Mark 9 - demon possession "from his youth" - impact on other doctrines

Discussion in 'The Gospels & Acts' started by Eoghan, Nov 4, 2009.

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  1. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Junior

    I was intrigued to read Mathew Henry noting that the demon had afflicted him for a long time and that this probably gave the demon a stronger hold. From his youth I take to be below the age of his bar-mitzvah (13).

    It raises the question about how a demon gains a hold. As a christian I think in terms of giving a demon permission through dabbling in the occult.

    1. Am I wrong in thinking that for an unbeliever is in a sense Satan's property and open to demonic possession?

    2. Does this undermine what I have been told is the baptist doctrine of "the age of accountability" (as a baptist I disagree, I always thought of it as a presbyterian doctrine :oops:) If he was possessed below the age of accountability???? Or am I misunderstanding "the age of accountability"
  2. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Junior

    Lack of fasting?

    Is there a link here between the fact that fasting is required and the disciples did not fast. (think back to the accusation of the Pharisees that Jesu' disciples did not fast) :2cents:
  3. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I wouldn't deny that dabbling in the occult might lead to demonic possession. But I think the lesson here is that all of us are enslaved by the devil from the start—even before we’ve actually done anything to further give ourselves over to him—and we need the rescue of Jesus.
  4. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    I think the whole thing of demon possession is somewhat mysterious.

    Does the Bible ever even use the expression demon possession?

    Is it just sometimes that those who have an underlying physical condition such as depression or epilepsy, are more open to the suggestions of Satan because they have weak minds?

    E.g. someone who has depression may be open to the temptation which may often be of the Devil rather than the individual to kill himself. But once the underlying condition of depression is treated, this temptation goes away. Some with mental illness may be tempted by the devil to harm or kill others, whereas if the underlying condition was treated the Devil would find no success or foothold.

    Is "demon possession" sometimes just that people are subject to successful demonic attack because of underlying conditions?

    May be sometimes its the other way around, and the demon is causing the condition.

    I certainly believe that occult involvement can lead to people "having a demon", but it doesn't always manifest itself as one might think.
  5. BJClark

    BJClark Puritan Board Doctor

    Richard Tallach;

    As the mother of a child who has seizures I take offense to the suggestion that "because a person has seizures they would be more open to the suggestions of Satan because they have weak minds" my daughter certainly is not 'more open' to suggestions of Satan, than others--nor does she have a weak mind..

    She has lost many friends because of her stance for Christ..but she has also made an impression on others because of it..

    But that is certainly one of those 'old wives tales' that a person who has seizures is some how being controlled by demons..probably started because witnessing the seizure scared them.

    Epilepsy is merely the word given for seizures of an unknown cause, which is what she was diagnosed w/ until they recently found the cause of her seizures..she has an autonomic dysfunction..but they are certainly not brought on by demonic suggestions or a weak mind..
  6. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    No offence was intended. I wasn't saying that all epilepsy was caused, or worked on, by demons anyway.

    I'm glad to hear of your daughter's faith and witness. I've suffered in the past from severe depression and had other symptoms which I thought were some form of epilepsy brought on by a fall.

    There seem to be some cases of some kind of fits/convulsions related to (a) demon(s) in the Gospels. It would be interesting to know what the original Greek says, but obviously the Gospels aren't medical textbooks.

    This illustrates another of the problems of the language of demon possession. Is there always moral pravity in the person "demon possessed"? I.e. Even if we knew that someone "had a devil" would we always be able to trace it to moral fault on the part of the individual?

    The young boy in the above story from the Gospels, was it his fault that he had a demon, or could people get demons without moral fault?

    -----Added 11/5/2009 at 08:38:44 EST-----

    Quote from Eoghan
    I don't know what you mean by the age of accountability.

    -----Added 11/5/2009 at 08:48:47 EST-----

    Another problem with the Q of demon possession is that some scholars believe that we are unlikely to come accross it anywhere today, but that it was particularly around in first century Palestine, because Satan was throwing all his forces against the Son of God manifest in the flesh.

    See e.g. Peter Masters' "The Healing Epidemic" (Wakeman). But greater biblical scholars than Masters have said this.

    The first thing is to find out what expressions are used in Scripture of this phenomenon, because if "demon possession" isn't the expression used, it's very misleading and confusing.
  7. Jimmy the Greek

    Jimmy the Greek Puritan Board Senior

    Hmmm. Rather than an 'old wives tale', the idea obviously comes from a simple reading of Mark 9.

