Let us look a little further into the nature of possession and the location of a spirit. Christ Himself identified the fact that he effectively ‘travelled' from God and would go back again. Here He is clearly referring to His spirit which can reside in different locations albeit one at a time. Unusually, His disciples are confirming (no doubt for the benefit of us who follow) that His statement is in no ways meant symbolically but is a literal statement of reality:
28 I came out from the Father and have come into the world; I leave the world again and go to the Father.
29 His disciples said to Him, Behold, now You speak plainly and You say no allegory. (John 16)
This is further iterated in Hebrews where the home of God is confirmed as the true reality, the products of men's hands being no more than a copy. This further emphasises that the spiritual transcends the physical, which is the very opposite of the bulk of mankind's perception:
24 For Christ entered, not into a holy place made with hands, which is a copy of the reality, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the person of God for us. (Hebrews 9)
As if any further confirmation were required, God's location was firmly established many centuries earlier in the Old Testament scriptures:
4 Jehovah is in His holy temple; Jehovah, His throne is in the heavens; His eyes see; His eyelids will examine the sons of man. (Psalms 11)
Not only in a location but also God's spirit resides in a body (check out my earlier paper: The Body of God) since He has declared that He has a soul:
14 My soul hates your new moons and your appointed feasts. They are a burden to Me. I am weary of bearing them. (Isaiah 1)
It is interesting to compare the possessions of demons with that of Christ Himself. In the case of the demons we have seen that their possessions of men (and animals) require permission and are strictly regulated by the Holy Spirit. It is a bit like their terms of parole upon a temporary release from prison. In Christ's case, however, it would seem that Michael was given free rein whereby He ‘emptied Himself' thereby exiting His spirit from His Archangelic body. This He was, apparently, able to exercise without seeking permission, presumably since this was in His agreement with Jehovah to freely take possession over the earthly body of Jesus whilst, at the same time, expelling the spirit of Emmanuel:
5 For think this within you, which mind was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who subsisting in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God,
7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, having become in the likeness of men (Philippians 2)
Michael exited Jesus' body upon His death as is the case for all flesh upon the first death. However, as opposed to all earthling men who enter a sleeping angel in Heaven to await their judgement, Michael paid a visit to the demons in Tartarus to attempt to gain their redemption. So Michael's spirit made the trip from Jesus' dead body to Tartarus. Whilst His exit from Jesus was enforced by His physical death, His visit to Tartarus was no doubt again a matter for His free choice:
18 Because even Christ once suffered concerning sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God; indeed being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit;
19 in which also, going in to the spirits in prison, He then proclaimed (1 Peter 3)
One further point to take from this is that possession into a human form can clearly only take place into a viable body. This viability would seem to be the same as for humans. A body may be severely damaged but can still sustain a spirit host up to the point that actual death occurs (reference my earlier paper: The Brain's Capability Compared with that of the Spirit).
Apart from this point, it is clear that Jesus had the power to enforce all the demonic spirits to exit the man's body back to Tartarus or to lower level animalistic souls, e.g. the herd of swine that Legion wished to be sent into.
I found it interesting that three different Greek words (indicated in the text above) have been used in the account of Legion to describe Jesus' requirements on the evil spirits. Whilst I am not a student of NT Greek, to enable me to fully comprehend the nuances in meaning between the three words, it would seem that the common thread between them is Jesus' will which appears to have the power over the demons' placement. Now this is not the first time that we find that a powerful spirit's will is enough to effect significant events:
2 and the earth being without form and empty, and darkness on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God moving gently on the face of the waters,
3 then God said, Let light be! And there was light. (Genesis 1)
From this it is clear that spirits have power over the physical elements, but what is not so clear is how some spirits have power over other spirits, as in the case of Jesus' power over a legion of demons. It would appear from the Genesis creation story that God's Holy Spirit, 144,000 angels, carried out God's will. So presumably the same Holy Spirit is responsible for imprisoning and controlling the demons' activities as previously indicated in Matthew 12:28.
