‘Then 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 (Matthew 4:24).’
Jesus demonstrated His deity by healing people of ‘various diseases and torments’. Apart from paralytics and those with epilepsy He also healed those who were ‘demon-possessed’. What this clearly shows is that demon-possession is a condition separate and different from the others listed in Matthew 4:24. Many times Jesus cured people who were tormented and controlled by demons. [*See the Scriptures set out below.]
Matthew 8:16 states that He healed ‘many’ who were demon-possessed by speaking to their demons with such power that He ‘cast’ ‘them ‘out’. Although the demons had power over those whom they had entered, their power was no match for Jesus.
In the case of the demon-possessed men who lived in the tombs in the country of the Gergesenes (Matthew 8:28-32), they made the men ‘exceedingly fierce’, and because of this no one was able to go near them. This didn’t prevent Jesus from going to them. In fact, it seems he went out of his way to meet them (v 28). He encountered the men, and the demons spoke to Him [presumably through the mouths of the men (cf Mark 1:24)], saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come to torment us before the time (v 29)?”
They recognised the sovereignty and authority of Jesus, and that He was the One who would ultimately destroy them (v 29). They guessed their time had come, because they no longer had power over their victims. They were defenceless, and Jesus no longer permitted them to reside in the souls of the men they were tormenting.
Under the circumstances they begged Jesus for Him to cast them into the herd of ‘swine’ that were feeding nearby. Now we know that swine do not have souls, but nevertheless, like all animals, they each have a spirit (Ecclesiastes 3:21). Animals are not judged for trespassing against God, and they are not accountable to Him for the way in which they live. They do not go to heaven, and they have no future after death. They simply ‘perish’ (Matthew 8:32), or they are destroyed (Mark 1:24).
Having been cast into the swine, the demons were consigned to the sea where they ‘perished in the water (Matthew 8:32)’, along with the swine. Unlike animals, however, this does not mean they will not be punished for their evil doings (Matthew 8:29).
What are Demons?
The question arises, “What exactly are demons?”
They have power over people (Matthew 9:32, 33; 12:22) and not for good. No demon is good. In fact they are evil. We describe them as ‘demonic’; they are agents who carry out the evil works of the devil, i.e., satan. They are satanical. They are devilish. God’s Word describes them as ‘unclean spirits’ (Matthew 10:1). Jesus gave power to His twelve disciples to cast them out (v 1; Luke 9:1), just as He cast them out (Mark 9:25; 16:9; Luke 4:35).
The Scriptures nowhere show that it is possible for a demon to enter a person who is saved, i.e., one in whom the Holy Spirit dwells (2 Timothy 1:14), and whose body is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19). In fact, it is impossible for the servants of Beelzebub (Luke 11:18) to be partners with believers in Christ. They cannot coexist (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
Demons are spirits (Luke 4:33). They have no spiritual bodily form, unlike the holy angels who carry out the bidding of God (Matthew 28:2, 3; Acts 1:10, 11). Not surprisingly, demons have an acute awareness of ‘Christ, the Son of God’ (Luke 4:41). They recognise their vulnerability before Him, and they tremble (James 2:19) because they know that He is the Son of God!
Paul when he wrote to the Ephesian Christians, said they were to ‘stand against the wiles of the devil’ and against ‘spiritual hosts of wickedness (Ephesians 6:11, 12)’.
Demons are the agents of satan (Luke 11:18). They do his bidding and collude with him. They are very real, just as God’s holy angels are real (Psalm 91:11, 12; Acts 19:13-17). We don’t see them, because they have no physical form, but they are at work night and day in the employ of the devil (1 Peter 5:8). Their aim is to destroy (v 8) those whom they inhabit. They cooperate with one another and make things worse for their host (Matthew 12:43-45).
Demons are no match for Jesus who has compassion on the demon-possessed (Matthew 15:22-28). This is a great comfort to all who hope in Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:3, 4; 2:19).
Demon-possession is distinctly different from schizophrenia with which sufferers may ‘hear’ voices and experience hallucinations, and with which they may be tormented. Matthew 4:24 shows there is a difference between the two.
I have only once come into contact with a person I thought may have been demon-possessed. What I perceived was far more than madness, far more than a psychological condition. I can only describe her as one who was suffering severely from an inward controlling force that overwhelmed her, causing her great distress and suffering. She was not herself. Her words and actions were foul.
She was sectioned and taken to a secure unit for her own protection and for the safety of the general public.
*Scriptures that mention Demons
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 generation.’
Deuteronomy 32:17 ‘They sacrificed to demons, not to God, to gods they did not know, to new gods, new arrivals that your fathers did not fear.’
2 Chronicles 11:15 ‘Then he appointed for himself priests for the high places, for the demons, and the calf idols which he had made.”
Psalm 106:35-38 ‘But they mingled with the Gentiles and learned their works; they served their idols, which became a snare to them, they even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons, and shed innocent blood’.
Matthew 4:24 ‘Then 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.’
Matthew 8:16, 17 ‘When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.
Matthew 8:28, 29 ‘When 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. And suddenly they cried out saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come to torment us before the time?”
Matthew 9:33 ‘And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marvelled, saying, “It was never seen like this in Israel!”’
Matthew 10:1 ‘And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of disease.’
Matthew 12:22 ‘Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed Him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.’
Matthew 12:2 ‘“But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”’
Matthew 12:43-45 ‘“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds is empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it be with this wicked generation.”’
Matthew 15:22, 28 ‘And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” ….Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O women, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from the very hour.’
Mark 1:34 ‘Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.’
Mark 3:14, 15 ‘Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out demons.’
Mark 5:12, 13 ‘So all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.” And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.’
Mark 6:12, 13 ‘So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.’
Mark 9:17, 20, 22, 25, 26, 27 ‘Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who has a mute spirit. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. …… Then they brought him to Him. And when He saw him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell to the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. ……. “And 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.” …….. He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit 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.’
Mark 16:9 ‘Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He has cast seven demons.’
Luke 4:33-35 ‘Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, saying, “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!” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him.’
Luke 4:41 ‘And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God.’’
Luke 8: 26, 32, 33 ‘ ….., there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. . And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. …… Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place, into the lake and drowned.’
Luke 9:1 ‘Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.’
Luke 9:39, 42 “And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth; and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him.” ……. And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father.
Luke 10:17 ‘Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”’
Luke 11:14, 15 ‘And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute. So it was, when the demon had gone out, that the mute spoke; and multitudes marvelled. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”’
Luke 13:32 ‘And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’”
John 8:48, 49 ‘Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honour My Father, and you dishonour Me.”’
John 10:19, 20 ‘And many of them said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?” Others said, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
1 Corinthians 10:20 ‘Rather, that things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.’
Ephesians 6:12 ‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.’
1 Timothy 4:1 ‘Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.’
James 2:19 ‘You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble!’
Revelation 9:20 ‘But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see no hear nor walk.’
Revelation 12:7-9 ‘And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’
Revelation 16:14 ‘For they were spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and the whole of the world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty.’
Revelation 18:2 ‘And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird.’