Demons Modus Operandi
Who are the demons and what can they do to me?
Mark 1:21-28; Luke 10:17-20; 11:14-26; 1 Corinthians 10:14-24; 1 John 4:1-6
How well do you know the Enemy?
Have you ever had a really rough day? Perhaps you have had a rough time in this life you have been given, as you stress and toil through your days, taking hit after hit from gossipers, prideful hypocrites, and others whose intentions were suspect—perhaps even malice laden. And, all the while, you remain steadfast in your walk with Christ, striving to model His character and love. Have you given your all to your family, friends, work, or church, just to see others put you down, ignoring you at best and attacking you at worst? Have you ever considered that when we walk closely in truth and integrity, we are like a deer in hunting season, chained to a tree with a bull’s-eye painted on us, so those who are ungodly can come against us? Maybe what we are going though is Spiritual Warfare, and the working of demons. Remember, the Enemy will come against us in power and force, and in ways we may not be aware of.
So, what do we do? Do we cave in to the ways of the world? Do we give up? Do we compromise? Do we become fearful? No way! Why, like in any battle, we dig in and fight back with even more powerful artillery—by displaying more love, more integrity, and more Christ-like character, so that His ways infuse all we do, regardless of what others try to do to us. Yes, this is hard, and comprises the daily life of most godly pastors and Christians whom I know world wide; yet, we have to keep the fight clean and declare everything to His glory. We need to know Satan and demons, as well as our fellow humans, who are prideful and arrogant. The hypocrites and those who do not know better will hate us because we love Him, because He first loved us. So, do not be dismayed; you are in Christ’s hands. He loves and cares for you, and will carry you through! So, let us find out, from God’s most precious Word, what He has to say about this subject.
Most people see spiritual warfare as demons directly attacking Believers physically and mentally, just as you might see in movies such as, The Exorcist. Although this is very entertaining in movies, movies are not to be our source of theology or understanding of how either demons or God works. Nevertheless, a lot of people are teaching what they think and experience, which is usually not accurate according to the Scriptures. Yes, demons can move against us in extreme and physically confronting ways, as we sometimes see in the movies and in the mouths of some preachers; however, more often, they attack us in much more subtle ways which are far more effective and destructive than you may think! And, far more effective than any physical confrontation! It is my goal in this article to give you clear, Biblical precepts of who the demons are, what they do, and how we can stand against them.
Who are the Demons?
Demons are supernatural beings that were created many eons ago, before the Fall (Isaiah 14:12-14; Daniel 10:13; Ezekiel 28:12-15—the OT passages are figurative; John 12:31; Ephesians 6:12; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). The word for demons (daimon/daimonia) is from the Greek; it is a broad term, meaning, spiritual beings, or sometimes referred as, small gods (Acts 17:18). Elsewhere in the NT, the word for demons refers to evil spirits (Mathews 8:16; 17:18; Luke 10:17, 20; Mark 9:25). They are actually fallen angels who used to hang out with God, to do His will and worship Him in a perfect utopia paradise (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6)! But, under the command and influence of Satan, they were persuaded to go his way in rebellion against God (Matthew 9:34; 12:24-29; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15). They lost, and fell from their state of grace, thus becoming demons. They are basically angels who turned evil, and became totally depraved (extreme malevolence), in contrast to the angels who are still in a state of harmony with God and grace, and, who act in goodness and are still sinless, because they did not fall with Satan.
Demons are the “ministers” and representatives of Satan, since Satan is not “omnipresent,” that is, he cannot be everywhere at once, or in multiple places at once; he can be at only one place at a time (Luke 4:35; 9:1,42; John 10:21). There are two classes of demons under Satan’s command, those who are free to roam the earth and harass people (Ephesians 2:2; 6:11-12; Colossians 1:13), and, those who are imprisoned in the temporary prison of the abyss (Luke 8:31; Revelations 9:1-11; 20:1-3). They will be judged at the “Day of Judgment” (Matthew 8:29, 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). They will be punished (Matthew 8:29; 25:41; Luke 8:28; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Revelation 12:7-9). They know they are doomed to destruction (Matthew 8:29). Their final fate will be the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41), the eternal dwelling of Satan, demons, and all unsaved people.
Why did a third of the angels rebel against a utopia of peace and love? They sought pride, and did not like being subject to God. They wanted to do their own thing, even if it meant total alienation and destruction. Thus, they joined with Satan, and chose insurrection to fight God. That is how they became corrupt and hostile to God and humanity. Like we humans, they had free will and exercised it. This is very similar to our personal rebellions, as we, too, do not take into account the future, or God’s perfect plan and His precepts, or think things through; we just want the fun now, and to do our own thing—regardless of the consequences!
