Does Satan possess people?

By William Stewart

Does Satan possess people? It's a common belief. We see this in context in Luke 22:1-3: "Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.

From the first time Judas was mentioned in the New Testament, he was presented as the one who betrayed Jesus: "Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him" (Matthew 10:4; see also Luke 6:16; John 6:71).

In John 6:70-71, Jesus stated clearly the character and spiritual condition of Judas: "Then Jesus replied, 'Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!' (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)"

The Greek word for devil in this verse, is diabolos, not the Devil, for it does not have the definite article ho (the), before it, but it is a description of the actions of Judas as a diabolos, meaning one prone to slander, an accuser. This word also was used to describe the actions of Satan in Revelation 12:10: "For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down."

Another place where the character of Judas was shown is in John 12:4-6, when Judas complained about the expensive perfume used by Mary to wash the feet of Jesus: "But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 'Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages.' He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it."

The question arises then why would Jesus choose Judas, a thief, and a slanderer, to be one of His disciples? The answer is found in John 17:12, Jesus said of His disciples, "While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled." The Greek word for doomed to destruction is apoleia, meaning destruction (see Romans 9:22).

The Scripture that prophesied about Judas is Psalms 41:9: "Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me." Note when it was fulfilled in John 13:2: "The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus."

God used a thief and slanderer just as God used wicked nations to punish Israel in the Old Testament. Afterwards they were judged for their wicked actions against Israel as Judas also was for betraying Jesus.

Judas was especially chosen by Jesus to be one the twelve disciples, and nowhere else in the Bible does it say Satan enters into a man. There were occasions when demons (evil spirits, fallen angels) possessed people, but not Satan other than Judas.

Instead it describes Satan's activities:
- Revelation 12:9 — "...who leads the whole world astray..."
- Ephesians 2:2 — "...the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient..."
- 1 Peter 5:8 — "...our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour [Greek: swallow]."
- 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 — "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness."
Believers are told how to respond to the advances of Satan and are warned how to respond:
- 2 Corinthians 2:11 — " order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes."
- Ephesians 4:26-27 — "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold."
- James 4:7 — "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
- Ephesians 6:11 — "...Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes."
It is a spiritual warfare, but we know the outcome:
- 1 John 3:8-9 — "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work."
- Colossians 2:15 — "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."
- Revelation 20:10 — "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever."
Satan is very busy in this world among those who are not believers as found in 2 Corinthians 4:4: "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." Therefore we must be faithful and please God as stated in 1 Corinthians 1:21: "God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."

So, although Satan doesn't often possess people, he is active in this world. We do need to be alert for his influence in the world and seek God's protection.

Image Credit: joaomateus; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Controversial-Issues  | False-Teaching  | Satan-Demons

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Published 4-4-16