Demon, Demons and Demonic Possession

Demons and Demonic Possession

DEMONS – another name for fallen angels who joined the kingdom of Satan in rebellion against God. Satan is called the Prince, or Ruler, of all demons in Matthew 9:34; 12:24; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15. Demons are also called the ministers, or ambassadors of Satan, Luke 4:35; 9:1,42; John 10:21. Satan is brilliant, an administrative genius. He has an excellent organization, mentioned in Eph. 6:10-12.

Demons and Demonic Possession Videos and Facts

In religion and mythology, occultism and folklore, a demon (or daemon, daimon) is a supernatural being that is generally described as a malevolent spirit; however, the original neutral connotation of the Greek word daimon does not carry the negative one that was later projected onto it, as Christianity spread. "Demon" is originally a Greek term which meant a wise, guardian spirit. Many of the ancient religions worshiped demons as gods or goddesses, hence the reason of their former positive view.

In Scripture and in theology this word has come to mean much the same as devil and denotes one of the evil spirits or fallen angels. And in fact in some places in the New Testament where the Vulgate, in agreement with the Greek, has daemonium, our vernacular versions read devil. Demon is often confused with devil as both qualify the evil spirits or fallen angels. The precise distinction between the two terms in ecclesiastical usage may be seen in the phrase used in the decree of the Fourth Lateran Council: "Diabolus enim et alii daemones" (The devil and the other demons), i.e. all are demons, and the chief of the demons is called the devil, also found in Matthew 25:41, "the Devil and his angels". This distinction is observed in the Vulgate New Testament, where diabolus represents the Greek diabolos and in almost every instance refers to Satan himself, while his subordinate angels are described, in accordance with the Greek, as daemones or daemonia. This must not be taken, however, to indicate a difference of nature; for Satan is clearly included among the daemones in James 2:19 and in Luke 11:15-18.

In Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the derived Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an "unclean spirit" which may cause demonic possession, to be addressed with an act of exorcism. In Western occultism and Renaissance magic, a demon is considered a spiritual entity that may be conjured and controlled. People who conjure demons through channeling, by games (ouija board), or invocations, will often themselves be possessed or hurt by the same demonic spirit they conjured. Demons are fallen angels under the command of Satan.

Demons are found in the New Testament as being able to possess people (Matt. 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-4) and animals (Matt. 8:32). They are very strong (Mark 5:4). They are also called unclean spirits (Luke 8:29), seem to have a hierarchy of rulership in their demonic realm (Matt. 12:24-27), and can have sacrifices offered to them (1 Cor. 10:20). Also, they will be judged in the future (Matt. 8:29). They cannot be redeemed. These beings, because of pride, did not return God’s love. God did not destroy them, but permits them a limited scope of activity. Their condition is permanent for no creature can turn away from the perfect good of the beatific vision once he has come to enjoy it, and no additional reflection could change the mind of a purely spiritual being who has turned away.

"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" – Ephesians 6:12.

Paul recognized demonic forces and referred to them as principalities (Rom. 8:38) and said that we struggle against them (Eph. 6:11-12). He speaks of them in the heavenly places, but this does not mean heaven where God is, but the upper area above the earth.

Origin

Demons

The New Testament speaks of the fall and later imprisonment of a group of angels (I Peter 3:19, 20; II Peter 2:4; Jude 6). The group that participated in the fall apparently followed one of their own number, Satan. The fall occurred before God’s creation of the world. In retaliatory hatred for God, Satan and his angels tirelessly seek to contaminate the human race with wickedness (Genesis 3; Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:9). One of the demons’ principal ploys is to deceive people through false religion or deceptive miracles and thereby blind people to spiritual truth (2 Corinthians 4:4; Acts 26:18; 2 Corinthians 11:14; 2 Thess. 2:9, 10; Revelation 16:14; 20:10).

