Part 9 was about Peter and Judas and how they should be compared.
XII. Satan in Jesus’ Ministry
Jesus emerged victorious from His temptations in the wilderness, and, as planned, the Lord went about doing the work of the ministry.
We first see Jesus encountering Satan and his demons head-on in Matthew chapter 8. Immediately after healing Peter’s mother-in-law, Jesus heals many who were demon-possessed: “they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed, and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill” (Matthew 8:16). Satan had these individuals bound with sickness and had inhabited them, which shows you what the kingdom of Satan is all about. Remember when the Pharisees say that Jesus casts out demons by the ruler of demons? They weren’t thinking logically when they said it, because, if they were, they’d understand that Satan doesn’t want the demons cast out — which explains why so many individuals were demon-possessed. Jesus explains in Matthew 12:43-45:
Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation (Matt. 12:43-45).
Demonic spirits, then, do not cast out demons; rather, they bring more demons to inhabit the person they’re inside of, which contradicts the view of the Pharisees that Satan is the one who casts out demons. Satan wouldn’t do that, as we’ve seen with demon possession in this section. Lots of people were demon-possessed, a sign that Satan’s strategy had been successful to a point.
Later in Matthew 8, Jesus encounters two demon-possessed men at the tombs (the graves, cemetery). The demons even spoke to Jesus and addressed Him as the Son of God:
28 When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way. 29 And they cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now there was a herd of many swine feeding at a distance from them. 31 The demons began to entreat Him, saying, “If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” 32 And He said to them, “Go!” And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters. 33 The herdsmen ran away, and went to the city and reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. 34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region. (Matthew 8:28-34)
The demons referred to Jesus in Matthew 8 as “Son of God.” That’s interesting to note, that the demons knew who Jesus was. The fact that the demons recognize Jesus as deity shows that He was who He said He was. But, interestingly enough, the demons ask Jesus a question: “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matt. 8:29) The demons ask about being tormented before “the time,” referring to the appointed time at which they will enter eternal torment.
Matthew 17 provides another example of a demon-possessed boy who seems to endanger himself as a result of the demon’s inhabitation:
14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. (Matt. 17:14-18)
The boy falls into the fire and water, a sign that the demon wants to kill him. Matthew’s Gospel isn’t as detailed, but Mark 9 fills in much of what is missing in Matthew:
14 When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. 15 Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. 16 And He asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” 17 And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; 18 and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” 19 And He *answered them and *said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” 20 They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. 21 And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” 25 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.” 26 After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up. (Mark 9:14-27)
The demon forces the boy to grind his teeth and foam at the mouth, public signs that something is wrong with the boy. The boy’s father tells us here in Mark that the boy has had the demon since childhood (Mark 9:21), and that the boy is “thrown both into the fire and water to destroy him.” In other words, the demon wants to kill the boy. The demon also makes the boy deaf and mute: unable to hear and unable to speak. Jesus rebukes the spirit and tells it “come out of him and do not enter him again,” a reminder that demons often come out but return to the same individuals and take more demons with them the second time (see Matthew 12 above).
Mark’s Gospel spends a lot of time focusing on Jesus’ power over evil spirits and Satan. In chapter 1, after Jesus is baptized and tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He heals the sick, particularly those who have unclean spirits or are possessed by demons. In Mark 1:23-26, we see some interesting facts regarding evil spirits. Just for the record, we’ve already established Satan as the ruler of demons, so the presence of demonic spirits is a sign of Satan’s presence. Satan was busy in Jesus’ ministry, but Jesus could cast out these demons because He was God. He still is, even in our day.
