Recently our church has been confronted with some unbiblical teaching about the nature of demons and their relation to Christians. When some strange teaching starts to blow through the pews it can be dangerous and often the temptation of a church leader is just to tell them to “STOP IT!”
While this may be necessary at times, it’s much more vital that church leadership clearly present the Biblical teaching so that the entire church can evaluate the veracity of the false teaching by comparing it with God’s Word. This is why I decided that the most helpful thing would be to write a bit more detailed doctrine of demonic world for our church.
As you read through the statements below you’ll see that this document certainly doesn’t touch on all points of Biblical demonology. I specifically focused on some of the problem areas and left out a few areas that seem to have general agreement.
The spiritual world
There exists created spiritual beings which include angels who serve and worship God (Ps 148:1-5, Heb 1:14), they also include Satan and his demons who at one time served God but then in pride fell and became enemies of God. (Eze 28:13-15, Isa 14:12-17)
A great unseen battle is going on in this spiritual world (Dan 10:12-13). However, Jesus has power and authority over all spiritual beings (Eph 1:21) and ultimately God, who is all-powerful and creator of all, will one day have ultimate victory over spiritual forces of darkness. (Rev 20:10)
Satan is more than simply a personification of evil, he is a real spiritual being who is full of lies and desires death and murder (Joh 8:44). Satan’s power and authority are limited by his abilities and by what God allows him to do (Job 1:6-12). Because he is a created being (Eze 28:15) Satan is not all-knowing, he is not all-powerful, and he is not eternal.
Satan and his demons thus have limited control over earthly events. At times they tempt man to sin (Gen 3:1-6). They can at times use elements of nature to cause destruction, (Job 1:16,19). They can orchestrate destruction through groups of evil people, (Job 1:15,17). They can be the powers behind world leaders and wars (Dan 10:12-13), They can cause sickness (Job 2:7)
At times demon/s can enter the body of an unbeliever, usurping the individuals will and controlling his body. The New Testament refers to this most often as “demonized” (Greek daimonizomai) and secondly as “having” or being “with” an unclean spirit or demon. Only twice are demonized individuals referred to as “moonstruck.” (Mat 4:24, Mat 17:15)
Signs of Demonization
Demonized individuals in the New Testament exhibited a limited number of clear signs of demonic activity.
There are 7 different physical manifestations, these did not all appear in every case of demonization but every demonized person exhibited at least one or more of these signs, they include:
- Blindness (Mat 12:22)
- Deafness (Mat 12:22)
- Dumbness (Mar 9:32)
- Convulsions (Mar 1:26)
- Unusual strength (Mark 5:3-4)
- Screaming (Mar 5:5)
- Self-harm (Mark 5:5)
In addition to these physical manifestations demonized individuals prophesied (Acts 16:16) and occasionally recognized Jesus and the apostles. (Mar 1:34, Act 19:15)
Demonization of believers
True believers in Jesus Christ can not be demonized. There are no recorded cases of believers in the New Testament being demonized. Believers are the temple of God and light and darkness can not dwell together (1 Cor 6:14-17). Believers have been delivered from the powers of darkness (Col 1:15). Believers are indwelled by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19). Finally, we know that the evil one is not able to touch the Christian. (1 John 5:18)
Exorcism of demons
There are no special formulas, rituals, or holy objects that can free a person who is demonized. God alone can have victory over demons in a person’s life (Col 1:15).
Nevertheless God can work through believers in this process. Believers are called to pray for the demonized person (Mar 9:29). Believers must also communicate the truth of the gospel and call the demonized to repentance. Without true repentance and belief in Jesus Christ no one will be ultimately freed from the power of the Evil one (Mat 12:43-45)
The Christian should not fear Satan and his demons because the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells him is much greater (1 Joh 4:4). Nevertheless we know that Satan would like nothing more than to destroy the lives of believers (1 Pet 5:8). Thus, the Christian should be engaged in active spiritual battle on a daily bases in order to have continued victory in everyday Christian life.
God gave us clear instructions about how to fight spiritual warfare in Eph 6:10-18. We are called to “STAND” against the devil and to “PUT ON” the armor of God.
The armor of God consists of the following: Righteousness, Truth, Salvation, Faith, Word of God, and prayer. These are all instruments of battle that God has given to every believer and through which regular spiritual growth happens.
For the Christian the spiritual battle is fought and won primarily through righteous living, powerful praying and the preaching of the gospel.