While Satan continued to harass Jesus after the wilderness temptations, especially through his demons, no direct overt attack is recorded until Jesus is half way through His ministry, about a year and a half after Jesus’ baptism and temptation.
Jesus had proclaimed Himself as the Messiah (‘Christ’) for two years. Some responded but most turned away, following the lead of the religious rulers who completely rejected Jesus and His claims. He did miracles to authenticate His authority and to show His power. If He can heal a body then He can certainly heal a soul as well.
One day Jesus went to Capernaum (Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37), His new home and the home of several of His disciples. While teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath a demonized man 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!” (Mark 1:24) Jesus commanded the demon to be quiet and leave the man, which he did after shaking the man and causing a loud shriek to be heard. Naturally, everyone was amazed and word of this soon spread throughout the whole area. With this event the battle between Satan and Jesus moved to a new level.
LESSON FOR TODAY: The Greek word doimonizomai (“demonizing“) refers to one who is heavily impacted by demons. It is used 15 times in the New Testament. The term “demonizing” does not differentiate between possession (demons within) or influence (demons without). God doesn’t make that clarification or distinction, and we shouldn’t try to make it, either. We don’t need to know the exact extent of demonizing, just that it is taking place. The cause is the same, as are the symptoms and so is the cure In the spiritual realm there are no clear-cut divisions like we try to make (demons ‘within’ or ‘without’, etc.). There are, of course, degrees of demonizing depending on the person, the demons involved, the access, and other factors, but it isn’t always possible or necessary to pinpoint what is ‘without’ and what is ‘within’.
Other words the Bible uses for ‘demonizing’ are “entered in” (as when Satan entered into Judas – John 13:27) and “filled” (Acts 5:5 about Ananias and Saphira, the same word that is used of believers being filled with the Holy Spirit). The common denominator is that the person being demonized usually doesn’t separate his own consciousness from the demonic influence. He assumes that the thoughts and feelings the demon feeds him are his own. A person always has a free will to turn to God for help, but when followed these demonic impulses bring one deeper and deeper into bondage. Perhaps demonizing can be better understood by thinking of it as a kind of spiritual hypnotism from within. Hypnotism of any kind is something for God’s people to avoid (Psalm 54:4-5; Joshua 1:8; Philippians 4:8).
LESSON FOR TODAY: How many demons were involved in this incident? “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!” Usually there is more than one demon involved when someone is demonized, there is a structured organization. Satan organizes his demons in the same manner God has angels organized – in a military-like structure. These are similar to generals, colonels, majors, lieutenants, sergeants, corporals, privates, etc. (Ephesians 6:12). Usually a “strong man” (or ruler) is assigned to a task, and he has lesser demons under his command to help in the work (Matthew 12:25-29; Daniel 10:2-6, 12-14). The names of these demons usually refer to their work (“Fear,” “Anger,” “Lust,” “Pride,” “Deception,” etc.). In this case the ruling demon is the one speaking (“I”) for the others who are part of the group working against this man (“us”).
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)