The demon-possessed man here in Mark 1 was in the synagogue, which may seem puzzling to some but is true. The text says he had an “unclean” spirit. The word “unclean” in the Greek is akarthato, meaning “not healing.” So, the spirit this man had was an inflicting spirit, a cursing spirit, an injuring spirit. In other words, a demonic spirit. We know this not only because of the original language (Greek), but also because of the context of Mark 1. The text says the man has an unclean or demonic spirit, but there are multiple demons in him because they talk to Jesus, recognizing Him:
23 Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. (Mark 1:23-26)
Notice that in verse 23, the man possessed by demons talks out loud, but the message he says demonstrates the presence of multiple demons: what business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who you are — the Holy One of God!” First, he refers to Jesus as “Jesus of Nazareth,” which signifies that Jesus was Deity, God, not just a mere mortal; after all, the demons refer to Jesus as “the Holy One of God,” verifying His identity as the Divine Son of God. Next, the demonic spirit reveals that it consists of multiple demons as evidenced by the words “have you come to destroy us?” The “us” there is plural, more than one, in the same way that we see God is one Lord but three persons: the persons of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) conferred with one another and agreed when they said, “Let Us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). The demons are plural that are inside this man, which wasn’t uncommon in Jesus’ day. One of His followers, Mary Magdalene, was demon-possessed and had seven demons inside her (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2).
The demons ask Jesus about whether or not He was going to destroy them, a statement made that refers to the final end of Satan where the Lord will destroy him and his demons. The demon realized that Jesus would put an end to the demons at the end of time.
Isn’t it interesting to know that the demons said all this? You would never have expected statements like this, but it goes to show that even Satan and his demons know who Jesus is, that He is greater than them and will bring them to an end. The end to which the demons are referring is the end Jesus had in mind when He says that He’s seen Satan falling from heaven like lightning (Luke 10:17-22): it is the time in history when Jesus will finally deliver Satan to the lake of fire and brimstone (Revelation ), when Satan will no longer be allowed to roam to and fro through the earth to tempt the people of God and capture souls. When Jesus says “Now the ruler of this world is cast out,” this is what He means: Satan has already been cast out of heaven due to his rebellion, but he will be dealt with in the world, too. The new earth won’t be stained with Satan’s influence.
The man with the demonic spirit was opening his mouth, but the demons inside were crying out to Jesus, which is what happens when a person is possessed by demons. Jesus didn’t address the demons, except to tell them to “come out of him.” At Jesus’ word, the demons cried out and exited the man, a testimony to the power of God – that this Jesus of Nazareth, as they called him, was God and had greater power than they. After all, if they had more power than Jesus, His calling them to exit the man would never have worked. But they seemed to get nervous when they saw Him approach the man they possessed because they believed He had come to destroy them as if it were the end of time (though the end of time has not been fully realized, though “the last days” have been in existence since the Upper Room event in the Book of Acts).
Jesus has power over even the demons; if the Pharisees are right in that Beelzebul, or the Devil, Satan, is the head of the demons, the ruler of demons, then the Lord has power over Satan, too. And everywhere in Jesus’ ministry where demons surface, the Lord Jesus commands them to leave individuals. This shows that, whereas Satan does come as a thief to “steal, kill, and destroy,” as Jesus says (to destroy lives), the Lord comes to bring abundant life.
Word about Jesus spread as a result of His power over demons, and at evening time, more demon-possessed individuals are brought to Jesus for healing:
32 When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city had gathered at the door. 34 And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. (Mark 1:32-34)
The demons knew who He was, so Jesus didn’t allow them to speak. We see in Mark’s Gospel that Mark’s emphasis upon Jesus is this mysterious, spiritual element that the other Gospel writers do not highlight. Jesus had a time to be revealed, and the demons wanted to call Him out for who He was much too soon. Thus, Jesus calls them out without giving them a chance to reveal Himself.
Mark 5 is where we meet another demon-possessed individual. He lives among the tombs and has been hitting himself with stones:
They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. 2 When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, 3 and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; 4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. 6 Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; 7 and shouting with a loud voice, he *said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” 8 For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he *said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain. 12 The demons implored Him, saying, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.” 13 Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea. (Mark 5:1-13)
In Mark 5:2, the man is possessed by demons (has an unclean spirit) and lives in the cemetery among the dead. This is clearly the work of Satan: the Lord would not approve of someone living at the tombs when He’s come to give humans abundant life, not death. The fact that the man is living at the tombs shows that Satan really wanted to torment the man until he died. That is what happened to King Saul until he died: once he continued to rebel and disobey the Lord, the Lord told the prophet Samuel that he had rejected Saul from being king over Israel and sent Saul an evil spirit. Now, the demon-possessed man had done nothing wrong here that we know of, but he was tormented by the demons. We’ll see that as we get into the dialogue between Jesus and the demons.
