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Casting Out [Modern Day] Demons

From the September 2007 issue of The Christian Science Journal

One Morning I Was Reading The Bible Story where Jesus healed a deaf and dumb child who had a "foul spirit" (see Mark 9:14—29). Jesus had ordered the spirit to "come out" of the child and "enter no more into him." This episode made me think back to when Jesus commissioned his 12 disciples (see Matt. 10:8). He had charged them with casting out devils, or demons. Being able to free people from the afflictions of evil spirits—what we might think of today as disease, insanity, mental "pollution"—was to be a key sign of the Messiah and his true followers. At his ascension, Jesus said that everyone who believed in his disciples would also cast out demons. I wondered if I was taking the command seriously enough.

Actually, I was little embarrassed to talk about demons, thinking it was akin to my modern aversion to believing in ghosts. Did Jesus believe in demons? What was Jesus thinking when he cast out evil spirits? I knew that the Hebrew term for Satan comes from the root word meaning "accuser," and implied one who is a false accuser. Jesus had amplified this definition by calling the devil "a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44). And later on, Paul would warn against the "wiles" (deceitful tricks) of the devil (see Eph. 6:11). So perhaps Jesus saw these lesser "demons" also as liars—that is, lies that falsely represented the child of God as anything but good and perfect. After all, in every other case Jesus consistently taught that each individual is the child of the loving, spiritual, omnipotent Father who delivers each of us from all evil. As Jesus stated so clearly, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

I wondered if the truth about man's nature and the truth about the devil as nothing was the power that set people free from these "demons," or lies. That made sense to me. But talking to a devil as if it were real and could hear me—the very thought made me uneasy. I was not about to do that. There is, however, some logic to helping people understand by using figurative language. Jesus spoke in parables and metaphors all the time.

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