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Bible verses about Demonic Spirits
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Are the Devil and his demons real? The gospels leave no doubt that Jesus believed that the Devil and demons exist and that they have evil influence in and over human beings. Knowing that these powers of darkness are dreadful forces of evil, Jesus spoke of them with a serious intensity and authority. He also did not hesitate to declare openly the evil manifested in people's minds and bodies as coming from the source of evil, Satan the Devil.

Demons are angelic beings who rebelled with Satan and were expelled from heaven with their master. According to examples in Scripture, the Devil's power is exercised in a three-fold way: 1) directly by himself, 2) by the demons who are subject to him, and 3) through human beings whom he influences and/or possesses. People who have rejected God's authority and love are in subjection to the supernatural power of Satan and his wicked way of life. A person's personality and will is taken over by these deceiving, lawless spirit invaders.

When possessed, the human body and mind are intruded by a spiritual parasite, causing conflict and disharmony. Like hypnosis, demonic possession cannot take place without a willing subject. Satan entered Judas because the man opened up an entranceway for the Devil by betraying the Son of God. Judas first entertained a thought from Satan before Satan himself entered, as the apostle John explains, "The devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot . . ." (John 13:2, 27; see I Samuel 16:14; I Kings 22:21-23).

When a person loses control of himself, Satan can take control, and evil spirits have the opportunity to enter suddenly. In addition, immorality often precedes demon possession. When a person gives in to his sensual desires or to hatred and greed, he sets himself up for possible possession, or at the very least, strong demonic influence.

Most people are at least somewhat demon-influenced through Satan's broadcast of his evil attitudes and are enticed to sin (see Ephesians 2:2; Revelation 12:9). A quick glance at society reveals a perverse influence to pursue wickedness. An evil thought is introduced into the human mind, and human desire is motivated to pursue the yearning: "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:14-15). Demon influence begins with subtle suggestion and enticement, but it can later lead to a person's becoming demon possessed, captive to the Devil, and as his slave, sinking into deep degradation.

Evil spirits can take possession of human bodies. People sometimes invite demons to do so, and they become intimately acquainted, even friendly, with them. They are then called "familiar spirits" (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27). God instructs ancient Israel to put to death anyone who intentionally invites a demon to enter him. Once possession takes effect, sensuality and violence become more evident, as the person finds it difficult to resist the demon's will. Physical, mental, and spiritual disorders increase exponentially during possession, and the confusion, anguish, and mental filth caused by unclean spirits can result in insanity.

Not all disorders are the result of demonic possession (Matthew 4:23, 24; 10:1; 11:5). However, insanity, epilepsy, blindness, fevers, and various mental illnesses are frequent accompaniments and symptoms of demon possession (Matthew 12:22; 9:32; Mark 9:17, 25; Luke 11:14-16). Even so, Scripture does not necessarily identify these disorders with demon possession, though they may have been aggravated by these dark powers.

In the case of the demon-possessed man in Matthew 8, he obviously suffered from some sort of insanity. Demon possession is not just another name for madness, as they are clearly distinguished in Matthew 4:24. The Gadarene demoniac's disease was the result of his own wickedness, and the extreme demonic element added to his madness.

The apostle Paul mentions that the Gentiles sacrificed to demons (I Corinthians 10:20; also Leviticus 17:7; II Chronicles 11:15; Psalm 106:37), and demon possession is still an undoubted fact in many areas of the world. The Devil, as the prince of the power of the air, regulates the present way of life of the world, working in children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2). People yield themselves to his authority, and as a result, they become slaves to this evil power (Romans 6:16).

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Two Demon-Possessed Men Healed (Part One)

Genesis 15:8-17

In Genesis 15:8-17, Abraham asks for evidence that God will follow through. He receives a command to prepare a sacrifice and an additional prophecy concerning his family's future. Genesis 15:12 shows that he made the sacrifice during the daylight part of the 14th. By this sacrifice, God ratifies His promise to Abraham.

Many have wondered why Christ was sacrificed during the daylight portion of the 14th, in the afternoon, rather than at its beginning and more in alignment with the Passover service in the twilight portion of the 14th. This reveals why. Even as He ratified His covenant of promise with Abraham by this sacrifice, Christ's sacrifice provides the ratification of the New Covenant. Christ's sacrifice, by God's decree, had to align with the ratification of His covenant of promise with Abraham. In Christ's sacrifice, death, and burial, God's draws together in one event the main elements of both the covenant of promise with Abraham and the Passover.

