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In the previous study in this series we dealt with the ministry of Jesus and how Jesus handled evil spirits or demons. In this study we’re going to deal with the nature and activity of demons in general. Before we do this it’s important to clear up some questions of terminology. In this, as in various other respects, the influence of the King James Version on the English speaking people has been tremendous and many people are influenced by it without realizing exactly how far it affects their thinking. I’m going to take a little while to explain some of the basic Greek words that are used in the New Testament and to clear up some misconceptions that arise out of translations that we’re familiar with.
First of all, let’s consider the word “devil.” This is a transliteration, really, of the Greek word diaboloswhich is there in your outline. The literal meaning of the word diabolosis slanderer. Used in the singular it is normally a title of Satan himself and should not be used of any other person but Satan.
The other word that we’re going to deal with mainly in this study is the word demon which does not occur in the King James Version. I’ll show you in a moment why. The English word demon is derived directly from the Greek word daimonor an alternative form of the same word which is diamonion. You might imagine that diamonionis the diminutive or demon but that is not correct. Actually it’s a neuter adjective and the two words really mean essentially the same thing. And, as I said, the English word is demon.
A demon is a spirit regarded by the heathen as divine or semi-divine. Heathen religion normally cultivates or seeks to propitiate these demons. All heathen demons really center around the cultivation of demons. This word is wrongly translated in the King James Version “devil” or more commonly “devils.” It should not be translated devil, that word should be reserved for diabolos, the title of Satan. This word demon, diamon, diamonionis used in New Testament Greek interchangeably with two other expressions which are evil spirit or unclean spirit. We have really three expressions which, apparently, in the New Testament are used interchangeably. Demon translated in the King James Version devil, evil spirit or unclean spirit.
Just to show you that these phrases are interchangeable, look with me at the scriptures given there in your outline. We are looking in various cases at parallel accounts of the same incident. In Matthew 15:22 we’re told about this Canaanite woman who came to Jesus because her daughter needed deliverance from an evil spirit. She is recorded as saying:
Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
But more correctly a demon.
In Mark 7:25 the writer of Mark’s gospel says about the same woman in the same incident:
For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet.
Where Matthew says demon, Mark says unclean spirit and they’re referring to the same thing.
Then in Mark 5:2 the well known incident which is usually called the incident of the Gadarene demoniac, it says:
And when he [Jesus] was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.
This incident is also recorded in Luke 8:27. Luke says:
And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time...
Devils literally meaning demons. So when Mark says an unclean spirit, Luke says demons. These are used interchangeably.
Another passage that illustrates the same truth is found in Revelation 16:13–14. John says:
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils...
Devils being more correctly demons. In verse 13 he calls them unclean spirits and in verse 14 he calls them demons. I think, therefore, it is quite correct to say that these three expressions are used interchangeably in New Testament Greek. Unclean spirit, evil spirit, demon.
Now let’s consider the Greek phrases used to describe the activity of these demons or unclean spirits in relationship to human beings. Here is where the greatest misunderstanding arises out of the King James Version. There are, actually, three alternative phrases used in New Testament Greek to describe the fact that a person is in some way troubled or tormented by an evil spirit or a demon. The first phrase which is very common is to have an unclean spirit or an evil spirit. We’ll look at the various passages given in your outline where this if found. We’ll glance at them quickly, not pausing to dwell on any of them. Matthew 11:18. Jesus says:
John [the Baptist] came neither eating or drinking, and they say, He hath a devil [he hath a demon].
So John the Baptist was accused of having a demon by the people of his day.
Then in Mark 7:25, we’ve already just looked at that but we could look at it again for a moment. This is about the Syrophonecian woman.
A certain woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit...
And then in Mark 9:17 the man said to Jesus:
Master, I have brought unto thee my son which hath a dumb spirit.
That’s a particular type of unclean or evil spirit, a dumb spirit, one that refuses to allow a person to speak. The boy is said to have a dumb spirit.
Then we turn to Luke 4:33. It says:
In the synagogue there was a man which hath a spirit of an unclean devil [an unclean demon].
There again we see in that verse that an unclean spirit and a demon are used interchangeably or together. This man is said to have had a spirit of an unclean demon.
In Luke 8:27, a passage we’ve looked at already, there was a man who had devils or demons a long time.
