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Don Stewart :: Does the New Testament Give Evidence of Demon Possession?

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Don Stewart
Is demon-possession a reality, or something that is a superstition of a more ignorant time?

Demon Possession Or Demonized?

While the specific term "demon-possession" or "demon-possessed" is not used in Scripture, the Bible does speak of people "having a demon," "demonized," or demons entering into people and controlling their actions. For lack of a better term, we will use "demon-possession" to speak of these activities.

It Does Happen

The New Testament does testify to the fact that demons are able to enter and control both humans and beasts. It is not mere psychological dysfunction on the part of a person. We find this from general statements the New Testament gives as well as specific examples of demon-possession.

General Statements

There are a number of accounts in Scripture where demons were driven out of people. For example, Matthew makes the following statement about the miracles of Jesus.

And the report of Him went forth into all Syria: and they brought unto Him all that were sick, with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, possessed with demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and He cured them (Matthew 4:24).

Jesus' Disciples

Jesus gave His disciples authority over demons when He sent them out to preach the kingdom of God.

Then Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness (Matthew 10:1).

Why Not In John's Gospel?

It has been argued that the Gospel of John knows nothing about demon-possession, or exorcism. But this is not true. The crowd accused Jesus of having a demon.

The crowd answered, "You have a demon! Who is trying to kill You?" (John 7:20).

John records that the religious leaders of His day also accused Jesus of having been demon-possessed.

The Jews answered Him, "Are we not right in saying that You are a Samaritan and have a demon (John 8:48).

While John's gospel does not record any account of the healing of those demon possessed, it certainly acknowledges that the people believed demon-possession was a reality.

The Book Of Acts

After Jesus ascended into heaven, the exorcism of demons continued through the ministry of His disciples. They were able to drive out demons through the authority of Jesus.

for unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, came out of many who were possessed; and many others who were paralyzed or lame were cured (Acts 8:7).

These general statements in the New Testament give evidence of the fact of demon-possession, and the ability of those to drive them out of people.

Specific Examples

There are also specific instances in the New Testament where a person was diagnosed as being demon-possessed.

Synagogue At Capernaum

Two of the four gospels relate the story of the demon-possessed man in a Capernaum synagogue (Mark 1:25-27; Luke 4:51-56). Jesus was teaching with authority in this synagogue when suddenly a demonic presence made itself known. Jesus exorcised the demon, causing amazement with Him, and His ability.

They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, "What is this? A new teaching - with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him" (Mark 1:27).

The Gadarene Demoniacs

Three out of the four gospels relay the story of the demoniacs in Gadera that were healed of their demon possession (Matthew 8:28-34) (Mark 5:1-20) (Luke 8:26-39). These two people were living among the tombs, cutting themselves, and causing fear to all who passed by. Jesus exorcised the demons out of these two individuals. The people saw the change.

They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid (Mark 5:15).

The Daughter Of The Gentile Woman

Two of the gospels tell the story of a Gentile woman who had a daughter who was demon-possessed (Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-50).

Jesus healed the daughter of this woman without being physically present.

Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is your faith: be it done unto you even as you will. And her daughter was healed from that hour (Matthew 15:28).

The Demoniac Boy

Three of the four gospels tell the account of a boy who was demon possessed (Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-42). Jesus cast the demon out of him.

After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, "He is dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand (Mark 9:26,27).

The Mute Man

Matthew records an account of a man healed from demon possession. This individual was both mute and demon-possessed (Matthew 9:32-34).

And when the demon was cast out, the mute man spoke: and the multitudes marveled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel (Matthew 9:33).

Mute, Blind, And Demon-Possessed

There is also the account of Jesus healing one demon-possessed who could not speak or see (Matthew 12:22-30; Mark 3:20-27; Luke 11:14-23).

Then they brought to Him a demoniac who was blind and mute; and He cured him, so that the one who had been mute could speak and see (Matthew 12:22).

This is the only specific New Testament example of a person who was blind, mute, and demon-possessed that was healed of all three ailments.

Slave Girl At Philippi

In the Book of Acts there is an account of a slave girl who was demon-possessed. The Apostle Paul cast the demon out of her.

But Paul, being very troubled, turned and said to the spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And it came out that very hour (Acts 16:18).

Conclusions About Demon Possession

From reading these accounts, as well as from other statements in the New Testament, we can make the following observations and conclusions about demon-possession.

1. Demon-Possession Does Occur

Demon possession is a fact - demonic spirits can take hold and control an individual. There are a number of specific examples of it occurring, as well as general statements about its reality.

2. Possession May Be Voluntary Or Involuntary

There is no indication that each individual who was demon-possessed asked for the demon to enter. Since demon-possession may be involuntary, any unbeliever can be possessed.

3. They Don't Necessarily Live Immoral Lives

Those who were possessed by demons were not all immoral people. Any unbeliever, whether they live a moral life or immoral life, can be possessed by a demon.

4. May Or May Not Be Permanent

Demon possession can be only temporary. It is possible for the demon to leave and then return.

5. Can Affect The Body

Those who are demon-possessed can have their body affected by the demon.

6. Can Also Affect The Mind

It is also possible for the mind to be affected by one demon-possessed.

7. There Can Be A Wide Variety Of Symptoms

There is not just one symptom of demon possession. We find a wide variety of symptoms of those who are possessed.

8. When Someone Is Delivered It Is Immediate

Finally, when deliverance from demon-possession does come, it is immediate. There are no long periods of waiting for the demon to come out.
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