Throughout the gospel accounts there is discussion about demons and what they do in the lives of people. Sometimes they bring insanity to a person. When Jesus confronted the man called “Legion” because had had many demons in him, the demons had made a wild, maniac out of him. Every time the people caught him and bound him he would break loose from the chains. He lived in the tombs and usually didn’t wear any clothing. He would cut himself with sharp rocks and would cry out especially at night so that the people around were frightened of him and his cries. When Jesus approached this wild man, the demons inside asked him why he had come to torment them. They pleaded with Jesus not to send them away into the arid areas but to allow them to enter the herd of pigs that were near them. Jesus allowed the demons to leave the man and enter the pigs. It is insightful both to see what happened to the pigs when the demons entered them and what happened to the man when the demons left him. The pigs were driven wild. They ran into the sea and were drowned. But the man who had been a wild man was now sane, clothed and in his right mind as he sat listening to Jesus talk with him. When the people of the area came to see what had happened they saw the man and the change in him, but were disturbed that Jesus had allowed the demons to enter their pigs. They asked Jesus to leave their coast. The Master left, never staying where people didn’t want him to be. But as he prepared to leave the man who had been healed asked, “Lord, allow me to go with you.” But Jesus had a different mission for him. He wanted him to go home to his own people and tell them what great things the Lord had done for him. As much as being with the Lord seemed like a dream come true, fulfilling the mission God gave him was more significant than being with Jesus. He went out telling people what the Lord had done for him. It changed the attitude of the people in the area. When Jesus came back to that area they asked him to stay and many came to faith in Jesus the Messiah.
Mary Magdalene was said to be one out of whom the Lord cast seven demons. She became one of the closest friends with Jesus and was the first at his tomb after his burial. She was the first to witness him as the resurrected Lord. She often traveled with Jesus and the group of men around him. LUke even mentions that these women supported the Lord and his disciples in their ministry (Luke 8:1-4). She seems to have been an immoral woman until Jesus cast the demons out and her whole life changed.
In Matthew 17 and Luke 9 the story is told of a father who brought his son to Jesus and his disciples that they might cast the demon out of the boy. His disciples were down at the bottom of the mountain while Jesus, Peter, James and John were on the mountain with Jesus being transfigured in the sight of Peter, James and John. When Jesus and his companions came down off the mountain there was a crowd gathering to see what was going on. Jesus asked the man what was going on and he told the Lord he had brought his son to him to be healed. He was possessed by a demon and the demon would often cast him into the fire or into the water and it will take huge efforts to spare his life in such times. The man said to Jesus, “If you can please cast the demon out.” Jesus responded, “If I can, all things are possible to the one who believes.” The man said, “I believe. Help my unbelief.” Jesus cast the demon from the man’s son and he was freed from the torment of the demon from that point on. Just about everything in our lives can be directed by Satan and He can overwhelm us to the degree we live far below the human standards God has set up.
In the gospel accounts demons made some blind, some deaf, some unable to stand up straight. They seemed to be the masters at giving people the worst kinds of ailments that a person could have. What stands out in every story about demons and people possessed by them is that when Jesus came into contact with the demon or the person who had the demon he could both heal the disease for the person and cast the demon out of him. Jesus always had greater power than the demons even if there were huge numbers of the demons.
There is one story about demons that Jesus told that makes the whole subject easier to understand. He pictured a man driving the demons out of his life. They went out and searched through arid places looking for rest but didn’t find it. The demons came back to the man where they had lived before and found the place empty, swept and clean. They left the man and recruited seven more demons more wicked than them and brought them to live in the man. The last state of the man was worship than the first. Notice the man had control over whether the demons stayed or left. But it is common for demons to try to come back to the one where they have been. If we leave the place empty we are sending the signal that the demons can come back and when they do we are worse off than ever. We need to cast the demons out and then fill our lives with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, fill it with good, faithful service to the Lord so that there is no room for the demons when they come back to see if we’ve left room for them.
Do people still have demons who possess them today? In Ephesians 6:10-17 Paul called upon us to be strong in the Lord and in he power of his might. He said for us to put on the whole armor of God so we can stand against the tricks of the devil. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers and against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Our spiritual warfare is against demonic forces, not other humans. Perhaps demon possession is not the same as it was in that day. But it is certain demons are still very active and that they can take over a person’s life if they leave it empty. We need the full armor of God to stand against Satan and his demons.
Don’t try to go into battle with Satan or his demons only half armed. It will lead to a tragic end.