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Warfare Part 1b:
A Study of Demonic Activity
Warfare Part 1a: A Study of Demonic Activity
Warfare Part 1b: A Study of Demonic Activity
Warfare Part 2a: The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer
Warfare Part 2b: The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer
Warfare Part 2c: The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer
Warfare Part 2d: The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer
Warfare P. 3a: Biblical/Historic View of Angels & Demons
Warfare P. 3b: Biblical/Historic View of Angels & Demons
Warfare P. 3c: Biblical/Historic View of Angels & Demons
Warfare Study Conclusions
Warfare Additional Quotes and Definitions
Results of Demon Possession
A survey of the New Testament reveals a total of 14 places
where demonic possession (demonic activity) is discussed.
These 14 passages can be further subdivided into two categories:
1) 10 individual instances of demon possession and 2) 4 group
mentions of demon possession.
From these 14 cases we can assess the results of demon possession.
According to the New Testament, demon possession can result
in one or both of two states.
There are 4 instances of demon possession resulting in chronic
(prolonged or sustained) physical sickness, disease, or disability
of the human host.
1) A demon of dumbness - Matthew 9:32, Luke 11:14
2) A demon of blindness and dumbness - Matthew 12:22
3) A demon possessed son (with epilepsy) - Matthew 17:14-21,
Mark 9:17-25, Luke 39-42
4) A woman with a spirit of infirmity (bent forward) - Luke
There are 9 instances where the demon spirit actually supplants
the human spirit as the operator of the body.
1) The man* at the tombs - Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:2-16, Luke
2) A demon possessed son (after the transfiguration) - Matthew
17:14-21, Mark 9:17-25, Luke 39-42
3) A demon possessed man in the synagogue (Capernaum) - Mark
1:23-27, Luke 4:33-36
4) Demons cast out of many - Mark 1:34
5) Unclean spirits fall down before Jesus - Mark 3:11
6) Demons came out of many - Luke 4:40-41
7) Many with unclean spirits - Acts 8:7
8) A slave girl with a spirit of divination - Acts 16:16-18
9) The sons of Sceva, Jewish exorcists and a demon possessed
man - Acts 19:13-16
(NOTE: This totals 13 instances, the case of the Canaanite
woman's daughter has been left out since it cannot be clearly
identified as to which category it belongs - Matthew 15:22
and Mark 7:25-30.)
From all of these cases of demon possession that are recorded
for us in the New Testament we can see that demonic activity
is when a demon spirit dwells in the body of a human resulting
in either prolonged physical sickness, disease, or disability
OR when the demon spirit actually replaces the human spirit
as the operator of the body. In each of the 9 cases of this
second type, we see that the demons involved caused the person
to act and even spoke through them, proving that the demon
spirit was operating the mechanisms of the human body overriding
the will of the person they possessed.
In addition, this survey of demonic activity also allows us
to dismiss another modern misconception about demonic activity,
specifically the misconception that demonic presence and activity
is not always apparent. In every Biblical case of demonic
activity it is recorded clearly that the presence of the demon
and their possession of the person involved was undeniably
apparent to all those observing the situation.
In each case there is always some clear, outward, physical
manifestation of the demon's presence and indication that
they were in possession of the person involved. These manifestations
came in reaction to the presence of Jesus Christ or his disciples.
They also took the form of inexplicable behavior, the demon
speaking through the person, or of some physical affliction.
There are NO cases presented in the Bible of a demon-possessed
person where the presence of the demon is not clearly and
readily apparent from external manifestations. Therefore,
to suppose that demon possession can occur without being apparent
through these types of manifestations is to state what the
Bible does not, and as such, would be completely unbiblical.
But what about Saul?
The Old Testament records for us that Saul was tormented by
an evil spirit sent from God (1 Samuel 16:14, 23, 18:10, 19:9).
In the case of Saul, the evil spirit does not possess him
as the New Testament presents demon possession, in that it
does not either cause prolonged physical infirmity, nor does
it replace his spirit as the operator of his body. Instead,
the spirit comes and goes multiple times only causing Saul
to become enraged (or violent).
Does this then contradict our conclusions from the New Testament
about demonic activity? No. Saul's case is unique, which prevents
us from using it in order to generate universal rules about
demonic activity in a broad sense. Not only is Saul's case
the only one in which a demon neither causes prolonged physical
infirmity nor takes control of the person's body, but it is
the only case in which the evil spirit is sent by God to torment
a person. Based on these factors and our comparison to the
New Testament's description of demonic activity, we must conclude
that Saul is a unique case. And we must conclude that our
understanding about the general nature of demonic activity
is more adequately generated by these many cases from the
New Testament and not the single, isolated Old Testament instance
Now that we have laid the groundwork through our New Testament
survey of demonic possession we will turn to the first issue
listed under modern views of spiritual warfare: whether or
not demons are responsible for ungodly human behavior, including
attitudes, bad habits, etc.