A symbolic view of this "initial" fall appears in Revelation 12:34 where the dragon (a symbol for Satan) "drew a third of the stars of heaven" (a symbol for fallen angels) and "threw them to the earth." Thus, Satan has his own "angels," who most students see as the demons of this era (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:9).

A prime purpose of Jesus’ earthly ministry was to overcome the power of Satan. This included His conquest of the demonic realm (Matthew 12:25-29; Luke 11:17022; John 12:31; I John 3:8). This explains the fierce conflict between Jesus and these evil spirits while He was on earth, and why Jesus promises His people - the Christians - authority over and power to cast out demons (Matthew 10:8; Mark 16:17).

Following the resurrection of Jesus and His return to heaven, these demonic principalities and powers have continued their warfare against those who are His followers (Romans 8:38-39; Ephesians 6:12). Yet Satan and his allies will finally be overthrown by God. After Christ returns, the devil and his angels will be defeated and thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10). This is a doom with which demons are quite familiar. This may explain why they responded to Jesus with fear and derision. For example, "What do I have to do with you Jesus, Son of the most high God?" (Mk. 5:7; cf., Luke 4:41). And, "Have you come to torment us before our time?" (Mathew 8:29). God will achieve the ultimate victory in this conflict which has been going on since the beginning of time.

Christian Demonology

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus casts out many demons, or evil spirits, from those who are afflicted with various ailments. Jesus is far superior to the power of demons, and he is able to free those victims they inhabit by commanding and casting out the demons, by binding them, and forbidding them to return. Jesus also lends this power to some of his disciples, who rejoice at their new found ability to cast out all demons. (Luke 10:17)

By way of contrast, in the book of Acts a group of Judaistic exorcists known as the sons of Sceva try to cast out a very powerful spirit without believing in or knowing Jesus, but fail with disastrous consequences. However Jesus himself never fails to vanquish a demon, no matter how powerful (see the account of the demon-possessed man at Gerasim), and even defeats Satan in the wilderness (see Gospel of Matthew).

There is a description in the Book of Revelation 12:7-17 of a battle between God’s army and Satan’s followers, and their subsequent expulsion from Heaven to Earth to persecute humans. In Luke 10:18 it is mentioned that Jesus "saw Satan like lightning fall from heaven."

In Christianity, demons are generally considered to be angels who fell from grace by rebelling against God. Demons will be eternally punished and never reconciled with God.

There are some who say that the sin of the angels was pride and disobedience, these being the sins that caused Satan’s downfall (Ezek. 28). If this be the true view, then we are to understand the words, "estate" or "principality" in Deuteronomy 32:8 and Jude 6 ("And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.") as indicating that instead of being satisfied with the dignity once for all assigned to them under the Son of God, they aspired higher.

Demoniacal Prediction

Ancients also had a sort of faith in the predictive words spoken by those whom they believed to be possessed by demons, and this was sometimes a component of ancient oracles. In connection with this, it is worth pointing out that a respected modern-day professor of psychology once witnessed a friend, who was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia make a specific and surprising prophecy that turned out to be perfectly accurate. The professor had no explanation for this event. The demons cannot really prophesy, though they are extremely good at predicting events or are able to know things which happen at every place in the globe at the same time. This ability certainly would seem to be prophetic in the eyes of some. Much of what is today termed as the mental sickness of schizophrenia is actually demonic possession. Sadly, because of people’s atheism and unbelief, it is termed as wrongly termed as a mental sickness. These people could (in most cases) be rescued and delivered from the demonic possession by a person who knows the ritual of exorcism.

Demonic Possession

Demons

The idea of demonic possession by which a man becomes demonized, that is possessed or controlled by a demon, was present in many ancient ethnic religions, and in fact it is found in one form or another wherever there is a belief in the existence of demons, and that is practically everywhere. Here, however, we are chiefly concerned with the demonic possession in the New Testament, for this is in many ways the most worthy of special attention, and serves as a standard by which we may judge of cases occurring elsewhere.