In Luke 13:11 we read:
Behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together and could in no wise lift up herself.
This woman had a spirit of infirmity. Physical weakness which prevented her from straightening her spine, what we would call, I suppose, spinal curvature. In the New Testament it’s attributed to a spirit of infirmity which the woman had.
In John’s gospel there are quite a number of passages where this phrase “to have a demon or an unclean spirit” is used. John 7:20.
The people answered and said unto him [that’s Jesus], Thou hast a devil [thou hast a demon].
They accused him of having a demon.
In John 8 the phrase occurs several times. Verse 48:
The Jews said to Jesus, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan and that thou hast a demon? Jesus answered and said, I have not a demon.
In verse 52 of the same chapter:
Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a demon.
And in John 10:20–21:
Many of them said, He hath a demon and is mad.
Notice being mad is more or less equated with having a demon.
Others said, These are not the words of him that have a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?
So we see that this phrase “to have a demon” is very commonly used in the New Testament.
The second phrase, which is closely parallel, is “to be in an unclean or an evil spirit.” This hardly makes sense in English and in the King James Version the preposition “in” is translated “with.” But, actually, the literal meaning is “in.”
Let’s look at two passages in Mark’s gospel where this occurs. Mark 1:23.
There was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit.
The Greek says “in an unclean spirit.”
And he cried out, saying, Let us alone.
And so on.
In Mark 5:2 it says:
When he came out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.
In the Greek says “in an unclean spirit.” I would say that the closest modern English would be “to be under the influence of an unclean spirit.” In other words, this man was not always under the influence of this spirit but at times this spirit manifested itself through him and then that it expressed in New Testament Greek by saying he was “in an unclean spirit.”
In the Old Testament it said of the false prophets that they prophesied in Baal. In other words, they prophesied in the spirit of Baal and not in the Spirit of God.
The third phrase is also extremely common and it’s the important one because it’s been so completely mistranslated in the King James Version is a verb in Greek diamonzomaiwhich could very well be rendered in English “to be demonized.” It’s as close a rendering as you could possibly get. In the English it has precisely the same connotation as it does in Greek. It means in some way or another to be under the influence or attack of a demon. It doesn’t say more than that, just to be demonized.
Unfortunately, for the sake of English speaking Christians around the world through the ages, the King James Version has translated this phrase to be demonized by the English phrase “to be possessed with devils.” This has given rise to more misunderstanding than any other single phrase, I imagine, in the King James Version because the word possessed is completely misleading and has nothing in the Greek to support it. Immediately you use the word possessed, you bring to the minds of English speaking people the suggestion of total ownership. If I possess my Bible, every page in the Bible belongs to me, not some of them. And so, whenever you speak about having an evil spirit, a person reacts in an angry way and says, “Do you mean I’m possessed by the devil?” They got that from the King James. The Greek doesn’t say that, the Greek says a person is demonized in some way or another which is not further specified by that one word under the influence or the control or the attack of a demon.
There’s no suggestion that the demon possesses the person in the sense of having totally taken him over. Let’s look at some of the passages in the New Testament where this verb “to be demonized” is used. Starting in Matthew 4:24 it says:
His fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils...
Those which were being demonized.
...and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy [or paralysis]; and he healed them.
Various different categories of people who were brought to Jesus; those who were sick, those who were tormented, those who were paralyzed, those who were lunatic and those who were being demonized—attacked or being affected in some way by demons.
In Matthew 8 the word occurs three times. Verse 16 says:
When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils...
Many that were being demonized. Verse 28:
When he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils...
But the Greek says “two who were being demonized.”
And verse 33 of the same chapter:
They that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.
To the people who had been demonized.
In Matthew 9:32 it says:
As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil.
A dumb man who was being demonized. The evidence that he was being demonized was his dumbness. The only way in which the demon affected him was by making him dumb. The moment the demon went out the man was no longer dumb. It would be completely incorrect to suggest that this man was possessed in the sense of totally taken over. One area of his personality only was affected and it was his speech center.
Then in Matthew 12:22 we have a similar case.
There was brought unto him one possessed with a devil...
One who was being demonized.
