- The abundance of biblical and extrabiblical evidence regarding demons and demon possession should leave no doubt of their existence.
The religious (or Christian) community is not the only one who acknowledges the existence of demons and demon possession. Demons and demon possession are also confirmed in the research and observation of many within the scientific community including those in the fields of philosophy, social science, psychiatry and physics.
(Who then are the demons?)
- The Bible seems to indicate that demons are cherubs or military-grade angels, who because of their rebellion, forfeited not only their position as guardians of God’s throne, earthly kingdom and people, but also the privilege of possessing third-dimensional, material or physical bodies.
(Eze 28:13-18; Gen 3:1-6, 13-15) = Both texts contain evidence that strongly suggests Satan and the other cherubim at one time possessed third-dimensional, material or physical bodies. The loss of these bodies is among the main contributing factors to the demons becoming “body-snatchers” (i.e. seeking to possess the bodies of other sentient/reasoning beings – humans).
- The combination of losing of their physical bodies (in Eden) along with their (later) defeat by Christ (in a heavenly war), has intensified the demons’ efforts in destroying God’s kingdom and people on earth.
(Rev 12:4-12 w/Rev 5:11) = 100,000,000/3.333 = 30 million demons have been quarantined to the same fourth dimensional space occupied by earth in the third dimension – the place Scripture refers to as “Sheol”, “Hades”, “the pit”, “Abaddon” or “the abyss”. And their mission? – To take as many people to Hell with them as they can.
- The best way to accomplish the demons’ mission of destruction against the church (God’s kingdom and people) is through bewitching and possessing Christians.
IOW: Christians can be:
1) bewitched = under a demon’s persuasive power/listening to them (Gal 3:1; Joh 13:1-2; 1Ti 4:1; 2Co 11:3 w/13-15)
2) possessed = under a demon’s persuasive power and physical control (Joh 13:26-27 w/Luk 22:3).
IMPORTANT POINT NOT TO MISS = We are Satan and the demonic realm’s number one target for bewitching/possession (1Pe 5:8).
What about the indwelling Spirit? How can a Christian be possessed by a demon when he is already “possessed” by the Holy Spirit?
(Gal 3:5; Act 2:38; 2Co 6:14-16; 1Joh 4:4; 5:18; Col 1:13) = These texts only prove that we are possessed by the Spirit (and therefore protected from the demonic realm) when we are listening to/being led by the Spirit (Hence Gal 5:16). If we however, choose to listen to the demonic realm – which means also, no longer listening to the will of the Spirit, He (and Christ) will leave us (i.e. their presence) will depart – leaving us open to the possibility of demonic possession (1Sa 16:14; Psa 51:11; Eph 4:30).
- Since possession affords demons respite from incarceration in Hades, they will also possess non-Christians.
(Zec 9:11 w/Luk 11:14 = Place without rest; Luk 16:22-23/2Pe 2:3 = Place of fiery torment).
Excerpt from an eighteenth century pastor’s account of an exorcism of a demon-possessed woman offers some anecdotal support,
“In the morning, towards 11 o’clock this possessed woman came at my request, but not willingly, into the church of the place….When I addressed him in the name of Jesus, [the demon] cried out, ‘Oh, I burn, I burn! Oh, what torture! What torture!”
The demon’s response seems to intimate leaving the woman would mean going back to a place of burning or torture (Luk 8:31).
- Demon possession can manifest itself through mental illness.
God promised to strike people w/mental illness as punishment for their rebellion. The source of such mental illness however can be demon possession (Deu 28:28 w/Rev 18:2 w/Mat 12:43-45 = Jerusalem is filled w/mentally ill/demon-possessed people; e.g. 1Sa 16:14 w/18:10).
Much of what is diagnosed as a “disorder” within the psychological community today, should be identified as demon possession.
“The book affording to us …our earliest glimpse of the states called ‘possession’ is the New Testament. Bible stories often give, in fact, an accurate picture of these states…Comparing these [NT] stories with accounts of the phenomena of possession in later times, we find what may be described as the perfect similarity of the facts so exactly with what we know of these states from the point of view of present-day psychology, that it is impossible to avoid the impression that we are dealing with a tradition that is veracious (or accurate) – Oesterreich
Though not limited to these cases, the following biblical examples make this clear based on their agreement w/the diagnostic criteria as presented in the DSM-V (Diagnostic Statistical Manual – 5th edition):
6.1. (Mar 5:1-9) = Given the criteria, such persons today would be diagnosed as suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder (or Multiple Personality Disorder).
