“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
Notice that we were set free by Christ, we were saved and redeemed, for the purpose of walking in freedom. But also noticed that just because Christ has set us free, it doesn’t mean we automatically walk in freedom. There are things we can walk into that trap and enslave us even in our Christian life.
One thing that keeps us from walking out the freedom that was purchased for us on the cross is what Paul calls, “trying to be justified by the law”(Galatians 5:4). When we try to employ religious practices to earn our righteousness from God, whether they are practices from Judaism, Christianity or false religions, Paul says we, “have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4).
Paul mentions another thing that can keep us from walking in the freedom offered to us by Christ. He writes, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love”(Galatians 5:13). Like ditches on both sides of the road, we should be careful not to fall into religious performance, a version of Pharisaical legalism, nor sinful indulgence, a version of licentiousness and antinomianism. Both are forms of enslavement.
These mindsets and behaviors give away our freedom. They open the door for demoni spirits to enter our lives, set up strongholds, and torment us.
But can Christians have demons?
First, we have to get rid of the idea that being demonized means being “possessed” like the man who lived in the tombs of the Gerasenes from Mark 5:1-20. The word “possession” is not even in the New Testament. The Greek word for when a person is influenced, occupied or tormented by a demon, properly translated, is demonized. And it is clear that demonization happens on a spectrum of severity from harassment to attachment to strongholds to oppression and possession. Demons gain varying levels of influence in various parts of a person’s life.
Christians cannot be possessed because they have been bought at a price and are now owned by Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:20). But they can demonized! They can be heavily oppressed by the demonic. They can have various levels of demonic strongholds and attachments in their life. It is said, “A demon can’t have a Christian but a Christian can have many demons.” I know this because I have firsthand experience casting demons out of many Christians.
In fact, the ministry of deliverance (casting out demons) is specifically for those who have the Holy Spirit which can “re-occupy” the part of them that was once occupied by a demon. Jesus himself warned that the Spirit is needed to fill “the house” or the condition of the person will be worse when that demon who was cast out comes back with friends:
When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.Matthew 12:43-45
The freedom that was purchased for us on the cross must be walked out; it must be lived. Just as the Hebrew people had to do more than sacrifice an unblemished lamb on that first Passover night but had to apply the blood to their doorpost, we must apply the blood of Jesus to our lives (Exodus 12:7, 13). We can’t earn our freedom. Jesus won our freedom for us. But we must obediently walk in the freedom that He’s given us so that we don’t fall into the enemy’s snares, traps and enslavements. Paul says it this way, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).