Notice especially how close this chronological alignment is. Verse 12 specifically states, "When the sun was going down." Thus, this sacrifice, like Christ's, took place in the afternoon. In the late afternoon, a great darkness and horror fell upon Abraham, allowing him to experience a small taste of the horror Christ faced in His crucifixion when God forsook Him. In addition, Moses inserts a detail that is not so readily apparent at Christ's crucifixion: that Abraham had to beat off some vultures. Vile birds are a Bible symbol of demons. This detail suggests that a great spiritual battle occurred, during which the demons taunted and persecuted Christ to induce Him to give up. He had to fight them off alone because the Father had forsaken Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Countdown to Pentecost 2001

Exodus 34:14-16

God does not stop with one form of idolatry because He again specifically warns in Leviticus 17:7: "They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations." And again in Leviticus 20:6, "And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Nine): Babylon the Great

1 Samuel 28:11-14

The narrative tells us nothing about the procedure the woman went through in conducting the séance for Saul. We might imagine the classical setting of a fortuneteller's dark room, a few chairs around a table, a crystal ball sitting atop the table, and perhaps a lone candle flickering off to the side. Saul's séance was probably nothing like this. She may have pretended to scry in a bowl of water or maybe she gazed in the fire or perhaps she burned some incense in a censer and sought images in the smoke. She may not have done any of these things, but simply closed her eyes and fell theatrically into a trance.

All we really know is that, this time, the woman really sees something—Samuel, she thinks—and cries out at the sight (verse 12). Immediately, she turns to Saul and identifies him by name, asking, “Why have you deceived me?” The details of this verse confirm that the woman is a fraud: She pretends to be a medium, but she never really contacts the dead. Yet, this time is different, and it scares her.

Her client, she guesses, must be someone special, and who but Saul has enough pull with God and the prophet Samuel to cause him to appear—to her!—so long after his death? In addition, she suddenly realizes that, like the king, this man is tall—taller than any other man that she had ever seen in Israel (I Samuel 9:1-2). She immediately fears again for her life, thinking that Saul had tricked her into revealing herself as a medium.

That the woman is afraid of the apparition is a clue that she does not see a friendly spirit. Scripture contains a number of instances of people seeing angels, and in nearly every case, the angel speaks positive, soothing words (see, for example, Judges 6:12; 13:3; Daniel 9:22-23; 10:11-12; Luke 1:12-13, 29-30; 2:8-10; Revelation 1:17; etc.). On the other hand, when Job's friend, Eliphaz, has a demon-inspired dream and sees a spirit pass before his face, he feels extreme fear and receives no comfort (Job 4:12-21).

The text says that “the woman saw Samuel,” but upon further study, it is clear that she only thinks she sees Samuel. She had called for Samuel at Saul's request, and a spirit rose before her, so she assumes that it is indeed Samuel. However, when Saul presses her, “What did you see?” she replies more vaguely, “I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth” (I Samuel 28:13). Note that Saul sees nothing; he has to ask her what she sees.

The fact that the spirit rises “out of the earth” is a telling detail. The Bible consistently indicates that spirits that come from the earth are not from God, as His messengers come from Him in heaven (see Galatians 1:8; Revelation 10:1; 14:6, 17; 15:1; 18:1; 20:1; etc.). Spirits associated with the earth are demons, who come from Satan, the god of this world (II Corinthians 4:4; see Job 1:6-7; 2:1-2; Luke 4:5-7; Revelation 12:9; 13:1-2, 11; 16:13-14). The writer of the book is indicating that this spirit is not Samuel but a demon impersonating him.

In Hebrew, the woman describes this being as elohim. She may have meant that the spirit was one of the “strong ones,” which is the meaning of its root, el, but that is unlikely. Here, the word is accompanied by a plural verb, so her actual words are, “I saw gods ascend out of the earth.” When elohim is paired with a plural verb, it is a scriptural indication of pagan gods (see Psalm 96:5; 97:7). Most likely, several spirits rose with the one she thought was Samuel. Would not the great prophet be accompanied by a retinue of angels?

Saul is not content with her vague answer, so he seeks more detail. She replies that she sees “an old man . . . covered with a mantle” (I Samuel 28:14), and from this meager description, Saul perceives that the spirit is the dead prophet and prostrates himself. Why is her scant description so convincing?

Samuel had indeed been an old man when he had died (perhaps as old as 92), a fact everyone knew. However, what sways the king is the mention of a mantle, a loose outer cloak (like an overcoat) that, it appears, had already become associated with prophets. Less than two centuries later, in the days of Elijah and Elisha, a prophet passing his mantle on to another would indicate the transferal of the office (see I Kings 19:16, 19). That Elisha later duplicates one of Elijah's miracles with the mantle verifies his status as prophet (II Kings 2:8, 14). Perhaps Samuel himself had begun this tradition by wearing such a mantle.

