DEALING WITH DEMONS
by Ralph Woodrow
"My name is Satan!" an unearthly voice answered when I asked
the man his name. His son-in-law, who brought him to my meeting,
explained he had been in and out of institutions for several
months. He did not know his real name; he did not know where he
lived. With this voice saying, "My name is Satan" and other
demonic expressions, the real nature of his situation became
apparent. We began to rebuke the evil spirit in the name of
Jesus. In a few minutes he began to slump over. He was a large
man, and not being able to hold him in a standing position, we
lowered him to the floor and knelt over him. He began to twist,
resist, and chock. His tongue extended from his mouth in an
unnatural manner. An associate whispered to me that he thought
the devil was trying to kill him - then and there!
It was a spiritual challenge - not only because of the man's
problem - but also because many people, including many
Christians, have serious misgivings regarding exorcism. By
sticking with it, demanding, not in our names, but in the name of
Jesus that the demons come out, deliverance did come. The man's
countenance changed, he rose to his feet, and testified of the
spiritual freedom obtained. Now when I asked him his name, he
gave his real name - and his address - while everyone present
rejoiced at the victory attained!
Shrouded in controversy, the subject of demonology gives
birth to numerous questions. What are demons? What is demon
possession? Can a Christian be demon possessed? What about
casting out demons - sometimes referred to as exorcism? Why do
some ministers avoid this subject? What about the occult? Are
some houses "haunted"? How do we separate superstition from fact?
Beliefs about evil spirits (demons) go back to ancient times
- long before the Christian era. Old drawings included here
illustrate some of the ideas that have been held among various
tribes and people.... an ancient bronze tablet representing the
world in the clutches of an evil demon - a four-footed monster,
with four wings, standing on eagle's claws. Rising on his hind
feet, his head reaches over the border as over a wall. On the
other side of the plate, his head appears above horizontal layers
with scenes of people and demonic creatures.
An Egyptian demon is shown with human head from which
project the heads of six animals - an ox, birds, and serpents
(Postclassic age). Also from Egyptian demonology (see following
page) are Amam, the devourer, and a baboon type creature, demon
of the nether world. Both drawings are based on illustrations in
an ancient Egyptian papyrus.
The grotesque Japanese demonic figure (from a seventeenth
century wood carving) is named Oni-no-Nembutzu.
The weird Turkish demon has been portrayed with olive flesh,
green eyes, red pupils, pale purple trousers lined with blue, and
a green scarf tied around the middle portion of his body!
Among the Moabites, Belphegor, the demon of evil, was
worshipped..... beliefs about demons have existed among many
different tribes and people. Because of these widespread beliefs
often accompanied by much ignorance and idolatry - some quickly
dismiss the whole subject of demonology as mere superstition.
They do not believe in the existence of demons. But for the
Christian, who bases his beliefs on what the Bible says, there
can be little doubt in the matter.
Demons (or "devils" as they are called in the King James
Version) are repeatedly mentioned in the Bibles--as evil spirits,
familiar spirits, unclean spirits, lying spirits, dumb spirits,
deaf spirits, blind spirits, seducing spirits, and spirits of
There are at least 80 New Testament verses that deal
directly with the subject of casting out demons!
Matthew 4:24; 7:22; 8:16,28,31,33; 9:32,33,34; 10:1,8;
12:22,24,27,28,43; 15:22; 17:18. Mark 1:23,26,27,32,34,39;
3:11,15,22; 5:2,8,12,13,15,16,18; 6:7,13; 7:25,26,29,30;
9:17,20,25,26,38; 16:9,17. Luke 4:33,35,36,41; 6:18; 7:21;
8:2,27,29,30,33,35,36,38; 9:1,39,42,49; 10:17;
11:14,15,18,19,20,24; 13:11,32. Acts 5:16; 8:7; 16:18;
The Bible also warns about divination, witchcraft,
soothsaying, enchantment, magic, sorcery, wizardry, astrology,
etc., all of which are related to demonic activity. Putting it
all together, there are, literally, hundreds of Biblical
references to demons and demonic practices!
Casting out demons was a distinct part of the ministry of
Jesus. At Capernaum, "all the city was gathered together," and
"devils came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ
the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak:
for they knew that he was Christ" (Mk.1:32-34; Lk. 4:41). As he
traveled throughout Galilee, casting out demons was very much in
evidence: "And he preached in their synagogues throughout all
Galilee, and cast out devils" (Mk. 1:39). "And his fame went
throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him ... those which
were possessed with devils - and he healed them. And there
followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from
Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond
In spite of such clearly defined and widespread activity,
there are some who would have us believe that Jesus simply
accommodated himself to the superstition and ignorance of the
time! But this becomes not only a rejection of clear scripture,
it calls into question the integrity of Jesus himself.