Demons are spiritual in their nature as in “non-corporal” beings. This means they do not have a physical body, but, they can create the illusion that they do (Ephesians 2:2; 6:12; Revelations 16:14). This means they have no physical form, just like Angels. Since they are purely spiritual, they do not have to function in our corporeal (material reality) realm. We do not have access to where they live and function, nor can we see it. However, we do experience its effects. Demons are semi-immortal beings who are thousands of years old, but, they will not live forever as we will, in eternity. There will come a time, in the final judgment, when the demons will be annihilated—destroyed (Colossians 2:15; Revelation 20:10). Their character is to be dishonest, crooked, and manipulative, so, their goal is to be antagonistic to all that is good and holy. They have no regard for truth or righteousness, and, they passionately hate us humans. Why do they hate us? Because, we have redemption at our call, which they rejected, and, now it is too late for them. They know firsthand about redemption and Christ (Mark 1:24), but reject it. We do not have firsthand knowledge, but, by faith, we receive it. Their desire is to turn us away from righteousness and truth, and into their camp of corruption.
They are adversaries of all of humanity; however, they are careful on whom they concentrate, and, with whom they pick their fights (Matthew 12:45). They are sent by Satan to cause trouble between peoples, destroying relationships, and causing us to fall away from God (Judges 9:23). Since they know they are in the wrong, they will do all they can to stand against all that is godly. They spend all of their energies seeking to destroy humanity, and God’s reputation. Their goal is to get as many of us as they can in some twisted mindset to prove that God was wrong, and to take as many with them as possible.
How do Demons Operate?
How do people invite demon activates in their lives? There are several ways to get their attention. Being a faithful Christian will do it. But, remember, “He who is in you (Jesus) is greater they he (Satan) who is in the world!” (1 John 4:4-6) Therefore, when we are in Christ, our steady growth and prayer will be the weapons the Spirit will use to protect us. Consequently, we do not need to hunt and seek demons. Lest you become a target, just spend more time in prayer, and get others to pray for you. In my pastoral experience, demons hate prayer, and so, will leave you alone to find a more “pleasant” target.
Some of the ways in which demons work which are popular in our thinking, on the contrary, are really rare strategies. These less popular strategies include coming into a non-Christian by idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:19-21), through drugs and substance abuse (Revelations 9:21; 18:23), through the practice and influence of witchcraft (Psalm 96:5; 136: 37-39; Isaiah 8:19; Galatians 5:20—the word we use for pharmacy comes from farmakeia in the Greek, and is also used for sorcery, which is witchcraft), and when Christians backslide, or never take seriously their faith, like the “Kingdom Parables” (Matthew 13). Demons can also reside in the reprobate soul—those who are alienated from Christ due to their willful pride (Romans 1:23).
How can you discern if these are ways you or someone you know is being attacked? One is a willful disregard to Truth, and a rejection of Christ. There are also psychological signs such as loneliness, boredom, bitterness, arrogance, self pity, a “blame” mentality, revenge oriented thinking, disillusionment, discouragement, and frustration—all centered upon pride. There is also a tendency to be very rebellious, and to seek pleasure and fulfillment in lust and things that are ungodly. Sometimes, it is a passion to teach false doctrine and lead others astray. But, you have to be in prayer and discerning, as these symptoms can also be from chemical imbalances in the brain, having rough times, being unable to deal with life’s issues, or being so self centered, one cannot, or will not, see Christ as their Lord (Ephesians 4: 17-32).
Demons also have the power to cause death where God permits (Hebrews 2:14, 15; 1 John 3:8). Remember, Satan killed Job's children, (Job 1:12, 18-19), and provoked Cain to murder Abel (John 8:44; 1 John 3:12). Satan and demons can also cause disease (Job 2:6-8; Matthew 12:22; Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38) and mental illness (Matthew 8:28; 8:27; 11:22; 17:15; Mark 1:26; 9:17; Luke 4:35; 11:14; Acts 19:11,12). They can even mimic some of Jesus’ powers, such as healings, to gather attention to themselves (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 16:14). They can affect people, including Christians, morally and mentally (Luke 8:27; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; Revelation 9:20-21; 16:13), and effect non-Christians physically, with maladies such as blindness (Matthew 12:22), insanity (Luke 8:26-36), stupidity (Matthew 9:32-33), and suicidal tendencies (Mark 9:22).
