Ghosts, spirits, demons.

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One Little Nail

Puritan Board Sophomore
Robert. Webster's 1828 adds this definition:
1. To beat in contention; to contend against; as, to buffet the billows.

I don't know if there is any commentator that thinks Paul was physically beaten, and I doubt that is what the KJV translators meant.
Logan I'm not saying that he received physical beatings, though he was spiritually buffeted by a devil. I think when a person is buffeted in the physical, he is generally on the receiving end, Paul had some heavy handed spiritual oppression dished out to him by some messenger of satan or fallen angel, he was not being superstitious as some have suggested, it seems even to have manifested itself physically, as Paul describes it as a "thorn in the flesh".
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
2 Cor 12:7And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me,
Buffeted

noun
1.a blow, as with the hand or fist.
2.a violent shock or concussion.

verb (used with object), buffeted, buffeting.
3.to strike, as with the hand or fist.
4.to strike against or push repeatedly:The wind buffeted the house.
5.to contend against; battle.

Earl your belief on the topic of devils is most humourous, you would make the Apostle Paul to be in a struggle with his own
imagination, to be a most superstitious man, deceived, deluded, a fool & a crackpot.
The messenger was human. I think it probably was that coppersmith. :)
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
3) If they do exist, and they are 'amongst' us, what do they do?
In response to #3, Matthew Henry notes, "The devils assault us in the things that belong to our souls, and labor to deface the heavenly image in our hearts."
How, exactly, do they ('the devils') do this?
In my most humble opinion they do this mainly by the direct temptation of our first parents which gave us a fallen nature which many still "possess" (angels of satan) who are not in communion with The Lord. Now though we are children of Jesus we still "posses" a sinful nature and can be vexed in our soul by satan. I have no problem believing to the substance of what Matthew Henry said in his quote. Personally I do not listen for any devil and need not look any further to evil than myself and the remaining sinful flesh I still posses which was instlled by the fall.
 

kainos01

Puritan Board Senior
they do this mainly by the direct temptation of our first parents which gave us a fallen nature
How big is that "mainly"? Do you mean to imply that that was the only work they ever have done? (also, by "they" are you saying that it was not only Satan but demons who tempted Adam and Eve?) Or do you give room for the biblical accounts of demon activity to be literal? If so (as I think you do from previous posts), what is your basis for arguing (as you seem to do) that there has been a full stop to that activity since the close of the canon? Is that basis eschatological?

[By the way, I am in agreement with you when you write "I do not listen for any devil and need not look any further to evil than myself and the remaining sinful flesh I still posses which was instilled by the fall." This is not about how we should respond, or how we should interpret evil in our own lives or the world at large; I only want to ascertain your response to if they do things in the world and what it is that they do.]
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
they do this mainly by the direct temptation of our first parents which gave us a fallen nature
How big is that "mainly"? Do you mean to imply that that was the only work they ever have done? (also, by "they" are you saying that it was not only Satan but demons who tempted Adam and Eve?) Or do you give room for the biblical accounts of demon activity to be literal? If so (as I think you do from previous posts), what is your basis for arguing (as you seem to do) that there has been a full stop to that activity since the close of the canon? Is that basis eschatological?

[By the way, I am in agreement with you when you write "I do not listen for any devil and need not look any further to evil than myself and the remaining sinful flesh I still posses which was instilled by the fall." This is not about how we should respond, or how we should interpret evil in our own lives or the world at large; I only want to ascertain your response to if they do things in the world and what it is that they do.]
This I do know. That the effects of the work of satan and his demons, who by the way can mean people being "demons", is apparent. I do not know for sure if any direct work is being done now though I stongly suspect I have never had any direct personal contact with any spirutal devil myself. What they are doing now I am not privy to in that I cannot see, taste, or smell them, like I cannot not see any angel which are the same being spirtual beings. I look inward to my own sinful nature first and outward to see the wicked world at work in the "angels" of satan. Of course when I do this it drives me to Jesus and not to some "priest" or pastor to exercise some demon out of me or any loved one as depicted in that horrible movie "The Exorcist".
 

kainos01

Puritan Board Senior
Earl, I appreciate your conviction about our lingering proclivity toward sinfulness. I agree! I am certainly not trying to pull a "Flip Wilson" and claim that my sin is due to Satan or demons. I alone am responsible for every act in my life that dishonors God and violates His holy law. Let's set that issue aside, shall we? I am trying to get to what you (and others) think about the biblical evidence for demons (and angels, for that matter).

