As sort of a follow up to yesterday’s post, I thought it would be good to briefly explain the negative side of the spiritual world–demonization. Demonization is the activity of the demonic realm upon mankind, and can be found in the testimony of Scripture and firsthand testimonies of real people. If any of you want me to email you a paper I wrote on Demonization from a Scriptural point of view let me know. I hope you enjoy:
With the physical world comes the parallel universe of the spiritual. The Bible attests emphatically to this reality as well as real life experiences do. It is hard to deny the existence of the spiritual realm when people have come face-to-face with it in a real and tangible way. What does one do with such eye-witness accounts that go well beyond psychological explanations and diagnosis? This can be said for both good and evil spiritual manifestations in our world. The Bible reveals that these spiritual beings are either good angels or evil (fallen) angels. Much can be learned and studied about angelic activity with centuries upon centuries of coexisting with this spiritual realm. Throughout the centuries Christians have been able to categorize the different types of demonic activity mankind deals with on a daily basis. Some of them are more prevalent than others depending on what part of the world you are in. These categories are: ordinary activity, external physical pain caused by Satan, demonic possession, diabolical oppression, diabolic obsession, diabolic infestation, and diabolic subjugation, or dependence. Let us take a look at each of these.
The ordinary activities of the demonic realm upon people are the common temptations that we all deal with. The aim of the devil here is to lure a person to sin using suggestions and circumstances that play upon our own sinful desires. The Apostle James said,
“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” –James 1:14
Such ordinary activity is most common to man; unbelievers and believers alike. All of mankind is subject to sin and its power. While the Christian is still subject to effectual sin, he or she now has the power and authority over sin—no longer a slave to its power. The Christian, through the cross of Christ, has the unique power over sin that enables him to live free of its domain. However, in God’s wisdom, we are still left with the “old man,” the fleshly nature that is lured by sin, to war with our “new man,” the spirit nature. This tug of war is constant in the life of the believer and the side that wins is up to the him or her. We can feed the old man, or we can feed the new man. The devil is there to persuade us to feed the old man in order for him to succeed in making us live a defeated life. However, it is the life that is lived by the Spirit that is victorious and most powerful; one that the devil is most afraid of.
External physical pain caused by Satan
This is when a person is physically harassed and assaulted by the devil. A demonic manifestation of some sort occurs resulting in an assault. Bruises, lacerations, stigmata, or any other form of external attack are a result of this category. Father Gabriele Amorth in his book An Exorcist Tells His Story tells of a unique story where a priest who was helping perform an exorcism witnessed the victim’s clothing catch on fire. The victim was unharmed but the sight and sulfur smell was burned in his memory. A few days later he was driving and had to pull over because some kind of distraction at a gas station caused him confusion. As he was pulling over the car caught on fire; he stopped, grabbed the keys and escaped. People began to warn there was someone else in the car, but there wasn’t; he was alone. All of a sudden the car started and began heading towards the gas pumps; which he also recognized the same sulfuric smell. Well, the priest prayed and the car stopped rolling. He only had to wait until the flames finished consuming the car. This was clearly a demonic attempt to physically hurt or even kill the priest. Prayers of protection help counter these attacks.
This is when a demon or demons possess a person’s body. They are able to take over a person’s mental and physical faculties enabling the victim to have extraordinary powers, intellect, and sometimes foreknowledge. When doing so, they can speak through them and make a person do things with their body, often times without their recollection. Fr. Gabriele Amorth mentions how possession is the less common form of the diabolical when compared to the frequency of others, but when it happens it is often marked with “speaking in tongues, extraordinary strength, and revealing the unknown.” The classic film The Exorcist demonstrates this type of case. In it, the girl possessed was extremely hostile and strong, blasphemous, beyond vulgar, and levitated, among other bizarre things. It is worth noting Amorth mentions how exorcisms have revealed demon names such as Beelzebub, Zebulun, Meridian, and Asmodeus among others, which he terms as “heavy weights.” He says the ones with biblical names are usually the heavy weights and are much harder to combat. Holy Scripture also documents cases of demonic possession. The demoniac in the country of the Geresenes in Mark chapter 5 is a classic example of this case. When Jesus came to the town He was immediately met by the demoniac who was lived among the tombs and would break the iron chains people tried to bind with him. Needless to say he was hostile towards Jesus. The demon in charge wanted nothing to do with Him yet he had to be under complete submission to Jesus. Mark documents that this man was not only possessed by one demon but by a legion, ranging possibly in the thousands. Jesus ended up granting the demons permission to enter the swine near by in which they were driven into the sea. Much can be learned about demonic possession from this chapter of Mark and is recommended for further study. One thing is for certain: all demons are subject to the power and authority of Jesus Christ, and when the gospel is preached and obeyed then we can be sure demonic possession will be cured.
