We read of Jesus’ encounters with evil spirits in the New Testament. For example, while Jesus taught in the synagogue in Capernaum, a man suddenly cried out, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God.’ 1 The question is, is a man with an evil spirit an ancient phenomenon, or do we find it today in our modern world?
# The profile of the man in the synagogue
- It looks as if the people in the synagogue meeting were unaware that the man had an evil spirit (was under the influence of one of Satan’s demons).
- He must have been an ordinary member of the synagogue, a Jew who probably had a work, a family and was in all aspects a ‘normal’ man. We usually think that a person with an evil spirit would behave like the two demon-possessed men Jesus met in the region of the Gadarenes, 2 not like a ‘normal’ man who attends a synagogue.
# What the demon recognised.
- The demon immediately knew who Jesus was – ‘the Holy One of God.’
- He asked what Jesus wanted from them [note the plural]. Did Jesus come to destroy them?
- Mark 2:34b says, ‘…but He [Jesus] would not let the demons speak because they knew who He was.’ Demons (evil spirits or fallen angels) recognised Jesus immediately, because they were originally in God’s employ as holy angels who rebelled and were thrown out of heaven. 3
# What does the Bible teach about evil spirits?
- Someone with an evil spirit does not necessarily run around naked, screams and causes havoc. A demonised man can function in society, have a work, a family and appear as Joe Citizen, a good man.
- People betray that they are demonised (oppressed by an evil spirit) when they recognise Jesus and are hostile to Him.
# Is there such demon activity today?
- We cannot discuss all the curses, railings, persecutions, discriminating laws and blaspheming against God, Scripture and the Church. We see it all over society, especially in the Western World. Followers of Jesus are well aware of it. This ‘raging war’ against an invisible Trinity, a ‘strange’ book with fairy tales (according to them) and a basically peaceful Church, is proof of the activity of evil spirits in people.
- From Scripture we know that the devil and his demons hate God. They ‘infiltrate’ people and influence them. That causes people to hate and persecute everyone and everything that has to do with Jesus.
Two thousand years ago Jesus encountered a man influenced by an evil spirit. That gives us a clue to understand the present time with its anti-God agenda.
- Mark 1:21-26
- Matthew 8:28-29
- Revelation 12:7-9
The next blog is Part 2. ‘How do we react towards people filled with an evil spirit?’