Whatever the case, Saul wants the apparition to be Samuel so that he could get some answers. These two nebulous details prove to be enough to sell him on the identification.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What Happened at En Dor?

1 Kings 22:20-22

I Kings 22:20-22 presents an incident during which a demon was used to convey a message. This demon did not suddenly appear, walk up to Ahab's false prophets, and say, "I am going to tell lies through you so Ahab can be lured into battle and lose his life." No, the demon remained invisible, transferring its thoughts into the false prophets' minds. To all concerned, during the meetings held to counsel Ahab, it appeared to human eyes and ears that the lying counsel was initiated solely by Ahab's advisors. The Bible gives no indication that they deliberately conspired to dupe him. At the same time, the advisors themselves were unaware they were being used in that manner. However, God's Word reveals that they had all received unseen and unheard communication from a single, invisible demon.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Communication and Leaving Babylon (Part Two)

Job 2:6

Here is a principle that we can take great comfort in. As He does with Job, God also deals with us. God has set limits on what Satan or the demons are able to do with or to us. God deals with us according to the measure of our faith, our love, the measure of His Spirit within us. By faith, we have to deal with what He allows to occur, understanding that we love God for what He is and not because He has given us good things. That is an additional blessing.

We see, then, that from time to time we will have to overcome the demons that God allows to test us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 1)

Job 4:12-21

When we closely examine the nature of the being that troubled Job's friend, we learn that this spirit appealed to the carnal desire for a special revelation. If we remember the content of serpent's appeal to Eve, "Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5), we see a similarity.

We notice that the spirit came at nighttime, in the form of a nightmare, an approach that could be characterized as intimidation, not an approach that God chooses to use with believers. We remember from Paul's second letter to Timothy that "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (II Timothy 1:7).

Generally in Scripture, when people express fear at the appearance of angels, the angels comfort them, saying something akin to "Fear not" (see, for example, Daniel 10:12; Luke 1:13, 30; Revelation 1:17). Yet, this elusive being in Job 4 prefers to remain obscure and daunting, something atypical throughout God's Word.

We also observe that this spirit's message begins with an accusation, a technique usually ascribed to Satan (Revelation 12:10). The being insinuates that God does not trust the angels. However, we understand that God often entrusted His Word and weighty responsibilities to angels. If this spirit is so sensitive about God charging some of His angels with folly, it is perhaps that this message came from one of the rebellious angels who followed Satan. It is no wonder this evil spirit had bitterness and animosity against God.

In several places, the Bible contradicts the assertions that this demon makes. In fact, God Almighty has trusted His church—human beings!—with the mandate to carry His priceless gospel throughout the world. As for no one observing when a person perishes, we are assured by Christ Himself that no human being ever dies without God being mindful. As He keeps meticulous records of all the falling sparrows (Matthew 10:29), He also keeps track of the deaths of His saints, which He regards as precious (Psalm 116:15). Our God is not intent on destroying us, as the demon intimates, but as Paul writes in Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

Several Bible commentaries, including Barnes Notes, erroneously suppose that this communication is consistent with God's revelations. We can extrapolate from God's stern rebuke of Job's friends (Job 42:7-9) that He considered the communication not to have been consistent with His character.

Remember, the main principle of interpreting Scripture is that the Bible interprets itself. Contextually, then, Eliphaz probably received his counsel from a familiar spirit totally out of sync with the whole counsel of Scripture.

David F. Maas
The Gift of Discerning Spirits

Matthew 8:28-34

In this miracle, (Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; and Luke 8:26-39), Jesus Christ commands unclean spirits to come out of two men. Demons must obey Jesus even if people do not. Even so, the demons do not obey Christ's command immediately. They object, unwilling to abandon their victims. Christ could have compelled them to come out of the men immediately if He had wished, but the men may not have been able to survive the exorcism on their own strength.

In a separate incident, Mark 9:26-27 informs us, "Then the spirit [one demon] cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, 'He is dead.' But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose." Here, the exorcism had induced convulsions in the man as a single demon left him. Both exorcisms were under Christ's control; He used His great power but with wise, gentle, and cautious concern.

Jesus addresses the men as if they are possessed by a single spirit, but the demon's answer, giving his name as "Legion," shows that he led a company of demons. Mark records that the swine that the demons entered after their exorcism numbered about two thousand (Mark 5:13). If this was the number inhabiting the two men—each with its own personality, all under the power of one will, animated by one purpose and united in operation—then the plight of the two men must have been horrific in the extreme.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Two Demon-Possessed Men Healed (Part Three)

Matthew 8:31

Christ does not send the demons into the swine but merely out of the men, nor does He drive the pigs into the sea through a divine miracle, but the demons themselves do it by divine consent.

