Bonus Post: Demon Possessed!

Off hand, I can’t think of a Bible topic that makes for a better horror movie than demon possession. After all, by its very nature it’s scary, the idea of some unseen evil force taking over the body and consciousness of an innocent victim is downright creepy. Then of course, they can make a person behave in a bizarre manner, spewing green fluids across the room, shaking, screaming… Yep, great stuff for a horror flick, but is there any thread of reality to all this?

My best answer is really a lawyer’s answer: “Well, it all depends.”

Maybe that really isn’t the best question.

A better question would be this one: “Why does demon possession suddenly burst on the scene in the gospels, carry though Acts and then seen to fade after that?”

How many cases of demon possession are recorded in the Old Testament? Don’t be too quick to say there’s a bunch of them, for the whole concept of demon possession is rare indeed, at least as it is presented in the gospels. So why in the gospels?

It isn’t easy to find direct Scriptural guidance for that question; most of the verses cited on the subject require us to draw inferences, rather than providing direct commentary. Yet there is evidence if we are willing to consider historical context and discern what is going on… and even then we will be drawing inferences that can’t be proven in the usual classical sense, so I would personally offer them as the subject of thoughtful reflection as opposed to Biblical “proof.”

What is it that the gospels are telling us about; what is going on? That’s an easy one, for they tell us about the arrival and ministry of Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Christ. If you are the Enemy, are you happy to welcome Jesus to the earth?

Knowing why Jesus has come, you would probably not be thrilled, for the battle is on!

So far in Mark, we’ve seen Jesus in Galilee on His Kingdom Tour, and we have also seen some instances of people possessed by “impure spirits” who are drawing attention away from His message, they are providing a distraction.  They are also afraid.

In Mark 3 we even see some teachers of the Law who ascribe the Holy Spirit’s work through Jesus as the work of demons… that is quite the distraction. Can you begin to see the strategy here? Demon possessed people crying out that Jesus is the Son of God; they were telling the truth… but who is going to take their word for it? A politician in an election year wants endorsements, but only a complete fool wants the endorsement of the KKK!

Jesus is fighting a spiritual war throughout His ministry, and in the end, He is nailed to a cross to shut Him up, the biggest strategic miscalculation in history, and Jesus wins His battle. A short time later, the church launches at Pentecost, and almost from the start, the same tactics are used against the fledgling church, but the Apostles, like Jesus have command of the situation, and demons are chased out of the afflicted. Eventually the Enemy changes tactics and cases of demon possession once again are very rare, at least as they are seen in the gospels.

Is there demon possession now?

Again I’ll give the lawyer’s answer: “It all depends…”

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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18 Responses to Bonus Post: Demon Possessed!

  1. Linuxgal says:

    Before Greek thought entered Judaism in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BCE, there was no belief in demon possession because there was no mind-body dichotomy, no idea of a soul “wearing” a body like a suit. Demon possession continued as a belief for the next two millennia (hence the popularity of the film “The Exorcist” and Bob Larson casting out demons on Skype for $400, and even President Madison believed epilepsy was due to possession), but it is losing ground to, of all things, science.

  2. Bette Cox says:

    Demon possession is a misunderstanding of the original language, Don. It’s demonized. Think of it like a homeowner coming in from working in his yard with a tick on his pants leg. Or a housewife finding a roach in the kitchen. The bug doesn’t possess the people. The people can get rid of the bugs, if they know they’re there. And if they want to get rid of them, of course. I once came across a lady who was being demonized (harassed, bothered, annoyed, irritated, etc. by demons) who seemed okay with them being there. Go figure. Keeping these spiritual vermin gone takes the Holy Spirit. Read (or watch) Derek Prince’s materials on this subject.

    • Don Merritt says:

      That is certainly one of the views out there. Some also suggest that there are more than one type of demonic interaction: Possession and oppression which would take into account the differing Greek words used in these passages, although that involves passages that come along after the gospels. Anyway, thaks as always for your insights, Bette!

  3. I have come upon demon possession only three times in my long life as a believer, pastor and missionary. (There might have been others I didn’t recognize as such, but these were clearly of the biblical, not the Hollywood variety. My question is would it be good strategy for the principalities we are engaged with are partial to this extreme form of warfare in our culture. He has far better weapons such as rationalism, secularism and those who use science to oppose God. Why blow his cover with obvious cases of the supernatural when he can keep it in the fantasy genre.

    However in other cultures, the enemy frequently use more dramatic things to fight the truth of Christ. So, you are right. It depends.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Exactly! Different situations, different tactics… and the ones he uses here, in the Western countries and quite subtle and very effective! hey thanks so much for your observations from experience, I’m sure others will appreciate your insight as well as I do!

    • musicbymelissa says:

      Yes, this is exactly what my husband and I have talked about, as I’ve also done short term missions in other countries, and it is different. How sad though that the hold of materialism is just as fatal to faith in God. Like in the parable of the sower. Satan has varying tactics. So important for us to ‘fix our minds on Christ’

  4. Nicely reasoned. I continue to enjoy your articles. Please keep up the great work!

  5. Denine Taylor says:

    Wow, could tell you a story, but I’ll just say, two kinds of spirits, the Holy Spirit which is pure vs impure spirit which are demonic of course. The Holy Spirits lead us and demonic spirits try It’s like in S A Lewis book where the demons talk to each and say “people are like food to us”

  6. Denine Taylor says:

    I’d don’t know if my reply sent. I accidentally sent it before I meant to. I guess it can wait.

    • Don Merritt says:

      It’s there all right! 🙂

      • Denine Taylor says:

        With lots of typos. I was texting on my phone somewhere with bad service. So I kept losing my connection. Anyway, sometimes I think when your having lots of trouble it’s Gods way of saying don’t go there. So I will just leave it at that. Blessings.

  7. Citizen Tom says:

    Had not considered the possibility of the demons being there in opposition to Jesus. Interesting explanation and one that ties in appropriately with the disappearance of accrediting spiritual gifts.

  8. Interesting ~ I was studying with Jim Logan just this week.

  9. Don, I think you’re right about the different tactics used in different situations – possession, oppression, mimicry, flattery – and we can’t forget he is a liar, both subtle and manipulative. He attacks all the more aggressively the closer we come to God.

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