Demon Possession

Demon Possession

September 23rd, 1990 @ 10:50 AM

Mark 1:23-27

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.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Mark 1:23-27

9-23-90    10:50 a.m.



The message today is one that, if you are true to the Word of God, you have to, you are compelled to deliver.  It concerns the world of the foul and the dirty and the evil and the unclean, Demon Possession.  And in our preaching in Mark, we are still in chapter 1, and I read beginning at verse 23:

And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit—

a foul spirit, a dirty spirit, a filthy spirit, an evil spirit, a familiar spirit, all of those words used in the Bible—

he cried out, Saying . . . what have we to do with Thee, 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.

[Mark 1:23-26]

Beginning at verse 32:

And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto Him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed.

[Mark 1:32]

In the King James Version, devils, there is one devil, only one Satan.  These are daimonia, demons.

And He healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many daimonia, evil spirits; and suffered not the daimonia, those foul and unclean spirits, to speak, because they knew Him.

[Mark 1:34]

There is no doubt, it is not debatable, there is something other and over and beside in us, this physical frame that you look upon.  There is also an invisible me that inhabits this house.  When I was pastor in a small village church, I helped an undertaker to embalm a body, one of the men in our church.  And as I went through that with that undertaker, that embalmer, impressed upon me a thousandfold that there is something other than this physical frame.  There was something that had departed, that had left, the soul and the spirit and the life of the man.

So it is in the experience of all of us.  We are born into this world in a spiritual vacuum.  And soon we sense and confront a moral confrontation in our lives.  We are open to the Spirit of God, but we also are open to the spirit of evil.  That something other that characterizes all of humanity has been the occasion for countless centuries and centuries of gross and darkened superstition.

There are millions, and uncounted millions, in this world that are animists.  They worship the spirit in trees and stones and rocks and mountains and hills.  I was standing by John Mills, a missionary in Nigeria.  And as a black boy walked by, I said to him, “Missionary, that boy looks exactly like a black boy walking down the streets of Birmingham or New Orleans.”  And he said, “Yes, but his mind and heart are filled and darkened with deep superstitions.”  As I went over the nation, I would see evidences of sacrifices to trees and stones and hills everywhere, offerings of some kind of an animal to the spirit that lived in the trees and in the rocks.

You see that if you have ever been to the Orient, and sometimes in an Oriental house here in America, the roof will always have an upward slope on it at the edge of it, and at the end of it, it will be upward.  Well, why the upwardness of that slope on the roof?  The purpose is to send the spirits that come down from the darkness, to send them back out into infinite space lest they come and inhabit the house underneath the roof.  It’s everywhere.

Then when we enter into a study of the Jewish nation, ah, dear, the superstition that is involved in evil spirits.  For example, in Edersheim, who speaks so very much of the life of the Jewish people, from Edersheim I copied out the formula from the rabbinical writings for the exorcism of demons: quote, “Burst, cursed, dashed, be Bar-Tit, Bar-Tema, Bar-Tena, Chashmagoz, Merigoz, and Isteaham!” [“The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,” by Alfred Edersheim; Longmans, Green, And Co., Vol. II, 8th ed. rev., page 776].  Words that don’t mean anything in the world, just exclamations!  The exorcist, casting out evil spirits.  When you read the Apocrypha, the literature in the intertestamentary period, Tobit, T-o-b-i-t, Tobit will be very typical.  It is filled full of the exorcism and the influence of demons and evil spirits.  Josephus likewise will recount endlessly the influence of those dark spirits from above.

Then I am going to read from the Book of Acts, chapter 19:

Then certain of the vagabond Jews, perierchomai, peri, around, erchomai, walking, wandering Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus….

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 you?

And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of the house naked and wounded.

[Acts 19:13-16]

Just a typical story of what was universally seen and practiced in those days and through the centuries.

Now when I turn to the Word of God to find the truth of the Lord, the Bible presents two kingdoms, unseen spirit worlds, but without that gross superstition.  The Bible, the Holy Scriptures, present a kingdom of holiness and godliness, heavenliness, purity, a kingdom presided over by the Lord Jesus Christ.  And with Him muriades muriadōn, tens of thousands and thousands of holy angels [Revelation 5:11].

And often times will you read in the Bible of holy angels, the angels of God, the spirits of preciousness and goodness.  These are around us.  There are angels everywhere: guardian angels, cherubim, seraphim, archangels such as Michael [Jude 9], a messenger angel such as Gabriel [Luke 1:26].  The Bible presents another world, a spirit world of angels, presided over, I say, by our precious Lord.

But the same Scriptures also presents to us a kingdom of darkness and a kingdom of evil presided over by Satan, by the devil, by the fallen angel Lucifer.  In Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 there is described the falling of that chief angel called Lucifer [Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:12-17].  And in the twelfth chapter of the Revelation it says that one third of that muriades muriadōn, of those uncounted billions of holy angels, one third of them fell with Satan and were confirmed in their darkness [Revelation 12:4]; evil angels, evil spirits, unclean, seeking the destruction of all dear to God.

