If Satan exists, then we have powerful evidence for the validity of the Scriptural claims concerning supernatural activity. The demonic activity that has taken place in all ages is a testimony to the existence of a powerful spiritual force opposed to God.
There are references to Satanic activity in all ages. For example, there was a letter written by Dr. Johannes Bugenhagen Pomeranus, the pastor who officiated at Martin Luther's wedding, providing an account of demon possession that took place in November of 1530. He wrote:
On the day of the festival of Simon and Judas we arrived safely, by the grace of God, in Lbeck. Once I had gotten there the Devil gave public notice of himself and was recognized in a possessed girl, who, until this time, had been quite well. Before this, his presence in her was doubted, but now he claimed openly to be there and to have entered the young girl through an old woman's curse. The girl had reminded the old woman (the Devil claimed) of a pound which she still owed her, to which the woman responded: "I'll send the Devil into your body."
I was with the girl today, who was well again. Because they feared that the Devil might return, the parents were still concerned. Her parents told me what else the Devil had said: "Aren't there enough preachers here? Why is it that you had to call one from Wittenberg?" He also said: "Bugenhagen has come. I know him well, and have often been with him, etc." When I had heard this from the girl's father, in her presence, I laughed and was reminded of the verse in Acts 19: "Jesus I know well and Paul I know well, etc." It is quite true that he has often tempted me and bothered me with his thousand tricks, trying to disprove my teaching and faith, but because of Christ, who helped me by His grace, he was not able to achieve anything except to provoke me to do battle with him. I have still not forgotten what he tried to do through the Silesian Sacramentalists, etc. In other sins it has seemed as if he was defeating me. But, Christ be thanked, though he was pleased to visit me, he was not pleased to stay. I would remind you again to pray for me in this matter, etc.
But to return to the situation: I asked the girl, who is about eighteen years old and continually bed- ridden, if, after she had come to herself again and was feeling well, she was aware of the way in which she had cursed and mocked. She answered no, that she knew nothing of this. Her parents told me the same thing. They, too, had questioned her when she had regained her senses as to why she had mocked so terribly. She had answered them: "I didn't do it, it was the Devil in me; but I have no idea what I did." They also told me the following: Yesterday, while the Devil was torturing her, the father began to quote to her from the Word of God, and, when that did not help, he took a copy of the German New Testament and held it in front of her. She, however, turned her face away and began biting the pillow that was under her head, etc. I spoke for a while with the girl and she gave proper Christian answers and a good understanding of her baptism. I was especially concerned to convince her not to get the idea that she was forced to belong to the Devil simply because he had tortured her, etc. Finally, I knelt, along with all who were present, laid my hands on her head, and prayed. She thanked me as I was leaving.
While I was writing this letter, however, a messenger came and told me that the Devil had tortured the girl again, had thrown her naked out of bed, and under a table, and then under a chair, and had twisted her neck so badly that she would have died had not her father quickly come to help. The girl's parents pleaded that I should come. So I went, and, as I arrived in front of the house, I heard a loud scream. When I entered and reached the possessed girl I heard with my own ears these words: "Bugenhagen the traitor is coming! Oh the traitor, he wants to torture me and will not allow me to remain! Oh, I must go out!" I stood there dumbfounded, and even though I did not believe the liar, I nevertheless interpreted his words to refer not only to the possessed girl, but to the entire city; that is, that I would not tolerate the Devil's kingdom in it. May the God of all mercy permit and accomplish this through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
All those present claimed that the girl had not formerly known my name, and added that she had mocked horribly before I had entered the house. Now when she screamed, I yelled back and called her by name: "Elizabeth!" The Devil answered: "Elizabeth, Elizabeth." Then I said: "Yes, are you trying to deny it? Why shouldn't I call you Elizabeth? You gave me testimony today that you received that very same name in baptism, by which we are baptized into Christ." He then began to pounce about, screaming so loudly that those present could not hear each other. But I fell to my knees and prayed earnestly with the intensity which the girl's misery and despair wrung out of me, speaking loudly so that all could hear, that the Lord Jesus should free her--for He had said, "In my name they will drive out devils." I think that the others were praying with me since I had turned my back to them. Meanwhile the Devil screamed: "I must go out! Oh I must go out!", and tortured the girl horribly. But her father held her. Immediately after this she lay still, so that her father no longer had to hold her. She lay there, breathing heavily as if she was about to depart. Meanwhile the father told me what the Devil had said to him yesterday before I had arrived: "You doubt that I am present! Now look, I have given you a clear sign!" He pointed to a hole in the window which he had broken. "That," said he, "is how I entered, etc."
