In the previous Part VI (a), we searched through the Old Testament scriptures for the meanings of the words “demon” and “devil” as God had originally used them and found that they meant idols, and “no-gods.” They were the things that men made with their own hands from their evil imaginations. As evil comes from within the heart of man (Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Psa. 14:1-3; Prov. 19:3; Jer. 7:24; Ezek 14:3-4; Matt. 12:35; Matt. 15:18; Mark 7:20-23), then it is the heart of man, the mind of man, and the words of man that create the demons / devils / idols.
“Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;” (Deu. 29:18, KJV)
The words of man are the spirits that we are to test (See Part I of this series), as 1 John 4:1-3 tells us. If the words of men speak other than, or different than the words of God, the Spirit of God, then the spirits of those men are spirits of error, and they are false teachers and false prophets.
Saul disobeyed God, so God removed His Spirit from Saul, and sent an evil spirit to torment him.
“22And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” (1 Sam. 15:22-23, KJV)
The comparisons: rebellion is the same as witchcraft, and stubbornness is the same as iniquity and idolatry, and rebellion is the same as stubbornness.
The word “stubbornness” in vs 23 is translated as “disobedience” (AMP), “arrogance” (EHV, GNT, NIV), “presumption” (ESV, NET), “transgression” (GNV), and “insubordination” (NASB). It is from Strong’s Heb. 6484, “patsar” which means to push, urge, press and is used in 1 Sam. 15:34 as to display pushing, arrogance, and presumption. (Source: https://biblehub.com/hebrew/6484.htm)
“An evil man seeketh only rebellion, And a fierce messenger is sent against him.” (Prov. 17:11, YLT)
“14And the Spirit of Jehovah turned aside from Saul, and a spirit of sadness from Jehovah terrified him; 15and the servants of Saul say unto him, `Lo, we pray thee, a spirit of sadness [from] God is terrifying thee;” (1 Sam. 16:14-15, YLT)
The “spirit of sadness” of vs. 14 is translated as “evil spirit” in most of the English translations, but also as “harmful spirit” (ESV) and “distressing spirit” (NKJV). The word “evil” is from Strong’s Heb. 7451, “ra” defined as bad, evil; and means under BDB’s definition 2 “bad, unpleasant, giving pain and misery.” In vs. 14 the BDB has “of the divine spirit as producing an ecstatic state of frenzy and violence.” Source: https://biblehub.com/hebrew/7451.htm
So, because of Saul’s rebellion, disobedience, pride, and insubordination, God sent a tormenting, fierce messenger against him. What does this say then about the evil spirits during Christ’s earthly ministry?
“36`And I say to you, that every idle word that men may speak, they shall give for it a reckoning in a day of judgment; 37for from thy words thou shalt be declared righteous, and from thy words thou shalt be declared unrighteous.’ (Matt. 12:36-37, YLT)
“…For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matt. 12:37, NET)
Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees that their words, their spirits would be judged whether they were righteous or unrighteous. False words, false spirits, are from the unrighteous who will be condemned for them. Isn’t unrighteousness the same as evil? Could we then say evil spirits?
Excerpt from Angels & Demons 32: Diagnosis – Demon Possession or Illness by Stan Lindsay –
“The gospel writers themselves differ, even when discussing the very same cases, on whether the various cases should be termed “demon” or (unclean or evil) “spirit.” What Mt. 4:23-25 calls demon, Lk. 6:17-19 calls unclean spirit. What Lk. 4:31-37 terms demon, Mk. 1:21-28 terms unclean spirit. What Mt. 8:28-34 and Lk. 8:26-39 refer to as demon, Mk. 5:1-20 refers to as unclean spirit. Lk. 8:1-3 mentions Mary Magdalene from whom seven demons had gone, but Lk. 8:1-3 also refers to evil spirits. Mk. 6:13, Mt. 10:8, and Lk. 9:1 all use the word demon, but Mk. 6:7 and Mt. 10:1 refer to the same event with the words unclean spirit. Lk. 7:18-35 describes a case referred to only as evil spirit. Mt. 12:22-32, Mk. 3:20-30, and Lk. 11:14-23 and 12:10 describe another case with all gospel writers agreeing to the demon terminology. It appears that the gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, perceived no difficulty with substituting between the terminologies. This does not seem to support a conviction that demons in the Greek sense of the Greek word existed. I suspect that “demon” terminology had simply become a conventional way of referring to a problem with a “spirit.” (2)
Since Samuel told Saul that God considers rebellion, stubbornness – which is also transgression, insubordination, and arrogance – to all be the same as idolatry; and since from Part VI(a) we saw that idolatry is the same as demons and devils, or “no-gods” which are not real, then aren’t the words of false prophets & false teachers, their spirits of error the same as evil spirits?
