Session #067 What Demons Know
Scripture Matthew 8:28-34
Summary Matthew 8:28-34 is the first detailed account of demons being cast out. From this encounter between Jesus and the demonized men, we can learn quite a lot from what demons know. Henson draws 9 points from this passage to remind believers that the spiritual realm is very real, that the battle rages on between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness.
When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding. So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.” And He said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water. Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region. So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. Matthew 8:28–9:1
From this encounter between Jesus and the demonized men, we can learn quite a lot from what demons know. It reminds believers that the spiritual realm is very real, that the battle rages on between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness.
Getting Two Issues Out of the Way First
Gergesa or Gadara? (Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:1-17)
Gergesa in Matthew is a place on the eastern (Golan Heights) side of the Sea of Galilee located at some distance to the ancient Decapolis cities of Gadara. The people were known as Girgashites and records of them being mentioned are in Genesis 15:21, Deuteronomy 7:1; and Joshua 24:11.
Mark and Luke recorded that the miracle took place in Gadara, which is a fortified capital of Peraea, or the region east of Jordan. It was situated by Tiberias and Scythopolis, in or near the range of mountains bordering the eastern shore of Lake Galilee and the valley of the Jordan.
Where did the miracle take place? Both were in the region of Decapolis, a Gentile area with a large Jewish population. Both had a presence of pig farming, which is not a typical Jewish occupation as pigs are considered Unclean (Leviticus 11:7; Deuteronomy 14:8).
Gergesa was within the larger capital region of Gadara. Origen who was a 3rd-century theologian and early church father, says that a city called Gergesa stood on the eastern shore of the Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee), and that the precipice was still pointed down which the swine rushed. This drew a conclusion that it was most likely Gergesa was where the swine ran over the steep cliff descriptor. Even if it is Gadara, it does not affect the story at all. Just that the swine would have had to run a lot further to the Sea of Galilee.
One or two demoniacs? Mark and Luke record 1 while Matthew has 2
Matthean’s characteristic was written to a Jewish audience with a requirement of Jewish Law to provide two witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15). We see that with the healing of the blind as Matthew 9:27-31 records that there were two blind men whilst Mark 10:46-52 records only one.
We need to focus on the more prominent character, Jesus. For example, a reporter interviews one survivor of a mass shooting. This does not mean there were no other survivors. Does not conflict with another report with three survivor interviews. The number does not affect the story at all.
What Demons Know: Lessons We Can Learn From Demons
Demons are Real
Demon-possession was broadly mentioned in Matthew 4:24 and 8:16. The first account with details is found in Matthew 8:28-24.
Daimonizamai is Greek which means to be demonized, or under the power of a demon. The word daimon (demon), literally means a god. Greeks considered daimon as strange gods, evil and wicked in nature; as opposed to theos who are good gods like Thor, Zeus and Hercules. Daimonizamai is synonymous with unclean, evil and wicked spirits.
Satan and fallen angels (Luke 10:17–18)
Jesus linked Satan, demons and spirits together, and gave disciples authority over “the power of the enemy”.
It is a kingdom that is organized with hierarchy. Satan is the king of this kingdom of darkness
(Ephesians 6:12). Beelzebub is called the prince or ruler of demons in Matthew 12:24-30. We can conclude that demons take on the nature of Satan to carry out his purposes.
Usually Found Wandering in Desolate Places
The encounters with them are recorded in tombs (Matthew 8:28), mountainous regions (Mark 5:5), wilderness or desert (Luke 8:29), and dry places (Luke 11:24). Hence, they seek a dwelling place, if not man, then animals. However, their purpose is that of destruction as opposed to God’s purposes of shalom and restoration.
Can Christians be possessed by demons?
There are differing views.
The negative stance says that you are God’s possession and a temple of the Holy Spirit which has no biblical basis. Those who say yes, usually argue from experience and observation.
Discernment needed to distinguish between demonic possession and demonic oppression
Sometimes what is described as demonic possession is really a case of severe demonic oppression. Is the person a believer? Or just carrying the Christian label?
Christians who presume nothing will happen to them or are clueless about the dangers of the spiritual realm. Persisting in sin or dabbling in the occult such as ouija boards, yoga, consulting mediums, and fortune tellers opens a very big door to demonic oppression and influence; and possibly demonic possession.
Paul warned the Corinthians to “flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14), and not to have “fellowship with demons” (1 Corinthians 10:20). The key principle is that if you pursue holiness and the things of the kingdom, demonic possession is not in question.
Demons are Dangerous (Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:3)
Both books record that they are very strong and powerful, and very dangerous. They oppose God and His creation and are morally evil. Their modus operandi is lies, deception, sickness, death, and destruction.
The purpose is to destroy God’s creation through sickness, both physical and mental, gender and sexual confusion, suicide, murder (abortion, genocide, mass shootings) and death. It is not just the one who is possessed, but also the relationships around him.
Demons Know Jesus (Matthew 8:29. Mark 5:7; Luke 4:34)
The demons were able to identify who Jesus is, acknowledging that Jesus is more than just a man, calling Him, Son of God (Matthew 8:29, Mark 5:7, Luke 4:34; Luke 4:41). The disciples asked “What man is this’ in Matthew 8:26 and the demons declared His identity here.
