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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17 Responses to Bonus Post: Demon Possessed!

  1. So you noticed. I think God let them do this during the time of Jesus and the apostles so they could expose them. BTW, Jesus never did an exorcism. I’m sure you noticed it. He didn’t do tricks and beg and get them to cooperate. He said, “Go!” and they left.

  2. sarah1 says:

    Demonic possessions are such an intriguing topic. I admit I’ve watched many movies about them! Thanks for a post based on reality of them- it’s good to learn about the enemy. Enjoying your website!

  3. NOdeb8 says:

    Here in Africa it isn’t exactly uncommon even though still not a general thing. The really scary part is to see Charismatic withcraft practised as exorcism rituals.

  4. Pingback: Demon Possessed! | A disciple's study

  5. Hi Don. Thank you for the spiritual nourishment. You really provided clarity on this one for me.

  6. Kitsy says:

    At Grace Episcopal Church, every Tuesday night, there is a healing service. I have attended a few times; In fact, I was considering becoming a member of the Order of St. Luke ( an inter-denominational religious order dedicated to the Christian healing ministry – Wikipedia) Most of the members of Grace, as well as many of the members of OSL, know I have struggled with bipolar disorder. My ‘flavor’ of the disorder is mostly manifested in over-spending and depression. I have never been psychotic or delusional. However, when a prominent member of the order came over to lay hands on me he said to wait until after the service; he had something to suggest to me. When he sat down, I told him that while he prayed for my healing, Jesus stood off to the side and when I prayed for God to help me forgive everyone who had ever abused, abandoned, or neglected me, I was aware of angels coming down from the rafters, talking things from my heart, and rising back up with them. His response to me was, “Have you ever considered exorcism?”

  7. As an emergency services responder, I interact with people at their worst. I frequently encounter patients who abuse substances or have severe psychiatric problems. In a few occurrences with such people, I noticed their eyes were filled with a rage and panic that seemed eerily similar to other people with similar issues. I recall one patient who was thrashing on a stretcher; I put my hands and his shoulders, looked at his eyes, and gave one command: “Stop!” The patient immediately stopped, fell asleep, and remained asleep until I left his side. When I left, he began to act out again. Can I prove demonic possession? No. Is it a likely conclusion? Possibly. The spiritual war hasn’t stopped; perhaps dispensationalism or cessationist theologies have impacted our worldviews to dismiss the possibility of demonic possession, but we must remember the Apostle’s warning that we do not fight against flesh and blood but against powers of darkness.

  8. legassie says:

    Thanks for that really interesting and valuable insight. I had never actually put it altogether like that but it makes serious sense. It can also help explain what some mission writers describe as demonic activity when the Gospel begins to penetrate a new area. Thanks again.

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