Demon Possession

  • 1 Timothy 4:1 1Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, (NKJV)


Interest in demons and demon possession seems to rise and fall every few years.

Many people get their opinions on the matter from Hollywood.

There are so many books on this and related subjects that Solomon’s words come to mind, when he said, “Of making many books there is no end…” (Ecc. 12:12)

Some people point to the extremely wicked people on earth as a proof of demon possession today.

What does the Bible say about the subject?

What is it?

Was there a purpose for it?

Does it happen today?


I. What is “demon possession”?

It is NOT:

A disease, though sometimes the “symptoms” were the same.

  • Matthew 4:24 24Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. (NKJV)

(It is NOT) being “influenced” by the devil to sin.

  • Acts 5:1-3 1But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? (NKJV)

It is:

Definition and distinction between a demon and a devil

“There are two different Greek words translated by the one English word “devil” in the Authorized Version which fact leads to some confusion in our thinking. One word is “diabolos (διαβολος),” which in its literal meaning refers to one who falsely accuses another or slanders him…”

“The other word is “daimonion, (δαιμονιον,)” quite a different word. It was used in pagan Greek writings to refer to an inferior race of divine beings, lower than the Greek gods, but more powerful than men. The Bible uses the term to refer to the evil spirits who are servants of the Devil…”

“There is one Devil and many demons. We must be careful to distinguish between them…”

“The rule for the English reader to follow as he seeks to correctly interpret the passages in which these two Greek words are found, is as follows: First, where the word is found in the plural, as “devils,” always translate by the word “demons,” for the word “daimonion (δαιμονιον)” is in the Greek. Second, where you have the word “devil” in a passage that speaks of a person possessed with a devil, as for instance Matthew 9:32, or a person having a devil as in Luke 7:33, always translate by the word “demon.” Third, where the king of the demons is in view, that awful personality known as Satan, as in Luke 4:2; I Peter 5:8; Revelation 20:2, translate by the word “Devil.” (Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament)

 “Definition. Charles Ryrie defines demon possession as

A demon residing in a person, exerting direct control and influence over that person, with certain derangement of mind and/or body. Demon possession is to be distinguished from demon influence or demon activity in relation to a person. The work of the demon in the latter is from the outside; in demon possession it is from within. By this definition a Christian cannot be possessed by a demon since he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. However, a believer can be the target of demonic activity to such an extent that he may give the appearance of demon possession.” (Ryrie, C. C. (1995, c1972). A survey of Bible doctrine)

An evil spirit residing in a person’s body.

It would take over the person’s body.

  • Mark 9:20-22 20Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. 21So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” (NKJV)

The demons or evil spirits were cast “out” of the person.

  • Mark 9:25 25When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” (NKJV)

Sometimes Jesus would “heal” the person after casting out the evil spirit.

  • Luke 9:42 42And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father. (NKJV)

Historical evidence

No evidence of demon possession prior to Jesus’ ministry.

“Demon” found five times in Old Testament, but not demon possession: Lev 17:7; Deut 32:17; 2 Chron 11:15; Ps 106:37

Isaiah prophesied of the messianic healings.

  • Isaiah 35:4-6 4Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.” 5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert. (NKJV)

The multitude said this was new in Israel.

  • Matthew 9:32-33 32As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a man, mute and demon-possessed. 33And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marveled, saying, “It was never seen like this in Israel!” (NKJV)

There is no evidence of demon possession continuing more than about 20 years after Jesus returned to heaven. (The last case recorded took place approx. 53-55 AD.)

  • Acts 19:10-16 10And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. 11Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. 13Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. 15And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” 16Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. (NKJV)

II. Was there a reason for demon possession at that time? If so, what?

Jesus did many things that proved His deity.

He had authority over diseases.

  • Matthew 4:24 24Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. (NKJV)

He had authority over the laws of nature.

He walked on water.

  • Matthew 14:25-29 25Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 28And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. (NKJV)

He commanded the weather.

  • Mark 4:39 39Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. (NKJV)

He had authority over sin.

  • Mark 2:5-10 5When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” 6And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7“Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 9Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, (NKJV)

He had authority over Satan and his forces.

He could cast out demons.

  • Matthew 8:31 31So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.” (NKJV)

The demons testified to the deity of Christ.

  • Matthew 8:28-29 28When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. 29And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” (NKJV)
  • Mark 1:23-25 23Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” (NKJV)
  • James 2:19 19You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! (NKJV)

John told the purpose for Jesus’ miracles

  • John 20:30-31 30And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (NKJV)

III. Can a person be possessed by demons today?

Jesus bound Satan.

  • Matthew 12:24-29 24Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” 25But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. (NKJV)

He entered his house…

  • Luke 23:43 43And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (NKJV)
  • Acts 2:27 27For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (NKJV)

He bound Satan

  • Revelation 20:1-2 1Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; (NKJV)
  1. The gates of Hades could not stop Him from building His church.
  • Matthew 16:18 18And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (NKJV)

Is Satan powerless?

He is limited in how he can influence us through temptations.

  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 13No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear (NKJV)

We can resist him.

  • James 4:7 7Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (NKJV)

He cannot separate us from the love of God.

  • Romans 8:37-39 37Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NKJV)

We have “blessed assurance”

  • 1 John 4:4 4You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (NKJV)

If we are under his control we have chosen to submit to him.

Satan seeks us.

  • 1 Peter 5:8-9 8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (NKJV)

Even if caught in one of his traps we can escape.

  • 2 Timothy 2:24-26 24And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (NKJV)


Satan is bound, but…[A chained dog can still bite.]

Stay close to God

Trust our Good Shepherd

Stay with the flock!

We do not need to fear the devil.