...blind and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
In this instance the demon was responsible for the blindness and the dumbness. The only areas of the man that he controlled was those that affected his sight and his speech. When that demon went out the man could see and speak. To use the word possessed there is completely incorrect.
Then in Matthew 15:22—we’ve looked at this twice already. This is the daughter of the Syrophonecian woman and she said:
My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
The same word is used in Greek though the King James used the word vexed instead of possessed there. The Greek word is demonized.
Then in Mark 1:32 it says:
At even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.
Them that were being demonized.
And Mark 5:15, 16 and 18 in the account of the Gadarene demoniac we have the phrase used three times. I don’t believe it’s really necessary to read them out because it’s just a repetition of what we’ve seen before.
In Luke 8:36 which also refers to the Gadarene demoniac we have the same phrase:
They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed.
He that had been demonized was healed. Incidentally, the Greek word used for healing there is the Greek word for salvation. He was saved. Part of salvation is deliverance from evil spirits.
Here we see these facts. First of all, that there are probably three different expressions used to describe these persons or entities. Demons, unclean spirits, evil spirits. Sometimes they’re specified more precisely, for instance, a spirit of infirmity or a dumb spirit. The second phrase that’s used is an unclean spirit and the third phrase that’s used is an evil spirit. The language that’s used in connection with these is to have an unclean spirit or to be in an unclean spirit, that is, under the influence of an unclean spirit, or to be demonized, to be in some way affected by a demon.
Having cleared up, I trust, though I’m not absolutely sure, some of the misunderstandings created by the King James Version, let’s go on and consider the nature and activity of demons. What I have to say now I believe to be true. Part of it is directly supported by scripture, part of it comes by inference. I want you to be very clear that if you do not agree with my inferences, that’s all right. I have given a good deal of time and thought to this and studied the scriptures very carefully. I’m thoroughly well convinced that what I say is correct.
Demons are spirits without bodies. You could say if you wanted, disembodied spirits but that would carry the implication that they once had bodies. I believe they did once have bodies but that is an assumption or an inference which would have to be dealt with separately. We need to distinguish between angels and demons. As far as I understand it, they’re completely distinct and I’d like to give you three points in which we can distinguish them. First of all, angels have wings and they fly. Look in Daniel 9:21. Daniel had a visitation from an angel, the angel Gabriel. He’s incidentally also called a man. It says there:
Yea, while I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
The Bible pictures most of the heavenly beings as having wings. Angels, cherubims and seraphim are all pictured as having wings and being able to fly. There are various references in scripture to their flying.
Now turn to Matthew 12 and you’ll see that evil spirits apparently do not fly. I believe this is correct. Matthew 12:43, Jesus says:
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest...
There’s no suggestion whatever that he has any other means of transportation but walking.
Secondly, they have different places of habitation. Angels are at home, they normally inhabit the heavenlies. There are many scriptures to this effect, we’ll look at just three. Ephesians 6:12.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies.
Where I understand this to refer to Satan’s angelic kingdom in the heavenlies. All the persons there referred to are angelic.
In Jude the 6th verse—and in case anybody has any difficulty in locating Jude, it’s just the last one before Revelation. Jude verse 6, the writer says:
And the angels which kept not their first estate [or the first area of rule], but left their own habitation, God hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness...
These angels that left the heavenlies and descended to earth—and I believe scriptures elsewhere make it plain that they came in order to cohabit with human women—are the exception. Because of this act which was so contrary to God’s ordained plan of being, they were confined in a special place different from all others. You notice that they left their own habitation, their own appointed dwelling place which was in the heavenlies.
Then in Revelation 12:7–8 a passage that describes events still future, I believe, it says:
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
Up till that point their place is in heaven. What happens after that is entirely contrary to the normal plan of God, it’s a very brief span of time which Revelation speaks about when the devil is cast out of the heavenlies and is compelled to take up residence on earth. This is not the normal, this is the abnormal.
Demons, on the other hand, as I understand it, are earthbound, they have no ability to get outside the realm of earth.
Thirdly, angels have bodies of their own and do not normally desire to occupy another body. In fact, for an angel, as I understand it, to be inside a human body would be a kind of prison. On the other hand, demons, if they have one conspicuous characteristic it is this: they have an intense craving to enter in and dwell in a body—preferably that of a human being but in the last resort rather that of a pig than to be without a body to dwell in. By way of confirmation for this let’s look for a moment in Matthew 12:43–45. Jesus is speaking and he says:
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out...