And they also have an [hierarchical] system just as you have in the world of good angels; the cherubim [Exodus 25:17-22; Ezekiel 1:4-24, 10:3-22], the seraphim [Isaiah 6:1-7], the archangels [1 Thessalonians 4:16; Jude 1:9].  You have a hierarchy also in that dark and evil world.  Paul, for example, will write in Ephesians 6:12, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood.  Our conflict and confrontation is spiritual.  We wrestle rather against archas, against exousias, against kosmokratoras, against pneumatika…tois epouraniois.”  These are all designations of a hierarchy of evil and darkened spirits.  And they confront us in three ways: in obsession, in oppression, and in possession.

I take each one of the three.  Rather than taking time to read it in John, I just point to it.  “Judas,” our Lord says of him, “Judas, he is the one who is unclean.  You are all clean except one,” Judas [John 13:10-11].  Well, what is it in Judas?  John says that he had the bag.  He was the treasurer of the group, and he was a thief.  And he took out what was therein [John 12:6].

And then I turn the page in the Gospel of John and the Lord takes His sop and gives it to Judas at the Lord’s supper table [John 13:26].  And when He gave it to Judas, the spirit of Satan, the spirit of evil entered into him [John 13:27].  And he went out and delivered the Lord to death for thirty pieces of silver [Matthew 26:14-16].  He was obsessed.  There was a demon, an evil spirit of greed and of avarice, of grasping.

I read about it every day, these executives in the savings and loan industry in America.  How could a man take the savings of people and in a grasping, evil, greedy covetousness, squander away on themselves, what these dear people have saved and deposited in their care?  Obsessed with the spirit, the evil spirit of greed, of grasping of money.  It’s universal.

Take again the evil spirit of lust.  In the 1 Samuel, godly Eli, high priest, has two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, and they are priests with their father [1 Samuel 1:3].  And the Bible says that they lay with the women. They lay with the women.  They had sexual intercourse with the women who came to the temple at Shiloh to worship God [1 Samuel 2:22].  How could one give himself in the house of the Lord to that?  There is a lot of difference between a man who will give his life in love to a woman and they build a home and they have children.  Beautiful thing from heaven itself to fall in love with a woman.  What a difference between that dark evil spirit of lust, any kind of a woman.

When I was a teenager I worked out there in the world to pay my way through school.  And I could not believe the dirt and the filth in the minds and in the words and in the vocabularies and the actuality of the lives of those men; this spirit, the evil of lust.

When I turn to 2 [Samuel] David’s son Amnon, driven by the spirit of lust, asked his half-sister [Tamar] to come and to minister unto him.  He feigned illness.  And when she was there ministering to Amnon he seized her and violated her and raped her.  And then, the Bible says, hated her and threw her out.  And the servants cast her away [2 Samuel 13:3-18].  And she went weeping and wailing before God and into the home and house of her brother Absalom.  And Absalom, in his anger and wrath, killed Amnon, slew him with his own hands!  [2 Samuel 13:28-33].

The spirit of lust, the spirit, the evil spirit obsession, the evil spirit of anti-God, anti-Christ, anti-decency, anti-society, anti-anything that has been blessed to humanity.  A hippie, he’s filthy.  He’s dirty because the rest of us wash and are clean.  He’s dirty, he stinks, his garments are filthy.  They live in a free love society, and they take their marijuana cigarettes and pass them around.  They are drug addicts.  Alcohol; when I was a boy, I heard a phrase often, “demon rum,” a filthy dirty spirit, an obsession.

And the same thing pertains in the world of the occult.  An evil spirit; the Bible calls it a familiar spirit [Leviticus 19:31].  All over this world, walking into airports I see them walking around, evil spirits, obsessed.  These strange doctrines; they knock at the door of your house.  You see them everywhere.

I hold in my hand this bulletin from the choir up here.  It is called, “The Sanctuary Choir Rehearsal.”  The sanctuary rehearsal notes.  And I read, they have a part in it, a ministry report, “Donna Oates, second soprano, requests prayer for her sister Deborah of Houston, who is suffering from severe depression.  She is heavily involved with the New Age movement, and Donna would greatly desire that we pray for Satan to be bound and for her sister to be delivered from this darkness.”  I haven’t time to go into that New Age movement.  It is a cult.  It is presided over by Satan.  He sends out his emissaries, his evil spirits, and they seize upon people and lead them into the tragedy for which we have been asked to pray here in this bulletin from our sanctuary choir.  Evil spirits.

Not only obsession but oppression.  In Acts 10, Simon Peter preaching how “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil” [Acts 10:38].  Oppression, the evil spirits oppressing us.

You have a dramatic portrayal of that kind of an evil from Satan himself in the story of Job.  Satan says to the Lord God, “This man Job, he serves You because it pays” [Job 1:9-10].  I agree to that.  It does pay to serve God.  I don’t have AIDS.  I don’t have syphilis.  I am free and blessed of God.  It pays to serve God.  So Satan says, “Job serves You for what he gets out of it” [Job 1:10].

And God says to him, “Then you take away what he has and see” [Job 1:12].  So Job, the evil spirit afflicts Job.  There comes a storm and takes away everything he possesses.  And there comes a great hurricane and slays his ten children [Job 1:13-19].

