1.Recognize the meanings of the terms: demonic possession, demonic influence and demonize. Also recognize the New Testament language regarding demons.
- 1. Demonic “Possession” – an unfortunate misnomer as a general term
- a. The traditional translation, “demon possession” (in the Great Bible of 1539; KJV, 1611; NIV and other modern versions) implies the extreme case.
- 2. Demonic “Influence” – a key, general term indicating that there are degrees of influence.
- a. Degrees of influence have been implicitly recognized by attempts to classify demon influence by gradation, e.g., oppression, obsession, possession, etc.
- b. “Demonic influence” removes the distortion that the term “demonic possession” places on the Biblical text.
- c. Can Christians experience demonic influence? Yes! There are degrees of influence on both Christians and non-Christians.
- d. “Demon possession” is the extreme case. If we use this term, people assume Christians cannot be under demonic influence.
- **Illustration: Alcohol – Eph. 5:18
- “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
- The various degrees of alcohol influence on a person are similar to the various degrees of demonic influence. Alcohol’s effect can range from the smaller influence of a small glass of wine to the extreme influence of being drunk. Likewise, demonic influence occurs in various degrees on people.
- 3. “Demonize,” a transliteration functioning as a flexible term: daimonizomai (passive Greek verb, meaning “to be demonized”), meaning “demon influenced.”
- a. Demonize is a good term that allows room for interpreting the degree of influence in a particular case within its context.
- 1. Term: Demon (daimonion)
- The pagan Greek view – in classical Greek, daimonion /“demon” was often used in a good sense, even to describe a god, or one with divine power (cf. Acts 17:18). It was sometimes used inter-changeably with theos, meaning “god.” There seemed to be little concern for discerning good from evil in a being’s character.
2. The New Testament view – demons are malevolent spirits, evil disembodied personalities (exhibiting intellect, emotions and will), who are actively opposing God’s people and purposes, serving their master, Satan, and harming people who bear the image of God. Their intent is to express their evil natures through people whom they are holding in captivity. The result is the distortion, harm and ultimately the destruction of their victims.
3. The NT terms below reflect various degrees of demonic influence:
*“He/She who is demonized” (daimonizomenos) = a demoniac (KJV “possessed”)
- *The 13 New Testament examples: Matt. 4:24; 8:16, 28, 33; 9:32; 12:22; 15:22; Mk. 1:32; 5:15; 16, 18; Lk. 8:36; John 10:21.
- *One has to look at the context of each passage to see the degree of demonic influence.
*“With an unclean spirit” (en pneumati akatharto)
Examples: Mk. 1:23; 5:2
*“Having……demons,” Lk. 8:27
- *A dumb spirit, Mk. 9:17
- (An) unclean spirit(s), Mk. 1:23, 7:25; Acts 8:7
- *A spirit of an unclean demon, Lk. 4:33
- *A spirit of infirmity, Lk. 13:11
*“Those who were troubled (enokhloumenoi)
*By unclean spirits” Lk. 6:18
*“Those afflicted (okhloumenous) with unclean spirits,” Acts 5:16
*“A spirit seizes (lambanei) . . . him.” Lk. 9:39
- *“Seize” indicates a stronger degree of influence than the terms listed above.
- *The terms below indicate an extreme degree of demonic influence.
*“For many demons had entered into him,” Lk. 8:30, implied Lk. 8:2
*“Satan entered into Judas,” Lk. 22:3, cf. Jn.13:27
*“Ananias, why has Satan filled (eplerosen) your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?”
- *Acts 5:3; cf. same word in Eph.5:18.
- “Expulsion” is a better term than “exorcism,” which implies ritual.
- Either explicitly or implicitly, NT references to deliverance also seem to indicate that demons “come out” of their victims.