Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Casting Out Demons

Matthew 8:16-17

“When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” (Matthew 8:16-17)

That evening, people brought their acquaintances who were demon possessed to be cured.  Because there is so much confusion about what this means, and controversy over how to deal with it, I have chosen to address this issue separately. 

Demon possession is commonly perceived, even among those who believe in it, as something similar to Hollywood’s portrayal, in which some powerful demon takes physical control of the body giving it horrible supernatural powers.  The reality is far different.

Most of what we know as severe mental health issues today are in fact what the bible refers to as demon possession.  Modern psychology and Psychiatry teaches that they are usually the result of some combination of hormonal imbalances, defective neural connections and improper learned behavior.  They attempt to modify the unacceptable behavior through the use of hormones to correct imbalances, medications or surgery to disrupt the improper neural connections and counselling to correct learned behavior.

People suffering from these conditions often do things that seem almost supernatural, sometimes seriously injuring themselves in the process.   Frequently the only things psychiatrists or psychologists can do are to keep the person so heavily sedated he is unable to cause problems or isolate in some institution him to protect him or others from his actions.  If they stop taking the medications or escape from confinement the patients may commit suicide or injure other people.

The biblical idea is that the problem starts with a satanic spirit causing a faulty way for thinking, a bad attitude if you will.  If the action produces a satisfactory result the person is likely to repeat it.  Research shows that repeated patterns of thought or action cause the development of new neural pathways to make the action or thought increasingly automatic.  When practiced often enough the response becomes so automatic the person no longer thinks about what they are doing or whether their response is justified.  If the behavior does not produce the expected results, they expand it until it gets results and the habitual behavior becomes increasing unacceptable.  Eventually the spirit gains control of the attitude through things such as anger, fear, or hatred, or cravings for drugs or alcohol.

Research also shows that a poor mental attitude causes an imbalance of the hormones in the brain.  The imbalance of hormones and poor neural pathway development result from and contribute to the unacceptable behavior but are not the primary cause.    Once a behavior becomes habitual, it can only be stopped when the person wants to change enough to deliberately prevent his mind following the usual neural channels, and begin forming new ones.  In the process, the mind will start bring the hormones back into balance.

By casting out the demonic spirit that started the bad attitude, Jesus could disrupt the pattern and give the person a chance to take control of his attitudes and behaviors.  Because it has no physical body, the satanic spirit cannot cause things to happen in the physical world except by getting control of something’s mind and using it to control the physical body.  They fight very hard to keep control. 

Because Psychology and Psychiatry do not acknowledge the existence satanic spirits, they have to try to change the person’s way of thinking while the evil spirit retains control.  It is difficult to do and often fails.

Besides casting out the devils, Jesus healed all the people who were brought to him.  He did not have to make excuses why some were not healed, unlike most faith healers today.  In doing so, he fulfilled one of Isaiah’s prophecies, again making it obvious to the Jews that he was the Messiah.

No comments:

Post a Comment