Arguments against modern day demonic possession

Discussion in 'Spiritual Warfare' started by Blue Tick, Aug 11, 2009.

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  1. Blue Tick

    Blue Tick Puritan Board Graduate

    What are the biblical arguments supporting the cessation of demonic possession? Has demonic possession ceased or is it possible some people are demonically possessed. For instance are some mental illness' in reality demonic possessions?
     
  2. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    I think there are several verses that address a change in the devil's (and his demons) ability to oppress people. One that comes to mind right away is
    Because the demons lost most of the power to inflict men (at the Cross) they now rely on deception, illusion, presentation and primarily on our superstitions and fears.
    Mental illness is not caused by demons but they are very eager to use mental illness to oppress, frustrate and steer an individual. They are more than happy to take credit for the mental illness and use it to leverage their PERCEIVED power.

    A demon knows a lot more than you about chemistry, physics, human nature and behavior, physiology, than you do and they use this knowledge to create the illusion of great and terrifying power. Our fears and superstitions are the demons greatest ally and make up nearly their whole economy. Demons are smart and invisible and that is enough to get a foothold in our fears.

    We need not fear the devil's power, we only need to be aware of his schemes.
     
  3. Blue Tick

    Blue Tick Puritan Board Graduate

    Thank you Bob for your insight. I bring this up because I watched the movie The Soloist last night and it had some vivid footage of homeless people with mental illness.
     
  4. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    I have had first hand experience in this and I'm still forming a biblical response and explanation. I have a daughter with pretty severe cerebral allergies. This is a physical problem that affects the mind and perception and was used by demons to attack my daughter and our whole family.

    The demons didn't cause the illness but they sure used the illness and in conjunction with our ignorance of God's sovereignty and Christ's Lordship, and our fears based on the superstition of so-called 'deliverance' ministers, we were targets for many years and great suffering resulted.
     
  5. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior

    Acts 16:16-18
    16 It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling.
    17 Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, "These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation."
    18 She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!" And it came out at that very moment.

    This took place after the cross.
     
  6. Blue Tick

    Blue Tick Puritan Board Graduate

    Interesting. So, would this verse support the continuation of demonic possession?
     
  7. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Good point John, thank you. Let me go back to my drawing board and study it some more.

    I suppose we will have to define possession before will draw too many conclusions and I'll change my 'Cross' deadline to the apostolic period. These demons were still necessary in order to demonstrate the authority of the apostle's teaching and ministry.

    Keep in my, I'm not trying to do away with demonic activity, I'm trying to establish a limit to their ability.

    My daughter has been under the control of demons but I'm not sure if I would call it possession. I refer to the state as demonized.
     
  8. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I also support the use of the terminology of "demonization" rather than "possession."
     
  9. Hamalas

    Hamalas whippersnapper

    That sounds like an intriguing distinction. Would you care to elaborate?
     
  10. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    The biggest differences would be that possession implies ownership and in a universe where Jesus Christ is Lord, the Creator and all things are his I don't like the idea that satan owns anything.

    Secondly, possession really isn't a biblical word. Daimonizomai, on the other hand, appears 13 times in the New Testament.
     
  11. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    II Corinthians 12:7

    So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
     
  12. JennyG

    JennyG Puritan Board Graduate

    It may only be a question of idiom, but sometimes the boot seems to be on the other foot:

    John 8 v 52 ...Now we know that thou hast a devil...
     
  13. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Jenny, the scriptures say that a demon may enter, indwell, be cast out, they may exert control in varying degrees but none of these require us to concede that a demon may possess (take ownership) of an individual. I am not sure if a demon may exert control over a believer but I do know that I demon may use a loved one to hurt a believer. A demon may oppress and influence a believer but I don't think they may enter and indwell a believer.

    A demon may do nothing except through the permission of God.
     
  14. LawrenceU

    LawrenceU Puritan Board Doctor

    All I have to say is that if you had been with me on a few occasions you would surely believe that demonization is still possible and it is not mental illness. The instances that I refer to are not something that I want to go into on an internet forum. They all occurred with individuals that had been involved in Satanism or other occult activities. There is no way to explain some of the phenomena that were occurring, physical and 'metaphysical', other than through spiritual powers at work.
     
  15. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Bob, that reminds me.