Additionally, the man couldn’t be bound with chains, which made him all the more uncontrollable. He was screaming “constantly” night and day. The Greek phrase καὶ διὰ παντὸς νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας ἐν τοῖς μνήμασιν καὶ ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσιν ἦν κράζων is translated “and through all night and day in the tombs and in the mountains he was screaming or crying loudly.” In other words, he wasn’t just at the tombs and mountains, isolated from everyone; he was crying and screaming loudly so that he could likely be heard from just about anywhere in close proximity. Additionally, he was κατακόπτων ἑαυτὸν λίθοις, gashing or cutting himself with stones (or rocks). The word “katakopton” means to “beat, bruise, cut, or mangle” oneself, so, while we can’t know here, we can assume that he was using the rocks to hurt himself.
Clearly, this man was out of his mind and possessed by demons; for the Lord does not encourage believers to hurt themselves. Remember what I said back when we examined Jesus’ temptations from Satan in the wilderness? The fact that Satan tells Jesus to commit suicide and throw Himself off the temple shows that only Satan would drive humans to hurt themselves, cut themselves, and kill themselves. The voice of God would never tell someone to do that, and the Holy Spirit would never directly command a person to harm or injure themselves because the Holy Spirit Himself dwells in us and would desire that we “present our bodies a living sacrifice,” as Paul tells the Romans in Romans 12. Did the Lord ever accept a mangled sacrifice? No. Sacrifices had to be prepared and presentable. Thus, he is clearly demon-possessed, and the fact that he can’t be tamed shows that he is dangerous to himself and to others. It appears as though he had been left alone, totally isolated, abandoned by everyone because he was considered dangerous, but Jesus doesn’t abandon him but heals him. Let’s read further in the text.
6 Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; 7 and shouting with a loud voice, he *said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” 8 For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he *said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. (Mark 5:6-10)
What’s interesting here is that we see the demons respond through the man: since they’ve inhabited the man, they act out things through the man. So, when the man, or the demoniac, as he is called, bows down before Jesus, it is really the demons bowing before Jesus. Think of that: not only do the angels bow before Jesus, but the demons do too!
The demons ask Jesus, “what business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore you by God, do not torment me!” Notice that the demons refer to Jesus as “Son of the Most High God.” Mark’s point here is to show that even the demons recognize Him. Why would demons bow down and recognize that He is God, and then beg Jesus not to torment them? The reason? Because God is greater and stronger than the demons, and they are subject to Him.
The demons told the Lord “I implore you by God, do not torment me!,” a reference to the fact that the Lord had the power to torment the demons. Ultimately, the demons will be tormented when Jesus brings them to their end. The Greek phrase for the demons’ statement is ὁρκίζω σε τὸν θεόν, μή με βασανίσῃς, the word “orkizo” referring to swearing by an oath or making a promise. The word “basanises” means “to torment,” so the demons were begging the Lord to promise that He wouldn’t torment them. Isn’t that interesting? The demons even know that their final end will be torment forever, without ceasing. The Scriptures tell us that Satan and the demons will be tormented eternally and that Hell is a place of torment and anguish:
9 Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” 12 Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (Revelation 20:9-12)
Those who worship the beast and his image, from Satan no doubt, will “be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.” Notice that the holy angels and Jesus, the “Lamb,” will witness the torment of those who worship the beast and his image, human beings who bow to Satan. Now, if these individuals will be tormented and God will witness it, then surely, Satan’s torment will be witnessed, too.
7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. 9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:7-10)
The devil, Satan, will be tormented day and night, forever and ever, as is the case with those who worship the beast and his image and the false prophet. The word “tormented” comes from the same parent word as the word “torment” does in Mark 5: in other words, the demons and Satan know what their end will be, and the demons presumed that the time had come. It hadn’t, but one day it will.
The demons told Jesus as they “implore by God” that He should not torment them. Isn’t it interesting that they want Jesus to make an oath with them that He would not torture them? They knew He could, knew He was God, knew He had the power to torment them to such an extent that they wanted an oath from Jesus to not fear what He could do to them. In other words, the demons believe and tremble as James says, though we must have more faith than Satan and the demons (see James 2:19). The demons are afraid of Jesus, and those who have the power of God in their lives have power over demons and can cast them out, according to Jesus Himself (Mark 16:17).
