Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Are Demons Real in the Church Age
Please read Mark 5:1-20 see also Matthew 8:28-34 and Luke 8:26-37. A Biblical world view includes understanding there are demons active in our world. The enemy is alive and active on planet earth. Satan has a well thought out plan to destroy your life. We are commanded to teach and know the "whole counsel of God." This includes understanding the work of the enemy. The story of the Gerasene demoniac clearly shows the desire of demons to distort and destroy (if possible) the image of God in man. This is seen in several ways. First, the demoniac was living among the tombs, an unclean area. A sign of being demonized is a preoccupation with death. Second, for a long time he had not lived in a house, and had worn no clothes. Demonized people tend to dress immodestly. Third, no chains (may refer to metal, wood, or leather) could hold him and no one was strong enough to subdue him. Demonized people may display super human strength. The verb tenses indicate repetitive attempts at binding and escaping. Fourth, he was constantly crying our and gashing himself with stones, though there had to have been times when he was quiet enough for people to chain him. Cutting oneself is often a sign of demonetization. Was he engaging in pagan demon worship or trying to kill himself to be rid of his torment? Fifth, and finally, he was 'driven' by the demons to solitary places. The fact that there were many demons ( a "legion" consists of some 6,000 men) in him shows that he is completely under their control. The demoniac sees Jesus from a distance, and the demons drive him to confront Jesus just as He leaves the boat and steps on shore. They know Jesus' name and identity, and, in accordance with magical practices, use it in an unsuccessful attempt to gain control over Him. The "bowing down" indicates respect for His power, but the shouting at the top of the man's voice shows their real attitude. Though knowing Him, the demons do not worship Him, clearly the bowing was a demonic act. They do not want Him to torment them by sending them to the abyss "before their time." The tormentors wish to avoid torment. In the intertestamental literature it was taught that demons had freedom, but only until the judgment day. It is ironic that they implore Him by God-they have no claim to God's name. They do not want to be sent to the abyss. The abyss is used of the place of imprisonment for evil powers, it figures in Hebrew cosmology as the 'watery deep' below the earth to which the seas are connected. Thus, though we cannot be certain the demonic drowning of the pigs in the water may indicate that they did not escape the "abyss." Jesus (continuously) commands them to come out, but they do not do it at once. Rather, they beg to be sent into the herd of pigs, and Jesus consents (sending unclean spirits into unclean animals). Apparently they desire some host to destroy., frustrated in their attempts to destroy the demoniac, they choose the pigs. Even though pigs are good at swimming, they drown (literally, "one after the other they drowned themselves'. Four important questions arise. 1. Why does Jesus ask for the name of the demons? Least likely is the possibility that He needed to know the name to control the demon. It is more possible that He wants the disciples to see that there are many demons. Alternatively, He may be using this to remind the demoniac of who he is (a person infested with demons), which will prepare him for delivery. 2. What is the significance of the name "legion"? It may not indicate a literal 6,000, but the fact that there were many is seen in their ability to destroy 2,000 pigs. To the people of Palestine, "Legion" would imply a Roman army host, and signify "vast numbers, complex organization, invincible strength, and relentless opposition". The word May have been chosen to frighten or discourage Jesus, but to no avail. That "Legion" is given as my name may indicate the rank of the demon speaking to Jesus through the man-he is the demonic "commander" of the many demons inhabiting the man. Demons have rank and power. 3. It there any significance to the demons wanting to remain in the same geographic location? In accordance with the beliefs of the pagan nations, do demons (gods) have more power in certain areas, or are they simply more 'attached' to certain places than others? We do know from the book of Daniel there are territorial spirits who operate in specific locals. 4. Why does Jesus allow them to go into the pigs? He may have wanted everyone (especially the demoniac) to see that the victim was genuinely relieved and that the true mission of demons is to destroy their host. The local populace, unable to understand and being afraid of Jesus' power, ask Him to leave the area (possibly valuing the pigs more than the person), the people of the world may not respond kindly to proof of God's power over demons. In any event, the demoniac is cured. He is sitting, clothed, and in his right mind. Some mental illness is due to demonization. Before he had been restless, naked, and crazy. Out of gratitude, he asks to accompany Jesus, but is told to return to his home and tell others his story. He obeys, becoming a powerful witness of the victory Christ has given him. We see Jesus' authority in dealing with the demons. We also see the satanic attempts to cause people to act as directly against the image of God as they can. God wants you to walk in fellowship with Him. Jesus came to "destroy the works of the devil." Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.