What, for instance, do you do with the biblical narratives about demon possession? Do you believe them to be literally true? Or do you think that the terminology is just either metaphorical or otherwise a condescension to the superstitions of the ignorant masses of the time? If the former, what leads you to believe that things have changed? Put another way, assuming you believe the biblical narratives about angels, do you dismiss their activity in the world today because you cannot see, taste, or smell them?

The point of my pressing is that I find many in the contemporary (Western) church who readily admit to the reality and activity of good angels in the world, but have a different understanding of the "bad" ones (fallen angels, demons, whatever we call them). Are the "wiles of the devil" against which we are to stand merely our own sinful inclinations? Are the "principalities and powers" against which we are to wrestle merely projections of our own minds (Eph. 6:12)? Are we to be "sober and vigilant" against merely an internal disposition that somehow "roars," walks," and "seeks" (2 Peter 5:8)? Are we only to consider our own natures when we are cautioned against being ignorant of Satan's "devices" (2 Cor. 2:11). Is this all figurative language?
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Earl, I appreciate your conviction about our lingering proclivity toward sinfulness. I agree! I am certainly not trying to pull a "Flip Wilson" and claim that my sin is due to Satan or demons. I alone am responsible for every act in my life that dishonors God and violates His holy law. Let's set that issue aside, shall we?
I would love to leave this issue behind, but to do so would put a % of blame on satan for my sin which I rather take full %100 responsibility for.

I am trying to get to what you (and others) think about the biblical evidence for demons (and angels, for that matter).

What, for instance, do you do with the biblical narratives about demon possession? Do you believe them to be literally true?
Rev. Winzer explained above that those "possessed" were indeed under the rule of the satan (who is as real as you or I) though while being under him they had nothing inside them controlling their thoughts, words, or deeds like a puppeteer controls Pinocchio. Now in stating this I also assert satan did indeed tempt Eve in the garden literally and the work that resulted in the fall is alive and present with us today as much as when Our Lord walked this earth. Thus I can say I am aware of satan's lies and deceptions.


Or do you think that the terminology is just either metaphorical or otherwise a condescension to the superstitions of the ignorant masses of the time?
The terminology used was not metaphorical or a condensation but a narrative on how they understood (incorrectly I may add) of what was happening. These "possessions" were the result of satan's work though I believe in a totally different way they or most think today.

If the former, what leads you to believe that things have changed?
Unfortunately the view today of possession is rapidly turning back to a superstitious mindset as was believed 2,000 years ago.

Put another way, assuming you believe the biblical narratives about angels, do you dismiss their activity in the world today because you cannot see, taste, or smell them?
I see angels (Christians) and demons (unbelievers) every day...just kidding a tad. Now what the angels and demons (real spiritual beings) are up to directly I am not privy though I see the result of the work of God and satan in all our lives.

The point of my pressing is that I find many in the contemporary (Western) church who readily admit to the reality and activity of good angels in the world, but have a different understanding of the "bad" ones (fallen angels, demons, whatever we call them). Are the "wiles of the devil" against which we are to stand merely our own sinful inclinations? Are the "principalities and powers" against which we are to wrestle merely projections of our own minds (Eph. 6:12)? Are we to be "sober and vigilant" against merely an internal disposition that somehow "roars," walks," and "seeks" (2 Peter 5:8)? Are we only to consider our own natures when we are cautioned against being ignorant of Satan's "devices" (2 Cor. 2:11). Is this all figurative language?
Oh I totally believe satan's devices are apparent for all to see though I do not think he works in they way most believe today.

PS. If some of my "answers" are off I take full responsibility for them and do not blame any demon for them because my mind is not fully renewed as of yet. :)
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
[moving, as you did, from "accurate" to not "an attribution of reality"].
We have noted Calvin's position on accepting a nominalist description. That is accurate. It speaks in the language whereby people would have identified a certain phenomenon. If one desires to take it beyond the narrative to the normative he will need to bring the broader teaching of the Word to bear on the narrative.

