The Bible informs us of the invisible Spirit world and many of its mysteries yet it still bewilders us. The spiritual world drives the material realm we live in, but it is difficult to comprehend something we cannot perceive. Though we are essentially spirits ourselves (which inhabit flesh), when we look in the mirror, we can only see the physical shells that house our nonphysical essence.
But what if we can actually understand the Spiritual dimension (as followers of Christ) without having to see it as clearly as we sometimes wish we could? When we acknowledge that God is Spirit, and we are essentially spirit beings also, the mysteries of the spirit start becoming more apparent. Then we learn about the power of spirits to inhabit things (objects, animals, people, etc.) and an interesting question arises that invites curiosity—what is Spirit possession?
Spirit possession is when a spirit takes control and or ownership of an object. The object then becomes its subject, submitting itself to the will of the controlling entity. People talk about spirit possession as though only demons can do it, but they are mistaken. All spirits can possess something. Our spirits do it, and so can God’s. What’s more, is that spirits inhabit not only living and animate beings but also non-living objects such as man-made idols and graven images.
Spirit possession of a human being or animal can begin with seduction. Often, the seduced creature is drawn to the spiritual hijacker through something tantalizing and difficult to resist. Human beings, especially, can be seduced with drugs, sex, food, money, and even the chance to exact vengeance. Seducing spirits lead people away from truth and sound doctrine. Therefore, they also lead away from righteousness (and spiritual purity). Resultantly, unclean spirits can begin to attach themselves to our spirits like leeches. These unclean spirits can influence people to make immoral choices which can lead to addiction when we learn to “escape” through them instead of facing problems head-on.
Everyone is influenced by the spiritual world whether or not they’re aware of this. Moreover, we can also impact the spiritual dimension. We often consider only the fact that we are physical and ignore or forget that we are also spirits. Unfortunately, for one reason or other, our vision is highly selective. Most people can only see the physical world. Few claim to be able to see spirits. Biblically, those who have seen angels and other spirits have been among the few to whom God made them visible. Nevertheless, as invisible as spirits are, their activities have material consequences.
The most dynamic and impactful spirit is the spirit of the living God. His Holy Spirit is His will to be, to create, to become, to fill, fulfill, and to glorify Himself (for only He is worthy to be recognized as the Highest). God’s activities also have physical aftermath. For instance, when He speaks, things happen immediately according to His perfect will. That which was not, becomes. It is defined the very moment God speaks it into being. God doesn’t have to learn the meanings of words to then speak. He brings terms, concepts, and physical matter into existence. New creations He thought in His mind, enter reality precisely as they were imagined. For instance, Light exists because He spoke His concept of it into existence, He defined its laws, what it would look like, how it would behave, etcetera, and then it became a manifestation of His will (for light to exist).
God will never contradict Himself; therefore, He never changes. He says He is, therefore, He cannot cease to be. He is righteous; therefore, wickedness does not exist in Him. God is the most powerful spirit and the most influential. Though it seems the world does not know Him, the Bible clarifies that the world exchanged the truth for a lie. It can always come to the knowledge of the truth, but it has thus far refused to do so. Romans 1:20 says For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power, and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that they are without excuse.
God’s will comes from His Holy Spirit. He is the most powerful spirit because He is the first and the last (the origin of everything), the beginning and the end. He has no beginning of days nor end of days and He created everything including other spirits. Hebrews 11:3 says “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” To think that all things which exist can be seen with our eyes is defiant toward the scientific fact that even light itself (which makes our physical reality a percievable one) has visible and invisible properties and wavelengths.
As we descend along the hierarchy of powerful spirits, we find that there are forces of proverbial light and darkness at work behind the scenes. Their activities also have material outcomes. For instance, a spirit of greed may attach itself to a wealthy person who is so enticed by the desire for even more wealth that he cares little if at all for the life of a poor person. By the by, not all wealthy people are bad, but in this example, if this greedy person can steal the poor man’s property and satisfy his interests, he is at peace in his mind. So he acts according to the spirit of greed which influences him. He does so to his advantage and to the other’s harm. Macroeconomically, assuming there are many more like him, we see how disparities occur. Politically, we see the parrallel between the aforementioned parable and the way in which powerful nations often seek to satisfy their selfish national interests and ambitions, by acting unethically toward weaker nations. Historically, we find many examples of greed-inspired wars and international resource theft (if we can be honest). There are powers and principalities behind those decisions. These beings are formidable entities who influenced the decisions of their captives (the human political leaders).