Among the many miracles recorded in the synoptic Gospels, special prominence is given to the casting out of devils or demons (daimon, daimonion). Thus, in St. Mark, the first of all the wonders is the casting out of the devil from a demoniac, the man "with an unclean spirit" (en pneumati akatharto) in the synagogue at Capharnaum. And St. Peter thus describes the mission and the miracles of Christ: "Jesus of Nazareth: how God anointed him with the Holy Ghost, and with power, who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed by the devil" (tous katadynasteuomenous upo tou diabolou — Acts 10:38).

The reason for the stress thus laid on this casting out of the devils is not far to seek. For the miracles of Christ, as St. Augustine says, are both deeds and words. They are works done in testimony of His power and His Divine mission — and they are words because they have a deep significance. In both these aspects the casting out of devils seems to have a special preeminence. Few, if any, of the wonders can be said to give such a striking proof of a power above the order of nature. And for this reason we find that the disciples seem to have been more impressed by this than by the other powers given to them: "Even the devils are subject to us." And as, when He calmed the storm at sea, they cried: "Who do you think this is this, who commands both the winds and the sea, and they obey Him?" (Luke 8:25). So those who saw the devil cast out at Capharnaum asked: "What thing is this? What is this new doctrine? For with power He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him" (Mark 1:27). In the same way it may be said that these wonders speak in a special manner and show forth the meaning of His mission, for He had come to break the power of Satan and deliver men from their state of servitude. It is thus that Christ Himself, on the eve of His Passion, speaks of the great victory which He was about to accomplish by His Cross on Calvary: "Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out" (John 12:31). That casting-out is symbolized in the deliverance of every demoniac. They might also be in the slavery of sin and in need of forgiveness. They might possibly have some bodily infirmity and need healing; still, it was not for this that they were said to be demoniacs, but because an evil spirit had literally entered into, and taken possession of, them to control and direct, or perhaps hinder their physical powers, e.g. to speak through their vocal organs, or to tie their tongues. And though this possession might be associated with sin, this was not necessarily the case; for sometimes this affliction might befall an innocent person, as in the case of the boy who had been possessed from his infancy (Mark 9:20). So neither is it necessary to suppose that there was any bodily infirmity in the victim distinct from the demonic possession itself, even in the case of those who are described as being blind or dumb as well as being possessed by a devil. For it may be — and in some places it may seem that this is intimated by the text — that the dumbness or other infirmity is not due to any defect in the organs, but to the fact that their normal activity is hindered by the possessing devil. Hence, when once his influence and restraint is taken away, the infirmity immediately disappears.

The instances of obsession mentioned in the New Testament may be roughly divided into two classes. In the first group we are given some facts which, even apart from the use of demonized or some equivalent term might suffice to show that it is a case of demonic possession properly so called. Such are the cases of the "man with an unclean spirit" in the synagogue at Capharnaum (Mark 1) and the Gerasene demoniac (Luke 11). In both of these instances we have evidence of the presence of an evil spirit who betrays knowledge beyond the ken of the demonized person or (in the latter case) manifests his power elsewhere after he has been cast out. In the second group may be placed those cases in which we are not given such distinct and unmistakable signs of true demonic possession, e.g. the woman who had a spirit of infirmity (Luke 13:11). Here, apart from the words, spirit and whom Satan hath bound, there is apparently nothing to distinguish the case from an ordinary healing of infirmity.

