Although the idea of demonic oppression and possession is often viewed as non existent in the western world, I do think Satan and his agents are still active. Even in the Christian community the idea of Satanic Attack is often mysterious, but the Bible is clear that spiritual warfare is real, but the believet should not fear the devil, but submit to the Lord’s will and avoid Satan.
In one incidence we see a man among the tombs who was sorely oppressed by demons but the Lord Jesus gave him his life back!
(Mark 5:1-17) They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!’ For Jesus had said to him, ‘Come out of this man, you impure spirit!’ Then Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘My name is Legion,’ he replied, ‘for we are many.’ And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, ‘Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.’ He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
Demonic oppression and mental illness I think are often closely interconnected, although to say every mental illness is caused by evil spiritual forces is not wise, but someone who has had their minds swallowed in lies have many characteristics of mental illness.
In an exogetical break down if we were to outline what a mind afflicted with torment of lies looks like, we would get many of the same characteristics that this poor man had.
1.) He lived isolated and lonely, no one could reason with him or restrain him. He was driven from common people and prefered the life of that in a graveyard among the dead as opposed to life among the living.
2.) He was self destructive, he cut himself, he probably believed lies about who he was and in some sick perverse way found relief through self mutilation
3.) He cried out, most likely wailed in his mental agony and displayed a wild man tendency as one who had gone mad.
4.) Most bizarrely enough is “When he saw Jesus at a distance he ran a fell on his knees before him” and like an isane person he had a irresistable draw to Christ but at the very same time pulled away, because his mind was divided and he (or the demons in reality) and whether they controlled his tongue or rather created feelings of terror and hostility in the man when he saw Jesus, the text does not say.
But he shrieked- “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!’”
No it was not Jesus’s goal to destroy the poor fellow but these unclean spirits did not want to be sent out, namely be sent into the “abyss” meaning hell,
(Luke 8:30-31) Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Legion,’ he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.
Luke recounts that the demons were afraid of “The Abyss” and these things that hijacked this poor fellow’s mind had convinced him that the Lord meant him harm. So he ran to Jesus but in a strange flip of a switch flipped out and pulled away.
5.) Jesus asked the man, “What is your name?” but look at how the demons reply, “‘My name is Legion,’ he replied, ‘for we are many.’
Notice the actual man did not say his name but the demons spoke on his behalf. Isn’t this true when Satan deceives those in darkness or even believers? He defines people by who he says they are, who he wants them to be and not who God sees us as.
Now demonic residence and occupation is quite different then being demonically deceived by strongholds of the thinking. We do not know exactly what real inhabitation would look like- or as an American Christian the closest thing I can think of is my own personal struggles with mental oppression, as if something is whispering lies in my ear or creating strong reasoning to think a certain way or believe negative things and react in a negative way. It is possible that the man still could excercise voluntary function over his physical body but his mind had been so entrapped in deception that his body went right along with his deceived thinking. After all, an analogy is those brainwashed by cults or victimizers of abuse, they brainwash the victems in such a way that the victims do not run away even when they can or have freedom to do so and probably get away.
This is mental leashing, chains of the mind that yoke a person to the spell called deception and Satan succeeds well at it.
If he can convince a non Christian or a Christian who is not biblically literate or gives him no thought then he has already won the most key piece in the battle, who fights an enemy they do not perceive? Theives do not break in often in the day time but when your sleeping, unware, so they can rob you blind.
(John 10:10) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
The Lord wants us to be free, full of freedom and wholeness, not chained by deception to whatever ball in chain we think is just who we are, fear, pride, anger, bitterness, addiction, lust, selfishness or envy. Balls of dense iron that are often ones of guilt, shame, terrible views of ourself and others, and whatever else binds us to misery.
How can the devil succeed over the people who do not know Christ. Plainly, he convinces them Jesus and God are tyranical monsters with chains called unbelief, just like a diabolical criminal convinces his victim the police are bad and wont believe them but put them in jail if they tell. After all, this is deception that is more binding then actual ropes or physical restraints. At least with ropes their is the possibility of escape, but with a bound mind then who can be free unless they know the Truth
(John 8:32) Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’
The Truth- is the only thing sharp enough to cut the binds of deception, and as Jesus declared “I Am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me”
Jesus goes on to say in (John 8:34-38) Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it for ever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.’
In this scenario the Jews reply inprotest that they are descendents of Abraham,
(John 8:42-47) Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.’
1.) “Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil,”
SEE: (2 Corinthians 4:4) The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2.) These people although religious by birth were still unredeemed, as Jesus said, “Unless a man be born again, he will not enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:3)
3.) “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God”
Jesus was saying their desires were emulating the devil’s and the devil loves to “steal, kill and destroy” he is referred to in Greek as Diabolos- meaning “devil and slanderer”
He is refered to as “The Great Deceiver” and “Masquerades as an angel of light”
(2 Corinthians 11:14-15) And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
We also know of Jesus’s parable of the “wheat and tares” the parable of real disciples over false ones in Matthew 13
(Matthew 13:24-30) Jesus told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed ears, then the weeds also appeared. ‘The owner’s servants came to him and said, “Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?” ‘“An enemy did this,” he replied. ‘The servants asked him, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?” ‘“No,” he answered, “because while you are pulling up the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: first collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.”’
Satan is strategic but evil, so it is not surprising that he would incorporate religiousity into his strategy to turn people away from Christ. We see how often Jesus got on the religious leaders and Pharisees because here is what they did
(Luke 11:46-52) Jesus replied, ‘And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. ‘Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your ancestors who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of this, God in his wisdom said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.” Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all. ‘Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.’
They would load people up with religious demands for starters and then condemn them for not bearing them right, yet, they were too unconcerned for the people to actually help them do the right things- they just got on their cases if they did not.
We see Jesus say also, “Woe to you experts of the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.’ ”
So not only did these religious devils not enter heaven themselves but they grabbed the truth as a monopoly but failed to let those who would enter come through- this can happen in different forms often, for one, 1.) if someone seeking truth is not permited to read the scripture themselves by some church hierchy then that is wrong, 2.) For someone to talk of knowlege yet make it intentionally unpalatable through lifestyle of sin and hypocrisy.
Now we all, even as Christians have been guilty of giving Christ a bad name at times- Or I can say this about myself, but the distinguishing difference is a “Wheat weeps and a tare dont care”
I think a person who really loves Jesus and is on fire for his mission as to why he came would feel terrible to know they made someone really not want to follow Christ because of a sin they had done. Yet if a Christian finds out they drove someone away from Christ and knew it was not a matter of sharing truth in a gentle way but by a sin of the mouth or sin of another sort, and if that does not bother them at all, then they may not know the love of Christ at all. Yet, the Lord alone will know!
(2 Timothy 2:19) Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and, ‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.’