By the phrase “my house” he means the body of the person that he was living in. We see that he cannot find rest outside of a body. He wanders around until he’s able to enter into a body. If possible he’ll go back to the body that he left. If not, he must look for another body. He regards the body that he dwells in as his house, his dwelling place.
The first time I ever had a real dramatic confrontation with a woman in the matter of deliverance, the first evil spirit that I commanded to come out which was the spirit of hatred, it answered me in a very rebellious and surly voice and said, “I’m not coming out. This is my house, I’ve lived here 35 years and I’m not coming out.” Jesus is not using figurative speech at all when he says that the evil spirits says, “I will return into my house.”
In Mark 5, the incident of the Gadarene demoniac, we see also this intense desire on the part of the evil spirits not to be left without a body. They’re pleading with Jesus and it says in verse 10:
And he besought him [Jesus] that he would not send them away out of the country.
This is a remarkable revelation really.
There was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the demons besought Jesus, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave.
They could not bear the thought of being without some sort of a body to dwell in. As I say, preferably they would choose the body of a human being but rather than be without a body they would choose a pig, or a dog, or a monkey, or a lion. I believe there are many animals which, from time to time, are occupied by evil spirits.
The reason why they desire to be in a body is that they all have characteristic lusts or evil desires or evil propensities which can only be gratified while they are in a body. For instance, an alcohol demon has to have a body in which to consume alcohol. A blaspheming demon must have a tongue through which to blaspheme. A demon of lust must have the emotions and the organs of a body through which to lust. They cannot fulfill their cravings and desires unless they have a body through which to do it.
As Jesus indicated, they’re like people without homes, restless, unable to settle down without any kind of peace until they find a body to enter into. This brings us face to face with the fact that every one of us is surrounded by unseen hordes of evil spirits who would dearly like to be inside each one of us. We cannot change that situation. The only thing we can do is make very sure they don’t get in. This is part of the total Christian conflict we’re involved in and the main situation cannot be changed.
Jesus, as I’ve pointed out in my previous study but I’ll say it again, did not cast evil spirits into the pit or into hell. He just caused them to leave the body that they were occupying with the implication that they would be free to enter the next body that they could get into. And as it was then, so it is now.
The next important thing about demons is that they have all the marks of personality. They are persons. In most cases you will not deal effectively with evil spirits until you realize you’re dealing with a person. My particular problem that tormented me for years was the problem of depression. I tried every means I could think of to deal with it as a thing, a psychological attitude, a mental condition, whatever you like to call it. I got nowhere. One day reading the scripture and looking in Isaiah 61:3 I read the phrase “the spirit of heaviness.” At that moment by a flash of revelation I saw that my problem was not a mental attitude, not a psychological condition, not a fixation or whatever language you like to use; it was a person that was deliberately tormenting me. When I realized I was dealing with a person I was about 80 percent of the way to victory immediately. Up to that time in dealing with this enemy I was, as Paul says, one beating the air. I was like a boxer blindfolded trying to strike an enemy who could see me and always could avoid my blows. I did not know what I was dealing with.
You’ll find all through the ministry of Jesus he invariably treated demons as persons. He spoke to them and he spoke about them in the category of persons. Let’s look at this for a moment and substantiate it out of scripture. There are various recognized marks or attributes of personality. As far as I know, demons possess every one. The first one is will. We have already seen in Matthew 12:43 and following that a demon has a strong will. This unclean spirit that had gone out of the man said, “I will go back into my house from whence I came out.” He made a definite decision and carried it out.
Likewise, in Mark 5:11–13 we find that the evil spirits in the Gadarene demoniac had a very intense desire not to go out of that particular area of the country and to be allowed to go into the swine. They exercised a very strong will, the pressure of their will was brought to bear upon Jesus. This is true, they have willpower.
Secondly, they have emotion—and very strong emotions, too. This is very vividly illustrated in James 2:19. James is speaking about the fact that it’s useless to have faith without works. He applies this by an illustration to evil spirits. He says:
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the demons also believe, and tremble.
