1. Their reality. Jesus knew the difference between a disease and a demon. Illness can sometimes look like demonisation (and vice-versa), but illnesses do not speak to those about to heal them! Nor do they possess supernatural knowledge! Just as their are good angels, so there are disobedient angels. These are demons, and their leader is Satan. The reality of demons, although not obvious to many Western Christians, is heavily documented in the literature of missions and revivals. …
1 Samuel 28:7 Saul instructed his servants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so that I may go to her and inquire of her.” His servants replied to him, “There is a woman who is a medium in Endor.”
28:8 So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothing and left, accompanied by two of his men. They came to the woman at night and said, “Use your ritual pit to conjure up for me the one I tell you.”…
From Genesis to Revelation – and especially during the earthly life of Jesus – the Bible witnesses to the reality of evil supernatural beings who oppose God and seek the harm of his good creation.
In addition to this plain witness of Scripture, a number of other factors should be considered.
Clinton E. Arnold writes:
- Science is inherently incapable of answering this question. Some critics grant science authority to make judgments on issues it is incapable of judging.
1 Sam 16:14 – ‘Now the Spirit of the LORD had turned away from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.’
Bergen describes this as a very unusual form of expression: unique, indeed, in the OT.
It could equally be translated, ‘troublesome’ spirit.
It was a condition which (as Bergen notes) Saul himself was unable to deal with. It was his attendants who ‘diagnosed’ it, and they who suggested an effective treatment.
In Matthew 8:28-34 Jesus casts demons out of a pair of men and into a herd of pigs.
Verses 29-32 are particularly instructive regarding the character of demons:
‘”What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” …
Paul told the Corinthian believers
- to hand the incestuous person over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (1 Cor. 5:5)
- that husbands and wives should not deprive one another sexually lest Satan tempt them because of their lack of self-control (1 Cor. 7:7)
- that they should reinstate the presumably repentant offender so that Satan might not outwit us (2 Cor. 2:11)
- that Satan masquerades as angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14)
- and that the apostle himself was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment him so as to prevent him from becoming conceited (2 Cor.
I must admit that I’m not sure about where to place Genesis 3 on a scale between the two extremes of ‘literal history’ and ‘pure fiction’. Here’s a summary of some the options:-
An historical account of a ‘Fall’
Traditionally, this account has been understood as a more or less literal description of an historical event in involving a ‘fall’ on the part of our first parents from a state of innocence. According to Kreeft & Tacelli, for example, ‘there are three reasons why the Fall can’t be mere moral parable or fiction:-
First, if the Fall is not historical at all, then its effects—suffering and death—also are not historical.…
Preaching recently in Curaçao, Diocese of Venezuela, The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori demonstrated just how far she has travelled from anything resembling a biblical and apostolic faith.
Pushing the familiar agenda of inclusion and diversity (changing attitudes and laws about same-sex relationships remind us that different is not the same as wrong), she informs her hearers of a particular blind spot that Paul had in this regard. Schori refers to the incident involving a slave girl, recorded in Acts 16. …
William Spurstowe (1605-1666), along with other Puritan writers, catalogued many of Satan’s devices, and indicated the remedies that the Christian should take:-
Device 1 – Satan leads us from lesser sins to greater.
Remedy – ‘Do not give the devil a foothold’ (Eph 4:27). If you let the serpent’s head into the house, the whole body will soon follow. Do not trivialise ‘lesser’ sins: ‘the least sin is contrary to the law of God, the nature of God, the being of God, and the glory of God’ (Brooks).…
For those who accept the metaphysical reality of daimons (I’m using a straight transliteration of the Greek, in order to place at a bit of distance the baggage that tends to accompany the word ‘demons’) the conventional idea is that they belong to an order of created, malevolent, non-corporeal beings.
The popular conception a ghost is that it is the spirit of a dead human being.
Peter Bolt has provided solid documentary evidence to show that for many people living at the time of Jesus, ‘daimon’ would have been virtually synonymous with ‘ghost’.…