Revelation 12:7-9, “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him”
Demons are very real and they have great power. They hate God, His people and always work havoc in the lives of those who yield themselves to their power and control. Any account of demon possession carries with it nothing but horror, and as such, we must not approach this subject with such curiosity and interest that we are willing to place ourselves in danger. There is a great deal of interest today in demons and the occult, due to the fact, of the many movies on the subject of demon possession which have been made over the past thirty some years.
Demon possession is factual and not fiction. God’s Eternal Word contains numerous references to men and women who were truly possessed by a demon or demons. 2 Timothy 3:16 tell us that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” The Bible gives us a lot of details concerning this subject and is the only authoritative source of doctrine and truth, past, present and future on the subject. Such evidence from the Scripture points to them as being fallen angels.
This is the age of deception. The Bible therefore warns us to “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1) and beware of deceivers (2 Timothy 3:13; 2 John 7). The only antidote against the clever deceptions that come in the name of Christ (Mark 13:5-6) is to know your Bible. Be rooted and grounded in the truth (Colossians 2:6-8). “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Above all beware of Satan’s traps.
A. DEMON POSSESSION IS DISTINCTIVE
The Bible paints a frightful but accurate picture of demon possession. Demons indwell the body and exercise complete control over their victim. This distinguishes real demon possession from other lesser forms of demonic influence. The New Testament tells us that demons influenced people to believe false doctrine, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:10); practice immorality and harbor attitudes of pride or jealousy (James 3:14-16).
Matthew 5:1-6, “And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him”. Thus, from the reading of the Matthew passage; some characteristics of this man were:
(1) He was antisocial,
(2) Had superhuman strength,
(3) Was clairvoyance (ability to perceive matters beyond the range of ordinary perception;
(4) Ability to discern objects not present to the senses), and
(5) Was physically tormented.
B. SYMPTOMS OF DEMON POSSESSION
The Devil is a very hard taskmaster who uses and abuses those who serve him, and he pays bitter wages in the form of grief and remorse. A classic example of one who lost everything by serving the Devil is Judas Iscariot. The most outstanding trait of demon possession in the Bible was torment and anguish. This torment entailed such things as uncontrolled wildness (Matthew 8:28),
(1) The one under demon-power is an involuntary victim: (1) Matthew 17:15, “Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for oft times he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water”; (2) Matthew 17:18, “And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour”
(2) The chief characteristic of demonic possession is a distinct “other personality” within”: (1) Mark 5:7-10, “And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country”
(3) The demons have a longing for a body to possess, as it seems to give them some relief, and they enter the bodies of animals as well as men: (1) Matthew 12:43, “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none”; (2) Matthew 8:31, 32, “So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters”
(4) The inability to hear or speak: (1) Mark 9:17, 25, “And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit. When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him”,
You will also notice, the harm that the demons do to a body that they enter:
(1) Violent seizures: (1) Mark 9:18-20, “And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not”;
(2) Injuring oneself and screaming or crying out: (1) Mark 5:5, “And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones”; and, (2) Mark 1:23, “And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out”.
(3) Demons talk using the organs of speech, and show evidence of desire, fear, and personality. The human personality was placed in submission to the demon, which could converse intelligently with someone who talked to it through the possessed victim: (1) Matthew 8:29, “And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?”; (2) James 2:19, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble”.
(4) Demons seem to have power and information not native to the human they possess knowing the identity of certain people without being told who they were. The invading demon revealed otherwise secret information through the possessed person. In the New Testament this included foretelling secret or future events for profit (Acts 16:16): (1) Mark 1:24, 34, “Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. Mark 3:11; Acts 19:15).
(5) Does not like to hear the truth from the Word of God: (1) Luke 4:33, 34, “And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, Saying, Let us alone; what have we do to with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God”
The New Testament always portrayed demon possession as extreme and obvious. The Bible does not include instances of “hidden” demon possession, or even situations where there was a serious disagreement about the presence of demons in a person. Real cases of demon possession were easily identifiable.
