Towards a Solution
It is apparent that we do not have a clear perception of the way the evil one works. This is very important for us to clarify. Here are a few proposals.
Firstly, we must eliminate the possessed or unpossessed categories.
These categories are simply not biblical nor helpful. We are not saying that the scriptures do not say that the evil one can enter a person. Clearly he can. "Satan entered Judas."
Two difficulties arise when we persist in using 'possession' categories.
(1) When we accept only black and white categories, we have an unreal picture of what is happening. John discerned it and wanted God's people to be aware of it. The picture is not clear and thereful deceptive. We are not acknowledging the in-between levels of how the evil one can impact a person's life.
(2) The term 'possessed' gives us an incorrect perspective of a man's accountability. When we speak of a possessed man, we often would conclude that he is not responsible. But all non-Christians are responsible for their evil deeds, though they are all under the evil one's influence. In fact even a so-called 'possessed' man has times when he is in his clear mind.
Secondly, we need to start properly teaching how the evil one influences people.
If we think that only the extreme cases are under demonic influence, then we will not be open to how the evil one can work through other ways such as through hate, false teaching or impurity. Being 'under the influence' is much more clear and allows for various degrees of influence just as a person is under a certain degree of influence of alcohol.
All non-Christians are dominated by the evil one's desire but are differently and to different degrees influenced. Christians are freed by Christ from living by the old nature. That does not mean that they cannot fall to living by the flesh. They can and do. When they do, they become heavily influenced by the whispering of the demons. Demons work in conjunction with our evil desires. The more we tolerate these evil desires, the more we give the evil one a place to work from within our lives. The scripture below was written to Christians.
The word for opportunity can also be translated 'foothold', a place from which he can get in and do his dirty work. Attempts to cause us to fall are temptations. They can be considered demonic attacks (1 Corinthians 10:1-13).
What happens after one falls? Sins of idolatry, immorality, jealousy, bitterness, lack of integrity dominate a Christian's life. He can by God's grace repent at any moment, but if he holds onto these sins, darkness settles over his life. This darkness is associated with persuasion and lies from the demons themselves. Paul gets very specific when he says,
These demonic forces do not only attack but mean to subdue and deconstructively use sin in our lives to cause greater damage to the Head of the body and the church itself.1
Thirdly, we must be intensely concerned with delivering people from the influence of the evil one.
The wrong idea of 'possessed' leads to a misunderstanding that Satan doesn't bother people except by possessing them. They are not aware nor are they praying that God would deliver them from the evil one as Jesus instructed us.
If we see it as a process, then we can reverse that process and take back lost ground, step by step. Jesus said that the way to do this is through learning and implementing the truth in our lives.
This is true for extreme or minor cases. Lies are the darkness in which we tolerate and even in delusion enjoy sins. I believe this is because we need to deal with our guilt. Either we confess and turn from it or we cover it up. A new warmth toward truth exposes the lies for what they are much as the sun melts ice. With the right heart we can respond rightly by confessing our sins and eliminate the guilt.
Without recognizing the evil one's influence in a Christian life, we are not able to rightly help them.
The church needs to step out of isolation from the hurt and wounded. We miss responding and ministering to them because we don't even see them.