control, but not in other areas of the person.

And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many [demons speaking]” (Mark 5:6,9).  Two considerations I would like to point out. One, the man had a legion (a Roman legion is a minimum of 4,800) of demons in him.  Two, while demons do not like being around Jesus, even with a legion of demons, they were not able to stop the man from running to Jesus.

Can a person be possessed by demons

Yes, a person can be so controlled by demons that they are possessed, but this seldom happens.

Appearance of those with a demon

We often think of someone with a demon as a person who is always screaming, drooling, and limping.  In reality, one person may exhibit the characteristic of their demon continuously, such as with a disease, while others may only exhibit it every few weeks, such as an unjustified outburst of anger, and be totally normal between episodes.

External attacks

External attacks, from outside of our bodies, are primarily Satan’s fiery darts against out mind.  The darts are ideas, thoughts, and pictures used against both Christians and non-Christians.  To a lesser degree external attacks can also be physical attacks. However, Christians have protection afforded them that non-Christians do not have; the armor of God, if they use it. Ephesians 6:13 says, Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  

One of Satan’s greatest weapons is attacking us subtlety, one layer at a time, so that we do not recognize that we are being attacked. Satan’s primary attacks are thoughts that are deceptive lies. They often start with a lie that contains some truth to make it more acceptable, but over time, they builds and leads to temptations, sins, and physical attacks.  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). The primary defense is casting the thought or idea “away” from us in the name of Jesus. For example, we recall we need a stapler at home. The devil then gives us the idea of taking one from work, after all, they have more than they need.  Resist the devil’s idea.  We have a choice to steal the stapler or Submit ourselves to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

Internal attacks

Mat. 12:43-45 says,  Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and does not find it. “Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came”; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order.  Then it goes, and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.  This verse explains three different spiritual conditions:

1.  Non-Christian

Jesus said that the house was found unoccupied and can be reoccupied by demons as the house is empty since non-Christians do not have the presence of the Holy Spirit living in them. This verse also makes it clear that a demon should not be cast out of a non-Christian who has no interest in asking Jesus to be their Lord as more spirits may return and the person will be worse off than before.  

2.  Christian walking with the Lord

A Christian who is walking with the Lord has his house filled with the presence of the Lord and there is no room for demons to enter the house.  Demons, once cast out cannot return as long as the Christian keeps walking with the Lord.


3.  Christian not walking with the Lord.

A Christian who is not walking with the Lord because of unrepented sins has separated himself from God’s presence.  In this case the house is again empty or partly empty, and is available for demons to move in.  While sin opens the door to demons, repentance closes the door, but if demons have entered then deliverance is needed.

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear (Isaiah 59:2).

Can a person be saved and still have a demon

Can a person with a demon who accepts Jesus as their Lord still retain the demon?  While the Bible does not specifically answer this question, many who specialize in deliverance and have cast out thousands of demons, say that many of those delivered were Christians who received a demon before accepting Jesus, often in childhood.  If they are now walking with the Lord, once cast out, the demon may not return without being invited by opening doors to them.  


While casting out a demon endangers a non-Christian, who does not want to accept Jesus as Lord, we can bring some temporary comfort by binding the demon.  I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18). Bind means to restrict, stop, hinder, check, hold back, and arrest the things of the devil and loose is to release, untie, unbind, unlock, liberate, release, forgive, or free things the devil has bound.


Sickness can come from many sources.  It can be from natural causes such as accidents, genetics, environment, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, and excess stress in our life.  It can be from Demonic causes such as evil spirits, such as spirit of cancer, or spirit of arthritis, it can result from external attacks and internal attacks, called oppression.  And it can be from sin in our life and sins passed on to us from past generations. Healing is difficult until the root of the cause is addressed.  

Jesus is our shield, and the closer we walk with Jesus with a pure heart free of sin, unforgiveness, and the effect of past generations, the less likely we are to be assessable to Satan’s attacks.  Does this mean that I will never get sick?  No. No matter how well we walk with Jesus, the sins and consequences of the world are still affecting us. In the world you will have troubles. But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33). Even when we believe we are walking with Jesus with a pure heart, that our doors are closed, and we have God’s protection, there can still be, at times, factors that will permit us to be oppressed with sickness.  But God is with us, and blessing us, even unto death, the time of the greatest promotion of our life.

Christians are most vulnerable to oppressive attacks in the weakest areas of their life; areas that have not been brought under the control of the Holy Spirit.  But in the power of Jesus Christ, we do not have to accept oppression; we can resist, we can cast it away.


While very few are possessed by evil spirits, many, including Christians can be oppressed.  Satan tries to attack our minds and bodies; however, the closer we are walking with Jesus, the better we are prepared to be on guard.

Next Section - How does Satan Attack Us?

The Devil and Hell Satan drawing humanity

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