Ancient culture, unlike modern Western culture, was explicitly spiritual. Everyone believed that the world was not merely a physical place but a spiritual place too. People believed there were spirits manipulating people both mentally and physically.

Today, with the advent of science, people have smugly relegated demons to the realm of superstition, at worst, and mental illness, at best. I have met Christians who do not believe in Satan or demons! They have been sucked into the lie that we ‘moderns’ are wiser than the Ancients because we have ‘socially evolved’.

Demons are in the business of degrading people’s humanity. If we examine the case of the Gerasene demoniac we learn about some of their degrading methods (Mark 5:1-20).

From this passage we learn that demons isolated this man from community (v.2-3). They degraded him by stealing his ability for pleasing human interaction, added confusion so that his thinking was wrong (v.4-5) and finally, degraded him through self-harming behaviour (v.5). Praise God that Jesus reversed it all (v.15)!

While we do not know how this man’s mind was ‘wrong’ we do know that demons also try to move our thoughts to ‘wrong’ places by habitual self-centredness (James 3:15-16) so that our consciences become seared into that wrongness (1 Tim 4:1-3).

We must not be afraid of demons, “…because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)  But we must be aware of their influence; beware of habits that lead to isolation, restlessness, and harmful behaviour. Break such habits and “do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom 12)

Denis Oliver