SICKNESS AND DEMON SPIRITS
There is a difference between sickness and demon oppression or possession. Let’s look at some verses.
“There came a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits; and they were healed every one.”
Notice that they brought sick folk and as well as those that were vexed by unclean spirits.
Also in Matthew 10:8. Jesus was sending out the twelve apostles and He said,
“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”
Jesus made a difference between healing the sick and the casting out of devils.
Now let’s look in Mark 16:17, 18
“And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
Again Jesus spoke of healing the sick and casting out devils as different.
Clearly there is a difference between healing sickness and the casting out of devils. Sickness may be caused by natural causes; for example, measles or polio or flu. These are viruses; they are not evil spirits but it should be understood that devil spirits can mock sickness and afflictions, in which case the cure is to rebuke them.
POSSESSION, OPPRESSION; THERE IS A DIFFERENCE
The word “possessed” in the Greek means to be exercised by demonic beings. A man possessed, is a man the devil exercises — the devil controls. The man who is possessed, I believe, has little ability to resist the devil’s will. Often a man who is possessed by an unclean spirit seems to have a dual personality. He seems to be normal until the evil spirit within him is roused, causing him to do things contrary to his will. I’ve seen numerous people weep because they couldn’t control themselves.
I knew an alcoholic. He seemed to want to serve God. He would kneel at the altar, cry and pray. But he failed to find the deliverance from alcohol that he needed. He would leave the church and be drinking as soon as he left. This continued for months. And then, not even in church — in his own bedroom — he prayed with all of his heart. He found freedom from the devils that had made him drink. Freedom — no more yielding to temptation, nor was he controlled by that enemy. He had seemed to have a dual personality. I believe he was a good example of demon possession — a man exercised, as the Greek would say, by demonic spirits.
To be oppressed is different. There is only one verse in the Bible that plainly mentions devil oppression, Acts 10:38:
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”
In the Greek “oppress” means to exercise dominion against. The man oppressed of the devil is the man against who the devil is exercising himself. This oppression may not be in every area of his life, but in only a particular area of life. The man who is in a sin/repent, sin/repent, sin/repent cycle as he battles to control a certain area of his life. The devil often exercises dominion against him, but only in a particular area of life. This cycle must be stopped.
Let’s look at an example. John 6:70:
“Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?”
When He said, “one of you is a devil”, speaking of Judas, he did not mean that Judas wasn’t a man. The word “devil” in the Greek means accuser. “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is an accuser?” (a false accuser). Judas had this particular personality trait. Jesus chose him in spite of that flaw. Judas was a man who was always trying to find fault with others. He was a man who was always accusing people falsely. He looked for error, he looked for fault. He was an accuser.
What happened in Judas’ life. Turn to John 13:2:
“And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him.”
This is not just Judas thinking, but the devil (the word devil still means accuser; the enemy has always been called, the accuser — in the Old and New Testament), the accuser, put into Judas Iscariot’s heart to betray Jesus Christ. Judas was a man who would listen to the devil. The devil used him; the accuser spoke to him like he had spoken to him so many times before. In the 27th verse of this chapter we read,
“And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, that thou doest, do quickly.”
So we find a pattern in his life. At first, though not possessed by the devil, he allowed himself to be an accuser; a fault finder. Having this fault, he was receptive to Satan’s leading. So Satan put the thought there, Judas pondered it and accepted it; then he was wide open to possession by Satan. The accuser, Satan entered Judas and possessed him. It was not an overnight thing; it was not something that just happened. It was a pattern of yielding to the accusing thoughts that the devil placed in his heart.
Let’s look at more examples of demon possession. Let’s look in Mark 5.
“And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship (speaking of Jesus), immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.”
Being possessed of the devil, this man lived contrary to the dictates of civilized behavior. He cut himself — he inflicted punishment to his own body. He couldn’t be bound. He couldn’t be tamed. He could not live with people — he had his dwelling among the tombs. When a person can’t live civilized; can’t live with other civilized people, something is wrong. Jesus loved people; He spent His life with & for them. And we should love people, especially the saints of God.
Let’s look a little further in Mark 9:17:
“ And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; and where ever he takes him, he tears him: and he foams, and gnashes with his teeth, and pines away: and I spoke to thy disciples that they should cast him out, and they could not. He answered him, and said, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him unto me. And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. And he asked his father, how long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, of a child. And oft-times it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us.”
Here was another example of someone being possessed by an unclean spirit. Not all the time, but “oftentimes” these things would come upon him, his father said.
Let’s continue in Matthew 12:22 :
“Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spoke and saw.”
From these examples of demon possession we can see the various things that demon possession causes in people’s lives.
