One of the things that is talked about all the time in the religious world, but mostly is misunderstood, is demons and demon possession. I have heard people talk about them as evil animal-like creatures. I have heard them talked about as spirits who possess you and make you sin. I have heard them talked about as the driving power behind witches and wizards. But what does the Bible say about demons?
The first that we read about demon’s possessing people is in the New Testament during Jesus’ ministry on earth. This possession continued during the early years of the church where we find the apostles and other casting them out of people.
Demons were able to make people mute, blind, crazy, violent, and possibly strong. In Mark 5:1-15, we read about a demon-possessed man that Jesus helps. This man did not behave like a normal man. He lived in tombs and cut himself with stones. When the people tried to restrain him by chaining him, he would break the chains. This man actually had many demons living in him. The demons are also called unclean spirits. That is what they are - spirits. When someone was possessed by demons, everyone knew it. In Matthew 9:27-31, we read about some blind men who came to Jesus to be healed. There is no hint that these men had demons causing their blindness. It was a physical problem and it seems that everyone knew it. As we continue reading, in verses 32-34, we find a mute man who’s inability to speak was caused by a demon. Not even the Pharisees tried to deny that the man had a demon and that Jesus cast it out. They just tried to attribute Jesus’ power to the ruler of the demons. So it was somehow obvious to everyone who had a demon and who just had a physical problem. But even at this time, there were false accusations of people being possessed by demons. In Matthew 11:18, Jesus talks about the people of that generation
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ (NET)
Because John did not behave like a normal person (he lived in the desert, wore camel’s hair, and ate locusts and wild honey), they accused him of having a demon. Today, many people are accused of having demons just because they do not act normal. I have heard one man say that the members of his denomination were visiting a woman one day for a prayer service and a strange expression came over her face. So, he told the leaders to rebuke the demon! In reality, you do not have to hunt out people with demons. If they have a demon, you will know it. Demons are not shy to let people know that they are there.
Demons are spirits. In Mark 1:32-34, James 2:19-20, and Luke 4:33-35 we find that they could think and talk. But not all of them could talk. Do you remember that mute man that had the demon? Luke talks about him too. In Luke 11:14, we find
Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the man who had been mute began to speak, and the crowds were amazed. (NET)
It says that the demon was mute! That was why the man did not talk - because the demon possessing his body could not talk. This implies to me that when someone was possessed by a demon, it took over him completely. It directed his actions and his words. That is why it would have been so easy for everyone to know when someone really had a demon. Demon possession was not just a strange feeling, temptation, or something like that. I have found no case in the Bible where anyone who was possessed by a demon did or spoke anything other than what the demon was doing through them.
But there is an important question that may be on your mind. Can you be possessed by a demon? If you are a Christian, you cannot be possessed by a demon. When Jesus was here, he was casting demons out of people in order to show the power of God over the power of Satan. In Matthew 8:16-17, we find
When it was evening, many demon-possessed people were brought to him. He drove out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick. In this way what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet was fulfilled: ‘He took our weaknesses and carried our diseases.’ (NET)
He was fulfilling prophecy. And did you see how he cast out the demons? It only took a word from Him for them to have to leave. His power is considerably more than theirs isn’t it? In Mark 3:20-27, we read about when the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul (they accused Him of being possessed by the ruler of the demons). Jesus tells them that their accusation does not make sense, because Satan would not be fighting himself. He gave a picture of a thief going into a strong man’s house. Before he could steal anything from the house, he would have to bind the strong man and take away his power to defend himself. That is what Jesus had done. He had bound Satan and taken away his power. Now He could just say a word and cast out those demons. The power of God is amazing, isn’t it?
If Jesus had control at that time, will he lose control of His people and let them be possessed by demons? There is no chance of that. Satan has been bound! He has no power over a Christian. Can demons possess anyone else today? I cannot say for sure, but I do not believe they can. They were allowed at that time in order to be cast out and show the power of God over the power of Satan. We are in a time now when we are not given the miraculous powers (we do not need them since the Bible is complete - 1 Corinthians 13) to cast out demons, so why would God allow them to possess people?
But did you know that you can be influenced by demons today? You know that Satan is the father of all liars, and we find that demons are connected to the spreading of lies. In 1 Timothy 4:1-3, we find:
Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will desert the faith and occupy themselves with deceiving spirits and demonic teachings, influenced by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. They will prohibit marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. (NET)
Demonic teachings are religious lies. When there are religious teachers who are saying things different from the Bible, they are teaching demonic teachings. If you believe those lies, you have fallen under the influence of demons. Isn’t that a horrible thought? But you do not have to be influenced by demons. You can know what the truth is by carefully studying the Bible. Then you will not be taken captive by the lies from the demons. John 8:32 -
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.