Legion is not the only account of possession by multiple demonic spirits. Mary Magdalene had such an experience albeit not to such an extreme degree:
2 also certain women who were healed from evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, having been called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, (Luke 8)
Now one could consider that Mary's seven possessions took place one at a time. However, why was the number seven as opposed to six or eight? I think the bible here is confirming to us that group visits by demons of seven at a time, as discussed above, was not an isolated occurrence and was therefore an established rule of engagement. In I22 Satan, demon possession and the gifts of the spirit of the TBC web-site we introduce the notion that some groups of seven demons have to share a single soul in Gehenna. This could clearly act as part of their ‘binding in chains' perhaps, their communal prison cell if you will, and might also well explain why these ‘group' movements of demonic spirits are allowed to take place.
Not only was Jesus granted the powers of the spirit to expel demons but this was a transitive power which he was able to pass on to his disciples and the seventy other followers. Demons were apparently expelled by these ones in the name of Christ:
14 And He made disciples of twelve, that they might be with Him; and that He might send them to proclaim,
15 and to have authority to heal diseases, and to cast out the demons. (Mark 3)
1 And having called together His twelve disciples, He gave them power and authority over all the demons, and to heal diseases. (Luke 9)
17 And the seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us through Your Name.
18 And He said to them, I saw Satan falling out of Heaven as lightning!
19 Behold, I have given you the authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and on all the power of the hostile one, and nothing shall hurt you, no, never! (Luke 10)
As an interesting aside Luke 10:17 above symbolises Satan's fall to earth as lightning. The physics of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes shows that, not only do the electrical discharges travel downwards from the clouds, but streamers travel upwards from the earth to meet them. This sounds like the perfect metaphor for possessions in that, whilst the demonic spirit travels down to possess a human body, that body's human spirit travels instantaneously in the opposite direction to occupy its place in a sleeping angelic body during the period of demonic possession. Whilst first century mankind would not have understood this aspect of lightning strikes, Jesus certainly would have done. He also, no doubt, realised that 21st century man would also understand the physics of lightning strikes, thereby allowing His end-times church to confirm their current (pun totally intended!) understandings of possession. For more details on the phenomenon of lightning check out the ‘howtuffworks' web-site at: http://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/natural-disasters/lightning4.htm
The above accounts of demon possession all occurred during Christ's ministry so that Jesus and His disciples could demonstrate their powers over the demons. Now, some two millennia later, it would seem that we are soon to be in for another (albeit terminal) bout of demon possession during the end times:
7 And war occurred in Heaven, Michael and his angels making war against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels made war,
8 but they did not have strength, nor yet was place found for them in Heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, the old serpent being called devil, and, Satan; he deceiving the whole habitable world was cast out onto the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelation 12)
So, as we were told earlier in Jude 1:6, the demons are to be released from their prison, prior to judgement day, at the start of the end-times. From this point the angelic forces of good and evil will be allowed to do battle. The Dragon's losing this war seems to be explained by his not having the (spiritual) strength of Michael and His army. We will come back to this point shortly.
This time around, however, I would have to say that it is not entirely clear whether we are looking at demon possession or demonic manifestation. The view within the Lords' Witnesses is that we are probably looking at demon possession of corrupt officials in the world's governments, churches and corporations into which the demons would be allowed to go (I22 Satan, demon possession and the gifts of the spirit). Whilst I have not carried out a formal decoding of the symbolic meaning behind the following later verses in Revelation, they do seem to support the possession theory:
13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
14 For they are spirits of demons doing signs, which go forth to the kings of the earth, even of the whole habitable world to assemble them to the war of that day, the great day of God Almighty. (Revelation 16)
2 And he cried in a strong, great voice, saying, Babylon the great has fallen! It has fallen, and it has become a dwelling-place of demons, and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean bird, even having been hated,
3 because of the wine of the anger of her fornication which all the nations have drunk, even the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her; and the merchants of the earth became rich from the power of her luxury. (Revelation 18)
This whole scenario seems to be further iterated by Paul in his epistle to the Ephesian congregation. In this he is drawing the battle lines between the earthly and heavenly dark forces ranged against the powers of the Saints:
