Demons and Their Abilities as Described in the Bible
Chapter 6 – Demons and their Abilities as Described in the Bible
As we have covered, the Bible teaches that today Christians are in a battle against demons, the second wave of fallen angels, and their leader, the fallen angel Satan. We are going to take a look at demons in the Bible, and the abilities demonstrated by demons, to better understand what activities demons are engaged in today.
We have covered that most likely demons are the disembodied spirits of the dead giants (Nephilim) who lived before the flood, and their paternal descendents. In the Bible demons are referred to as the spirits of the dead. In the Old Testament God forbids people to practice communication with spirits of the dead, or to be familiar with these demons, and such is associated with magical practices. Demons also are credited as being intimately involved with the practice of idolatry, which is also forbidden.
Usually when people think of demons they think of the concept of “demon possession”. The term “possession” comes from the KJV translation of the word “ daimonizomai”. This word is a verb that means, “to be under the power of a demon” (Thayer’s Lexicon). This word does not necessarily mean “to have a demon inside of your body”. Most literally this verb means “to be demoned” or “to be demoning”. Probably the best English translation would be, “to be demonized”. The concept of the person being “possessed” does not come from the Greek word “ daimonizomai” which would better be translated as “demonized”. Rather, the concept of “possession” comes from the context of the stories recorded about demons.
Jesus repeatedly told demons to “come out” of people, and the Bible records that Jesus “cast out” demons, and these terms are accurate.
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 sick. Matt 8:16
And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him. Matt 1:25-26
When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Mark 9:25
There are several stories about demonized people who seemed to be completely controlled by demons, which is the traditional view of “possession”. But on the other hand, there are stories in which the demonized person seemed to be functioning to some normal extent, at least some of the time. As such it seems that there are different levels of demonization that are possible. There are also stories in which many people were healed by having demons cast out, but it is not specified how much each of those people were controlled by demons. Overall the Bible seems to record some of the worst cases of demonization in the most detail.
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. 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. Mark 5:1-15
And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!” For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness. Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned. When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. They also who whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned. Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:27-39
In this story the demonized man seems to be under full control of the many demons in him. The demons are described to have caused symptoms of insanity, unusual or supernatural strength, self-mutilation or self-harm, self-isolation, inability to be reached by other people who tried to help him, and a seeming total loss of being capable of being “in his right mind”. The demons caused him to not wear any clothes, also making him do some things that would be considered shameful, or degrading, and abnormal. The demons caused him to live among the tombs, something which was considered abnormal, but also unclean. The demons knew who Jesus was, that He was the Son of God, and they seemed afraid of Him.
The number of demons that were in this one man are specified to have been able to fill a herd of about 2000 pigs. When the demons entered the pigs, they caused the pigs to all die by drowning themselves. If demons are the disembodied spirit of the dead Nephilim, then it is possible or likely that some of them died by drowning in the Flood. If nothing else, they were witnesses to the Flood. Taking that into consideration, it seems like there might have been more than a surface-level meaning to them causing all of these pigs to drown… like perhaps they were making a statement, in some bitter reference to their past.
In another story, a demon had repeatedly tried to drown a boy, and throw him into a fire, in order to kill him. Demons many times seem to have a suicidal bent.
Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.” He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.”
Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:17-29
In this case a single demon was causing seizures, convulsions, foaming at the mouth, gnashing of teeth, rigidity, and throwing the boy into the water, or into fire, to try to kill him. The spirit also made the boy to be deaf and mute. In this case the demon is of a kind that only comes out by prayer and fasting. In both of these cases of heavy demonization, Jesus commanded the demons to come out and they obeyed.
In another case of demonization, in the Old Testament, it becomes clear that demons can enter and leave people repeatedly. This has the effect of the person temporarily acting demonized, and at other times acting normal.
But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee. Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well. And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me. Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him. Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep. And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul. And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer. And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favour in my sight. And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him. 1 Sam 16:14-23
In this case of Saul, God allowed an evil spirit to go ahead and trouble Saul. Sometimes the demon would trouble Saul, and other times it would depart from him. This shows that demons can come and leave repeatedly, in some situations. Saul was still able to speak, and function even though he was demonized. Though demonized, Saul was able to speak with his servants, send out messengers to bring David, and was not mute, deaf, or completely overcome to the point the demon spoke through him, like in some cases of demonization in the New Testament.