We have already seen from our survey that demons can be responsible
for prolonged or chronic physical infirmity. But demons are
not the only cause for physical suffering. For instance, each
of the Biblical instances where demonic possession takes place
the physical sickness or disability was long term. The Bible
does not present demons as being responsible for short-lived
illnesses, such as colds or coughs. It is true that Jesus
did heal many sick persons some of whom may not have been
chronically ill, but nowhere in the Bible do we see that demons
are made responsible for such things. There are many passages,
which describe Jesus healing the sick in the same context
as mentioning that he cast out demons, but an analysis of
these passages leaves us unable to make any conclusion that
the demons were necessarily responsible for the sickness and
unable to conclude that the sickness was anything less than
Given the hermeneutic principle that less clear passages of
scripture must be interpreted in light of clear(er) passages,
we must form our understanding of demonic activity based upon
the 14 clear examples of demonic activity in the New Testament
and not from less specific passages.
Additionally, while demons are shown in connection with long-term
illness or disability we cannot conclude that all chronic
illness or physical disability is caused by demons. The Bible
clearly informs us that sickness is at times caused by God
(Exodus 9:1-12, Numbers 12:1-16, Numbers 21:5-9, 2 Chronicles
26:16-22, 1 Kings 13:1-6, Genesis 19:4-11, Luke 1:18-22, 62-64,
Acts 9:8, 17-18, Galatians 4:15, 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, Acts
13:10-12), or is the result of the curse on all mankind (Genesis
3:16-19, John 9:1-3), or just because of our sin (1 Corinthians
11:28-32, Romans 1:26-27).
But what about other human behaviors, ungodly attitudes, bad
habits, etc.? Are demons responsible for these? Again, the
answer is no. There is no Biblical precedent to suggest this
to be the case. Of the 14 instances of demonic activity (possession)
that are recorded in the New Testament, not one of them presents
the idea that demonic activity is anything less than possession
to the affect of prolonged physical infirmity or the replacement
of the human spirit by the demon spirit as the operator of
the body. Nowhere in the New Testament do we see demons affiliated
with or held responsible for corrupt human habits or bad attitudes,
etc. as some today in the Church readily assert.
The single verse, which some may attempt to appeal to on this
matter is Luke 8:2.
Luke 8:2 And certain women, which had been healed
of evil spirits and infirmities (769), Mary called Magdalene,
out of whom went seven devils
Though we have never heard anyone make the case, this passage
states that certain women were healed of evil spirits and
infirmities. Although the word "infirmities" means physical
sickness, it also includes among its definitions the idea
of an inability to restrain corrupt desires. However, even
if this is the case this verse does not make any causal connection
between the presence of the evil spirits and the infirmities.
It only tells us that they are healed of both. So, it is impossible
to state that the evil spirits are responsible for such infirmities.
However, it must also be noted that in every instance where
this Greek word for infirmities ("astheneia") is used with
the word "therapeuo" for healed, "astheneia" always refers
to physical sickness or disability. When mentioned in the
same passage as demons "astheneia" also always refers to physical
ailment and NOT to the inability to restrain corrupt desires.
Examples of this are Matthew 8:17, Luke 5:15, Luke 13:11,
John 5:5, and Acts 28:9.
Therefore, it cannot be argued that demons are responsible
for or cause ungodly human attitudes or habits and we must
discard this notion, which has become accepted and commonplace
in the modern Church. As far as we know there is no such thing,
Biblically speaking, as a spirit of alcoholism, a spirit of
bitterness, a spirit of impatience, a spirit of lust, a spirit
of rebellion, or any other spirit that some might suggest
in order to explain poor human behavior. On the contrary,
the Bible repeatedly informs us that sinful human behavior
is a result of man's own choice (James 1:14, Romans 1-2).
Conclusions about Demonic Activity
Before we continue with the next part of this study let's
take a moment to return to our list of questions and specific
points that we presented earlier regarding the purpose and
scope of this study. The first question we asked was:
1. How does the Bible describe demonic activity? What does
it entail? What are its results, etc.?
In the preceding section we have answered this question and
dismissed as unscriptural the first three points associated
with the modern church view. These points were:
1. Demons are responsible for ungodly human behavior, including
attitudes, habits, etc.
2. Christians can be affected by demonic presence or activity.
3. Demonic presence and activity is not always readily apparent.
In examining the scriptural evidence we, instead, concluded
the following points regarding demonic activity from a Biblical
point of view:
1. Demons are the same as unclean spirits.
2. Demonic activity involving humans is demonic possession.
3. Demonic possession involves a demon spirit(s) inhabiting
a human body.
4. Demonic possession typically results in one of two outcomes
(or possibly both): a) chronic or prolonged physical sickness,
disease, or disability OR b) the replacement of the human
spirit by the demon spirit as the operator of the human body.
5. Demonic possession is always accompanied by clear, outward
manifestation, which demonstrates that a person is demon possessed.
This can take the form of physical illness or disability or
it can be in the form of inexplicable human behavior, such
as the demon speaking out of the person, etc.
6. The Bible does NOT provide support for the notion that
demons cause or are responsible for bad attitudes, ungodly
habits or behaviors, or poor character traits in humans. Instead,
the Bible places the responsibility and origin of such things
squarely on the human individual.
7. Because Saul was not actually demon possessed, the case
of Saul is a single and unique instance that cannot be broadly
applied or used to form rules about demonic activity on a
8. Demons can cause physical infirmity (see conclusion 4),
but sickness and disability are NOT always caused by demons.
The Bible also shows that God, His angels, the curse (upon
the earth and mankind), and sinful behavior are all possible
causes of sickness and infirmity.