Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen,What the Bible Says About Demons

 Tom Lowe
4-21-03

What the Bible Says About Demons


Text: “For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” (Mark 5:8)


Scripture Reading: Included in Sermon.

 

Introduction:

The subject of demons has run the gamut in peoples thinking.  Some people become obsessed with the study of demons, allowing their imaginations to run away with them.  They see demons everywhere.  Some become self-appointed exorcists and set about to rid their world of these emissaries of Satan.  They tend to assign everything evil to demonic activity. 

At the other extreme are those who deny the existence of demons, relegating them to ancient mythology or to an earlier time of ignorance and superstition. The ancient Greeks believed that demons were the souls of evil people who had died.  Others have believed that demons are the disembodied spirits of a race of people who existed before Adam and Eve were created.  The scriptures, however, make no mention of such a race. 

It is the general consensus of conservative preachers that demons are the angels who revolted with Satan.  Matthew 25:41 speaks about the “devil and his angels”: “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”  They are also referred to as “unclean spirits” in Mark 9:25, “When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit…”  While the King James Version of the Bible refers to them as “devils,” the proper translation of the Greek word is “demons.”  There is one devil but apparently many demons. 

Today, there are three subjects that I want to talk about:
1. The nature and activity of demons.
2. The phenomenon of demon possession.
3. The defense against demon power.

The Bible must always be the focus of our study of demons and of anything spiritual. We are going to use a lot of scripture and let the Bible make the case against demons. At the end, I hope we will better understand our enemy, and that we are aware of the weapons that are available to us to use to defeat Satan and his demons. 

The first subject that we will address is THE NATURE AND ACTIVITY OF DEMONS.

To begin with, demons do not appear to be omnipresent; each demon can be in only one place at any given moment.  Listen to how Mark described what happened when Jesus met a demon-possessed man. 

“Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes.  And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, 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.  And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.  When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.  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.”  For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” Then He asked him, “What is your name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”  Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country.  Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains.  So all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.”  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” (mark 5:1-13). 

This incident, where Jesus allowed the demons that had inhabited the wild man to enter the swine shows that demons can be confined and indicates their lack of omnipresence.  Although they posses a high degree of intelligence by virtue of their long existence and experience, they are not omniscient.  They are not like Christ; their power has limits, they can only be in one place at a time, and they don’t know all things.  You may want to know what happened to the demon-possessed man, so let me finish the story from Mark’s gospel. 

“So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened.  Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.  And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine.  Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region. And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him.  However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”  And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled” (Mark 5:14-20).

Demons are promoters of a system of doctrine, which opposes God’s word.  Paul wrote about that in his first letter to Timothy, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:1-3). 
Watch yourself.  Satan is at work spreading false doctrine, and his ministers are already in the church.  God’s servants must preach the truth and fight the devil’s lies. Declaring war on Satan and his evil servants may not make us popular, but it will keep us faithful.  The doctrines of demons; that is, those doctrines which teach the worship of saints and angels is present in our churches today, and it is one of the first steps toward the apostasy described in Revelations. 

Paganism is being revived today by those who teach the enshrining of the relics of martyrs and then paying honor to them, erecting altars, burning incense, consecrating images and temples, and making prayers and praises to the honor of departed saints.  How can they believe such things? Just like your finger is numb when it has been burned with a hot iron, so are their consciences numbed by the searing of sin. 

Forbidding marriage and the eating of certain foods are false teachings that are present today.  The Bible does not teach such drastic policies.  Forced celibacy is not scriptural. The Bible says “marriage” and “meats” were created by God and are not to be refused. 

The system of religion that is promoted by demons is based on works and denies the divinity of Christ. Demons are agents of destruction, particularly of the bodies and souls of men.  In Acts we are told, “For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed…” (Acts 8:7)  While Philip was in Samaria, he encountered many who were demon-possessed.  They were damaged physically and made miserable by the demons, and their souls were under Satan’s power.  Demons held them captive and made them blind to the things of God. 

And lastly, demons are promoters of delusion.  One of Satan’s basic plans is to deceive, and his emissaries, the demons, carry out that plan.  In Revelations we are told that he deceives the whole world, “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” (Revelations 12:9).  He was able to deceive one-third of the angels into following him in his rebellion against God, and now the objective of all his activities is to deceive the world into worshiping him. 

Just as God is concerned with the affairs of humanity and works for the well-being of His people, so also is Satan actively at work to undermine and foil the will of God in the lives of individuals and nations, and particularly to hinder the welfare of God’s people.

Now we have arrived at our second subject which is THE PHENOMENON OF DEMON POSSESSION.

