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DOES DEMON POSSESSION EXIST TODAY? ?
Introduction A recap of some conclusions we can draw concerning demons (Theology of Demons: Wayne Jackson) Demons were not atheists; they believed in God; moreover, they were not polytheists; they believed that God is “one” (see James 2: 19). Their faith, however, never had been coupled with obedience, hence, it was a “dead” faith (James 2: 14 -16)
Introduction Demons were not religious modernists. They did not subscribe to the notion that Jesus was a mere man. ○ They acknowledged the Lord as “the Holy One of ○ ○ God” (Mark 1: 24) In His presence they cried: “You are the Son of God” (Mark 3: 11) They did not address Jesus as “the son of Joseph, ” or as the offspring of any other human father They were aware of the fact that Christ, as the Son of God, was born of a virgin There are numerous religious leaders today who refuse to make this bold and wonderful confession
Introduction The demons conceded the divine authority of Christ. On one occasion they entreated the Lord that He “would not command them to depart into the abyss” (Luke 8: 31) Demons did not deny personal responsibility. They once inquired of Jesus: “Are you come here to torment us before the time? ” (Matthew 8: 29) ○ They recognized that a certain “time” was inevitable when they would give account for their wickedness Demons did not deny the existence of hell, like some modern cultists do, for they knew that “torment” (a term that implies conscious punishment) was in their future (Matthew 8: 29), and they trembled at the prospect of such (James 2: 19)
The Divine Purpose of Demon Possession: Author Unlisted There were several instances where Jesus cast out demons in the Bible. Two men of the Gadarenes (Matthew 8: 28 -34; Mark 5: 2 -20; Luke 8: 26 -39) The mute man (Matthew 9: 32 -33) The blind and mute man (Matthew 12: 22; Luke 11: 14) The daughter of the Syrophenician woman (Matthew 15: 22 -29; Mark 7: 25 -30) The child with seizures (Matthew 17: 14 -18; Mark 9: 17 -27; Luke 9: 37 -42) Mary Magdalene (Mark 16: 9; Luke 8: 2 -3)
The Divine Purpose of Demon Possession: Author Unlisted The New Testament clearly indicates that demons were under the control of divine authority. Jesus could command them to leave a person, or even to keep quiet (Matthew 8: 16; Mark 1: 34) The demons that tormented the man in the country of the Gadarenes could not enter the nearby swine herd except by the Lord’s command (Mark 5: 13 -14) Since demons could do nothing except by divine permission, why did God allow these evil beings to enter into people? The truth of the matter is, the Bible does not give a specific answer to this question. However, a reasonable case can be built to help shed some light on the subject.
The Divine Purpose of Demon Possession: Author Unlisted If the mission of Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, was to be effective, the Lord’s absolute authority had to be established. Accordingly, we see the Savior demonstrating His authority in a variety of ways. Christ exhibited power over diseases and physical ailments (Matthew 9: 20 -22; John 4: 46 -54; 9: 1 -41) The Lord exerted His authority over material objects (Matthew 14: 15 -21; 17: 24 -27; John 2: 1 -11; 21: 1 -14) Jesus showed that He could control the elements of nature (Matthew 8: 23 -27) Jesus even suspended the force of gravity with reference to His own body when He walked upon the waters of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14: 22 -23) The Lord released certain ones who had been captured by death (Matthew 9: 18 -26; John 11: 1 -45)
The Divine Purpose of Demon Possession: Author Unlisted It is not unreasonable to assume that, just as the Savior had displayed His marvelous power in all these realms, it was likewise appropriate that He be able to demonstrate His authority in the spirit realm as well to show that Satan is not in control (cf. Luke 10: 17 -18) Consider also Mt 12: 25 -29 and Lk 11: 17 -20 Demon possession established the comprehensive and supreme authority of the Son of God.
An Argument for the End of Demon Possession (Demons: Ancient Superstition or Historical Reality by Wayne Jackson) A powerful case can be made for the proposition that demon possession was not allowed to continue beyond the apostolic age—the era of miracles. When the prophet Zechariah foretold the coming of the Messianic dispensation, and the blessings that would accompany the spread of the gospel, he suggested that the Lord would “cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land” (13: 12)
An Argument for the End of Demon Possession (Demons: Ancient Superstition or Historical Reality by Wayne Jackson) Some feel that the expression “unclean spirit” may hint of, or at least include, the cessation of demonic activity. Hailey sees this as a prediction of the eventual termination of prophetic activity (on the part of God’s people) and the curtailing of the power of unclean spirits. ○ Likewise, unclean spirits, the antithesis of the prophets, would cease. In the conquest of Christ over Satan and his forces, unclean spirits have ceased to control men as they did in the time of the ministry of Christ and the apostles (1972, 392).
