This week’s scripture reading – Matthew 8:16-17,
When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with [his] word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare [our] sicknesses. * (even – evening)
With this week’s scripture reading on Jesus casts out devils, it can surmised that demonic activity most likely increased dramatically during the earthly presence of Jesus in an effort to thwart his mission and ministry. Even before Jesus went up to deliver his sermon on the mount a previous incident took place similar to this week’s event. In Matt. 4:24, they not only brought people possessed with devils but also sick people that had diverse diseases and tormenting afflictions, those that had mental disabilities and those suffering from paralytic afflictions. The scriptures say that Jesus healed them. This was therefore, the second recorded occurrence in the gospel of Matthew where Jesus casts out devils as people possessed were brought to him.
The affliction of demon possession was a very real thing during that time and shortly after this event he encountered yet two more people also possessed with devils after crossing over the sea by ship. In this instance, there is a noteworthy acknowledgement of the evil spirits toward the deity of Jesus from Matt. 8:28-29. The devils came out of the tombs toward Jesus with exceeding fierceness resulting in no one able to pass by them. Upon seeing Jesus, the scriptures say that they cried out to him and asked what he had to do with them. Remarkably, the devils addressed him as Jesus, the Son of God and they asked him if he was coming to them to torment them before an appointed time in the future.
Notice the contrasting reaction here with evil spirits who were able to identify the light of the world, meaning they knew exactly who Jesus was as the Son of God. Now compare that with the reaction from the multitudes on another occasion recorded in Matt. 9:33 where they simply marvelled at Jesus and said that what he was doing was never before seen in Israel.
After seeing first hand evidence of Jesus casting out demons; this was surprisingly not the reaction from the religious rulers however. They could only attribute such a deliverance from devils to the darkness of devils as recorded in Matt. 9:34. Scripture records their statement as casting out devils by the prince of devils, notably Satan, While some may think this was simply a lapse in judgment on their part, they continued with this same accusation in Matt. 12:24. In this instance, they attributed his casting out of devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. This was a most astonishing accusation of blasphemy.
The miraculous healings and casting out of devils from possessed people as performed by Jesus was indeed cause for consternation among the people as noted in John 10:19-21. This caused a division among the Jews and they in turn sided with the Pharisees by saying that Jesus himself has a devil and is insane, But other people challenged them over these accusations by saying that Jesus’ words are not that of a devil. They further challenged them by rhetorically asking how a devil could make a blind person see. A similar reaction was shown as noted above from the multitudes recorded in Luke 4:36. The people asked themselves what these words were in which Jesus spoke and by what authority and power he was able to command unclean spirits to come out of possessed individuals.
There is One God
Regardless of reaction however, there was no denying that the devils knew who Jesus was as affirmed by the apostle James in Jam. 2:19. James addressed recipients of his letter as believers in that while they believe there is one God, the devils also believe the same thing and tremble over it. Other recorded events of this nature were noted in Luke 4:41. In this case, the devils came out to Jesus and addressed him as the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus rebuked them and prevented them to speak further because they knew that he was Christ.
Variants of Possession
Scripture also records some people who were possessed with other types of spirits such as noted in Paul’s interaction with a woman in Acts 16:16. Scripture records this woman as being possessed with a spirit of divination and that men were profiting off her soothsaying. As with other records from scripture on possession, this spirit of darkness was also able to identify who the disciples were and even what their purpose was as shown in Acts 16:17. The scriptures say this woman followed the disciples and cried out saying they were servants of the most high God. Additionally, the woman claimed that the disciples of Jesus knew the way of salvation. Paul however was gifted with the ability to cast out evil spirits and the event concluded in the next verse of Acts 16:18. As Paul ultimately became so grieved by this woman’s comments he commanded the evil spirit in the name of Jesus to come out of her and it came out of her that same hour.