I don't understand the use of the word "demon." It is not a translation; it is a transliteration. It presupposes people know what demons are, but the common person's use of "demon" is usually something they have learned from folk culture. Evangelicals tend to identify them with fallen angels, but the narratives themselves never make this connection. So when we are asked to simply take the narratives at face value, it is clear to me that we are being asked to simply accept the person's interpretation of these narratives, and not the narratives themselves.

A demon, in classical definition, is a divine medium between God and men. In Calvin's commentary on 1st Corinthians the editor has included the pertinent quotations from Plato. If one accepts that demons are real beings then he is basically accepting that there are divine mediums between God and men. Alternatively, Jewish fable taught that there were disembodied spirits. If one accepts this view it directly challenges the biblical teaching on final destiny.

what is it that they do and how do they do it? I think we can dispense with 1 and 2. I would love to hear your thoughts (and anybody else's) on #3.
By "they" you mean "demons." I don't pretend to know such things but simply accept that all principality and power is spoiled and ruled by my Saviour Christ, the Head of all things. So far as fallen angels are concerned, I adhere to the teaching of the Larger Catechism on God's providence towards the angels. Anything beyond this is imagination, and serves the work of delusion whereby the Devil maintains his dominion.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Matthew Poole's Commentary on Matthew 12:43-45.

The speech appeareth parabolical, the persons concerned in it are expressed in the last words, the men of that wicked generation. The text is thought to be well expounded by Peter, 2 Peter 2:20, If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. Our Lord here compares the Jews to a man out of whom the unclean spirit was gone. The devil is called the unclean spirit, both in regard of his own impure nature, and because his work is to tempt men to sin, which is spiritual filthiness. The Jews were a people holy to the Lord, a people distinguished from pagans by a visible profession; so as the devil in a great measure had left them. Now, saith he, the devil is an unquiet spirit, and findeth no rest if he cannot be doing mischief to men. For the phrase, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, we must know, that in parabolical speeches we must not make a severe scrutiny upon every phrase. Dry places are for the most part places least inhabited, for want of the conveniences of water. The devil cannot be at rest where he hath no mischief to do to men.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
David Dickson in loc.

The last answer serveth to shew them their own miserable condition, and that by a parable of a supposed case of Satan's being cast out of a man, in respect of one sort of possession, and coming back unto a worse and more dangerous sort of possession: The scope of the parable is, to shew, that this people by their refusing to receive the grace of God, and to believe in Christ, were in a seven-fold worse condition, than if the Gospel had never been preached unto them: for Christ by his doctrine had made them see the only true way of righteousness and eternal life, and so in regard of the refutation of their former error, and removing the ignorance wherein they did formerly lie, Satan was in some sort cast out: but in respect of their not receiving Jesus Christ, and his grace, to dwell in their hearts by faith, the devil had gotten a seven-fold stronger possession of them now than before.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Matthew Henry in loc.

Now Christ represents the people of the Jews...

(3.) As a generation that were resolved to continue in the possession, and under the power, of Satan, notwithstanding all the methods that were used to dispossess him and rescue them. They are compared to one out of whom the devil is gone, but returns with double force, Matthew 12:43-45. The devil is here called the unclean spirit, for he has lost all his purity, and delights in and promotes all manner of impurity among men.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The Westminster Annotation in loc.

V. 43. When the unclean spirit] Luke 11.24. He could as easily have said, The devil will more and more violently carry you into greater sins, until at last he destroy you: But he useth this parabolical admonition, that the penitent might learn caution, and the rest be less exasperated against him.
 

Matthew1344

Puritan Board Freshman
Anybody have an opinion on the part in scripture:

"And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”

If there was no literal demon there, what did this human mean "before the time"?

I have a friend that DOES BELIEVE in demons, but says they are locked away in gloomy darkness (Jude and I think 2 Peter). So he believes the demons in the NT are forms of retardations.

But if they are just normal people with mental/physical handicaps, then what does this person mean "before the time?"
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
If there was no literal demon there, what did this human mean "before the time"?
How could the one be many and the many be one at the same time? When there is the voice of one how can it be the voice of many, and when there is the voice of many how can it be the voice of one? The Gospels simply narrate; they do not explain the reality lying behind it.

