ANGELS – Part 8
By Tommy Thornhill
Conclusion of series on angels with a short discussion of demons or evil spirits. While we find no record in the OT of demons actually possessing anyone, we find them associated with pagan and false religions Lev.17:7; Deut.32:17; 2.Chron.11:15; Ps. 106:37. But when we come into the NT, we find them actually possessing people. Jesus, during His ministry cast them out of people showing His power over them. He also gave power to His apostles to do so Mk.5:8-9; 9:19-29 (some demons or evil spirits a little more powerful than others); Lk.4:33-35; 8:28-29; Acts 16:16-17; 19:15, to name a few.
Even though demons do not possess people today as they did in the first century the Bible does reveal that demon possession was a real, Biblical/historical phenomenon of the first century, and demon possession did not discriminate by sex or age. Such passages as Matt.9:32 (men); Lk.8:2 (women); Mk.7:25 (girls) 9:17 ff. (boys) are examples. Demons could come and go at will Lk.9:39; 11:24, possessing persons against/contrary to their will. They were able to speak through the person possessed Mk.5:9 and had super-human strength Mk.5:7; Acts 19:15; Mk.9:28-29. They also knew who Jesus was and that He was superior to them. They knew their time was limited and even said so while Jesus was casting them out Matt.8:29. They also knew that eventually He would bring them into judgment Mk.5:7; Mk.3:11; Lk.4:41; Matt. 8:29.
While I believe demons still exist in the spiritual realm and do their evil work as agents of the devil, they can no longer enter into people and control them as they did in the first century. Demon possession was a phenomenon for New Testament times, the time of Jesus and His apostles 1.Tim.4:1; 1.Jn.4:1. During the first century demons were allowed to exercise unusual power over people while Jesus was on earth to allow Him to show His power visibly over Satan and his evil workers. When He cast out demons He was visibly showing His power to be far greater than that of Satan and his demon angels Matt.12:28-29; Lk.11:14-23. He gave His apostles the ability to do the same in order to confirm the word of God Mk.16:15-20; Heb.2:3-4. Demon possession was never intended to continue on after the lifetime of Jesus and the apostles. In fact, two OT prophecies, clearly Messianic, prophesied that the active demon possession was to cease. Micah 5:12-13 reads, “I will cut off sorceries…soothsayers.” Zech.13:1-9 “…I will cause the …unclean spirits to depart from the land.” The point being made was that after the foundation for the church/kingdom of the Messianic age had been firmly laid (which began at Pentecost Acts 2), and once God’s revelation was completed, then the unclean spirits would cease being visibly active.
The NT writers affirm that God’s revelation was being completed as they spoke and when it was completed and brought together, the need for divine revelation would cease. Read 1.Cor.13:8-13, esp.v.10. Prophecies, along with tongues and special knowledge, would cease “… when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” Context and grammar show “the perfect” in v.10 to be the completed word of God, not the person of Jesus. See also Jude 3; Jas.1:25. When divine revelation stopped so did demon possession. While actual demon possession stopped by the end of the 1st century (when John, the last apostle died) this does not mean their ability to deceive people ceased. They are still able to deceive the minds of people and cause them to believe the “working of Satan” aka “the lawless one” with “all power, signs and lying wonders.” Those who have no love of the truth can be deceived by such 2.Thes.2:9-12. ” Satan’s workers use “the doctrines of demons” 1.Tim.4:1. – series finished –