C. POSSIBLE AVENUES TO DEMON POSSESSION
One avenue to demon possession may be the worship of idols. The Old Testament declares that, sacrifices to idols were really sacrifices to demons. Deuteronomy 32:17; Psalm 106:36, 37, “And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils”. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul warned the Corinthians that demons were really the objects of Gentile sacrifices, not the idols that represented them as recorded in 1 Corinthians 10:20, 21, “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s Table, and of the table of devils”. In the light of this, it’s not surprising that most demon-possessed people Jesus encountered came from infested areas of idol worship. This suggests a possible line between idol worship and demon possession.
Demon possession may also result from occult involvement and false doctrine. In Acts 16:16; a demon-possessed girl was involved in fortune telling, a form of divination. Paul encountered many demon-possessed people in Ephesus, as that city was well known worldwide as a center for both idol worship and the occult. The Ephesians worshiped the goddess Diana, whose temple, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, made the city famous. Many people traveled to Ephesus to worship the fertility goddess Diana and to purchase occult scrolls.
We may not have the goddess Diana to worship, but Satan uses other idols to capture our service and worship away from God. Many of these are through Psychics, Tarot Card Reading, Spirit Medium, Channeling and Horoscopes. We could also add television, internet, sports, money, celebrities, music, and movies. However, we need to examine ourselves daily concerning where are service and worship really lies, especially in the age in which we live. Have we given our allegiance to some of the areas mentioned above rather than to God and His Word?
D. BEING WATCHFUL & PROTECTING OUR DOCTRINE
1 Timothy 4:16 states, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine”; and we are given a stern warning in 1 Timothy 4:1,2, that in the latter days “some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron”. My friend and brethren, that “old serpent” the devil is very shrewd, clever and is the master of deception. We are told in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if these ministers are also transformed as ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
We must always keep in remembrance that demons inspire false doctrine and seduce people into believing them. The bait-and-switch method is an unethical selling technique that is used for unsuspecting individuals. A retailer lures customers into his store by advertising a well know product at a very low price. When the prospective customer asks to purchase the product advertised, the customer is told it’s out of stock. The salesperson then tries to sell the customer an inferior line of merchandise, hoping to pocket a bigger profit.
The name brand product was used to get potential customers to step inside his store. In a very similar way, false teachers use biblical words to capture our interest and gain a hearing to unsuspecting individuals. They may talk about Christ, redemption, the cross, and the resurrection, but these “trusted terms” amount to nothing more than a come-on. The “seller” uses them to advertise truths that, as far as he is concerned, are “out of stock”. When an interested person responds, he is confronted by beliefs that are completely contrary to God’s Word.
Never believe someone’s line just because they use terms of the Christian faith. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern whether or not the person is really being true to the Bible. 1 John 4:1, tells us “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, … because many false prophets have gone out into the world”. If we use the Word of God, then we won’t get hooked by false teachers who use the doctrinal bait-and-switch method to deceive their hearers. We are to put on the whole armor of God … “for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” – Ephesians 6:11, 12. In this verse the apostle Paul refers to ranks of demons, which are under the direction and control of Satan, their Chief, and that the air is literally filled with demons, who are well organized and ready to do battle against the church of Jesus Christ in this present and wicked world.
E. OUR ASSURANCE & OUR GREAT SALVATION
Our culture’s fascination with the occult might tempt us to despair. However, there is reason for joy and confidence, for even the forces of darkness cannot stand before the risen Lord! Our confidence should stem from the nature and blessings of our salvation that we have through the shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. However, the entire unbelieving world lies in the lap of the wicked one. 1 John 5:19 says, “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness”.
Moreover, when we have trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we have the confidence and joy of becoming citizens in His Kingdom and being partakers of a spiritual inheritance with the saints. Colossians 1:12-14 states, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”
My brethren, God has given every believer the resources for victory over Satan. All we have to do is apply those resources to our lives each day. Since we have become new creatures in Christ … old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17. For that reason, our key concern for the unbeliever should be their salvation.