And so this shows that a person can have a problem with demonization that is of a lighter level, in which the demon does not have full control, or the demon is only present and active some of the time. When the demon is not present the demonized person may act normally, or even have partial-control while the demon is present and active. This kind of case is what is more commonly referred to today as the concept of “demonic oppression”. Though just as spiritually serious, this is a lighter level of demonic control than in the concept of “demonic possession”.
There are many cases mentioned in the Bible in which details are not supplied as to the level of demonization the person was experiencing.
And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with diverse diseases and torments, and those which were demonized, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. Matt 4:24
When the evening was come, they brought unto him many that were demonized: and he cast out the spirits with [his] word, and healed all that were sick. Matt 8:16
And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were demonized. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were sick of diverse diseases, and cast out many demons; and suffered not the demons to speak, because they knew him. Mark 1:32-34
It is possible to understand from these verses that many people were demonized, and it was common. It can also be gathered from Mark 1 that in many cases the demons were in enough control to be able to speak through the demonized person. It was also obvious that the people of that village had an idea of who in the village was demonized, as they brought those particular people to Jesus for healing. Same as in the case of the Legion of demons, it seems that many of the demons also did identify Jesus as the Son of God publicly, which is why Jesus did not permit the demons to speak. This is likely because it was more damaging than helpful, and even confusing to the Gospel message, for a known demonized person to be declaring Jesus Christ to be the Son of God. It might have thrown some doubt into people’s minds about Jesus as to which side He was on, that the demons knew Him.
Also, demons also seemed to be able to identify Christians who were servants of God, and those people who were not.
” It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.” Acts 16:16-19
In this case the demon did not cause deafness, or muteness, or self-harm to the girl who was demonized, but rather worked magical practices through her of telling fortunes. (Note that t here is nothing here that verifies that this demon could predict the future, or that the fortune-telling of this girl was any different in vagueness and accuracy than fortune-tellers today.) As in other cases in which the demons knew who Jesus was, in this case the demon knew the truth, that the Christians were working for God to lead people to salvation. But in this case, the girl is the only one who is specified to have been speaking, not the demon. The demon seems to have communicated this information to the girl, and was influencing her to advertise the information. Nothing indicates that the girl was afflicted to the extent of the cases of those who were heavily demonized. She does not seem to have been under total control of the demon, but was influenced by the demon, so this seems more a case of “demonic oppression”. In this type of “demonic oppression” she seemed to have a symbiotic relationship with the demon by choice, in order to receive information from the demon. This is a clear case of what the Old Testament refers to in magical practices:
“A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood [shall be] upon them.” Lev 20:27
“When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you [any one] that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, [or] that useth divination, [or] an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things [are] an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.” Deut 18:9-12
According to the Strong’s Concordance, the word for “familiar spirit” means “ghost, spirit of a dead one, necromancy, one who evokes a dead one, one with a familiar spirit”. If one considers that demons are actually the spirits of the dead giants (Nephilim), then it makes a lot of sense that it is demons who are being referenced to here as the “ghost, spirit of a dead one”. And it is forbidden for God’s people to “evoke the spirit of a dead one”, or to have anything to do with a demon, let alone to become familiar, gain familiarity, with one. The term here for “wizard” is “one who has a familiar spirit” and “necromancer”. The term “necromancer” is also used, and all of these are synonymous terms, which all refer to having a relationship with a demon. This is what the fortune-telling girl in Acts was doing, she had a relationship with a familiar demon spirit, and that demon gave her information that made her seem to have magical knowledge.
It is important to note how Christians handled the situation. In the Old Testament God said that any Israelites that had a familiar spirit, a relationship with a demon that seemed magical, were to be stoned. But in the New Testament, Paul simply cast the demon out of the girl who had been irritating them by following them around. This would have freed her to consider what it meant that “ These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved ” without any demonic influence on her mind. And she also had to consider that Paul, who believed the Gospel that he was preaching, had power with him; power that was stronger than the demonic power she was familiar with, enough to force the demon to leave her. This slave-girl seemed to have gotten into this relationship with a demon in order to gain the supernatural power of the information it revealed to her, so she could tell people’s fortunes. But she came face-to-face with a greater supernatural power, the power of God found in those who accepted the Gospel, which was more powerful than the demon she had known. Hopefully this helped her to rethink what she had been doing, the Gospel she had heard Paul preaching, and look to God as the greatest power, though the Bible does not specify. But casting the demon out of her definitely gave her back the ability to think things through without a demon influencing her decisions. While she was saying, “ These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved”, she herself didn’t seem to really believe it, but was saying this under the influence of the demon. The demon knew this was true, and influenced her to say this, but she was in a much better position to choose to believe it herself once the demon was no longer present to influence her.