I cannot see what is accomplished by distinguishing the man from the "demon," as it is clear from the Gospels that the "demon/s" were speaking through the man.
 

Matthew1344

Puritan Board Freshman
That's what I am saying. I think it was the demon speaking through the man. So from what I understand of this topic. Demons do exist and they are present in the NT. And right here there was a real demon in this man.

I was posing an objection to people that hold the view that the demons in the NT weren't really demons. Because if they aren't really demons but only mental/physical handicaps of men, then what does "before the time mean"?

My friend says that Legion was actually multiple personality disorder. And Jesus took all those personalities and put them in the pigs. He says it wasn't a real demon.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
And right here there was a real demon in this man.
"Demon" is just a transliteration of the Greek word. What does "demon" mean?

My friend says that Legion was actually multiple personality disorder.
That is a modern psychological theory which the Gospel writers would not have had in mind. In the Gospels "demons" are connected with sickness and they were cast out in connection with the ministry of healing. So the phenomenon was understood physiologically.
 

kainos01

Puritan Board Senior
To call into question the received meaning of “demon” seems like a red herring. We all know what we mean, even if, in the Attic era, the word commonly meant a deity. With regard specifically to NT exegesis, Strong says that δαίμων means “a supernatural spirit (of a bad nature)” and Thayer simply says “bad spirit.” These are the only two lexicons I have access to at the moment; however, to suggest that this idea – that demons are not gods but rather fallen angels – is a novel one is a bit of a stretch. In their parallel accounts of the Gaderene demoniac, Matthew uses “demon” (δαίμων), while Mark uses “unclean spirit” (πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτῳ). On this episode, Poole calls the demons "evil angels," commenting:

(On Matt. 8:28): Matthew saith he came out of the tombs, was exceeding fierce, so as none could pass that way. Divines agree, that the power of the evil angels was not abated by their fall, they were only depraved in their will. That the power of an angel is much more than is here mentioned is out of question. That the evil angels do not exert this power upon us is from the restraining power of God; we live in the air in which the devil hath a principality, Eph. 2:2;

(On Mark 5): Why the devils are called unclean spirits, in opposition to the Holy Spirit, &c., we have formerly showed; as also why they delight to be about tombs. We have also showed his power, which (by God’s permission) he exerciseth upon men: some he possesseth, and acteth the part of the soul in them (especially as to the locomotive faculty); these are properly called demoniacs, energoumenoi. Others he afflicts more as a foreign agent, offering violence to them. Others he more secretly influences, by impressions and suggestions: thus he still ordinarily worketh in the children of disobedience, Eph. 2:2; nor are the people of God free from this impetus, though, being succoured by Christ, they are not so ordinarily overcome. Of the mighty power of the evil angels to break chains and fetters we need not doubt, considering that though fallen from their first righteousness, they yet have their natural power as spirits.


[The following is not directed to anyone in particular; more of a soliloquy… or a rant]

I do find fascinating that theological dichotomy, which exists between those who principally inhabit Western academia or suburbia, on the one hand, and those of us who spend most of our time in the tribal and/or impoverished cultures of the rest of the world, on the other. I have been in both camps and, honestly, I am embarrassed about some of the positions I used to passionately embrace and defend.

Like most here, I reject the charismatic excesses that permeate the Christian world at the present time. However, they are just that: excesses. The knee-jerk reaction of throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water is to err in the opposite direction. I know that there are activities of a demonic nature in the world today. I didn’t have to be taught that (in fact, I wasn’t) and I don’t have to defend it, either. In many places in the world where I have served, it is simply a reality that cannot be denied with any more credibility than denying the nose on one's face. Nevertheless, that this reality must in no way ever mitigate personal responsibility for sin is without question and my intent has never been to imply otherwise.

With that, I think that I will excuse myself from this discussion; it seems to be bearing little fruit.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Strong says that δαίμων means “a supernatural spirit (of a bad nature)” and Thayer simply says “bad spirit.”
What has qualitatively been defined in using these terms? Nothing. You still require the imagination to conjure up some notion of what these things might be. If they are fallen angels, then let that be the definition, and call them "devils," as in the AV. But it must also be recognised that this is an interpretation of the word "demon" which is not actually defined by the narratives, and the broader biblical view restrains them under the Lordship of Christ.