In sending out the twelve to preach, Jesus also told them to
"cast out devils" (Matt.10:7,8). "And they went out, and preached
that men should repent. And they cast out many devils" (Mk.6:13).
So did the seventy: "And the seventy returned again with joy,
saying, Lord even the devils are subject unto us through thy
When Jesus went back to heaven, his great commission
included casting out demons, for his followers were to take the
gospel to the nations, "teaching them to observe all things
whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20). Not only were
they to cast out demons in the name of Jesus, those who would
believe their message would also "cast out devils" (Mark 16:17).
A church deacon named Philip had a ministry of casting out
demons. At a city of Samaria, "unclean spirits, crying with loud
voice, came out of many that were possessed with them" (Acts
8:7). We know that Paul cast out demons (Acts 16:18; 19:13).
While he was preaching for two years in Ephesis, "God wrought
special miracles by the hands of Paul, " ... so that even
handkerchiefs or aprons from his body were taken to demon
possessed people and the evil spirits went out of them" (Acts
THE DEMONIC REALITY
According to the Bible, demons are not merely a figment of
the imagination or a nebulous influence. They are actual
personalities with mind, emotion, and will. They can see: "And
unclean spirits, when they SAW HIM..." (Mk.3:11). They can hear
(Acts 19:15). They can feel pain (Matt.8:29). They can walk,
talk, and seek rest: "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a
man, he WALKETH...SEEKING REST. Then he SAITH, I will return..."
(Mt.12:43,44). They can believe (James 2:19).
Demons can fall down: "Unclean spirits ...FELL DOWN"
(Mk.3:11). They can stand still or travel through space with
tremendous speed: "And there came forth a spirit and STOOD before
the Lord [in heaven]" (1 Kings 22:21). They can lie: "I will be a
LYING spirit" (2 Chron.18:21); or admit truth, as when they said
to Jesus: "Thou art Christ the son of God" (Lk.4:41). They have
names: "My name is Legion" (Mk.5:9).
Though it is possible for demons to enter into animals and
places, people are their prize possession. The number of demons
in a person may range from one (Matthew 12:22), seven (Mk.16:9),
eight (Matt.12:45), up to a "legion" (Lk.8:30) - implying a large
number of demons, a Roman legion usually being figured from 3,000
to 6,000 men!
Demons can torment and possess people of all ages, even
children! The Bible tells of a woman's "young daughter" who was
"grievously vexed with a devil" (Mk.7:25; Matt. 15:22) and of a
"child," a man's son, who was "sore vexed" by a demon (Mk.9:21;
Matt.17:15). The demoniac of Gadara was probably an older man,
for he had been possessed with demons a "long time" (Lk.8:27).
With all this Biblical information before us, we do not
believe the subject of demons can be passed off as an
insignificant side issue. Yet, in many churches, this subject is
seldom, if ever, mentioned! When was the last time you heard a
sermon about casting out demons? This is not to suggest that
churches should make demonology the BIG thing (at the expense of
other things) - certainly not! But we believe it should be given
the same status it is given in the New Testament.
We readily admit that the doctrine of demonology has
suffered from extremes. At the one extreme are those who tend to
reject or ignore the reality of demons. At the other extreme are
those demonic detectives who live in depression, looking for
demons in every shadow. They develop an unhealthy interest in
demons, talk too much about demons, encourage a fascination with
demons - even though against demons - that might become its own
In spite of the extremes and abuses that have existed,
however, we believe a proper knowledge concerning the working of
demons is a neglected Biblical truth. It must be understood, of
course, in balance. Emphasis must be on the victory that is in
Christ. After all, as Christians, we are on the winning team!
Our position can be likened to that which once faced Elisha.
During the dark of night, the king of Syria had surrounded the
town of Dothan with a vast army of horses and chariots. Rising
early, Elisha's helper discovered what had happened, and
realizing the impossibility of the circumstances, cried out in
despair. But Elisha answered: "Fear not: for they that be with us
are more than they that be with them" (2 Kings 6:16). THEY THAT
BE WITH US ARE MORE THAN THEY THAT BE WITH THEM! - a great
Elisha saw something his young helper did not see until he
was given spiritual insight. The mountain was full of horses and
chariots of fire - God's angelic armies outnumbering those of the
We would strongly emphasize that there is victory over all
demonic powers through the NAME OF JESUS (Mark 16:17), his BLOOD
(Rev.12:11), the WORD (Matt.4:10,11), and the POWER OF THE HOLY
SPIRIT (Acts 1:8). With the shield of FAITH we can quench all the
fiery darts of wicked spirits (Eph.6:12,16). "In all these things
we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through him that loved us" (Rom.
8:37). "GREATER is he that is in you, than he that is in the
world" (1 John 4:4).
To be continued