The demons worshipped Jesus as Mark records that the demon-possessed man “ran and worshipped” Jesus. Was it the man or the demons who worshipped? Philippians 2:10-11 says “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”. Even demons must bow to Jesus and worship Him, whether willingly or not.
The demons begged Jesus to send them into the pigs, “If (first-class conditional: when) you cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine…” With one word from Jesus. “Go” they went. They know they have no say in the matter.
Demons really know who Jesus is. Do we? Do we really know the Jesus we worship? Do we know our King?
Demons Have Faith in Jesus (James 2:19)
It is one thing to know and it is another to believe. They believe that what God says He will do to them, He will do. That’s why they tremble. They take God at His Word, do we?
It is one thing to believe. It is another to respond rightly after saying that we believe. Demons tremble. What about us Christians who claim to believe in Jesus? How do we respond? Do we heed His warnings? Or do we ignore the tough parts?
Demons are Obedient to Jesus (Mark 5:9; Matthew 8:32)
What Jesus says, goes. They cannot cross the line if Jesus does not allow them to cross the line. They must stop when Jesus tells them to stop. They must leave when Jesus tells them to leave.
We have that same authority in Jesus’ Name. Demons must obey the name of Jesus. Do we obey as the demons do? Or are demons more obedient than us?
Demons Know (understand) the Times (Matthew 8:29)
“What have we to do with You? Don’t bother us! Why have you come to disturb us?” The demons knew that it is before the appointed time (kairos) and that they are not due to be tormented yet. So they plead with Jesus asking Him to send them into the swine.
At the end of the age, demons will be imprisoned, judged, and tormented in the abyss (Luke 8:31). The abyss is the abode of the dead (Romans 10:7) and it is a bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1,3) where they will be confined for 1,000 years and then released. After which the devil will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10; Matthew 25:41).
The Now and Not Yet of the Kingdom
The kingdom of God is at hand. The rule and reign of God are announced and declared. Man is invited to accept this King and enter His kingdom. Demons are given notice but demonic activity continues as it is not time yet.
Demons are cast out but not bound yet. Demons are cast out but not destroyed yet. Satan and his demons know that their time is short (Revelation 12:12). Do we know and understand the times?
Demons are No Match for the King (and His Kingdom)
Do not be fooled to think that God and Satan are equals. God is God, and there is no other.
Satan and his demons may be powerful but they are no match for Jesus and His kingdom.
The power and authority of the kingdom are demonstrated by the King Himself. Matthew has already recorded the Messiah’s authority over sickness, disease, natural elements. Jesus has all authority over the spiritual realm too. Demons have to bow to Him. They must obey.
This same power and authority is given to those who align with the King, align with His kingdom and move on kingdom assignment. Then the seventy returned with joy, saying “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” Luke 10:17. We have the name of Jesus. Demons have to obey this name. We are ambassadors of the kingdom. We are not afraid of demons. Demons are afraid of us because we are authorized by the King. It is not just about casting out demons but setting people free. It is to rescue people trapped in the kingdom of darkness and bring them into the kingdom of the Son, of light and of love.
It is not just a powerful performance but a destroying of the works of the devil and his demons (1 John 3:8).
“He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
Demon-Casters are Not Always Appreciated (Matthew 8:33-9:1)
After the men were freed from the demons, the pig farmers lost their business. The townspeople were upset that their livelihood was disrupted, giving no thought that the two are now set free.
Who cares about these individuals? Many people want no disruption to their lives as seen in Acts 16:16-24 when Paul delivers a slave girl from the spirit of divination, and he and Silas were arrested and flogged. In Matthew 12:24, Pharisees called Jesus Beelzebub as the religious establishment could not understand the miracles and deliverances and wanted to keep the status quo.
Not everyone will appreciate or accept the good news of the kingdom. Many are happy to remain as they are. Do not rock the boat.
From Demonised to Deputised: Ex-demoniac Receives His Kingdom Assignment (Luke 8:38-39)
There is a desire to follow Jesus but He sends them away. There is a time to follow and a time to be sent.
Once demonized and then set free, he was told by Jesus to share his testimony. Jesus just left, putting him in charge of proclaiming the good news. How’s that for a kingdom assignment? No training? No curriculum? Just “tell what great things God has done for you.”
And he proclaimed “what great things Jesus had done for him.” What has Jesus done for you is the strongest testimony you have.
The Area of Operation can be your own house. Start with that. Be faithful in the small things.
There are possible challenges and opposition as the region just chased Jesus out. His family may or not accept these ex-demoniacs. Maybe they would be next to be chased out or persecuted.
Jesus is King of kings and He has power and authority over all – physical and spiritual; natural and supernatural. We have the same power and authority, in the name of Jesus.
Demons are defeated enemies. We do not have to be afraid of them at all. Do not give the devil and his demons so much credit.
Most of the time, it is our own sinfulness and weakness in the flesh that get us into trouble or keep us from the things of God. The enemy can only use these to their advantage to keep us from loving and serving Jesus, from our kingdom assignments.
If you have experienced the good news of the King and His kingdom, you are ready to move on kingdom assignment.