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Article 41 - Demons
Jon Gary Williams
A. Demons are widely mentioned in literature contemporary with the New Testament.
1. They meant different things to different cults and religions.
2. They were assigned all types of grotesque forms and were thought to be everywhere.
3. All sorts of things were attributed to them: unexplained illness, toothaches, outbursts of anger and natural disasters.
B. However, in the Bible we have a different picture of demons.
1. The original word is "daimonion" - translated "devil" or "demon."
2. The literal meaning is "evil being" (figuratively, "evil spirit").
3. Thayer renders demon as: "A being inferior to God, superior to man."
I. WHAT WERE DEMONS?
A. Some widely accepted views are that demons were:
1. Myths and superstitions
2. Offspring of angels and women
3. A form of some "pre-adamic" race
4. Fallen angels
B. A more rational, sensible view is that they were spirits of departed men.
1. Many early writers had this understanding: Josephus, Philo, Plutarch, Justin Martyr, etc.
2. Most reliable Bible scholars have held this view.
3. Most scholars of the restoration held this view.
4. From Luke 8:31, the suggestion is that they were from the "abyss" ("deep" KJV), and Paul equates the "abyss" with the realm of the dead. (Rom. 10:7)
C. Whatever they were, God allowed them to have a degree of freedom, even to dwell in physical bodies.
D. Their existence allowed Christ and the apostles to show power over the demonic world of Satan.
II. MORE SPECIFIC INFORMATION ABOUT DEMONS
A. They were conscious, responsible beings, having the ability to perceive, reason and speak. They manifested attitudes of rage and hate. They could harm their victims.
B. They were under Satan's control. (Mk. 3:22,23)
C. They gave out false doctrine. (I Tim. 4:1)
D. They knew their doom. (Matt. 8:29)
E. They could believe and tremble. (Jms. 2:19)
F. They often demonstrated unusual strength. (Mk. 5:4; Acts 19:16)
G. In regard to Jesus:
1. They knew him. (Mk. 1:14; Acts 19:16)
2. They worshipped him. (Mk. 5:6)
3. They called him "Son of the Most High God." (Mk. 5:7)
4. They entreated him. (Lk. 8:31)
5. They were rebuked by him. (Mk. 1:25)
6. They were cast out by him. (Lk. 9:42)
III. WHAT ABOUT DEMON POSSESSION?
A. Of the more than 100 times demons are mentioned in the New Testament, 26 of these deal with demon possession.
B. Demons had a liking for human bodies.
1. They possessed men (Matt.8:28), women (Acts 16:16) and children (Matt. 15:22).
2. They possessed human bodies even in plural number. (Mk.5:8,9)
3. They even preferred the bodies of pigs than no habitation at all. (Mk. 5:12)
C. The Bible teaches that "many" were possessed with demons. (Matt. 8:16)
IV. THE RESULTS OF DEMON POSSESSION
A. The possession of demons caused:
1. Wild, fierce actions (Matt. 8:28-34)
2. Blindness and dumbness (Matt.12:22; 17:14-18)
3. Personal injuries. (Mk. 9:17,18)
4. Divination (Acts 16:16)
5. Attacks (Acts 19:13-16)
B. Demon possession was not a physical or mental illness.
1. Demon possession was real.
2. A distinction is made between mental illness and those actually possessed with demons. Note: "He healed many that were sick with divers diseases and cast out many demons." (Mk.1:34) (cf. Matt. 4:24)
V. THAT DEMONS WERE ACTUALLY CAST OUT IS A MATTER OF RECORD
A. In the great commission Christ said it would occur. (Mk. 16:17)
B. Peter cast out demons. (Acts 5:16)
C. Philip cast out demons. (Acts 8:7)
D. Paul cast out demons. (Acts 16:16-18; 19:12)
E. Note: Casting out demons is not to be confused with the so-called "exorcism" of modern times.
1. When Christ and the apostles cast out demons, they left immediately. It was not prolonged for many days.
2. Demons did not come out of their victims as "frogs," "bats," or "green blood."
3. Demons did not speak against Christ as seen in the modern concept of demons but were submissive and obedient to Him.
VI. DEMONS DO NOT EXIST IN THE WORLD TODAY
A. Since the gifts of the miraculous age (including the power to cast out demons) have ceased (I Cor. 13:8-10), it follows that demon possession has also ceased. (If demons did exist today, of necessity the gift of casting them out would also still exist. But it does not!)
B. With the passing of the age of miracles and since the completion of the New Testament (God's final message to man), such things as demon possession and the miraculous appearance of angels no longer have a place in God's program of work.
C. If demons were present today, there would be no doubt about it! No one could question it! Everyone would have witnessed them!
A. Demons were real.
B. Demons existed for a specific purpose - so Christ (and the apostles) could show power over the force of Satan. (I Jn. 3:8)
C. Demons no longer exist in this world.