Many places they went, Jesus and the apostles encountered demonic activity, often manifested in bizarre behavior and physical diseases. In Philippi, Paul cast out a demon that had enslaved a servant girl. Many other incidents of demon possession are recorded in the New Testament. Why isn’t this happening today? Or is it?
Today, missionaries working in animist, Hindu, and Buddhist cultures, as well as other societies where voodoo and witchcraft are widespread, do often see things that may reflect the demonic activity described in the Bible. The West has its share of Satan worshippers, too, who overtly practice occult rituals.
Some rock groups and other contemporary music groups over the past few decades have even been openly satanic. Yet demonic possession is seldom noted. Evidently, demons rarely show themselves in the same way in the “enlightened” Western world. But it may also be that the West’s anti-supernatural mentality keeps us from recognizing their activity.
Indeed, the West’s increasing opposition to belief in the supernatural is an even stronger indication of demonic deception.
From the beginning of time, views that question God’s authority have had a demonic or satanic origin. When he deceived Eve in the garden, Satan became “the god of this age” who “has blinded the minds of unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 4:4, NIV) and who “deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). Paul tells us that whenever people sacrifice to idols, they are actually sacrificing to demons (1 Corinthians 10:19–20). That is as true today as it was in Old Testament times and the days of Jesus and Paul.
Demonic activity is not limited to obvious visitations and dramatic displays of possession. Paul warned Christians about doctrines of demons infiltrating the church (1 Timothy 4:1), and he said that Satan could disguise himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:11–14). Not long ago in American history, for instance, Joseph Smith claimed to have received the doctrines of Mormonism from an “angel of light.” If that claim is true, the angel must have been a demon, because he taught a false gospel.1
In his well-documented book, The Long War Against God, the late Dr. Henry Morris argues that evolution itself is a very ancient idea that ultimately can be traced back to the Garden of Eden, when Satan questioned God’s truthfulness. The widespread acceptance of evolution (including millions of years and the big bang) is strong evidence of the continuing work of Satan and demons.
Thankfully, there is no reason to fear demons. By His death and resurrection, Jesus defeated the “god of this world” and guaranteed that one day all his evil work will be destroyed (1 John 3:8; Hebrews 2:14–15). Through Christ’s victory Christians have power to resist the devil, and he will flee. (James 4:7). The final place for Satan and all the fallen angels (demons) will be the eternal lake of fire with all who have not trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:10; 21:8). So God’s children can—and must—boldly go out and declare the eternal salvation Christ offers through the gospel (Matthew 28:18–20).
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