A Bible Exposition Of Various Passages
Well this week is the last one in our mini-series on “the Doctrine of Demons” before heading back to Mark. I have found this study to bolster my own confidence in the sufficiency of the provision we have in Christ. Before we began this series we were in 2 Peter 1 reflecting upon how we have been given all things pertaining to life and godliness.
This study is really a manifestation of those precious truths. That in the spiritual realm we have been given a rich spiritual provision and we lack nothing in the promises of God for knowing Him and living for Him.
The impetus for the focus on demons for a few weeks is because we were making our way through Mark’s Gospel when we encountered chapter five, where Mark takes an extended passage to deal with a man who was possessed by a demon.
A passage like Mark 5 raises more questions for us than it answers. In this account, we read about profound suffering taking place by an evil spirit. It is horrifying.
And because there are so many questions surround demon possession we wanted to take a little extra time to make sure that we establish a thorough understanding of this doctrine.
There is confusion regarding what it means to be demon-possessed.
- How to identify if someone is being tormented by demons.
- What the symptoms of demon-possession are.
- How demons can influence the lives of Christians.
As believers, we need to be equipped to bring clarity to the confusion.
And the case I will argue for in this study is that the confusion isn’t originating from the lack of data in the Scriptures. It isn’t because we can’t make definitive conclusions where we need to from the text itself. But rather, the confusion comes from an elevation of human experience and a lack of careful study of the Scriptures.
In fact, in preparation for this message as I read, I found time and time again, authors who, on the one hand, affirm the authority and sufficiency of Scripture with their words, but then, on the other hand, undermine those words in practice.
Their language sounds very intelligent. They don’t come out and say at the end of the day I let me life experiences shape my theology. But you begin to find that counseling meetings, stories told by a missionary or something they concocted in their imaginations.
Consider how one theologian states his view of this relationship between experience and God’s revelation:
Of course, doctrine must always have precedence over experience. Nor can experience ever furnish a basis for biblical interpretation. Yet, if consistent experiences clash with an interpretation, the only inference possible is that there is something wrong with either the experience itself or the interpretation of the Scripture which runs counter to it. Certainly the inspired Word of God never contradicts valid experience. The sincere truth-seeker must be prepared to revamp his interpretation to bring it into conformity with facts as they are.”
Of course, the Scripture has precedence over experience… but if you are a sincere truth-seeker then you must revamp your interpretation to bring it into conformity with facts as they are. So subtle, so problematic. Who determines what a “valid experience” is, or who determines the, “facts as they are.”
You can’t claim with integrity that you believe in the authority of the Scripture if you can work backwards and re-interpret the Bible based upon something other than the text of Scripture itself.
Whether it is your tradition, or your experiences, or your personal viewpoints, or what feels right to you—you must let all of that be interpreted by the plain language of Scripture. In fact, Scripture is littered with examples of men and women who dishonored the Lord due to walking by what seemed right to them instead of the plain Word of God.
And it’s easy to wonder about demonic influences. We don’t have much information.
Please hear me on this. I’m not minimizing spiritual warfare. I’m not a naturalist. I believe in the spirit-world and spiritual forces of darkness, but just like our in study of Satan, the Bible is clear that our focus spiritually isn’t on demons.
And furthermore, if you want the main take-a-way from this message it is this: the existence of demons is already presupposed by God in every promise He has given us.
What do I mean by that?
You don’t need some special battle plan, or prayer practice, or special discernment, or special anything for dealing with demons. The normal means that God has given you are sufficient.
As I will demonstrate the instructions to the church regarding demons is simple and clear. I’m sure that you won’t have every question answered this morning. But I want to give a basic framework for you today. I would encourage you, if you have additional questions to consult Alex Konya’s Demons—A Biblically Based Perspective.
Understanding the Doctrine of Demons (it is a play on words from 1 Timothy 4:1-3)
- Demons (understanding demons generally)
- Demonization (understanding demonization specifically)
- Deliverance (understanding deliverance properly)
Matthew 12:43–45 (NASB95)
Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.