There is another case in which a demonized man, who seemed to be at the “possession” level, had a demon which knew who Jesus Christ was, and who Paul was. The demon seemed to know who was a Christian and actually had the authority to cast him out of the man, and who was not a Christian and did not have the authority that Jesus Christ gives to all believers in Him.
Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of [one] Sceva, a Jew, [and] chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. Acts 19:13-16
In this case the demon was aware of who was a Christian with the authority to cast him out, and who was not. In this case the demon seemed to cause the demonized man to have such great strength that he overcame 7 men and they fled out of the house naked and wounded. Like in the case of Legion, in which the demonized man broke chains he was bound with, in this case also the demonized man had great strength. But in this case, the demonized man seemed to only have 1 demon, and not thousands of them. This indicates that what demons can do in affecting a demonized person is not dependent on their numbers, but rather that what demons are, inherently allows them to have certain abilities and ways that they can affect a person.
Another thing that demons seem to cause is symptoms of paranoia.
Jesus said, “Did not Moses give you the law, and [yet] none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?” “The people answered and said, Thou hast a demon: who goeth about to kill thee?” John 7:20-21
In this case Jesus said openly that people were trying to kill him, and the people around him responded by saying he “had a demon”. If a man walked around today saying people were trying to kill him, were out to get him, a normal response would be for people to say he was “paranoid” or “crazy”. What few people would think to say to him is “you have a demon”. Yet in the days of Jesus, it seems that paranoia was synonymous with having a demon. Other than seeming paranoid to some people, Jesus was also obviously functioning normally in other ways. This shows that people back then understood that a person who was demonized did not necessarily have to be under the full control of a demon, but just could be partially under the influence of one. That is how, even though Jesus seemed generally fine, a single paranoid-seeming comment led them to say he had a demon. People back then were aware that demonization was not always a case of a demon having full-blown control over a person. So the Bible teaches there are various levels of demonization possible, and also that paranoia can be caused by demons.
This is along the same lines as demons causing insanity, and Jesus was also accused of being insane and having a demon. “Many of them were saying, “He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?” (John 10:20) As some people thought Jesus was insane, they thought he had a demon. This is like the man demonized by “Legion”, whose behavior while demonized was insane. But again there is a varying degree of levels here. Jesus was obviously functioning like a normal sane person, yet because of some things he said or did he was thought to be insane and therefore have a demon. But in the case of Legion, the man was obviously totally completely insane to a maximum degree. So the Bible teaches that a demon can cause a little insanity or a lot of insanity, and it can vary with the level of demonization.
In either case, the way to solve the problem is to cast the demon out, as the man with the “Legion” of demons greatly changed after Jesus cast the demons out of him.
“Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind : and they were afraid. Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demonized man had been healed.” After the demons had left the man, he was healed to again be in his “right mind”. And the same solution is found in cases of physical affects of a demon, “Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed.” Luke 11:14-15
The Bible describes many variations that are possible with Demonization:
1. A person can be under total control of a demon (“possession”), or only influenced by a demon (“oppression”)
2. A demon can come in or leave a demonized person at will (like Saul).
3. Those influenced by a demon (“oppressed”) can find this to be more involuntary and tormenting (like Saul, or the case of Legion) or this can be a more voluntary symbiotic relationship (like the slave-girl in Acts, or in other cases of familiar spirits, necromancy, wizardry, any relationship with these “dead” spirits.)
4. A demon can cause a demonized person to physically experience: muteness, deafness, seizures, various ailments, and cause great strength.
5. A demon can cause a demonized person to mentally experience: insanity, being out of their right mind, paranoia, self-harming behavior, suicidal behavior, self-degrading behavior, and self-isolation.
6. A demon can somehow tell if the Holy Spirit is present, knowing those who are Christian believers with the authority to cast them out, and knowing who Jesus Christ is. A demon can share this information with the demonized person.
7. A demon can also share other information with a demonized person, someone who is choosing to have a magical relationship with the demon, to tell fortunes and the like.