However, as Christians, we can be harassed, but not possessed (1 John 4:4). That means even though Satan and his entourage can affect us, influence us, inspire us, frustrate us, bother us, and cause havoc and destruction, he cannot force us to comply. We have to be willful combatants in his army. We have to choose to ignore Truth, and focus on falsehoods.
The ways that demons like to operate with the most are to corrupt us with false doctrine (1 Kings 22:21-231; Timothy 4:1-5), and obscure the truth of who Christ is (James 2:19; 1 John 4:1-3). They can get us to concentrate on the wrong things in life and inspire us to teach others false things, replicating their strategy in people who are willing. In addition, they can persecute you and your families, take away your money and property, and turn your friends and family against you, which are some of their other favorite ways to work. Satan, with his demons, is the "ruler of this world” (Ephesians 2:2), but, we can take comfort, because we are under the sovereignty of God. Demons cannot do anything to us without God’s permission, just as it was with Job.
We have to realize that we do not need Satan or the demons; we have enough sin within ourselves to permanently send ourselves to hell, and cause destruction and chaos to all of our relationships. But, demons can bring destruction. We need to understand them so we can be in prayer and be on guard (Isaiah 29:4; 47; Jeremiah 27:6-10; 1 Timothy 1:19-20).
What can Satan do to me? He can only do to you what God will allow for His glory. God will not allow anything to happen to you that you cannot handle and grow from, to be better used to further Christ's Kingdom and Glory (Job 1:12; 2:6; Luke 22:31, 32). In other words, Satan cannot do “squat,” unless it is authorized for our benefit (Romans 8:28)! We are not to fear him in terror like some Hollywood movie, because, he has been defeated and knows it (Matthew 12:29)
Demons share the same mindset of the reprobate human, who knows in his heart he is wrong, but he does not care; thus, he does all he can to corrupt others (Romans 1:18-31). Thus, demons, as well as pious fraud Christians, "have it out" for the Kingdom of Christ, and Christians who are truly obedient, and trust the Lord. So, they throw all of their “stuff” at the righteous, and those who model and teach the precepts of Christ. However, demons love the so-called “nominal” Christians, who just go to church, pew-sit, and have no real faith or obedience to God. This is the Christian who may go to church to make a good show, to spout off his agendas and aspirations, but has no real faith or trust in God. These show no obedience, character, sanctification, or a heart after God. They are the ones who demons leave alone, allowing their own pride and presumptions to ruin them. They do this because they know that the prideful, the reprobate, even the nominal Christians are already residing in their camp of opposition to God, so why waste their time and resources! Now you know why good things happen to bad people. But, remember, it is very temporary, and in the end, they lose out big time!
Satan is the demon's chief ruler and lord (Matt 12: 24-29). Satan is also extremely intelligent and knowledgeable—far beyond any human—and his role is more of a manager to his demon followers. Thus, he can organize demons for specific roles and attacks (Ephesians 6:10-12). Their power and abilities will seem formidable to us, but, as Calvin said, "Their movement is limited by the chains they drag wherever they go." They are not all powerful; they have limitations set by our God. There is not Ying and Yang, no half of all power is good and the other half is evil in a balanced symmetry. This is one of Satan’s lies. The chains are of judgment and their future destruction, and they can never overcome the will of God! This should give us great comfort and relief.
Since Demons are so old, and were once Angels, they also possess supernatural knowledge, and some power that we do not have access to. They still have access to incredible knowledge, and thus come across to us as powerful beings, when, in fact, in Christ we have more power (Mark 1:24; 9:17-27). They can also make their victims exhibit superhuman physical strength (Luke 8:29). They are invisible and are not limited to anything physical such as walls or people. However, they may assume, or appear in, human form (2 Kings 2:11; 6:17; Revelation 9:1-12; 16:13-16). They do not know the future; only God does. Because of their vast knowledge, they can make good educated guesses, and manipulate us into thinking they are more aware and powerful than they actually are. They normally operate by being shrewd. The demons in Matthew, chapter eight, begged Jesus not to vanquish them. In pagan literature, they liked to negotiate the least difficult terms to their favor, just as attorneys do today (I am not saying this as a “put down,” but, as an example. Or, you may take it as a joke, since this is my wife’s profession!).