The Lord had been telling the demons to come out of the man. Finally, the Lord asks the demons, “what is your name?” This implies that the demons have names. After all, we know that the demons are nothing more than fallen angels who followed Satan in the great rebellion, so the demons do have names. In this case, though, the demons responded, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” The Greek for “legion,” legion (pronounced le-gi-own), simply means “many.” The unclean or demonic spirit consisted of many demons. Mary Magdalene had 7 demons cast out of her, so we can safely presume that the demoniac had more than 7 demons inside himself. Legion refers to lots of demons, so we know that the demons found the demoniac an easy target because of his condition. He was tormented, which explains why he was trying to cut and injure himself with rocks. The demons wanted the man to kill himself; the torment comes before the death.
Well, Jesus was calling the demons to come out of the man, which means that the demons had to do what God commanded. And yet, they didn’t want to leave the area (“to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country”), which means that it must have been an area infested with demon possession. Why else would the demons want to stay in the area? After all, the demons didn’t want to be cast out and wanted to inhabit something, whether animals or humans – so, if the demons request that the Lord not send them out of the country (Jesus had the power to send them away from the area altogether), then the demons must’ve had a stronghold on the area.
After all, look at the demoniac: he had a legion of demons within him, so it’s not too farfetched to assume that the area was infested with demons all over the place. At the tombs, no one bothered to care about what was in the cemetary, so it was the perfect place to hang around and inhabit the demoniac. Even if they didn’t inhabit the demoniac, the graveyard was the perfect place to not be noticed. And yet, the demoniac, full of many demons, recognizes Jesus (it was the demons in him that recognized Jesus), bows before Him, and begs Him not to do away with them now. Despite the power of the demons, they recognized and bowed before the power of Jesus.
Apparently, the demons could enter the animals, since the demons beg Jesus to send them out of the man into the swine (they knew Jesus was casting them out of the man they’d tortured for so long). Mark 5:13 says that “Jesus gave them permission,” meaning that Jesus had to allow them to enter into the swine before they could do so. Not only did the demons bow before Jesus, they also have to beg Jesus to send them into the swine. They didn’t seem to care they were leaving out of the man; they just want to inhabit a body, regardless of who it is. Jesus gives them permission here, in the same way that the ruler of the demons, Satan, has to request permission to cause Job to suffer (see Job 1-2).
Once Jesus allowed them to enter into the swine, the text says that “the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea.” There were 2,000 swine or pigs according to the text, the Greek word for “swine” is xoiros, meaning “pig.” 2,000 pigs drowned in the sea because the demons inhabited them and drove them over the edge. Remember what I said about Satan wanting to kill? Well, the demons kill people (and animals), too: here, we see that the demons kill the animals, and Satan encouraged Jesus to throw Himself off the temple. Satan enters Judas, and then Judas kill himself. See the pattern? Whenever Satan and demons are involved, victims end up dead. In other words, Satan and demons come to kill but, as Jesus has said, He came to give life.
In Mark chapter 6, the Lord sends out the Twelve disciples to preach and heal the sick, to do the work of the ministry. Among the tasks is casting out demons:
7 And He *summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; 8 and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belt— 9 but to wear sandals; and He added, “Do not put on two tunics.” 10 And He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. 11 Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that men should repent. 13 And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them. (Mark 6:7-13)
We’ve seen in the early chapters of Mark’s Gospel that Jesus has authority over Satan and the demons, that, with the Gerasene Demoniac, the demons knew that Jesus was “the Holy One of God” and that He would torment them at the end of time (though that time was not yet). They begged Jesus to let them enter into the swine in Mark 5, a sign that Jesus was more powerful than even the demons and Satan. So, Jesus, having power over Satan and the demons, could give the authority over unclean spirits to His Twelve that He had chosen. Mark 6:13 says “they were casting out many demons,” which tells us that demon possession was a “booming business” for Satan and the fallen angels around this time. The Gerasene Demoniac had a “legion” of demons, even telling Jesus that “my name is legion; for we are many” (Mark 5:9). Jesus gave the disciples the power, and they were putting it to good use: demons were coming out of people at the name of Jesus, knowing the power that the Twelve had been given came from Christ Himself.
