To exorcise means to expel or get rid of according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. What if you could participate in expelling demons now? Many people confess to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and so do demons. Have you ever considered how much people are like demons? Many are surprised in comparing people to demons in the Bible.
The Identity of Demons
What are demons according to the Bible? According to the Bible, everyone has a spirit, a soul (Gen 2:7; Jas 2:26). According to the Christian Scriptures, demons are evil spirits. Luke equated evil spirits as demons when he reported, “and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out” (Luke 8:2). Luke also described demons as unclean spirits, “While He was coming, the demon threw Him to the ground and convulsed Him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father” (Luke 9:42).
The Actions of Demons
What do demons do? How do people act like demons? Jesus revealed in Matthew 12:43, “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none.” Demons are restless in seeking a home. In Matthew 12:44–45, Jesus told,
Then it [a demon] says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.
According to Jesus, demons consider people their home and seek to dwell in people. Have people made themselves a home for demons by not filling ourselves with goodness and righteousness?
Demons and False Gods
The Bible also many times present that demons are false gods. In fact, demons are more related to idols than to possessing people. Moses revealed, “They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had come recently, whom your fathers had never dreaded” (Deut 32:17). Furthermore, Paul affirmed,
No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons (1 Cor 10:20–21).
Each person has a choice to worship demons or to worship the one God and Father of Jesus Christ. One might reflect, “Do I worship demons?” One might say, “Well, I’m not a pagan so I am excluded” or “I’m a Christian so that is not true for me.”
Idolatry includes more than explicit worship of false gods and idols. Paul commanded, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col 3:5). Covetousness is idolatry where the desire for something possesses a person to strive to grasp what they want. Those who lust for another’s spouse or crave to possess something may serve the creation rather than the Creator and worshipped a false god. Covetous is idolatrous serving evil spirits.
Demons Believe Too
Can demons really believe in God? How much do demons obey their faith in God? Demons do too (Jas 2:19). Do you believe in the Word of God? Do you believe in Christ? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit? The demons do too. James observed, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder!” (Jas 2:19). Why do demons shudder? Like people, demons believe and fear God. Demons also know that they are condemned.
Demons also confess their belief in Jesus like many believers of Jesus. The person who believes and confesses belief is no more saved from condemnation than a demon. Luke reported, “And demons also came out of many, crying, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But He rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that He was the Christ” (Luke 4:41). How many people believe that all you need to do is believe and confess faith to be saved? Are demons saved? They are certainly not. This is the extent of salvation for many ministers. Many confidently proclaim their knowledge, belief, and confession in Jesus, but the demons do also.
The Difference between Demons and People
What separates humans from demons? One may have heard the message of Jesus, but hearing is not enough to save a demon. One may believe, but that will not save an evil spirit. One may confess their belief that Jesus is the Son of God, but that is not enough. Faith without works is dead (Jas 2:17, 26). This is the faith of demons. People are like demons when they believe and do nothing. James noted, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (Jas 2:24). People who rely on “faith alone” have little more than demons. A person does not have to believe and teach “faith only” salvation to live it. All a person needs to do is do nothing and serve one’s own form of righteousness.
When Demons Obey Jesus’s Words
Jesus regularly entered into a synagogue and taught. On one specific occasion, there was a man in the synagogue with an unclean spirit, a demon. Mark depicted,
And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And at once His fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee (Mark 1:23–28).
An unclean spirit came into this synagogue assembly like many hypocrites who do the. The demons obeyed Jesus’s command as they were oppressing another’s free will. Furthermore, Christ cast out demons by His word. Matthew reported, “That evening they brought to Him many who were oppressed by demons, and He cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick” (Matt 8:16). In Matthew 12:28, Christ declared, “…it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons.” No one else could speak like Christ. The people were amazed at Jesus’s speaking with authority. The words of Christ are powerful.
Those who do not believe in Christ’s words could not cast out demons. In Acts 19:13–17, Luke reported,
Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits […], but the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled.
According to the Bible, Christ’s own name has great power and authority in itself. How can any true Christian throw Jesus’s name around as a byword, a profanity, or in cursing another?
Following the Doctrines of Demons
Rather than following Jesus, many believers are following the words of demons. The Bible warned about the teachings of demons. Paul revealed to Timothy, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared” (1 Tim 4:1–2).
John urged Christians are told to test the spirits of teachers. John urged, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). How should Christians test the spirits? In 1 John 4:6, the apostle John spoke on behalf of all of Jesus’s apostles saying, “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” The teachings of the apostles are essential to distinguishing false teachers and spirits from God.
Demons and Eternal Condemnation
Are people like demons in regards to their eternal destination? The demons know where they are going. Matthew reported, “And behold, they [demons] cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?'” (Matt 8:29). Luke told, “When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me'” (Luke 8:28). In Matthew 25:41, Jesus said, “Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'” Many people will receive the punishment of the Devil and his angels.
Lastly, Jesus taught that casting out demons is not as great as obeying God’s will. Jesus proclaimed in Matthew 7:21–23,
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.”
Demons and the Gospel
The Bible teaches that demons heard, believed, and confess belief, but they could never obey the gospel as it was not a way of salvation for them. The Bible does not reveal if demons could repent. However, demons cannot obey the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Christ’s act of salvation was for humanity in flesh and blood (Heb 2:14–16). Christ’s saving work cannot rescue angels or demons from condemnation.
The reception of the Holy Spirit upon baptism is contrary to any evil spirit (Acts 2:38; 1 Cor 6:11). Furthermore, demons avoid water (Matt 12:43). Jesus sent a legion of demons into swine who went into the sea (Luke 8:26–33). Many today avoid the waters of baptism like demons avoid water (cf. Luke 7:30; 20:1–8).
Unlike evil spirits, Christians do more than believe and confess Christ. They love and obey the commands of Jesus (John 14:21–24; cf. Matt. 28:19–20). Christians have access to salvation in Jesus Christ. Only people can believe, repent, and be baptized with the hope of the resurrection on the last day (Mark 16:16; John 6:40; 1 Pet 3:21).