The past Sunday, I made a decision (mid-sermon) NOT to include the following notes/observations about demons and the demonic influences that we’ve been observing in our study of the Gospel of Mark. So, I said that I would post those thoughts here for people to glance at.
*Most of my outline for this came from Wayne Grudem’s (helpful) chapter on Satan, Angels and Demons in his Systematic Theology.
Warning: don’t fall into the ditch on either side of the road—the ditches are over or under emphasis of Satan and Demons. Some might completely over emphasize the demonic and spiritual warfare to the point that EVERYTHING evil or sinful in their lives is directly attributed to a demonic attack or influence. Actually, the lion’s share of material in the NT pertaining to sin and evil flows from sin as a root cause, not the demonic. Relatively little material is devoted to Satan’s influence. However, the other ditch is just as devastating–demons are not real (you’re hokey if you think they do!) and we should grow up and live in a world that reality = what you see, hear, feel, taste and touch. That makes Satan’s day! Satan and demons are real and they are active today. We need to know this and know our Bibles so we know how to deal with them.
The Demonic Game Plan: Satan and demons seek to oppose and try to destroy every work of God. Satan tempted Eve to sin against God in the garden, tried to get Jesus to sin in the wilderness. Their tactics are lies, deception murder, and every their kind of destructive activity to cause people to turn away from God and destroy themselves. They even blind people to the gospel. 2 Corinthians 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Part of defeating and battling this enemy is to understand their plan of attack. . . and how to overcome it.
Demons are limited by God’s control and have limited power–(See the story of Job!) Demons cannot read our minds or know our thoughts, or know the future. Only Almighty God is omniscient. Demons can observe what goes on and study our lives and tempt and attack accordingly. (Occult, fortune tellers etc.)
Demons are active in the world today—If we believe that the Bible accurately gives an account of the world as it is (it does!), then we need to understand that demonic activity (perhaps to a lesser extent) is part of that reality. Our society is unwilling to admit the existence of demons (except maybe in primitive societies), but that is mainly due to a false sense of reality.
What About Demon Possession? What we see here in Mark, especially in chapter 5 (Gerasene Demoniac) seems to be an extreme case, but absolutely possible. In most cases, we should probably think about demonic attacks in terms of someone being demonized, or tormented by a demon. We would rule out this kind of thing happening to a believer, (no sin shall have dominion over us. . . the Holy Spirit indwells us), but there can be differing degrees of demonic attack or influence in the lives of believers. After all, Jesus was tempted by the Devil! Paul writes of a messenger of Satan given to him:
2 Corinthians 12:7 So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations,1 a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.
James encourages us:
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
How can you recognize demonic influence? Wayne Grudem gives a few biblical markers:
*Bizarre and often violent actions (Gerasene Demoniac in Mark 5)
*Opposition to the gospel and preaching of the gospel (demons opposed to Jesus’ preaching)
Example: The boy in Mark 9—the spirit would seize him and dash him down, foam from the mouth, grind his teeth, threw him into the fire and water to destroy him. He violently convulsed when he came in contact with Jesus.
*Blatantly false doctrine claiming to be by the Spirit
1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit…
*A Subjective Sense of the Demonic [Make sure your seatbelt is securely fastened!] This would be the ability to subjectively/objectively sense demonic activity . . . Paul writes of this gift:
1 Corinthians 12:10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits . . . .
GOOD NEWS: Jesus gives all believers authority to rebuke demons and command them to leave—see Mark 3:15.
Luke 10:17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”
Luke 10:19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.
Acts 8:6-7 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, crying with a loud voice, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.
2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
The basis for our authority over demons is found in the power of Christ on the cross. Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
[Our authority over demons is rooted in Christ and the Cross]
Colossians 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities1 and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
1 John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
*You can listen to this sermon, “Who is Jesus, The Head of the Church,” in it’s entirety HERE.