The disciples were fulfilling the words of Mark 16:17.
One thing to note here that may not seem significant to some but is significant to what I’ve been saying on Judas is that Judas himself is in the midst: he is part of “the Twelve” that has been sent out to preach, heal the sick, and cast out demons. The text doesn’t say “the eleven,” but rather, “the Twelve.” So, Judas wasn’t just a disciple that sat around and did nothing: he “tasted of the good Word of God” (Hebrews 6:4) because he heard the Word of God from the mouth of God about the Kingdom of God; he “tasted of the powers of the coming age” (Hebrews 6:5) because he experienced the power of God and was even given the power to heal the sick and cast out demons. Judas wasn’t just sitting on the sidelines doing nothing when the Lord sent the disciples out to do His work. Now, let’s ask ourselves the question: if Judas was a reprobate from the start, as some believe, if he was “never saved to begin with,” never a true disciple of the Lord, then why does Jesus give Judas power over demonic spirits and all manner of sicknesses and diseases?
Why is Judas anointing the sick with olive oil and praying over them in Mark 6 if he wasn’t a true disciple of Jesus? Jesus handpicked him, did He not? Yes. Well, if He did, He wouldn’t select someone who wouldn’t be a real disciple. The idea that Judas wasn’t saved and wasn’t a genuine disciple must be disproven and seen for the false claim that it is because of passages like Mark 6. And if Judas was a genuine disciple, then he is living proof that, even when you’re a disciple of Jesus and given spiritual power and authority, you can throw it all away and be possessed by Satan. And Satan will spiral your life downhill until you take your life. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it’s an example of what happens when believers take themselves out of the love of God (as Jude says in his letter) by choosing to harden their heart against the Holy Spirit and then betray their Lord Jesus for the world and things in it.
In Mark 7, we meet a Syrophoenician woman whose daughter is demon-possessed:
24 Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice. 25 But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered and *said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” 29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left. (Mark 7:24-30)
The woman is a Gentile requesting that Jesus heals her daughter of the demon possession. She knew He had the power to heal her. And yet, Jesus made it clear that He came for the lost sheep of Israel, the Jews, that they are first in the mission. And yet, the Syrophoenician woman made it clear that even the dogs get crumbs from the master’s table; similarly, she was telling the Lord that He could still bless her with the “crumbs” of miracles that He had given the Jews. The Lord could still give her a blessing, even though she was the “dog” in the situation, one who didn’t get priority treatment. The Lord was stunned by her faith and healed her demon-possessed daughter. He didn’t need to see the child: He spoke the word, and her daughter was immediately healed. That’s the power of God: the Lord can speak a word and heal the sick, cast out demons, calm the wind and the waves.
In Mark 9, we see a boy who has been demon-possessed since childhood and is facing hardship because the demon won’t leave him:
14 When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. 15 Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. 16 And He asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” 17 And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; 18 and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” 19 And He *answered them and *said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” 20 They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. 21 And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” 25 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.” 26 After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up. 28 When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” 29 And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” (Mark 9:14-29)
The boy had a demon that “makes him mute,” his father said. What we learn about demon possession is that the demons make humans say things (the demons made the demoniac answer Jesus and tell Him that “my name is legion,” though that wasn’t the man’s name at all). Here, though, the demon made the young man mute, unable to speak. The only thing the man could do here in Mark 9 was roll on the floor and foam at the mouth. The demon also made the man “grind his teeth” and stiffen out as a dead man, not to mention throw the young man into the fire and water “to destroy him,” to kill him.
And this had happened since the young man was a child, so this demon had been inhabiting the young man for a long time. Satan had a stronghold on this young man by way of this demon. But healing him wasn’t too hard for Jesus, though the disciples could not cast the demon out (even with authority over unclean spirits). The demon inhabited the man, but he did so to throw him in the fire and water to kill him. That’s the irony about demons: they inhabit humans (and animals, as we’ve seen in Mark 5) to throw them over a surface and kill them.