The Spirit World
The above references pertain primarily to devils inhabiting people that were cast out either by Jesus of by some of his disciples, but nevertheless through his omnipotent power. Several other accounts on the spirit world are recorded in scripture dating back to the ancient Israelites, as spoken by the Lord in Lev. 19:31. During that time, the Lord instructed the Israelites to disregard people that had familiar (evil) spirits and not to seek after people that were wizards to avoid being defiled by them. His guidance to them concluded by reminding them that he is the Lord their God.
Reading further from Old Testament scripture, there were stern warnings for people consulting familiar, or unclean spirits as shown in Lev. 20:6. In this instance, people that turn after familiar spirits or wizards were considered as going after them like someone going after a prostitute. The Lord warned them that he will set this face against that person and will cut them off from among his people.
Continuing along in the same chapter, during ancient times, a rather direct pronouncement was made upon such people as recorded in Lev. 20:27. The scriptures say that a man or a woman who has a familiar spirit or who is a wizard will surely be put to death by stoning, having their blood upon them! Other notable books from scripture also record the Lord’s utter contempt for such individuals by notably grouping them with other practitioners for contacting spirits from the dead in Deut. 18:11-12. This scripture notes all these people as charmers, consulters of familiar spirits, wizards and necromancers as an abomination to the Lord.
Despite these stern commands from the Lord, there were still rulers of the nation of Israel, such as Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, who did much evil as documented in 2 Kings 21:6. This ruler made his sons pass through the fire (as in sacrificed them). He also observed certain times, enchantments, familiar spirits and wizards. In short, he initiated tremendous wickedness in the sight of the Lord, which provoked the Lord’s anger. Again, notice how these evil works are grouped together into the same basket of despondency with another account of Manasseh also using witchcraft from 2 Chron. 33:6.
Another ruler from ancient Israel who fell peril to these allurements of evil was Saul and he met his fate for such acts in 1 Chron. 10:13-14. Saul ended up dying for his transgressions committed against the Lord and against the Lord’s commandments which he did not keep. Saul sought counsel from familiar spirits instead of consulting with the Lord therefore he was killed resulting in the kingdom of Israel to be handed over to David, the son of Jesse.
The spirit world was also spoken of by the ancient prophets who foretold of such vile acts in Is. 8:19. Isaiah warned people that when they are tempted by others to seek familiar spirits and wizards they should instead seek their God. Evidence of necromancy was also foretold by the prophet indicating such evil spirits in Is. 29:4. Isaiah likened these evil familiar spirits as being brought down and speaking out of the ground, somewhat like whispering out of the dust.
This type of prophetic vision continued on right through with the apostle John as he wrote revelations given to him by the Lord Jesus Christ in Rev. 16:13-14. John saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of a dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. He said this because they are the spirits of the devils, working miracles toward that battle of the great day of God Almighty.This is clearly a most ominous prophecy from John that becomes evident in the quest to better understand the theme of Jesus casts out devils.
The Devil’s Fate
With all of this said thus far, the final fate of devils is also already foretold in scripture. Some of the more notable references are from Jude 1:6. Jude speaks of the angels not keeping their first place of estate, but left it and are now reserved in everlasting chains under darkness waiting for the judgement of the great day. The first estate mentioned here is heaven, being their original habitation.
In a similar manner, the ruler of all devils, is also referred to as the prince of this world (John 16:11). He was referenced by Jesus as he conversed with his disciples in Luke 10:17-18. When seventy of his disciples returned from spreading the gospel message they said to the Lord that even the devils were subject to them. Jesus replied by saying to them that he beheld Satan falling like lightning from heaven!
This event of Satan, also known as Lucifer, was also foretold by the ancient prophet along with Satan’s many ill-fated evil desires and aspirations in Is. 14:12-15. Due to the importance of this prophecy it is provided in its entirety from scripture,
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
Doctrines of Devils
Paul, the great writer of many New Testament letters and preacher to the non-Jewish world, also wrote an ominous warning to people in 1 Tim. 4:1-2. Paul’s comments through the Holy Spirit indicate that in later times some people will depart from the faith as a result of giving way to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. Not only that but they will speak hypocritical lies with their consciences seared by a hot iron.
