Ask Anything: Jesus, Mental Illness, Casting Out Demons

Today’s guest post is from Keith Johnson.  Keith has served on Discovery’s Leadership Team and his family have been active at Discovery for almost a decade.  On a personal level, I’ll add that Keith is a gifted business man and a sharp thinker who takes the challenge of the gospel seriously.  Keith covered 3 questions for us, the post is the 2nd of 3.   

Q:  When Jesus (and others) would cast out evil in people, would that evil be what we today might call mental illness?
A:  In short, no.  Jesus and his disciples did at times heal people and at other times did cast out the devil, and other evil spirits.  There are many references to Jesus and the disciples practice of casting out evil spirits including: Luke 11:14, Luke 13:32,  Matthew 8:16 and others.  In Luke 9:1 Jesus also gives this power to his disciples: “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases.  Of importance here to note is that Jesus gave them the power to cast out demons AND to cure disease.  Similarly if we look at Mark 1:34, “And He healed many who will ill with various diseases and cast out many demons…”  Again, note the use of the word AND and the distinction made between disease or illness and casting out of demons.  Even during Jesus’ time with their limited knowledge of physical medicine, these were recognized to be separate and distinct issues as shown in Samuel 21:12-13: “David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.”  This passage helps prove that they understood the difference between mental illness and demonic possession.


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