This is when a person is not possessed but oppressed by the devil in anyway allowed by God. A person can suffer little or great physical pain, loss of a job or possessions or relationships in a way that seems like one is cursed. Not to mention the barrage of spiritual attacks aimed at disengaging the Christian from serving God.
“The difference is that possession manifests from within, and oppression manifests from without. This is the reality of spiritual warfare: Satan will use every weapon at his disposal to wound, weaken, confuse, and paralyze a Christian.”
In the devil’s playbook, all options are on the table; it does not matter what it takes as longs he can immobilize a believer from being effective. For a non-believer, this may not be as familiar of an area as it would be for a believer since the oppression is geared towards taking one out of the game, so to speak. If the believer’s soul is already redeemed by God then there is nothing the devil can do except make him ineffective as much as possible. King David would be a good example of this sort of oppression. His psalms are filled with emotional ups and downs complaining to God about constant oppression from the enemy, both human and spiritual. His solution, however, was to praise God for His character and mighty works and to fellowship with those in the household of God. As Christians, this, too, is our answer to battling oppression: praising God with thanksgiving, studying His word, praying, fellowshipping, confessing sin to Him and resting in His forgiveness and rejecting the guilt trips of the devil.
Amorth has noted cases of Diabolic obsession:
“Symptoms include sudden attacks, at times ongoing, of obsessive thoughts, sometimes even rationally absurd, but of such nature that the victim is unable to free himself. Therefore the obsessed person lives in a perpetual state of prostration, desperation, and attempts at suicide.”
He also says that dreams are usually influenced when diabolic obsession is in play and that others can mistake it for mental illness, but an expert will be able to discern between the two. I cannot help but think of the portrayal of Judas Iscariot in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. After he betrayed Christ he is driven in desperation fueled by despair and remorse to solitary places where his mind is haunted, his skin is afflicted with scabs and sores, tormented by little children, and finally, to suicide. We know that Satan entered (possessed) Judas, but perhaps Satan exited him once he accomplished the betrayal and Judas was cast to the dungeon of his despair and handed over to diabolic obsession—tormented unto suicide. Diabolic obsession can occur after someone has participated in seances, palm reading, tarot card readings, ouija boards, drugs, etc. where an evil spirit can latch on to a person thus affecting him or her in a negative way, to say the least.
This is when objects, as opposed to people, are “possessed”. It is more of an attachment. The demonic can attach themselves to anything ranging from clocks, to chairs, to pets, to houses, etc. This happens when curses are made or seances are held or evil associations are kept or with tarot cards and ouija boards and the like. Fr. George Aquaro, a Greek Orthodox priest who is well acquainted with exorcisms, told of a story where a family came to him with a handful of photos that had a certain clock in their house that always had a black shadow on or around it. He went and performed a ritual over it with the usual sacraments and it ceased. Gabriele Amorth also affirms how often cats and other animals can be infested, as well as other household items.
Diabolic subjugation, or dependence
This is a willful giving over of oneself to the service of Satan. These types of people are members of the church of Satan, sorcerers, mediums, soothsayers, fortune tellers, and the like. They are dependent upon demonic spirits for their powers, knowledge, and any other “benefits” that are promised them. People can subjugate themselves by means of the blood pact and consecrating themselves to Satan.
While none of us can avoid hardships from the devil in the areas of ordinary activity and diabolic oppression and sometimes external attacks, we can safeguard ourselves from the other categories by completely avoiding them. Oppression and common temptation are part of this life, but one has to open themselves up willingly to be possessed, obsessed, and to subjugation and infestations. Exposure to activities and associations of the devil such as seances, fortune telling, ouija boards, tarot cards, mediums, satanic churches, and the like will guarantee the opening of doors to the demonic realm and their apportioned categories. But thanks be to God who has mercifully and graciously provided a way to escape and be protected by the powers of darkness—Jesus Christ. The gospel is the answer to all of these afflictions, oppressions, possessions, infestations, and subjugations. Only Jesus Christ provides the power to break free from our enemy. To assure protection and victory over demonic activity one must obey the gospel, forsake the darkness, worship God, fellowship with His people, pray, study His word, and live a clean Christian life.
Amorth, Gabriele Fr. An Exorcist Tells His Story. (1999). Ignatius Press.
Holy Bible, The. English Standard Version. (2011). Crossway.
Martin, Walter Dr. The Kingdom of the Occult. (2008). Thomas Nelson, Inc.