How does Demonization work?
A human being is composed of several parts: a body, a spirit which gives life to their body, and their soul which is thought to be made of the heart, the will, and the mind. Jesus spoke of some of these parts in Mark 12:30,
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment.
These are the parts of person which can actively love God, with which a person has a choice to love God with, or not. The soul is usually thought to be composed of the “mind, will, and emotions”, which correspond in this verse to the “mind, strength, and heart”, respectively.
When people think of “demon possession” they often assume that it is the body of the person that the demon enters, and is cast out of. However, this really doesn’t make much sense. A demon is an immortal disembodied spirit. If a demon could directly enter a body, then why don’t they enter dead bodies and bring them back to life, possessing them? As much evil as they do, it seems the reason that demons don’t possess dead bodies is because they can’t. And in this it is obvious that it is not the body of a person that is being possessed by the demon in the first place, as the demon cannot enter unless the person is alive.
As we covered in a previous chapter, God made Adam’s body, then breathed the spirit (breath of life) into Adam, and only once Adam had both a body and a spirit did he become a “living soul”. (Gen 2:7) A person already has a spirit, and a demon is a spirit. In the spiritual realm it seems like a demon spirit could no more enter a human’s spirit than one solid object could enter another solid object. Like two balls on a pool table, it seems 2 spirits would collide and bounce off each other, each having their defined solidity and separateness. And so if spirits remain separately defined in the spiritual realm, then a demon cannot enter a person’s spirit. And a demon spirit does not enter the body directly, as demons cannot enter into dead bodies. Therefore one possibility remains, which is that the demon must actually enter in and go out of the “living soul” of a person. Far more than just a body, God considers people to primarily be living souls, as “man became a living soul”. And so it is the living soul of a person that the demon comes in or goes out of, which is the person’s mind, will (or strength) and emotions (or heart).
And fear not them which kill the body , but are not able to kill the soul : but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matt 10:28
According to the Bible, a person is not primarily a body which happens to have a living soul, but rather a person is primarily a living soul which happens to have a body. Understanding that God considers a man to primarily be a living soul, it makes sense, and there is no contradiction when the Bible speaks of demons being in a man or coming out of a man. This is because Biblically a man (male or female) is primarily a “living soul”, and this “living soul” is the person who the demon is going in or out of.
A demon enters into the mind, heart, or will of a person (a living soul) and through the mind, thoughts, heart, emotions, and will of a person, the demon is able to act out the symptoms of demonization. When it comes to communication with a familiar spirit, the demon interacts directly with the person’s mind and thoughts, from the inside of the mind. When it comes to insanity, the demon causes insanity from in the person’s mind. This is easier to understand than what the demon does in causing physical ailments. When it comes to more bodily symptoms, somehow the demon uses a person’s will, from the inside of the will, to affect the body. Somehow in taking over the will of a person, a demon can cause supernatural ailments like deafness, muteness, seizures, or great strength. Deafness, muteness and seizures do not seem to be quite as supernatural as great strength. It’s easier to understand a demon might be able to cause someone to not talk, or to have a seizure simply by a manipulation of the person’s sheer willpower. It is more difficult to understand how a demon can cause great strength through manipulation of a person’s sheer willpower. However, the human body is capable of feats of great strength if a person has an adrenaline rush. A demon causing great strength may stem from the demon manipulating a person’s willpower, thoughts, and emotions, to affect the person’s body to have a large adrenaline rush, allowing great strength for a time.
Here is an excerpt from “How Can Adrenaline Help You Lift a 3,500 Pound Car?” by Josh Clark of HowStuffWorks.com
In 1982, in Lawrenceville, Ga., Angela Cavallo lifted a 1964 Chevrolet Impala from her son, Tony, after it fell off the jacks that had held it up while he worked underneath the car. Mrs. Cavallo lifted the car high enough and long enough for two neighbors to replace the jacks and pull Tony from beneath the car.
Marie “Bootsy” Payton was cutting her lawn in High Island, Texas, when her riding mower got away from her. Payton’s young granddaughter, Evie, tried to stop the mower, but was knocked underneath the still-running machine. Payton reached the mower and easily tossed it off her granddaughter, limiting Evie’s injuries to four severed toes. Curious, Payton later tried to lift the mower again and found she couldn’t move it.