Trembling is the manifestation of very intense emotion. This I have seen in experience many, many times that demons still tremble. When they’re brought out into the open and confronted with the name and the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ you will frequently see people start to tremble violently. It’s not the person that’s trembling, it’s the evil spirit in the person that’s trembling. It always does me good to see them tremble at the name of Jesus.
We had a meeting in this very room about two weeks ago on a Thursday morning and the Spirit of God moved into this room and one after another the people in various parts of the room started to tremble and shake violently. No one was preaching at the time and I could hardly move around the room quick enough to get to the people. You see, the demons had been stirred up by the message which I had preached on the power of the blood of Jesus and they could no longer remain dormant. I’ve heard my brother in the Lord, Don Basham, say that it’s somewhat like going after birds with dogs. When the bird dog gets to a certain degree of proximity, the birds get scared and rise up and fly out and reveal their presence. That’s the time you get a chance to shoot them. This is really true. I’ve been in various meetings where the demons have started to fly up, as it were, almost in a covey and just manifest themselves wholesale because they get so scared. They’re scared by the word of God and by the authority of the name of Jesus and the fact that their identity has been laid bare.
As a matter of fact, it’s happened on several occasions that when I’ve started to cast a spirit out of one person and name the spirit, every other person who had that spirit in the room started to be delivered at the same time! I was in some meetings in Greensburg in Pennsylvania and a woman said, “I believe I have a spirit of criticism.” I said, “You spirit of criticism, you come out of this woman.” About four people started to cough all around. That shows you what the problem with the church is. So, here we have this second evidence of personality, they have emotion.
Thirdly, they have knowledge, they know a lot. In fact, they know a lot more than some Christians. In Mark 1 you’ll find this illustrated in the incident of the man in the synagogue in Capernaum. Mark 1:23–24.
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.
That man had probably never seen Jesus before. Not one of his disciples had yet recognized his identity, not one of the human beings of his own generation knew who he was but the evil spirit in that man knew immediately he was the Holy One of God.
The same is also illustrated in Acts 19 which is a real lively incident. I’d like to read it to you. Acts 19, starting at verse 13.
Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
As I pointed out in my previous study, the Jewish people practiced exorcism in the time of Jesus. They recognized evil spirits and tried to deal with them in various different ways, as many of the heathen do. The Moslems do today, for instance. So having found out that Paul got remarkable results by using the name of Jesus, these unconverted Jews decided they’d use the name of Jesus, too. So they spoke to this man who had an evil spirit and they said, “We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.” It says in verse 14:
And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
And they must have had, I suppose, the shock of their lives. Furthermore, the language isn’t accurately represented in the King James Version because two different words for know are used. “Jesus I acknowledge, and Paul I know about. I’ve heard about this man Paul, he’s creating a lot of problems for us.” That’s what he was saying in effect. “Jesus I acknowledge, I know who he is, the Holy One of God. Paul I know about, we’ve heard enough about him, he’s creating trouble for us in this whole area of Ephesus.”
But you see, they knew a lot and there are other instances. For instance in Acts 16 the damsel with the spirit of divination knew that Paul and Silas were the preachers of the gospel, the servants of the most high God long before the people of Philippi realized who they were.
Then again, demons have self-awareness, they’re aware of themselves. Just take one example here in Mark 5:9. Again, this is the incident of the Gadarene demoniac.
Jesus asked him, What is thy name?
He spoke to the spirit and said, “What is thy name?”
And he [the spirit] answered, saying, My name is Legion [which is a group of about 6,000 soldiers]; for we are many.
Not only did he know himself but he knew of the other spirits that were present there and they knew their approximate number and so on which is what I would call evidence of self-awareness.
Then again, demons have a conscience which is another mark of personality. This is stated in 1Timothy 4:2. We’ll read verse 1 to get the context.
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times [toward the close of this age] some [believers] shall depart from the faith [Christian faith], giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons; speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron.
The Greek is absolutely definitive. Those phrases do not apply to the people who depart from the faith but to the demons that deceive them. It’s the demons that speak lies and hypocrisy, it’s the demons that have their consciences seared with a hot iron. A demon has a conscience but it has been so seared that it is useless to appeal to it. It will never respond to the dictates of its conscience.
