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What are Demons and What to do about Them? 魔鬼﹐墮落的天使
Demons are Fallen Angels 魔鬼﹐墮落的天使 who willfully sided with Satan and became his followers, to carry out his will instead of Gods. Satan was the highest of all of the angels, with the name Lucifer. Lucifer, known as the Angel of Light, was the most beautiful angel. Unfortunately, Lucifer decided to emulate God, gathered a group of other angels and led a revolt against God (Ezek. 28:11-19, Isaiah 14:12-15, Rev. 12:4). The angels who sided with Satan are known as the Fallen Angels. These Fallen Angels can be divided into two groups, known as the free angels and the Tartarus angels. The Tartarus angels are confined to the Abyss, waiting for judgment (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6). These angels are being punished by God for some sin other than the original rebellion against their creator. Some believe that these are the angels who committed the unnatural sin mentioned in Genesis 6:2-4, and were permanently confined in the Tartarus for the gross depravity of this sin. The free fallen angels, on the other hand, are the demons that can possess and oppress people.
When confronted by a demon-possessed individual, there are generally two possible rections, namely the offensive approach and the defensive approach. The offensive approach calls for rebuking the demon. This is also known as deliverance or exorcism. In contrast, the defensive approach simply teaches the Christian to resist the demon, and preach the gospel to the demon possessed individual.
Before we analyze which approach to take, we need to have a clear understanding of what is demon possession. Demon possession is the inward affliction by a demon so that the individual loses control over his life. There is no clear example of demon possession in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, demon possession is generally the direct, inward control by demon(s) (or evil spirits) who resides in a person. In Mark 5:12 and 9:25, demons are said to enter and exit people. In Matthew 7:22, 8:16, 9:33 demons are said to be cast out. In Matthew 4:24, 8:16, 8:33, 15:22, the term demon-possessed is used. Only God and the demon know whether a person is truly possessed by demon. The rest of us can only speculate. When a person is said to be demon-possessed, it can be a result (or combination) of the following situations. The first three are not demon related, although demons can impose physical and mental sicknesses on individuals whom they oppress or possess. Out of the five situations, only the fourth case is truly demon possession, and Christians can only be oppressed by demons, but not possessed by them.
1) People with Physical Sickness- A person who has a physical sickness and is perceived by others or himself as possessed by demon(s). We find a number of such cases in the Bible where people with certain sicknesses were viewed as being unclean or sinful by the Pharisees. While this may be true for some cases, not all sicknesses are caused by demons or unclean spirits. The Scripture distinguishes natural illnesses from those that are demon caused (Matthew 4:24, Mark 1:32, Luke 7:21, 9:1, Acts 5:16).
2) People with Mental Sickness- People with mental problems are easily confused with demon possession, because the symptoms of demon possession are very similar to those of mental illness. Such symptoms include, showing a frightening and horrible countenance; tired of living; uncontrollable and violent; and making unnatural sounds and movements.
3) People who Use Demon-Possession as an Excuse- These people are neither sick nor influenced by demons, but merely use demon possession as an excuse for committing crime or sins. We have seen cases in recent history with murderers claiming to have heard voices in their heads, instructing them to kill. In many cases, they were successful in getting away with the crime they committed. These people faced the enemy of the flesh and the world, instead of the demon.
4) People who are Truly Demon Possessed- These people are truly possessed by demons. Besides the symptoms listed in 2), they may blaspheme, make friends with devils (Luke 8:27), live a wicked life, have supernatural strength (Mark 5:2-4), may be troubled with spirits, persistently sick, and may vomit unusual objects. Unlike demon oppression, which is from the outside, demon possession is from within. This is the main reason why Christians cannot be possessed by demons, because we have the Holy Spirit within us. Since God is more powerful than Satan, demon cannot come within us.
5) People who are Demon Oppressed- These people are afflicted by demons, but not controlled by them. Demons can tempt and exert influence, but the oppressed is ultimately the one who makes his or her own decision. Examples of demon oppression in the Bible include Matthew 16:23, Acts5:1-10, and 2Corin 12:1-10.
For the first three types of possession, the best remedy is to preach the gospel to these people. Regardless of whether these people are physically (1) or mentally (2) sick, they need the gospel. To those who are afflicted by the sin of the flesh and/or the world (3), they need the gospel even more so.
Rebuking the DemonsThe Bible states that the rebuke of demons performed by Jesus were unprecedented (Matthew 9:33 and Mark 1:27), meaning these were unique acts pertaining to His ministry, and not for us to follow. The same authority was given to the twelve disciples (Luke 9:1-10) as evidence of their representative function in the kingdom proclamation, and to the seventy (Matthew 10:1, Luke 10:1-20). The frequency of demon possession reached a peak during Jesus ministry, and decreased somewhat during the Acts of the Apostles, and became non-exist in the Epistles. This strongly indicates that the rebuke of the demon was a unique act of authority, not meant to be followed by all Christians. In fact, deliverance ministries are not the teaching of God. But how do we explain the apparent success of the deliverance ministry. Apparently, these people who were healed were not truly demon-possessed. They belong to the first three categories discussed above. Due to the high expectation or faith in the deliverance ministry, these people were 'healed from their sicknesses psychosomatically, thinking that the demons have left them. Unfortunately, in most cases, the sicknesses tend to recur. In other cases, the deliverance could be done by demons to lead people astray. Many people become so concerned about the Devil that they take their eyes off the Lord.
A good reason for us not to rebuke demons is because they are more powerful than us. Demons are fallen angels and angels are more than man. It is simply not within mans natural ability to exorcise demons. When some of the itinerant Jewish exorcist took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, the evil spirits recognized they lacked authority and leaped on them, chasing them away naked and wounded (Acts 19:13-16). This gives us a good lesson not to take things into our own hands. Throughout the New Testament, rebuke is understood as the sole prerogative of the Lord, and this is why Michael said, The Lord rebuke you, when he was challenged by Satan (Jude 9).
Resisting demonsThus the proper way to deliver a person from demon is to preach the gospel to him. By accepting the gospel, the Holy Spirit will dwell in the person and the demon, being less than God, has to flee.
For the same reason, Christians cannot be possessed by demons. But we can be oppressed by them. Therefore all Christians should take a decisive stand against Satan (James 4:7), and put on our armor (Ephesian 6:10-18) to protect ourselves.
ConclusionsDemons are fallen angels who are more powerful than humans. Therefore, we should not attempt to rebuke demons on our own or even in the name of God (Acts 19:13-16), because we are not authorized to do so, as the Apostles were. The defeat of Satan will come after the return of Christ, but not now. Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire eternally (Rev 20:10-15). Thus it is not our responsibility to rebuke Satan at this time. Instead of rebuking the evil spirits, we should preach the gospel to those who are afflicted by demons. As believers, we should stand firm in resisting the demons, and put our focus on Christ (and not be distracted by the Devil), until He returns from heaven to take us home with Him. About the author.
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