Demon, Unclean Spirits, and the Possessed Man
October 18th, 1964 @ 7:30 PM
DEMONS, UNCLEAN SPIRITS, THE POSSESSED MAN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Mark 1:21-28, 32-34
10-18-64 7:30 p.m.
Will you turn in your Bible to the first chapter of Mark? Mark chapter 1. On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. And on the radio, take your Bible and read out loud with us in the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark. We shall begin reading at verse 21 and read through verse 28. The Second Gospel, the Gospel of Mark, chapter 1, beginning at verse 21, reading through verse 28, all of us reading together:
And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the Sabbath day He entered into the synagogue, and taught.
And they were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,
Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God.
And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.
And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.
And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority commandeth He even the unclean spirits, and they do obey Him.
And immediately His fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.
Now skip to verse 32, and read 32 through 34; 32 through 34:
And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto Him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.
And all the city was gathered together at the door.
And He healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew Him.
Now, we are following through the life of Christ. After His baptism, after His temptation, after His first beginning ministry in Judea, He came through Samaria and finally arrived in Galilee. He first went to the home where He was brought up as a boy. He was rejected by His townspeople in Nazareth. He went to Capernaum, and that became His home during the rest of His earthly life. And having come to Capernaum, He went out by the side of the sea and found four fishermen and called them to be fishers of men [Mark 1:17]. That was the sermon last Sunday night. Now we begin in the next verse in the life of our Lord, as He begins His great Galilean ministry. And His ministry in Galilee begins with the story of His casting out a demon, an unclean spirit [Mark 1:23-27]. So the message tonight is a message concerning Demons, Unclean Spirits, the Possessed Man.
Now, for a long time I have been preparing to get ready to preach on the world of the spirit, the Holy Spirit of God, the spirit that inhabits a man, the evil spirits, and the world over which Satan presides. I had thought long before now I would have had begun that series; but I never faced such an infinitude of depth in my life as I have faced this assignment of seeking to learn, and to study, and to read concerning the spirit world. I’m not the beginning of being prepared yet. So I continue to study, and to collect a little library concerning it. Now the sermon tonight is but a touching of the fringe of the garment. It is by no means exhaustive; but preaching through the life of Christ, we have come to this first great miraculous asserting of the authority of our Lord. And I thought as a beginning, just as a harbinger, I would speak on this subject tonight.
There is no doubt, there is no questioning, it is not debatable that there is something other that inhabits a man than what you are able to see in his physical, material life. If for nothing else, just the view of a man who has died is a terrific, an awful, an awesome pointing to that something other, that something else that makes a man a man. In one of my country pastorates, there lived a holy man of God, a retired minister. Upon a day, just walking down the street of the village, he fell dead. I helped embalm him; the only time I ever did such a thing as that in my life, or would it have ever come to pass had it not been for the small community in which I lived. But I helped the funeral director embalm that body. I don’t know whether I’m glad I did it or not; the memory of that is so gruesome in my mind, but one thing came out of it. It was impressed upon me as nothing else could ever have impressed me: here is a man walking down the street of a village, perfectly well, perfectly sound, perfectly whole, a man you would delight to visit with, a holy man of God, very learned – he could read Greek like we read English – his widow gave me his library – I treasure those priceless volumes; I’ve studied them through the many years since – but something happened to that man. Now the man was there, every part of him, every physical possession that entered into his anatomy; he was all whole and there before me. But something violent and terrible had overtaken him. Now it is of that something other that I am speaking of tonight in this message.
That something other that inhabits a man may be good, it may be bad, it can be good, it can be bad; and the goodness and the badness does not lie in the materiality of that man. There he is before me in tact; but there’s a something other that lived on the inside of him that may be good, or it may be bad, but it is real and as real and actual as the corpse that lies before me.
Now, that something other that lives on the inside of a man has given rise to every kind of gross superstition that the human mind could imagine. It has given rise to the greatest number of people who worship in the world: did you know most of the worshipers of the world are animistic? Animism is the number one religion through all of the years of human story; the worship of spirits. Sometimes you’ll find it in Africa, in the form of bowing down before trees and stones; these things are inhabited by spirits. Sometimes you’ll see it illustrated in the very architecture of the Orient, where all of the roofs turn up at the ends, turn up at the ends, in order that the evil spirits that might fall on the roof will shunted out, and not have an abode there in that house.