Finally, as has already been indicated, demons have the ability to speak. We do not need to turn to the references given there in your outline but it refers to the incident of the man in the synagogue who spoke out and challenged Jesus, to the Gadarene demoniac where Jesus carried on some kind of a conversation with the spirits in that man, and to the case in Ephesus in Acts 19 where the spirit spoke out of the man and said, “Jesus I acknowledge and Paul I know about, but who are ye?”
To sum it up we would say this, that the scripture indicates that evil spirits have the following attributes of personality. Will, emotion, knowledge, self-awareness, conscience and the ability to speak. That, without a question, compels us to classify them as persons. They are persons without bodies.
Now let’s look in Matthew 12 just for a moment and observe one fact there. Matthew 12:24–28. Jesus has just delivered a man of an evil spirit. The man had been blind and dumb. After deliverance he was able both to speak and see. Verse 23:
And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out demons, but by Beelzebub the prince of the demons. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: and if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
Both the Pharisees and Jesus give to Satan the title Beelzebub in special relationship to demons. Beelzebub means literally “lord of the flies.” There is a modern novel with that title. I imagine many people who read it don’t realize that it’s a translation of the word Beelzebub. This is particularly Satan’s title as the ruler over demons because the demons are compared by analogy to the insect world which is a very vivid and accurate analogy in many ways. There are myriads, uncountable myriads of demons and they harass, they defile, they even bring death. Yet, often one is not aware of their presence of activity or even when we’re aware that something is wrong we’re not aware of what produces it. For instance, to take the example of malaria, it’s produced by the female of the species Anopheles mosquito and for many, many generations Africans who suffered from Malaria attributed it to all sorts of things like bad water and so on, quite unaware of the real cause. As a matter of fact, you can have the Anopheles mosquito in your room and it can bite you, sting you and create the infection of malaria and you’ll never be aware that anything had ever happened.
This is typical of the activity of demons. They act, in a certain sense, under cover. Often we don’t realize they’re there and even when we see something wrong we don’t know the real cause of it. So, in Bible language Satan is lord of the flies, he’s lord of the insect world as the ruler over the demons. He rules over two kingdoms. In the heavenlies he rules over the fallen angels and on earth he rules over evil spirits. This is particularly his title as the ruler over the evil spirits.
Now let’s consider some of the main activities of demons. I suggested that you can sum them up conveniently by taking certain fairly common verbs in the English language and considering these verbs. I have listed a number of verbs there. The first one is to entice. This is one of the activities of evil spirits, they entice human beings to do wrong. They make evil appear attractive. They set a bait for human souls. This is referred to in James 1:14 speaking about the mechanism of temptation.
Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Notice there are two factors in temptation. There’s something in the man that’s perverted, a perverted evil desire which is for lust. But there’s something from without that plays upon this thing within because enticing is always used of an agent who operates to ensnare a creature. So, the evil spirit from without presents to the lust within something to entice that person into sin. This is one of the common activities of demons. It’s enticement. I suppose few of us have not experienced this in a kind of verbal form in our minds. At least, I’ll be honest with you, many, many times I’ve heard phrases in my mind, “Go on, why shouldn’t you do it, there’s no harm in it.” Whatever it might be. I’ve also been aware many, many times that my eyes are almost being compelled to turn in a certain direction and I know even in advance that if I turn my eyes in that direction I’ll see something that will appeal to the unclean and defiling element inside me. This is the process of temptation. If there were no lust in me the demon would have nothing to play upon but the lust wouldn’t be stirred up if it weren’t for the demon playing upon it. So there’s the combination of the lust inside me or you and the agent outside that puts this in front like putting the little morsel of cheese in the mousetrap to get the mouse in there. We have to realize that we are dealing with an agent that’s intelligent, that studies us, that knows our weakness, that knows what kind of cheese we like best, that knows the very best way to get us into the trap.
The kind of enticement that Satan might use for me might not work for you. I will tell you, I never really go to preach a message that’s going to do the devil any damage without having my mind assailed before I preach on all sorts of irrelevancies or impurities or distractions. Some kind to get me off to hinder my ability to present the truth. I know from experience that the devil knows just exactly the best ways to reach Brother Prince. They might not work with you but he’s used them so often with me that he knows pretty well how to get me. But praise the Lord, I’ve also learned pretty well how not to let him get me! That’s the other side to it. I don’t say I’m 100 percent victorious but he finds it much harder than he did 15 years ago, believe me.
