Questions From Readers
● When Christ was on earth and casting out demons, why did they want to be in a fleshly body? For instance, on one occasion demons possessing men pleaded that they be allowed to enter a herd of swine. Why?—T. C., Pennsylvania.
The account concerning these two demon-possessed men is found at Matthew 8:28-32. More details are given in the accounts by Mark and Luke, though they speak as though there was only one demon-possessed man, probably because the one they spoke of was the one who did the speaking with Jesus for both of them. (Mark 5:1-16; Luke 8:26-35) Mark’s account reads, in part: “On catching sight of Jesus from a distance he ran and did obeisance to him, and, when he had cried out with a loud voice, he said: ‘What have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I put you under oath by God not to torment me.’ For he had been telling it: ‘Come out of the man, you unclean spirit.’ But he began to ask him: ‘What is your name?’ And he said to him: ‘My name is Legion, because there are many of us.’ And he entreated him many times not to send the spirits out of the country. Now a great herd of swine was there on the mountain feeding. So they entreated him, saying: ‘Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.’ And he permitted them. With that the unclean spirits came out and entered into the swine, and the herd rushed over the precipice into the sea, about two thousand of them, and they drowned one after another in the sea.”—Mark 5:6-13, NW.
Why did the legion of these demons or unclean spirits want to go into the swine instead of just being cast out? Well, for them to enter the swine would show to the observers round about their ouster from the men in a very forceful way, and it would show the harm that came to creatures of flesh that became demon-possessed. It would demonstrate for such human observers Jesus’ power over the demons and demonic power over fleshly creatures. All this might suit Jesus’ purpose and might explain why he allowed the unclean spirits to enter the swine, but it would not explain why the demons themselves would want to enter the herd of swine. They would not be interested in making more striking the display of Jesus’ power over them. So what might have been their reasons for their entreaties?
It may be that they got some pleasure out of it, in some unnatural sadistic way. It was not natural for spirit creatures to invade some fleshly body, yet it is apparent that they wanted to do so at times. Before the flood of Noah’s day rebellious spirit creatures allied themselves with Satan and materialized in human form and cohabited with women. Theirs was not merely a temporary materialization for the purpose of delivering some revelation to man, as faithful angels did at times, but was of a more permanent nature, and to allow them to indulge in practices not divinely meant for them. They were acting unnaturally for a spirit creature, and produced an offspring of hybrids that were sadistic in their bullying conduct. (Gen. 6:1-4) Jehovah God cut short their disobedient, lustful spree by the Flood, which destroyed the human bodies of flesh that they had materialized and forced them to return to spirit form for their own preservation.
Not thereafter having the power to materialize fleshly bodies for their use, it seems that these fallen spirit creatures did the nearest thing to it that was in their power, and that was to invade the bodies of men that were already living. These bodies they could possess and drive to the satisfying of their sadistic and unnatural desires. It was a form of perversion, just as some degenerate men sink to sodomy and use other men rather than women for intercourse, and also go after lower animals for sexual gratification. So the demons, when they could not remain in the men, wanted to be allowed to enter the swine.
Just what gratification this gave them is unknown, but there must have been something about it that enabled them to reap an unnatural satisfaction. It certainly gave them opportunity to torture and torment, to vent sadistic desires, and also to partake of the cowardly mob spirit by ganging up on men, since many possessed one person, not only in the case mentioned in the question but also in other cases. (Matt. 12:43-45) Sexually abnormal, perverted and sadistic men derive morbid thrills from sex crimes and other types of violence, as in the case of the Levite’s concubine and the men of Gibeah, and the case of the two angels at Sodom whom a mob sought to defile. (Gen. 19:4-11; Judg. 19:22-25) So spirit creatures that have abandoned their Creator and defiled and debased themselves with the rebel Satan became unnatural in their entry into fleshly creatures, and doubtless became captives of their degradation and it became habitual with them in their endeavor to satisfy the lusts of their fallen state.
There is no reason to think that they cannot possess persons today. This is not to say that all those mentally sick are so possessed, for they are not. Mentally sick persons, however, in their weakened state, may present more vulnerable targets for their assaults and invasions. Some show evidences of demon possession, whereas many show evidences of merely mental sickness or nervous breakdown. Today we must be diligent in maintaining a high degree of spiritual strength, for that is the way to ward off the invasion of demons, to keep them from our minds and bodies. We are safe if we put on and keep on “the complete suit of armor from God”.—Eph. 6:10-17, NW.