Why Overt Possession and Miracles were so Common in the Time of Jesus, But do not Occur Now

Possession by evil spirits, as it existed before and during the time of Jesus, is no longer allowed. It remained on earth for a time after Jesus’ death while the work of restoration went on in the spiritual world. But it gradually ended in the early church times as the Lord completed the restoration of equilibrium. The possession by demons that existed around the time of Christ was a direct result of the imbalance in equilibrium; as equilibrium was restored to perfect balance by the light of the Lord – external possession was no more. So the kind of possession at the time before Jesus does not take place today. There is still possession today but it is an internal possession. Swedenborg describes how there are sometimes in today’s world ‘obsessions’ that look like possessions, but they are different. The difference is distinguished by the external and internal self in a person. External obsessions are called possession in the Bible. In these, evil spirits actually control the body as we see in the Bible where the possessed convulse, act violently, and have no control of their body. This was able to happen because a large measure of freedom was lost in the imbalance. As I understand it, internal obsessions take place when a person gives their mind over to rejecting God, and inwardly meditates evil against others, thus losing protection of angels and good spirits. They have ‘crossed the line’,and given over to the delights of evil by their own choice. A person can totally reject God and delight in evil to such an extent that they desire to fully act on the obsessions; in such a case God’s angels cannot protect them. (More can be read about this in Heaven and Hell, 257, or AC 1983). External possessions are readily apparent, while internal possessions are not. For example, there have been many cases in recent history of gunman coming into a school or public place and shooting innocent people. No-one saw this evil action coming (or perhaps a very few say it vaguely). This is no doubt an example of internal obsession. To a large degree the perpetrator goes unnoticed among their associates, nurturing their hate, and eventually acted on their obsession.

For the same reason that external possessions began and stopped, overt miracles gradually began and ceased along the same timeline. This is because both possession and miracles compel people to believe, or not believe. In normal times (when there is equilibrium in the spiritual world), neither the good nor the evil spirits are allowed to compel. They can influence humanity, but they are not allowed to force people to choose one way or the other. In the time of imbalance, however, evil was forcing people to its will, which took the form of possession at times. It was necessary for miracles to be visibly performed during Jesus’ life in order to help bring people into the acknowledge of the divinity of Jesus, thus compensating for the compulsion of the evil forces. The miracles had a good purpose, but they also compel, albeit toward the good. Miracles were used to convert an external people in an external way. They were an important beginning for changing the people’s mindset, but unless the change becomes internal it is not lasting. This is what is meant by Jesus’ disapproval of the Jews who are looking for ‘signs and wonders.’ He wants them to believe in His divinity from them self; for this belief was the most important of all beliefs for renewing religion on earth. Miracles did not necessarily change people’s hearts because the people did not come to belief from within, and thus make it their own. Overt miracles are a ‘fantastic’ external measure. When the sensation passed so could the belief because it is was merely external. This is why sensational miracles like those described in the Bible were allowed for a time, but do not occur today.

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