by Dillard Thurman
via Gospel Minutes, Vol. 30, No. 26, June 26, 1981.
Do you believe that the devil and his followers continue to walk about the earth today? If so, in what type of forms do they take?
Yes, I believe that the truth stated by Peter still is prevalent in our day and time, he says: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8). The devil still stalks the earth, seeking any whom he may possess as his own! However, there has been given to us a way of escape: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). One can be possessed of the devil only if he voluntarily accepts Satan's yoke of bondage. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13). The devil still exercises his power in the world of sin, but he cannot influence us more than we allow him to do, and God, being our Helper, he cannot possess the child of God. He went as far as he could with Job, but God drew the line, and he could go no further. God placed the limitation upon him!
There is a difference between "demon possession" today than in the day of our Lord's ministry on earth. When Jesus cast out the demons in the land of the Gadarenes, those demons could talk and exercise themselves by controlling the one possessed (Mark 5:1-20; Matthew 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-29). Jesus by miraculous demonstration cast them out into a herd of swine. The Bible records many such miracles: all confirming the Word of God as it was taught by Jesus and His apostles and prophets. There is much we cannot know about such demon possession of that day. It should be noted that while the demons were present in that day causing mischief in the one they possessed, the Holy Spirit was also in attendance to provide miraculous mastery over them; and by this method, the Word of God was confirmed (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:2,3). After speaking of the day of the fountain for sin being opened in Jerusalem, God said through the prophet: "And I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirits to pass out of the land" (Zechariah 13:2). The inspired prophets continued and worked miracles until the Word of God had been confirmed, and then there was no further need for a direct operation of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and prophets in order to furnish them with what to say to the people and to confirm such as being that which comes from God. When the power to expunge the demons from people existed through the power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus and the apostles, in order to confirm the Word of God that they taught, came to an end, the presence of demon possession also came to an end.
The devil continues to walk among us today in many forms, forms that many times we will not recognize, especially if we are not aware of what the Bible teaches about the devil's actions in trying to persuade men and women to do his bidding. But remember, that when the devil enters into a person to take over his life and cause him to sin, it is by invitation on the part of the person he enters. "By their fruits you shall know them" "Know ye not , that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" (Romans 6:16). The devil's followers are those who do the devil's bidding on earth! They may be mayors of cities, governors of states, senators, or even presidents of a nation. They can be highly respected citizens in the civil government or communities, but still be a servant of Satan. But God and His Son Jesus come into our lives when we study, accept and obey His Word, as found in the New Testament. We are told, "If a man love Me, he will keep My Words: and My Father will love him, and We will come and make Our abode with him" (John 14:23). If one invites the devil rather than the Father and the Son into their lives, the devil takes up abode in him. But the presence of the devil can be rejected by turning to the Word of God and obeying it. This is far different from the demon possession that was offset by miraculous power by Jesus and the apostles of the first century, in order to confirm the Word they were teaching.