Demon Possession – A History

Dear Wake Up Family:

Over the past three+ decades, Larry Wilson wrote books and articles on a host of biblical topics. Most of Larry’s writing was based on his passion for apocalyptic prophecy and the fact that Jesus was coming very soon. Nearly all conservative Christians believe in Jesus’ return, but Larry had a deep conviction that Jesus would return imminently, not in the following decades or centuries. This conviction permeated his writings and attracted many of us to Larry and his materials. However, Larry also produced material on other topics, and we have prepared 47 booklets to date based on his materials on a wide variety of Bible and prophetic topics. In the 1990s, we expanded our outreach by posting Larry’s articles and media online.

After posting items online, we could track which web pages were downloaded most frequently. What we learned was shocking. The most popular articles were not on subjects like the Sabbath, Jesus’ soon return, state of the dead, or prophecy. Instead, internet readers in 2005 downloaded an article simply titled Demonic Possession. A few years later, in 2010, Larry wrote another article titled How Does a Person Become Demon Possessed? These two articles stayed in the top five articles for many years, sometimes exceeding 10,000 monthly downloads.

Any Christian who has been following world events can’t help but see that the devil is at work, and his demons are increasingly attacking governments, society, and individuals. Unfortunately, demons also attack individuals from within by gaining footholds in a person’s life. They are relentless and deadly in their attacks on us. Unfortunately, individuals often do not recognize demonic attacks until after they have succumbed to the demons’ sophistry. The demons can use material items, alcohol, drugs, sexual passions, abuse, or the media to appeal to one’s sinful nature. In our advanced society, we also have difficulty identifying whether a person suffers from a psychiatric issue or if the demons are controlling them.

David Handler, a prolific author of children’s books and mysteries, some under the pen name of Lemony Snicket, illustrates some of the complexities of identifying demon possession. In college, he began seeing terrifying apparitions in his dreams. As time went on, every night, the naked, white figures beckoned him to watch scenes of torture and violence. He couldn’t sleep and kept feeling that something terrible would happen. He tried going to mental health doctors and hypnotists and getting MRIs and brain scans. Unfortunately, they could find no medical issues that were causing his problems. Despite all the medical treatments, his condition worsened, and he began experiencing physical problems. His brain would freeze, and he would fall to the ground, twitching like he was having a seizure.

Then, the mysterious figures left his dreams, and he began seeing them in broad daylight. All the drugs and medical attempts kept failing, and just before he graduated, he had a seizure so bad that after he woke up, he couldn’t read, write, or speak. The doctors couldn’t identify the problem, and after Handler suggested that the figures might not be hallucinations but actual experiences, they placed him in a mental facility. As the years progressed, he learned that he got visions when he didn’t have enough sleep. He says he has reduced his seizures by ignoring or walking through the ghostly figures he sees.

Daniel Handler does not believe that God exists, so he has not considered the idea that there might be a supernatural explanation for his misery. The Bible account of Job reveals that God does place a hedge of protection around those He loves. (Job 1:10) An unbeliever does not have that same level of protection. Larry described it this way, “When people sink into the godless darkness of spiritual apostasy, they enter the domain of Satan’s demons.” So, unbelievers like Daniel Handler have an open pathway for demons to wreak havoc in their lives.

Demons are alert to every opportunity to oppress sinners. They capitalize on capturing famous musicians, actors, models, social influencers, and politicians through their overwhelming desire for money and popularity because the demons can work through these cultural icons to oppress their acolytes. Some famous artists and entertainers claim that they “sold their souls to the devil.” They may be exaggerating this expression for effect or sarcasm, but most of them have not acted to dispel any rumors that have circulated about them going to the dark side. There is no doubt that Satan uses these social influencers to gain a foothold in millions of those who are vulnerable to his wiles. His followers are promoting sinful lifestyles, transgender ideologies, and unthinkable evils on impressionable people who do not have a hedge of protection.

Christians cite the verse in 1 Peter 5:8, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour,” to create a mental picture of how the devil works to ensnare unsuspecting people. However, I believe we pay too much attention to the roaring part of this verse and not enough to the prowling part. Think about what lions do when they are on the hunt. They hide in the grass and move slowly, encircle and separate the herd, stalk their prey from different angles to get close, and may use a strategy with some lions approaching the prey and others hiding. After capturing their prey, the lions often move to another hunting ground where the prey may not be expecting their appearance. Demons use similar tactics in their attacks. They identify their prey while hidden, encircling them to identify vulnerabilities, not using obvious methods to attack, and, instead, attacking from an unexpected angle. The demons are masters of gradualism, constantly assessing our vulnerabilities and choosing which approach will work best in a particular circumstance.

In our modern Western culture, we believe that there must be a reasonable medical explanation for cases of demon possession. Medical practitioners dismiss the idea that a person might be demon-possessed. However, this allows the devil to cause more distress and pain for humanity. Daniel Handler tried every modern method to identify and resolve his hallucinations. I am sure if we could see the spiritual battle that surrounds us each day, we would have a new perspective on demonic activity and recognize many more instances of demon possession.

Ever since Lucifer’s fall from heaven, he has been attempting to tear down good and right and replace it with sin and destruction. We are excited to share the enclosed Demonic Possession—Through the Ages booklet with you this month. Larry believed this subject was so important that in 1996, he brought J. Reynolds Hoffman, a pastor evangelist, to speak about how demons are active currently, just as they were in Jesus’ day. I still remember that Pastor Reynolds called Mark’s gospel a training manual about demon possession because it outlined more instances when Jesus cast out demons than the other three gospels.

While you may never encounter demons in the same form as Jesus did, this booklet will help you understand Satan’s history from his creation and learn about how he operates with his attacks to cause chaos. He is determined to impose his will on earth, and we must recognize how he operates. “Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” (Revelation 12:12)


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