Jesus refers to the spirit as a “deaf and mute spirit” when He calls the demon out of the man. What this tells us is that the demons have names (remember “Legion” from Mark 5 with the Gerasene Demoniac?). In this case, Jesus names the demon after his impact on the young man: the demonic spirit is called “deaf and mute spirit” because he caused the man to be deaf (unable to hear) and mute (unable to speak). Having closed up two of the young man’s most important 5 senses, the demon was able to wreak havoc on the young man — and no one could help him, few could reach him. And, when Jesus heals the young man, He tells the deaf and mute spirit “do not enter him again,” a warning to the demonic spirit to leave him alone and to not re-enter him. Jesus said earlier that demons have a habit of leaving a human body, only to re-enter it and bring more demons later:
43 “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. (Matthew 12:43-45)
Jesus heals the man, and the disciples are puzzled about why they couldn’t cast out the demon. Jesus says that “This cannot come out by anything other than prayer” (Mark 9:29). In other words, some healing can only come through prayer, not through the simple act of laying hands on someone. The Lord works through the laying on of hands and anointing with oil, as we’re told in Scripture here and in James 5:14 (yes, I believe that we should pray and anoint believers with oil, as Scripture says), but we can only see people healed by praying for them. Even with the authority to cast out demons, it takes prayer for the Lord to step in and heal the individual(s). Healing in real life doesn’t always happen overnight. Though the Lord heals individuals, not all are healed in an instant. Sometimes, it takes months and years before those who suffer with medical conditions see any relief.
In Luke 6, Jesus comes down with His disciples (that He picks immediately before, in the context) and heals those who have unclean spirits:
17 Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured. 19 And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all. (Luke 6:17-19)
In Luke 6, “unclean spirits” are mentioned. Now, unclean spirits can refer to demons, though it appears as if it can refer to other situations as well. From what we know, those with unclean spirits have a sense of brokenness in their mental condition, so Jesus could’ve even healed schizophrenics during His ministry. We don’t know all the details, but the phrase “were being cured” tells us that these individuals had all manners of diseases. Perhaps some were demon-possessed here, though further examination of Luke will bring us into contact with demon possession.
We’ve examined the Parable of the Sower prior to now, but our intent in examining it here once more pertains to viewing the role of Satan in the Parable, seeing how Satan works when people hear the Word of God. Luke 8 says that Satan’s job when people hear the Word is to snatch the Word from their hearts and minds so that they never get saved:
11 “Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. 12 Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. (Luke 8:11-12)
Here in verses 11 and 12, Jesus is explaining to His disciples the meaning of the Parable, since parables used earthly stories to communicate information and knowledge about the Kingdom of God. And in the Parable, the birds came and ate the seed that fell along the side of the road (Luke 8:5). The birds are symbolic of Satan, who snatches the Word of God so that, even after sinners hear it, they do not receive the Word and understand it because it is quickly forgotten. Satan designs it to be this way so that sinners do not turn from their sin to salvation. The devil, Satan, who fought with Michael the archangel and the angelic hosts of Heaven in Revelation 12, the same Satan who deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden by contradicting the Word of the Lord, is the same Satan who prevents men and women from coming to faith in Christ. Satan is still warring against the Lord – even in salvation, when men and women are convicted over their sin and come to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Yep, Satan is truly a thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy.
In Luke 9, we discover that the name of Jesus is powerful enough to cast out demons, that there are other believers who have the power of God that are casting out demons – though they’re not following Jesus and His chosen disciples:
49 John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.” (Luke 9:49-50)
The disciples tried to stop the person because “he does not follow us.” Jesus, though, tells them to not forbid him because “he who is not against you is for you,” meaning that, if the person is casting out demons in the name of Jesus, then that individual is a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ who is doing the work of the Lord. Some believers have the same view today of other churches: only “their” church is doing the work of the Lord, only their gathering of believers is doing what the Lord has commanded. This type of isolationist mindset is not right and should be rebuked, because the Lord Jesus accepts into the Kingdom all who call on His name.
The Lord Himself said that those who accept Him will be able to cast out demons “in His name,” meaning that the Lord doesn’t discriminate in groups or only allow certain groups to cast out demons in His name while neglecting the others. If 95% of the world consisted of believers and called on His name when casting out demons, the Lord would hear the prayers of 95% and cast out demons regardless of the special group, denomination, or gathering. Today, the Lord is still healing the sick and casting out demons, whether Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Church of God In Christ (COGIC), or some other Christian gathering.