    Was it you that sent me the VERY BEST book on this subject. Satan Cast Out, by Frederick Leahy? Was that you Bob? Is so, did I ever rightly thank you? If not, I am a heel (or else I was in the jungle at the time) - that book was wonderful.



    Here's the best books I know of on spiritual warfare below. And let no one be mistaken - it IS a war and the devil is very active. We need not fall into ritualism or addressing demons in order to be vigilant, but we can be vigilant in prayer to God and use of the proper means of grace:



    Amazon.com: Satan Cast Out: A Study in Biblical Demonology (9780851512341): Frederick S. Leahy: Books

    Amazon.com: Spiritual Power and Missions: Raising the Issues (Evangelical Missiological Society Series) (9780878083770): Edward Rommen: Books

    Amazon.com: Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices (Puritan Paperbacks) (9780851510026): Thomas Brooks: Books

    Amazon.com: 3 Crucial Questions about Spiritual Warfare (Three Crucial Questions) (9780801057847): Clinton E. Arnold: Books


    Amazon.com: Powers of Darkness: Principalities & Powers in Paul's Letters (9780830813360): Clinton E. Arnold: Books
     
  16. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    That was me, you DID thank me and YES you were in the jungle and YES it's a great book on the topic.
     
  17. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    Demonization happens. The term "possession" is a man-made term--it is not in the scriptures. A girl I know was gang raped and then thrown in a river to drown. She somehow made it out and spent the next 4 years sitting in a corner of her parents' house, talking to unseen critters and answering them. She said it was demons, her parents (orthodox) said it was demons, and the local pastor said it was demons. My husband and I went to see her. We prayed for her for 2 hours. Nothing happened. A national pastor from another area went to see her. Within a half-hour she was sane, in her right mind. It was his praying over her, not medication and not something else that set her free. Explain this as something other than demonization.
     
  18. ewenlin

    ewenlin Puritan Board Junior

    Can I bump this thread up a bit, want to hear more about this..
     
  19. Christian Soldier

    Christian Soldier Puritan Board Freshman

    Wow, I seen this post and then went to check my facebook and monergism.com had a post about this book in my feed. That's just crazy. I must buy it now!
     
  20. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    I think that when someone has a mental illness like depression for instance, which may often be caused by genetic factors and other factors like stress, although not always, the Devil can use that weakness of mind to make things worse. Once the mental illness is treated e.g. with medication or other means, the devilish temptations, e.g. to commit suicide goes.

    An analogy can be taken from physical illness. If someone has a serious physical illness they could be tempted to commit suicide - either by themselves or by the Devil. If the illness is cured, using ordinary medical means and prayer, they may not be tempted to commit suicide, because the Devil no longer has any foothold.

    Often when the mental illness is treated with medication or other therapy, the devilish thoughts and temptations can go, because the devil can't influence a mind that is strong, in the same way that he can influence a mind that is weak and suffering pain.

    I believe that some mental illness is caused by involvement in the occult, and some is caused by sin and guilt, e.g. if a man is cheating on his wife he may feel guilty and this leads to depression. But the solutions to the illness - whatever the original cause - will be different for different people. Some will only need prayer, some will need medication and prayer, some will need other therapies and prayer.
     
  21. JohnOwen007

    JohnOwen007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Bob, thanks for your opinion on this forum, I've found it fascinating. I would like to question, though, your reading of Heb. 2:14ff. The power that this passage is speaking of is that where the devil causes people to fear facing God's judgment seat guilty because of their sin. That is, the devil's power is that of accusation. It is precisely this power that has been defeated (see also Col. 2:14-15 and Rev. 12:10) because we can know our guilt is fully removed due to Christ's death. For me this has been a great comfort over the years, as I know the feeling of the evil one's accusations.

    I can't think of any Scripture that explicitly says demon possession can't occur today.

    God bless you,

    Marty.
     
  22. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Hi Marty, I love that passage in Hebrews as well for all the same reasons.

    You state that you "can't think of any Scripture that explicitly says demon possession can't occur today."

    That is true but I say you can also find no scripture that says demon possession ever existed. The KJV and a few English versions prior did translate 'daimonizomai' as 'possessed' but that is just not a good translation and the context quickly alerts us that ownership should not be understood as a factor in a person being demonized.

