Demonism Summary–Part 1
1 Samuel 16:14–23
Samuel Lesson #061
August 30, 2016
“Our Father, we are so grateful for all of Your many blessings in our life, especially the blessing of salvation, freely given, at no cost to us, though it cost You the death of Your Son. Father, we are thankful that He paid the penalty in our place. Help us to understand all of the implications and ramifications of that, and all of the blessings and assets that You have provided for us in our spiritual life.
Our Father, tonight we pray that as we study we can come to understand more fully, more completely what Your Bible teaches about a topic that is a little bit worrisome, spooky, scary to some people, but when you know the truth of Your Word you know that you have stability, and this is not something to be concerned about. Father, we pray that You would help us to understand what the Scripture teaches clearly that it may comfort us, and we can use it to comfort others. We pray this in Christ’s Name, Amen.”
Last week we got into 1 Samuel 16. We finished up the section down through 1 Samuel 16:23. In this section we are introduced to this little problem of an evil spirit that comes upon Saul. That introduces the problem of demonism. Demonism is a problem that a lot of people do not know much about, and among Christians there is a tremendous amount of confusion that takes place simply because people are not in the Word of God. They are not in the text. They want to base their views on experience. They want to base their views on things and stories, and on events that people have told them about, rather than on the Word of God. We need to look at what the text of the Bible says and form our understanding from what the Scripture has said.
Demonism is such a popular topic for scary movies in this country. If you have not watched any television lately to see some of the promos for upcoming television shows that will be introduced this fall. Yes there is now going to be “The Exorcist” television show. Some of you remember when William Peter Blatty novel The Exorcist came out. I did not know anything about it. I was a junior in college when the movie came out. It was Christmas break and my college roommate, who I had known from church since we were 12 years old, called me up and said, “Hey, there is this scary movie I heard about. Let’s go see a scary movie.” I said, “What is it called?” He said, “The Exorcist.” Okay.
We went to the movie and it became clear, if you remember the film, in the opening part what it was going to be about. We had more fun watching the audience than being entertained by the film. We were a couple of guys who had heard the Bible all of our lives. We knew what the Scriptures taught about demon possession and exorcism, and all of these things. We were not too concerned about it, in terms of something that caused us any fear or anxiety, but everybody in that audience wiggled, fidgeted, jumped out of their skin, and all of those things.
That continues today. I would assume that as we have changed in our culture a lot over the last 30–40 years, and people are less and less knowledgeable biblically. Even people who go to a lot of churches are woefully misinformed. In fact, out of the charismatic Pentecostal tradition that has developed since the early part of the 20th century, this whole theology of deliverance ministry dominates. If you watch some of the charismatic televangelists on television, you will get a lot of nonsense.
What is interesting is one thing that you should see as we go through this material tonight and maybe even next week, is to compare what we read in the Scripture to what is presented as demon possession or exorcism in the culture or in churches. What you should see, if you are familiar with the platinum standard of the Word of God, then you realize that what we see and what we hear about and what is touted as deliverance or exorcism or demon possession, is just a really bad counterfeit copy.
That is why you have to know the Word of God. Read it over and over and over again every year, because the more you read it, the more you understand it, the more it builds in us an understanding of what that benchmark should be of absolute truth.
As we have looked at Samuel we have seen that there is a shift that takes place in 1 Samuel 16 as we shift from the rise of Saul. We have seen his fall, the prophecy of Samuel that the kingdom is taken from him, but he is still the king. From 1 Samuel 16–31 we will see the rise of David. In 1 Samuel 16:1–13 there is the focus upon David and his anointing.
We read in 1 Samuel 16:13 that as Samuel anointed him with oil that the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. Some people translate the Hebrew word צלח (צָלַח) tzālach as “rush”, but I think it has more of the idea of coming upon him for success. The Spirit of the Lord came upon leaders of Israel in order to strengthen them and give them the ability to rule or to do some other function related to leadership and administration within the theocracy, the theocratic kingdom of Israel.
