Demonic possession of course is biblical, but what about demonic paranormal activity? With some effort it's not hard to come across testimonies from Christians, and even non-Christians, telling stories of paranormal experiences, such as hearing footsteps, scratches on walls, drawers moving in and out, closets opening and closing, things flying off the shelves or walls, beds shaking, chairs moving, objects falling down, light bulbs exploding, stuff levitating, the temperature in the room suddenly dropping, horrible demonic "smell", hearing audible evil growls, etc. I'm pretty sure many of you have heard of similar experiences. Is there any biblical basis to this? Does the Bible record examples of demonic paranormal activity? Do the Scriptures support the ability of demons to manipulate objects and intervene in the physical world?
Most would agree that demons are fallen angels and, as such, that they share the same angelic nature as normal angels (although some would make a special distinction with the supposedly disembodied spirits of the Nephilim, but that's a topic for another question). But in any case, nobody questions that demons are instances of spiritual beings. So, in order to have an informed perspective on what the scriptures support as possible, we have to look at all the scriptural evidence for physical interventions performed by spiritual beings (demons, angels, etc.). Below are some notable examples:
1) Turning a staff into a serpent:
[Exodus 7:11,12 NIV] 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs
2) Scaring people and physically touching someone:
[Daniel 10:7-10 NIV] 7 I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision. The men with me didn’t see the vision. Yet, they started to tremble violently, and they quickly hid themselves. 8 So I was left alone to see this grand vision. I had no strength left in me. My face turned deathly pale, and I was helpless. 9 I heard the man speak, and as I listened to his words, I fainted facedown on the ground. 10 Then a hand touched me and made my hands and knees shake.
3) Influencing animals:
[Matthew 8:30-32 NIV] 30 A large herd of pigs was feeding in the distance. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you’re going to force us out, send us into that herd of pigs.” 32 Jesus said to them, “Go!” The demons came out and went into the pigs. Suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the cliff into the sea and died in the water.
4) Manipulating the weather:
[Job 1:12,16,18-19 NIV] 12 The Lord told Satan, “Everything he has is in your power, but you must not lay a hand on him!” Then Satan left the Lord’s presence. [...] 16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “A fire from God fell from heaven and completely burned your flocks and servants. I’m the only one who has escaped to tell you.” [...] 18 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine at their oldest brother’s home 19 when suddenly a great storm swept across the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It fell on the young people, and they died. I’m the only one who has escaped to tell you.”
5) Appearing visibly to people as ghosts:
[Matthew 14:26 NIV] When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.
[Luke 24:39 NIV] "Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."
6) Showing up physically before someone, staying in their house, eating food and striking others with blindness:
[Genesis 19:1-3,10-11 NIV] The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.” “No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.” 3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. [...] 10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.
7) Interacting with physical water:
[John 5:4 KJV] For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
8) Having relations and procreating with physical women ((*)Note: this interpretation is disputed by some):
[Genesis 6:1-4 NIV] When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
In light of this whole range of possible interactions with the physical realm by demons, angels and spiritual beings in general, stories of demonic paranormal activity sound very much compatible with Scripture and unsurprising to be honest.
Is there any biblical basis to support demonic paranormal activity?
Does the Bible record examples of demonic paranormal activity? Do the Scriptures support the ability of demons to manipulate objects and intervene in the physical world?
The short answer is maybe at best. And then only perhaps indirectly!
There is no direct biblical support to suggest that demons are capable of making footstep noises, scratching on walls, moving drawers in and out, opening closets and then closing them, making things things fly off the shelves or walls, beds shaking, chairs moving, objects falling down, light bulbs exploding, stuff levitating, the temperature in the room suddenly dropping, making horrible demonic "smell", creating audible evil growls or other paranormal activity.
The Devil and his minions are in a way comparable to a virus (Covid-19, if you wish) or electricity. All three are seemingly invisible, yet could be potentially dangerous to mankind, if circumstances are right.
There is an invisible realm in our world. Let us always recall the words of St. Paul:
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. - Ephesians 6:12
St. Paul admits that the forces of evil rule the air in which we live live, thus the possibility of evil manipulating the physical sphere in which we live does not at all seem an outright impossibility.