What accounts for feats of superhuman strength like these? Are they glimpses into the lives of superheroes’ alter egos? Or are all of us imbued with amazing strength?
Although well-documented when they do occur, feats of hysterical strength — unnatural and amazing strength tapped during high-stress situations — are not recognized by medical science. This is largely due to the problem of gathering evidence: Instances like these come about without warning, and to reproduce these situations in a clinical setting would be unethical and dangerous. But we are aware of the effects of adrenaline, a hormone shown to increase strength to amazing degrees for short periods of time.”
Through manipulating the mind, emotions, and will of a person so that they have a large adrenaline rush, a demon might be able to cause the demonized person to break chains, or be able to fight against 7 men and prevail.
It also might be difficult to understand how a demon could cause deafness, using the mind, will, or emotions of a person. But something which fits this description still exists, and might be what is referred to today as “psychogenic deafness”.
“ Hearing loss or impairment caused by a mental or emotional disorder or trauma and having no evidence of an organic cause.” – American Heritage Medical Dictionary
Altogether it is conceivable that demons work through the mind, will, and emotions of a demonized person to be able to produce bodily ailments, as well as the mental or psychological ailments like insanity, paranoia, and associated insane behavior.
Then there is a demonized person who has the sort of relationship that may fit the description of having a familiar spirit, wizardry, fortune-telling, necromancy and other magical practices. How does a demon cause a demonized person to seem to have magical, or psychic, powers?
“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”
Also Jesus says in, “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” Matt 12:43-45
One thing we can learn from these verses is that demons can communicate with each other while outside of a person. This is seen in that 1 demon can communicate with 7 more demons while outside of any person, and convince them to come back with him to the person it left.
We also have covered that a demon can choose to leave and return to a demonized person when it wants to. If a person seems to be revealing psychic knowledge that they could not have known about another person, in fortune telling, this may be part of how it works. The demon may leave the demonized person and talk to other demons, or even go into the person asking for a psychic reading, in order to gather information. Then the demon goes back into the demonized psychic, and relays the information. Presto, it’s “magic”. But actually, it’s just demons, and this sort of magic is simply demons doing things demons can do.
Along these lines, it is important to note that demons are immortal spirits, who have been around since the flood. It is therefore easy for a demon to potentially talk to other demons who might have known or demonized relatives of a person, even dead relatives. It’s also possible that the same demon who is demonizing a person might have also demonized their grandparent, etc. In this way demons can know private or personal information about people who are dead. And a demon can relay that information to a demonized person who “talks to the dead”, that in turn may amaze an audience by relaying information that only a dead relative would know. But in fact, not only the dead relative, but also a demon who knew the dead relative, could know this information. In fact a demonized psychic of this sort is not speaking to the ghost of a dead relative for information, but rather is speaking to a demon who has gathered information about the dead relative.
Besides impersonating dead relatives, demons also will claim to be famous people from history, gods, aliens, etc. It may be this is how idol worship came about: demons claimed to be gods, and influenced people to depict how they claimed to look in the form of an idol.
“What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.” 1 Cor 10:19-21
In any case, the Bible specifies that people actually worshipped demons when they worshipped idols. But it may be that demons communicated to demonized people with familiar spirits, claimed to be gods, and influenced people to start making idols and worshipping them. It would make some sense that demons, lacking and missing a body, might have seen this as a way to have a bodily representation, by the contrived body of an idol.
Can demons do all the things that fallen angels can do?
Fallen angels have something along the lines of a spirit body, but demons are bodiless spirits. Demons used to have mortal physical bodies, and those mortal bodies died before the Flood.
This seems to be a key difference between what fallen angels can do and what demons can do. The spirit bodies and potential physical presence of fallen angels seems to allow for them to do many things which are described in the Bible, like causing false dreams and Visions, and even appearing physically as men. But the Bible never describes demons being able to do these things, but rather only describes demons working through people or animals. The Bible does not describe demons causing dreams or Visions. Though it seems as dreams are a matter of the mind, that demons may be able to cause dreams. But demons cannot physically manifest, and only work through a living soul. (A demon could not move a chair, bend a spoon, cause a mass sighting of a UFO, or multiple people to see a ghost, sit on someone putting pressure on their chest, leave Bigfoot tracks on the ground, etc.) A demon can only have a physical presence by getting in a living soul and then gaining control over an animal or person. Then a demon could move a chair, bend a spoon, etc., by causing a demonized person or animal’s body to manually physically do such things. A demon can affect a person’s body only from the inside out, working through their mind, will, and emotions (living soul). So the answer is No, a demon cannot do all the things that a fallen angel can do. They cannot manifest physically in a bodily form, and they cannot cause Visions, though they may be able to cause dreams in a demonized person.