Appealing to a non-western mindset will not serve the turn because the non-western mindset regards this kind of activity as operating in its own sphere of "divinity." The idea that it is to be traced to fallen angels grows out of a Christian framework, and in the Christian framework all supernatural activity functions under the moral government of the Almighty.
 

kainos01

Puritan Board Senior
Appealing to a non-western mindset
I will come back in just long enough to correct your erroneous interpretation of my post. I am not appealing to a "non-Western mindset." I am relating what I (with a thoroughly Western, and Christian, mindset and perspective) have observed in non-Western cultures.
 
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earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Appealing to a non-western mindset
I will come back in just long enough to correct your erroneous interpretation of my post. I am not appealing to a "non-Western mindset." I am relating what I (with a thoroughly Western, and Christian, mindset and perspective) have observed in non-Western cultures. I have witnessed activity in the non-Western world that I have never witnessed in the Western world - activity that is not merely the product of sinful humanity but which transcends anything that I know human beings to be capable of doing (much like the Gadarene, who broke his chains and fetters; as Poole says, "Of the mighty power of the evil angels to break chains and fetters we need not doubt, considering that though fallen from their first righteousness, they yet have their natural power as spirits"). While the indigenous people may well ascribe this activity to "gods" (demons) they consider divine, I do not.
What exactly did you see where men are incapable of doing? I have seen "in the west" men break chains that seemed impossible.
 

whirlingmerc

Puritan Board Sophomore
Toward the end of Romans, Satan will be crushed under the feet of the church and the feet of the church are said in that book to carry good news.
In the evangelism of the Nations, Satan's head will eventually be crushed

I do believe demons might try to manipulate people by posing as deceased people, in contrast, the gospel frees people
 

Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
[FONT=&amp]Just as an interesting historical side note on this topic, the church father Irenaeus wrote (c. AD 180):

[/FONT]
[FONT=&amp]Wherefore, also, those who are in truth His disciples, receiving grace from Him, do in His name perform miracles, so as to promote the welfare of other men, according to the gift which each one has received from Him. For some do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe in Christ, and join themselves to the Church.[/FONT] [FONT=&amp](Against Heresies, 2:32.4; ANF 1:409) [/FONT]
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I will come back in just long enough to correct your erroneous interpretation of my post. I am not appealing to a "non-Western mindset." I am relating what I (with a thoroughly Western, and Christian, mindset and perspective) have observed in non-Western cultures.
And what does one observe in these non-Western cultures? "Devils" (fallen angels) deceiving unbelievers, as taught by the Bible, or "spirits" exercising control over events, as taught by heathenism? It is a matter of worldview, and buying into it only gives credence to the nonsense. One might go to India and observe sacred cows, and have to observe laws which reflect the values of the society. But it does not mean a cow is something more than a cow.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Classically "demons" are identified as deities. Christians worship one true God. If people in the Western world have stopped believing in other deities it could only be because Christianity has had a beneficial influence over the Western mindset.
This thread seems to be primarily revolving around two questions, namely
1) what are demons?, and
2) what can they do?

What are demons (devils)?
Although the NT uses the word “daimonion” to describe them, neither the religious Jews of the period, nor the Christians would have believed for one second in the classical Greek definition of demons as a
divine medium between God and men
, for Scripture is at pains to deny any possibility that such beings exist. For the Jews, the exclusion rests on the basis of Deut 6:4 and similar passages: and the Christians add to the OT’s recognition of only one God, their recognition that there is only one Mediator between God and man the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5). It is worth noting that the KJV translators clearly took note of this difference: for whenever a malevolent spiritual being was intended by the writer, (apparently without exception) the KJV men translated the term daimonion as “devil” or “devils” rather than demons. It seems to me that importing the classical definition of demon into a Scriptural discussion is bringing an unnecessary straw man argument to the table, for whatever a “daimon” was to the Greeks, it was something else to the NT authors and religious Jews.