We’ve covered Jesus’ response to the Pharisees and their blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in Matthew, but Mark doesn’t focus on it. Luke does, however, so we’ll examine it now in Luke chapter 11:
14 And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute; when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” 16 Others, to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven. 17 But He knew their thoughts and said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. 18 If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? So they will be your judges. 20 But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed.22 But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder. 23 He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.
24 “When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” (Luke 11:14-26)
Now, contrary to the passage in Matthew that says Pharisees were blaspheming the Holy Spirit, it says “some” here, referring to the those standing around, not only Pharisees but perhaps a crowd that consisted of ordinary folk and more than just the religious elite.
In any case, Jesus gives a logical argument that I think is important enough to examine when it comes to understanding the history of Satan: Satan will not work against himself, he will not work against his own plans. We know Satan doesn’t want people to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior; thus, Satan will always work to snatch the Word of God from their hearts so that they do not believe. Satan will never work to encourage people to be saved. We see Satan contradicting the Word of the Lord in Genesis with Adam and Eve; that is his job. He will never encourage people to hear the Word of the Lord and obey the Lord’s voice. To do that would be to work against himself.
Satan will never encourage humans to live; that’s the reason why he tempts Jesus with suicide and tempts believers and non-believers alike today. The Lord God wants us to live, but Satan wants us to die so that he alone can conquer our souls. Satan wants us to lose all faith in God, then take our lives so as to play God (though it’s impossible to usurp the Lord’s power because we complete suicide). Satan will never encourage us to live, or show us what we have to live for, or remind us that we are soldiers in the army of the Lord and that we are to fight until our last breath. Learning about this history of Satan and just how Satan works, I pray, will motivate us to recognize his schemes and to understand that depression and suicidal thoughts come from Satan. Satan’s voice may be comforting at times, but he comes to encourage us to end our lives, not live them to the fullest.
He doesn’t want suicide victims to live another day because, if they live, they could turn to God and leave his clutches. If he can kill believers by getting them to complete suicide, then so be it. Suicide prevents Satan from having to do any hard work to win another soul because the person does Satan’s dirty work for him. Suicide victims, in the mind of Satan, are too easy to win. This is why we who believe in the Lord should do all we can to avoid suicide and we should preach the gospel to our neighbors, friends, and acquaintances we meet who seem so hopeless about what they’re going through. When suicidal thoughts come up from someone we’re talking to, we should do everything to tell them about the Friend who sticks closer than a brother, Jesus Christ.
Jesus explains in the text that Satan’s kingdom can’t stand if Satan is fighting against himself. If Satan wants to encourage demon possession and see demons possess humans, then the last thing Satan would ever do is cast out the same demons that are working to accomplish his purposes. Thus, if Satan does not cast out demons, and demons are being cast out, then the Kingdom of God has arrived on earth. It doesn’t make sense for Satan to try to get demons out of people when he, the ruler of the demons, sends the demons to do his bidding. To send the demons, then undo what they’re doing, would be nothing short of self-sabotage.
Scripture tells us that the Lord doesn’t force people to sin, doesn’t provoke them to sin, because that goes against who He is:
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (James 1:13-15)
James says that God does not tempt anyone because He Himself is not tempted by evil. God doesn’t tempt anyone because tempting believers is not in His nature or character. He is not the Tempter, Satan is, which explains why Satan tempts but God does not. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness in the Gospels, it was Satan tempting Jesus – not the Lord. The Holy Spirit was there with Jesus while He was being baptized and after the Spirit carried Him into the wilderness. And after the temptations from Satan, Satan departed and 1) the angels ministered to Him as well as the Spirit. In every temptation we face today, the Lord gives us a way of escape to bear the temptation without giving in to it (1 Corinthians 10:13). If the Lord does not tempt believers because it’s not in His character, then Satan will never cast out demons because that isn’t in his character.