The question that has been asked is, “Can Christians be possessed by demons? Can Christians have unclean spirits?”
I Peter 5:8 :
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.”
Some he can devour and some he can’t. Now, let’s look at Luke 22:31 :
“And the Lord said Simon, Simon, behold, Satan desires to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for you, that your faith would not fail; and when you art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
Satan was a roaring lion walking about, and he had his sights set upon Peter that he might sift him as wheat. But Jesus said, “I have prayed for you, that your faith would not fail.” He was after Peter. But Jesus prayed for Peter.
“I pray not that You should take them out of the world” (talking about his disciples — the eleven) “but that You should keep them from evil.”
Jesus prayed for the Father to keep them from evil. That’s what kept Peter from being devoured by Satan — Jesus prayed for him.
Now, what is going to keep us from being devoured by Satan? It is going to be Jesus praying for us. In verse 20 of chapter 17:
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also that shall believe on me through their words.”
The devil won’t devour me, because I believed on Jesus through the words of the apostles. The devil is going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour; but he knows he can’t touch me. Jesus prayed for me.
There is no way (and there will be other scripture as we go along) that a child of God can be demon possessed.
All right, now concerning oppression let’s look in Luke 13:11 :
“And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. ”
Further down, in verse 16:
“And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”
This woman was as much a child of God as you or me. She was a child of faith- a child of Abraham. She had a spirit of infirmity. What does “spirit of infirmity” mean? We know that spirit in the Greek doesn’t mean a vapor; it doesn’t mean something floating around; it does not mean a ghostly manifestation; but spirit in the Greek means “a rational soul”, or one that has the ability to exercise logic and reasoning — one that is not led by feelings or affections or emotions. A man that is spiritual is one that is living according to reason. God never wants anyone to live a haphazard life in this world. Adam lived according to the way he felt and he died spiritually. Any of us who live according to the way we feel – our natural affections – are going to die spiritually. We live according to the spirit; we live rationally, reasoning what is right according to the Word of God. That is the way God wants us to live.
This woman had a spirit of infirmity (weakness). It had bound her. She was bowed over and couldn’t lift herself and she had been that way for eighteen years. What was wrong with her? She had believed a lie of the devil. “Spirit” relates to reasoning. She had a reasoning of infirmity. The devil had probably lied to her saying, “Woman, your back is hurting this morning. Before you know it you’re going to be bowed over.” Maybe she fell and hurt her back and after it was healed she still stayed bowed over because the devil lied to her and she believed him. She had a reasoning of infirmity. She was listening to a lie of Satan.
Let’s look at someone else who was oppressed of the devil — II Corinthians 12:7. Paul speaking said,
“And lest I be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”
Paul said that there was a reason that this messenger of Satan was allowed. It was to keep him humble.
“For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
We see two people who were oppressed of the devil. One was a woman of faith – a child of Abraham, yet she was bound by a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years. Then there is — the Apostle Paul — who had a messenger of Satan buffeting him in the flesh. He prayed three times for the Lord to deliver him. And the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for you, Paul.” God allowed him to be buffeted in the flesh that he might not be exalted because of the abundance of revelations that he had received. So we see two people being oppressed of Satan. One was freed and the other was not, even though he was an apostle of God. There was a reason he wasn’t freed — that the will of God could be worked out in his life. So everyone who is oppressed of the devil will not be freed, but God’s grace will be adequate for all.
Let’s look a little further. Although it is God’s will that some people be oppressed, it seems to always be for their good. I believe He never wills for Satan to oppress you in any of the rights or privileges that are yours as a child of His. These are given to you. You are the only one who can allow the Satan to take these away. Satan sometimes robs Christians of the benefits of being a child of God. He does it by oppression. How does he do it? By deception, after all he is a liar.
Satan may lie to you about the benefits of being a Christian; about the blessings that God has provided for his children. The woman in Luke 13 may have really hurt her back. Satan may have then lied to her and said, “You aren’t going to get well. Your back is going to stay hurt.” Then long after it was well she continued to reason that she had hurt her back and she was going to stay bowed over. She stayed there, believing his lie for eighteen years.
It’s so important to realize that not everyone who is sick or afflicted is that way because of believing Satan’s lies. I believe most sick and afflicted people are that way because of real sickness or affliction. Sickness and affliction are not necessarily an oppression of the devil.