Again, this is more external. It is not that the Spirit of the Lord came into David. It is not the indwelling of the Spirit like we have in the Church Age. It is coming upon him. These prepositions, to understand the role of the Spirit in the Old Testament and to understand what is going on with these demons in this story, are crucial. Everything hinges on these prepositions.
1 Samuel 16:14. As the Spirit of the Lord comes upon David for success, the Spirit of the Lord also exits Saul. It withdraws from Saul and is replaced with this evil spirit. The New King James translates it “distressing.” It is the Hebrew word ערַ ra‘, which means evil, wicked or bad. This evil spirit comes upon Saul. It is more than just troubling him. He is distressed. He is in panic palace. He is overtaken by extreme fear that virtually incapacitates him for any kind of action. That is the idea there.
1 Samuel 16:15. Saul is so incapacitated that even his servants recognize what is going on. They are able to somehow recognize that this is not something within Saul, but there is an external influence. They recognize that perhaps something can soothe him.
1 Samuel 16:16. The servants look for someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in playing the lyre and can come and play it. If he plays the lyre then the [evil] spirit from God will leave. Saul will become well or healed. The Hebrew word used here, תוֺב tôv means pleasant, good as intended or healthy. It does not mean the idea of morally good. Sometimes it is translated that way, but it really has the core meaning of something that is as God intended. Saul is restored back to his normal state of mind.
1 Samuel 16:17–18. Saul gives his servants instructions to come. They look for someone who excels in playing the lyre. They tell him about the son of Jesse. God in the first part of this chapter identifies David as the next king. Samuel anoints him, and even though Saul does not understand that, God is working through Saul to elevate David to bring him into the court where David will be going through God’s finishing school. David is learning how to function at a level that is much different from that he has experienced out in the sheepfold.
1 Samuel 16:23. As David played on the lyre the evil spirit departs from Saul.
I want to introduce this idea of what is demon influence and what is demon possession and how to understand this. Demon influence and demon oppression are external. The demon is outside of a person and in some way is influencing to what they think. That can be done through secondary and intermediate means.
Television, film, peers, parents, professors, teachers, and friends, all kinds of people, believers and unbelievers, who are operating on nonbiblical thinking, can influence you. Any thing that is not biblical is worldly. It is antagonistic to God. All of us to some degree are operating on false thinking, human-viewpoint thinking, the devil’s own thinking, whenever we are sinning.
When we are living according to the sin nature we are following in the devil’s footsteps in terms of our rationale. We are operating on arrogance, which was the devil’s original sin. We are operating on hostility and antagonism and rejection of God because that is exactly what happens once Satan is confronted with his arrogance. He becomes antagonistic, hostile toward God, and opposes God. This can happen to any one of us. We can become the devil’s disciples.
In the recent study that I have done, I have come across and expanded a lot of material that I developed in the book on Spiritual Warfare in terms of history. There is a reason for this. It is because if we are going to look at what the Bible teaches us about demon possession, demon oppression, and demon influence, then we to some degree ought to juxtapose that with what was going on in the world.
One of the interesting things is that in Jewish literature, nonbiblical literature, extra-biblical literature, there is very little said about demons and about demon possession and about demon influence. Biblically, the only example that we have of any kind of demonic activity that is related to demon influence or demon possession is the episode with Saul.
There is one other mention during the Old Testament period. Let’s say the period before Christ. That is the episode from the Apocryphal Book of Tobit. Tobit is one of about eleven or thirteen books depending on what your tradition is. These 11–13 books were written out of the Jewish community between the close of the Old Testament Canon and the birth of Christ.
These books were never accepted by the Jewish community as having any kind of spiritual authority. However, these books were recognized as having some value in teaching about the history, tradition, and development of Judaism in the period between the close of the Old Testament Canon and the New Testament. There is this period of about 400 years when God is silent. It was during that period that these books were written. The books were assumed to have some value, but the books were not spiritually authoritative.
The books were often included with the Septuagint and in Septuagint translations. When Jerome, who lived in the 4th–5th century, translated the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament into Latin, the language of the people called the “Common Language” (the word for common in Latin is vulgare), the translation was called Vulgate.
