Phases of Demonic Possession
Demons do not walk to up to a person and say, "Hey! Do you want to be fully and completely demon possessed?" No, they find a weakness or a door through traditional family behavior (iniquities) or through the reckless behavior of the individual (personal sin). The person's active free will must be breached. They usually seduce a person with something simple and almost innocent unless it is generational sin.
It is kind of like the camel with his nose in the tent. It starts out with just a nose. Then, the next thing you know, the whole camel is in the middle of the tent. All the camel needs is a gate.
Demons like to solicit your active free-willing participation. It is more of a kill for them. It is sport to them!
Let's say that you profess to be a 'born again' Christian. You might even be in the ministry as a pastor or an assistant pastor. You are really committed to serving the Lord and your church. The love of God is all you think about. You attend church every meeting. You read the Bible and pray daily and you even spend special time with the Lord.
Let's say, just for argument's sake, that you are counseling women for the church. Then all of a sudden there is this certain girl you are counseling, a new believer, that seems to understand you more than your wife. That's it! Right there! The Camel in the tent! You were supposed to be counseling her but she ended up comforting you. What happened? How could this be? Christians can't be demon possessed? How did you end up in an affair with her? That was the farthest thing from your mind. What ever possessed you to cheat on your wife--To commit mental, spiritual, or physical adultery? How did that happen? Was it demon possession? How could that be? Impossible! And yet, there you are a victim of a demonic activity. You have been demonized--An activity that you were told could never happen.
Demonic possession, demonic oppression and schizophrenia:
Acts 10:38 mentions oppression by Satan which some believe is a different phenomenon than possession. 20 A person who is oppressed by a demon is having his behavior influenced in one area of his life - e.g. not being able to resist alcohol. They are harassed but are not actually possessed by indwelling demons. 19 Oppression often leads to possession.
The anonymous Website "Eternal Destinies" teaches that Satan rules the airwaves, media, and Hollywood. He "has an overwhelming influence over world politics and various religions." The Webmaster differentiates between the symptoms of demonic oppression and possession:
Symptoms of oppression: abnormal and irrational fear, anxiety & loneliness; lack of goals; depression; lack of logical reasoning ability, seeking power and control; etc.
Symptoms of possession: uncontrolled swearing, extreme physical strength; unexpectedly high IQ; intense negative reaction when Jesus' name is spoken; multiple personalities; extreme fear in the presence of Christians; violent behavior; life-threatening behavior; exhibiting paranormal abilities, severe depression; etc.
Eternal Destinies believes that oppression and possession have different causes:
Causes of oppression: activities, such as: befriending, dating, or having sex with a possessed or oppressed individual; playing with a Ouija Board, reading science fiction, viewing soap operas, looking at pornography, etc.
religious involvements, such as: false religions, cults, chanting, non-Christian meditation, etc.
personality factors, such as: poor self-image, jealousy, bad temper, rebellion, etc.
Causes of possession: activities, such as: extreme cases of sexual immorality; rebelliousness; blasphemy; taking tests for ESP or other paranormal abilities; involvement in astrology; going to fortune tellers; either owning or using "occultic" charms, talismans, written material, music, etc.
Pastor Steven Waterhouse has written a book from an Evangelical Christian perspective. It is "Strength for his People: a Ministry for families of the Mentally Ill." It helps families differentiate between demon possession and schizophrenia. A copy is available from : Dr. Steven Waterhouse, Westcliff Bible Church, Box 1521 Amarillo, TX 79105. (806) 359-6362 or (806) 359-6882. Donations are appreciated.
Some guidelines for differentiating between possession and schizophrenia are:
Factor Possession indicated Schizophrenia indicated
Reaction towards Christianity Aversion Devout acceptance
Conversations with others Rational Nonsense; may jump between topics
Knowledge Beyond that obtained by normal learning Obtained by normal learning
Effects on other people Paranormal effects: poltergeist, levitation, mental telepathy, etc. None
Admit to being possessed? No voluntary admission Admission possible
Cured or alleviated by: Prayer Therapy, medication