10 Finally, go on acquiring power in [the] Lord and in the mightiness of his strength.
11 Put on the complete suit of armour from God that YOU may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil;
12 because we have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6)
As in the first century this will also be accompanied by a visitation from the First New Covenant (1NC) Saints, with their powers of the spirit, this time coming from their heavenly home. In addition, however this will come together with another Pentecost event in which the Second New Covenant (2NC) Kings will also be given these powers:
1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2)
In looking at the above account in Revelation 12, it is clear that the 1NCs who battle with the demons clearly have the beating of the demons. Just how this defeat will actually take place we cannot say at this time since we do not know what the weapons of choice in a heavenly battle would be. However it does appear that the 1NCs are granted with greater power or strength than the demons although the nature of that strength still appears beyond our current knowledge. From our small analysis thus far I am willing to bet that it is the strength of a spirit's will that may be the key. Perhaps the natural strength of a righteous spirit is somehow stronger than that of his unrighteous demonic counterpart. This may well be the basis on which God created His spirit sons. If I am given no further spiritual guidance on this matter beforehand I guess I will have to await the next Pentecost to find out for myself first hand!
The Power of God's Spirit
Without explaining the precise mechanism for demon expulsion, Jesus explained to the Pharisees that it was by means of God's spirit:
28 But if I cast out the demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come on you.
29 Or how is anyone able to enter the house of the strong one and plunder his goods, if he does not first bind the strong one; and then he will plunder his house? (Matthew 12)
So it would seem that the power behind demon expulsion is somehow provided by the Holy Spirit which disables the demonic spirit thereby enabling it to be transported against its will. The concept of ‘binding' a spirit to disable it appears to be necessary although exactly in what form spiritual binding takes place is not precisely defined. I expect mere humans would, as yet, not be able to understand the concept anyway. Revelation tells us how Satan himself was seized and imprisoned although exactly what strength of force and methods of containment are required to restrain a powerful demonic spirit are not spelled out in anything other than purely human terms of imprisonment:
1 And I saw an angel coming down out of Heaven, having the key of the abyss, and a great chain on his hand.
2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the old serpent who is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 and threw him into the abyss, and shut him up, and sealed over him, that he should not still lead astray the nations, until the thousand years are fulfilled. And after these things, he must be set loose a little time. (Revelation 20)
Ultimately all power and might is from God so I guess He decides who and how to provide that strength to:
6 and said, O Jehovah, the God of our fathers, are not You the God in Heaven? Yea, You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is power and might; and there is none able to withstand You. (2 Chronicles 20)
Clearly the same is true of the demons possessing a human soul in that they also have the power to expel the owner's spirit from his/her body:
21 `When the strong man armed may keep his hall, in peace are his goods;
22 but when the stronger than he, having come upon [him], may overcome him, his whole-armour he doth take away in which he had trusted, and his spoils he distributeth; (Luke 11)
Presumably, though, the demons need to ask permission of the Holy Spirit before they are allowed to possess any given human's body. It would seem that, without such enforcement by the Holy Spirit, the demons could come and go as they pleased between the various realms of creation. In this context, Jesus's authority was clearly recognised by the demons. A command from Him was enough to force a demon to leave the human body it possessed, that command no doubt being backed up by the power of the Holy Spirit:
23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out,
24 saying, `Away! what -- to us and to thee, Jesus the Nazarene? thou didst come to destroy us; I have known thee who thou art -- the Holy One of God.'