Then where do demons / devils / spirits of error / evil spirits really come from? If God sends a fierce messenger (angel) to torment those who rebel against Him, who reject the truth of His Spirit, His word, and the words of His Son, Yeshua (Jesus), then isn’t it a result of our free will choice whether to walk with God, or to reject Him? Doesn’t God then leave us to our own thoughts and ideas when we turn away from Him? Then, don’t our own ideas lead us astray and become spirits of error, and evil spirits?
“18 for revealed is the wrath of God from heaven upon all impiety and unrighteousness of men, holding down the truth in unrighteousness. 19 Because that which is known of God is manifest among them, for God did manifest [it] to them,
20for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world, by the things made being understood, are plainly seen, both His eternal power and Godhead — to their being inexcusable;
21 because, having known God they did not glorify [Him] as God, nor gave thanks, but were made vain in their reasonings, and their unintelligent heart was darkened, 22 professing to be wise, they were made fools, 23and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of fowls, and of quadrupeds, and of reptiles.
24Wherefore also God did give them up, in the desires of their hearts, to uncleanness, to dishonour their bodies among themselves; 25 who did change the truth of God into a falsehood, and did honour and serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed to the ages. Amen.” (Rom. 1:18-25, YLT)
And, so when men walk away from God’s truth, and embrace the false teachings of idolatry / demons / “no-gods” then God gives them up to those false beliefs and evil spirits. The evil spirits are a product of the imaginations of unbelieving men. Then they convince others to follow in their error and their ideas of pagan demonology and pagan idols proliferates among the people.
That is the background of the belief in demon entities during the intertestamental period and the first century AD during Christ’s manifestation on earth. This belief in multiple gods / idols goes back to the Babylonian captivity and exposure to the Chaldean and Persian duality of a two-god system.(1) When some one became ill, the people would say he had a demon, believing that a demon had bodily entered into that person to cause them illness. Or, if a person behaved strangely, they would say he was possessed of a demon.
The situation during Jesus’ ministry in the 1st century AD was what a modern day psychologist might call mass delusion. Mind games, just as a tribal medicine man might call for the death of one of the tribe, the one who believed the medicine man had such power sometimes would actually die. So, Jesus and His disciples cast out demons by healing them of their diseases, or showing them “proof” that they were no longer possessed.
“28And he having come to the other side, to the region of the Gergesenes, there met him two demoniacs, coming forth out of the tombs, very fierce, so that no one was able to pass over by that way, 29and lo, they cried out, saying, `What — to us and to thee, Jesus, Son of God? didst thou come hither, before the time, to afflict us?’
30 And there was far off from them a herd of many swine feeding, 31and the demons were calling on him, saying, `If thou dost cast us forth, permit us to go away to the herd of the swine;’
32and he saith to them, `Go.’ And having come forth, they went to the herd of the swine, and lo, the whole herd of the swine rushed down the steep, to the sea, and died in the waters, 33 and those feeding did flee, and, having gone to the city, they declared all, and the matter of the demoniacs.” (Matt. 12: 28-31, YLT)
The word for demoniacs is from Strong’s Gr. 1140 – “δαιμόνιον” diamonion, means an evil spirit, a demon, a heathen deity Source: https://biblehub.com/greek/1140.htm
Excerpt under Thayer’s 2. “…According to a Jewish opinion which passed over to the Christians, the demons are the gods of the Gentiles and the authors of idolatry; hence, δαιμόνια stands for אֱלִילִים Psalm 95:5 (שֵׁדִים Deuteronomy 32:17; Psalm 105:37 (προσκυνεῖν τά δαιμόνια καί τά εἴδωλα, Revelation 9:20. …,”
In the case of the two demons of Matt. 12, their false beliefs controlled their actions and their minds, because we take actions based upon our beliefs. Jesus’ demonstration of sending the swine into the lake gave the men the will to believe He had cleansed them of any and all evil spirits. He granted their request with the result that they then believed in Him. (3)
Today, we are still plagued by these same pagan beliefs in demons and demon possession. According to God’s word, demons do not exist. We need to counter the false teachers, false prophets, and spirits of error with God’s word, the truth of His Spirit (1 John 4:1-3).