You find it in grossest superstition: in the rabbinical lore of the Jewish nation itself. Where did these evil spirits come from? Rabbinical lore had an answer: they were born from the cohabitation of Adam with a female spirit and Eve with a male spirit; such stuff as that. How many are there? "Oh, the numbers would frighten us," say the rabbis, "and we know a thousand on your right hand and ten thousand on your left." The female spirit leader they named Lilith; and they said she had one hundred eighty thousand demonesses at her command. The leader of the male spirits, evil spirits, they said was Ashmedai, and he was great and tall and cruel and cunning. They even had incantations in order to exorcise demons. Here’s one copied out of the Talmud: ‘Burst, curst, dashed, banned be Bar-Tit, Bar-Tema, Bar-Tena, Chashmagoz, Merigoz, and Isteaham!’" Most of those words mean nothing at all; but those exorcists had certain formulas that they used in casting out evil spirits. When you read Josephus, you’ll find long excerpts in him, describing the wisdom of Solomon in casting out devils.
You come across it, for example, in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts. I read beginning at verse 13: "Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists" – the only time you find that word in the Bible, "exorcists"; they cast out demons, "exorcists"; they were professional demon cast-outers –
Exorcists, took upon them to call upon them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overcame them, prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
Well, what happened there was, instead of using the names of Ben-Tit, and Ben-Tema, and Ben-Tena, and Chashmagoz, and Merigoz, and Isteaham, why, they just substituted what they thought was a surefire and better magic formula: they substituted the name of Iesus and Paulus in that magic formula in order to exorcise, in order to cast out evil spirits. All of that is gross, crude superstition.
Now, there is no doubt but that the New Testament presents a spiritual world, a world that is unseen, a world that belongs beyond the material, and the physical, the mundane, the tangible, the touchable. The Bible presents that in two ways. The Scriptures say that there is a world of holiness and goodness: our Lord, the Holy Spirit of God, the angels, the hosts of glory, and the redeemed and sanctified spirit of a man, the spirits of just men made perfect. You find that referred to many times, such as in Ephesians 3:10, "To the intent that now," Paul is saying the gospel of the Son of God was proclaimed, "to the intent that now unto principalities and powers, the hosts in heavenly places, might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God." There is a world of spirit, holy, pure, redeemed, just, full of praise and adoration to God; there is a spirit world that is holy, purified, and good.
But that same Bible that reveals to us a spirit world of goodness, and gladness, and praise, and adoration, and worship, that same Bible reveals to us a spirit world of evil and iniquity and wickedness. Now in this same book out of which I just read, in the Book of Ephesians, he just mentioned the glorious spirit world above us – now listen to another world: "For," said the apostle Paul, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood" [Ephesians 6:12]. If you could fight sin and fight the devil and fight the hosts of hell with physical weapons, our warfare would be very simple. Let’s get a gun and shoot evil. Let’s get a cannon and aim it at the devil. Let’s destroy the hosts and the powers of wickedness with a sword or with an atomic bomb. But it’s not flesh, and it’s not blood; and our warfare is not against materiality, corporeality. Our warfare is against archai, exousiai, kosmokratai. Our warfare is against – you can translate these in half a dozen different ways – in the King James Version, "Our warfare is against principalities, and powers, and rulers of darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness!" Paul is saying that you don’t fight in your warfare and in the world in which you live, you don’t fight against corporeality. If you did you could take a sword and slay it. But our warfare is against spiritual hosts of wickedness, the whole world presided over by darkness and by demons and by Satan.
Now, just to illustrate that just for a minute: Satan entered Judas, and Judas immediately went to sell the Lord for thirty pieces of silver [Matthew 26:14-15]. Evil entered his heart, Satan entered his spirit, and immediately he sought to betray the Lord. For example, in the fifth chapter of the Book of Acts, it is said, Simon Peter asked Ananias, "Ananias, why has Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?" [Acts 5:3]. I’m just trying to illustrate in this brief, cursory summary, I’m just trying to illustrate that there is something beyond and above and other that can come into a man and possess him; thereafter he’s evil, and wicked, and depraved, and perverted. An evil spirit; there is a world beyond this materiality.
Now, since we’re speaking of demon possession, may I bring it briefly and then I must close, our time will be gone – may I bring it down to our life and this present day? "Preacher, do you believe, do you believe in demon possession? Is not that medieval theology? Does not that belong to a day before science? Doesn’t that belong to an era when men were darkened, and they lived in fear, and their whole lives were governed by gross superstitions? Do you believe today in a spirit world? Do you believe in a personal Satan? And do you believe in demons and evil spirits, do you?" I’ll not philosophize now; we’ll not be in the world of theory or metaphysics, nor will we even exegete from the Word of God, which plainly, as I have shown you, depicts the spirit world. Let’s just walk around in it for ourselves. Let’s just look for ourselves.
