"Return home and tell how much God has done for you." (Luke 8:30-39)

Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "Legion," he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left. The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return home and tell how much God has done for you." So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. (Luke 8:30-39)

Between these two statements by Jesus we find the narrative of how Jesus drove multiple demons from the body of a man into the bodies of nearby pigs.

What is demon possession?

So we must ask - what is transpiring here? What is "demon possession" anyway? How do demons possess a person and how are they removed?

Each of us is an individual spirit-person temporarily occupying a physical body. We can understand this just be looking at a photo of our body when it was young. That young person body is completely different than the body we have now. We are still the same person but our body has changed. In five years, every atom and molecule within our body has been replaced. Yet we are the same person. This means that we cannot be this body. We are essentially changing bodies throughout this lifetime.

Clinical death research illustrates this as well. Someone can die of a heart attack and be revived back to life, only to explain that they rose up out of the body and looked down on it when their were clinically dead. Who is looking down at the body? That is the spirit-person, the soul.

What this all means is that we are each "possessing" our physical body. It is under our control for a period of time and then we have to leave it at the time of death. After the time of death we have no control over it because we have left it. At the time of death we are effectively exorcized from that body - by nature, we can only "possess" this body for so long.

This said, in ancient times, people assumed that every bad habit or addiction was the result of a demon. In this way, one's demons may simply be one's bad habits or addictions. Each habit or addiction would be relegated to a different demon.

But there are clear examples in the scripture, such as the verses above, where Jesus cleansed a demon - a mischievous unembodied soul - from occupying a particular body.

Where do unembodied mischievous souls come from?

When each of us leaves the physical body at the time of death we become unembodied.

However, after death, some souls may become mischievous. A mischievous soul may have a lack of closure from a previous lifetime, causing regret and frustration. For example, a person who commits suicide may become mischievous as they regret suicide after they have left their body. Constant intoxication can produce a similar effect.

Due to a lack of closure, an unembodied soul who regrets their life may still pine to participate in the activities of the physical world. They want to participate with others, so they attempt to occupy another physical body.

If they are super mischievous, they may look for a physical body occupied by someone with a weakened connection with that body.

One of the easiest facilities for a mischievous unembodied soul to occupy another's body is when that 'target" becomes intoxicated. Again, a drunk or drugged person will become partially detached from their body while they are intoxicated. This partial detachment can in some cases allow an unembodied spirit-person to enter the body and take some control over the body during that period of intoxication.

This is why some people seem to have significant personality changes when they become intoxicated. Many become violent when they are not violent during their non-intoxicated state. This has also bee called a Jekyll-and-Hyde complex.

The issue is not that the person has changed personalities. Rather, an outside party has dominated that body. Intoxication can cause the soul's grip on the body to become weaker, allowing an outside mischievous soul to have undue influence.

Why causes a soul to become mischievous?

Frustration and anger. When a person desires something they cannot obtain, this can lead to frustration and anger.

Should these characteristics be combined with a shortening of their physical lifetime through drunkenness, drugs or suicide - that soul may become unembodied for a period of time after the death of their physical body.

Being angry and unembodied is an awful state to be in. In this state a person cannot get what they want from the physical world. They are still attached to the physical world in a self-centered way but they have little contact with those things and people of the physical world due to their unembodied state.

An unembodied angry soul will look for vulnerable people who become detached from their physical bodies - through drugs or drunkenness or otherwise - and will try to occupy that body for a while so they can connect with the things and people of the physical world.

This is precisely the situation that Jesus was dealing with. Wine was a big part of that society and some people were subjected to drunkenness - leading to the unleashing of bad habits. While there is no specific evidence that the man in this verse was an alcoholic, there is other evidence in some of the other possession exorcisms by Jesus.

A mischievous soul wants nothing to do with the Supreme Being. They run from contact with the Supreme Being because they want to be God. They see themselves as the greatest person in the universe and therefore God threatens their perceived authority.

Jesus, in fact, did invoke the Supreme Being as he exorcized mischievous souls. This is evidenced clearly by Jesus' statement to the man:
"Return home and tell how much God has done for you."
Jesus' loving relationship with the Supreme Being, and his invoking of God empowered Jesus to chase away mischievous souls because they wanted nothing to do with God, and a loving relationship with God.

This doesn't mean that such a harmful soul can't change. This is what Jesus did during his lifetime: He changed harmful souls to loving souls.

The best strategy to protect ourselves from unembodied mischievous souls is to repeat and sing God's Holy Names. This is why Jesus was described as:
"Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the LORD." (Matt. 21:9, Matt. 23:39, Mark 11:9, Luke 13:35, John 12:13)
And this is why Jesus requested that his students pray, saying:

Hallowed be Your Name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
(Luke 11:2)

Jesus taught his students to praise and honor ("hallow") God's Holy Name.

The Holy Names of God can ward off unembodied harmful spirits, while they attract others - such as angels - who enjoy hearing God's Holy Names being praised. God's Holy Names provide us with a conduit to the Supreme Being. God has many Holy Names - He is limitless. And any of these Holy Names maintain God's power to protect us, purify us and elevate our consciousness - enabling us to return to our home with Him in the spiritual realm.
"Sing the praises of the LORD, you His faithful people; praise His Holy Name." (Psalm 30:4)