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We see Jesus describing in Matthew 12:43-45, how an unclean spirit returns to dwell in a person whom it had quit before wandering in the dry land. Jesus adds that the state of the man concerned, becomes more miserable in that he now hosts more powerful unclean spirits. That implies that there are degrees of possession by the evil spirit - from mild to the extremely dangerous. In deed, we see the different victims of possession whom Jesus would later heal, behaving in widely different manner from case to case. Now, one can easily imagine a world in which God dwells, but which is also dwelt in by evil spirits. Can the phenomenon apply to individuals also?

My question, in sum, is as follows: Is it possible for both God and an unclean spirit to dwell in the same human being at the same time?

Inputs from scholars of any denomination are welcome.

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    And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? 2 Corinthians 6:16,17.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 26, 2023 at 17:52
  • It's been a while since I participated regularly. Is it still the policy of the Stack that truth questions can only be asked on behalf of a single tradition? (Original policy)
    – JBH
    Jul 27, 2023 at 3:06
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    @JBH, perhaps a better worded Title would be "Which denominations believe that …?". Jul 27, 2023 at 13:53

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Can God and Unclean Spirits dwell in the same human being at the same time?

It would seem that the possibility does exist that both God and Unclean Spirits could dwell in a human being at the same time. According to Catholicism, this does not seem to be an issue.

It almost seems an impossibility but if we dive unto the subject matter a little more deeper, the reality seems to be yes.

God dwells with his saints. In this sense, we can say that Holy individuals are not only united to God, but in a mysterious way God dwells within them. God is united to their very being, their souls.

16Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. - 1 Corinthians 3

We know two things about diabolical possessions.

  • 1.) The Demon can only possess the body of a possessed person. The soul is not touched by the Devil.

  • 2.) Saints and holy individuals can be possessed by the Demon, even though the individual never did anything to deserve to become possessed.

Thus we can see that a saint in total unity with God in their souls while they could be physically possessed by the Evil Spirits in their body!

Allow me to give an example. St. Mary of Jesus Crucified (5 January 1846 – 26 August 1876), a canonized saint was habitually united to God and suffered diabolical possession on at least two occasions. Throughout her torments Jesus was able to sustain her with his graces.

Amongst her graces were the stigmata, along with ecstasies, levitations that lasted for hours, bilocation, prophecies, the ability to read souls, the strange and unique phenomenon of being possessed by a good angel, and the transverberation of her heart.

She never left being truly united to God even when possessed. The Devil has a blind side!

St. Mary of Jesus Crucified: A beacon of holiness in the Arab world

St. Mariam of Jesus Crucified (Mariam Baouardy)

Other canonized saints have been diabolically possessed with God’s permission, just as Job was tempted by Satan with God’s permission!

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  • "the strange and unique phenomenon of being possessed by a good angel" How did they distinguish it from a possession by a demon pretending to be a good angel?
    – nick012000
    Jul 31, 2023 at 10:49
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The passages you referenced (Matthew 12:43-45) do seem to presume a person can be inhabited by an unclean spirit, be freed from it, but then repossessed by that or other spirits later. This suggests sequential dwelling, not concurrent.

However, other passages depict the Holy Spirit coming upon people who do not seem to have been completely freed from unclean spirits beforehand (ex. Acts 10:38 - the Holy Spirit was on Jesus, who elsewhere casts out demons).

Biblically, the categories of "clean/unclean", "Holy Spirit/demonic", and "light/darkness" are regularly contrasted as opposites. This dualistic language may imply mutual exclusivity.

But the reality of spiritual influence may be more complex than simple binary categories allow. Degree, over time, and context may determine how competing spiritual forces interact in a person.

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  • Thanks, Zoonnie Zonn. Can you please elaborate your statement with reference to Acts 10:38, especially the one in parentheses ? Jul 28, 2023 at 2:58
  • Well, rather than suggesting that a person can be influenced by the Holy Spirit and unclean spirits at the same time, Acts 10:38 could be seen as showing the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome and remove the influence of unclean spirits.
    – user22071
    Jul 28, 2023 at 5:41

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