The Book says that there is a kingdom of God [Matthew 6:33]; there is a kingdom of light, and life, and glory, and salvation. But the same Book also says that there is a kingdom of darkness, and of damnation, and of despair, and of depravity! [Ephesians 6:12]. The same Book that reveals heaven, reveals hell; the same Book that described the Lord God, described Satan and the prince of the evil. All right, do you find that in this world as you walk around it? Can you see it? Can you know it? Can you be introduced to it? Come with me.
I am now visiting Dr. Black, who is the president of Robert College in Istanbul. And I am sitting by his side. And as I visit with that learned and great man, I find out that he married a Bulgarian and that he lived for many years in Bulgaria. And Bulgaria is one of the satellite communist nations. So I asked Dr. Black, "Dr. Black, I cannot understand, I have no introduction to the hold and the grip and the power of a communist government over its people. Can you explain it to me?" And he avows to me, "Sir, to me it is inexplicable. Why," he says, "these children, these children inform against their parents, and they see their parents dragged to prison and sometimes before execution squads. And the children know the awful judgments that follow in their informing against their parents, yet they do it." And he says, "I cannot understand it." Then that great, learned rhetorician and academician says to me, he says, "I think it is a part of the kingdom of blackness and darkness. As there is a kingdom" – now I’m quoting him – "As there is a kingdom of light and glory, a kingdom of Christ in which men are born again unto goodness and light, there is also," he said, "a kingdom of depravity and darkness and judgment!" And he says, "I think it is presided over by the hosts of hell and by Satan himself; just as we know a kingdom of glory and light and our blessed Lord Jesus Christ." I don’t think there is any other explanation in this earth. There is among men a spirit of darkness, and a spirit of evil, and a spirit of despair, and a spirit of slavery, and a spirit of tyranny; and you see it in this world today. Otherwise it would not exist; it could not exist for a moment.
Now let us apply it to our personal lives. Is there a world of evil? Is there a world of depravity? Is there a world of prostitution and destruction in this earth that can enter into our personal lives? Do I need to expatiate? Have you read the morning paper? Did you read the paper the day before that? And did you read the paper the day before that? Evil spirit entering into the life and destroying the ableness and influence of a man.
In Washington D.C., in the seat of high government, there was until recently a man next to the greatest leader in office and in power that the American government can bestow upon an individual, next to the president of the United States is this man. What kind of a man is he? He is a pervert. What kind of a man is he? He is a queer. What kind of a man is he? He is one of those unspeakable, indescribable individuals that you don’t write about in public; you just have it in the paper. He was arrested on a morals charge; and it’s never described, and it’s never delineated.
I run into that all of the time. And I’ve taken it to physician after physician, and to doctor after doctor, and I say to the doctor and to the physician, "What can I do to help? How can I help? Is this congenital? Is a man born in that perversion, or does a man become that way?" And without exception, every doctor I’ve ever talked to, every physicist, every anatomist, every, every doctor I’ve ever asked the question to answers me in the same way: "No man is ever born perverted! No man is ever born homosexual! No man is ever born depraved." Then I say, "How does he become that way?" And the doctor says, "Don’t quite understand. The psychiatrists enters into his family life, and probes into his youth life, and goes back into his infant life, and they think they are able to bring out, in the background of that man, the reasons for these perversions. But we don’t know." And he is correct. Why would a man who is born normal and whole and sound – as you men are, as you men are – why would a man ever allow himself to become so depraved and so perverted that he destroys himself and all of those around him, and it even reaches up into high places in government. Where does that come from? I think, according to the Word of God, he allowed into his heart, into his soul, into his life an evil spirit.
"Well preacher, it frightens me to death. It frightens me to death. If these evil spirits are able to enter into a man, and if tyranny and government are subject to these awesome and awful powers, what’s our hope? And what is our deliverance?" That’s why these things are revealed in the Word of God, and they are plainly revealed. When a man refuses to fill his heart with the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit of God, you just remember his heart will not stay empty: there’ll be a spirit live on the inside of that man’s soul; he’s more than corporeality, he’s more than anatomy, he’s more than physical. There will be some kind of a spirit live in that man’s life and in that man’s soul. What will it be? Saul made a choice, and refused God. The Bible says, "And an evil spirit from the Lord troubled Saul the rest of his life" [1 Samuel 16:14]. When we refuse the presence and the power of the Spirit of God in our lives, there comes into our souls an evil spirit.