The New Testament uses descriptions by which the people of that time could identify a specific phenomenon. E.g., Acts 16:16; 1 Cor. 10:19-20. At the same time, the phenomena are denied any claim to divine power and honour which men give to them, 1 Cor. 8:4-6. This requires the reader to understand some terms and descriptions in a nominalist sense, Gal. 4:8.
The narratives are certainly accurate, but narrative is not normative and the descriptive is not prescriptive.
While narrative may not always be normative, sometimes it is. What determines whether narrative is normative or not is not an arbitrary principle, but whether the didactic portions of Scripture affirms the conclusions drawn from the narrative. For example, contrary to the Pentecostal claim that Scripture narratives establish the norm that all Christians must speak in tongues, Paul specifically denies that postulate with 1 Cor. 12:30 while norming the deductions that all Christians will have the Holy Spirit and must go on being filed with the Holy Spirit. In the matter here discussed, the proposition that biblical devils are personal spirits is shown by several narrative incidents which record the devils speaking, including Matt 8:31, and Mark 5:9, 15, Mark 7, 25, 26. The latter passages are particularly significant as they identify “unclean spirits” with “devils, from which one may draw the conclusion that the Scriptural “devils” are personal spirits. The personality of devils is confirmed didactically confirmed by James 2:19 in which the inspired author claims that they “believe and shudder” at the recognition that God is one. Anyone who wants to deny the reality of such personal evil spirits from Scripture will need to present a case from Scripture’s didactic material.

No Christian reader of Acts 16:16 would ever propose that the slave girl had divine power or was worthy of divine honour. Calvin’s nominalism in his comments on this passage would appear to be limited to the word “fortunetelling.” I hope by “nominalist sense” you are not denying the reality of the “spirit of divination” that was afflicting the girl.

What can the devils do?

Whatever they do is within God’s limits.

Can they possess people?

In the NT we see reports of "possession" written in a way as observed by the superstitious thinking of that time as we see in the testimonies of people today.
The NT accounts depict Christ, St. Paul and the inspired authors of the Gospels / Acts recognizing the reality of devil possession without a single sentence anywhere in the didactic portions of scripture calling the really of such possession into question. Absent a Scriptural case to the contrary, I think we have to take the possibility of demon possession of unbelievers as a given. (Which is not to say that the devils can “possess” Christians. 1 John 4:4 is enough to establish that they cannot do so although they might try to deceive an unwary believer into thinking that such a condition is possible.)

They can foretell to a limited extent, if Calvin is correct in stating that God grants “Satan so great liberty, as to suffer him to deceive miserable men, and to bewitch them with true divinations,” foretell part of the future although that knowledge is given by God. Please note that such Divine action if it occurs does not remove
the medium of demons altogether
. Rather, this is another example where God uses the demon, by presenting the apparent foretelling from a non-Divine source, to accomplish his purpose, namely the hardening of men in sin.

Can they tempt men and women?

While Scripture (James 1:14) makes it plain that the primary source of temptation is one’s own sinful nature, Scripture is also clear that secondary external sources of temptation exist (Prov. 1:10) and that we have to watch out for both. If devilish enticements are a reality, they in no way absolve us of our responsibility if we give in to them, just as the reality of human enticements does not absolve us of our responsibility to walk in God’s ways.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
In the NT we see reports of "possession" written in a way as observed by the superstitious thinking of that time as we see in the testimonies of people today.
The NT accounts depict Christ, St. Paul and the inspired authors of the Gospels / Acts recognizing the reality of devil possession without a single sentence anywhere in the didactic portions of scripture calling the really of such possession into question. Absent a Scriptural case to the contrary, I think we have to take the possibility of demon possession of unbelievers as a given. (Which is not to say that the devils can “possess” Christians. 1 John 4:4 is enough to establish that they cannot do so although they might try to deceive an unwary believer into thinking that such a condition is possible.)
I believe Matthew did explain why we should not believe in possession, as many do today, or as those who were with when Jesus when He was incarnated, which said explanation was given in didactic portions of scripture. The problem arising here in this thread is NOT the denial of satan and his "angels" but how they work. Unbelievers are tossed to and fro by his (satan) work every second of the day and thus are "possessed". We as believers are "possessed" by satan work when we sin and are %100 responsible for that sin. No matter how you or anybody slices it there is a Flip Wilson side to ones belief if you think satan directly controls our immoral behavior.

