What can be drawn from Jesus' ministry regarding the character of demons & their activity in the world?
One of the negative aspects of the Enlightenment has been the rejection of the “non-empirical” which would include the spiritual realm and by extension demons (yet ironically the early enlightenment thinkers bowed down to the flame of reason...). However, Jesus the only omniscient man, “never discounted the reality of the demonic world (Elwell, 811)1. Since darkness conceals sinister things, demons (“unclean spirits,” “evil spirits,”) are the fallen angels that have inhabited the world since the creation, but at Christ's arrival, He initiated the advancement of the “kingdom of light” which “roll[ed] back the long unchallenged frontiers of darkness (Howell, 63).
It was in the light of Jesus' preaching in the synagogue of Capernaum that the demon afflicted man cried out and identified Jesus as the “Holy One of God!” It's hard to say whether the demon was trying to derail Jesus ministry by stirring up controversy using the Messianic title (Howell, 63), or whether the evil spirit was merely voicing alarm at Christ's identity and thus the imminent destruction of the kingdom of evil (Elwell, 768). (The former certainly implies a level of order and plotting by Satan and his cohorts to undermine Christ's mission and may indicate a similar level of opposition still present today). Regardless, Jesus silenced and removed the demon since it would have been “altogether inappropriate that Jesus' Messiahship should be proclaimed by representatives of the evil one,” which would not only have drawn miracle-seeking crowds ambivalent to Christ’s suffering servant mission but could have also led to grounds for a charge that Satan was Jesus' ally (Thomas/Gundry footnote, 59)2. In recognizing the role and sinister machinations of demons in our world, we should engage in spiritual warfare by following Christ's quick and decisive example of exorcising the demon in the power of the Spirit and by following scripture's wisdom on these matters such as Paul's exhortation of “do not handle, do not taste, do not touch” regarding the elemental spirits of the world (Colossians 2:20-21). Anything further, as proposed by some Christians, including dangerous interviews, elaborate struggles, and unhealthy pursuits, is merely playing with demons, since the sword of the Spirit (that is the Word of God) is the only authorized weapon in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Brett Yardley: Warrior for Christ. Devoted Husband. Proud Father. Martial Artist. Hopeful Philosopher & Theologian. Aspiring Teacher & Writer.