The Bible tells us (mostly in the Psalms of David) that God is a refuge. Psalm 27 in particular goes a bit further and describes God as a “stronghold”. A stronghold is a place that has been fortified in order to protect against attack. It is synonymous with the word “fortress”. This description of God is clearly figurative and illustrates His protective attribute. Those who desire rightousness and to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit run to Him. They escape to the stronghold they find in Him. With that said, there is both a parallel and a contrast. The Kingdom of Darkness mirrors God’s Kingdom like a negative photo. Like the fortress that God is to a believer, demonic strongholds exist as means of escape to those living according to the flesh. We use them when we do not want to run to God (for whatever reason).
Drugs, sex-addiction, pornography, hording, clubbing, alcoholism, addiction to abusive relationships, gang-life, crime, complacency, sloth, television addiction, video-game addiction, over-shopping, comfort-eating, gluttony, etcetera are all strongholds we can choose instead of going to God. On a side note, some people can indeed become addicted to abusive relationships through a phenomenon called “traumatic bonding.” I digress. We choose these escape routes, yet we do not make our choices without help. Both informed and misinformed decisions are made with some type of information (even if it’s false). For instance, many people know that they are either following God’s will or not when they do something or abstain from it. They know, for instance, that even if they tune the preacher out of their minds, they have done so after accepting the misinformed counsel of the spirits they’ve allowed into their lives. Such spirits are there to suggest that God’s word is not trust-worthy. They may even do so because of past hurts. Human beings often react based on what we feel is the best solution to our problems. Even so, the options are often recommended through small voices (which some mistaken for their own).
No one ever taught me to lie, or to steal, but I’ve done both at least once in my life. If you’re like most people, you know what I mean. You were once sinless and blameless in all your ways until that one time you slipped up (as everyone does) and sin was found in you. WOW! Until I got to this very moment, dear reader, I didn’t quite understand why God told Helel Ben Sachar (the Satan) that He was perfect in all of his ways until sin was found in him. I mean—it made sense in the context of Satan’s blamelessness until he became arrogant, but the connotation with which I now comprehend this passage is slightly clearer.
The Bible is incredibly efficient in its prose. With one well chosen word, a single sentence can capture God’s full implications through His masterful use of polysemy. “Found” does not merely mean “discovered”, but it also means “established” (as in “foundation”, or “founding Fathers”). In other words, “You, Satan, were once perfect in all your ways until sin was established in you.” By even thinking unrighteously, Satan gave birth to a new spirit of sin within his heart. He conceived evil (pun intended). When we sin, we can give birth to spiritual entities which the Bible calls unclean spirits.
How is this possible?
When Adam and Eve sinned, God did not create unclean spirits to negatively influence them. He did not create those wicked things to make matters worse. Rather, humanity’s sinfulness brought about these pests. We, like God, can create things (though not even close to the scale or complexity at which He does). We were made after His likeness after all. We can define and influence things through our speech. That is why idle words are dangerous; for words spoken by beings modeled after the imago die (I.e humans) can be used to build and destroy. That is also why praying involves speech and vocalizations, even of the spirit (as when one prays in their heart)
But back to unclean spirits and their origins. They come from their parents,—fallen human beings and Sin. God told Cain “If you do not do well, Sin lies at your door and its desire is for you.” When we do not live godly lives, we attract the seductive spirit of Sin. It’s desire is for us, to defile us. Instead of bringing good fruit of the spirit as walking with God does, we generate unclean ones. These entities can not only attach themselves to us, but to the inanimate objects such as idols.
Sometimes someone may get possessed when they’ve reach a certain degree of mastery in a secular ritual (like Yogic meditation), if they practice sorcery or witchcraft, use occult devices (like Ouija boards), ingest certain drugs, or get drunk (until they “aren’t themselves”), etcetera. I’d love to explore this topic a bit more. Perhaps I’ll do a more comprehensive study on this in the near future. After all, as followers of Christ, we ought to be aware of the invisible world. We should not be ignorant of the enemy’s devices and we need to spend ample time in prayer.
Finally, we get to spirit possession. My body is currently possessed by the spirit which God assigned to it. In other words, I own this body (for now). That is why I can sin against myself if I commit a sexual sin. Yet my body is also supposed to be the temple of the LORD. He has filled me with His spirit. As such, I have become a new creation, a new “Nephesh” (soul) because He breathed His Holy spirit into me as He had breathed the Spirit of Life into Adam. Therefore, God also possesses me in a sense.
I know this may be awkward for those who were only familiar with demonic possession. Demonic possession is a different kind of possession. Whereas the Spirit of God at times came upon Biblical figures to endow them with incredible strength, speed, wisdom etc., demons can also hijack people’s bodies and take full control, and they often endow amazing strength. There are indeed degrees of possession that usually happen before full demonic possession occurs. Even so, perhaps the most important part of everything I said this far is the following reminder:
Greater is God (who I hope is in you) than any other force in this world and beyond. With God’s help, and our willingness to be helped, demons cannot subdue us and subject us to their will.