The apostle Peter also made note of the fate that awaited evil spirits in 2 Peter 2:4. Peter wrote that God spared not the angels that sinned but cast them down to hell, delivering them into chains, reserved unto judgement. Perhaps one last reference from Jesus was when he foretold of the eventual and ultimate demise of certain people as shared in his comments in Matt. 25:41. Jesus stated that they will depart from his presence as cursed people into everlasting fire that is prepared for the devil and his angels.
Demonism in Scripture
Finally, there is an incredible account of demonism and evil spirits recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. The setting starts with individuals who attempted to follow in the footsteps of the gifted apostles by trying to cast out evil spirits, thinking their own ways of exorcism would work in Acts 19:13-14. The scriptures describe these people as vagabonds and exorcists who attempted to command evil spirits out of people in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Noting again from above, how the evil spirits knew who Jesus was and who the apostles were as servants of the most high God, this was clearly not the case as the story ensues in Acts 19:15-16. The evil spirit responded to these vagabond Jewish exorcists by acknowledging that they knew who Jesus was and Paul but questioned who they were. Unfortunately, the man who was possessed by the evil spirit leaped onto the vagabond Jews and overcame them causing wounds.
As God would have it though, the unfortunate experience of these individuals trying to leverage God’s power through their own might, resulted in the most dramatic scene of events to unfold in Acts 19:17-20. This particular event was known to all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the city of Ephesus causing fear to fall upon them. The Lord Jesus’ name was consequently magnified and many of the people came to believe on him. Their conversion resulted in them confessing their evil deeds and burning books of great value that caused them to follow after such sinful ways. The word of God prevailed mightily!
To close off this Bible Study on Jesus casts out devils, it is hopeful that people who may be dabbling in some of the things mentioned above would see the perilous and evil nature of such things. The association of such activities is clearly from the darkness of evil and has its origins in Satan. Right now, readers may also be seeking a new relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, or perhaps they are already believers but have become beguiled and influenced by the things of this world (1 John 2:15-17). The world often portrays evil as good and good as evil (Ps. 38:20), but consider Paul’s comments from 2 Cor. 6:14-18. He tells believers not to be bound together with unbelievers.
The rationale for this is what does righteousness (believers) have to do with unrighteousness (unbelievers) or what does light have to do with darkness, both being rhetorical questions. Paul continues to further ask what harmony or agreement is there between Christ with a devil called Belial, again a very rhetorical question. He also rhetorically asks what part does a believer have with an infidel or unbeliever.
Paul continues on by asking what agreement is there with the temple of God and idols since believers are the temple of the living God. Paul highlights that God will dwell in believers, walk with them, be their God and they shall be his people. Finally, Paul admonishes people on behalf of the Lord to come out from such evil people, not to touch anything that is unclean and the Lord will then receive them. Further, the Lord will be a Father to them as said by the Lord Almighty.
For believers in Christ, consider also the higher calling from God to depart from any of these activities as recorded throughout this article. For as Paul wrote in Col. 3:1-2, if you are risen spiritually with Christ then you should should seek those things which are above in heaven where Christ resides at the right hand of God. As a last parting thought, Paul says we are to set our affection on things above and not on things on the earth!
Bible Study Questions
- In this study on Jesus Casts out Devils, Jesus was able to cast out the evil spirits from people, true or false?
- Why do you think devils inhabit the physical body of someone to torment them?
- Did the devils know and acknowledge that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God? Hint, section There is one God.
- Can you name three other evil things that are associated with demonism? Hint, section The Spirit World.
- What does is mean when Jesus said in Luke 10:18 that he beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven?
- Can you identify something that exists in the world today as evidence of devils or demon influence?
- What is something you can do now to prevent being beguiled by devils or demonism?
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