SRA in the New Testament (The Gadarene Demoniac)
A frequently asked question is, “Why don’t you cast out all the demons at once like Jesus did with the Legion?” (Mark 5). This question reveals a certain naivety amongst believers concerning the power of demonic beings. Until one starts doing deliverance, one doesn’t understand the power of these things; they are immensely powerful. Yes, Jesus’ power is far greater, but we only possess small amounts of that power. Jesus had the power to walk on water, change water into wine and raise the dead (amongst other things). Most of us aren’t there yet. I believe we will be at some point because the Word tells us, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12). In the meantime, Jesus gives us increments of His power as we die to self and allow Him to abide in us in ever increasing measure.
I believe the demon-possessed man who lived amongst the tombs (commonly called the “Gadarene demoniac”) was satanically ritually abused (SRA). The demons in him were so powerful he could break chains and fetters and no man could restrain him. Demons this powerful only come into a person through satanic rituals. No one picks up these kinds of demons through sinful living. Demons of this magnitude are specifically called up from hell and commanded to enter a person. The abusers can’t get these demons directly but have to access them through the child into whom the demons have been summoned. Through sexual abuse they can access these demonic powers for their own use. Of course, this child grows up and becomes an adult who lives in extreme torment from the abuse and the demons.
The fact that this man was tormented is obvious because the Scripture tells us he was crying and cutting himself with stones (Mark 5:5). It is quite common for people who were satanically ritually abused to cut themselves. It helps them cope with their inner emotional pain and gain some feeling of control over their own life.
The account of this man is recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke. There are some differences between Matthew’s account and that of Mark and Luke that have puzzled Bible students down through the ages. I believe when one views this man from the standpoint of SRA, these seeming discrepancies will be nonexistent.
The first seeming discrepancy is that Matthew says Jesus met this man in the “country of the Gergesenes,” but in Mark and Luke it occurred in the “country of the Gadarenes.” Some have suggested, in order preserve the integrity of the Scriptures, that there were two separate accounts where Jesus sent the demons out of the man into the swine. I think this is highly unlikely. Most commentators say this is the same account but that there was some confusion in the minds of the authors or the minds of those who copied the manuscripts as to where this actually happened. William Barkley explains it this way:
“The difficulty is that no one has ever really succeeded in identifying this place beyond doubt. Gerasa can hardly be right, for the only Gerasa of which we have any information was thirty-six miles inland, south-east of the lake, in Gilead; and it is certain that Jesus did not voyage thirty-six miles inland. Gadara is almost certainly right, because Gadara was a town six miles inland from the shores of the lake, and it would be very natural for the town burying-place and the town grazing-place to be some distance outside the town. Gergesa is very likely due to the conjecture of Origen, the great third century Alexandrian scholar. He knew that Gerasa was impossible; he doubted that Gadara was possible; and he actually knew of a village called Gergesa which was on the eastern shores of the lake, and so he conjectured that Gergesa must be the place. The differences are simply due to the fact that those who copied the manuscripts did not know Palestine well enough to be sure where this incident actually happened.”
Now I would like to offer my understanding for this difference of location. I believe the Scriptures are absolutely perfect and infallible in the original languages. There is no confusion in the mind of the Holy Spirit and the original writings were divinely inspired. Therefore, any seeming discrepancy was intentionally placed there by the Holy Spirit to teach us something if we will dig deeply beneath the surface of the Word to find it.
All proper names in the Bible have a meaning. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will reveal a deeper truth to us as we investigate the meaning of these proper names. This is exactly the case here in this passage. According to The Interpreting Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names, “Gergesenes” means, “those who come from pilgrimage or fight.” “Gadarenes” means “a place surrounded or walled.” These definitions will, I believe, support our contention that this man was satanically ritually abused.
First we will examine the word, “pilgrimage,” found in our definition of “Gergesenes.” According to my 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster, a pilgrimage is “a long journey, particularly a journey to some place deemed sacred and venerable, in order to pay devotion to the relics of some deceased saint.” One meaning for “venerable” is “impressive on account of age or historic or religious associations.”
Satanists like to hang around any place where there are the remains of deceased people—saint or no saint—so they frequently do rituals in cemeteries. Most people don’t know this, but Satanists make a lot of pilgrimages. They like to do rituals in places they deem historically significant, especially places where there has been a lot of death. They believe they gain more power in these places because of the many spirits of the dead that they believe to be there and because of the powerful demons that hang around those places.
One of their favorite places for rituals in the twentieth century has been the historic concentration camps of Germany where millions perished during the Second World War. I know this because I have ministered to several SRA persons who had memories of being subjected to horrific rituals in these camps. Satanists like to do rituals in battlegrounds where large numbers of soldiers died and also in places of historic significance. If they can do a ritual at a national monument, for example, they believe they can gain power over a nation. Rituals have been done behind the famous Hollywood sign on the mountain near Los Angeles because, to the satanic mind, this is a way to gain control over the movie industry.
