Demons, really? Matthew 12.22-29
Out to dinner the other night with dear friends, two of whom were Catholic, I asked rather randomly, ‘hey, do you guys think there is still demon possession, still exorcisms performed?’ One immediately responded, ‘Oh no, the Catholic church got all that stopped. Not so.
Matthew recounts this scene: “Then there was brought to him [Jesus] a man possessed by a devil, blind and dumb; and he cured him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw. The crowds were beside themselves with amazement.”1 In the eastern world it was not only mental and psychological illness ascribed to the influence of demons and devils; all illness was ascribed to their malignant power2, so it is not surprising that the gospels recount Jesus healing several people from demon possession.
But are there still demons today? Here’s a throwback to one of my Long Beach street experiences that demonstrates the answer to that question is an unequivocal ‘yes’.
Written in September, 2010.3 The Duke of Earl, (my ministry bodyguard), lives in Long Beach’s Lincoln Park; actually, he is kinda’ like the mayor there—sometimes like Dirty Harry too, having the size and the training to handle out-of-order park citizens. One day this week, he spotted a smallish woman about 55 years old, lying on the ground convulsing, apparently having an epileptic seizure, and then she passed out… cold. Park-goers walked right by her, either not knowing what to do, or just not wanting to get involved. Not the Duke. He got her back on her feet, and talked to her about what was wrong in her life.
Not too many days later, he encountered the same woman, Gina, again, and this time, he heard some bad men talking about what they were going to do to her while she was unconscious. The whole thing bothered him tremendously. ‘She’s not going to survive living in the park,’ he told me. ‘She is either going to die in a seizure or be killed’ by one or more of the predators who make the park their home. The Duke told her she could grab her bedroll and stay near him at night. It wasn’t long until he was looking out for Gina during the day too.
Strawberry-blonde and small, Gina wore an occult star around her neck and another on her finger—talked a lot about tarot cards and the like. The Duke noticed that she seemed to draw strong responses from people in the park. Some threatened, others cursed at her . . . and she often hid behind him. This just seemed to make him more protective.
Then he noticed she was baiting some of the guys; in fact, she even got him in a fight, protecting her. After, he was awake the whole night, wondering if the dude he had ‘put to sleep’ would come looking for him—seeking retaliation while he slept. Sleeping out in the open, no matter who you are, no matter how big, leaves a man vulnerable.
Enter one Pastorwoman.
On Friday, I had committed to help him complete an apartment application on the notice that the US Marine Corps Purple Hearts had approved him for housing assistance. When I picked him up, I could tell he was all out of sorts. (Now I had already told him of my concerns about Gina. I went so far as to say, ‘Duke, you’re sleeping with the devil.’ Not literally, but close enough. Her jewelry showed her allegiance.)
Seeing his agitated state, I decided a park visit of my own was in order. First I met some of the drug dealers at the planter—several who just happen to be “Christians” . . . huh? And then I walked over to where Gina sat with three other sketchy characters and a pit bull. After saying ‘hey’ to Gina and introducing myself to the others, I sat down Indian-style straight across from Gina, and tried to engage her in conversation. She responded some, but she wouldn’t look me in the eye. I think I made her nervous. Oh well.
It was later in the day that the floor dropped out. When I dropped him off at the park after apartment business, the Duke encountered Gina. She was aggressive and confrontational. In fact, when he called her on some lies, she threw herself on the ground, and began convulsing and uttering expletives; her eyes rolled back in her head, and a strange voice came out of her mouth—certainly not a woman’s voice. To say that it was frightening would be an understatement. He called me and asked what he should do. (Back in San Clemente, grocery shopping, I pulled my cart to the side of the toilet paper aisle, and practically stuck my head inside the shelf of tissue to talk to him about the bizarre situation; it was crazy.) The only counsel I could offer was ‘get away from her…get far away from her.’ Within minutes, paramedics arrived on the scene and took her for treatment.
Now, what happened? Gina had ‘pledged her troth’ to the devil, as per her jewelry and conversation, which gave him an entry point to take possession of her. That little gal was besieged by evil through her choices, which were very dangerous ones. Her choices were dangerous to her, and to those who would get close to her. The best thing for the Duke to do was get away from her. James 4.7 – Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
When you encounter evil—recognize it for what it is—and get away from it! Either that, or call it out. Christian, you do have that authority. Either way, do not be deceived—demons exist today.
1 – Matthew 12.22-23
2 – William Barclay, Matthew commentary
3 – Pastorwoman archives - http://pastorwoman.com/FTBAll.aspx