So I take it you think satan tempts us in a paranormal ways?
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
In the NT we see reports of "possession" written in a way as observed by the superstitious thinking of that time as we see in the testimonies of people today.


The NT accounts depict Christ, St. Paul and the inspired authors of the Gospels / Actsrecognizing the reality of devil possession without a single sentence anywherein the didactic portions of scripture calling the really of such possessioninto question. Absent a Scriptural case to the contrary, I think we have totake the possibility of demon possession of unbelievers as a given. (Which isnot to say that the devils can “possess” Christians. 1 John 4:4 is enough to establish that they cannot do so although they might try to deceive an unwary believer into thinking that such a condition is possible.)
I believe Matthew did explain why we should not believe in possession, as many do today, or as those who were with when Jesus when He was incarnated, which said explanation was given in didactic portions of scripture. The problem arising here in this thread is NOT the denial of satan and his "angels" but how they work. Unbelievers are tossed to and fro by his (satan) work every second of the day and thus are "possessed".


Rev. Winzer’s explanation doesn’t meet the standard of good and necessary consequence. Gal.4:8 doesn’t teach that Christ, his Apostles and the inspired writers of Scripture were all nominalists when speaking about evil spirits and their attacks on humanity. Paul in that verse does not deny the reality of evil spirits as such: when he affirms that they are “no gods,” he denies their divinity.

We as believers are "possessed" by satan work when we sin.


I don't think Scripture goes as far as calling Christians “possessed” by the devil when we sin. That would seem to take the same erroneous road Flip Wilson went down.

and are %100 responsible for that sin.

I agree, believers are 100% responsible whenever they sin, whether their own lust (James1:13) was or was not abetted by human or demon delivered external enticement.


No matter how you oranybody slices it there is a Flip Wilson side to ones belief if you think satandirectly controls our immoral behavior.

An external influence is not direct control and I don’t believe the devil directly controls any human not “possessed.”


So I take it you thinksatan tempts us in a paranormal ways?
I don’t know about paranormal ways. The normal channels by which a human may be enticed from outside him or herself would seem to be enough.





 
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Free Christian

Puritan Board Sophomore
[BIBLE][/BIBLE]
This thread seems to be primarily revolving around two questions, namely
1) what are demons?, and
2) what can they do?
Actually, it seems to have been lost along the way, the original question was can demons, evil spirits, call them what one may but I am sure one would know what was meant, materialise or appear visually! I personally believe "no" but for the sake of a conversation I heard and not considering myself an expert on much, and I do realise that at times I may be wrong, I asked that for clarification.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Although the NT uses the word “daimonion” to describe them, neither the religious Jews of the period, nor the Christians would have believed for one second in the classical Greek definition of demons as a
divine medium between God and men
, for Scripture is at pains to deny any possibility that such beings exist.
The assumption that Jews and Christians understood the Scriptures as we understand them is not warranted from the evidence. Josephus: "those called demons, which are no other than the spirits of the wicked, that enter into men that are alive, and kill them, unless they can obtain some help against them." The Editor notes, "We also may hence learn the true notion Josephus had of demons and demoniacs, exactly like that of the Jews and Christians in the New Testament and the first four centuries." Justin: "let these persuade you that even after death souls are in a state of sensation; and those who are seized and cast about by the spirits of the dead, whom all call dæmoniacs or madmen; and what you repute as oracles, both of Amphilochus, Dodana, Pytho, and as many other such as exist." Justin's Apology argues that the gods of the nations were the product of these demons. When the early church fathers spoke of casting out demons they meant the casting out of the spirits of the dead.