1) Excerpts from Demonology in Jewish Literature:
“In Babylonia the Jews came under the influence of both the Chaldean and the Persian belief in good and in evil spirits, and this dualistic system became a dominant factor of Jewish demonology and Angelology. In Europe, Teutonic, Celtic, and Slavonic demonology in the form of superstition permeated Jewish practise and belief……”
“None of these demons, however, has actually a place in the system of Biblical theology; it is the Lord who sends pestilence and death (Ex. ix. 3, xii. 29); Deber and Reshef (“the fiery bolt”) are His heralds (Hab. iii. 5). The shedim are “not-gods” (Deut. xxxii. 17); there is no supernatural power beyond (Deut. iv. 35; compare Sanh. 67b). It is possible, however, that, as at a later stage in the development of Judaism the idols were regarded as demons, so the Canaanite deities were, either in disparagement, or as powers seducing men to idolatry, called “shedim” by the sacred writers (Deut. xxxii. 17; Ps. cv. 37); all the more so as the latter ascribed a certain reality to the idols (Ex. xii. 12; Isa. xix. 1, xxiv. 21;…
These demons were supposed to enter the body and cause the disease while overwhelming (“kefa’o shed,” R. H. 28a; Sifre, Debarim, 318) or “seizing” the victim (“aḥazo,” Shab. 151b; Yoma 83a, 84a); hence the usual name for “epileptic” is “nikpeh”…The Greek word is δαιμονίζεσΘαι, meaning the condition of being in the power of a demon. To cure such diseases it was necessary to draw out the evil demons by certain incantations and tailsmanic performances, in which the Essenes excelled. Josephus, who speaks of demons as “spirits of the wicked which enter into men that are alive and kill them,”
“It was the primitive demonology of Babylonia which peopled the world of the Jews with beings of a semi-celestial and semi-infernal nature. Only afterward did the division of the world between Ahriman and Ormuzd in the Mazdean system give rise to the Jewish division of life between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of evil. …
The whole Jewish and pagan world at the beginning of the Christian era believed in those magic formulas by which the evil powers of the demons could be subdued, and the Jewish exorcists found a fertile soil everywhere for the cultivation of their Essene notions and their magic. This was the atmosphere in which Christianity arose with the claim of “healing all that were oppressed of the devil” (Acts x. 38), enforcing the recognition by the unclean spirits themselves of the Son of David as the vanquisher of the demons (Mark i. 27, iii. 11).“ Source: https://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13523-shedim
2) Angels & Demons 32: Possession or Illness – http://www.stanlindsay.com/2011/02/angels-demons-32-diagnosis-demon.html
3) Angles & Demons 32: The Rite, The Exorcist, & Severe Demon Possession – http://www.stanlindsay.com/2011/02/angels-demons-32-rite-exorcist-and.html
3 thoughts on “Testing The Spirits – Part VI (b): Demons, Devils, Idols”
I’ll have to read it again tonight. It’s a lot to take in. Even though I’m a full-preterist, I’m struggling with the idea that demons don’t exist. At least they don’t exist as we typically have been taught. Maybe I”m not understanding what you wrote, but are you saying, Jesus didn’t actually drive anything out of those two demoniacs? That instead, Jesus drove the herd of pigs into the sea and somehow upon seeing that happen to the pigs, the two men were, in a sense, fooled into believing demons came out of them?
Regarding the story of the two demoniacs it states, “They went to the herd of swine.” Something went into the herd of swine. “They went”…..what is “they” a reference to?
Posting next Part VI to answer this question.