The Greek word diamonizomai is better translated in the broader sense of “demonized” or demon influenced than the narrow sense of “demon-possessed.” The problem is with the term possession. Real demon possession is when an individual’s personality is submerged by an evil force. Possession is certainly rare. It is nothing most of us need to be concerned about. The word in the New Testament which is often translated as “possessed” actually means in the original Greek, something like “demonized” or under the attack of a demon which is a much broader term. I find that possession is rare but people who are “demonized,” who are continually attacked or oppressed by demonic forces, are a relatively common occurrence.
The term “demoniacal possession” does not occur in the New Testament. We owe it to Josephus, from whom it has passed into ecclesiastical language. The term, “demoniacal possession” conveys a wrong understanding. The impression given is that the devil owns us. The fact is that God owns us as our Creator. He also purchased His creation back through the blood of Christ. He made it possible to redeem mankind from the fall and out of the hands of the enemy, making null and void the devil’s claim of ownership.
The New Testament speaks of those who had a spirit, a demon, or demons, an unclean spirit, or the spirit of an unclean demon, but chiefly of persons who were ‘demonized’, that is, under the attack of one or more demons.
In Mark 5:1–16, we see the implication of total control in the case of the Gadarene demoniac. The demons manifested total control and caused other people not to be able to control the man and the evil deeds done through him. Jesus made the difference as He dealt with those demons. The demons recognized Jesus as their judge. Jesus’ willingness to let them go into the swine as they requested was for the protection of the man. The man was totally set free and put into his right mind.
In Matthew 9:32 we read of a man who was mute and “demon-possessed.” The next verse says, “and when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke” (Matthew 9:33a NKJV). All the multitudes marveled at what took place. They said, “It was never seen like this in Israel” (Matthew 9:33b NKJV).
I have personally experienced this powerful authority of the Gospel many times. Once, while in Pakistan in 1993, I ministered to a large crowd in the city of Lahore where there was a woman who was mute. I asked her sister through my interpreter what she needed. She pointed out her sister’s muted condition. Earlier in the meeting, I had spoken a word of rebuke to every demonic presence and commanded their power to be bound in the name of Jesus Christ. I rebuked the muted condition and the women began to speak. I spoke to her in English and she repeated back to me in perfect English what I had said.