“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” (Matt. 12:43-45)

Here Jesus explains how demons can occupy a physical body, comparing the state of demoniac possession to the condition of society at the time - describing it as a "wicked generation.".

The physical body is a vehicle of the living being. Each of us are living beings occupying our physical body for several decades and then we leave at death. However, more than one living being can occupy a particular body, as Jesus describes here. The "house" that Jesus describes is the physical body, because it houses a living being(s).

How does a demoniac spirit come in to occupy a physical body that another living being is currently occupying? As Jesus explains here, a body open to another living being relates to the condition of the individual.

An unembodied living being is "seeking rest" because they are outside of a physical body, and thus have no ability to exercise any activities in the physical realm. Thus they may attempt to gain control or influence over a weakened living being operating a physical body. Should they gain some control over another body, they can participate in activities in the gross physical plane - connecting with others and so on.

The reason a living being becomes unembodied in the first place is because of a misuse of a prior body. For example, if a person commits suicide, and takes the life of their body prematurely, then they will be subject to live the duration of that lifespan in an unembodied state.

Similarly, should one subject their physical body to a life of drunkenness or drug-abuse - a life of intoxication - they also shorten the duration of their connection with the physical world - by losing touch with it. This also results in becoming unembodied after giving up this life. Alcohol and drugs work to release the living spirit from the senses - the conduits of the body. This takes place primarily through the nervous system. When we drink or take drugs we are disconnecting ourselves from the sensations of the body. We become numb. This is why a drunk person cannot drive well during intoxication, and why many can't remember what happened when they were drunk. They lost full control over the body.

Becoming intoxicated also allows other unembodied living beings looking for embodiment to possess that body. The lack of control produced by intoxication opens the body to other unembodied spirits because the living being occupying the body has lost some control over the body.

This is really a practical matter. Let's say that we were joyriding in our car, and goofing around by not holding the steering wheel every so often. During those moments we let go of the steering wheel, one of our passengers could easily grab the wheel and begin to control the car. They could theoretically drive the car over a cliff if they wanted to. We might try to wrestle control back, but once they grab the wheel, it is hard to get control back.

This is precisely what takes place during possession. Someone is wrestling control over the steering of our physical body away from the living being occupying the body.

Have we ever heard of people who become drunk and then suddenly seem to become different people? They might be a nice, docile person when they're not drinking, but when they get drunk, suddenly they become violent and abusive. Some call this the "Jekyll and Hyde" routine, but it is actually a possession. When the person is getting drunk, another living being - an abusive, evil person - has wrestled control away from the living being occupying the body while they have loosened their control over the body with alcohol. When the alcohol wears off, the living being may again regain control, but the abusive living being will typically wait until the next time the person gets drunk - they hope the next evening.

When a demoniac spirit possesses someone else’s body, they can be hard to shake out. It takes a very strong-willed and disciplined person to do this. Or it takes another strong-willed religious person to force that demoniac spirit out. Demoniac spirits do not like to worship God. They do not like to witness prayer. They do not like to participate in loving service to God. This is our weapon against such spirits. To protect ourselves against unembodied spirits, we simply have to first not participate in drugs and alcohol. Secondly we simply have to pray to and praise God frequently, and try to conduct some service to God each day. This will ward off those who wish to occupy the "house" of our physical body.

There are popular stories of how demoniac spirits are driven away by the depiction of the cross Jesus was murdered with. Why is this cross so significant and abrasive to a demoniac spirit? Simply because the cross represents the ultimate devotional sacrifice. The cross is how Jesus allowed himself to be tortured by other demoniac people ("wicked generation") to illustrate to others that ones relationship with God and service to God is far more important than the temporary physical body. This ultimate sacrifice makes the cross a powerful and serious symbol - and not to be taken lightly.

We should take note that this means we should not depict the cross out of context or whimsically. We should not be using this symbol as a fashion statement or a self-propagating attempt to get attention. Jesus was tortured on that cross. It is not something to abuse or take for granted. It is offensive to both God and Jesus to wear this symbol as a fashion statement or use it for self-centered purposes without regard to its solemn meaning.

Jesus’ statement here also shows how unembodied demons can work together in an attempt to control a physical body. Again the only weapon is devotion to God. It is ones devotion that can repel any number of unembodied spirits. Why? Because God and His loving servants protect one who is devoted to Him. For this reason, we need to stay vigilant in our service and devotion to God and His servants, and keep God's Names and praises on our lips.

Jesus is also illustrating how human society will suffer a worsening of its enterprise of greed and violence as time goes on. This is because greed feeds upon further greed.

Greed leaves a person empty. Therefore, a greedy act will only increase the intensity of lust, and greed will eventually turn to violence as it gets stronger. For this reason human society has become increasingly greedy, and violent as a result. At the same time, there are some who seek the truth and seek God, but the numbers of sincere people are progressively dwindling in modern society. Greed has increasingly conquered our society.

Jesus gives us the only path out of this hellish physical world where so many evil individuals prey on others:

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)

This article is republished from The Real Teachings of Jesus.