Throughout Old and New Testament times there was the belief that by calling the name of a god over a sick person, demons could be exorcised (cp. Acts 19:13). The name of the god was held to have some mystical power. The true worship of Yahweh also placed great importance on the power of the Name of Israel’s God, e.g.: “May the name of the God of Jacob defend you. Save me, O God, by Your Name” (Psalms 20:1; 54:1). The fundamental difference between the Name of Yahweh and that of other gods was that the Yahweh Name was both a declaration of His character and also a prophecy of His people’s eternal future; therefore it was a means of real salvation. However, Yahweh evidently did not devise a system of worship for Israel which shied as far away as possible from using the language of contemporary beliefs. He revealed Himself in a way which showed His supremacy over those beliefs. Understanding this paves the way for a correct grasp of the New Testament language of demons. Christ spoke as if pagan exorcists had power (Matthew 12:27); it was only indirectly that He taught His superiority over them. There is much emphasis on the use of the name of Christ to cast out demons/heal diseases (Mark 16:17; Acts 3:6; 4:10; 16:18; 19:13-16; James 5:14). This has some similarity with the way in which the pagans repeated the names of their gods to exorcise what they believed to be demons. We can therefore come to the conclusion that in the demonstration of His power as being greater than that of other ‘gods’ and so-called ‘demons’, Yahweh is very indirect about it, and does so through alluding closely to the style and language which those false systems used. If this is truly appreciated, it will be evident that just because the New Testament sometimes uses the style and language of the surrounding paganism, this is no proof that those pagan beliefs have any substance.
The conclusion is that the Bible uses language which is riddled with allusions to surrounding pagan beliefs, in order to demonstrate the supremacy of Yahweh worship over them. Yahweh was not just another god who took His place amongst the pantheon of deities the Canaanite people believed in. The God of Israel was the only true God. He was therefore in active antagonism towards the claims of the other gods; hence Yahweh continually alludes to them in His self-revelation through His word. But His style is evidently not to criticize those gods in so many words. This would be altogether too human for the Maker of Heaven and earth.
Modern medicine and psychotherapy can at times use the belief systems of the patient to effect a cure—even whilst disbelieving those belief systems to the point of ridicule. Consider the following extract from “The Rainbow Machine”—Tales from a Neurolinguist’s Journal by Andrew T. Austin (Boulder, CO: Real People Press, 2007). What Austin did is in essence what the Lord Jesus did by using the language of demons:
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Author: Duncan Heaster
Keywords: Sacred disease, Epilepsy, Epileptic, Demons, Demon, Devils, Devil possession, Demoniac, Demon posession, Possessed of a demon, Possessed by a devil, Devil possessed, Demon possessed, Sicknesses, Illnesses, Illness, Sickness, Lunacy, Lunatic, Mental illness, Mental afflictions, Afflictions, Evil spirits, Devil spirits, Wicked spirits, Medicine, Demonology, Accomodation, Demon accomodation, Ancient sickness, Ancient illness, Ancient sicknesses, Ancient illnesses, Exorcism, Moonstruck, Moon struck, Casting out demons, Casting out devils, Exorcize, Exorcise, Exorcize demons, Exorcise demons, Mental illnesses, Mental sickness, Mentally ill, Mentally sick, Woman with issue of blood, psychosomatic, black magic
Bible reference(s): Matthew 7:22, Matthew 8:16, Matthew 9:33, Matthew 10:8, Matthew 12:27, Matthew 12:28, Mark 1:34, Mark 3:15, Mark 3:23, Mark 6:13, Mark 16:9, Mark 16:17, Luke 6:22, Luke 11:18, Luke 11:19, Luke 11:20, Luke 13:32, Luke 20:12, John 6:37, John 12:31
Source: “The Real Devil A Biblical Exploration.”
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