Will I run into demon possession in counseling?

No. There is no possibility of it. Many who speak of "deliverance" and "spiritual warfare" say that counselors must tangle with demons. To deny this, in their minds, is to be duped by Satan, who doesn't want his presence to be known. Ed Smith, the father of Theophostic counseling (a method that advocates instantaneous "healing" by a miraculous word or picture from God) believes that demonic influence may hinder the process. In his book, Beyond Tolerable Recovery, he has long sections about how to deal with demons. Like much of the rest of the book, in which he handles Scripture in highly questionable ways, so too what he says about demonic activity is misleading.

I want to say that I believe in the existence of demons. They were here, possessing human beings during the time of Christ. He defeated them and their leader, Satan. The question is not whether demons exist or not, it is this: are they now active in ways that they were in His day.

In Colossians 2:14,15 we read of Christ "disarming rulers and authorities" by means of His cross. We further are told that "God publicly exposed them, triumphing over them in Him" (v. 15). Obviously, demons are no longer able to do all they did before Christ's death. That we still battle with them is certain from Ephesians 6:11,12. But this passage never says anything about demonic possession or oppression. Rather, it views Christians as fully able to defeat them by means of truth, the sword of the Spirit and the other articles of warfare God provides.

We fight against spiritual forces as we battle the lies and sins of those who know nothing of Christ. We are tempted by the devil who, like a roaring lion deprived of many of his offspring, rages against us. But there isn't one scintilla of evidence that people may any longer be possessed of the devil, there is not a single command to us to cast out demons, and absolutely no reason to think believers may be possessed or oppressed by Satan.* Jesus' death changed things!

In 2 Thessalonians 2:9,10 Paul warns that a lawless one is coming who will be bolstered by "all sorts of lying powers and signs and wonders," and who will use "all sorts of unrighteous deceptions" to dupe "those who are perishing because they refuse the truth." Since this will happen just prior to the time when Jesus fully does away with Satan by "the brilliant splendor of His coming" (v.8), it is not a present reality. And if things will be so much worse at that time, then they must not be as bad today. In God's providence, Satan will once again be allowed to use greater deception than now. So, it is clear, his greater powers have, for a time, been curtailed.

Moreover, notice that the deception will exclude believers and will reach only those who don't love truth and are unsaved. The cross will have so minimized the devil's power to do harm to the believer that, as we see in 1 John 5:18, "the evil one doesn't touch him." Satan is now (and then) prohibited from laying a hand on the Christian. Even in Job's day he had to make a special request to do so; how much more after the cross! So, believers are neither possessed nor directly controlled by Satan or his demons.

If counselors are to minister in Christ's name by dealing directly with demons in the process, that would be clearly spelled out, and how it should be done would be revealed. Certainly Ephesians 6, where we are told that satanic forces are behind the scenes in our warfare with sin and sinners, would be the place to expect such information. It isn't there! So, don't become entangled in the futilities of such activities as those who think they may deal with demons; there is nothing a demon could do to a believer that he couldn't do to himself.

* Actually, there is no distinction between these two things. That is clear from the context.

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