The second part of our Gergesenes’ definition is “fight.” This poor abused man had to fight for his life in order to survive these rituals and he did so by “surrounding himself with walls”—the definition for “Gadarenes.” Satanic ritual abuse is so terrifying and painful that its victims learn to erect walls in their mind to seal themselves off from the memory of their abuse. They dissociate by saying, “That never happened to me,” and then erect a wall of amnesia to shield themselves from the memory.
Speaking of memories—the Greek word for “tombs” where this man is said to have dwelled in verse two of this passage is mnemeion, derived from mneme meaning “remembrance” or “memory.” Satanically ritually abused persons have much of their identity “entombed” in their memories. In order to survive their abuse, there had to be a split in the conscious process in which a group of mental activities broke away from the main stream of consciousness and functioned as a separate unit, as if belonging to another person. Because of this process, parts of themselves are locked away behind walls along with their memories causing them to feel less than whole persons. It is not uncommon for memories of several years of childhood to be totally lost from one’s conscious memory because of the walls of “amnesia” erected in order to survive the abuse.
There is evidence from Scripture to indicate this man had multiple personalities. In Mark and Luke’s accounts of him running to Jesus, there is only one man. In Matthew’s account it reads, “And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.”
Is there some discrepancy here? It is obviously the same story, but in Matthew there are two and in Mark and Luke, only one. Notice carefully that in Matthew it says, “there met him two possessed…” but the word “men” is not there (KJV). It does not say two “men.” It only says, “two.” The answer to this seeming discrepancy is that there was indeed only one man but he had more than one personality! (Some translations have added the word “men” here but it is not found in the original Greek.) If we will seek to learn the spiritual meaning of a number, we will uncover deeper spiritual insight into a biblical passage. E. W. Bullinger in his book, Number in Scripture, says regarding the number two, “It is the first number by which we can divide another, and therefore in all its uses we may trace this fundamental idea of division or difference.” So the Matthew passage is telling us that the person meeting Jesus was divided into different parts.
I believe the revelations being brought forth here concerning the Gadarene demoniac were divinely hidden—purposely written in such a way they could only be revealed by the Holy Spirit in the end times. It is the present day church that will be dealing with the phenomenon of satanic ritual abuse. The Holy Spirit would not have recorded the words “multiple personalities” for people down through the ages who would have had no knowledge of such a modern term. Therefore, it was carefully recorded that there were “two” but the word “men” was obviously left out. In this way it could be revealed in God’s time for those who needed this information and could understand it.
Another interesting thing about this demon-possessed man is that he knew who Jesus was. The account in Mark tells us that when he saw Jesus “he ran and worshiped him.” How did he know who Jesus was when even His own disciples did not yet recognize that He was God? Some have said this is because the demons knew who He was and because the demons knew, the man knew. I don’t agree with this because I don’t believe anyone worships Jesus due to the testimony of a demon. I believe He worshiped Jesus because He, himself, knew who Jesus was.
When little children are in the agony of satanic ritual abuse, they cry out to God for help and He comes and helps them through their abuse. As a result of the rituals, their soul and spirit have experienced enough separation that they are open to the realm of spirit. This enables them to see, hear and feel the demons, which only increases their torment, but they can also see good spirits such as Jesus or heavenly angels. Some satanically ritually abused persons who have cried to Jesus for help have seen Him and experienced Him in ways the rest of us have not. This man knew who Jesus was because when he cried to God for help during the rituals, Jesus appeared to him and helped him through. Over the years in SRA counseling, I have heard many testimonies from child alters about how Jesus was with them and helped them through their ordeal of suffering.
This ancient story also sheds light on the question, Can a Christian have a demon? Many Christians believe it is possible to be a Christian and still have an indwelling demon, but there are also many in the church who believe a Christian cannot have a demon. This question needs to be examined more thoroughly if we are going to be able to help the satanically ritually abused who, when they were little children, had demons purposely called into them by their abusers.
Many who were satanically ritually abused are desperate for help but have nowhere to turn. Professional counseling is costly and beyond the financial means of many; plus, few professionals deal with casting out demons. Many satanically ritually abused survivors are frustrated in their attempts to find help from the church due to the church’s narrow doctrine of demonology.
If the Bible stated clearly whether or not a Christian could have a demon, there would be no controversy; however, this is not the case. Our belief on whether or not a Christian can have a demon is based on how we interpret the Scriptures. Perhaps the Holy Spirit intended it this way so our fellowship with one another would be based on our love for Jesus rather than our doctrine.
As we examine this controversial question, let us begin with something I think we can all agree upon. In order to worship Jesus, one must be a Christian. The Greek word for worship is proskuneo, which means “to kiss (like a dog licking his master’s hand);” “to prostrate oneself in homage,” “do reverence to,” “adore,” “worship.” Clearly, no unbeliever adores Jesus, reverences Him or bows in homage before Him. We must have the Holy Spirit within to worship God in this way. Salvation begins with a mental decision to believe in Christ and repent of our sins. Only after salvation are we able to worship God.