An Argument for the End of Demon Possession (Demons: Ancient Superstition or Historical Reality by Wayne Jackson) With the close of the first century, the age of the supernatural came to a close. God is not empowering men to operate in a miraculous fashion today. This is evinced in the following way: Nothing duplicating the miracles of the first century is apparent today. ○ No one can walk upon water, raise the dead, calm a raging storm, turn water into wine, instantly heal an amputated ear, extract tax money from a fish’s mouth, etc. ○ Miracles are self-authenticating phenomena that cannot be denied, even by hostile critics (cf. Jn. 11: 47; Acts 4: 14 -16); clearly, they are not occurring today.
An Argument for the End of Demon Possession (Demons: Ancient Superstition or Historical Reality by Wayne Jackson) The purpose of supernatural gifts was to confirm the authenticity of divine revelation being received from heaven (Mk. 16: 9 -20; Heb. 2: 1 -4) ○ Since the revelatory process was completed when the last New Testament book was written, miracles no longer are needed, hence, have ceased. ○ Some have compared them to scaffolding that is removed once the building is finished The New Testament explicitly argues that the day was on the horizon when miracles would cease. ○ Paul defended that position both in Ephesians 4: 8 -16 and in 1 Corinthians 13: 8 -10.
An Argument for the End of Demon Possession (Demons: Ancient Superstition or Historical Reality by Wayne Jackson) ○ During the early days of the apostolic era, divine revelation had been “in part, ” i. e. , piece-by-piece. ○ The apostle said, however, that when “the perfect” or “the complete” arrived, the partial revelation, which came by means of the various “gifts” (e. g. , supernatural knowledge and prophecy), would cease (1 Cor. 13: 8 ff) ○ Prominent Greek scholar, W. E. Vine, summarized the matter well. With the completion of Apostolic testimony and the completion of the Scriptures of truth (“the faith once for all delivered to the saints”, Jude, 3, R. V. ), “that which is perfect” had come, and the temporary gifts were done away. For the Scriptures provided by the Spirit of God were “perfect”. Nothing was to be added to them, nothing taken from them. This interpretation is in keeping with the context (1951, 184).
An Argument for the End of Demon Possession (Demons: Ancient Superstition or Historical Reality by Wayne Jackson) ○ Here is a crucial point. If it is the case that miraculous powers have been removed from the church’s possession, including the ability to cast out demons (Mk. 16: 17 -20), does it stand to reason that God would allow demons to supernaturally assault people today, thus granting Satan an undue advantage over the human family? How would this reconcile with the promises found in 1 Jn 4: 4 ○ If the gift of expelling demons no longer exists, is it not a reasonable conclusion that demon possession is obsolete as well? The gospel is God’s power to save (Romans 1: 16 -17). This would be negated if demon possession could condemn someone.
Concluding Remarks Satan still has devices. He has several tools at his disposal. (2 Corinthians 2: 11) Deception. (1 Timothy 2: 14) This caused David to sin. (1 Chronicles 21: 1) Satan is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8: 44) He blinds the minds of Christians. (2 Corinthians 4: 4) He can sear the conscience. (1 Timothy 4: 1 -3) He teaches the doctrines (plural) of men. (Matthew 15: 8 -9) Doubt. Satan can just plant a seed of doubt. His favorite word is “IF. ” He is the accuser of our brethren. (Revelation 12: 10) He led Israel to murmur, complain, gossip. (1 Corinthians 10: 10 -11) Desire. The sin of Noah’s day was people seeking their own pleasure and desires. (Genesis 6: 5) John summarize what Satan does in 1 John 2: 15 -17. Man sins when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. (James 1: 12 -18) Disruption. Satan seeks to hinder, block and throw obstacles on our path. Satan hindered Paul. (1 Thessalonians 2: 18) Satan gave Paul a “thorn in the flesh” to hinder him. (2 Corinthians 12: 7) Jesus sent his apostles as “sheep among wolves. ” (Matthew 10: 16) Satan’s terms is “providentially hindered. ”
Concluding Remarks Satan still has power. While his power is limited, he still uses the methods above to lead people astray. We can overcome this power. Here is the best news of this study. Satan cannot possess us. He cannot control us. We have the power to win. We can overcome Satan. Wear the armor. If we are wearing the armor, the darts of Satan will not harm us. (Ephesians 6: 10 -20) Win a battle, lose the war. Satan may seem to be winning at times. We must see this from the “big picture” of God’s viewpoint. Satan will lose. Period. (Colossians 2: 15) Resist the devil. Christians are commanded to resist Satan. (James 4: 7; 1 Peter 5: 8 -9) Walk in the Spirit. If we are walking in the Spirit, we will not be tempted by the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5: 16) Don’t give Satan room. We must control our lives, speech and thoughts. When we do, Satan does not have room. When the glass is “full” of God, there is no room for Satan. (Ephesians 4: 27) You decide. We have the power to serve God or Satan. We cannot blame God or Satan for our choice. (Romans 6: 6 -18)