How does a person become demonized?
It is difficult to say with certainty, as some cases are more voluntary than others. But in cases in which the demonization seems more involuntary, the Bible does seem to describe what happens.
Luke 11:20-26, “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you. “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils. He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters. When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”
One interesting thing to note in this passage is that the demon considers the house to be his, in saying “my house”. There are a couple different ways to interpret this passage, but let’s define the strong man as a person who is guarded against demonization. And let’s say the demon is the attacker, and once a demon has prevailed, he considers the house to be his. The person has armor that they depend on to keep them safe, and have to keep a guard up. But if a demon is stronger than their armor, the demon might come in and overpower the person, and they become demonized. Then the demon will try to take away the armor of the demonized man, and divide up the possessions of the demonized man. Also, the demon may divide up the task of demonizing the man, by going and getting 7 more demons to join him in inhabiting that man.
So how does the demon overpower the man who is guarded with armor, and get into his house? The Bible does give some indication of how demonization begins.
“ Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.” Eph 4:26-27
The word here for “give” means to “give or grant” as a voluntary gift. The word for “place” here means a room (like in a house) or a habited space. The word here for “neither” has the distinct implication of “those which are of the same kind or which are part of one whole”.
What this means is that if you are angry and sin because of it, or let a new day begin while still angry, then in this you are also choosing to give space, a room, to the devil, or his demons. People may not realize it when they do this, but these actions are all parts of one whole. And in this people give a room to the devil, and a room could be in a person’s house, and it could be a demon that works for Satan who goes into that room, and stays there. This is a description of how demonization can begin. And this describes that in being angry and sinning, staying angry, a person actually in this is choosing to open up the door of their house, forsake their guard and armor, and give a demon room for entry. And once a demon gets inside, overpowering the person who has let their guard down, then that demon will try to take away all their armor, take their possessions, and will come to consider the house to be their own, as Jesus described.
Anger is just one example used here of how this happens, but is it the only thing that could allow a demon entry? Anger (or wrath) is mentioned as a “work of the flesh”, and it seems likely that any work of the flesh, in which sin takes place, or is held on to over time, may also give room to a demon.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal 5:19-21
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: Col 3:5
And Eph 4 from above continues, Eph 4:28-32
Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with [his] hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
So it seems like there are many sinful things, works of the flesh, which are listed along with anger, and these also may give demons room. This may be another meaning of the verse, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Gal 6:8
If a person is sinning, whether by committing a sin in anger, or adultery or idolatry etc, or holding onto sinful things inside like anger, bitterness, hatred, etc. this is what opens a door up for demons to gain entry, get a room, and oppress someone. This seems to be true whether the person is not a Christian, or is a Christian.
It is important to note that Eph 4 “ neither give place to the devil ” was not directed at the unsaved, but directed at Christians. Though if this is how demons gain entry, the process would seem to be the same for everyone, Christian or not. When Jesus spoke of a strong man guarding his house with armor, this also seems to be directed at everyone, including Christians. The armor here may refer to choosing to not sin, though everyone does at times to some extent.
However, Jesus also said, “ He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters”. The best protection and armor against demons getting into your house, is to be with Jesus Christ and to accept Him as your Lord and Savior. Next, have on the full armor of God (Eph 6), and be guarding your house against invasion, and be walking in the Spirit and sowing to the Spirit, not the flesh.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Gal 5:22-23
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 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, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel
A Christian can be oppressed by demons, though the demonization reaching the level of possession seems unlikely because a Christian has the armor of God to at least some extent. And a Christian also has the authority to cast a demon out, should any break through their guard. Another guard against demonization in a Christian is to pray daily, confessing their sins, and asking for forgiveness of sins and cleansing from all unrighteousness.
