"Angel of Light"
Two extremes of demonic possession present themselves in the text of the New Testament.
"And when He was come out of the ship, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped Him, and cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure Thee by God, that Thou torment me not" (Mark 5:2-7).
"And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying. The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour" (Acts 16:16-18).
The first account, commonly referred to in terms of "the Gadarene demoniac," describes the devilish possession with which we are most familiar. The Lord describes a man out of control, living in a graveyard, screaming and hurting himself. Ask anyone what it means to be possessed by devils, and the demoniac will almost surely be the response. Certainly this is Biblically accurate. However, it does not provide a complete description of demon possession. Consider the damsel, also possessed by an evil spirit. Scripture offers no indication of wild, unfettered actions or words in this young lady. To the contrary, the demon-possessed girl spoke the truth about Paul and Silas. They were indeed "servants of the Most High God, which show us the way of salvation." Paul himself seems to have been initially misled since he did not cast the demon from the girl "for many days." She did not follow the pattern of demonic possession that most of us consider as the norm of such spiritual destruction. She was, however, no less possessed than the more obvious victim of devilish influence. Herein lies a grave danger regarding our spiritual enemies.
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness" (II Corinthians 11:13-15).
If a Gadarene demoniac approaches us frothing at the mouth, so to speak, we will immediately recognize and resist the threat. However, if a demon-possessed damsel draws near with a smiling face and words of truth on her lips, we are far less likely to recognize the danger. Our subtle foe the devil realizes such truth, and if I had to guess, far more damsels than demoniacs exist among his forces of spiritual darkness. Moreover, far too many of the Shepherd's lambs seem to be oblivious to the possibility that the devil's wolves often don the garb of sheepdogs for the purpose of deception. The realization of such spiritual jeopardy should put us on our utmost guard against both demoniac and damsel, especially the latter.
It may say much when a preacher, teacher, or writer communicates with an open Bible and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ on lips or by pen. It may, however, say nothing at all regarding Truth and spiritual reality. The devil who tempted even the Savior with Scripture in the wilderness temptation gladly offers smiles, tidbits of Biblical truth, and messages that initially seem to help. As one young lady once said about listening to a man she should have recognized as the falsest of prophets, "I just feel so good, and so strengthened and encouraged when I listen to him!" Yes, and the devil who deceived her doubtless felt so good as she blindly wandered into his snare. Failure to realize the damsel's possession by Satan guarantees we will wander into the traps set for us. Fallen angels can indeed appear to be faithful even as their master enshrouds unwitting victims with darkness that appears to be light.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour whom resist stedfast in the faith."
(I Peter 5:8-9)
Weekly Memory Verse
For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.