By the time you get into the high Middle Ages no one was speaking Latin any more. The people in the churches could not understand anything that was said. You have a period of about 1,000 years that no one knew what the Bible said because it was in a foreign language that no one spoke any more. It was all in Latin. When Jerome translated the Vulgate he included The Apocrypha.
If you read Jerome’s “Preface” to the Vulgate, he says The Apocrypha is not part of the Word of God. He states that he is including it because it gives helpful information. How many people would normally read the Preface in the books that they read? It was the same back then. No body read the Preface. They assumed that these books of The Apocrypha were part of the Bible. That led to even the priests, which led to a lot of heresy that developed that made Roman Catholic theology distinctively Roman Catholic.
The Apocrypha is where Tobit comes from. Outside of that every thing else is written after Christ. In other words, what you see historically is almost no mention either in Jewish literature or non-Jewish literature about evil spirits or demons until Jesus comes on the scene. After Jesus came on the scene you find that there is a lot of mention of demons, exorcism, and things like that, but before Jesus there is nothing like that. There is hardly any mention. I am going to give you some of those examples.
One example is in the Latin book titled Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum, which was also known as Pseudo Philo, because there was a time when someone took the name of Philo, and that it was the real Philo who lived about the time of the New Testament, that he had written this. In this book, which was probably written after AD 150, 50 to 75 years after the close of the New Testament Canon this book was written. In this book it talks about the very episode we are studying in 1 Samuel 16. In that book it is interpreting what happened.
By this time what has happened is that the writers have come to think that this episode with Saul is demon possession. It was not demon possession. It was demon influence because of the kind of prepositions that are there. The spirit comes to Saul or upon Saul, but never says “in” Saul. This is what the Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum says:
“An evil spirit oppressed him. And Saul sent and fetched David, and he played a psalm upon his harp in the night. And this is the psalm which he sang unto Saul that the evil spirit might depart from him. … ‘There were darkness and silence before the world was … and man was made and after that was the tribe of your spirits made.’ ”
“ ‘Now therefore, be not injurious, whereas thou art a second creation, but if not, then remember Hell wherein thou walkest.’ … And when David sung praises, the spirit spared Saul. In 1st century it was thought to be this or treated as an exorcism …”
In the 2nd century this was thought to be an exorcism when in fact it was not an exorcism. But that is written at least a century after the time of Christ. The point is that it is after Christ that you start seeing this kind of literature.
The Angelic Rebellion
I want to give a review and summary and a little more detail on The Angelic Rebellion. How are we to understand demons and evil spirits? What they can do and what they cannot do? How susceptible are we as Christians to demon possession or demon influence? What are we to do about it?
First you have to understand where demons come from.
1. The angelic rebellion began in eternity past. This is between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. The angelic rebellion began in eternity past.
God had created all of the angels. They came from His hand. He created each one individually. There are no mom and dad angels. They do not procreate. There are different kinds, different orders of angels. There are seraphim, cherubim, the archangels, rank and file angels, and all had volition. They all had freewill up to a point. Under that freewill there is a test as to whether these angels would obey God or disobey God.
While they had the free exercise of their will the highest and greatest of these angels, who was called Lucifer, an English translation of the Hebrew, became arrogant and decided he wanted to be like God. He wanted to be worshiped like God. He wanted to be honored like God. He was the greatest of all of the angels.
The name Lucifer, which has in the Latin a root meaning of light or light bearer, showing that this is a part of his essential nature, is really a translation of the Hebrew word Helel, ben Shachar, which means The Shining One. Hêlēl is “shining one”; ben is “son of”; shāchar is “morning.” This was also applied in some to the Morning Star. This is what his name or title is, as given in Isaiah 14:12.
Here I have given you two translations. First the New King James Version (NKJV):
Isaiah 14:12, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!” NKJV
Then from the New English Translation (NET):
Isaiah 14:12 “Look how you have fallen from the sky, O shining one, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the ground, O conqueror of the nations!” NET
The NET is the more accurate literal translation. In English we have come to think of Lucifer as a proper name for Satan. Really it is just a bad translation of the Hebrew term that refers to him as the “shining one” or the “light bearer.”
