Jesus’ Cosmic Authority over Demons


John MacArthur’s sermon on Mark 1:21-28 points out how the demons screamed and yelled and manifested themselves all through Jesus’ ministry because His authority forced them to reveal themselves.  His Kingly and Comic authority made the demons come out from hiding because Jesus invaded this world and lived on this earth in those days.  See his sermon and the text also here.


Here is an excerpt:

But the demons are also terrified by the Son of God not only because of the authority of His Word, but the authority of His judgment, secondly. “Just then,” verse 23 again, “there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit and he cried out, saying, ‘What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us?’” There’s that immediately again. A man with an unclean spirit, unclean spirit is a New Testament synonym for a demon, fallen angel. We find it used again in chapter 5 and verse 2 of the man in the country of the Gerasenes coming out of the tombs with an unclean spirit.

Now again, just a reminder, this kind of demon possession has always been a reality in the world. Demons have always had their way with those in their domain. But what happened during the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ has no parallel either before or after. For example, there is nowhere in the Old Testament where you have one occasion of demon possession. Were the demons there? Yeah. But they were under cover, under wraps. After the ministry of Christ, after the gospels, there are only two accounts of demon possession. One is in Acts 16 and the other in Acts 19, after that none…none in the epistles.

What happened was the demons are very content to stay under cover. They don’t want to be exposed, but during the ministry of Jesus when He showed up, they panicked and they said out loud, “You are the Son of God,” and when they said that Jesus silenced them. He silenced them. You see down in verse 34, He permitted the demons…He was not permitting the demons to speak because they knew who He was and He didn’t want demons as His publicity agents cause that would just feed the already growing frenzy that He did what He did by the power of Satan. Who could deny that if His agents are demons? So whenever they affirmed who He was, He shut them up.

Demon possession has always been around, but it never was so manifest in all biblical history as it was during Jesus’ earthly ministry, and to a small extent to the Apostles extended ministry because He delegated power over demons to the Apostles as well because Satan disguises himself. And as I said, demons sit in every religious service. They stand in every false religious pulpit. They put on the garb of spiritual leaders. But in Jesus’ day, they were exposed with wildness, physical deformity, convulsive seizures, torment, self-mutilation, nakedness, screaming…they always screamed in His presence.

This man screams. He screams because he can’t help himself. This is the demon screaming through the man’s vocal chords. The demons shuddered, terrified at the presence of the Son of God and His proclamation of truth. He is so terrified He reveals Himself though He doesn’t want to. Once He reveals Himself, Jesus silences him and shuts him up because He doesn’t want him promoting His true identity.

Look at what he says. “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us?” Literally in the Greek,“What to us and to You? What do we have in common? We know…we know this is about You and us, is this the time of our destruction?”Please notice the “we,” he speaks for all the demons. He wants to know why Jesus has now invaded their kingdom. “What is going on here?What to You and to us? What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Why is it now? Is this the hour of our final destruction?”

He knew, 1 John 3:8, that Christ was revealed to destroy the works of the devil. As I told you, he knew about the Lake of Fire. He knew with all the rest of the demons that they were thrown out of heaven, they knew where they were headed. They knew they were irredeemable.The demon knew the plan of God. He knew they would end up in the Lake of Fire. The demons did everything they could to fight against it.Matthew 11:12 says, “The Kingdom of God suffers violence.” One of the reasons there was such a violent move to come into the kingdom, because you had to fight against your own flesh, your own fallenness, your own pride. You had to be willing to crucify yourself. You had to be willing to take up your cross, as it were, follow Christ, you had to be willing to obey Him, deny yourself. And then you had to hack your way through demon resistance. The Kingdom suffers violence, often the violence was the violent struggle, fierce struggle with demon powers.

But they knew their inevitable damnation. Chapter 5, we’ll read about the demon-possessed man in the land of the Gerasenes who said, “Did You come to torment us? Did You come to torment us? Don’t send us to the pit. Don’t send us to the pit. Send us into the pigs.” What makes demons scream? The authority of Jesus in His Word because His Word smashes their lies. The authority of Jesus in judgment because they know He is their judge and they know the Lake of Fire has been prepared for them. They knew it before it was ever written in Scripture in Matthew 25:41, and they knew Jesus was the judge who had the power to send them there.

What makes demons scream, thirdly, is the authority of His purity…the authority of His purity. By the way, they call Him Jesus of Nazareth, as a footnote. That was the most common name given to Him and it was always a name of disdain…Jesus of Nazareth, because Nazareth was viewed as a disdainful town. And so they speak of Him with the same scorn that others spoke of Him, the ludicrous notion that the Messiah would come from Nazareth. So they join the scorn at the same time express their terror. But, of course, you couldn’t expect them to do anything other than what was wretched.