Luke 13 shows how Satan works in Jesus’ ministry, or, rather, how Jesus had been working before the time of Christ’s ministry: he had been binding humans in their sicknesses. We’ve already seen this with demon possession, which seems to have been extremely rampant in Jesus’ day, that Satan is the leader of the demons, and that the demons do Satan’s bidding. We’ve also seen demon possession trap the Gerasene Demoniac, who had a legion of demons inside himself. Still, the demons bowed before Jesus and begged Him not to torment them as of yet – which means that even the demons tremble before God. So, despite Satan’s stronghold over the human race, the Lord came to heal humanity of its diseases, sicknesses, illnesses, and sin-sick souls.
Here in Luke 13, though, Jesus frees a woman from an illness that Jesus says had her bound by Satan for 18 years:
10 And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all.12 When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.” 13 And He laid His hands on her; and immediately she was made erect again and began glorifying God. 14 But the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the crowd in response, “There are six days in which work should be done; so come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him? 16 And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As He said this, all His opponents were being humiliated; and the entire crowd was rejoicing over all the glorious things being done by Him. (Luke 13:10-17)
A woman had been bound by Satan in her infirmity for 18 years. The Lord decides to heal her, and the complaint by the synagogue official is that those who want to be healed should come on the first 6 days, not the seventh because the seventh day to be kept “holy” and noone was to do work in it. Jesus reveals that the woman had been “bound by Satan,” and we see that the beginning of the quoted passage says that the woman “had a sickness caused by a spirit,” meaning that she was bound in her infirmity by a demon sent from Satan. The sickness was caused by a spirit, and Jesus came to do away with infirmities and sicknesses, then it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Satan, Jesus’ adversary, is behind the woman’s infirmity.
Jesus’ response to the synagogue ruler is interesting. The synagogue ruler says that those who want to be healed should only come for healing on the first 6 days of the week; there was to be no work (and thus, no healing, on the seventh day). But Jesus tells him that his response to healing makes no sense whatsoever: if they’d rescue an ox or donkey and give it water on the Sabbath Day, then why not rescue a human on the Sabbath Day? Why is it that they’d prioritize an animal over a human being? Notice that Jesus calls the woman “a daughter of Abraham” in Luke 13:16. This was a reference to Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, to remind them that Abraham and thus, sons and daughters of Abraham, are special to the Lord and precious in His sight, far above beasts and animals.
Jesus said the same thing to His disciples earlier in His ministry:
25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:25-33)
And again in the chapter prior to Jesus’ encounter with the woman with an infirmity for 18 years, Luke 12:
22 And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! 25 And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? 26 If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!29 And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. (Luke 12:22-31)
Jesus Himself said that humans matter more to God than the birds of the ar and the lilies of the field: “how much more valuable you are than the birds!” Thus, if we are more important than the birds and the lilies, then God will take care of us. In the context of Luke 13, Jesus was saying that the daughter of Abraham who had been healed of her infirmity that was caused by an evil spirit (the work of Satan, who Jesus says bound her) was more important than the ox and the donkey that the people would rescue from danger. In other words, the Sabbath day is a day to do good, and that the good done on that day is as holy to the Lord (if not more) as doing nothing on that day and staying at home. The prohibition against work on the Sabbath may seem as if it forbids even doing good, but the Lord Jesus says in Matthew 12, for example, that those who do good are blameless before the Law.
The Lord Jesus credits Satan with this woman’s infirmity, meaning that the spirit causing her sickness was definitely an evil spirit. At the end of the day, Satan will use anything he can to imprison and bind the people of God. After 18 years for this daughter of Abraham, the Lord Jesus healed her. And, with the miracles the Lord is doing, and how He cast out demons and gave that same authority to His disciples, He is unraveling the Kingdom of Satan. With every person being set free from their sickness, Jesus was “kicking” Satan out of Heaven. And today, Jesus is still “kicking” Satan out of Heaven; Satan is “falling from Heaven like lightning,” as Jesus says in Luke 10.
And one day, Satan’s expulsion from Heaven will be complete.
An Introduction to the History of Satan
1. Satan as Dragon and Angel
2. Satan as Serpent and Tempter
3. Satan in Zechariah and Isaiah
4. Satan and Judas
5. Judas and the Doctrine of Apostasy
6. Judas and Suicide
7. Theology of Life and Death
8. Satan, Jesus, and Temptation
9. Peter and Judas, A Comparison
10. Satan in Jesus’ Ministry