Demon possession is a real phenomenon.  Jesus and His disciples confronted it, and so did other first century Christian leaders.  Nonetheless, not every expression of evil can be called demon possession.  There is enough evil in the heart of men and women everywhere to do most of the evil acts we see in the world today.  If it were not for the restraining power of the Holy Spirit there would be much more sin and suffering than there is. 

However, because believers are not their own but are bought with a price they are God’s property. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  The blessed fact that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit has two sides.  One side is that He is ours, and the other side is that we are His. 

The believer was purchased on Golgotha’s hill.  The price paid was the blood of God’s only Son.  We are to Glorify God in our bodies by using our bodies to show other men that we belong to God.  Remember, the body of a Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of God will never allow Satan or a demon to move in with Him. 

God is greater than Satan or his demons; therefore, neither Satan nor his demons can have ultimate victory over believers.  They may, however, influence and harass believers.  Satan would destroy every believer if he could.

n 1 Corinthians 5:5, there is the indication that a believer may be “delivered … to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”  It may be that God will deal with sin in a believer’s life by allowing the person to be afflicted in their body. 

That’s what happened to me in 1991, when I had my heart attack; it changed my life and brought me closer to God.  But when a believer suffers, his soul is never in danger.  No one, not Satan, and certainly not a demon, can snatch a soul from the hand of God.  Whatever relationship Satan and his demons may have to believers during this earthly life, it cannot be permanent or eternal.

The last topic to consider is THE DEFENSE AGAINST DEMON POWERS.

 It is never wise for Christians to dabble in the occult, even on a superficial or entertainment level.  God warned His ancient people about this.  “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead” (Deuteronomy 18:10-11). 

Although astrologers, palm and tarot card readers and other forms of the occult practiced over the years may not be taken very seriously, they still represent times in which satanic influence was openly recognized and even deferred to.  Even today there are Satan worshipers and cultic practitioners among us.  Some of the occult practices that are openly observed today are:
Spiritism: which is making contact with deceased or invisible personalities through spirit mediums or through trance channeling, which is a form of voluntary possession.
     Fortune telling: which uses a wide variety of methods and objects to give advice.

     Astrology: which is the ancient method of mapping celestial events by means of horoscopes.

     Numerology: which attaches special significance to numbers and uses those numbers to analyze character and to predict the future.

     Palm reading: which interprets the future by analyzing the lines on the palms of the hands?

     Tarot cards: which use special occultic symbols to predict the future.

     Automatic writing: in which the participant writes in a trance-like state without conscious control.

All these occultic practices are demonic in origin and prohibited by Scripture. Paul gives some practical advise on the subject when he says, “…do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27).  Satan waits for an opportunity to get his foot in the door.  Uncontrolled anger is an open door and an invitation for Satan to enter in to disrupt and corrupt the body.  He can only hurt and harm a person when he finds a place in someone’s life to do his evil work. 

You have been set free from the old life, so why live in those old sins anymore? Anything evil from the old life that is brought into the new life will give the devil a beachhead. Paul names such things as lying, losing your temper, stealing, corrupt speech, bitterness, and an unforgiving spirit. These sins invite Satan into your life, and they hurt you, and they harm the church, and they grieve the Spirit of God. Is it worth it?

Christians should always rely on the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit, acknowledging that, “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).  The Spirit of God dwells in you, and that Spirit is mightier than men or devils. 

Conclusion:

In the light of these facts about demons, every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ should be alert.  Peter wrote, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  Satan tempts believers to lie; he accuses and slanders them; he entices them toward sexual sin; he places obstacles in their path; he causes persecution; and he causes false-Christians to infiltrate among true Christians to promote confusion and division in the church.  The Christian’s defense involves being on guard, sober, vigilant, taking a stand against the devil and resisting him.  We should be careful to clothe ourselves with the whole armor of God.  “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:13-18). 

I like this poem, because it says about the same thing.  

“Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
Stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you,
You dare not trust your own.
Put on the gospel armor,
Each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger,
Be never wanting there.”

We should always recognize that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we should strive to keep ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually strong.
 
Paul wrote these words to the church at Rome, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). The believer is not to be fashioned after this world. The world we live in is an evil one, and it is dominated by “the god of this world.” The new creation in Christ is to live with the understanding that “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” We are therefore not to have our lives governed by the thought patterns and dictates of this evil world.

We are told in 2 Corinthians that we are to, “cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  In other words, we are to pull down the strongholds that sin has established in our minds by making every thought obedient to Christ. 

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).  Meditate on them with careful reflection, not casually and superficially, but constantly and logically. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Noble thinking produces noble living; high thinking produces high living; and holy thinking produces holy living. All these noble qualities were exemplified in Christ and are produced by the Holy Spirit.

If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior, you don’t need to fear demons, and through Christ you can be what you ought to be, do what you ought to do, and have what you ought to have, all to the glory of God.

Amen.

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