Demon possession is well established, with around fifteen instances mentioned in the Gospels alone.
A. Some Stories from the Gospels
1. Some of Jesus' close encounters. "As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. (Matthew 9:32-33). A similar event occurred in Luke 11:14. It is not said if this was the same man. "Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?" (Matt 12:22-23).
2. Jesus encounters the Gaderean demoniac, the sequence of events. (from Matt 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-40) "And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee (Luke). The Gadarenes was "over unto the other side of the sea" from Galilee (Mark). "And when they were come out of the ship, immediately there met them out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit," (Mark). He "had devils a long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs" (Luke).
"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. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones" (Mark).
"But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran" (Mark), "fell down before Him" (Luke), "and worshipped him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?" (Mark) "Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" (Matt). "I beseech thee (Luke) "I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not" (Mark). " For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man" (Luke)
"And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked" (Luke)
3. The demoniac at Capernaum. The sequence of events (from Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37) "And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority" (Mark). "His word was with power" (Luke). "And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit" (Mark).
And he "cried out with a loud voice, 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. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst" (Luke). "And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee" (Mark).
4. The demoniac son. The sequence of events (from Matt 17:14-18; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-42) "And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water" (Matt). "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.
"He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground" (Mark). "The devil threw him down" (Luke). "And wallowed foaming. And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
"Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. 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. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting" (Mark).
As I was preparing this study, I found some interesting things about this subject.
B. Effects of demon possession.
1. Sight & speech. We saw verses earlier which showed that the demon possession sometimes controlled the sight and speech of the men possessed. (Matt 9:31-33; Luke 11:14; Matt 12:22-23).
2. Mental status. Consider the demoniac son "Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick (Matt 17:14-18) Of the Gaderean demoniac it was said, "neither could any man tame him" (Mark 5:4). He "ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs" (Luke 8:27).
3. Foaming at the mouth. The demoniac son mentioned above also foamed at mouth, "he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming" (Mark 9:20). "He foameth again", his father mentioned to Jesus (Luke 9:39).
4. Super human acts. The Gaderean demoniac was "exceeding fierce" (Matt 8:28). "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" (Mark 5:3-4).
5. Self-destructive tendencies. It was of the Gaderean demoniac "And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones" (Mark 5:5). At Capernaum, "the unclean spirit had torn" the man (Mark 1:26). With the demoniac son, "And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him" (Mark 9:22), and "it teareth him" (Luke 9:39). "The devil threw him down, and tare him" (Luke 9:42).
6. Threat to others. Because of his bizarre and destructive behavior, the Gaderean demoniac was confined to an isolated area among caves. Although we have mostly been looking at demon activity in the Gospels, an even clearer example of demonic threat to others is seen in the story of the demoniac in Ephesus.
"Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them who had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was, leaped on them and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded" (Acts 19:13-16).
What I have been trying to show is the powerful and far reaching effects of demon possession. However, let us see what happens when Jesus passes by.
C. Satan encounters Jesus.
1. Temptation of Jesus. (Matt 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13). Using Scripture, Jesus counters Satan's every temptation. Jesus "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Heb 4:15). Withstanding Satan's tempting, "the devil ... departed from Him for a season" (Luke 4:13).
D. Demoniacs encounter Jesus.
1. The Supremacy and Lordship of Jesus. Consider some of the responses (actions and verbal) of the demons.
a) They acknowledge Who Jesus is. The demons possessing the Gaderean man cried out, "What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" (Matt 8:29). "What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not" (Luke 8:28). The demons possessing the man at Capernaum said, "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 1:24). Other "unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God" (Mark 3:11). Also seen in these verses is the fact that demons know their destiny, "art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" (Matt). "Art thou come to destroy us?" (Mark).
b) They bowed before Jesus. Here is the account of the response of the demons possessing the Gaderean man, "But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him" (Mark 5:5). "When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him" (Luke 8:28). Other "unclean spirits, when they saw Him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God" (Mark 3:11).
c) They asked permission. The demons possessing the Gaderean man "besought him (Jesus), saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine" (Matt 8:31). "And besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country... And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine" (Mark 5:9-13). "I beseech thee, torment me not" (Luke 8:28). "And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep" (Luke 8:31). At Capernaum, the demons possessing the man asked Jesus, "art thou come to destroy us?(Mark 1:24).
2. They were cast out. At Jesus' word, each demon He encountered was cast out. This is evidenced in the Gospels. He said to the demons possessing the Gaderean man, "And he said unto them, Go" (Matt 8:32) "And the unclean spirits went out (Mark 5:13). "As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. 33. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake" (Matt 9:32-33). "And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake" (Luke 11:14). At Capernaum, "And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him" (Mark 1:25-26). To the demoniac son, "Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour" (Matt 17:18).
E. The issue of power is settled.
1. Jesus - All power. These verses have proven to be true something Jesus said at His ascension "And Jesus came and spake unto them (His followers), saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matt 28:18).
F. The C hristian encounters demoniacs and demon influence.
1. We are sons of God. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:12). "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (I John 3:2).
2. Sonship's overcoming power. "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (I John 5:4-5) "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world" (I John 4:4) "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death" (Rev 12:11)
3. Power tools. "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7) "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints" (Eph 6:10-18) "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." (1 Pet 5:8-9)
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May God speak to your heart! Bob Conar