When people think about the topic of demons many things come to mind. They might ask “where did demons come from? What are the characteristics? What is their purpose and is their still demon possession today? These are excellent questions and will try my best to answer these questions from the word of God.
The first thing I want to do is to look at one definition of the Word demon. Strongs defines it this way “a spirit, a being inferior to God, superior to men. Evil spirits or the messengers and ministers of the devil”
With this in mind let now explore the
Origin of demons
First of all I want to note that there is only one devil but there are many demons. I wish I can stand up here and show a specific passage of who the demons are but I cannot. This is one area that the Bible does not answer specifically, However based on several scriptures we can make educated guess and I believe narrow it down to two possibilities.
1. Some believe that these demons are those fallen angels described in following passages.
2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;
Jude 1:6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;
There are least 4 reason why angel theory is possible. First of all angels share similar characteristic as a demon in that they are both spirits.
Hebrews Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?
Second of all in verses it shows that the angels have a free will and can be good or evil and so it is possible that God let them out their confinement temporarily during the first century.
The third reason comes from the fact that devil and his angels were cast out of heaven.
Revelation 12:9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Also Mat. 25:41).
Since these angles are associated with him this makes sense that they are the demons we read about in the NT.
The forth reason come from the fact that these demons knew who Jesus was and understood that he had power over them. Again this would fit with an angel.
Our second possibility is that the demons are those who have died and are classified as the wicked dead. Once we die we are no longer in bodily form but instead we are in a spiritual form which is one the characteristics of a demon. It is certainly possible that God allowed those wicked souls of Hades to be emptied out during the 1st century temporarily. From a historical point of view both the Greeks and Jews thought that Demons were spirits from those who were sinners that had died. In fact the Greek word used for Demon as used in the first century in other books was used to describe the departed spirit of a wicked person which is what makes this a viable option as well.
While we may never know the true origin of demons one thing we do know is that they were servants of the devil and they were no match for God. Now lets take a look at their,
As I have already mentioned these demons were spirit beings we can see this in.
Matthew 8:16 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick,
Notice how demons and spirits are used interchangeably. Now notice what Jesus says about spirits.
Luke 24:39 "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."
From this we can see that demons or spiritual in nature and do not have physical bodies. We also learn that during the first century they had the ability to posses someone that is to take them over and more than one could enter a person body.
Luke 8:2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities -- Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons,
So here we see that Mary had 7 demons. Another thing we can learn about demons is that they were rational beings. We can see this in the following example.
Mark 5:1 Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. <gad-uh-reans'>. 2 And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3 who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, 4 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. 5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. 7 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 implore You by God that You do not torment me." 8 For He said to him, "Come out of the man, unclean spirit!" 9 Then He asked him, "What is your name?" And he answered, saying, "My name is Legion; for we are many." 10 Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country. 11 Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. 12 So all the demons begged Him, saying, "Send us to the swine, that we may enter them." 13 And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then 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. See also Mat. -34, Luke 8:26-39.
Now both Mark and Luke focus in on one man however Matthew informs us that there was a second man possessed there as well. We can learn a great deal about a demons characteristic from these verses. One thing we learn is that once they are in the body they are able to give it super human strength. We see this from the fact that no one could keep this man bound and he even has the strength to tear apart the shackles they tried to keep on him. We also learn that the demon had control this man and what he did. Notice he didn’t wear any clothes, he isolated himself the tombs and he cried out and cut himself with stones and he did so day and night which possibly means that he never slept. As you look at other accounts they always seem to want to harm their host like the boy in Mark 9 where it caused the boy to fall down in fire and water. It cause him to foam at the mouth and gnash his teeth and made his body as stiff as a board.
Another thing we learn about demons is that they recognized Jesus authority and knew that he was the son of God. We can see this in the fact that these demons worshiped Jesus and they were begging him not to torment them. In Luke[s account the demons beg Jesus not send to command them to go to the abyss. This shows us two things. 1. Jesus had power over these demons and second these demons could experience the emotion of fear. This is further emphasized in,
James You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe -- and tremble!
This word tremble carries the idea of being struck with extreme fear or to horrified. No doubt these demons should be scared as they will face torment day in night in hell. They also seemed to know that they their time was limited. Another thing we learn about their characteristic is found in,
Matthew 12:43 " When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 "Then he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 "Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation."
Here we see that these demons can leave their host
and come back again and not only that they can communicate with other demons and
get them to come along with them to reinvade a person. One last characteristic
I want look at is somewhat of a humorous one. When Paul at
Acts And the evil spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" 16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
You see they were using the right name but they themselves were not Christians so this is why we see the demon causing this one man to be able to beat up and strip the clothes of these 7 men. Again we see a demon causing a person to have super human strength. Now that we have examined the characteristics lets take look at the question,
What was their purpose?
