One of the saddest matters that the New Testament records is that of the possession of a young child by a demon (Luke 9:37-39), who had control of the boy even from the time he had been an infant (Mark 9:21), implying his condition existed since his birth. One has to wonder how this could ever occur. While in the case of Job, God permitted Satan to torment Job’s person with sores, disease and the destruction of his family and his wealth, Satan was not permitted to control Job’s reaction to it all. In other words, Job was still free to either accept his circumstance as God allowed it, or to curse God for allowing it. Job’s freedom to choose was never in question.
It is also interesting that Satan needed permission to do what he did do to Job, implying that malevolent powers in whatever form they may take are not autonomous. Ultimately, they must submit to the authority of God. Knowing this, it is difficult to understand how an infant could be so completely possessed by an evil spirit being. Why would God allow a child’s will to be dominated by an evil, malevolent power? Certainly, as an infant, the child had no choice in the matter, so it cannot be argued that this little one invited his demonic activity. What can be said of these things?
Job 1:6-12; 2:3-7 shows us that spiritual evil occurs only with the permission of God. The same is true as it pertains to Saul’s spiritual problems (1Samuel 16:14, 23; 18:10-11; 19:9-10), and even when lies are told to the leader of a nation that would affect the nation, it can be done only with God’s permission (1Kings 22:20-22). God may use evil to carry out his will, but even that malevolence is under his authority. Nothing can be done without God’s permission.
No matter what we have been told about demons, we need to understand that the Scriptures conclude at least many were worshiped as gods (Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 32:16-17; Psalm 106:28, 35-39). Whatever they are, at least many are inextricably tied to idolatry. Moreover, if we are to understand that demons are ‘new gods’ which were unknown to the ancients, like Abraham (Deuteronomy 32:17), then they must have an historical beginning. Psalm 82:1-7 shows us that men of authority are referred to as gods in the Scriptures. They are the judges of their brethren. Knowing this, the demons or ‘new gods’ that Moses spoke of in Deuteronomy 32:17, are men who arose in the land of Canaan (Psalm 106:38) sometime after Abraham, and the Canaanites and Israel (later) worshiped the memories of these men. Psalm 106:28 tells us that, when Israel joined themselves to Baal-Peor, they ate the sacrifices that were meant for these dead men.
We understand from Colossians 3:5 that covetousness is idolatry. When one is consumed with desire for an object, he is committing idolatry. Being obsessed with someone or something is idolatry. Demonic possession, at least in many instances, is being controlled by an inner urge to have something one doesn’t have or to have a seemingly uncontrollable desire to be like someone else—the object of one’s obsession.
According to John 12:6, Judas was a thief, and was possessed by this desire (Matthew 26:15), which he later tried to correct (Matthew 27:3) but couldn’t. Believers need to understand that they can be in danger of demonic influence, just as Judas was. We are warned against an unforgiving heart (2Corinthians 2:10-11), because obsessing over an evil done to us can end only in revenge, which in itself is an obsession to set things right in one’s own eyes. Moreover, believers are warned against the false doctrines of those who masquerade as men doing the work of an apostle or teacher of the word of God. In the end they preach another savior and another gospel, which results in their hearers developing another spirit, which controls a believer’s behavior, attitude and understanding (2Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15). These are men who have departed from the faith. They are men obsessed with wealth (1Timothy 4:1-4) and preach lies, which end in the spiritual seduction of the disciples of Jesus, as they are overcome by doctrines of demons.
According to 1John 4:1-3, the spirit within the man identifies the prophet. That is, how the prophet behaves betrays who he is. If he behaves as though Christ is in his flesh then what he claims is of God. If, however, he does not behave (doesn’t confess through his works) that Christ is come in his flesh, then what that one claims is untrue. He is a false prophet.
The probable cause of false doctrine is the love for wealth (1Timothy 6:10; cf. John 12:6). If one is obsessed with wealth and what it is able to do, then one will eventually do or say anything that will permit him to accumulate this wealth and power.