1 Sam. 16:14-16 π 1 Sam. 16:23 π 1 Sam. 18:10 π 1 Sam. 19:9 π 1 Ki. 22:21-24 π 2 Chr. 18:20-23 π 2 Chr. 21:16-17 π Job 1:12 π Job 2:6 π Isa. 19:14 π Isa. 29:10 π Jer. 51:11 π Hos. 4:12 π Hos. 5:4 π Mt. 8:16 π Mt. 8:26 π Mt. 8:28-34 π Mt. 10:1 π Mt. 10:8 π Mt. 12:36 π Mt. 12:43-45 π Mt. 17:18-21 π Mk. 5:1-20 π Mk. 9:17; 2nd π Mk. 9:25; 2nd π Mk. 16:17 π Lk. 4:39 π Lk. 4:41; 2nd π Lk. 8:26-39 π Lk. 13:11 π Jn. 5:19 π Jn. 5:34 π Jn. 7:6 π Jn. 8:32 π Jn. 8:44 π Jn. 14:30 π Acts 5:16 π Acts 8:7 π Acts 16:16 π Acts 16:17 π Acts 16:18 π Acts 19:12 π Rom. 8:15 π Rom. 11:8 π 1 Cor. 2:12 π 1 Cor. 5:4-5 π 1 Tim. 4:1 π 2 Tim. 1:7 π Jas. 2:19 π Jas. 2:20 π 1 Jn. 4:3 π 1 Jn. 4:6
With the exception of the devil himself, the spiritual hosts of wickedness - called demons and unclean or evil spirits in the Gospels - were the first Satanic entities with which Jesus had to contend. Throughout the Gospels, demons cause muteness, deafness, blindness, paralysis, epilepsy and other unspecified illnesses and torments. For the most part, Jesus commanded the demons to leave their victims with a word ( Mt. 8:16 ) though, on at least one occasion, prayer and fasting were required to command them to leave. ( Mt. 17:18-21 ) However, there is no difference indicated between rebuking or casting out the spirit and healing the victims of these demonic beings. Winds ( Mt. 8:26 ) and fevers ( Lk. 4:39; top ) also received similar rebukes and the winds ceased and the victims were healed.
One of the interesting facets of His encounters with demons was the way in which the demons tried to announce His identity. Luke records,
And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ. ( Lk. 4:41; top )
There are two reasons for this. First, Jesus did not need or want the testimony of men ( Jn. 5:34 ) who believed that any time one might choose to pronounce one’s self as God would be a good thing ( Jn. 7:6 ) - He certainly would not receive the testimony of the demons who opposed Him at every step. Allowing the demonic to push Him into the limelight would be to step outside the will of God for His life. Jesus steadfastly refused to do anything other than what He saw His Father doing. ( Jn. 5:19; top ) What bondage to the demonic such a step would have wrought in Jesus’ life can only be imagined. And second, it was a temptation to see His own deity as something separate from God. Only in unity with the Father could Jesus preserve His identity as the Son of God. Similarly, only as we abide in unity with Christ and God by His Spirit can we preserve our status and identity as sons of God. But let us note that even though the demonic had to flee at His command, using deception, they still attempted to sink their hooks into Him as they fled. In the end, however, Jesus was able to say to His disciples the night before He died,
...the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. ( Jn. 14:30; top )
We should note carefully that the demons did not consider it a problem to announce Jesus as the Son of God. ( Lk. 4:41 ) Nor did the demonic consider it a problem to announce Paul and his companions as:
...servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation. ( Acts 16:17; top )
The demons are not particularly affected even when we believe in the one God! James wrote:
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe - and tremble! ( Jas. 2:19; top )
James then goes on to say that faith (belief) without works is dead. ( Jas. 2:20; top ) The demonic’s strategy is simply to use deception to keep us in the realms of believing in God without actually obeying God. Let he who has ears hear.
Do we really think that today the demonic would hesitate to preach a deceptive, polluted version of the gospel using any of the pulpiteers they control? Those who claim to belong to Christ yet continue to look to the “church” “pastors” for the truth we need for life and godliness really need to wake up! The demonic will not hesitate to “evangelize” or “preach the gospel” if we are gullible or deceived enough to listen to them!