A second main activity of evil spirits is to deceive. In 1Timothy 4:1, we’ve already seen this but it’s good to look at it again.
Now the Sprit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times [the close of the age] some believers shall depart from the Christian faith, giving heed to seducing [or deceiving] spirits, and doctrines of demons.
How do these demons seduce people from their loyalty to Jesus Christ and to the truth of the gospel? By erroneous doctrines which they put before these people. I dealt with a young man once years back who was gloriously saved through street meetings that we held in London and he was a model convert. I remember he got saved on Sunday night, got baptized in the Spirit on Tuesday night and was prophesying by Thursday night. In those days it didn’t happen that fast. Today we’re quite familiar with this type of thing. Yet after awhile that young man went off and he began to tell me that there was a voice speaking to him and insinuating certain teachings into his mind. These teachings were precisely the teachings of Christian Science. Yet I questioned him and he said he’d never read Christian Science and never had any contact with it. There was this Christian Science demon perched on his shoulder insinuating these doctrines into his mind. And this tactic of the enemy worked, he got off. He never really became an effective, stable, victorious Christian. I could hardly believe it because I was so ignorant in those days of the operation of demons I could hardly believe that this Christian Science demon could come straight to him and not through a book or through a sermon and just begin to insinuate these deceptive doctrines into his mind.
Of course, normally they’ll operate through a book or through a sermon or false teaching or something like that.
An obvious result of demon activity is enslavement. Let’s look in Romans 8:15. Paul is speaking to Christians baptized in the Holy Spirit and he says:
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear...
The spirit of bondage. Bondage means enslavement. He’s warning them don’t let the devil get you back into slavery. And the suggestion is very clear that the form of slavery they would be enticed back into would be that of religious slavery, subservience to the law when they’d been delivered from the law. As a matter of fact, the whole of Galatians deals with this very issue of not being enslaved by religious legalism after you’ve once been set free by the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, Paul deals with that as a much more severe and dangerous situation than he does with sexual sins like fornication or adultery. It’s quite remarkable but the epistle to the Galatians is the only one that Paul doesn’t begin by thanking God for the people he’s writing to. He got so upset by what they’re doing that he launches straight into his subject. “I marvel that ye are so soon turned away from the grace of God.” Here’s an example of religious demons bringing people back into slavery which is legalism. In Galatians 1 you’ll remember he says “be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage of slavery.” Demons enslave.
The next activity which I find so common with demons is to torment. Perhaps this is the most distinctive of all their activities. 2Timothy 1:7 Paul says:
God has not given us the spirit of fear...
There is a spirit, a demon, of fear. And in 1John 4:18 John points out the mark of this demon of fear. He says:
Fear hath torment...
Now there are many kinds of fear which are good. The fear of the Lord is clean and enduring forever but there’s a demonic fear which is tormenting. I would say probably 1 out of 5 Christians has undergone some kind of torment from the spirit of fear.
Then another obvious activity of demons is that they drive or compel. If you want to take an adjective the adjective would be compulsive. Compulsive eating, compulsive drinking, compulsive talking. Anything that’s compulsive, unnaturally and unreasonably compulsive, in my opinion, is demonic. Let’s look in Luke for a moment for a picture there. Luke 8:29, speaking about this Gadarene demoniac again and the spirit in him it says:
For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the demon into the wilderness.
Anything that drives you, pushes you, compels you is demonic, in my opinion. If it’s unnatural, intense and persistent. And it’s very often religious. I know of a brother in the Lord that had a demon that impelled him to testify. That may sound strange but he just had no rest, he could not stop testifying. In actual fact, it came to the point where he had a physical pain in his chest. Ultimately it was identified as a demon and cast out of him. You could say that’s very good to be testifying all the time. Not if it’s compulsive. If there’s no rest in it it’s not of God.
There are oh so many forms of compulsion that people are subjected to. Mental compulsion, compulsion of appetite, compulsion of speech. I know and I say it with regret that I realize at the time I was converted I had a demon that compelled me to blaspheme. I could not help it. I didn’t want to, it just continually came out of me.