And Job says, “The Lord gave, and the Lord took away: blessed be the name of the Lord” [Job 1:21].

And God said to Satan, “See” [Job 2:3].

And Satan says, “Yes, but You let me touch him, and he will curse You to Your face” [Job 2:5].

“All right,” says the Lord God [Job 2:6].  And the evil spirit, the spirit of darkness and hatred afflicts Job with leprosy from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet: sores, boils [Job 2:7].

And Job sits in ashes [Job 2:8], and he says, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” [Job 13:15]. 

The oppression of Satan.  Same thing in the life of Saul.  God’s Book says that the Spirit left him, and an evil spirit from God troubled him [1 Samuel 16:14]  Oppression, the attack of an evil spirit.  In that same Book it says that Jesus healed a woman who had been bowed down by an evil spirit for eighteen years [Luke 13:11-13].  And the Lord God said to Simon Peter, “Simon, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I prayed for you, that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, when you turn around, strengthen your brethren” [Luke 22:31-32].

You will go through that.  Every one of you will go through that.  Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.  There will be a dark demon that will confront you, that will afflict you.  In a thousand different categories and ways will he attack you.  The oppression of Satan.

I have just a moment left.  The possession, the possession, not only an obsession, not only an oppression, but a possession.

When Jesus was come to Gadara, there met Him out of the tombs, a man with an unclean spirit.  He had his dwelling among the tombs.  No man could bind him.  Day and night he was in the mountains, in the tombs,  crying and cutting himself [Mark 5:1-5].  When he saw Jesus afar off, he ran, cried with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with Jesus, Thou Son of the Most High God?  I adjure Thee. . .that Thou torment me not” [Mark 5:6-7].  But Jesus said, “Come out of him thou unclean spirit” [Mark 5:8].

It is possible to be possessed by an unclean spirit.  The sodomites, sodomites, they are everywhere.  They are possessed by an unclean spirit committing sodomy.  And that’s where AIDS came from, God Himself.  The abhorrence of the Lord: sodomites, possessed by an unclean spirit.

A man sat right there.  Again and again, over a long period of time, sat right there on that second seat right there.  He came to me and said, “Pastor, I have AIDS.  I am a sodomite.  But God has delivered me, and I just want you to ask God to help me.”  I went to England.  When I left, he was as well as you see me.  I received word over there, within about two days he had died.  Just about as well as I, and died in about two days of AIDS; the unclean spirit.

If you know anything about ancient history at all, the immoral practices, indescribable.  The literature has never been translated, the immoral practices in the temples, where people worship God: temples in Babylon, in Corinth, in Rome.

There is an article in this morning’s paper.  I don’t read the Sunday paper, but I saw the headline, but I had been reading about it every day.  That man in unbelievable torture, murdering one and another and another and another.  How could he do it?  It’s an unclean spirit.  It’s a foul spirit that possessed him.

O God, as we face a world of darkness and evil, what shall I do?  “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” [Exodus 12:13].  No destroying angel could touch an Israelite under the blood [Exodus 12:23].  And that’s what Jesus has done for me.  Under the blood I cannot be possessed.  Never ever.

Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!

All praise to the Father, all praise to the Son,

All praise to the Spirit, the great three in One.

Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!

Glory I’m saved glory I’m saved!

My sins are all pardoned my guilt is all gone!

Glory I’m saved glory I’m saved!

Saved by the blood of the Crucified One.

[“Saved by the Blood,” by S.J. Henderson, 1902] 

And that is our appeal to you who have listened to this message from God’s Book.  Open your heart to the Spirit of God.  Ask Jesus to come into your souls and into your life [Romans 10:9-13].  And if you do not know how to accept the Lord as your Savior, on that screen is a telephone number.  You call that number and there will be a sanctified somebody who will show you how to accept the Lord as your Savior, and if you will do it, if you will open your heart and your house and your home to Jesus, I will see you in heaven someday.  And to the great throng and press of people in this sanctuary, to answer God’s call in your heart, on the first note of the first stanza, come, while we stand and while we sing.


Dr. W.
A. Criswell



I.          Introduction

A.  There is something more
than the physical, material world

B.  The fact of the
spirit world has given rise to superstition

      1.  Jewish
superstition (Acts 19:13-16)

C.  The teaching of the Scriptures

An organized kingdom of holiness, presided over by Jesus and attended by His
holy angels

2.  An
organized kingdom of darkness, presided over by Satan and his fallen angels (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28, Ephesians 6:12)

3.  We
are confronted in three ways:  obsession, oppression, possession

II.         Obsession

A.  Judas (John 13:11, 26-27)

      1.  Spirit of greed,
avarice, grasping

B.  Spirit of lust (1 Samuel 2:22, 2 Samuel 13)

III.        Oppression (Acts 10:38)

A.  Story of Job

B.  In the life of Saul (1 Samuel 16:14, 28:6)

C.  In the New Testament
(Luke 13:11, 16, 22:31-32)

IV.       Possession

A.  Man in Gadara (Mark 5:1-9)

B.  Sodomy (Genesis 13:13, 19:24)

C.  Hideous ancient
immoral practices

D.  Today’s newspaper