The Gadarene demoniac was a man possessed by a legion of demons (a legion, according to the dictionary would have been between 3000 and 6000, or a vast multitude) who was still able to bow down and worship Jesus. In spite of the demon possession, He knew Jesus and worshiped him. He had to be, in modern terms, a believer or a Christian. Yes, he had demons in him, but He was also a believer, which is exactly the state of many persons today who were satanically ritually abused.
The fact that he had thousands of demons in him also reinforces my belief that he had dissociated and had multiple personalities. Multitudes of demons don’t want to have only one personality to torment. They would all be fighting over who got to control him next or who could torment him the most. When a person dissociates, each personality has a small group of demons that control and harass it. That way each demon gets to “do his thing” and they don’t wind up fighting and destroying each other. Therefore, the more a person dissociates, the more powers (demons) he has because multiple demons require multiple personalities to satisfy themselves. this makes him more valuable to the cult.
Persons who were satanically ritually abused have a light side and a dark side. They can love Jesus and experience His presence in a supernatural way—an experience of great exuberance—but in the same day, they may experience a cult alter coming forth and summoning demons which brings them down into despair. They experience great highs and lows, and are, therefore, often diagnosed as being “bipolar.” If we look carefully at the state of this man in Mark’s account, we can discern the Holy Spirit showing us this.
The scripture says, “And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.” In “night and day” we see the dark and the light side of an SRA person. A mountain is a high place. A tomb is a grave or a hole in the ground, i.e. a low place. These extreme highs and lows coupled with the dichotomy of having a light and dark side, cause people to feel out of control and they may cut themselves in hopes of gaining some measure of control over their emotions and their troubled, confusing lives. Also their torment continues night and day so there is never a time when they are free from suffering. While parts of their personality are sleeping, other parts are awake being tormented by demons. The person never fully rests and therefore fatigue is just one more factor in their life of extreme torment.
The response of the townspeople to Jesus is interesting. After Jesus cast the legion of demons out of the man and into the swine, the townspeople heard about what was happening and came to see for themselves. Mark tells us, “And they came to Jesus, and saw him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid…and they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.”
This tells us volumes about the character of these people. One would think they would have been overjoyed to see this poor miserable man finally set free from his torment. There had to be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Jesus was filled with the power of God and that He had performed a miracle. If this were so, why would they be afraid of Him? Some have said it was because they lost their swine. I think it was more than that.
There had to be amongst those people those who abused the man in their rituals and others who were under their control. They were afraid not because of the swine but because they knew they had come face to face with God, and Satanists regard God as their enemy. They didn’t want to be exposed before Him or have to contend with the obvious truth that the power of God is far greater than the power of the devil.
After this great miracle, the man who had been healed wanted to go with Jesus. Of course he wanted to be with Jesus! Who would want to go back to those people who had abused him and left him alone out there in the tombs? But Jesus’ answer was, No. However, the Lord gave him some instructions. He said, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee” (Mark 5:19).
At first glance it would appear that Jesus was sending the man back to be with the people who had abused him. However, this was not the case. The man understood what Jesus meant and his response was, “…he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.” He departed! He did not stay where he had been; he went out to Decapolis, the ten cities of the district of Syria, and testified of the great miracle Jesus had done for him.
When Jesus said, “Go home to thy friends,” He did not mean what appears to us on the surface. Something has been lost in the translation. The Greek word for “friends” used here is sos. Sos is not the usual New Testament Greek word for “friends.” The word “friend” or “friends” is in the New Testament 35 times and philos is almost always used. This passage is the only place in the New Testament where sos is used to mean “friend.” Sos really means “thine,” or “thine own,” with “friend” only being implied. So Jesus was really saying, Go home to thine own. Who were “thine own” to this man? Other believers! He was now part of the family of God and other Christians were his friends.
There were many believers in Decapolis, as seen in Matthew where we read, “And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan” (Mat. 4:25). This man had a new family, the family of God, and he departed to those ten cities where he had many new friends and a whole new life awaiting him.
It is often needful for SRA persons to forsake their family of origin and find a new family because very often their abuse came from their own parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, etc. This is one reason why it is important for the church to understand SRA and embrace those who are recovering from its effects. We need to become their family. Holidays can be especially difficult for them because, not only do they no longer have an extended family with which to celebrate, but also, after having memories, they realize they were abused on holidays. Any holiday is a satanic ritual time—especially Christmas and Easter.
Some Christians have refused to believe in the existence of SRA because they say it is not in the Bible. However, it is seen in the Old Testament where parents made their children “pass through the fire” to the god Molech. Even the Israelites were known to do this because they did not heed the warnings of God not to intermarry with the nations around them. Because of intermarriage, they began worshiping pagan gods and even got involved in child sacrifice. This practice did not pass away with the coming of Jesus, and the story of the Gadarene demoniac gives us a view of Jesus healing one of its survivors. This should bring hope to all who have been so abused because we see here that Jesus understands and is able to heal anyone who has been satanically ritually abused.