Characteristics of Demons

      * The demons that we encounter on earth seem to prefer to inhabit bodies (Revelation 18:2, Matthew 12:43-44, Mark 5:12).
      * Communal: Demons often live and work together. Jesus explained that when re-inhabiting a former host person, a demon will take seven spirits more wicked than himself and reoccupy the person (Matthew 12:43-45). Examples of communal demons are found in Mark 16:9 (Mary’s seven demons) and Mark 5:9 (man with a legion of demons).
      * Demons have intellect and will (Matthew 12:43-45; Mark 5:6-13)
      * Demons vary in level of wickedness (Matthew 12:43-45; Mark 5:6-13)
      * Vary in power level and endurance: they require rest, but find none (Matthew 12:43-44; Mark 5:6-13); some are only routed through prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21, Mark 9:29)
      * Recognize that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and they also can discern if people are legitimately using the authority of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:24-26; Mark 5:10-13; Acts 19:15)

Capabilities of Demons

      * Can travel (Matthew 12:43-45)
      * Can cause sickness, disease, storms, fever, physical abnormalities, mental torment, alterations of voice.
      * Can fight with God’s angels (Daniel 10:13,20; Revelation 12:7)
      * Can influence human events (Revelation 16:13-14)
      * Can speak through a person’s voice and see through their eyes (Acts 19:15)
      * Can affect the "state" of their host person (Matthew 12:43-45) ranging from total possession (Mark 5:2-8) to periodic influence (Mark 9:17-18). They are able to influence the emotions, thoughts and actions of their host toward destruction. Examples include the Gerasene demoniac cutting himself in Mark 5:5 and the boy who was being thrown into the fire in Mark 9:22.
      * Can invigorate people with extraordinary strength (Acts 19:16)
      * Can deceive people and draw people away from the truth, enticing them by their own desires (2 Chronicles 18:20-22, Luke 4:1-13, James 1:14 inferred, Acts 5:3)

Why do demons access humans?

      * To fulfill their master’s mission: Satan, also known as Beelzebub, is the ruler of all demons (Luke 11:15-20; Matthew 12:24-27). Satan’s mission is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Likewise, demons will try to steal, kill and destroy whatever they can ( Luke 11:17-18). They will also attempt to take people captive by deception to do the Satan’s will (2 Timothy 2:25-26).
      * They desire a body: Bodies apparently offer demons rest and/or shelter. Jesus explained that after being cast out of a body, an unclean spirit goes through dry places seeking rest and finds none. It tries to return to the person it left (Luke 11:24-26; Matthew 12:43-45).
      * God may allow them to access humans to carry out judgment: Saul’s tormenting spirit (1 Samuel 16:14); lying spirit & Ahab (2 Chronicles 18:19-22); Jehoram’s fatal illness (2 Chronicles 21:12-15)
      * To oppose God’s plans and purposes: Demons are often sent to try to block or thwart God’s servants. This can manifest in many ways including depression, sickness, confusion, temptation, doubt, etc. The purpose is usually to weaken faith (2 Timothy 1:5-9), since faith is the key ingredient for fighting spiritual warfare.

How do demons access humans?