Biblical analysis of relevant criteria
(DSM-V): “Over 70% of outpatients with [DID] have attempted suicide; multiple attempts are common, and other injurious behavior is frequent (3 – “He lived among the tombs” = The place of the dead; 5 – “he was always…cutting himself with stones” = Attempting suicide or frequently injuring himself)…[There is a] disruption of identity characterized by two or more distinct personality states (The demon-possessed man refers to himself in both the singular [9a – “My name is”] and the plural [9b – “we are many”]), which may be described in some cultures as an experience of possession.
The disruption in identity involves marked discontinuity in sense of self and sense of agency , accompanied by related alterations in behavior, consciousness, memory, perception, cognition, and/or sensory-motor functioning (4 – “he had often been bound in shackles and chains but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke shackles in pieces” = his behavior is out of control versus post-exorcism he is “sitting…clothed and in his right mind” [verse 15]).
These signs or symptoms may be observed by others or reported by the individual (3, 4 – “And no one could bind him anymore…for he had often been bound = Implies people were aware of/had observed this man’s adverse behavior).
The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (3 –“He lived among the tombs”, 5- “Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself”; Luk 8:27 adds that he wore no clothes nor lived in a house = Significant impairment/distress in re: to social functioning).
The symptoms are not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance or another medical condition (1 – “Jesus met a man with an unclean spirit” = The man’s symptoms [mental illness] is the attributable to demon possession).”
“Reviewing the series of cases [of demon possession]…their first and most striking characteristic (or external sign) is that the patient’s organism appears to be invaded by a new personality; it is governed by a strange soul. [These] classic cases of double (or dual) personality also attest to a change in countenance.” – Oesterreich
6.2. (Luk 4:31-35) = Given the criteria, such persons today would be diagnosed as Bipolar Disorder (or Manic Depression Disorder)
Biblical analysis of relevant criteria
(DSM-V): “A distinct period of abnormally elevated, expansive, or irritable mood accompanied by grandiose behavior (34 – “Ha!” [Grk. “eh- ah”] = Interjection denoting major offense – e.g. “how dare you!”),
excessive or excessively loud talk (33b, 34 – “And he cried out with a loud voice [He screamed], ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?”),
distracted and racing thoughts of danger (24 – “’Have you come to destroy us?”),
uncharacteristic of the individual and observable to others (The demon-possessed man was silent or exhibiting behavior very different from what follows Jesus’ teaching. It is safe to assume that this behavior was not normal or expected in relation to this individual given that had it been, he most certainly would not been allowed in the synagogue),
not attributed to the physiological effects of a substance or medical condition (33a – “In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon” = The man’s symptoms [mental illness] is the attributable to demon possession).”
Consider the striking similarities between the demon-possessed man of Mark 1 and a present day case of bipolarism/manic -depressive person:
“Mary had been diagnosed by psychiatrists as a manic-depressive. As soon as counselors began to put their finger on the real issue (which turned out to be adultery with her next-door neighbor), Mary began to howl and cry and scream at the top of her lungs. Besides inarticulate sobbing, she cried, ‘Leave me alone; leave me alone!’. In the past Mary had successfully warded off all attempts by her parents and others to discover the reasons for her distress by driving them away.”
“The invasion of the organism [in demon possession] is [also] manifested [in a] new voice [that] does not speak to the spirit of the normal… individual. Even if [this person] is described as good and irreproachable (consider again the quiet and faithful synagogue-attending man of Luke’s Gospel), the words uttered…generally betray a coarse…attitude, fundamentally opposed to all accepted ethical and religious ideas (consider it is Jesus’ religious teaching that sparks the synagogue man’s outrage).” – Oesterreich
So then, the evidence/symptoms surrounding at least some forms of mental illness suggest demon possession as the likely cause. As such, mental illness also functions as possible identity marker for this diagnosis: people suffering from mental illness may be demon-possessed people.
- Demonic bewitching is most likely the cause of demon possession.
Bewitching is the means used by the demonic realm to take full possession. The longer a person listens, is persuaded by or carries out those sins associated with bewitching in Scripture, the more control the demon is assuming of their person (1Sa 15:22-23 – idolatry – listening to demons w/1Sa 16:14 w/18:10; Joh 13:2 w/27).
CLOSING CONTEMPLATION = What specific sins do the Scriptures associate with demonic bewitching?