And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.Mark 1:21-28
The subject of evil or unclean spirits, sometimes called demons or devils, is not a subject regularly discussed in our pulpits. While I do not believe a huge amount of time should be spent on these sorts of subjects, I do believe that our ministers, as well as our congregations, need to be aware that problems with demons still exist today. And by the way, Jesus still has power over them!
Movies such as The Exorcist and the like have misguided many people, including Christians, into thinking that there is some eternal battle going on for the souls of God’s people. Those of us who believe in the doctrines of grace know that this is simply not true. However, we should not ignore the issue of demonic possession or influence in the lives of people today. It was real in Biblical times and it is just as real today.
I think because of the strong Christian heritage in America we have not had as many experiences dealing with demons. To put it simply, the God-centered lives of our citizens have, in the past, given no room for the devil or his minions. But in countries where demons and devils are sought and even worshipped, the problem has been prevalent for many years. This is all the more reason for a return to Biblical Christian values in our society!
So what do we really need to know and how do we prepare ourselves for a possible problem.
First of all, I think just a healthy Biblical knowledge of the existence of such spirits and their typical behavior is sufficient. There is no need to spend a lengthy amount of time studying or preaching about these spirits. We just need to be aware that they exist and their influence is extremely dangerous.
Knowing the possible dangers of encouraging demons to be in our presence we should avoid the use of anything related to the occult such as ouija boards, “psychics”, horoscopes, and other things these spirits enjoy.
We should also be aware that some problems diagnosed as “mental illness” may in fact be a problem with demons. There truly are cases where the chemical balance in the body and brain are out of line and medications are helpful. But there are also cases that I have seen where no medications could help the problem. Is it possible that they were possessed? I am not certain but I do believe it is possible.
Regarding possessions, I do not believe a born again child of God can be possessed and completely controlled by Satan or any other demon. The Holy Spirit dwells inside a born again child of God and there is “no room” for an unclean spirit there. However, There are demonic influences all around us. Satan is the one behind the scenes influencing us through all forms of print and video media and the Internet.
Briefly in closing, I think we just need to be aware that the problem is real. We need to remember that Jesus has power over all things. We need to avoid situations and actions that would encourage demonic activity. In short,
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.James 4:7