Jesus gave the authority to cast out demons to His disciples ( Mt. 10:1 ), commanded them to do so ( Mt. 10:8 ) and promised that casting out demons would be one of the signs that would accompany those who believe in Christ. ( Mk. 16:17 ) We see the apostles (especially Peter), the evangelist Philip and the apostle Paul recorded as casting out demons in the book of Acts. ( Acts 5:16 ; 8:7 ; 16:18 ; 19:12; top )
There are two practices regarding the casting out of demons in modern Christian circles that bear some examination. First, there are those who engage the demonic beings in conversation in order to secure information from the enemy, particularly the name of the demon. This is an extremely dangerous and unwise practice. Demons speak fluently in deceit because it is their native language. ( Jn. 8:44; top ) Is there some piece of information, including the demon’s name, that the demon knows while the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit of Christ and God who lives within our hearts, does not?
The only time Jesus asked for a demon’s name, He did not get a name by which to call the demon but a body count. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of demons within the man - and, when asked, they responded with the name Legion, a designation of Roman soldiers numbering three to six thousand foot soldiers plus cavalry. This legion of demons were cast out of the man and allowed to enter into a herd of pigs who promptly self-destructed by drowning themselves in a lake. (see Mt. 8:28-34 ; Mk. 5:1-20 ; Lk. 8:26-39; top ) There are simply too many ambiguities in these passages about the legion of demons within the man (or men!) to support the customary practice of needing to call out a demon by some name and there is certainly nothing there to support asking the demon for a truthful answer!
Beyond calling the demons unclean or evil spirits, the New Testament itself is very short on other names for demons. What the father of a boy called a mute spirit, Jesus cast it out of the boy calling it a deaf and dumb spirit. ( Mk. 9:17 , 25 ) Luke also speaks of a woman having a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years. ( Lk. 13:11 ) The slave girl who announced Paul and those with him as servants of the Most High God was said to have a spirit of divination. ( Acts 16:16 ) Paul writes of a spirit of bondage to fear ( Rom. 8:15 ), of a spirit of fear ( 2 Tim. 1:7 ) and of the spirit of the world (though this one is not a reference to a demonic entity but to the worldly mindset toward disobedience - 1 Cor. 2:12 ) Quoting from Isaiah, Paul also speaks of a spirit of stupor or deep sleep. ( Rom. 11:8 ; Isa. 29:10 ) He also warns of deceiving spirits in the last days. ( 1 Tim. 4:1 ) And John writes of the spirit of Antichrist ( 1 Jn. 4:3 ) and of the spirit of error. ( 1 Jn. 4:6; top ) These are all the Satanic spirits given a specific name in the New Testament - and, as we will see, casting them out by verbal command is not the cure to be rid of most of them.
The Old Testament, aside from two references to specific principalities (which we have already seen -
2 Chr. 21:16-17
) and two references to one of the rulers of darkness we will study later (
), gives no names at all of Satanic or demonic beings. In fact, distressing spirits, lying spirits and even a perverse spirit are said to be from God and not Satan. (see
1 Sam. 16:14-16
1 Ki. 22:21-24
2 Chr. 18:20-23
Isa. 19:14; top
) Of course, by labeling these evil spirits as being from the
We must recognize too, though, there can be a legitimate labeling of demonic spirits. When the father of the boy called the demon a mute spirit, Jesus, whom we know was led by the Holy Spirit, referred to it as a deaf and dumb spirit. ( Mk. 9:17 , 25; top ) If the Holy Spirit - the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of truth - gives us a label to use on a particular demonic entity, we are quite correct and safe in using that label for the purpose the Lord intends. But if we apply the label on the basis of our own observations or reasonings or, worse, at the leading of a deceiving spirit, we are only bringing trouble upon ourselves.
The second unwise practice regarding the demonic in modern Christian circles that we need to be wary of is based in the belief that casting out the evil spirit is all that needs to be done. Many who “specialize” in “deliverance ministries” routinely advise those so delivered to submit themselves to people, systems and organizations dominated by the rulers of darkness! If these people succumb to the slow, numbing work of these lords of darkness, the last condition of those people will be worse than the first! (see Mt. 12:43-45 ) If we cast a demon out of someone and then direct them to people or places that do not point them to the truth that will finish their liberation from demonic control ( Jn. 8:32 ), the loss of that soul will also be held to our account. ( Mt. 12:36; top )
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