We need to take a look at the obvious scriptures that speak of unclean spirits in the Bible. What do they look like? How do they manifest in the flesh?
Spirits in Scripture
The first spirit to be mentioned in scripture is "the spirit of God" which moved upon the face of the waters.
The next spirit is, "the spirit of Jacob" which revived. The New Testament speaks of the spirit in man. "for what man knows the things of man, save the spirit of man in him?"
Next, we move to "the spirit of wisdom" given from God to Aaron. In the New Testament, God gives wisdom as a 'spiritual gift'. It is a spirit given by God for a person to use in ministering.
"And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship," Exodus 31:3. When one is filled, it can only be from within. I cannot fill a milk jug by pouring milk on the outside.
Numbers 5:14 speaks of "when a spirit of jealousy comes upon a man…" This shows a "negative emotion" MAY be a spirit. Have you ever said or heard someone exclaim, "I don't know what must have come over me!"?
"And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, " 1Chron 5:26. We see God stirring up the spirit in man of these kings to provoke them to specific action. Did these kings know it was God? No, they just had an intense desire to do this action and pursued it as their own desire.
Ditto in 2Chron 21:16. Nations were stirred up. He did the same for Cyrus, who was stirred to write a decree.
"The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?" Proverb 18:14.
I will be more selective from here to highlight evil spirits. We already see the spirit of God, and the spirit of man.
"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;" Isa 61:3.
"for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God." Hosea 4:12.
Look what came to church!? "And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice," Luke 4:33.
"there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. " Luke 13:11-? Jesus simply told her she was loosed from her infirmity and she straightened. Where was the spirit? Was it outside pressing on her like a mould, or was it internal, working out its nature? Bible doesn't say.
Was evil afraid to be near good? Was good intimidated by evil? "And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain" Act 16:16. Paul did not cast it out just because it was there, but when the annoyance became a distraction to the work of God, he had to deal with it. Some think we cast things out, just because they are there. This is not wisdom.
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Tim 1:7. Fear can be more than a thought or emotion, it can be a spirit tormenting us with thoughts and emotions.
"And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." ` John 4:3.
These are the spirits of the Bible. We see them manifesting as negative emotions. We see them visible to us as physical deformities and infirmities… Not listed are the demoniac who was insane one moment, and clear the next. Also, the boy with epilepsy, who was healed when a spirit was cast out.
Can evil spirits be INSIDE a person?
Jesus speaks of the process of deliverance in Luke 11:24-26: "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished.
"Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first."
Does the Holy Spirit dwell INSIDE a person? "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) John 7:37-39.
Even as the Holy Spirit can indwell and proceed from our belly, so can an unholy spirit.
Have you ever seen a person die? One moment they are there, the next they are definitely not. Our loved ones, when they give up their spirit, become only a shell. We know 'they' are gone and what remains was not the 'them' we love and loved.
When you really want to look down into a person's heart and soul, where do you look? At their belly? At their heart? No. When we want to see the heart, or spirit of a man or woman, we look deep into their eyes. Have you seen fear in a person's eyes before? Have you seen jealousy? Rage? Have you ever looked into the face of someone who had 'lost it'? Have you ever looked into the eyes of a person, and it wasn't them yelling at you? Were any of these people Christians? There is your answer to whether a Christian can have an evil spirit. It is in the eyes.
Does this mean they are inherently evil? Not at all. It just means there is a touch of house cleaning to be done!
"Lord. grant us the gift of discerning of spirits which is promised to your church today, that we may administer the Gospel of the Kingdom and fulfill the mandate to cast out devils, rather than medicate or incarcerate them. In Jesus' name."
My working understanding on this topic comes from 1Corinthians 2:11: "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God."
The 'spirit in man' is the spiritual aspect of our creation. We are created in God's image. God is spirit and he desires us to worship in spirit and in truth. Our spirit is synonymous with our 'heart' in scripture.
We are to be sanctified (made clean – which presupposes an unclean presence) in spirit, soul, and body.
Our spirit is the spiritual port, or interface, with the spiritual dimension. The Holy Spirit links to our spirit. Unclean spirits link to our spirit. If I have the Holy Spirit, does that mean "I" am eternal? No, it means I have the downpayment on eternal life. If I reject God, He can indeed remove His spirit. I cannot "fall away" if I were never part of the body in the first place.
Unclean spirits can likewise link and unlink with our spirit. This may be a passing temptation or an addiction, or in the case of possession it is an evil spirit manifesting itself at will, without our consent.
This brings us to degrees… If I come in agreement with a lie, I open myself to influence by Satan's kingdom. The more I agree, the stronger its influence. The more I act it out, the less control I have in not acting it out. If I specifically invite it in, I have given it MAJOR power to control me.
When we are told to be circumcised in our hearts, it is telling us that we need to cut off the unclean spirits from our heart, just as physical circumcision is the cutting off of flesh that harbors uncleanness in the male. We do this by putting to death the deeds of the flesh. In resisting the devil in this way there is deliverance. Sometimes it takes casting out, sometimes it just leaves when the Word of God exposes it.
In any case, the spirit in man is the interface to the spiritual realm, both good and evil. Let's guard it with our minds, which are there to take every thought captive and cast down vain imaginations. Deliverance is three-fold, according to the degree of attachment the enemy has to our spirit. This gives you the basis for my faith regarding healing and deliverance.