Today I wanted to write down a few thoughts about demon possession. One of my kids asked me about this yesterday, so it got me to thinking. Right now I am preaching through the book of Mark and immediately in Mark chapter 1 you see Jesus confronting the demonic realm and casting out demons.
Here are a few observations from Scripture about it. This is not intended to be an exhaustive answer on the demonic realm and demon possession. But hopefully the passages and thoughts below can prove helpful.
Demon possession was temporarily allowed to demonstrate Christ’s dominance over Satan and the power of darkness. The Devil is the “strong man” in this parable of Jesus in the following pasasge. Jesus was disarming Satan and showing His power over Satan by casting out demons. Through this, Jesus clearly demonstrated that the kingdom of God has come.
Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.
It seems like those possessed by demons were overtaken without an invitation. The demons just came in them and overtook them. The host was unable to resist and powerless to do anything about it. This took a miraculous intervention by someone with divinely-given authority. Others tried, but the demons knew who had that miraculous power (Acts 19:15).
A demon was cast out miraculously and promptly. There was no long drawn out exorcism that lasted for days. Jesus and the apostles said, “Get out!” and they did. If Jesus didn’t want a demon to speak, He rebuked it and made it silent (Mark 1:34).
After the book of Acts, you do not see the church receiving instruction on how to deal with demon possession. You see a limited blast of demonic possession in Matthew through Acts, but it was just that…limited.
Those today who are “taken captive” by Satan do so by invitation, and the escape is through receiving the invitation to follow Christ. We invite the Devil into our heart. And the way to “exorcise” Satan is through the teaching of the word of God. In the passage below, the way we escape from Satanic captivity is through listening to and obeying the truth of Scripture.
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
(2 Timothy 2:24-26)
Sometimes we can get enamored by the intrigue of this topic, and look for complicated answers to today’s questions. People are acting “possessed” today, and that is for sure, but the simple answer is they need the word of God, not an exorcism.