Scripture is filled with literary tools like metaphor and personification. Personality and voice are attributed to things that have no such faculty. For example: in 1Corinthians 12:15-16 speaking is attributed to both feet and ears. In Numbers 20:8 Moses was commanded by God to speak to the rock so that it would give water. Now rocks don’t give water and speaking to one in the presence of others would cause one to wonder about a person’s seriousness or sanity. Nevertheless, Scripture often uses personification to express truth. For example in 1Corinthians 10:4 the rock that Moses struck is personified to express Christ. A righteous man is a tree planted near a river in Psalm 1. My point in all this is: do demons have to be spirit beings, having a life and a will of their own, or can demons refer to our corrupt inheritance from Adam, personified and given life, speech and knowledge?
Men have destroyed their lives through overindulgence in food, chemicals, work, sexual relationships, and political, economic and religious power. Through overindulgence, we have inherited such things as drug and alcohol addiction, ulcers, mental and emotional collapse due to stress etc. We have inherited mental and emotional problems that have brought on schizophrenia (Mark 5:2; Luke 8:27; cf. Matthew 8:28). The poor young boy in Mark 9:14-27 was born deaf, would never speak and became epileptic. These were his demons that robbed him of his life. They were defects inherited at birth, just as the man born blind that Jesus healed the day before (John 9:1-7).
Sometimes we speak of men, who build empires either in the commercial or political arena, as men possessed. They are willful men, who have driven themselves and others toward a goal that they have envisioned. Napoleon was such a man. Alexander the Great was such a man. Does this mean that they were demon possessed, as we have traditionally understood the phrase? I don’t think so. I believe that they were gifted men in military science. They were given that authority from the one who was given authority over all the earth, Adam (cf. Matthew 4:8-9). Authority is a spiritual thing. It cannot be touched, but it is felt. It cannot be seen or heard, tasted or smelled, yet, we know when we have been in the presence of a man who has authority! In the wrong hands, it is spiritual wickedness, but if it is given by God, it is a great blessing. Any spiritual gift that we may have that has not been given to us by the Holy Spirit would be spiritual wickedness to practice.
In my next blog, I hope to begin showing how different characters in the Bible who had represented spiritual evil, were not possessed by a living spiritual entity, but by their own carnal desire to use their corrupt spiritual gifts for their own ends.