While people are fascinated with the subject of the demonic, TV shows such as Medium, Ghost Whisperer, Charmed, etc. are “teaching” anything but the truth. Listen today and discover that what the Bible has to say about the occult, death and demons is very different from what is being portrayed in the media. And, you’ll find out if a Christian can be demon-possessed.
The theme of this session will be “Basics of Deliverance.” The subtitle is “All You Ever Wanted to Know About Demons But Were Afraid to Ask.” In these sessions I’m going to seek to achieve a well nigh impossible task, to cover every main aspect of this ministry, of course, not in detail, but in outline.
I believe it’s appropriate we begin by considering this aspect of the ministry of Jesus. And I’d like to turn to Mark chapter 1. I have said many times, as far as I’m concerned, I have no ambition to improve on the ministry of Jesus. Some people, I think, feel that it could be done better today. That’s not my attitude.
When He began his public ministry the thing that struck people the most was His way of dealing with evil spirits. And it’s worthy of note that this was one miracle of Jesus which had never previously been recorded in the Old Testament. Almost all His other miracles—healing, provision of food, control of nature—had already been recorded in the Old Testament. But there’s no Old Testament record of driving out evil spirits. And the people who witnessed it were immediately gripped by it and became excited about it.
Here’s the first account in a synagogue in Capernaum. It says in verse 23 of Mark 1:
“Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit.” (NKJ)
The Greek says “in an unclean spirit,” which is not translatable into English. I think perhaps the best contemporary English would be “under the influence of” an unclean spirit.
There are three phrases that are used more or less interchangeably, we might as well mention them now: Demons, evil spirits and unclean spirits. It also talks about specific types of spirits such as the spirit of infirmity or a spirit of fear. All right.
“...there was a man in their synagogue [under the influence of] an unclean spirit. And he cried out [Notice, the “he” is not the man, it’s the spirit], saying, ‘Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!’” (NKJ)
Notice that the evil spirits instantly identify who Jesus was. It took His disciples maybe more than a year to begin to realize who He really was; they knew instantly. They feared him. Also notice the combination of “we” and “I” which is very typical. When Jesus spoke to the man in Gadara He said, “What is your name [singular]?” And he said, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” This combination of “I” and “we” is very characteristic of demons. Verse 25:
“But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet, and come out of him!’” (NKJ)
The Greek says literally “be muzzled, come out of him.”
“And when the unclean had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him.” (NKJ)
Notice there were very dramatic physical manifestations. It was not the kind of behavior that was normal in the synagogue. Somebody once said to me, in most churches what they would have done was put the man out of the church. But Jesus put the demon out of the man, you understand. And he left the man in the synagogue. Then we read the next verse:
“Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? What new doctrine is this? [or what is this, a new doctrine?] For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.’ And immediately His fame [or His reputation] spread throughout all the region around Galilee.” (NKJ)
That is so true. The situation hasn’t changed. If you begin to get manifestations of evil spirits and deal with them, the reputation will go all around immediately. It’s a thing that still tremendously impresses people when they witness it.
The thing that I want to emphasize there is Jesus did not deal with the man, He dealt with the spirit in the man, another person in that man. And there’s no indication that the man had behaved but normally before, you understand? It was the presence of Jesus with the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon him that brought out the unseen presence of the demon in the man.
Now, the same day, later on in this chapter, in verse 32–34, we read a further development of His ministry.
“Now at evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demonpossessed.” (NKJ)
Let me say once and for all, I do not like the translation “demon-possessed.” The Greek word is daimonizomai. If I were to write it in English letters it would be something like this. Where daimon is the root and comes from the noun “demon,” you understand? So izomai is the passive, “to be demonized.” That would be the best translation, “to be demonized.” This translation, “demon-possessed” has unfortunately obscured the issue for millions of people because they say, “How can a Christian be possessed by the devil?” My answer is a true Christian cannot be possessed by the devil. A true Christian is possessed by Jesus. However, in many true Christians, there are some areas where they are demonized, where they are afflicted and affected by demons. Areas in their lives and character where they are not themselves fully in control. And they are demonized, but not possessed by Satan. If we could just clear away that one obstacle of translation we would be a lot further to seeing reality. All right.
Now at evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were [demonized].
And really the New Testament hardly makes any distinction. And Jesus did not either. Almost invariably He dealt with the sick and with the demonized in one overall operation.
“And the whole city was gathered together at the door. Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.” (NKJ)
The King James and this version, and various others, use the word “cast out demons.” The translation I prefer is that of Phillips, where he uses the word “expel.” Because that doesn’t have a lot of religious connotations. It’s simple, practical, down to earth. If you inhale smoke into your lungs, what do you do to get rid of it? You expel it. It’s an action of the will but there’s also a physical aspect to it. And that’s what I like to use, I don’t always use it but that in my opinion, best represents “He expelled many demons.” He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.
And then I’d like to read one more verse in that chapter, verse 39:
“He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.” (NKJ)
Phillips translation says “He continued throughout the whole of Galilee preaching in their synagogues and expelling demons.” I particularly like the fact that he uses the word “continued” which represents a certain tense in Greek. He brings out the fact that this was not an isolated dramatic instance that just took place in one synagogue, but that it was His regular practice in every synagogue to do two things: preach and expel demons. And He did it through the whole of Galilee. There must have been hundreds of synagogues in Galilee.
You see, a lot of people have got the attitude well, perhaps every now and then there is a case where it’s necessary to expel demons, but they’re very rare and they’re exceptional. And usually the attitude is, then if there are such people, they’re either in jails or mental institutions. Well I simply have to point out to you that that was not the kind of person Jesus was dealing with. He was dealing with Orthodox Jews who met every Sunday in the synagogue and spent the rest of the week caring for their families, tilling their fields, fishing the sea, keeping their stores and so on. They were basically normal, respectable, religious people but they had what we could say certain hang-ups. Certain areas, as I say, where they were not in control of themselves.
So do not get the impression that a person who needs deliverance must be either a criminal or a maniac. It’s just the same kind of people that we deal mainly with today—not exclusively. Good, respectable, religious people who attend church and say the right things, but in their lives somewhere there’s an area that’s demonized where they’re not in control. It may be in their physical desires, maybe in their emotions, it may be in their mind. I’m going to deal with the various areas later. But if you can accept what I’ve said it will clear away a whole lot of prejudices which will keep you from being able to see this subject objectively.