Bible Question:

What does the Bible reveal are the signs you are demon-possesed?

Bible Answer:

The Bible reveals that one-third of the angels in heaven joined Lucifer or Satan, also called the devil, in rebellion against God.

His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth . . . Revelation 12:4 (NASB)

These angels are now called demons, evil angels, evil spirits, spirits and ghosts. Luke 11:24-26 indicates that these beings want to possess human beings. For an explanation of Luke 11:24-26 we encourage you to read “Blessed Are Those Who Hear and Obey.” The study will explain what happens when demons possess people. The question we will answer here is “What does the Bible reveal are the signs you are demon possessed?”

Signs Of Demon Possession

Physical Signs of Demon Possession

The Greek word for demon is daimonion and its basic meaning is “supernatural power.”[1] This helps us understand why demons can cause people to suffer physically in many different ways. For example, in the New Testament we discover that demon possession can cause some people to be extremely violent (Matthew 8:28-34), be mute (Matthew 9:32-33), be blind and mute (Matthew 12:22), have super-strength and have greater insight (Mark 5:2-7), be habitually naked (Luke 8:27), be mentally unstable (Matthew 17:15-18) and be mute and deaf (Mark 9:25).

In Mark 9:25, Jesus called the demon that caused a boy to be deaf and mute a “deaf and mute demon.”

When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” Mark 9:25 (NASB)

Apparently, some demons can only cause certain illnesses and conditions.

Mark 9:15-25 is especially important for understanding what can happen to a demon possessed person. Mark 9:15  says that a father had brought his son to Jesus so that the demon could be cast out. He explained that the demon would cause his son to fall to the ground, foam at the mouth, grind his teeth and stiffen. The father stated that these events occurred all together at the same time. Now someone can fall to the ground due to vertigo, a broken vertebra or stumbling. Someone can foam at the mouth because they have rabies. Someone can normally grind their teeth or even stiffen for a variety of medical reasons without the person being demon possessed. The gospels reveal that the symptoms of demon possession are recurring events and not isolated events. Mark 9:20 also adds that convulsions occurred with this demon, but people can have epilepsy and not be demon possessed.

Another very important example of demon possession is described in Matthew 8:28-34. In this passage we are told that a man was extremely violent and prevented people from passing by him. When he saw Jesus, the demon cried out and spoke to Christ. This man knew something that other people did not know because he was possessed. In Luke 8:30-31 we are told the man was possessed by many demons and, therefore, the demons were called Legion. This reveals that a person can be possessed by many demons at one time. We are also told these demons did not want to be cast out without being able to enter into the body of some other living being. In this situation, they entered into a large number of pigs after Jesus exorcised the demons.

The message of Scripture is that demonic possession is normally a continuing condition and some demons are more violent than others. A person can be possessed by many demons and each one can cause one or more symptoms to be present. The Bible teaches that apparently the most common signs of demon possession are some type of ongoing illness and/or some type of super human strength.

Every Illness Is Not Due To Demon Possession

One truth about demon possession that is obvious from the gospels is that Jesus healed people of various illnesses and diseases as well as demon possession. That is all illness is not due to demon possession. Matthew 4:24-25 is one such example of this truth.

 The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan. Matthew 4:24-25 (NASB)

Psychologists and other mental health providers are in error when they claim that New Testament demon possession was nothing more than some disease or psychological disorder, but they cannot explain the super-strength that pastors and missionaries have witnessed and is described in Mark 5:2-5, for example. Acts 8:7 and 19:1-12 are two examples of the disciples healing diseases as well as casting out demons – performing exorcisms. Demon possession does not always result in illness.

Unexpected Signs of Demon Possession

The Bible also indicates that demon possession may not have physical signs. One example is Judas who was in the Upper Room with Jesus and the other eleven disciples. We read in John 13:27 that Satan took possession of Judas.

After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him. For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him. John 13:27-29a (NASB)

Here we discover that on this occasion the demon possession was not obvious to others around Judas. No one knew he was possessed. We also discover that the demon possession was not continuous.

1 Timothy 4:1 refers to people “paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”  This means some men and women are possessed or influenced by demons so that they teach false doctrines.

So how can we know that someone is demon possessed or that you are demon possessed? 1 John 4:1 provides a test for demonic spirits.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 1 John 4:1-3  (NASB)

The test is simple: who is Jesus Christ? Does the person teach that God took on human flesh? Do they teach that Jesus Christ is God in human flesh? It is important to note that in Mark 1:24 and Luke 4:41 we find that some demons admitted that Jesus was the Christ, but that does not mean they would admit Jesus was God in human flesh and submit to His lordship. Demon possession and or demonic influence may be the reason someone is actively teaching that Jesus is not God and that God did not come in human flesh. One could as the person do they believe that Jesus Christ was God? The correct answer is that Jesus Christ was God in human flesh.

Conclusion:

Demon possession may or may not be immediately obvious to others as we have discovered. Yet when there were physical manifestations of demon-possession, the gospels reveal that parents or friends of the person knew the person was demon-possessed (Matthew 9:32; Mark 7:25; Mark 9:17). Here is Mark 9:17.

And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute . . .” Mark 9:17 (NASB)

That is, those who live with the person constantly will eventually realize that the person is normal and possessed. Since family and friends should be to know that the person is demon possessed, most likely the person will know they are demon possessed too though Scripture does not make that explicit statement. Testimonies of individuals who have been demon possessed have admitted that they knew they were possessed. If you believe you are demon possessed or someone else is demon-possessed, please read “How can I escape demon possession according to the Bible?”

In situations where demon possession is not obvious to others, the section “Unexpected Signs of Demon Possession” will provide some guidance.

 

References:

1. Gerhard Kittel. Theological Dictionary of the new Testament. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1964. vol. 2, p. 2.

Suggested Links:

Blessed Are Those Who Hear and Obey
Legion of Demons
Expel Some Only By Prayer
Can Christians be demon possessed?
Is mental instability caused by demon possession?
Angels – Good and Evil
How can I escape demon possession according to the Bible?