FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE INCARNATION -

THE DEVIL AND DEMONS IN THE PRESENCE OF JESUS

Matt 4:1-11

Mark 1:13

Luke 4:1-13

'Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil'

This indicates that God's purpose was involved in this temptation of Christ by the devil. From Hebrews 2:9-18; 4:14-16 we learn that this temptation by Satan is an essential component of Christ's identification with us sinners and his qualification as our compassionate high priest. In fact Hebrews states that he was made perfect through the things he suffered [ 2:10]. Without having been exposed to Satan's temptations Christ would not have been able to take our place.

The devil tempted [pressured] Jesus to achieve human allegiance by means contrary to the Word of God.

Hebrews comments that Jesus was tempted at all points as we are, yet without sin.

The devil presented his temptations at a time when Christ was physically weakened [after 40 days fasting]; he based his temptations on the real fact of Christ's deity; he presented Christ with the possibility of achieving the real goal for which he came to earth; and he quoted scripture in an effort to seduce Christ.

All of this points to the subtle wiles of the devil, by which he deceives us into thinking a course of action or way of thinking is okay:

  • Hitting us when we are weak
  • Using true facts to camouflage his deceits
  • Quoting scripture
  • Sounding spiritual
  • Seeming to have the same goals
  • Talking about stuff we value

'When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time' [Luke 4:13]

This indicates that the devil's temptation/pressure/attack is not continuous.

Mark 1:27

'The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching – and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” '

Note: [1] the extraordinary authority of Jesus over the evil spirits. [2] when Jesus speaks the evil spirits obey.

The crowd saw this as something highly unusual and out of the ordinary.

Matt 4:23-24

'… people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralysed, and he healed them.'

Demon possession [demonization] is not automatically associated with any specific illness; it is listed here as a separate condition from, not as causing or associated with, these illnesses. This same distinction is recorded in Matt 8:16; 10:8; Mark 1:32,34; 6:13; Luke 4:40,41; 9:1; `3:32; Acts 19:12.

There is no indication that any of those healed had faith.

In a number of cases the demons verbally and spontaneously acknowledged the divine identity of Jesus.

Matt 8:28-34

Mark 5:1-20

Luke 8:26-38

The healing of the Gaderene[s]

This is the only case of demonization causing insanity recorded in the Gospels.

The only other possible case is in Acts 19:14-16.

This is also the only case in which Jesus is reported to have asked the name of the demon/s, and the only case in which the place to which the demons were to go is identified. [And this was at their request, not Jesus' proactive command.]

In this and some other incidents a characteristic of demon-possession or demonization is evident: that of 'a distinct and evil personality, foreign to the person possessed, has taken control of an individual. This evil personality or demon is able to speak through the mouth of the possessed individual, and to answer when addressed' [Hendriksen].

Another characteristic is that the demons express recognition of the divine identity of Jesus and of his authority over them, something the 'normal' human being does not automatically do.

[See, for example, Mark 1:23-25; Luke 4:33-35; Acts 16:17-18; 19:13-15]

Note that the demons submitted to the authority of Jesus, knowing that they could not even enter the pigs without his permission. Note also their limited knowledge – they obviously did not know that the pigs would all drown and they'd be left with no home.

Note: multiple demons were involved in this case.

Matthew 9:32

'… a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus'

The Greek reads 'a man who was demonized'. The word itself does not infer that the demon was actually in the person. However the fact that the demon was 'driven out' may infer it, although the ekballo can mean to send away, not necessarily to cast out.

In this case the demon appears to have caused the dumbness, for once it had gone away the man began to speak.

There is no indication that this man was a believer. He was brought by others.

Matt 10:1,8

'He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits …'

This command and ability was given to the twelve along with instructions that related only to the period of Christ's incarnation. Just as with Jesus, this ability to perform these miraculous signs was an affirmation that the Messiah, the King of the kingdom, was present. Whether or not the casting out of demons was a long term instruction is not clear in the context.

Matt 12:22

Jesus healed a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute

This is another instance in which demonization and physical disability appear to be linked. Again, no faith is mentioned.

Matt 12:28

'If I drive out demons by the spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. '

Two significant points:

[1] Jesus drove out demons by the Spirit of God

[2] his driving out of demons brought the kingdom of God to people

Matt 15:21-28

Mark 7:24ff

'My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.'

We are not told how the girl suffered. What we are told of is the incredible power and authority of Jesus by which without even speaking a word and without being physically present, he healed the girl from this affliction.

While we are told that the mother had faith, we are told nothing about whether the child believed in Christ.

Luke 8:2

'and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary [called Magdalene] from whom seven demons had come out…'

This is one of the two instances in which someone healed of demons is reported to have come to faith in Christ.

Matt 17:14-20

Mark 9:14-29

Luke 9:37-43

The case of the boy with seizures

Several points come out of this report:

[1] in this case there is an association between the demon and the seizures; Mark reports that the child was also deaf and mute.