Another thing that we know is that when this occurred in eternity past that there was a time when there was a time when there was the opportunity for angels to pick sides, choose sides.
2. According to Revelation 12:3–4 one-third of all the angels followed Satan in his rebellion.
Now how many angels are there? In Revelation it says there are myriads upon myriads. That is a lot of angels. That is billions upon billions maybe? There are a huge number of angels. One-third of them followed Satan in his rebellion. One-third of them are fallen angels. The term “fallen angels” is a better term for all of them than to call them demons.
Revelation 12:3–4 is talking about a future event that occurs halfway through the Tribulation period, because until that event Satan and the fallen angels still have access to Heaven. We see this in Job 1–2. We saw it last week in 1 Kings 22. The angels still come before the throne of God in Heaven. They still have access. They are still part of this angelic convocation that occurs. But halfway through the Tribulation they are cast out of Heaven to the earth.
Revelation 12:3, “And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.”
This is the seven heads. The ten horns picture the ten kings of the Revived Roman Empire. Three of them were taken over as one. That is why there are seven heads and seven diadems. But it is pictured as the red dragon because Satan is the energizing power behind the Antichrist who is the ruler of that ten-nation confederacy, the Revived Roman Empire that will come up as the power base for Satan in the Tribulation period.
Revelation 12:4, “His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.”
The stars of heaven is the term that is used consistently in the Old Testament as a metaphorical term to refer to angels, not physical stars. It is just a metaphorical title for them. Satan takes a third of the angels of Heaven and threw them to the earth. “And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth…” That is Mary. She is ready to give birth. This depicts the dragon as the one who wants to devour her Child, who of course is Christ. This depicts this warfare that has taken place ever since the fall of Satan, this angelic warfare, angelic rebellion that shapes and influences all of human history.
3. These angels are collectively referred to as fallen angels, although they might also be generally called demons. However, perhaps the term demon or evil spirit might be reserved for only that group of fallen angels who interact with the human race. They are organized under Satan.
“Demons” is a more restricted term. Demon or evil spirit is restricted to those who are still able to interact with human history. There are actually four different groups of fallen angels that are described in the Scripture. We have to understand that this is the ultimate enemy that we face. We may think that we face certain politicians and certain political philosophies as the enemy. You may think that you face certain individuals in your life as the enemy, but what the Scripture says is that we face somebody that is greater than that. These are simply people who have been duped by the enemy.
- The enemy is not your favorite political party to hate.
- The enemy is not your favorite presidential candidate to hate.
- The enemy is not your favorite court judge to hate.
- The enemy is related to Satan and the demons.
Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
That is the battle. We are engaged in this spiritual warfare, this cosmic conflict that is ultimately not with other human beings, but the human beings we think we are fighting are simply dupes of Satan. He is using their arrogance and their sin natures to try to accomplish his goal of ruling the planet.
4. There are different groups of fallen angels that are mentioned in the Scripture.
A lot of people lump these groups together, but we are going to break it out:
4A. Genesis 6 – “sons of God”
The Hebrew word for “sons of God” is bene ha’elohim. The word bene is the genitive form of the noun ben, meaning “son of”, and they are called “the sons of God.” This is a generic term related to all of the angels. In Job 1, when Satan is coming before the throne of God, he is a part of a convocation of angels that are all described as the “sons of God.” That includes fallen angels as well as holy angels. This is just a generic term.
A sophomoric, probably a freshman error was made by a man who several years ago wrote a systematic theology. He is president of a seminary out in Phoenix. He is a prominent evangelical scholar. He got involved with the charismatic spinoff of the 1970s and 1980s. This is called The Vineyard Movement. I am amazed. I have read this man. He is very popular.
A lot of seminary schools are using this today. It is tragic that you have someone of that caliber who does not look at his Hebrew or Greek text because he does not want to believe this. This man says “sons of God” is not a term for angels. Then he cites a passage in Deuteronomy that talks about the Jews as the “sons of God.”