      * Our sin gives them "legal" right to enter: Sin gives demons footholds in us for oppression. Jesus told the sick man, “Go and sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (John 5:5-14). Bible examples of other sin footholds for demons: 1 Samuel 15:22; 1 Samuel 16:14; Luke 22:3-6; Acts 5:2; 1 Timothy 6:9-10; Numbers 5:18-30.
      * Curses from sin (1 Samuel 14:24; Numbers 5:18-28; Genesis 9:24-25; 2 Samuel 6:20-23): Our sin can bring curses upon us and our descendants. Demons are empowered to work according to these curses. For example, patterns of sexual sin like divorce, adultery or masturbation can often be traced down through family histories.
      * Trauma: Spirits of fear can access us during traumatic events. Since faith acts as a shield, fear weakens the shield when we doubt God will protect us. This leaves us vulnerable to a spirit of fear. One of Satan’s principal objects is to take people into bondage to fear (Romans 8:15; Hebrews 2:14-15).
      * Violated oaths (Numbers 5:18-28; Matthew 5:33-37; James 5:12): If we break an oath that we have taken, we can bring a curse on ourselves, giving evil spirits right of entry to execute the curse on us.
      * Idle words/word curses (James 3:6,8; Mathew 12:35-37; 2 Timothy 2:16-17): Our words can be used powerfully for good or evil. They can be used to edify or destroy a person. Idle words can enact a curse on ourselves or those we’ve spoken to. Examples of idle words: "I curse myself," "I hope you die," "I hope he rots in hell," " I hate you." Generally, all words that indicate an impatience of happenings in life which is not useful for the spiritual welfare, are inspired by the devil. When a curse is spoken, demons are empowered to work according to what was said. The force of the curse is generally decided because of the gravity of impatience, the intention behind the words, and the actual words spoken. Every single word that is ever said by humans are watched with a keen eye by demons, for they wait for the right opportunity and incite the soul to sin by deed and speech in order to better possess them.
      * Satanic assignment: The Bible mentions instances where Satan asked for God’s permission to oppress people (Job 2:1-7; Luke 22:31). If granted permission, Satan may assign his forces to work evil against a person.
      * Judgment: In some cases God may allow demons to afflict a person when they have failed to receive "the love of the truth" and/or have delighted in evil. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 describes this situation where God sends a powerful delusion on rebellious people so that they will believe the devil’s lies. "Lying spirits" are the typical demons specializing in deception that may gain entry in this case.
      * Broken spiritual covering/being delivered to Satan: This can occur when a person leaves or is expelled from the body of Christ (His Church). When the Church "delivers" a person to Satan, they withdraw fellowship and spiritual covering from the person in hopes that the person will repent from his sin and return to God (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20). Once out of fellowship, the person is vulnerable to demonic attack targeting the flesh.
      * Broken faith: Since faith is our shield in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:16), any lack of faith could make us vulnerable to attack. With a weakened shield, Satan’s darts may wound us, giving demons a foothold. Doubt is a common tool Satan uses to destroy faith and breed confusion (James 1:6-8).

Species of Demons

as Described by Alphonse de Spina (1467)

  • Fates, who alter destiny
  • Poltergeists, who cause mischief
  • Incubi and Succubi, who stimulate lust and perversion
  • Marching Hordes, who bring about war
  • Familiars, who assist witches
  • Nightmares, who disturb sleep through bad dreams
  • Demons formed from Human Semen
  • Disguised Demons
  • Demons who Assail the Saintly
  • Demons who Instigate Witchcraft

Correspondence of Demons to the Seven Deadly Sins

(According to Peter Binsfield, a Jesuit, 1589)

  • Lucifer, Pride
  • Mammon, Avarice
  • Asmodeus, Lust
  • Satan, Anger
  • Beelzebub, Gluttony
  • Leviathan, Envy
  • Belphegor, Vanity and Sloth

Demon of Lust

In the Book of Tobias, a virgin named Sara weds, only to have her husband slain by the demon Asmodeus on her wedding night. Sara, still a virgin, marries again, and the same thing happens. Actually, the same thing occurs a total of seven times. Then Tobias marries Sara - this would make him the young woman’s eighth husband - Raphael banishes the demon Asmodeus, and Tobias and Sara presumably live happily ever after. The Catholic Encyclopedia makes the interesting claim that "God allowed the demon to slay these men because they entered marriage with unholy motives," and that "the permission given by God to the demon in this history seems to have as a motive to chasten man’s sinful sexual lust and sanctify marriage." Demons can indeed be called the executioners of God, for God uses them to correct and punish evil men all the time, even now.

Tobias 6:16-18 "Then the angel Raphael said to him: Hear me, and I will shew thee who they are, over whom the devil can prevail. They who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power. But thou when thou shalt take her, go into the chamber, and for three days keep thyself continent from her, and give thyself to nothing else but to prayers with her."

Tobias 7:11-12 "Now when Raguel heard this he was afraid, knowing what had happened to those seven husbands, that went in unto her: and he began to fear lest it might happen to him also in like manner: and as he was in suspense, and gave no answer to his petition, The angel said to him: Be not afraid to give her to this man, for to him who feareth God is thy daughter due to be his wife: therefore another could not have her."


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