Might I say from the Word of the Lord, "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places seeking rest, and findeth none" [Matthew 12:43]. Here is a man that has an unclean spirit. What do you mean by "an unclean spirit"? I mean he’s like that man that has been dismissed out of the government in Washington in high place; that man, an unclean spirit. Or here is a man filled with the spirit of drunkenness, or lechery, or desecration, or thievery, or violence, or bloodshed, or murder, or bitter hatred, or a spirit that destroys his life and his home, a thousand things you can describe; an evil spirit. Well, says the man, "I’m going to quit that. I’m going to quit that. I’m not going to be that way anymore; I’m going to quit that." So he casts out that unclean spirit. Then the spirit says, "I will return into my house from whence I was cast out; and he cometh, and he looks on the inside of the heart of that man who has had a self-reformation, and he finds that man’s heart empty and swept and garnished" [Matthew 12:44], nothing in there, nothing in there, his heart is empty.
Now didn’t I say that there’s more to a man than corporeality, and there’s more to a man than anatomy? There’s something that lives, there’s something other that lives on the inside of a man’s soul. So that spirit, when he comes and looks in that man’s heart, and he finds it empty, swept and garnished, "Then goeth he, and taketh unto himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first" [Matthew 19:45]. The heart of a man is the house and the home of a spirit of some kind. And if that spirit is not holy and if it isn’t godly and if it isn’t Christward and heavenward, then the spirit that comes to live in that man’s life is anti-God and anti-Christ, and it is vile and wicked. There are just two in the world: man’s either controlled by a great holy desire to serve God, and to glorify Christ, and the Lord lives in his soul and in his life, or he is controlled by the spirit of the world and selfishness and all the things that are attendant thereunto.
That’s why when we come before the Lord it is our earnest and humble supplication, "O God, may the Holy Spirit of Jesus come into my heart. Lord dwell in me. May the Spirit of charity, and kindness, and goodness, and holiness, and devotion, and love, and unselfishness, may the Spirit of God live in my heart and in my life. And Lord, don’t let an evil spirit find lodgment in my soul. Please, Lord, deliver me from it. The spirit of grasping, the spirit of covetousness, the spirit of anger and cursing, the spirit of lust and lechery, the spirit of evil and wickedness, Lord dismiss from my life these spirits of hurt and despair and damnation. Send, Lord, into my soul an overwhelming flood of the Holy Spirit of God."
The Lord will answer that prayer. And there won’t be any need for us to wrestle against all of the powers of evil that so beset us, if our hearts are filled with the presence of the Spirit of God.
I don’t have any room for bitterness; my soul is flooded with the love of God. I don’t have any room for cursing; my mouth is filled with the praises of Jesus. I don’t have any room in my heart for all of the villainous and wicked things that afflict this world; I’m busy serving Jesus. And the perfect love that God is able to bring to us in His Holy Spirit casteth out all of these other things. And when the evil spirit comes and looks on the inside of the heart of a devout, Holy Ghost, God-filled Christian, he finds it full, he finds it overflowing, he finds it abounding; and there’s no room for him, no room at all. For the life of the Christian is one of praise, and singing, and goodness, and kindness, and love, and sympathy, and charity; and these things dispel all the darkness and sorrows that otherwise could afflict us. Oh the blessedness, and the holiness, and the glory, and the gladness of walking in the light of the Lord, simply, humbly receiving by faith and in gladness and gratitude, the full Spirit of Jesus.
And that’s our appeal to your heart tonight. While we sing our invitation hymn, somebody you give himself to the Lord; somebody you open his heart to the Lord; somebody you, reconsecrating, recommitting your life to Jesus; a family you, coming into the fellowship of the church; a couple you, devoting your life to the Lord; however God shall say the word and the Spirit of Jesus shall open the way, make it now. Make it tonight. "Here I am, preacher, and here I come. I give you my hand; I give my heart to God." Or, "Pastor, this is my wife, these are our children; all of us are coming into the fellowship of the church tonight." However the Lord shall press to your heart the appeal, oh the gladness and the glory of coming to God, letting the Lord live in your soul and the fullness of heaven be your constant reward, make it tonight. On the first note of the first stanza, come; while we stand, all, and while we sing.
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Mark 1:21-28, 32-34
A. There is something more than the physical, material world
B. The fact of the spirit world has given rise to superstition
2. Jewish superstition (Acts 19:13-17)
C. The teaching of the Scriptures
1. An organized kingdom of holiness, presided over by Jesus and attended by His holy angels (Ephesians 3:10)
2. An organized kingdom of darkness, presided over by Satan and his fallen angels (Ephesians 6:12, Matthew 26:14-15, Acts 5:3)
II. In our present day
A. The Book reveals kingdom of light and kingdom of darkness (Matthew 6:33, Ephesians 6:12)
B. Communist world
C. Individual lives
1. Saul (1 Samuel 16:14)