Wake-up! Read the Hebrew. In that verse it says sons of Yahweh. It does not say bene ha’elohim. It says bene hayehwāh. That is a different term. You are mixing apples and oranges. When you have a PhD, are president of a seminary, and have been president of an evangelical theological society, you are supposed to be somebody. Every time I pick up his book and read it I always catch him in exegetical errors for his theology, which is really tragic.
What we have in Genesis 6 is a statement that there were giants on the earth in those days. This is before Noah’s flood and also afterward when the bene ha’elohim, the sons of God, came into the daughters of men. This is indicating some sort of sexual relationship because the product is children. You may say that you thought I said over in Matthew 22 that angels do not marry or are given in marriage. That is right.
The angels have immaterial bodies, but we see various examples in Scripture where these immaterial angels are able to take on the form and functions. They can eat food. They sleep. They do other bodily functions where they are obviously able to procreate. This is an attempt to destroy the human race.
There are a couple of other positions that are taken to identify the sons of God:
- The sons of God are the evil ones, the descendants of Cain, and the daughters of men are the descendants of Seth.
There are several reasons that is not right. One is that the term “sons of God,” bene ha’elohim in Genesis and in Job, the two oldest books in the Old Testament, always refer to all the angels.
- The other reason is that if this is referring to where the sons of God are, the Cainites and the daughters of men are the Sethites then they are only intermarrying in one direction. It is only male Cainites and female Sethites. That is a problem. Why would you not have intermarriage going in the other direction? It does not make sense.
- The third reason is it fails to understand how large the population was before the Flood. When you have ten or eleven generations living at the same time, then you have a rapid multiplication of the population.
Henry Morris and others have worked out all of the figures that if you have conservatively each family having four children. If you are living to be 900 years of age and your years of fertility are probably 150–200 years, you are probably having more than four children.
Conservatively speaking, if you have four children and all of those children live to be 850–950 years of age, then after the period of time from Adam to Noah you would have a worldwide population of at least two and a half to three billion. If they were having 7–10 children then you could have a worldwide population at the time of the flood would be 5–7 billion. It was enormous. The idea that this is just talking about one segment of the population intermarrying with another segment of the population cannot hold water.
- The most obscure view is the one that this idea that the sons of God refers to ancient despots or tyrants. There are a lot of problems. It does not fit lexically. There is no word usage to support it. It falls a part. The problem is that there is an introduction of a quality of evil into the human race that means that God has to totally destroy the human race in order to start over. There is a genetic infiltration that occurs here to prevent the coming of the Messiah as the Seed of the woman. That is the prophecy in Genesis 3:15. The Seed of the woman will defeat the seed of the serpent. He, the Seed, has to be truly human.
If you have an angelic infiltration you are changing the make-up of the human DNA. Now you are going to have a problem producing a God-man-Savior. This is further supported by New Testament passages: Jude 6–7 talks about a group of angels who did not keep their proper domain. They did not stay at the place that God created for them. They left their own abode. That would be Heaven, and because of that He has reserved them in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day. This segment of fallen angels are imprisoned because they did something that is described as leaving their original abode.
Further than that, the sin of those angels is compared to the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah in Jude 7, “as Sodom and Gomorrah”. What kind of sin did Sodom and Gomorrah have? It was a sexual sin. That is the point of comparison:
“… as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, and set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”
“These” what? “These” angels.
Sodom and Gomorrah are viewed as imitating the sin of these angels. Their sin was a sexual sin; then so was that of these angels. How is that described? They gave themselves over to sexual immorality. They went after strange flesh, flesh of a different kind. There is a difference between angels and humans. This is an affirmation of the interpretations of “sons of God” in Genesis 6:4.
It is also stated in 1 Peter 3:19–20 talking about Jesus after the crucifixion, before the resurrection He went and preached or proclaimed His victory over sin. He proclaimed His victory to the spirits. That is the angels or demons actually, PNEUMA, meaning spirit. That is their essential nature, spirit beings. He proclaimed His victory to the spirits in prison. These are further described as those “who were formally disobedient, when once the divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah.”