25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, `Be silenced, and come forth out of him,'
26 and the unclean spirit having torn him, and having cried with a great voice, came forth out of him, (Mark 1)
From a purely personal viewpoint, I found the following scripture helpful in understanding this concept of Jesus' authority:
20 but if by the finger of God I cast forth the demons, then come unawares upon you did the reign of God. (Luke 11)
As an England cricket supporter, the concept of the ‘finger of God' seems very much like the dreaded umpire's finger which, when pointed up, demonstrates that the batsman has been ruled out. Now it is more than likely that the umpire is a relatively old and physically weak human specimen compared with the batsman he is ordering out. The batsman, however, recognises that behind that umpire lies the power and authority of the International Cricket Council (ICC) that effectively has the power to destroy that batsman's career should they so choose. Whilst a batsman may well disagree with the umpire's decision he will nonetheless acknowledge the authority of that decision (albeit subject to a legitimate appeal). This seems an apt parallel to demon expulsion, at least to a cricket fan!
Taking this a little further, the demons also knew who had and who had not been granted authority over them:
13 And certain of the wandering exorcist Jews, took upon [them] to name over those having the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, `We adjure you by Jesus, whom Paul doth preach;'
14 and there were certain -- seven sons of Sceva, a Jew, a chief priest -- who are doing this thing;
15 and the evil spirit, answering, said, `Jesus I know, and Paul I am acquainted with; and ye -- who are ye?'
16 And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaping upon them, and having overcome them, prevailed against them, so that naked and wounded they did flee out of that house, (Acts 19)
In other texts on the TBC web-site the Lords' Witnesses have established that knowledge of humans by the angels, both good and bad, is purely down to whether that human has been born again, thereby having an associated angelic body of his own. This would seem to be the marker that other angels recognise them by. On this basis the sons of Sceva were not born again and therefore could not have had the authority from the Holy Spirit to expel demons. Interestingly, and on the other hand, there is an example of one of Christ's disciples not knowing someone who was apparently successfully expelling demons:
38 And John did answer him, saying, `Teacher, we saw a certain one in thy name casting out demons, who doth not follow us, and we forbade him, because he doth not follow us.'
39 And Jesus said, `Forbid him not, for there is no one who shall do a mighty work in my name, and shall be able readily to speak evil of me: (Mark 9)
Despite John's not knowing this individual, Christ knew him as did the demons. So although he was not one of Christ's immediate group of followers, this chap had clearly done enough in the eyes of the Holy Spirit to warrant being born again and thereby being given the appropriate authority over the demons. Just invoking Christ's name was not enough on its own. The following scripture emphasises this point directly from Christ's own words in that even He does not know those who are not born again:
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, lord, have we not in thy name prophesied? and in thy name cast out demons? and in thy name done many mighty things?
23 and then I will acknowledge to them, that -- I never knew you, depart from me ye who are working lawlessness. (Matthew 7)
Angelic possessions are covered on the True Bible Code (TBC) web-site at I21 The 15 non adamic humans. These comprise the blessed angelic possessions of non-Adamic humans. It is not the purpose of this paper to comment further on this type of possession other than to say they were not contentious possessions so only required the opening of pathways by the Holy Spirit; there was no enforcement needed. Of more interest is the subject of demonic possessions which are already well covered on the TBC web-site at I22 Satan, demon possession and the gifts of the spirit and probably not so well by my earlier paper: The Brain's Capability Compared with that of the Spirit. The intention of the current paper is to determine if anything further is to be found beyond these two web-pages in the scriptures regarding the mechanisms of demonic possession and expulsion.
Jewish Lords' Witness
In Noah's time the demons were allowed down to earth in powerful human form to procreate with human women:
2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they [were] fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also [is] flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare [children] to them, the same [became] mighty men which [were] of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6)
It would seem that, when the Nephilim died, the demonic spirits among mankind in those days were transported to Tartarus, where they were subsequently kept imprisoned:
6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (Jude 1)
Furthermore we are told that Christ visited the demons in their prison, further confirming their restraint in Tartarus from the time of the flood:
19 in which also, going in to the spirits in prison, He then proclaimed
20 to disobeying ones, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, an ark having been prepared, into which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. (1 Peter 3)
The demonic imprisonment is further referred to in Peter's second epistle as if to make their status crystal clear to mankind (or at least to me!):
4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast [them] down to hell, and delivered [them] into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; (2Peter 2)
Rules of Engagement
From all the above there would appear to be a strict rule of law governing the movement of spirits between the heavenly realms and the earthly. Below are some of the key rules that can be determined from the scriptures:
This is beginning to look as if those demons that took human form were the sum total of all the disobedient sons of God and have all been imprisoned since those days. They have only been allowed out by the Holy Spirit to meet God's purposes such as the possession of humans during Christ's ministry so that the miracle of exorcism could be demonstrated to mankind.
