Hey Steve, this touches slightly on something that I've had a lot of questions on. Are unclean spirits still operating in the same manner that they did during the first century? I realize that some of the people in the time of Jesus had mental ailments that they were set free from, but unclean spirits were cast out of others. Do unclean spirits still possess people today? Why or why not? Is there anything in the Bible that can clear this up one way or the other? Thanks, Bro!
A good place to start is the article by Vern Poythress:
The short answer to your question is, yes, I believe that spiritual warfare, including the occult, is a fixture of the church age.
The early church had a category of persons called energumen. This included demoniacs, but it was a broader classification. It also included individuals who, while they were not evidently possessed, did exhibit paranormal powers of one sort or another.
I think we need to draw a number of distinctions:
1.There are demoniacs. This is the most extreme case of occultic bondage.
2. Beyond that extreme are individuals who exhibit paranormal powers. This isn’t necessarily diabolical.
It’s possible for God to give a Christian a prophetic dream or premonition of death or deathbed vision, &c.
3.Then there’s the question of whether a Christian can be subject to occultic influence. I’m talking about something less extreme than possession. There are a number of ways in which this might possibly happen:
4.An individual may have dabbled in the occult before he came to Christ. Even as a Christian, there is some lingering influence from his exposure to the dark side.
5.A Christian may have a family background in which parents or grandparents or other close relatives were trafficking with the dark side, and the child inherits their paranormal abilities. This would be a mediumistic form of occultic empowerment or oppression.
6.A Christian may unwittingly live in a haunted house—or a missionary may live in an area permeated by the occult.
Where the source of the problem is external (#6), the simplest solution, and perhaps the only solution, is to leave the area.
Where the influence is internal (#4-5), Kurt Koch and Martyn Lloyd-Jones have helpful advice (see below).
Since the evidence is anecdotal, I don’t think we can be dogmatic one way or the other. But experience can be a genuine source of knowledge.
For Further Reading:
The Haunting of Bishop Pike: A Christian View of the Other Side (Tyndale House 1971)
by Merrill Frederick Unger
Demon Possession: Papers Presented at the University of Notre Dame (Bethany House 1975)
by John Montgomery (Editor)
Occult Bondage and Deliverance (Kregel 2006)
by Kurt E. Koch
Occult ABC (Kregel 1978)
by Kurt E. Koch
Christian Counseling and Occultism (Kregel 1972)
by Kurt E. Koch
Healing and the Scriptures (T. Nelson 1988)
by David Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist's Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption (Free Press 2005)
by M. Scott Peck
An Exorcist Tells His Story (Ignatius Press 1999)
by Gabriele Amorth (Author), Nicoletta V. Mackenzie
An Exorcist: More Stories (Ignatius Press 2002)
by Gabriel Amorth (Author), Nicoletta V. Mackenzie
Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans (HarperSanFrancisco 1992)
by Malachi Martin