Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Demon Possessed

What does it mean to be demon possessed, and who can be? We need to understand that the term "demon possessed" does not appear in the original language of the New Testament; the literal translation is "demonized" or "having a demon." The question is, what is this, and what are the symptoms? The most common symptom is some sort of physical malady (Matthew 9:32,33; 12:22; Luke 13:16). This does not mean that all illness is demon induced, as demonization was one of a list of things Jesus and His disciples healed (Matthew 4:24; 10:8; Mark 1:34). There are also seizures (Mark 9:17-23, perhaps another form of physical ailment) and psychic powers (Acts 16:16). There are particular cases, though not every case, where the demon speaks, and in one case acts, through the demonized person (Acts 19:13-16; Mark 1:23-26; Luke 4:41). But this seems to be the result of confrontation and may have involved the cooperation of the person who had the demon. There is no indication that the person involved was continually possessed or controlled by the demon. Now there is one extreme case where being demonized clearly disrupted a man's entire life (two men according to Matthew), but this is presented as an extreme case and as the man being afflicted by a legion of demons (Mark 5:2-10; Matthew 8:28,29; Luke 8:27-31). I would therefore regard actual possession as an extreme case and not the necessary meaning of being demonized. Therefore, as to the question of whether Christians can be demonized, I would say they cannot be fully controlled, but I do not think that is what being demonized means. But I also think we should not live in fear, but trust in God to overcome any demonic influence in our lives (1 John 4:4; Ephesians 6:10-13; 1 Peter 5:8-10).

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