Then, another common mark of demon activity is defilement. Titus 1:15:
Unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving, there is nothing pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
There are many people who have a mind and a conscience that’s defiled by demon activity. I received a letter this week from a woman in another part of this country, a sincere Christian woman trying to lead a good life, trying to be a mother to her children and a wife to her husband. She said, “I have no control over my thoughts. The most awful, obscene, unclean images and suggestions continually present themselves to my mind.” She did not desire them; she hated them. But she could not get free from them. I would say that I receive letters or calls for help like that frequently.
Let’s pause for a moment and sum up these different verbs that present the activity of evil spirits. They entice, they deceive, they enslave, they torment, they drive or compel, and they defile.
Summing this up you can say this that demons fight against peace in every aspect. I have suggested in your outline certain of the obvious ways in which they fight against peace. First of all, they prevent inner personal harmony. The more I preach the more important I see this concept of harmony. It’s really part of the meaning of the word for peace. I find comparatively few people have real inner harmony. They are not at peace with themselves. If you’re not at peace with yourself you don’t have much peace because you’ve got yourself with you all the time. There is not that real inner adjustment, they can never totally relax. Any person that can totally relax, in my opinion, doesn’t have much of a problem with evil spirits. There aren’t many people in America today that know how to relax.
Secondly, they take away peace of mind, they invade our thoughts, they bombard us with all sorts of suggestions, doubts, fears, lies, insinuations, accusations, condemnations.
Thirdly, they attack our physical well being. You see, the total word peace includes physical well being. Satan is a murderer. If he can he’ll kill us physically.
Fourthly, they attack our harmonious relationships with other people, especially those who are closest to us. This is one of their main areas of activity inside homes and families and marriages. Jesus said, “If two of you shall harmonize together touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them.” If we can get to that place of harmony with one other person, our prayers are irresistible. My experience is comparatively few people do harmonize with the persons they live closest to. One of the main reasons for this lack of harmony is the activity of evil spirits inside homes, marriages, families and so on.
It’s no accident that my wife has learned to be very careful with me when I’m on my way to preach. In fact, I should say my whole family has. It’s just at that moment that one wrong word or one word misunderstood can just break the harmony which is necessary for the proper presentation of the word of God. You see, if I don’t have peace I cannot transmit peace to others. I can preach about peace, theorize about peace but I cannot transmit what I don’t have.
Many, many times when you listen to a preacher you aren’t really listening to his words, you’re in touch with a spirit. He may have sound doctrine, it may sound very good but if it doesn’t come out of the inner experience it’s not going to achieve anything. At least, if it achieves anything it’ll not be the right thing.
Then there’s also the fight against our adjustment to our circumstances and situations. A person that has evil spirits finds it hard to produce the maximum of his ability in his job, wherever it maybe. They will distract you. You start to do one thing and end up by doing three other things and forget what you were starting to do. You don’t realize that but that’s the activity of evil spirits.
God just very recently showed me that I had been tormented for years by a demon of disruption. It’s an extraordinary thing, if I start to get a message ready I have to get up and do about three other things and go around and sit down in my chair again. It’s taken me something like 30 years to nail that one and see that it’s not normal, it’s not natural, it’s not a habit I have; it’s an enemy.
All right, let’s close this. The great distinctive mark of demons, in my opinion, is restlessness. Show me a restless person and I’ll show you a person that needs deliverance. I see a lot of them every day. Show me a person that’s completely at rest and I cannot believe they need much deliverance.
There are two main points from which demons operate. We’ll deal with it very, very simply. I don’t have a lot of complicated theology. They may operate from outside the body or from inside the body. I don’t care about a lot of distinctions between oppression and obsession and all these other things. If people want to go in for them they’re welcome. I’ve learned that the basic question is is it from outside or is it from inside? If it’s inside there’s one solution, get it out. Whatever label you like to give the activity, the answer is get rid of it. That’s what I close by saying. If demons are operating from outside, then we merely have to resist them. Keep them out. Drive them away. But if they’re operating from within, the only permanent solution is to cast them out, to expel them, to get rid of them. In my personal experience I’ve discovered that if the problem is persistent, recurrent and does not yield to ordinary forms of Christian discipline, you can be sure 99 percent the problem is inside and the solution is to get it out.