“Characteristics of Demon-Possessed People”

Mark 5:1-20

Jesus’ encounter with the demoniac in Mark 5 shows how demon-possessed people can be identified by seven characteristics:

Mindless Pursuits

Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He (Jesus) had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit…” (vv. 1-2a emphasis added).

It is interesting that “Gadarenes” means “headlong rush”. The term implies “quick, uncontrollable movements”. It is a picture of someone who acts in a helter-skelter way, just like this demoniac.  

Also, one of Mark’s favorite words is “immediately”. He uses the word 36 times his gospel. In verse 2 he uses it to show how frenzied this man’s approach to Jesus was. He burst onto the scene without caution or restraint. Indiscriminate and frantic activity is one of the signs of demon possession.

Moral Perversion

“…a man with an unclean spirit…” (verse 2b)

We live in a day of moral perversion. In many and assorted ways, Satan has gained a foothold in the hearts of countless souls. Because of Godless media, a spiritual sewer has burst in most homes.

Protect your family and yourself from these demonic attacks. has a free download for anyone who wants to set up an accountability partnership about their online media use.

Morbid Places

“…who had his dwelling among the tombs…” (verse 3a)

The demoniac had been thrown out of society. He went to the only place he would be accepted, a graveyard. Demons dwell in dark, deserted places. The only habitation they like more is inside a human’s body (Luke 11:24-26).

Miraculous Powers

“…and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him.” (verses 3b-4)

Even the devil can perform miracles. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 speaks of how “the lawless one” (antichrist) will come with “all power, signs, and lying wonders”. Revelation 13:13 prophesies how the false prophet of the antichrist “performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men”.

The evil one has supernatural power, but the Bible says, “greater is He (Jesus) that is in you than he (Satan) that is in than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Jesus indwells the believer (Colossians 1:27). Therefore, a demon cannot possess a Christian. We are possessed by Christ. Since the Holy Spirit lives in the Christian (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), the Lord’s resurrection power resides in us (Ephesians 3:20).

Masochistic Pleasure

“And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.” (verse 5)

Cutting and self-harmful behavior are more than a mental disorder, they are marks of a serious spiritual attack which is being seen more frequently in our day. When someone injures himself, he not only shows hatred for himself, but also finds a sense of false comfort in such self-destruction. Oddly enough, he inflicts pain on himself to cope with emotional hurt.

Malicious wounding is the mission of the devil (John 10:10). Self-mutilation destroys not only the body, but the soul.

Messianic Panic

“When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped (fell down before, prostrated himself before) Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.’ For He said to him, ‘Come out of the man, unclean spirit!’” (vv. 6-8)

This demon panicked to be in the presence of the Messiah. He fell down before the Lord. He knew Jesus was the Christ. The demons acknowledged the same thing in Luke 4:41. Demons live in sheer terror of the Anointed One (James 2:19).

Jesus traumatizes evil spirits because they know He controls their ultimate destiny (Luke 8:31, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6, Revelation 20:1-3). All demons are premillennialists. This demon thought it was “the time” for Christ’s second coming (Matthew 8:29) when Jesus will throw all demons into the pit (abyss) where they will be “tormented” during the millennial reign of Christ. Demons know prophecy and they are afraid of its fulfillment.

Multiple Personalities

“Then He asked him, ‘What is your name?’ And he answered, saying, ‘ My name is Legion: for we are many.’ Also, he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country.” (verses 9-10 emphasis added).  

Notice how the demoniac changes references to himself from “I” in verses 7-8 to “we” in verse 9. Also, see how Mark used the plural pronoun, “them” to describe the multiple demons Jesus cast out of the man.

The Roman “legion” was the largest military unit of the Imperial Army, composed of 4,000 to 6,000 soldiers. It is not uncommon for demonized people to have multiple evil spirits taking up residence within them. Mary Magdalene had seven demons living in her (Luke 8:2).

Jesus freed Mary Magdalene and this demon-possessed man of their evil spirits. He can still do the same for those we know and love. Call out to God for deliverance on their behalf.

More in my next blog.



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