On demons

    Lately the church has behaved as if the existence and, above all, the activity of demons ended at Jesus' crucifixion. Sad to say, it is not true. Let's have a look together at what the Bible says about demons.

   I will try to take it in turn according to a biblical concordance. The first reference is to Leviticus 20,27:

Leviticus 20, 27 (Darby): And if there be a man or a woman in whom is a spirit of Python or of divination, they shall certainly be put to death: they shall stone them with stones; their blood is upon them.

   We can see from this part that it is possible for a man to have an unclean spirit in him - a demon. Further, it appears logical to me that the spirit must make itself manifest through the man somehow to be recognizable. It is terrible to realize how even these days it is popular to do spiritism - to invoke spirits of the dead. What it is all about is to prepare oneself to admit the "spirit of a dead person". The most open person is the "winner" selected as a medium to facilitate connection with the dead. At this point, I would like to jump ahead a bit to bring to your attention another lie of spiritism, which is that it is real souls or spirits of the dead the contact is made with. Please, have a look into the book of Ecclesiastes:

Ecclesiastes 9, 5-6 (VW): For the living know that they shall die; but the dead do not know anything, nor do they have any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, have now perished; nor do they ever any longer have a part in anything that is done under the sun.

   Please, note that the dead cannot step in our lives any longer in any way, this including the form of spirits. That one who gives answers is a demon who has enough information about the dead person.

   Another Bible passage mentioning a demon is Judges 9,23:

Judges 9, 23 (VW): God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the lords of Shechem; and the lords of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech,

   From that we can see that demons are able to influence behaviour and attitudes of people. Further we can understand that harassment by demons is something we can bring on ourselves. Abimelech acted awfully. Having persuaded the Shechemites to make him king, he got his 70 brothers executed. Another wonderful fact about the Bible is that it interprets itself. The immediately following verse (no 24) says: that the wrong done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might be settled and their blood be laid upon Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and upon the lords of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers.

   As you can see, that one who committed the injustice met a fate similar to those who supported him. Anyway, I recommend that you should read and mull over the whole 9th chapter of the Book of Judges. This chapter further describes the behaviour of Abimelech as the king up to his violent death. At a siege of a tower a woman threw a millstone down on him, hurting his head. In order that people would not say it was a woman who had killed him, he got himself speared by his armiger. Verses 56-57 say: Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers. And all the evil of the men of Shechem God returned upon their own heads, and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.

   We can find another piece of enlightenment in these verses. It was a retaliaition for an injustice, or if you wish, a sin. For instance, God says in Deuteronomy 32, 35: Vengeance is Mine, and recompense;

   God commands people to forgive and leave the vengeance to Him alone. People are often guilty with "taking justice in their own hands".

   Another passage speaking about an evil spirit is 1 Samuel 16,14-16:

1 Samuel 16, 14-16 (VW): But the Spirit of Jehovah had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from Jehovah had fallen upon him. And Saul's servants said to him, Behold, an evil spirit from God is overwhelming you. Let our lord now command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who knows how to play the harp; and it shall be that he shall play it with his hand when the evil spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well.

   The reason why the evil spirit began to trouble Saul was his not having executed a direct order of God. Saul was ordered to strike Amalek and destroy all that belonged to him. However, Saul did not obey God, leaving Amalekite king Agag alive. Furthermore, he spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice them to God. The prophet Samuel said to Saul: "Because you have rejected the word of Jehovah, He has also rejected you from being king." As with Abimelech, also in this case a sin preceded. Only then the men were troubled by demons.

   These verses also show us that local people had some knowledge of demons. They even knew that the demon would stop troubling Saul when somebody played the cither. Yes, music does have an enormous power. So they brought David and when he played, the evil spirit withdrew from Saul. Let's have a look a few verses ahead at 1 Samuel 18,10-11:

1 Samuel 18, 10-11 (VW): And it happened on the next day that the evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house. So David played music with his hand, as at other times; and there was a spear in Saul's hand. And Saul threw the spear, for he thought, I will strike David to the wall! But David turned away from his presence twice.

   Here you can see that demons can wield an tremendous influence over human behaviour.

   Let's have a look in the New Testament to see what Jesus said about demons and how he dealt with them.

Matthew 8, 16 (VW): When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed everyone who was sick,

   It was something totally different from what people had been accustomed to till then. Jesus gave orders to demons and they left. There is an interesting story about the healing of a demon-possessed man in Gadara:

Mark 5, 1-15 (VW): And they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one was able to bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And continually, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and did homage to Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure You by God that You do not torment me. For He said to him, Come out of the man, unclean spirit. And He asked him, What is your name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion; for we are many. He also begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. So all the demons begged Him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And Jesus immediately gave them permission. And the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea. And those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.

   Here we can notice several interesting points: The demon-possessed man was of great strength (local people were unable to manage him). Jesus did not address the man himself but the demons, and conversely, it was the demons who spoke to Jesus. Here we can see that demons are beings who do not have a material body but do have intelligence. The demons knew Jesus was God's Son (Jesus did not boast about it, on the contrary) and had authority and power over them. The story also shows us that demons can enter and control not only people but animals as well (although they prefer people). The story clearly indicates that the man run around naked. After the demons were expelled, he immediately behaved reasonably.

   Let's advance to another interesting story! It tells us about a healing of the dumb:

Matthew 9, 32-33 (VW): And as they went out, behold, they brought to Him a man, mute and demon-possessed. And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marveled, saying, It was never seen like this in Israel!

   As we can see in this example, some diseases or health problems can be brought about by demons. In this case, the demon caused that the man was unable to speak.

   An interesting theme related to demons is the matter of authority. At first Jesus entrusted his authority to his twelve disciples and later to seventy others:

Luke 10, 17-20 (VW): Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name. And He said to them, I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven. Behold, I give you authority to tread over serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in Heaven.

   Jesus was able to delegate his power (authority) over demons and diseases to his disciples. It is like with public sector employees, e.g. police officers. The police are entrusted with the authority by the government to exercise justice. As individuals, they are not allowed to stop cars, for instance. They have this power only owing to the authorisation by the government. Similar rules apply in the spiritual world. Jesus' disciples themselves were not able to expel a single demon. However, as Jesus' representatives (ambassadors), they had that authority from him. Furthermore, Jesus explained to his disciples what is essential and what reason they have to rejoice.

   Let's have a look at another story of deliverance of a demon-possessed person.

Mark 9, 17-29 (VW): And one of the crowd answered and said, Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams, gnashes his teeth, and withers away. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they were not able. He answered him and said, O unbelieving generation. How long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me. And they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming. So He asked his father, How long has this been happening to him? And he said, From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You are able to do anything, have compassion on us and help us. Jesus said to him, If you are able to believe, all things are possible to him who believes. And immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief! When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, Deaf and mute spirit, I command you, Come out of him and enter him no more. And the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as if dead, so that many said, He has died. But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, Why could we not cast it out? And He said to them, This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.

   I believe that these symptoms would be classified by modern-day medicine as epilepsy. Instead of ordering antiepileptic, neuroleptic and sedative drugs, Jesus expelled a demon. By that, the cause of the problem was eliminated rather than mere symptoms. Jesus gave their disbelief as the reason why his disciples had not been able to cast out that demon themselves. He also told them that praying and fasting are necessary for such demon to be expelled. Whether or not it is the case that praying and fasting help faith to grow, demons of some types (largely in the most serious cases of possession by demons) won't leave unless these "weapons" are used.

   There are many other stories in the Bible dealing with demons, however, this may suffice as an introduction to this theme.


Libor Diviš - author of this article and this website

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