[2] as in some other incidents, what Jesus did is called 'healing' the boy not 'casting out' the demon.

[3] Jesus 'rebuked' the evil spirit – an indication of his authority over it.

[4] Jesus indicated that the paucity of the disciples' faith prevented their healing the boy.

[5] He also indicated [in Mark] that 'this kind can come out only by prayer.' This seems to indicate that cases of demonization differed from each other, making some more difficult or complex to heal than others.

[6] This is the only reported case in which Jesus forbids the demon to re-enter its former victim.

Luke 10:17-20

'Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority … to overcome all the power of the enemy; … do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'

Points from this passage:

[1] the authority of the name of Jesus

[2] Jesus' statement about Satan falling 'from heaven' as his disciples made inroads into Satan's kingdom by preaching the kingdom of God and healing the sick and demonized

[3] The need to keep things in perspective: impactive as casting out demons is it is not nearly as important as having one's name written in heaven.

Luke 11:20

'If I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you. '

Christ's divine authority over demons is evidence that the rule of God was on earth in the person of Christ, the King of God's Kingdom. His ability to drive out demons was a sign pointing to his identity as Messiah.

Luke 11:21-22

Matt 12:29

'when someone stronger attacks and overpowers [the strong man], he takes away the armour in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils'

Christ is the 'stronger' man who came and overpowered the 'strong man', the devil, robbed him of his power, and is dispersing his kingdom.

Luke 13:11,16

'a woman … who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years … this woman … whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years'

The woman's physical affliction is seen are the result of Satan. There is no indication that she was possessed by the spirit/demon; simply that her affliction was caused by it. Jesus healed her by laying hands on her. He did not speak to the spirit or command it to leave.

The woman is called 'a daughter of Abraham'; this could mean that she was a true believer; it could also mean simply that she was a physical descendent of Abraham. In any case, it is not reported as a case of demon possession, but of affliction by Satan.

Luke 13:32-33

'I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.'

This could indicate that healing the sick and casting out demons was Christ's preliminary agenda for the period of his ministry leading up to the cross, without any expectation of such a ministry being sustained without limit. Certainly, it was not his primary purpose, but only a temporary one.

John 6:70

'one of you is a devil'

The word Jesus uses here to refer to Judas being a 'devil' is diabolos [= devil], not daimonion [= demon]. Similarly in 13:2, the devil prompted Judas.

John 7:20

'you are demon-possessed'

Here and in John 8:44,48,49,52; 10:20, 21 the Jews affirmed or debated whether or not Jesus was demon possessed. [These are the only references to demon possession in John 's writings.]

Acts 10:38

Jesus ' went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him'

'under the power of the devil' = under the authority of the devil. [katadunasteuo]

From the records of the events of Christ's human life on earth we learn the following:

  1. Jesus Christ, the pure and perfect one, was tempted/pressured by Satan. Point: we must not assume that we are being tempted because of our sinfulness.
  2. Satan attacked Jesus when he was physically weak.
  3. Satan attacked Jesus just after an affirmation of Jesus by God.
  4. Satan attacked Jesus with a view to turning him aside from the God-ordained path.
  5. Jesus rebutted Satan with the Word of God.
  6. Satan quoted Scripture at Jesus, misapplying it; he also made one part of Scripture contradict another.
  7. Demon possession and physical illnesses/disability were not automatically associated.
  8. Demons were responsible for some instances of physical illness/disability; these were not all cases of demon-possession.
  9. Mental illness and demon possession seem to have been automatically associated, rightly or wrongly.
  10. There is no instance in which a person set free from demons is identified as being a person of faith at the time they were suffering from the demons.
  11. Demons took over the speech of certain people.
  12. Demons recognized the identity and authority of Jesus, expressing this verbally, and were subject and obedient to his commands.
  13. Satan had the power to inflict physical disability/ill-health on people.
  14. People were described as being 'demonized'.
  15. Jesus' action in setting people free from demons is variously recorded as: 'healing', commanding the demon to 'come out' of the person, driving out demons.
  16. One person suffered from multiple demons.
  17. Of all those who were cured from demons, only two specific individuals are reported to have consequently followed Jesus [the Gadarene and Mary Magdalene]; Luke 8:2 indicates that some other previously afflicted women also followed him.
  18. The ministry of the disciples [preaching the message of the kingdom; healing the sick; casting out demons] was an attack upon Satan's power, and a demonstration of Christ's Messiahship.
  19. Jesus' authority over the demons was something totally beyond what the people were used to. They obviously were not accustomed to seeing demons so easily routed.
  20. When Jesus dealt with demons there was instantaneous success in routing them. Apart from the Gaderene, he never entered into discussion with them, nor asked them to identify themselves. Also apart from the Gaderene, Jesus did not specify where the demons were to go when they left.
  21. John does not record any encounters between Jesus and demon-possessed people.