There’s a big difference between demonic possession compared to demonic oppression.
Demonic possession is when a demon’s presence and power is controlling your body and mind internally. If you are a Christian, that means Jesus has saved you and the Holy Spirit is in you. Thus, you cannot be possessed (Colossians 1:12-14, 2 Corinthians 3:17, 1 John 4:4).
Demonic oppression, however, is when demonic influences are seeking to control you from the outside. Scripture is clear that a Christian can be oppressed (Ephesians 6:12, 1 Peter 5:8, 2 Corinthians 2:11).
In order to rightly guard against demonic oppression, you have to be aware of the common ways through which the enemy seeks to attack you. So here are 6 common ways Christians come under demonic oppression.
1. Demonic Oppression Comes Through Spending Time at Infested Places
The term “infestation” has traditionally been used to describe demonic activity in a physical space or place. Many focus on the supernatural events such as noises or things moving. I would say, however, that while demonic activity can be more intense in certain places, that activity is still more often focused on temptations and sin rather than supernatural exhibitions of power.
For example, if you were to visit a very sinful environment like a strip club, a brothel, or a store that sells pornographic material, you would be entering into a place that has a higher concentration of demonic activity. Other obvious examples would include a Satanist temple, porn websites, occult meetings, night clubs, and other such places where people congregate with the express intent of sinning together.
So if you frequent these places, this is a sign of demonic oppression. The way to remove this demonic oppression is by repenting. Repentance isn’t just confessing your sins. It’s about turning away from sin and back to God. Therefore, repentance in this scenario would mean you stop going to infested places and you start going to places where people are intentionally seeking to honor God.
As James 4:7 states, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
2. Demonic Oppression Comes Through Giving Into Temptation
A temptation is like a demonic knock on your door. The knock itself is out of your control. You are not sinning or doing anything wrong if you hear the knock. Every Christian is tempted by the enemy (1 Corinthians 7:5, 1 Peter 5:8). Even Jesus was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1, Hebrews 4:15).
You are inviting demonic oppression only if you open that door when you hear the knock. Sin only occurs when we answer the call the enemy is sending through the temptations in our lives.
The way to remove this type of demonic oppression is simply to repent and confess your sins to God. As soon as you repent and receive God’s forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, the demonic oppression must leave (1 John 1:9, 2 Corinthians 3:17, Colossians 2:13-15).
Certainly you must do your best to avoid unnecessary temptation whenever possible, but you can’t avoid all temptation in this world. Rather, you can avoid entering into that temptation (Matthew 26:40). As Jesus taught us to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).
3. Demonic Oppression Usually Comes Through Subtle Attacks, Not Sensational Displays of Power
The devil loves secrecy, not sensationalism. He loves the darkness, not the light. His arrows are much more effective when shot from the shadows, not from plain sight.
There is a branch within the church that often focuses more on rooting out the devil and fighting demons than they do on Christ and loving his people.
Yes, the Bible does call us to be aware of demonic oppression and spiritual attacks, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But the advice given to deal with the devil and demons is “resisting,” not seeking them out everywhere to cast them away. 1 Peter 5:9, “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
To resist means you fight and reject the demonic influences when they arise. It does not mean you go on a spiritual crusade, marching around everywhere casting away demons. Again, the enemy works through the subtle temptations in life, attacking from the shadows. When we spend too much time looking for supernatural displays of evil and sensationalistic demonic attacks, we often miss the real attacks coming into our lives through temptations, unhealthy relationships, and godless forms of worldly entertainment.
Therefore, don’t ignore the enemy but also don’t focus too much on the enemy because their main goal is to take your attention off of Christ. If you spend all your time focusing on demons and ignoring Jesus, they are still winning in your life (Hebrews 12:2).
4. Demonic Oppression Comes Through Materialism
1 Timothy 6:10 states, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” In Matthew 6:24, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” And in 2 Peter 2:14-15, it states of false teachers:
They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing . . .”
Even though God told Balaam he would bless Israel, Balaam took money to go against Israel. And when Satan entered Judas, Judas took the money to betray Jesus (Luke 22:3-6).
Therefore, it’s clear throughout Scripture that materialism is a demonic gateway leading to oppression. Material possessions are not evil. In fact, we are told they are good and meant to be enjoyed (1 Timothy 6:17). So to repent of this sin, you must choose to not love money and choose to use it as a tool to bring God glory (1 Timothy 6:18-19).
5. Demonic Oppression Comes Through Unforgiveness
Forgiveness is not only about freeing someone else of the wrongs they’ve done to you. It’s also about freeing yourself of the burden to seek revenge.
Sinning in anger opens a door to the devil (Ephesians 4:26-27). It’s not a sin to be angry, but to hold onto that anger forever and harbor hate for another is a sin. As Christ forgave us, we too must forgive others (Ephesians 4:30-32).
So if you want to close the door on demonic oppression, you must be a forgiving person through God’s grace. As 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 explains:
Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.”
6. Demonic Oppression Comes Through Pride
1 Timothy 3:6 states of elders, “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.” And before each statement to resist the devil in 1 Peter 5:8-9 and James 4:7, there are direct commands to reject pride and seek humility (1 Peter 5:5-7, James 6:6).
Therefore, if you’ve invited in demonic oppression through pride, you can rid yourself of this by confessing this sin, repenting, and seeking the humility of Christ through grace. As the Lord promised in Isaiah 57:15, which states:
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
Do you know what happens in the spiritual realm when you open your Bible every day? Here’s an article where I cover that important topic: 4 Spiritual Reasons You Must Open Your Bible Daily.