But they know who He is. End of verse 24, “I know who You are, the Holy One of God.” When the angel came to Mary, Luke 1:35, said you’re going to have a holy child, Son of the Most High God. The demons know that. The Holy One of God, by the way, is in stark contrast, isn’t it, to the unclean spirit? Is that not bizarre, an unclean wretched demon saying You’re the Holy One of God? Demons know the Son is holy as the Father is holy. And demons who are ultimate wickedness, cringe in the face of perfect holiness…just as sin cowers in the presence of virtue. Utter sinfulness cowers in the presence of utter holiness. They know God is holy. They know the Son is holy. They know that they were thrown out of heaven because they are unholy. They know that they once faced the holiness of God and were thrown out of His presence, headed for a Lake of Fire. They know they’re going to face Him again. They are permanently unholy, permanently wretched. They know the experience that original sin brought upon them and they know that the experience that awaits them in the Lake of Fire is even worse, more confining. And they scream at the anticipation of torment. The Holy One will deal with these unclean spirits.

John MacArthur, Cosmic Authority, see link above  (my emphasis in bold)

What struck me about this sermon was the reality that the reason why demonic activity is not as obvious in modern life, western countries, etc. (although under different manifestations – sexual promiscuity, lusts, adulteries (portrayed in movies, TV, etc.), pornography and drugs and violence, outbursts of anger, and mass shootings and suicides and mental “illness” (selfish patterns of thought that drive people to insanity – see Ecclesiastes 9:3), depressions, addictions, cutting oneself, homosexuality, transgender political activism, cultural Marxism, Islamic terrorism, materialism, greed, atheism, skepticism and rebellion against God using Darwin’s theory of Evolution and hiding behind “science”, etc. – Satan and the demons disguise themselves under different manifestations in today’s world.

What struck me about McArthur’s sermon was that Jesus forced the demons to come out and expose themselves by screaming and yelling and the man who cut and hurt himself.

It is a major issue we need to consider today.

About Ken Temple

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16), in Christ alone (John 14:6). But a true faith does not stay alone, it should result in change, fruit, good works, and deeper levels of repentance and hatred of my own sins of selfishness and pride. I am not better than you! I still make mistakes and sin, but the Lord is working on me, conforming me to His character. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18) When I do sin, I hate the sin as it is an affront to God, and seek His forgiveness in repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:7-10; Colossians 3:5-16 ) Praise God for His love for sinners (Romans 5:8), shown by the voluntary coming of Christ and His freely laying down His life for us (John 10:18), becoming flesh/human (John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), dying for sins of people from all nations, tribes, and cultures (Revelation 5:9), on the cross, in history, rising from the dead (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 28, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians chapter 15). His resurrection from the dead proved that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, the word of God from eternity past; and that He was all the gospels say He was and that He is truth and the life and the way to salvation. (John 14:6)
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2 Responses to Jesus’ Cosmic Authority over Demons

  1. And here is my post where I address Revelation 3:9:

    Please read over this carefully.

    • Ken Temple says:

      Excellent content. Thanks for noticing my ongoing discussion with some Muslims (especially Faiz) over at Paul Bilal Williams old blog.

      It is long; I got your main idea about how to handle Rev. 3:9 (ok, very good; I can agree with that; but I can see / predict how unbelievers (whether Muslims or Jehovah’s Witnesses or even Roman Catholics – they use both Rev. 3:9 and 1 Chronicles 29:20 to justify veneration to statues of saints and hyper-dulia / hyper-veneration to Mary, etc.) will not agree, but I had to do other things in life and just skimmed the rest; but did not see any comment on these passages that Faiz brought up:
      I Chronicles 29:20 and the Genesis passages he brought up.

      Ah . . . I just noticed you made another comment earlier with 3 more links. I hope to be able to read them as time permits. I confess I am struggling to find time to do everything that I have to do (lots of life issues, office work, administration, dealing with family issues, etc.) The way you almost always have to have some sort of snarky remark (comment about my “shallow” level of apologetics, “you need to improve”, etc., and snarky remark against Dr. White) – your whole snarky personality is irritating and it just does not seem to flow from a godly character. Most of the time your content is good, but your whole character of always wanting to snark and be bellicose and bombastic and name-calling, etc. is one of the main reasons that you have hurt your testimony and it is a great negative against your content.

      You really need to take that to heart, as a brother in Christ, and work on just completely getting rid of your snarky and bombastic (arrogant, prideful) comments. I will pray for you. Sorry I don’t pray for you more. I wish you well in Christ and hope you are growing in holiness and character. You know, sanctification and character is more important than winning arguments.

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