What Can Be Known about Unclean Spirits

5 Mins read

Paul has made it clear that man’s battle is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of evil. This does not mean there should be an over-occupation or odd curiosity about these spiritual forces. Nevertheless, the Bible speaks of them often, so the Christian must be aware of their activity.

Have controlling power

Evil spirits are depicted in the Bible as having controlling power. Mark 5:1-20 introduces the reader to a man possessed by demons. The Bible says, “And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit” (KJV, Mark 5:2). The story goes on to tell the reader of the control these unclean spirits had over the man.


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Elsewhere the Bible speaks of a boy who had an unclean spirit and says, “And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father” (Luke 9:42). While the Bible clarifies that unclean spirits have controlling powers, it must be noted the believer has been delivered from this type of activity.

Several in existence

It is also evident that there are many unclean spirits in existence. After Jesus was encountered by the man previously referenced, Jesus asked for his name. The Bible says, “And he asked him, What is your name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many” (Mark 5:9). Even the one man was overcome by many demons. Legion is a Latin word defining a Roman military unit of six thousand infantrymen. Thus the controlling spirits were many, and they were also militant. The fight was real, and the mission of Satan can be seen in Jesus’ words when He informed His listeners that Satan came to steal, kill, and destroy.

Under authority


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Even though unclean spirits have controlling power, and there are many of them, it must be noted that they are also under authority. After the man gives his name to Jesus, the Bible says, “And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country” (Mark 5:10). The wording in Mark 5:10 is in line with the rest of the Scripture.

For instance, when Satan sought to tempt Job, he could not do it unless God allowed it. Thus, the Christian can find peace and rest in the arms of God. God has also promised the Christian, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Ability to occupy

Earlier, it was seen that unclean spirits have the ability to control. They also have the ability to occupy. However, there is a significant difference between influence and occupancy. The Bible informs the Christian that he is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Another passage depicts Jesus as the strong man Who has come to bind Satan and cast him out of the home. When the Spirit of Christ comes to occupy a believer, unclean spirits cannot do so. After conversion, occupancy is not possible since a stronger man dwells within. Instead, the believer deals with being influenced. As a result, he must be on guard.

Nevertheless, the Bible makes it clear that unclean spirits can occupy. After the unclean spirits request that Jesus not send them out of the country, the Bible says, “Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine…” (Mark 5:11-13). Here we can see the unclean spirits went out of the man and into the pigs. Thus, the spirits were inside the man and went into the pigs. As a result, the Bible informs us that unclean spirits can occupy man and beast.

Deemed unclean

Demonic forces are given many names. In Mark 5, the spirits that occupied Legion were called unclean spirits. Both angels and demons are spirits. Thus, they cannot be seen with the eye. They dwell in a spiritual realm and are in the world but are invisible to man. However, there is a great difference between angels and unclean spirits.

The Holy Spirit is also a Spirit whose name tells of His nature. He is holy, clean, pure, and righteous. But the nature of the unclean spirits is also revealed in their name. They are unclean, morally filthy, polluted, corrupted, and defiled.

Unclean spirits are also referred to as familiar spirits (Lev. 20:26), principalities
(Rom. 8:38), and spirits in prison (1 Pet. 3:19).

Followers of Satan

Unclean spirits are essentially followers of Satan. John tells us, “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten red horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth…” (Rev. 12:3-4). Satan is depicted as a dragon sweeping one-third of the angels from heaven and influencing them over to his side.

Will be judged

The Christian must recognize that the Day of Judgment is on the horizon. Peter says, “For is God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (2 Pet. 2:4). Judgment awaits the fallen angels. God is not overlooking their activity, but in His perfect timing, the judgment will come.

While it may be hard to understand God’s ways and why He seemingly delays His judgment, the Christian must trust in the Word of God. After many trials, Joseph responded, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Gen. 50:20). After Job endured much spiritual attack, he claimed, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee” (Job 42:5). When Jesus was turned over to the Sanhedrin, it came by way of Satan placing the temptation into the heart of Judas Iscariot. However, the Bible also tells the reader that the death of Christ was the believers saving grace. While Satan thought he had won, God was the victor.

It is hard to understand all of God’s ways. Indeed, the Christian cannot. God’s wisdom, ways, and thoughts exceed mankind’s. Nevertheless, the Christian must be reminded, “And the angels which kept not their estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 1:6). God’s justice will prevail.

How to respond

Despite all the enemy’s activity, the Christian is given clear commands. James informs us that the Christian must submit himself to God and that when he does, Satan will flee. This reality is depicted in Jesus’ encounter with Satan in the wilderness.

Satan came to tempt Jesus, but Jesus responded by submitting to the will of God revealed in the Scriptures. First, Jesus knew the Bible and could counter Satan’s temptation with the truth. Second, Jesus obeyed the truth. Simply knowing what the Bible says is not enough. The Christian must do what it says.

Satan tempted Jesus multiple times, and this element must also be recognized. James promises the enemy will flee when the Christian submits to God and turns from the enemy. But we see in Jesus’ example that Satan was perseverant. However, in the end, through the endurance of Christ amid temptation, Satan did flee. Therefore, when the Christian applies the Word of God and looks to the Lord, He will have victory.

Final prayer

Father, help me to submit to You this day and honor You in my life. Help me to endure my trials and live a life that is pleasing in Your sight. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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