On Passivity and Possession
The devil is a squatter. The more time and space he can occupy, the more ownership he gains. The devil doesn’t care how he gets ownership of a person. He can ruthlessly take it. He can gradually be ceded it. He can even use a trauma to sneak in almost unnoticed.
God wants partnership. Even after a person makes a commitment to serve Him, the following day is a new day. If the person chooses to harden his heart, God will not forcefully hold His authority over the person. God waits for partnership. He reaches out to the person. He allows or even causes the foolishness of the person’s choices to be a wakeup call. But He waits for partnership. He wants a willing bride not a forced concubine.
Yesterday I was talking with someone about demon possession. There is a huge argument over whether or not a Christian can be demon possessed. This whole argument completely misses the concepts of the first two paragraphs. It is the devil who possesses. It is the devil who is a squatter. God awaits a willing partnership.
Even if someone has given his life to Christ, God gives the person the space to make his own choices. Some of those choices do give the devil a level of influence in his life. Do you know any person who is not occasionally impacted by bitterness? When a person is caught up in bitterness, that part of the person is definitely not surrendered to God! The devil has some degree of authority even over a Christian.
When talking about demon possession, we often contrast it to a supposed God possession. That comparison doesn’t work because God doesn’t hold a person against his will the way a devil does. And we don’t even have to choose anything demonic for the devil to take advantage of us. All we have to do is be passive … to be noncommittal. Wherever there is a space that is not committed to God, that space has the potential to be possessed by the demonic realm.
Lust. Greed. Jealousy. Envy. Hatred. Bitterness. These and many more are all energized by the demonic realm and generally, we are not even aware that there is any spiritual activity happening. We believe it is our own emotions gone bad. Any space not actively given to God becomes a possible area for “partnership” with the devil. In most cases, it is not a true willing partnership. It is a squatter at work through deception, with the person who is hosting the partner not even being aware that demonic forces are at work.
After a period of squatting, and in some cases, after a willful commitment on the part of the host, the devil truly takes “possession” of a person. The authority of the demonic realm is strong enough that it can operate totally against the will of the person. That is what would truly be called possession. And yes, people who are believers can give more and more authority to the demonic realm until there are areas of their lives that operate against their own will.
The argument over demon possession generally comes because of the more extreme cases where people do bizarre things “under the influence” of the devil. We want to think that could never happen to a Christian. We want to believe that as soon as a person commits his life to Christ, all demonic authority ends. But God waits for us to hand each and every area of our lives over to Him. He does not “possess” us against our own will the way the demonic realm can and will possess us.
The believer can still embrace sin. The believer can be passive and not seek Christ. Wherever there is sin or passivity, it is an open door for the demonic. The devil doesn’t wait for an invitation. He takes whatever authority he can grab by whatever means he can get it. When that authority gets great enough, he can “force” a person to do things in a way that we describe as possession.
The only way to overthrow that possession is to cut off the authority. In some cases, the devil’s authority comes from sin. Repentance is needed. But in many cases, it is just laziness. As a culture, we pursue anything and everything of self. Some of it would seem harmless enough—not necessarily evil. But passivity in our walk with God creates space for the demonic. No willful choice required.
Are you passionately sold out for God? How much of your life is a shoulder shrug? Don’t care. Definitely not partnership with God. You may be allowing more room for demonic activity than you realize. Demonic energizing has its consequences, even when it only has a foothold through passivity. Most ugly consequences start with a small choice … or maybe even just a choice not to choose! Passivity. Possession.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord!” (Col. 3:23a, NIV).