Demons also know who Jesus is, and of our inheritance; thus, they are subject to the authority of Christ, and ours, too, when we cast them out in Christ's name only. The demons recognize Jesus for who He is in power and position, and, they are one of the greatest testimonies to the deity of Jesus (Matthew 8:29; Mark 1:23-24; 3:11; 5:7; Luke 8:28; Acts 19:15). They have belief, but not faith (This is very important for us to understand. We too, can believe—that is, know all about Christ and Christianity in an academic sense, but do nothing with it by faith. We can even believe with passion; but, if we have no faith—that is, going beyond belief so it is trust and assurance, exhibited by obedience and love—it is a good sign that one is not saved!)! In Matthew 8:28-34, they responded to Jesus with hate, tempered with fear. They knew who He was, and they knew of their fate to come, in judgment and destruction.
Ironically, Jesus was falsely accused of being possessed by demons in Mark 3:22-30; John 7:20; 8:48; and 10:20. And, it is a good bet those who accused Jesus were, in fact, themselves possessed, or at least heavily influenced, by demons. In spite of all Jesus did to prove who He was, using miraculous, unfathomable healings, and words of incredible wisdom that baffled the most learned of men, they still asked for a sign. They continued to attack Him, accusing Him of being a demon—not just any demon, but the prince of them all! While Jesus continued to receive criticism from the pious, fraud Pharisees and Scribes who just did not get it, they still had the audacity to ask Him to prove it. They attacked Him, tried to falsely implicate Him of a crime, tried to trick Him, and accused Him of being a demon; yet, they still had the impertinence to ask The God of Eternity and their only Hope for Salvation to prove it. Thus, Jesus turned the tables on their unrighteous deeds, and placed a mirror in their face for them to see their own hypocrisy (Matthew 12: 22-37; 38-50)! Demons and evil people work on the same game field, attacking our playground.
One of the reasons why God gave the land of Palestine to the Hebrews was because of the extreme corruption there. The corrupt Canaanites and other evil people groups actually worshipped the demons (Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 18:9-12; 32:17; 2 Chronicles 11:15; Psalm 106:37; Matthew 4:9; Luke 4:7; 1 Corinthians 10:20-21; 1Timothy 4:1; Revelation 13:4). This worship of demons and anything that is not God is strictly forbidden, and will destroy us (Leviticus 17:7; Zechariah 13:2; Revelation 9:20).
Demons and Exorcism
There are Instances of people being exorcised by Jesus (Matthew 4:24; 8:16; Mark 3:22; Luke 4:41), and by the disciples (Matthew 10:1; Mark 6:7; 9:38; 16:17; Luke 10:17; Acts 5:16; 8:7; 16:16-18; 19:12-16). This means the demons were cast, or ordered out of their willing or unwilling host. Sometimes, this is hard to do; it is like telling someone who loves their home to move to cheap apartment. They will do all they can in order to stay. The disciples sometimes were not able to drive out demons (Mark 9:18, 28-29). We cannot cast out demons by our own will or authority, because we have none. That is one of the reasons the disciples failed at it. We do not have the power or influence alone to do that. Only by what Christ has done, by His power working through us (Mark 1:25; 3:11-12; 9:25-29; Luke 9:1; 10:17) can we overcome the evil ones.
Demon possession is one of the topics that a lot of Christians get confused about. Possession can happen when a demon, or any hostile entity, enters and occupies the body and/or mind of an unbeliever (Romans 8:38-39; 1 Corinthians 10:19-22; Galatians 5:16-21). Instances of people being possessed or affected include Saul, (1 Samuel 16:14-23; 18:10-11; 19:9-10), two demon possessed men (Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:2-20), the disabled (Matthew 9:32-33; 12:22; Luke 11:14), and Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2-3). There are more instances found in Matthew 9:17-27; 15:22-29; 17:14-18; Mark 1:23-26; 7:25-30; Luke 4:33-35; and 9:37-42.
Even though demons work by manipulating our sinful nature into taking the wrong road, so to speak, they can, and sometimes do possess people. But, remember, if you are saved by Grace, they cannot to this to you! Did you notice that in these passages, only non-Christians are affected? Demons cannot enter the bodies of Christians; those who have confessed Jesus as Lord have the Spirit living in them. This is because the body of the Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is a very sad fact that some misguided Bible teachers are saying you can be possessed. In so doing, they can say an offense that they have caused was not their fault, as the devil made them do it. This refusal to own up to personal responsibility is blasphemy from the pit of Hell! This idea comes from the kingdom of the cults and movies—not from the Bible. There is no place in Scripture where a Believer is possessed, nor is there any teaching that could present a case for such an idea.