  8. BJClark

    BJClark Puritan Board Doctor

    Mar 9:20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.

    I've personally witnessed many seizures over the years, and have yet to see the people who have had them 'roll about' or 'foam at the mouth'..not that others don't have that happen, but I've not witnessed one like that.
  9. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    You have to be careful Jimmy. The Bible isn't a medical text book, and a simple description of something as e.g. epileptick or leprousy, seizure, in the KJV or other versions, doesn't clearly define what it is. "Seizures" or fits aren't always epileptic.

    There has to be further and closer investigation of the text and different cases.

    I wouldn't be surprised if 99% of Reformed people or even ministers couldn't tell the symptoms of "demon possession" or be able to distinguish "demon possession" from other mental and physical conditions.

    What about the case of Job? Apparently he got his boils from the influence and power of Satan, yet we never say that boils are demon inspired, or bring demons into them at all.

    We don't even know if "demon possession" is a biblical term.

    I've never met someone who is "demon-possessed", or if I did, I didn't know it.

    All I'm saying is that the devil can more easily tempt certain people to do certain things, e.g. the depressed, those that are drunk, those that are on certain drugs, certain schizophrenics.

    Once the condition is treated the Devil loses his foothold.

    Were some of the cases of demonic influence healed by Jesus and the disciples, simply cases of mental illness where the devil had got a foothold? After all the term "demon possession" is not biblical(?)
  10. BJClark

    BJClark Puritan Board Doctor


    I would say that it is; while not all things can be considered 'demon possession'; clearly here..there was a 'foul spirit' in the boy in question..that caused him to have convulsions; roll around the ground and foam at the even they recognized that there was 'something in' the boy that brought these things about..and Christ and the disciples were able to 'talk to" these spirits that had possession over these people and tell them to leave.

    Mar 9:17 And someone from the crowd answered him, "Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. Mar 9:18 "And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able." Mar 9:19 And he answered them, "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me." Mar 9:20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Mar 9:21 And Jesus asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. Mar 9:22 "And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."

    Mar 9:25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." Mar 9:26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, "He is dead."

    and here..

    Mar 5:2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. Mar 5:3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, Mar 5:4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Mar 5:5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones. Mar 5:6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. Mar 5:7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me." Mar 5:8 For he was saying to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!" Mar 5:9 And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, "My name is Legion, for we are many." Mar 5:10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Mar 5:11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, Mar 5:12 and they begged him, saying, "Send us to the pigs; let us enter them." Mar 5:13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the pigs, and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea.

    And here...after the resurrection of Christ..there is mention of at least two more people that were possessed by an evil spirit..

    Act 16:16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. Act 16:18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour.

    Act 19:16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
  11. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes. Thanks for that.

    It still would merit further study, by me anyway, if what it means is to be precisely defined.

    It doesn't say "demon-possession" but "had a demon". Did the demon come and go? Did the demon just have access to parts that demons don't normally have? Did he have the demon or did the demon have him?

    We may all as believers believe we have been tempted by Satan or one of his minions, but we don't call that "demon possession" or "having a demon"

    Is being demon-possessed something moral or an illness which the demon-possessed can't help?

    Was e.g. Judas, Stalin, Hitler or Pol Pot demon-possessed or is moral demon-possession different to illness-provoking demon-possession? Yet Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and Judas aren't deemed to be sick but bad.

    Maybe the term demon-possession if it's not used in the Bible is misleading as to what these phenomena really are, and if they still exist?

    What are the symptoms of demon possession? Do they seem multiple and diverse in the Gospels and Acts?

    Is this whole subject relatively unimportant, the Pentecostal movement withstanding, when

    (a) We are nowhere commanded to cast out or try to cast out demons.

    (b) We are nowhere instructed how to do it.

    (c) Many Christians, myself included, have gone through life without recognising a clear case of demon possession or having a clear definition of how demon possession is to be recognised.

    (d) It may be a phenomenon associated only with Jesus' ministry. Apart from the Gospels and Acts, are there other cases of demon possession in the Bible?
  12. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Let's keep in mind the Bible seems to recognize a distinction between demon oppression and medical conditions like epilepsy: "They brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them" (Matthew 2:24).

    Perhaps the people in Jesus' day were more sophisticated than we give them credit for in recognizing both physical maladies and spiritual oppression, and knowing the difference. And let's not fail to notice that Jesus heals both kinds of problems!
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