There may be an element of judgment here on the owners for raising the swine as food (Leviticus 11:4-8). While Jews do not eat pork, Roman soldiers did, and providing unclean meat for others does not seem to have bothered the Jews' consciences. Thus, the destruction of their swine is deserved punishment for violating God's law.

The Bible tells us of demonic powers entering into only two species of animals: the serpent—a symbol of deception and shrewdness—and the swine—a symbol of uncleanness. What more appropriate place is there for unclean spirits to be contained than in swine?

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Two Demon-Possessed Men Healed (Part Three)

Mark 5:2

Christ was met by the unclean men coming out of the tombs. These rock-hewn tombs were repulsive to the Jews and to dwell in them was deemed a sign of insanity. Because of the remains of the dead they contained, they were shunned by the Jews as unclean (Matthew 23:27). Under the Old Covenant, one could be physically defiled by touching a dead body. Even when a person died in a tent, the whole tent was regarded as unclean (Numbers 19:11, 14).

Unclean in Scripture means "to be defiled, polluted, unhealthy, or unfit," and refers to foods that are unfit, defilement of religious character, and moral or spiritual impurity. The word "defilement" describes a sinful and unfit condition (Isaiah 6:5). The Old Testament distinguishes between what is clean and helpful and what is unclean and unacceptable (Leviticus 10:10). The New Testament deals more with the spiritual application and lists uncleanness or moral defilement along with fornication and other sins as "works of the flesh" (Galatians 5:19-21).

In the gospels, "unclean" describes those who are possessed by demonic spirits through constant submission to evil. Uncleanness represents sin, and sin separates man from God. Because of sin, "we are all like an unclean thing" (Isaiah 64:6). Believers are not called to uncleanness but to live in holiness (I Thessalonians 4:7). We are not to yield our members to uncleanness but to righteousness and holiness (Romans 6:19).

The teaching about uncleanness springs from the concept of God's holiness (Leviticus 11:44-45). It is a miracle in itself that freedom from uncleanness and guilt is possible through God's grace. Holiness within, purity of heart, is possible through the exercise of faith in Christ's redemptive work and obedience to His truth.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Two-Demon Possessed Men Healed (Part Two)

Acts 16:16-18

A woman possessed by a demon begins to follow Paul and his party, calling them "servants of the Most High God" (verses 16-17). Though this is true, it greatly distresses Paul because the Jews might conclude that he consorted with soothsayers, unlawful according to Leviticus 19:31; 20:6; and Deuteronomy 18:9-14. From their point of view, the Gentiles might consider the religion Paul preached to be as pagan as all the other religions of the time. Thus, Paul commands the demon to leave the woman in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 16:18).

Her employers, who made quite a profit by her fortune telling, are not pleased because her supernatural abilities disappeared with the demon. So they haul Paul and Silas before the city courts (verse 18).

Mark Schindler
Ingratitude

2 Corinthians 11:14-15

The Bible does not typically portray practitioners of the occult and the demons behind them in a particularly macabre way. We moderns have been conditioned to imagine Satan, his demons, and their human minions as dark beings of pure ugliness, bearing attributes of horror and death. We have swallowed this deception from our historical culture and from the images presented by the media to entertain the masses and make millions of dollars.

Yet, while God's Word warns us against Satanic deceptions, it does not provide the standard horror movie images. In fact, it often does just the opposite, cautioning us with the fact that the Devil and his demons do their best to appear as appealing to our senses as they can be. From what we see in Genesis 3, the serpent did not repulse Eve; to her in her innocence, he was logical and quite convincing. In Ezekiel 28, the description of the king of Tyre, a type of Satan, lauds him as “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (verse 12). It describes a creature whose beauty and magnificence turned his heart proud and corrupt (verse 17).

Though he and his demons have been cast down, at least some of their beauty remains, for Paul tells us in II Corinthians 11:14-15: “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers [servants] also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” Demons do not always look like snakes, dragons, gargoyles, or goblins but have the ability to appear attractive to us when it suits them. If accosted by a ghoul, we would shrink in horror and flee. Demons, though, are all about deception, and appearing as good and beautiful is far more subversive. People are far more likely to trust a physically appealing person than an old hag or troll.

Thus, while the tone of I Samuel 28 is at times stressed, suspicious, and fearful—as one would expect when encountering demonic powers—there is nothing blatantly horrifying or even ugly in the narrative. This tells us that a demon, being manipulative to the extreme, will appear to a person in a way that he thinks will work best for his purposes. A demon will stoop to whatever trick he deems necessary, even to appearing as a minister of righteousness.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What Happened at En Dor?


 




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