Scriptures on casting out demons/evil spirits:
Matthew 8:16, 8:28, 9:32, 15:22
Mark 3:11, 5:2, 7:25, 9:17
Luke 4:32, 4:41, 8:27, 9:39
Of all the healing miracles, the one reported on most was of those possessed of evil spirits or demons. Matthew, Mark, and Luke give four reports each of the Lord casting out demons; some of the stories are repeated, but not all.
Some of the people Jesus healed had afflictions that were credited to demons: the woman bent over for 18 years, a child who was mute and deaf, a boy with seizures or epilepsy. Some lived among the tombs because they were out of control. We read of how they screamed and threw themselves into the fire so we know they lived in torment.
There are those who question that demons were real then; they suggest these healings were of people with mental illnesses and simply told as they were for people to better understand their healing. Dr. Charles C. Ryrie, retired professor of systematic theology and dean of doctoral studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, and best known for the Ryrie Study Bible, has something to say about that in his book, Basic Theology: “A number of times during His earthly ministry our Lord cast out demons from various people. These instances, of course, affirmed His belief in their real existence. If we cannot accept the Lord’s testimony, then we would have to conclude that either (a) He was lying, or (b) He was accommodating His teaching to the ignorance of His audience (which in effect makes Him guilty of propagating falsehood), or (c) the early church redactors of the text added the parts about His teaching on demons. All the writers of the New Testament (except the writer of Hebrews) mention demons for a total of over 100 references” (p 157).
Dr. Ryrie says that scripture points to the conclusion that demons are fallen angels. They have superior intelligence, experience, and powers. They are spirit beings, although localized because they are limited and not infinite as God is. Generally, they are invisible to human beings, though on occasion, their presence has been apparent through various means (Acts 19:14; Revelation 9: 1-12, 16-13). They are not present everywhere, yet they are not as restricted as humans for the normal barriers of space. Dr. Ryrie warns that denying the existence and power of demons is ignorant and foolhardy (taken from pp 159-163).
Dr. J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988) in his Through the Bible radio series, still popular today, said once that “it is difficult to explain what is taking place in our contemporary society without believing in the existence of demons.” Consider that Dr. McGee’s comment was perhaps made at least 30 years ago and then think of the continuing progression of our society’s decline in morality.
Dr. Scott Peck (1936-2005) was a psychiatrist best known for his book, The Road Less Traveled, but he also wrote a phenomenal book titled People of the Lie, the Hope for Healing Human Evil. It is an unsettling, but importantly informing book on the evil in people. He draws on case examples from his psychiatric practice and reflection on those cases led him to have to consider whether there is such a thing as the devil. He thought not, but decided that in order to be thorough in his research, he needed to see “one good old-fashioned case of possession.” Dr. Peck says his disbelief was in common with 99% of psychiatrists and the majority of clergy. He sought out and eventually found cases of behavior that he deemed not to be mental illness. He saw something entirely different, people with evil in them, and through the witnessing of exorcisms, came to believe in Satan.
Dr. Peck said before he witnessed his first exorcism, he read Hostage to the Devil by Malachi Martin. He says, “I was intrigued, but hardly convinced of the devil’s reality. It was another matter after I had personally met Satan face-to-face” (p 184).
With information from revered theologian, Dr. Charles Ryrie, and widely respected psychiatrist and author, Dr. Scott Peck, we can better understand why these miracles were the most spectacular and reported of all the Lord’s healings.