These imprisoned angels are identified as having committed some sin in 1 Peter 3:20 that occurred at the time of Noah. When you compare 1 Peter 3:20 with Jude, and then with Genesis, it becomes clear that that is the only viable interpretation of Genesis 6:4. That is the first group of demons. They are confined under chains of darkness in Tartarus.
There is another group:
4B. One demon army is currently confined to the Abyss and will be released as part of the fifth trumpet judgment in Revelation 9:1–11.
This is where Satan will be cast when he is defeated at the battle of Armageddon. He is thrown in chains into the Abyss. In Revelation 9:1–11 as part of the fifth trumpet judgment there is a demon army that is released. Remember, these are the ones that have tails like scorpions. They are released upon the human race. Their sting is extremely painful. It creates all kinds of pain and suffering, but it does not kill people. They just wish they were dead.
Then you have another demon army:
4C. This demon army is currently being held for that time under the Euphrates. This is an army of 200 million that are kept in reserve until prior to the midpoint of the Tribulation. These are going to be released.
These are not 200 million Red Chinese, as Hal Lindsey said. It is 200 million angels (demons) that are going to be released as part of the sixth trumpet judgment.
Revelation 9:14–16, “saying to the sixth angel, who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them.”
These four angels must be the commanders. Two hundred million! That is a lot of angels, a lot of demons!
4D. A fourth group of demons are those who are alive and well and were involved in these different episodes in Scripture, 1 Samuel 16, and the episodes at the time of Christ where you have demon possession.
On Sunday we talked about Sheol/Hades, Luke 16:19–25. It had different compartments:
- Abraham’s Bosom is where the Old Testament believers went when they died, before the Cross.
- The impassable barrier
- Torments is where the unbelievers went.
- Tartarus is where one group of angels are bound in chains.
- There is Paradise
Then after the Cross Paradise is moved to Heaven and all that is left in Sheol/Hades is Torments for the unbelievers and Tartarus where those fallen angels are left.
5. Demon influence or demonic oppression can occur to anyone.
That identifies what we are talking about when we are talking about demons. We are talking about that fourth group that is not imprisoned. They are not part of that group of demons that are released in the fifth trumpet or the two-hundred-million-demon army in the sixth trumpet. They are that fourth group of demons. They are responsible for spreading the thinking of Satan. All the human viewpoint philosophies, all the human religions, all of this is part of demonic influence. It is the thinking of Satan. Remember, friendship with the world is hostility to God in James 4:4.
All of this is emphasizing that when we succumb to thinking like Satan thinks, the thinking of the world. That is what demonic thinking is. It is earthly; it is demonic; and it is sensual James says. Demon influence is when a person is thinking according to the devil’s thinking, according to the world system.
- If you are an existentialist, you are influenced by demonism.
- If you are a progressive social justice person, you are influenced by demonism.
- If you are a crony capitalist, you are influenced by demonism.
- If you are a Darwinian evolutionist, you are influenced by demonism.
- If you are a Freudian, you are influenced by demonism.
Those are all demonic ideas. You may say that there is some good stuff there. Guess what? There is probably some truth in the Bhagavad Gita, and the Sayings of Confucius, and in the Koran, but I am not going to recommend that you read any of them. There is protein. In fact, if you analyze the venom in rattlesnakes it is all protein. Protein is good for you. Do you want to drink some? I do not think so. But that is what people are doing when they succumb to what is comfortable, in terms of human viewpoint. It is that they are basically drinking poison and thinking it will not impact them.
Demon influence is the devil’s thinking that is described in the Bible as worldliness, and whenever a Christian or a non-Christian thinks like the world instead of like the Bible, then they are thinking according to the devil’s system. That is demon influence. That is putting it in a very stark, harsh term, but that is what it is. There is no neutrality in the Bible. You are either thinking like God or you are not. Friendship with the world is enmity or antagonism or hatred toward God. That does not leave room for some sort of nice little comfortable place of neutrality in between.
