One of the most detailed accounts of a demonized person is in the passage about the 2 men who lived in the graveyard at Gadarenes (Mark 5:1-20; Matthew 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-37). From the information given about them we can learn symptoms to look for which are signs of demonizing. We already saw that a preoccupation with death and darkness, a lack of control over anger and violence, and not being in control of actions all can be symptoms of demonizing. Here are some other signs.
Symptom 4: Pain and self-destruction. Another characteristic of demonic activity which is also unnatural is inflicting pain on themselves by cutting themselves (Mark 5:5). The only other time this is seen in the Bible is when the prophets of Baal slashed themselves so they bled in order to have Baal hear their cries and send fire to consume their altar (I Kings 18:28). Both cases are clearly demonic.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Demons are behind self-destructive desires. It is unnatural for a person to want to harm themselves. Everything normal in us pushes for self-protection. When a person inflicts pain on themselves by cutting, tattoos (Leviticus 19:28) or taking their life we can be sure something has caused them to go against what is normal and natural, and usually that is demonic influence (Mark 9:20).
Suicidal thoughts should always be assumed to be motivated by demons (Matthew 17:14-19; Luke 9:37-45; Mark 9:14-29). This is also the case with Judas who was indwelt by Satan (Luke 22:3; John 13:27) and then committed suicide (Acts 1:18-19). If you or someone you know has these thoughts, pray against them. The person with the thoughts must confess them and take back any ground they have given to demons.These kinds of thoughts are like ‘prayers.’ All kinds and types of thoughts are like prayers. The difference in suicidal thoughts is that one dwells deeply in them and that gives themmore power. Thoughts of hate, death, fear, lust, etc., also have power. The greater the thought given it the greater the power. The power is in the thought which empowers demons to help bring this about in a person’s life. It is always with the person’s free will choice never forced on them against their free will.
Symptom 5: Ungodly sensuality and sexual perversion. These men did not wear clothes (Luke 8:27). Their natural inhibitions and modesty were affected by the demons influencing them. Demons are often behind the sexual sins and perversion so common today.
Symptom 6: Thoughts into their mind. These sinful actions start with sinful thoughts. Demons are able to put a thought into a person’s mind, then keep bringing it back again and again. It’s not always a thought that the person wants, and certainly isn’t a thought God would give them. Therefore the only other source must be demonic. The thoughts lead to actions that bring bondage and destruction. They could be thoughts of anger, fear, violence, lust or greed. The thoughts could be sexual, self-destructive, vengeful or blasphemous. They can even be thoughts that cause a person to feel unforgiven or unloved by God, that a person has lost their salvation, or are too evil to ever be in heaven. Thoughts of fear, insecurity, unworthiness, failure, being alone, rejection and revenge are some of the many that demons strive to instill in a person’s mind.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Not all evil thoughts are from demons, so how can we tell if our thoughts are from a demon or from our sin nature? When the source is our sin nature we can have victory by confessing the sin and growing spiritually. It may take time, but there will be progress being made as we become more like Jesus. If the source is demonic then trying harder will have no lasting effect. These men in the graveyard were unable to change their own behavior because they had allowed the demons to have a powerful hold over them. They had given up control which only Jesus’ power could get back for them.