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 Jn 1:5-10
Additionally, the Holy Spirit is inside the heart of a born-again Christian (Gal 4:6), and there is a circumcision of the person’s heart by the Holy Spirit (Rom 2:29). God writes his laws upon the Christian’s heart, and their mind. (Heb 10:16-17). In this, the heart, and the mind to some extent, of a born-again Christian are different and changed from those of an unsaved person. And the peace of God, a fruit of the Holy Spirit, guards the heart and mind of a Christian.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phl 4:7
In all this, it seems all the more difficult for a Christian to reach a “possession” level of demonization, even though Eph 4 indicates that “oppression” is possible.
A Christian under demonic oppression has all the authority they need, in the power of Jesus Christ, and the power of God through the Holy Spirit of Jesus, to command a demon to get out and stay out, and refuse to let the demon influence them any longer. But the Christian person must choose this by his or her own free will. God does not violate our free will, and the Christian must choose of their free will to kick the demon out of their self, and to repent of whatever sinful work of the flesh opened the door to let the demon get in their house in the first place.
It is arguable that most of the demons in a person do automatically flee a person when or after they become a Christian, without being cast out, as part of the process of repentance and healing. “Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
Yet I think stragglers are possible. There may be generational curses, the result of sins of ancestors going back to the immediate 3rd or 4th generations (Ex 20:5). These curses can be broken by Jesus Christ, and demons associated with them may flee or be cast out. There also may be demons that specialize in harassing or tempting a person in areas of sin they have strong problems with, like certain addictions. In this a demon may have taken over a room in the house, fortifying it, and the battle to regain the space could be more difficult. This concept of a fortified area is seen the Biblical term “strong hold”. But there is hope,
For though we walk in flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 2 Cor 10:3-5
The weapons of our warfare are mighty to pull down strongholds, and our most prominent weapon is the Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit, the Scriptures, the Bible. This is very fitting with the second meaning of a “strong hold”, which is, “of the arguments and reasonings by which a disputant endeavours to fortify his opinion and defend it against his opponent”. Often the battle with demonic oppression is in the mind, and the best weapon to use against excuses and false reasoning which hold onto sin, is with the Word of God. And also we have the authority Jesus Christ gave believers in Him to cast out demons. Praise Jesus!
So this cleaning house can be a gradual process for the new Christian, but also as the Christian repents of more sin, and asks for forgiveness, and draws near to God, demons may flee, without having to be cast out.
Does this mean that any sinful thought, feeling, or action a person has is caused by a demon?
No, the sinful nature and the flesh, and a person’s own heart and mind, are all potential sources of sinful thoughts, feelings, desires, and actions. These are plenty enough to put a person into internal conflict, without any demonization being involved.
I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. Gal 5:16-17
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Rom 7:14-25, 8:1-14
Demonization is more likely to be present where there seems to be symptoms of demonization, for instance: a loss of a person being in their “right mind”, symptoms of insanity (to a lesser or greater degree), habitual or repetitive sin like sinful addictions, or self-perception of a loss of self-control.
And temptations also can come from the flesh and sinful nature, even in Christians, without a demon being the cause.
Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, [even] as Christ Jesus. Gal 4:13-14
From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. James 4:1-10
If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Eph 4:21-24
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified… No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Cor 9:24-27, 10:13
Jesus Christ gives Christians the ability to learn to walk in and according to the Spirit, in a process of sanctification, and through His power to overcome our flesh, sinful nature, and temptations, having been given a new nature in Him.
Ultimately, we Christians and our bodies belong to God. A demon cannot “own” or “possess” us, as truly we are owned or possessed by God, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. The Bible says in 1 Cor 6:19-20, ” What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Christians are owned by God, and demons will be evicted by the true owner, Jesus Christ.
The people to be truly concerned about when it comes to demonization are those who are not Christians, who do not have the armor of God, nor the Holy Spirit, and do not have the authority to cast out demons in Jesus Christ’s name. People today may fair no better than the demonized people in the New Testament, who Jesus helped and healed by casting demons out of them. If sin leads to oppression, once they have reached an “oppressed” level of demonization, they are more at risk for reaching the “possessed” level. Jesus and His disciples cast out demons many times in the New Testament. Jesus and His disciples were the Deliverance ministers and exorcists at that time, helping people who were demonized by casting out the demons. Jesus said those who believed in Him would also cast out demons.
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” Mark 16:16-18
There is no doubt that driving out demons is just as valid a Christian ministry today as it ever was. It is a needed ministry, needed by the hurting people who are demonized today. Jesus wants the church today, the body of Christ, to practice deliverance ministry, as He did, and help these people.