6. Demon possession describes the invasion of the body of a non-Christian by a demon. The demon can control the unbeliever’s physical actions from a position within the unbeliever.
Demon possession, on the other hand, is only for unbelievers. Demon influence affects believer as well as unbelievers, but demon possession is different. It involves the invasion of the body of a non-Christian by a demon or an evil spirit or more that can take control of the body. They do not ultimately override the volition of the individual, but they prevent it from functioning in terms of its material or physical production.
It is like the demoniac in the tombs. He cannot go where he wants to go or do what he wants to do, but as a person, that soul that is being prevented from functioning by the demons is still able to function spiritually toward God and can exercise positive volition toward God. That, I believe, is the only way that a demon-possessed person can ultimately be truly freed from a demon. It is when they are turning to God to deliver them. They trust in Christ as their Savior. Then they will be delivered from a demon.
What we see is that under demon possession the demon controls the unbeliever’s physical actions from a position within the unbeliever. Saul was not demon possessed. There is no evil spirit inside the demon.
7. New Testament Warnings About Demon Influence
We are again and again warned as believers not to come under the influence of the world’s thinking or demonic thinking. One form of this was idolatry. Any kind of false religion is idolatry. Even if it is some sort of mind or mental thing: if you are worshiping intellectualism, if you are worshiping Darwinism, if you are an existentialist or a Freudian psychologist, then you are worshiping an immaterial idol of the mind. That is just as dangerous as worshiping an idol made out of wood or stone or metal.
- Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:20 that sacrificing to idols is sacrificing to demons.
When you go to the Antiquities Museum and you see these idols of Baal and the Ashteroth and all these other idols, those were probably at one time empowered by a demon. When you sacrifice to them, Paul says that you are really sacrificing to a demon. There is a demon behind that idol. There is a demon behind that statue of Athena. Those are demonically produced religions.
There have been some people who really cater to these superstitions and fears of people. They say that if you go to some place like India and buy a little Buddha and bring it home, you are bringing a demon with it. You had better watch out, because now you have brought a demon into your house. I thought demons, like Satan, freely walk two and fro upon the face of the earth, 1 Peter 5:8, seeking whom he may devour.
You know, the demons can go in and out of wherever we are all the time. If God opened our eyes where we could see the angels and the fallen angels, we would probably be surprised how many times we are surrounded by demons and fallen angels. I do not have to go bring an idol back from some foreign country in order to bring a demon into my house. That is just superstitious nonsense. It is not biblical.
- 1 Timothy 4:1 warns us about deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.
In the end-time people will pay attention to that. We have been in the end times ever since the beginning of the Church Age. The doctrine of demons has caused many people to be distracted and deceived throughout the Church Age, including many believers.
I heard about a man who as a child went to the church where I grew up. He went to the camp where I grew up. He went to Texas Tech. He went to a very solid Bible teaching church in Lubbock. You know who I am talking about; not the boy, but you know the church. He later went to Dallas Theological Seminary. He posted on his Facebook page within the last month that he has renounced Christ and converted to Judaism.
I am hearing stories like this again and again and again, about people who go to Greek Orthodoxy and claim it is free grace. Nobody has known that for a thousand years or more. How can you say, if you have a brain in your head, that that is free grace? But that is what you hear. They have succumbed to the doctrines of demons and deceitful spirits.
- 2 Corinthians 11:14–15 warns of the deceptive appearance as servants of righteousness, Satan’s ministers.
The only way you can get past the counterfeit is to know what the truth is. The only way you can know what the truth is is to hide the Word of God in your soul. You need to read it and read it and know it and know it and learn it so that you can spot the counterfeits.
- James 3:13–15 identifies human viewpoint with worldly wisdom as demonic.
- It is sensual.
- It is earthly.
- It is natural.
- It is soulish.
When we get into the Gospels everybody wants to go to the Gospels and say that we are supposed to be like Jesus. Jesus casts out demons; therefore, we should cast out demons. How is that for a syllogism? Both the major premise and minor premise have fallacies in them.
