Why does the Bible state that some people were “demon possessed” when they may have had mental or physical disorders?

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Those who deny the inspiration of the Bible and oppose the concept of a real devil and real evil spirits attribute the Bible’s demon possession to natural causes, specifically to different physical and mental disorders. The Gospels record six specific instances of demon possession:

  1. The man in the synagogue at Capernaum (Mark 1:12–28),
  2. An unidentified man who was ‘dumb’ as well as possessed (Matthew 9:32–34),
  3. The two demoniacs of Gadara (Mark 5:1–20),
  4. The daughter of a Syrophoenician woman (Matthew 15:21–28),
  5. The son of an unidentified man (Mark 9:14–29),
  6. Mary (Mark 16:9).

In these cases, Christ cast out the demons and the afflicted ones were delivered from their bondage. Christ addressed the demons as demons and the demons responded back as demons through their victims (Mark 1:23, 24; 3:11, 12; 5:7; etc.). Also by their acknowledgement of the Deity of Christ and of the final judgment—facts not then known by the people in general—the demons gave proof of their supernatural understanding (Matthew 8:29; Mark 1:24; 3:11, 12; 5:7; etc.).

Further, the argument that the gospel authors unknowingly made a mistake when they attributed different physical and mental disorders to the agency of evil spirits is discredited by the fact that the authors distinguished between ordinary bodily sicknesses and demon possession (Matthew 4:24; Luke 6:17, 18; 7:21; 8:2).

It should be added that in certain cases of demon possession, there were also accompanying physical disorders of one kind or another (Matthew 9:32; 12:22; Mark 9:17). These physical disorders are specifically mentioned and included blindness and dumbness.

The various signs of physical and mental disorders that identified the demon possessed were in and of themselves no different from the natural causes. But the various physical and mental disorders did not in and of themselves constitute what the Gospels describe as demon possession. They were rather the result of demon possession.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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