What is Demon Possession?
How does the Bible describe and define demon-possession? In order to properly understand the biblical teaching about spiritual warfare,we must start with a clear understanding of what Scripture means when it refers to demon-possession.
A wrong perspective on this matter will result in misunderstanding God's Word as He has spoken it, causing us to rely instead on human opinion.
Since there is no clear example of demon possession in the Old Testament, our examination will concentrate on the New Testament.
The New Testament uses more than one term to refer to demon possession.
First is the Greek word daimonizomai, which is a participial form of the more commonly used noun for demon(daimonion).
Daimonizomai is usually translated "to be possessed by a demon," or when it is used to describe a person in that condition it is rendered "demoniac."
The word is used 13 times, all in the Gospels, and i usually referred to by the English expression "to be demonized."
The second term in the Greek is daimonion echein, "to have a demon." This phrase is used 8 times in Matthew, Luke, and John.
The Greek grammar conveys the idea that the subject is characterized by having a demon indwell him.
If we allow any basis at all for extra-biblical thought on this matter, it can open up a floodgate of errant thought.
Let's see how the Bible alone describes demon possession.
The true picture.
Since systematic definition is given in the Bible of demon possession, the best way to understand this issue is to look at the characteristics of demonitization in the biblical examples.
We see from the two basic terms noted above that someone who is said to be "demonized" or "to have a demon" is a person who has one or more demons dwelling within him/her.
For example,while the Gadarene demoniac is labeled as "demonized" in Mark 5:15,16,18, he is said to "have a demon" in Luke 8:27.
A variation of this synonymous usage occurs when demon-possessed people are said to "have an unclean spirit" (Mark 5:2,8)or are described by a similar term. A popular approach today is to say that the idea of demon possession per se is not in the Greek of the New Testament:
To be demonized, means to be under the control of one or more demons. Demonization is not a matter of extremes, such as the either/or idea of being completely free or totally bound,it's a matter of degrees.
This approach commits the fallacy of defining a word on its root meaning, or etymology, rather than on how the word is actually used. "Demonized" and "to have a demon" are used in Scripture of onlyone extreme: to be inwardly controlled by an indwelling demon.
They are never used to describe a case involving anything less.
For example, these terms never describe satan's activities of accusation, temptation, deception, or persecution; they describe only the extreme case of being inwardly controlled by a demon.
Jesus gives us a picture of demon-possession in one of His dialouges with the Pharisees. In Matthew 12:28,29,43-45 Jesus pictures the possessed victim as a house in which demons dwell. Casting out the demons is analogous to throwing the inhabitants out of the house.
Therefore it is clear that demon-possession includes evil/unclean spirits, another term for demons, indwelling an individual.This is further reinforced by the terms used to describe the moving in and eviction of demons from their captive.
Both transitions are recorded in Mark 5:13, with the "coming out" of the demons from their human hostage as they then "entered into" the herd of swine.
Mary Magdalene is described in Luke 8:2 as the women "from whom seven demons had gone out."
Biblical demon-possession is the direct, inward control of demons (also called evil spirits) of their victim by residing in him.
We'll now examine the crucial issue of
whether or not Christians can be demon-possessed. Can this happen to Christians?
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