Jesus casts out demons but He did so for a reason and a purpose, because as He entered into human history as the God-man Messiah that was promised and prophesied from the Old Testament, it was realized by the demons that this is the focal point of the whole angelic rebellion. It is do or die. They are in a final sudden death playoff. Whoever wins this wins the whole thing. Whoever loses loses. The demons come out in force at the time Jesus is walking on the earth.
As I said, the only mention of a demon in the Old Testament is Saul. The only mention in Jewish literature aside from that is Tobit. It is not emphasized. It is not viewed as a major issue or problem in the Old Testament. Suddenly, when you get into the New Testament, Jesus is confronted by demons.
There are three general statements about Jesus casting out demons:
(1) Matthew 4:24, early in Jesus’ ministry, after He first begins His ministry. He is healing people “… they brought to Him all who were ill, taken with various diseases and pains, demoniacs (those who are demon possessed), epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them.” (cf., Mark 3:11; Luke 6:17–18).
They categorize these. It is not saying these are synonymous. These are categorically different terms. The Bible recognizes some body that is demon possessed is not sick. They are not suffering from some sort of psychosis. They are not suffering from some sort of mental illness. They are demon possessed.
That is different from somebody who was an epileptic, although the term for that was sometimes somebody affected by the moon. That was not necessarily literal, but also, those who were paralyzed. Jesus heals them all. He was showing that as the Creator-God He has control over the spirit world. He has control over diseases because He is the God-man.
(2) Matthew 8:16 with parallels in Mark 1:29–34; Luke 4:38–41. Matthew 8:16 says, “When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon possessed.”
I have always found it odd that when you go through the Old Testament here is this absence of anything related to demon possession. All of a sudden you get into the Gospels and it is like there is an explosion. It is everywhere, but you do not ever find it mentioned that much in extra-biblical or non-Jewish literature.
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 ill.”
That is important. How did He cure their demon possession? He cast out the demon. That is the Greek word EKBALO. It is not the Greek word EXHORTIZO, which is where we get our word exorcism. The only exorcist in the Bible are the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish exorcist. Exorcism is what the magicians, the charlatans, try to do to relieve people of this perceived problem, but it is not what Jesus or His disciples or the apostles did. They cast out a demon(s). Those words are very important.
“Casting out” means that something had to be in something before it could come out of something. That helps us understand what demon possession is.
The third general statement about casting out demons in the Gospels:
(3) Luke 7:21, “At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He granted sight to many who were blind.”
These are broad general statements of what Jesus did to many people. It indicates that there were numerous people who had a problem with demon possession.
9. Eight specific incidents are also described in the New Testament.
I want to close here because once we get into this we have to start analyzing what some of these are to come to firm exegetical conclusions about what the Bible teaches. We will wait and come back to point nine next Tuesday night.
All of this is designed to help us understand what is going on in these passages in 1 Samuel 16, 18, and 19, where this evil spirit comes upon Saul and what the dynamics are there, and how that relates to understanding demon possession.
The cure for every thing ultimately is the power of God. God created the angels. He created all of them, including those who would rebel against Him and be fallen. He gave them the powers that they have, but their powers are nothing compared to His. As John says in 1 John 4:4, “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”
As believers we have absolutely nothing to fear and nothing to worry about when it comes to Satan and when it comes to the demons, unless we are out of fellowship, we are operating on our sin nature, and we are soaking up human viewpoint thinking and living like unbelievers, living like the devil, living in rebellion against God.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things, to be reminded of Your greatness, Your goodness; to be reminded that volition operated among the angels. It led to consequences when they rebelled against You. Volition, freewill, was operational in the Garden of Eden. As Adam and Eve were deceived by the serpent, who was Satan, it led to horrible consequences in human history.
Demon influence leads to horrible consequences in our lives and in human history. The only solution is Your grace and Your Word and that we learn to walk by the Spirit because He is greater than he that is in the world. We pray that we will be able to do that and focus on walking by the Spirit and living for You. We pray this in Christ’s Name, Amen.”