Are Demons Involved in Sickness? (Mark 5:1-17)
My topic for today is the question “Are Demons Involved in Sickness?” The topic of demons is rarely addressed in churches today. At Life Church, we base our teaching on God’s Word. If it’s in God’s Word, it’s there for a reason, so we need to understand what the Bible says about the demonic. In this message series, we’ve seen that Jesus’ ministry involved two major aspects, healing and teaching God’s Word. Let’s look at Peter’s summary of Jesus’ ministry in
Acts 10:38 (NIV) how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
This interesting verse indicates that those Jesus healed were under the power of or oppressed by the devil. When Jesus healed a sick person, they were set free from their sickness or illness. Why isn’t Satan or the demonic talked about more? Part of it is that people just don’t believe in Satan much anymore. A recent survey by George Barna indicated that only 34% of people who claim to be Christians in America believe that Satan is real. Most believe Satan is simply a symbol of evil, but the Bible takes Satan very seriously.
In the New Testament, there are over 194 references to Satan or demons. In the New Testament, there are 204 references to angels (many in the book of Revelation). You can’t read very far in the Gospels or the book of Acts without encountering the demonic. So this is not a minor topic in the Bible. The Christian writer C.S. Lewis in the classic Screwtape Letters wrote “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils (demons). One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” The Bible takes a balanced view of the topic and so must we.
What are demons? Demons are fallen angels and Satan is simply the top fallen angel. Demons are referred to in the Bible as unclean or evil spirits. They do not have bodies, but they can influence, oppress or possess people or animals. In the Bible, the Greek word daimonizomai is unfortunately usually translated as demon possessed. So, most people assume, you’re either possessed or not, yes or no. A better translation of the word would be demonized which would indicate a continuum of demonic influence. All the way from oppression to full-blown possession.
The story we’re going to be looking at today is one of full-blown possession, not just by one demon, but by many demons. Yet, as we read many other accounts in the Scripture, we see many different degrees of demonic influence that were healed by Jesus and others. Although believers can’t be completely possessed, they can certainly be oppressed and influenced in many ways.