Though the girl's body was still moving, we were afraid that she was slipping away. While I sat and waited to see what would happen, she opened her eyes just as if she was awakening from sleep. I spoke to her with a quiet voice: "Elizabeth!" She answered: "What?" I continued: "Do you know what you have done and the way in which you mocked?" She answered: "No." So I reminded her in the same way I had earlier in the day. Then I knelt and prayed with my hands on her head that she should be free, etc. Having finished praying, I asked her to say the Amen. This she did willingly.
And so I left; but I have been told that the Devil tortured her again that night, just as we read in the Gospel concerning the swine, etc., and screamed: "I must go out, but where shall be my habitation? There is a horse in Lnenburg; I will enter it, or perhaps the chain-maker." Now the girl's father was of the same profession and was, as we say, an adventurous man, since, to my surprise, he had spoken to me without fear from the start, as soon as he was certain that it was the Devil. Said he: "If it weren't a sin there's a lot I would ask the scoundrel and he would have to answer it all." I, however, forbade him to ask anything secretly of the Tempter or to allow it of anyone else. I did not ask what else had happened.
I am puzzled that Satan can confuse people this way. But no matter what he does or says, he still shows that he is a stupid and condemned spirit. These things happened on the eve of All Saints Day, in the year 1530. May God graciously give us the victory against all of [the Devil's] fiery darts through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.1
In our own day and age, demonic activity continues. Stan Mooneyham has provided ten examples of demonic activity on various mission fields during the latter half of the twentieth century. Among them was an account from Demon Experiences in Many Lands, a symposium published by Moody Press in 1960, in which W. E. Wright, a missionary in Western Nigeria, told of an encounter with a witch doctor:
He volunteered to read to me from his book, and before I could stop him, for I had seen enough, he began nonsense reading in an ordinary voice. Then suddenly his voice changed. He was possessed, and I heard a demon through his lips telling me that I had a sick little girl in my house. (My daughter had been sick for several days, and as he was a total stranger it was unlikely that he would have heard it.) I silenced him as quickly as I could, reading to him from my Book.2
Mooneyham also quotes from a 1964 issue of Practical Anthropology which contains a testimony of a Choco believer in Latin America, quoted by Dr. Jacob A. Loewen:
I am so glad for the powerful Spirit of God who keeps those who have given God the hand and walk on God's road. A few nights ago we had a real testing. . . . A Colombian witch doctor came to visit a relative who lives in my house. I used to be afraid of devils, and so when this witch doctor was going to "sing demons" at night, I became worried that I would again become afraid. So before going to sleep I told God about the things that were on my heart. I told him, "You have brought me from the devil's hand; you have taken my fear away. Don't' let me or my family become afraid this night." It was after midnight when I suddenly awoke hearing someone talking loudly. When I listened, I heard the witch doctor say, "Who has been praying? My hai won't come tonight." I was happy to know and to see again that God is stronger than all the devils. When the Spirit of God watches my house, the devil's can't even come there.3
Another example provided by Stan Mooneyham is from Hugh White, a veteran Southern Presbyterian missionary in China:
Demonism as seen today is the same as in the time of Christ. The terminology is so identical as to make one feel that he is walking the streets of Nazareth or Capernaum. It is a common experience that the demon "vexes" one, the demon talks, comes and goes, throws the patient down, tries to kill him.4
These are only a few isolated examples from a vast body of literature on demonology. If the enemy is alive and well, then we have good evidence that the Biblical accounts of demon possession are not flights of fancy. Moreover, if Satan exists, it points to the existence of God, the One whom he opposes.
1 Quoted by John Warwick Montgomery, Principalities and Powers (Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany Fellowship, 1973), pp. 181-183.
2 Quoted by W. Stanley Mooneyham, "Demonism on the Mission Field: Problems of Communicating a Difficult Phenomenon," in John Warwick Montgomery, ed., Demon Possession (Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany Fellowship, 1976), p. 211.
3 Quoted in Ibid.
4 Quoted in Ibid.