    As I said before, a person can be entered and indwelt and therefore a demon may be cast out, a demon may influence and even control physiological response. None of this requires a person to be 'possessed' and the idea of possession goes against the sovereignty of God and authority of Jesus Christ.

    The sovereignty and authority of the Godhead is THE target of Satan and his demons. The last thing we want to do is play into that scheme. When I encounter demonic activity I give it the 'my brother-in-law' test. I may have witnessed something terrifying and destructive but I have to ask, apart from an amazing presentation (illusion is all about 'the presentation') have I seen anything that my brother-in-law couldn't have done?

    Demons can act invisibly and they know an awful lot, even more than David Copperfield, about how to appear powerful. They are not as powerful as folks think and the movies of the '70s did us a great disservice and boosted the demons leverage exponentially.

    For thousands of years demons have been considered great pests to the church and enemies to the church but still merely agents of wrath or as Luther called Satan - "God's ape". They are used to discipline and even punish rebelliousness.

    The demons power will seem great in an environment where superstition is high and the potential for fear is great. This is why demons seem to be more active in animistic cultures. They are not more powerful there but they have much more ignorance and superstition to leverage.
     
  23. LawrenceU

    LawrenceU Puritan Board Doctor

    Bob, I agree. However, I would like to add that demons can and do act in ways that would blow the minds of the average Western Christian. You can't explain away some of what I have seen by mental illness and ignorance. Without going into details I will list some of what I have seen first hand right here in the good ol' USA in dealing with demonized individuals:

    1. Objects flying across a room at people.
    2. A woman who may have weighed all of 90 pounds sopping wet flinging two rather burly men around like rag dolls. (That bruise took a long time to heal up :rolleyes:)
    3. A person with red/black eyes having their eye colour return to their natural blue upon their repentance and confession of faith in Christ.
    4. A scar on the forehead that came from Satanic ritual disappear.

    I could list some others. And, no, I've never done drugs. And, interestingly, when I began to be confronted by this type of thing I did not believe that possession or demonization still occurred.

    I know that some of those thing sound sensational and I know that some may doubt their veracity. But they are true and were witnessed by others as well.
     
  24. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Lawrence, I don't discount the drama and danger of what you experienced, I've seen and experienced very similar things and at the time I was convinced that Satan was winning the day but as I go back and examine the events as an illusionist would examine them, I just don't see great power and authority on behalf of the demons.

    Just to bring others up to speed on my view of demonic activity:

    Some folks deny that demonic activity is real and that demons are real;
    still others blame Satan and his minions for every negative thought, illness and thing that goes bump in the night.

    I readily and firmly believe that demons are real and demon activity is real BUT these deceivers are leveraging very little power with an enormous knowledge of illusion. The trick is to get us to draw conclusions about their 'powers' from what we have witnessed.

    Just last week, due to allergies, histamines under my skin caused my skin on my forearm to start itching and then actually raise up in a matter of seconds. It looked like a series of scars on my arm, it even looked like it could have spelled something, perhaps in latin. (It didn't, I'm just using a little imagination.) They went away as quickly as they came. Now, if the mood had been right and I was a demon, I would have used that physiological response to leverage an illusion of the power to create scars on a victims arm.

    Objects flying across the room? My 6 year old can make objects fly across the room. David Copperfield can 'fly' across an auditorium and I have heard people say he's demonic. If an invisible demon can move an object across the room then I say, "So what???". My son can do that and I don't fear him either.

    A 90 pound woman under the influence of adrenaline and being steered by a demon who is trying to get ALL the credit, seen it, it was scary but it was a trick by a deceiver who was trying to get me to question Christ's authority.

    I've seen a demonic presence jump back and forth between two of my daughters and telegraph the switch with a creepy leer in my direction. It was horrible, the demon was making sport of us but we were playing right into it's hands with our superstitions that we could drive them out by anointing door posts and confessing ancient family sins and walking around the property telling the demons that I was the owner. They did whatever they had to do to keep us in the game. I've mentioned the bleeding bath tub before, disembodied voices, lights turning off and on. I've seen the tricks and that's what they are.

    Once I remove fear and superstition from the encounter, the demon has nothing, it is a pest.

