555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

175. What Is Demoniac Possession?

Whether or not there are evil spirits and the fact of demon possession has often proved baffling to believers. Ephesians 6 :12, for instance, is a recognition of the existence and power of evil spirits. It is intimated that there are kingdoms of evil, ruled by wicked beings, which are fighting the powers of good. Against these forces the Christian, protected by the armor of God, is called to fight. The expression "in high places," or as translated in the margin, "heavenly places," may mean in the "upper air," as some interpret it, or as others hold, that even in the highest Christian experiences we are subject to temptation (which is, of course, the case), and that we must contend with the evil spirits for the possession of these high places in the spiritual world. Although many rationalistic teachers have held that the Biblical cases of demon possession were nothing more than forms of epilepsy, violent hysteria, lunacy and other kinds of permanent or temporary mental derangement known at the present day, nothing has been actually proven which discredits the Scripture accounts and statements. Specialists today recognize the existence of recurrent mania, which sometimes assumes a destructive character. The Bible recognizes a form of lunacy different from demon possession. See Matt. 4:24. We know there are evil persons who, while alive in the flesh, do harm to others. Some have the definite experience of feeling themselves impelled to do wrong by an influence outside their own minds or bodies. Some present-day cases of insanity are really cases in which there are features that furnish a close parallel to demon possession. It is only fair to state, however, that present-day theological opinion is divided on the subject. It is certain that the belief in demon possession was held in early Christian times, and for long ages thereafter, and included at one time almost every form of mental disorder. On the other hand, it is urged that it is just as rational to believe in devils as to believe in angels. Angels are a race of personal holy beings; demons a race of personal vicious beings, both existing in a form other than human and corporeal.