F. THERE ARE ONLY TWO REALMS & TWO POSITIONS
(1) The Unbeliever’s Realm
A blinded mind – 2 Corinthians 4:4; Energized by Satan – Ephesians 2:1, 2; Lies in the wicked one – 1 John 5:19; Satan as spiritual father – John 8:44
(2) The Believer’s Realm
Redeemed through Christ’s Blood and forgiven – Ephesians 1:7; New creation in Christ – 2 Corinthians. 5:17; Placed into Christ’s Kingdom; delivered from Satan’s power – Colossians 1:13; Dead to sin, alive to God – Romans 6:3-11
(3) We also have a sufficient Bible
The Eternal Word of God has all the answers we need to live a life pleasing to God. He has given us “… all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). And this most certainly includes all things that we need to overcome the demonic realm. God has given us the Bible in order that the believer might be “… perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). The word perfect, means completely fitted out. The Greeks used perfect to describe a seaworthy ship completely fitted out with all that it needed. God’s Word has, then, fitted us out so that we are “spiritually seaworthy.” All the answers about demons are written in the Word of God. Not only do we have a great salvation, a sufficient Bible, but we also have the Armor of Jesus Christ.
Demons are created beings that fear our Lord and His power as recorded in James 2:19, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble”; (2) Jesus Christ fully controls the demonic realm, having triumphed over it at His death and resurrection (Colossians 2:15); (3) He is our armor and strength, which will enable us to stand firm against Satan’s greatest onslaughts (Ephesians 6:10-18); Satan could be described as the “Fruit Stealer”.
The story has been told of four young men who crept silently through the late-evening shadows toward the unattended farm market. One man picked up a ripe watermelon and slipped to the edge of the darkness. He then handed it to the second young man, who in turn relayed it to the third young man. The fourth man then put the watermelon into the trunk of their car. In a few minutes they had taken a dozen or so watermelons within a matter of minutes and then sped off in their car undetected.
My brethren, fruit stealing happens more often than we realize, not only with real fruit, but more importantly with what the Bible calls spiritual fruit. The apostle Paul told believers to develop the fruit of the Spirit, which includes love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control Galatians 5:22, 23. However, Satan doesn’t want that fruit to be on display in our lives. As soon as we begin to develop these spiritual virtues, the devil uses his wiles to “steal them away” from us by tempting us to sin. Before we know it, these Christ like character traits are replaced by un-Christ like ones and our fruit is gone. When our Lord cast out demons during His earthly ministry, He demonstrated His full authority over the demonic realm.
Satan’s power is real, but it’s no match for the power of Christ. Jesus Christ is the believer’s armor of protection, and no greater armor is needed! Nevertheless, we must always remember that Satan’s power and authority are exercised only within the permissive will of God. We must also never forget that, “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world” – 1 John 4:4.
1 Peter 5:8 tell us, “The devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”
It’s a quiet spring morning and the mist is still rising from the water as the fisherman glides the boat to his favorite fishing spot. He’s after one of those giant wide mouth bass that hide among the weeds and sunken logs of the lake. Now, this fisherman is probably an honest man, who wouldn’t cheat on his taxes, however, when he’s fishing, he’s a very cunning deceiver. He is out there to snare and to capture. To do that, he’s not going to throw a bare hook in the water because that wouldn’t fool the fish. So he disguises it with an attractive lure. He may even hide it with that old reliable – night crawler. He wants the fish to take the bait without noticing the hook and by that time it will be too late. A skillful angler will give just the right jerk and set the hook, and that’s the end of the fish’s freedom.
Satan is also out there in the world fishing. However, we are the fish, and the bait is whatever will lure us to take the hook. He entices us in a similar way as the fisherman does with the bait he uses. He baits us with some seemingly harmless pleasure and disguises the ugliness of sin with something that looks or sounds appealing. He uses legitimate needs to hide his real intent, which is to get us to disobey God. He knows that to entice us to take the bait, he has to hide the hook, and he’ll make it look as appealing as he can. Satan may look like an angel of light but he has the teeth of a lion and is a very cunning deceiver, so don’t be fooled by his tactics and lies.
Satan’s lures have great appeal,
They always look like pleasures rare,
But seldom do we clearly see
The hidden pain that we will bear.
Satan and his devils are real, and the spiritual battle is intensifying as we enter the final moments of history, during which Satan will put forth his last effort to deceive the very elect of God. As believers in Jesus Christ, the best guard against any temptation and allure of the devil is to walk close to God. Holiness is exemplified by wearing the protective armor (Ephesians 6), and using the offensive weapon of the Word of God.
The power of Satan is no match for the power of God’s Word.