    I do fear for the non-believer who dabbles in the economy of the demonic, they are in great danger. Demons can be dangerous but I'm more frightened of an angry dog.
     
  25. LawrenceU

    LawrenceU Puritan Board Doctor

    Bob, I don't think we are all that far apart at all. I agree that demons are deceivers and their power is limited. But, when an unbeliever allows them to use that power it is a real thing. All I was pointing out is that they will do what they can to bring fear, intimidation, and doubt into the situation. A Christian should not fear them, but neither should he deny their existence and activity. Their activity is ultimately limited by the Sovereignty of Almighty God.

    For what it's worth, in the encounters I've had I in no way thought that Satan was winning the day. I was surprised, but knew that Satan and demons were dealt the death blow at Calvary. They may rant and rave, but they do know when they are in the presence of one indwelt by the Spirit of God. They may be tenacious in their 'hold' over a person, but ultimately they are limited by God. If that person repents and believes then their hold is gone. They know that all to well.

    Given all that we are told not to revile angelic majesties. Even Michael the archangel did not rebuke Satan upon his own. He called upon God Almighty to do so.
     
  26. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Here was one of our experiences:

    We had a 'deliverence team' made up of a former missionary couple, a pastor and a friend from the Assembly of God church. We had read Neal Anderson and a few other authors to prepare ourselves.

    Because most of the problems were with my oldest daughter (then 15 and childlike) we were focused on her. She sat on the couch, my wife was on one side, the missionary lady on the other and the pastor in front. We had been praying for a long time.

    The pastor said that sometimes a demon will attach itself to an internal organ (find that in scripture) and so the missionary lady who was supposed to have the gift of discernment started naming internal organs (she was also a nurse).

    The pastor would say, "I'm speaking to the demon who has attached itself to the lungs, I command you to leave." Nothing happened, this continued on, organ to organ.

    My wife, also very sensitive to the spiritual said, "It's her kidneys!" My daughter got a terrified look on her face like something horrible was looking in the window behind me. I even turned to see if anything was there. Then she looked at me and I moved right in front of her. Her eyes were pleading yet they didn't seem like her eyes at all, it was something else.

    Then I heard a very clear voice in my head say, 'You must stop them, stop them now!'. My daughter's lips had never moved.

    The pastor said "I am speaking to the demon who has attached itself to the kidneys." My daughter screamed as if being torn in half. She flew up off of the couch and three of us tried to hold her down. She continued a horrific scream of painful torment and fighting us off. Then she went silent except for the evil leer and then her own face returned. That was the end of that days trial.

    Now that's amazing stuff, and terrifying, it still makes me weep. The pain was real but the the conclusions were all based on our superstitions, all the demon needed to bring was the timing and a few physiological bursts. Had we come into that encounter with sound biblical understanding of the sovereignty of God His supreme authority it never would have gone that far. We gave the demon way more credit then it deserved. The demons kept us in the game and we would fight another day.
     
  27. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Lawrence, I don't believe there is any disagreement between us at all. I'm not trying to make any argument against what you said, I'm just trying to explain what kinds of conclusions we should draw from these types of stories. You know too well what pests these creatures can be.
     
  28. LawrenceU

    LawrenceU Puritan Board Doctor

    So very true, my brother. So very true.

    I do find it interesting that even in the presence of Jesus Christ at times demons did not release their hold 'nicely'.

    I agree that many have built an entire demonology on inference, subjective experience, and other less credible sources. We should not do that. If we are in an encounter we should do our best to not fall prey to their deceptions and stand firm in the strength and finished work of Christ. Far too many fall into a Christianised animism. There is no place for that; none at all.
     
  29. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Exactly right Lawrence. Our superstitions are more sophisticated than those that Pergy may encounter in the jungle but they are still superstitions.
     
  30. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    One thought:

    Interviewing demons is advocated by some today, "tell me your name" sort of thing. But I highly advise against that. We shouldn't supppose them to be truth-tellers, now should we?

    Also, very common today are special incantations and prayers addressed TO the demon (since demons cannot read minds, they must audibly hear your prayer, it is said). I also advise against this.

    We should use the same means as we use for other cases of spiritual counseling and treatment of the sick. We should pray, read Scripture and only address God in prayer. No special potions, rituals, incantations or conversations with anyone but God and the afflicted person.
     
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