A demoniac is defined: "a person supposedly possessed by a demon." The word is frequently used in the New Testament, and applied to persons suffering under the possession of a demon or evil spirit. Much is being said lately about individuals in our times being possessed of demons. The film, "The Exorcist," that received so much publicity a few years ago, is built around demon possession. It is no uncommon thing to read of modern religionists who have cast demons out of individuals in our day and made them whole again. People seem to accept demon possession today as a fact, and also that there are those who have the power now to cast them out. The prevailing thought with many who accept such views is that being possessed accounts for the evil so many perform for which they are not accountable. As in the case of so many false beliefs, it is another effort to lessen man's responsibility and accountability for the crimes and evils that he commits.
Anyone who reads the New Testament must accept the fact that during the days of the Lord and His apostles there were evil spirits subject to the Devil. These evil spirits were permitted by God to exercise direct influence over the souls and bodies of certain individuals. The New Testament Scriptures abound in evidence of people being possessed with demons. Christ had power over these demons, and He, in turn, gave such power to His apostles and certain disciples. "And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name" (Luke 10:17). God doubtlessly permitted them in the days of Christ and His apostles in order to demonstrate the power that Christ had in being able to cast them out. This involved evidence of the divinity of Christ that we might believe Him to be the Son of God. "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name" (John 20:30-31). Included in the signs were the occasions of Christ casting out these demons from certain individuals.
In the long ago, Zechariah prophesied: "There shall be a fountain opened to the House of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness" (Zechariah 13:1). This prophecy referred to the inauguration of the new covenant and events on Pentecost in Acts 2. In the latter portion of verse 2, he stated, "I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land." With the revealing of the truth of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ, the unclean spirits or demoniacs did pass out of the land. As the perfect law of liberty was available and confirmation was in the written word, there was no more need for signs and miracles to confirm the deity of Christ or the Word of truth. Hence, no men are possessed with demons in our time, for the purpose of such, and demonstration over them is no longer needed. Paul wrote, "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away" (I Corinthians 13:9-10). "That which is perfect" refers to the complete revelation of God's will. It has come, and is found in the New Testament Scriptures. We have the complete revelation of God's Will "that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (II Timothy 3: 16-17). Demon possession has passed out of the land!
Concerning the subject of demoniacs, we quote from Smith's Bible Dictionary:
"It has been maintained by many persons that our Lord and the evangelists, in referring to demoniacal possession, spoke only in accommodation to the general belief of the Jew, without any assertion as to its truth or its falsity. It is concluded that since the symptoms of the affliction were frequently those of bodily disease (as dumbness - Matthew 9:32; blindness - Matthew 12:22; epilepsy - Mark 5:1-5, the demoniacs were merely persons suffering under unusual diseases of body and mind. But demoniacs are frequently distinguished from those afflicted with bodily sickness (See Mark 1:32; 16:17-18; Luke 6:7-18), the same outward signs are sometimes referred to possession, sometimes merely to disease (compare Matthew 4:24 with Matthew 17:15; Luke 4:41, etc.). All of these things speak of a personal power of evil. Twice our Lord distinctly connects demoniac possession with the power of the evil one (Luke 10:18). Lastly, the single fact recorded of the entrance of the demons at Gadara (Mark 5:10-14) into the herd of swine, and the effect which that entrance caused is sufficient to overthrow the notion that our Lord and the evangelists do not assert or imply an objective reality of possession. We are led, therefore, to the ordinary and literal interpretation of these passages that there are (were - BKT) evil spirits, subjects of the evil one, who, in the days of the Lord Himself and His apostles especially, were permitted by God to exercise a direct influence over souls and bodies of certain men."