“The Wiles of the Devil” series (post #10)
Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. (Luke 22:3, N.K.J.V.)
There are scores of Bible stories that center around demon possession. There are only two, though, in which Satan himself does the bodily possessing. In the rest of the stories, it’s always some other fallen angel (demon, unclean spirit) or group of them that is responsible for the possession.
First, Satan literally entered into the body of the serpent in the garden of Eden. That’s how the serpent could have a conversation with Eve. Since the serpent was “more cunning” (Genesis 3:1, N.K.J.V.) than any of the other creatures, it served as the perfect vessel for the fallen angel that was more cunning than any of the other fallen angels. By the way, if you think a fallen angel can’t possess an animal, you need to read the story in which Jesus exorcises a group of demons from a man and allows them to enter into a herd of swine (Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; and Luke 8:26-39).
Second, Satan literally entered into the body of Judas Iscariot. This is the clear teaching of not only Luke 22:3 but also John 13:27. Satan possessed Judas during the so-called “Last Supper” that Jesus shared with His chosen 12 the last night of His earthly life. Jesus recognized the possession as soon as it happened and immediately said to Judas, “What you are about to do, do quickly” (John 13:27, N.I.V.). Judas then left the table and headed out to complete his prearranged deal with the Jewish religious authorities to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16).
Sometimes people ask, “If Judas was a believer, why did God allow Satan to possess him?” The answer is, Judas was never a believer. In John 6:70, Jesus says to His chosen 12, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” That one was Judas Iscariot (John 6:71). In John 17:12, Jesus refers to him as “the son of perdition” (N.K.J.V.), a description that means “the one doomed to destruction.” Also, in Matthew 26:24, Jesus says, “…woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born” (N.K.J.V.).
But wasn’t Judas personally chosen by Jesus to be an apostle? Yes (Luke 6:12-16). Wasn’t he given the responsibility of carrying the money for Jesus and the group? Yes (John 13:29). Wasn’t he empowered by Jesus to preach, cast out demons, and heal all kinds of sicknesses and diseases? Yes (Matthew 10:1-42). And yet, remarkably, he was never a true believer. He tipped his spiritual hand a bit when he complained about the financial waste of Mary, Lazarus’ sister, anointing Jesus’ feet with an expensive perfume (John 12:1-5). We also shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that he struck his deal to betray Jesus before Satan possessed him (Matthew 26:14-16).
I’ve taken the time to prove that Judas was never saved because I don’t want any authentic Christian to live in fear that he or she might somehow end up demon possessed. 1 Corinthians 6:19 refers to the Christian’s body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 John 4:4 says that greater is He (God the Holy Spirit) who is in the Christian than he (Satan) who is in the world. Ephesians 4:30 informs us that the indwelling Holy Spirit seals the Christian for the day of redemption.
Continuing the theme, Colossians 1:13 asserts that God has delivered the Christian from the power of darkness. Romans 8:35-39 explains that nothing can separate the Christian from the love of God in Christ Jesus, and verse 38 of that passage specifically names “angels, “principalities,” and “powers” as part of that nothing. Finally, 1 John 2:13 teaches that Christians have overcome the evil one. All of these passages can be used as proof texts to show that the genuine believer in Christ can never be possessed by Satan or any other fallen angel.
Still, though, we do need to be aware that demon possession is a tool that Satan has in his toolbox. And, yes, demon possession still takes place today. If it doesn’t seem as prevalent today as it did in Jesus’ day, perhaps the reason is simply that we don’t have Jesus walking this earth to spot all the cases. Certainly the same number of demons are out there. They even have a larger population with which to work. So why wouldn’t demons still possess people today? What’s to stop them?
Christian, what you and I should learn from the possession of Judas Iscariot is that someone can have religion down pat and seem to be an honest-to-goodness Christian and yet be lost. Even more than being lost, that person can actually be demon possessed. As a matter of fact, I am of the opinion that we would be shocked to learn just how many demon possessed people attend church regularly, serve on church staffs, and even do ministry.
Don’t get the idea that every demon possessed person is running around like a lunatic, carrying a gun, about to carry out some horrific act that will make the evening news. If we think about it from Satan’s point of view, we realize that him taking every demon possessed person down to such a lowly state really doesn’t suit his purposes. Oftentimes he can get more done by keeping the person “respectable” and using him or her to do work that is not nearly as openly obvious but just as damaging to the cause of Christ.