Again St. Paul teaches thus (Admittedly, both interpretation and translation of the Sacred Texts plays a big part here):
2 And you, when you were dead in your offences, and sins, 2 Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of this air, of the spirit that now worketh on the children of unbelief. - Ephesians 2:1-2
We can see the work of Satan and his hatred for the holiness of true saints in the person of Job. Satan created a storm that killed Job’s family, yet Job did not sin by blaming God.
9 Satan replied, “Would Job worship you if he got nothing out of it? 10 You have always protected him and his family and everything he owns. You bless everything he does, and you have given him enough cattle to fill the whole country. 11 But now suppose you take away everything he has—he will curse you to your face!”
12 “All right,” the Lord said to Satan, “everything he has is in your power, but you must not hurt Job himself.” So Satan left.
13 One day when Job's children were having a feast at the home of their oldest brother, 14 a messenger came running to Job. “We were plowing the fields with the oxen,” he said, “and the donkeys were in a nearby pasture. 15 Suddenly the Sabeans attacked and stole them all. They killed every one of your servants except me. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
16 Before he had finished speaking, another servant came and said, “Lightning struck the sheep and the shepherds and killed them all. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
17 Before he had finished speaking, another servant came and said, “Three bands of Chaldean raiders attacked us, took away the camels, and killed all your servants except me. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
18 Before he had finished speaking, another servant came and said, “Your children were having a feast at the home of your oldest son, 19 when a storm swept in from the desert. It blew the house down and killed them all. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
20 Then Job got up and tore his clothes in grief. He shaved his head and threw himself face downward on the ground. 21 He said, “I was born with nothing, and I will die with nothing. The Lord gave, and now he has taken away. May his name be praised!”
22 In spite of everything that had happened, Job did not sin by blaming God. - Job 1: 9-22
It is obvious, that the demons can to some degree manipulate the physical world we live in and they do not need the intermediary of a human person to communicate to us. There are countless references of the good Angels speaking to people in both the New and Old Testament. The Annunciation is just one example:
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end." - Luke 1:26–38
We thus see that the Angel Gabriel is trying to keep the Virgin Mary calm during the angelic visitation.
Now for Satan or anyone of the demons, they do not care about mankind one iota. They simply want us all to go to hell and join them forever.
The soul that is truly arduous in holiness and genuinely seeks the conversion of sinners is not going to get such a warm welcome from the Devil and his Legions. If you steal his prey, it makes logical sense he would try to scare the hell out of you. There is no real difficultly for me to imagine to Devil making all sorts of noises to make someone think they are going crazy and being drawn into despair.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. - 1 Corinthians 13:1
Satan will do all it takes and make as much noise to interfere in his plans to ruin mankind. The Devil loves not, thus he is the clanging cymbal par excellence.
What exactly were the manifestations of paranormal activities of the demons is not listed in Sacred Scriptures, but we must deduce that some truly existed. The story of the seven sons of one Sceva in Acts 19: 13-17 fits in well here:
13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. - Acts19:13-17
What all transpired during this exorcism, we just do not know. St. Luke only recounts a rough outline, in order to keep our imagination healthy. There is no need to dwell on the morbid. Obvious light bulbs did not explode as they were not invented yet. Were there other manifestation of paranormal activity? Certainly, but Scripture remains silent on this issue.
Another time Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man who lived amongst the tombs and “night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.”
5 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.[a] 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” - Mark 5:1-20
Once again, allow me to use Scripture to relate the possibility of the good Angels helping us to hold that the opposite may also be true in our lives.
Let us recall the story in St. John’s Gospel how the Angel of God stirred the water in the Pool of Bethesda! Now if the Angel of God could do good this way, what stops Evil from intervening in our lives to create havoc and fear.
For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. - John 5:4
If the Angel of God can stir the waters to heal, can not the Devil shake beds, etc. to scare the wits out of us...
Nightly Monsieur Vianney’s rectory was the site of a terrifying cacophony: scurrying and gnawing rats, the sound of pounding nails, and howling wind. When the noises failed to trouble the holy Curé, the Devil turned over furniture, smeared excrement on the doorway, and set the priest’s bed on fire. To this last effort, Vianney responded, “The wretched fiend. He has not been able to catch the bird, so he has burnt the cage.” - The Devil’s Most Effective Foe
"Does the Bible record examples of Demonic paranormal activity? Is there any biblical basis for this- [light bulbs exploding, things levitating, the temperature in the room suddenly dropping"]
- If you mean like these specific examples - then the answer is No.