Exorcism is removing a demon(s) from a host by Christ's authority. Some Christians teach that we can do it by our power and authority, but Scripture teaches otherwise. Demons can cause all kinds of aggravation, discouragement, problems, and harassment, but they cannot dissuade Christ's purpose or our salvation. We can be “demonized,” that is, affected by them, but, we as Believers, elected in Christ, cannot be possessed (where thy take over our will and or body). Since we have the Holy Spirit in us, there is no room in our inn! God works out their corruption and allows their presence for His purpose (Romans 8:28).
What is the difference between satanic attack and God's conviction? How do we discern whether the enemy is opposing us, or God is trying to convict? Satan attacks with the strategies mentioned in our article, the “Names of Satan.” God convicts us and "tempts" us so we will seek forgiveness or repentance. Satan gives no hope; God gives us a way out. God exposes our weakness for fixing; Satan manipulates our weakness for sin. If it is from God, we need to fix, forgive, and repent; if it is from Satan, we are to fight. Remember God's character and Satan's strategies; this will give us the distinction, direction, and purpose for our problems (Genesis 39:9). We must discern the difference between Satan's attacks and God's corrective love, or, we will fall to pride and deceit just as Satan himself did.
Be on Guard
Spiritual warfare is alive, real, and certain (2 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 6:10-18)! If you ignore it, the “dark one” will come. We must stand ready with a defense, lest he take up residence in us! Jesus won the victory over Satan; when we are in Him, we have no need to fear. Satan needs your cooperation for him to come in you, and, a person who rejects Christ is his open invitation.
So, what do we do to guard ourselves from spiritual warfare? We do this by knowing our Lord. We know that He rescues us, just as He just went through a storm to cross a sea most would not dare to tread, to a place few would ever go, to meet two people who needed His help. One would reject Him and one would beg to go with Him. The community who rejected these two people also rejected Christ, and demanded His departure, as they valued pigs over people—money over eternity (Matthew 8: 28-34; John 14:6).
Jesus is the Strong Man who invaded Satan’s house, and stole his power and his opportunities to do us in. We are given freedom and victory; we are given the power to overcome Satan, and to prosper in His grace. But, we still need to operate within Christ’s parameters, using His armor and weapons. If we do not, we will fail; we do not have the strength of the Strong Man—only God does!
How sad it is that as the demons cried out, “this is none of your business,” we too make such heinous proclamations to the very Lord who crossed a storm to redeem us! He, who bridged the gap of sin we could never cross, and paved the way for our salvation and sanctification. He allows us to remain in the boat with Him, even inviting us to go with Him.
Casting out demons does no good unless the person repents, and seeks God’s will and not his own (Heb. 6:4-6). Jesus’ point was that they were so wicked, they kept inviting the demons back in! The Holy Spirit is the only One who so occupies the entire room of the soul that there is no room for demon possession (Rom. 8:9). We may be bothered and harassed by demons, but as a child of Christ, who’s Spirit dwells within us, there is no room for them!
Christians can stand against Satan by following the precepts of John 14:6; 2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Peter 5:8, 9; James 4:7; and 1 John 4:1. God gives us all of the armor we need to defend ourselves.
God calls us to be earnest, that is, to be pursuing a serious, deep-rooted, and determined faith. It is a call to persist in our faith and determination, regardless of obstacles—physical limitations, spiritual depression, spiritual warfare, or our circumstances. If everything came to us instantly, there would be no growth, no appreciation, no maturity, and no faith. Faith requires resistance and struggle to make it flourish and grow. God is not the One Who always holds us back; it is usually our refusal to reach out and seize the opportunity. It is we who refuse to exercise our faith and grow. It is we who speak just a simple prayer with no earnest thought behind it, with no zeal, or realization of God’s mercy and grace. We get so caught up in our own struggles that we do not look past the crowd to call His Name. We do not realize that He will stop, look, and listen—just for us!
For more information on how to do this, please read our articles on the Who is Satan? and The Names of SATAN: "Who is he and what does he do?"
Richard Joseph Krejcir is the Director of “Into Thy Word Ministries,” a discipling ministry. He is the author of the book, Into Thy Word, and is also a pastor, teacher, and speaker. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena California. He has amounted over 20 years of pastoral ministry experience, mostly in youth ministry, including serving as a church growth consultant.
© 2003 R. J. Krejcir Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.com
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