Characteristics Of Demons
Distinctive features, marks or peculiarities are given in the New Testament by which demons may be recognized. It is believed that demons are fallen angels who were associated with Lucifer in his rebellion against the most high God and were cast out with Satan from the heavenly places.Demons are personalities — Mark 1:25. “And Jesus rebuked him (the demon) and said (to the demon), Hold thy peace and come out of him.” The following pronouns, indicating personality, are used when applied to demons: he, him, us, we, they, them, thou, my. These words refer, not to influences, but to personalities.
Demons have the sense of ownership. — “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man he walketh through dry places seeking rest and finding none he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.” My house indicates the demon’s sense of ownership which he was loath to give up though he had been cast out. Demons are loath to give up territory which they have conquered and occupied. The momentum of possession is strong in their consciousness.
Strategy. — “I will return to my house whence I came out.” And when he returns he finds a surprise. His former house is cleansed, swept and garnished, and alone he is conscious of inability to re-enter but, nothing daunted, he thinks on the desirability of reinforcements. “Then goeth he and taketh to him seven other spirits” (the reinforcements needed on the line of his attack) “more wicked than himself.” The demon is successful. “And they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” Luke 11:24-26. Note the intelligence the demon exhibits, the reasoning, the wise planning of his counter attack, the going for reinforcements, the recognition of his inability alone to re-enter, the calculation of how many reinforcements would be needed to successfully re-enter, the breaking down of the man’s defenses, and the successful re-embodiment in the demon’s former home, the man’s heart.
Will Power. — Strong will power is ascribed to the demons in the above narrative: “I will return” to my house. There is such persistency of will power that all obstacles are carried before it. The strong, stubborn self-will that will not give up, even when clearly shown to be in error, is demon inspired.
Demons are represented in the gospels as having the power of speech, “And the unclean spirits when they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried, saying, Thou art the son of God.” They cried, that is, the demons use the voice of the one possessed.
This same reference gives them the power of sights: “And when they saw Him.” The philosophy of it we can not explain. We believe the record. But there is no more difficulty in believing that demons can see, than believing that the eyes of the Lord, who is without body or parts, who is a Spirit, can run to and fro through the earth beholding the evil and the good: “Thou God seest me.” The fact is, Jesus addressed demons as seeing, hearing, intelligent personalities, with powers of judgment, discrimination and memory, like any other personality. He charged the demons not to make him known. To fulfill such a charge they must be intelligent personalities, with powers of mind and communication. Demons are not mere Satanic influences. They have all the characteristics attributed to them that go with personality. The replies of the demons to Jesus were couched in intelligent language. Matt. 8:29.
Demons have sensibilities of fear: “And they besought Him that He would not command them to go out into the deep.” There is shrinking fear denoted here on the part of the demon. Whether they dreaded the casting out into the deep or just the fact of being exorcised, or cast out, is not said. I rather think they dreaded being disembodied, losing their home or place of refuge or rest in the man indwelt because in the conversations held between Jesus and the demons frequently they reveal the dread or fear of disembodiment, terming it “tormenting us before our time.” They preferred embodiment even in the lower animals, the swine, to being cast out to roam in the dry places.
Demons Have Desire. — So the devils besought him saying, “If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.” Matt. 8:31. Here we have definite place of abode. “The Scriptures reveal other characteristics of demons as their intelligent power of decision, Matt. 12:44, their power of agreement with other spirits, their degree of wickedness, Matt. 12:45; their power of rage, Matt. 8:28, their strength. Mark 5:4, their ability to possess a human being either as one (Mark 1 :26), or a thousand (Mark 5:9), their use of a human being either as their medium for divining the future (Acts 16:16) or as a great miracle worker by their power.” This last reference lets light on the apparent power in Christian Science and Spiritism, and all fake healings and manifestations.
The demon teareth him, throweth him into the fire, and into the water and driveth into violent, unreasonable rage (it may perchance be about some very trifling matter). The Garadene illustrates the destructiveness of evil spirits. He was forced to lacerate himself. Again, demons lack the sense of decency and inspire their victim to go nude, to wear no clothes. This fact may throw some light on nudity in modern dress and styles, as also the nudity in so-called high art, which is low art. Demons are unclean and lustful. Christ calls them “foul spirits,” “unclean spirits.” Thus they work in the realm of lust.