Why were these demons allowed to posses people? Again this is another question that I cant turn you to specific place that states their purpose with clarity. However, I think we can fairly good idea of what their purpose was. The first thing I want to point out is that demon-possession can only be seen in the NT and that very significant in answer our question. Now I will say this there is only one place in OT that even remotely sounds like demon possession and has to do with King Saul,
1 Samuel But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him. 15 And Saul's servants said to him, "Surely, a distressing spirit from God is troubling you. 16 "Let our master now command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well."
Now when you think about these passages they don’t sound anything like demon-possession. First of all demons are not going to come from God. Second of all, all it took was David playing his harp to make him feel better. In the NT it took miraculous power to cast out a demon. As one commentator said,
The evil spirit which afflicted Saul was not a living demon sent by God, but rather a sinister attitude brought on by his rejection of God.
With this in mind again I state that demon possession only happened the NT. I believe this is important when we consider what Jesus says in,
1 John 3:8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
We also know that Jesus said he came to seek and save the lost well in order to do that he had destroy the works of the devil. This is also taught in
Hebrews 2:14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
You see Jesus was going to destroy the works of the devil and by doing so it would prove that he was the son of God.
John 5:36 "But I have a greater witness than John's; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish -- the very works that I do -- bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.
Since Jesus was establishing his authority he would not want to leave any rock unturned so we see him demonstrate this authority is several ways.
1. He showed that he could heal diseases and physical deformities (Mat. 9:20-22, John 4:46-54.
2. He showed that he could control nature by calming a storm (Mat. -37).
3. He showed that he power to multiply food (Mat. -21)
4. He had power over gravity as he walked across the water (Mat. -23)
5. He showed he power over death as he raised some from the dead (Mat. -26, John 11)
Not only did Jesus show his authority over these things he also showed his authority over the devil himself because he had the power to cast out these demons. Its make logical sense to me that the purpose of these demons was to show that Jesus had power of the spiritual world as well further confirming that he was the son of God. These demons also played apart of the first century so that the apostles or whoever was revealing Gods word could prove that they speaking for God by working miracles and casting out demons. This is what we can see from,
Mark 16:17 "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 "they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." 19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.
Now according to 1Cor 13: 8 -10 once the word of God was fully revealed their would be no more purpose more for miracles so they would cease. Well in the same vain there would be no more reason for demon- possession to occur. Since it took a miraculous power to cast out demon it certainly would not make sense for God to allow the demon-possession to continue with no way for the Christian to expel them. This is brings to our final question which I have already answer in part.
Is demon possession here today?
Some may think this to be a silly question but I
can promise you that there are some who teach that demon possession is alive
and well today. In fact I have even heard a
1. As I already mentioned it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense for God to end miracles which was the only way a demon could be cast out and then leave us stuck with demons with no way of getting rid of them.
2. I want to think about the characteristics that demons have and compare them against any of the supposed demon-possession of today and I can guarantee you they will not compare For instance when have you have heard of someone have super human strength and could not be bound. You haven’t because demon possession is not here today.
3. I want you to really think about the following passage.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
We need to remember that demons had the ability to take over a person and cause them do things that they normally would not do. Well, according to what Paul is teaching us here is that we have a free will and when we do something wrong it is of our doing and our temptation that we will experience are common to man. This means we cant say the devil made me do it. If demon-possession is alive and well today then that would mean that they would be allowed to overtake our free will and this goes beyond the realm of what is common to man.
Finally I want to look at a prophecy that shows that both miracles and demon-possession would cease at the spreading of the gospel.
Zechariah 13:1 "In that day a fountain shall
be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of
In the prophecy Zechariah is foretelling the time of when Jesus would be here and the blessing that occur from the spreading of Gods Word. The verse that interesting is verse 2 which indicates that their will be no more prophecies and the unclean spirits will depart from the land. I believe this pointing to 1 Cor. 13:8-10 which shows that the miracles would cease once the word of God was fully revealed. Once God word was fully revealed their would be no more prophet because there would be no more prophecies. Daniel also talks about how visions and prophecies would be sealed up during this time. So from Zechariah prophecy we can conclude that when the prophecies or miracles ended so did demonic- possession.
One the main reason I think its sad that people believe in demonic- possession today is because it gives people a fear that they should not have.
In conclusion I hope I have shed some light on the topic of demons. We examine their origin, their characteristics and their purpose and hopefully I have shown you with out doubt that demon-possession was only in the first century and does not exist today. I hope you will share this information with those who are confused on this topic.