When it is accepted that "demons" are associated with fallen angels (devils), the ideas of "demon possession" and "casting out demons" are understood to be an accommodation to the way the people thought about these things. The Gospels must be understood to be speaking by way of accommodation. Otherwise one will be led to adopt all kinds of crude and ridiculous notions.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
We as believers are "possessed" by satan work when we sin.
I don't think Scripture goes as far as calling Christians “possessed” by the devil when we sin. That would seem to take the same erroneous road Flip Wilson went down.
This would be an OK assessment if we agreed what possession is. The problem is we simply do not see "possession" through the same eyes. Take for instance this "23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." Here is another narrative that follows what Calvin writes in Matthew 24:24 "Luke followeth the common custom of speaking, because he showeth the error of the common people". In other words, we have Peter acting under the influence of satan and was "possessed" in a biblical way and not a superstitious way. In my most humble opinion. :)



and are %100 responsible for that sin.
I agree, believers are 100% responsible whenever they sin, whether their own lust (James1:13) was or was not abetted by human or demon delivered external enticement.
There would be no way man can be enticed directly by satan unless one is tempted paranormally. For satan is an invisible noncorporeal being.

No matter how you or anybody slices it there is a Flip Wilson side to ones belief if you think satan directly controls our immoral behavior.
An external influence is not direct control and I don’t believe the devil directly controls any human not “possessed.”
I rather go to James who lists the reasons one sins and interesting no mention of external temptations by demons here but only temptations arising from our own sinful nature. Ever wonder why he left that out? I think it is because satan works through normal rational immoral acting people.

So I take it you thinksatan tempts us in a paranormal ways?
I don’t know about paranormal ways. The normal channels by which a human may be enticed from outside him or herself would seem to be enough.
You say "I don't know" yet for satan to tempt directly in any way other than through normal means is paranormal.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Although the NT uses the word “daimonion” to describe them, neither the religious Jews of the period, nor the Christians would have believed for one second in the classical Greek definition of demons as a
divine medium between God and men
, for Scripture is at pains to deny any possibility that such beings exist.
The assumption that Jews and Christians understood the Scriptures as we understand them is not warranted from the evidence. Josephus: "those called demons, which are no other than the spirits of the wicked, that enter into men that are alive, and kill them, unless they can obtain some help against them." The Editor notes, "We also may hence learn the true notion Josephus had of demons and demoniacs, exactly like that of the Jews and Christians in the New Testament and the first four centuries." Justin: "let these persuade you that even after death souls are in a state of sensation; and those who are seized and cast about by the spirits of the dead, whom all call dæmoniacs or madmen; and what you repute as oracles, both of Amphilochus, Dodana, Pytho, and as many other such as exist." Justin's Apology argues that the gods of the nations were the product of these demons. When the early church fathers spoke of casting out demons they meant the casting out of the spirits of the dead.

When it is accepted that "demons" are associated with fallen angels (devils), the ideas of "demon possession" and "casting out demons" are understood to be an accommodation to the way the people thought about these things. The Gospels must be understood to be speaking by way of accommodation. Otherwise one will be led to adopt all kinds of crude and ridiculous notions.
Whether Josephus and the early Christians correctly understood the "possessor" to be a deceased human spirit, they may or may not have been correct, but their errors do not affect the presentation of the matter in Scripture. The problem is that the NT tells us that the devil exists, that he has "his angels" however many of them there are and that there are "spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. It also tells us that the devil's future destiny is an abyss (for a season) and most important, it seems to present "demonic possession" as real.

So what we need to know is what NT evidence is there for assuming that Christ, his Apostles and the rest of the NT writers were accommodating to contemporary error on the point when a) As far as I know they never so accommodated their teaching to any other error b) Christ claims that the casting out of demons is a sign that the kingdom of God has arrived (Matt. 12:28) If Christ is not casting out demons by the finger of God, has the kingdom of God not arrived? c) after stating the reality of Christian sharing in the body and blood of Christ in the eucharist, Paul then didactically draws a parallel to idol sacrifices and he gives as the reason for not joining in idol sacrifices, the consequence that he does not want the Corinthian Christians to become sharers in demons (1 Cor. 10:20 ) if we do not really become sharers in demons on one side of the parallel, is there no real share in Christ on the other? d) why, whatever the "possessor"'s were, did they so obligingly, and repeatedly, contribute to the accommodation by recognizing Jesus as the Son of God, (Matt. 8:29, Mark 1:34) and by asking Jesus not to send them to the abyss (Luke 8:31), and e) the accommodation has left most of the church down through Church history adopting "all kinds of crude and ridiculous notions" as a direct result. Unless solid NT evidence confirms that Christ, the Apostles and the NT writers were accommodating on the point, those advocating such an hypothesis will be begging the question.
 
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