- " Does the Bible record examples of demonic paranormal activity - the ability of demons to intervene in the physical world?" then the answer is Yes! Assuming that you mean besides demon possession, demonic paranormal activity is demonic oppression, or demons acting to affect the physical world, including animals and people's health, and even do false miracles.
Demonic activity in scripture = categorically yes. Moving drawers in dressers,and lamps falling over, a horrible sulfer-like smell= No.
It is not uncommon for people in ministry to have witnessed demonic activity and it is also clearly supported in scripture.
A very good way to summarize this is that as Christians, is is not possible to be demon possessed, but they can be oppressed - under demonic attack. Satan is still at work around the world, and the Bible says that he "walks about,like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."
8 "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world." - I Peter 5:7-9
As the person stated in the opening question, there is plenty of evidence all through the Bible of people being possessed, and Christ and the disciples driving out demons, but is there any evidence of Christians being oppressed?
Yes, as a matter of fact, there is.
One example is Job. Scripture says Job was blameless and upright.
The fuller context in Job 1:1 is, “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” So, the description of Job being “blameless and upright” is linked to the fear of God and the avoidance of evil. The parallelism can be seen like this: Blameless/upright. God-fearer/one who turns from evil. In short, Job was “blameless and upright” in that he was a man of integrity who trusted in God as his redeemer (see Job 19:25), sincerely worshiped the Lord, loved his family, and was consistent in his walk with God." - What does it mean that Job was blameless and upright?
God allowed Job to be tested, even physical harm, but God limited the effect - the level to which the attacks could be from Satan and in the end, all was restored to Job.
It the Old Testament, we see demonic paranormal activity through the witch of Endor, when she used demonic forces to summon the dead for Saul.
"In the Old Testament, (I Samuel 28:3-25) the witch of Endor is a woman Saul consulted to summon the spirit of prophet Samuel in the 28th chapter of the First Book of Samuel in order to receive advice against the Philistines in battle after his prior attempts to consult God through sacred lots and prophets had failed."
Then in all three of the synoptic Gospels, -Matthew, Mark and Luke- we also see demonic paranormal activity - demons entering into an entire herd of swine, and they all rushed over a cliff and died: When Jesus Christ was tempted by Satan, Satan asked him to do certain things which he denied. But in Matthew 8 the demons wanted Jesus to drive them into pigs and he did so. The herd then ran into the water and drowned. Why did Christ deny one request of the enemy but accept another?
Then, again, we see another example of demonic or satanic oppression against Paul. Satan relentlessly attacked Paul in an effort to hinder or stop Paul's ministry.
7 "And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 I asked the Lord three times that this thing might depart from me. 9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” - 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
We can't say with certainty what this was exactly, or all the extent of this demonic oppression, but many scholars say that it was most likely poor vision, and this is due to him being struck blind temporarily, in his famous conversion on the road to Damascus. Later in his life, he even says in his epistles, "see what large letters I write with my own hand..." to denote his personal love and care for the believers in the early churches.
This is also consistent with teaching in different protestant denominations - Church of God Holiness, Bible Methodist, some Baptist and some Nazarene churches as well as some Evangelical Free Churches of America.
Another example is the terrible persecution of Christians in China, Russia under communism and other communist countries, and the many stories of Christians who were persecuted, tortured and even Martyred in "Fox's Book of Martyrs".
A personal friend of the family and former missionary to Haiti witnessed the effects of witchcraft and saw people become sick and experience physical manifestations from voodoo dolls, and were then healed.
Another person I heard recounted a story of sickness and multiple bizarre physical issues related to an occultic object in their home. A pastor explained that the object had occultic connections and they burned it, and prayed over the person and they recovered fully.
The point is that sometimes these are tests, allowed by God, and other times, we can unintentionally give Satan a foothold, or open up doors in our lives that give the enemy places to attack, such as through things like Tarot cards, and Eastern religions, Yogo, etc. There are testimonies of people who experienced demonic paranormal activity or oppression as a result of accupuncture needles, which are sometimes prayed over by those who practice this.
Here is another source that explains the concept and differences between satanic attacks or oppression and demonic possession: CHRISTIANS AND DEMONIC ACTIVITY TODAY