Satan is going to come against each of us with a lie. That’s the way he operates. He lies to you because he is a liar and the father of lies. But what do we do when Satan comes against us with lies? What are we supposed to do? First, you have to recognize the lie. If you don’t know Satan has lied to you then you can’t do anything about it. The only way to know when Satan is lying to you is to read God’s Word or hear God’s truth preached or taught. What did Jesus say the truth would do? It will set you free. In John 8:31-32 He said to those that believed on Him,
“If ye continue in my word then are ye my disciples indeed…”
Now, they had believed on him — they were already people in God’s grace. But He continued,
“…and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Some people think that because they are saved there is no more setting free to be done. But God has been setting me free for many, many years, and He is still setting me free. The more you study the Word, the more you listen to the truth, the more you will be set free.
We need to hear the truth so we can recognize the lie. If we recognize the lie then we can do something about it. So, when you hear the truth, and think, “Well, that’s what God’s Word says, but it’s not so in my life,” then you are supposed to say, “I’ve been lied to!” Some people are afraid to confess what Satan has done, but that’s the first step to freedom. When I was a sinner I had to confess I was a sinner to get saved. I could have gone on my way knowing that I was a sinner the rest of my life, and died and gone to hell. You can know that you have believed Satan’s lie, while now knowing the truth, but if you never confess your situation you will never get free. You need to stop and say, “God gave me joy; but the devil has lied to me and took it away. God gave me peace; but the devil lied to me and took it away. The devil lies to us. He tells us that we don’t have dominion over sin. But God’s Word in Romans 6:14 says we do have dominion over sin.” We need to stop and say, “Satan, you are a liar. You have lied to me and robbed me of what God gave me.” And when we start confessing what Satan has done & recognize it as such, then we can find real freedom.
I can recognize that Satan robbed me of my joy; Satan lied to me and took it away. But God gave it to me, therefore I can confess joy. And I can say, “I claim joy,” Because God gave it to me. For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. I claim righteousness, because God gave that to me.
I can’t see that ’72 Plymouth that’s parked out in the driveway, and I can’t feel it, and I can’t touch it. But that ’72 Plymouth is mine because my name is written on the title. Likewise, joy is mine even if I cannot feel it because God gave it to me. When I get in the Plymouth, then it’s very evident that it is mine. But if I didn’t believe that Plymouth was mine I never would get in it. And if you don’t believe that joy is yours, you never will have it. If you don’t believe that God has given you peace, you will never have it. If you don’t believe that God has given you dominion over sin you will never have it.
There is a difference in the things that the Lord has already given us and the things that He has made available to us. You obtain a promise in a different way than you manifest things God has already given you. If God has made something available to you, then you have to ask Him for it to get it. He said, “If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God, Who gives to all men liberally and without reproach.” So if you lack wisdom ask God for it and trust Him to give it to you, and you will find yourself being a wise person.
Now, God has made available to us the gifts of the Spirit. But we don’t just start claiming them. He said desire spiritual gifts — we ask Him for them. Some people have not because they ask not. Wisdom is not necessarily a possession of every child of God; the gifts of the Spirit are not necessarily a possession of every child of God — but they are made available to us. He has already given to us the fruit of the Holy Spirit that is in us — love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (the fruit of the Spirit) — He has given these to us. “We possess joy. We have it — if I quit believing the lie of the devil and start believing God it will manifest itself. “I possess peace — God has given it to me. And Satan can’t take it from me; God won’t let him. I am the only one that can let him.” God gave me a sound mind. He said, “I have not given you the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” I possess that — I claim it — God gave it to me. Bless the Lord! It’s mine, and it is a possession of every child of God that will exercise faith.
There is no excuse for a saint to ever not have joy, except for ignorance of the Word of God or compliancy. There is no excuse for you not to have peace; there is no excuse for you not to be long-suffering, and gentle, and kind, and meek; there is no excuse for your having fear in your heart, or lack of power in your life — for He has given us the spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. He has given us dominion over sin. I possess that — praise the Lord! He has already given it to me. He didn’t say, “Pray for it” or “Ask me for it” — He said, “It’s yours”. All of these things are ours, by faith. Faith in God believes what God says. I believe Him when He said peace was mine. I believe when He said joy was mine. I believe Him when He said dominion over sin was mine. If I don’t have these manifestations of God’s presence in my life it’s because I’m not aware of the truth or I’m believing the enemy. We should always be able to rejoice in the things of God – that’s the joy of the Spirit. We should always have a confident peace knowing that He is in control.
There is one more scripture I want to share with you, and you ought to underline it: Colossians 1:13. Speaking of the Father, he said,
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.”
The Father is going to deliver us from the powers of darkness…No! That’s not what he said at all. If you thought that was right, go back and read it again. He said, “Who hath delivered us” — that is past tense. He has already delivered us. The saints are already delivered! He hath delivered us — already — from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son. The saints need KNOWLEDGE of what is already theirs in Christ. Let’s grow in grace and knowledge. The truth is setting us free.