43 But when the unclean spirit goes from a man, he goes through dry places seeking rest and does not find it.
44 Then he says, I will return to my house from which I came out. And coming, he finds it standing empty, swept and decorated.
45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and entering dwells there. And the last things of that man become worse than the first. So it will be also to this evil generation. (Matthew 12)
Now I find the above to be a very strange scripture. It would seem that, once an evil spirit is allowed to possess a man, he is free to come and go to and from that man's body so long as he has not been forbidden to go back through an exorcism. Also it looks like his free pass enables him to take his demonic chums, who presumably were previously restrained in Tartarus, back with him to the man in question, but only that man hence the comment on 'dry places' in verse 43. Also it would seem that no evil spirit can enter that man other than via the one who was given the original permission to enter him (the ‘empty, swept and decorated, of verse 44). So it is as if the original possessing spirit has the only key or pass that is specific to unlocking the body of the man for possession and also provides a limit on the party size that can enter that man on any one occasion.
Now the fate of the man being possessed needs to be considered here. Up to this point I have considered that the man's spirit enters a sleeping angel upon demon possession of his fleshly body and is therefore unaware of the actions of the demonic possession until such time as he is returned to his body through exorcism. However verse 45 above raises a suspicion that this may not be the correct interpretation. If things are worse for that man does that not suggest that the man's spirit is conscious of the demonic possession rather than merely being shocked at the poor state of his body upon his return to it? The key point here is does ‘man' here refer to the man's spirit, body or soul? Now the ‘standing empty' of verse 44 must refer to the man's spirit not being in attendance in his fleshly body so I think this indicates that my original thinking was correct. Verse 44 seems to be covering the case where the demonic spirit is leaving the possessed body under his own free choice, and not under the strictures of an exorcism. So it would seem that when the Holy Spirit allows a demon to enter a man's soul that the man's spirit is enabled to enter a sleeping angel and will not return to his human body until allowed under Holy Spirit control through an exorcism.
So what does the ‘swept and decorated' of verse 44 mean? My initial thinking here is that, when a demonic spirit leaves a human soul, no vestige of the previous possession is left. It is a like a reboot of the brain takes place that purges the memory buffers, leaving no trace of the earlier occupation. In this sense the Greek word ‘kosmeō' is better translated as ‘put in order', ‘prepared' or ‘made ready' rather than the widely used ‘decorated'. This is lending further evidence that the hardware/software analogy of the brain and spirit combination is supported by bible interpretation as indicated in my earlier paper Brain is Hardware; Mind is Software. Clearly the above mechanism of manifold demonic possession begins to explain the case of ‘Legios':
27 And He going out onto the land, a certain man out of the city met Him, who had demons from a long time. (And he put no garment on; and he did not stay in a house, but among the tombs).
28 And seeing Jesus, and crying out, he fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, What to me and to You, Jesus, Son of God the Most High? I beg You, do not torment me.
29 For He charged (Gk. paraggellō) the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For many times it had seized him, and he was bound with chains and fetters, being guarded. And tearing apart the bonds, he was driven by the demons into the deserted places.
30 And Jesus asked him, saying, What is your name? And he said, Legion (because many demons entered into him).
31 And they begged Him that He not order (Gk. Epitassō) them to go away into the abyss.
32 And there was a herd of many pigs feeding there in the mount. And they begged Him that He would allow them to enter into those. And He allowed (Gk. epitrepō) them. (Luke 8)
A Roman legion contained at least 4,200 men at arms. So if demonic spirits can arrive in a man's body seven at a time, as we are told by Matthew, then this poor chap was visited at least 600 times by new groups of demons in arriving at this sorry state.