The Characteristics of Demonic Presence

As the people of God live in this world, they encounter many interesting things. I have often been asked by believers if a specific situation or individual is controlled or inspired by demonic power. I see many things myself that I wonder about.

As I watch certain situations or individuals, I often wonder: What is the origin of the plan? How did it get into the position it currently holds? Why is there such a strong deception surrounding it?

I’m not by any means an expert on the origin of things. I often wonder, just like you do about things. I also know that things do not have to be demonically originated to be offensive to God. Man, operating in his flesh can and will do things that are offensive to the Spirit of God. Flesh is rebellious and self centered by nature. Man is creative just like the One who made him. In his flesh, man can come up with some innovative ways to do evil.

If Satan boldly came forward; revealing himself even to fleshly man as the devil and announcing his plan, many would run for their lives. Satan comes under cover and often as an angel of light – tempting man through his own fleshly weaknesses to do his will.

As Jesus spoke to a group of people in John, chapter 8, He made no distinction between those living in the flesh and those possessed by the devil. In verse 44: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

A lack of faith in God and great pressure can make people do things that are unimaginable; fulfilling the very works of Satan.

When man exalts himself above God, he is fulfilling the desire of his father, Satan.

Let’s go through a few things that, according to scripture reveal the likely presence of demonic activity. This will probably not be an exhaustive list. There are some things I could miss or that we just aren’t sure of. This list is to be used as a guide not a diagnosis. There could be some things that closely mimic things on this list that are emotion or physical in origin.

  1. The use of magic, spells, incantations or idolatry to control events.

Simon who practiced sorcery in Acts 8, the slave girl who predicted the future in Acts 16 and the Jewish sorcerer and false prophet, Bar-Jesus in Acts 13 are examples of those using demonic power in the NT. Satan worship would be included here.

As far as idols: 1 Corinthians 10:19 – “Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.”

  1. The voice of “God” telling someone to do unbiblical activities.

There are many examples of people saying they heard “God’s” voice telling them to kill or do harm to others. Some say they have heard “God” tell them to do blatantly unbiblical things that exalt man or sin.

Satan has a desire to be God. He will disguise himself as God or an angel of light to confuse people. Voices that direct to do things against the Bible are not from God.

  1. A fascination with or a preoccupation with death.

Jesus came to give life. Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The demon possessed man in Mark lived in the tombs.

I’ve seen influences in philosophy and in music preoccupied with death. I’m not saying all involved are demon possessed but the influence behind this preoccupation is leading toward the downfall and destruction of man.

Mark 9:22 tells the story of the boy who had a demon  and how it had often tried to kill him by throwing him into fire or water. Satan tried to misuse Scripture to convince Jesus to commit suicide by jumping from the Temple roof.

  1. A tormented, perverted focus.

There are many people who are emotionally wounded. This is not what I’m talking about. The man in Mark kept everyone awake night after night crying out in pain and torment. The demons had such a hold on him that they were able to speak through him. These influences often see God as the enemy – rejecting him as the cause of their pain and the pain of the world.

  1. Mutilation of self or others.

The man in Mark would cut himself with stones. Many are so filled with delusion, self-hatred, or hatred for others that they begin to mutilate themselves or other people.

We must be careful here but as our society walks further away from God, these type of activities seem to be growing in frequency. Self hatred and self destruction are not from God.

  1. The presence of supernatural strength.

No one could bind the man in Mark 5. He was too strong. There are instances of great physical strength and even miraculous powers being done by those influenced by demons. You might notice much strength to do wrong or evil in a small place or maybe you have a situation that won’t respond to natural solutions. This COULD be an indication of demonic influence.

Acts 19:16 and Luke 8:26 are examples.

I’m going to stop right here for now. There are other things that can be associated with the presence of demonic activity that we see in some of these occurrences that could be an indication of the influence of demons directly or indirectly like nakedness and isolation, but as stated earlier, you have to be careful not to overstate a situation.

It is good to know our enemy so that we can spot his influence. We are not afraid of him, remember: Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world!




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