“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve their existence. The other is to believe, and feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them” (C.S. Lewis).
What Are Demons?
Demons are far from being the cute little pitchfork-carrying troublemakers that they are sometimes made out to be. Demons are angelic beings who have chosen to disobey God and follow Satan instead. They are fallen angels who have joined the devil in his rebellion against God. We find this rebellion spoken of in Jude 1:6 where we read of “…the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home…” and in 2 Peter 2:4 where we’re told that “…God did not spare angels when they sinned…”
Demons are also referred to in the Bible as…
- “Evil spirits” (Luke 7:21)
- “Unclean spirits” (Matthew 10:1)
- “Deceiving spirits” (1Timothy 4:1)
- “Wicked spirits” (Matthew 12:45)
Demons are intelligent beings who have supernatural strength and abilities. They serve as agents of Satan and follow his orders as he attempts to destroy the plans of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4 tells us that “the god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers…” and demons assist their leader in this work.
Where Did They Come From?
In addition to the Scriptures noted above, scholar-types believe that Revelation 12:3-4 holds an important clue to the origin of demons. These verses speak of an enormous fiery red dragon (who is later identified in Revelation 12:9 as Satan) whose tail drew along one third of the stars (which are identified by most commentators as angels).
So it appears from these verses that Lucifer was not alone in his rebellion against God, but was able to convince one third of the angelic beings to follow him in his revolt. This is also backed up by Scriptures such as Matthew 25:41 which refers to the devil and “his” angels and Matthew 12:24 which refers to Satan (also known as Beelzebub) as “the prince of demons.”
How Do Demons Interact?
It seems that there is an organizational structure within the demonic realm just as exists within the ranks of angels who have remained loyal to God. This is spoken of in Ephesians 6:12 where we’re told that “…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.” The use of words such as “rulers,” “powers” and “authorities” indicate that organizational and ranking structures exists within the angelic world, no matter which side we’re talking about.
It also appears that there are different levels of evil among demonic beings. For example, Jesus once spoke of a situation where an evil spirit sought out seven other evil spirits that were even more wicked than itself (see Matthew 12:45). So it would seem from this verse that some demons are more evil than others. 2 Peter 2:4 also tells us that there are other demons who have apparently committed acts that were so exceedingly wicked that God has chained them in “pits of darkness” until the time of their final judgment.
What Do They Do?
The Scriptures reveal that demons are responsible for inflicting many difficulties and painful physical conditions upon people. According to the Bible, their activities were responsible for causing or contributing to…
· Inability to speak (Matthew 12:22)
· Deafness (Mark 9:25)
· Blindness (Matthew 12:22)
· Physical deformity (Luke 13:10-17)
· Mental instability (Mark 5:1-5)
· Seizures (Mark 1:26)
· Self-destructive behavior (Mark 9:20-22)
Now before we continue, we need to understand something very important. While demons have clearly been responsible for some really bad things, this does not mean that demonic activity is behind every sickness, disease, or physical disorder that people experience. After all, Jesus healed many people without any mention of demonic involvement. If sicknesses and diseases did not have natural causes that could be treated, then there would be no need for doctors or hospitals.
The fact is that there are nurses, physicians, surgeons, mental health specialists and countless other health care professionals who have given their lives to help people successfully overcome sickness and disease. We should be thankful and appreciative of their hard work and dedication and not presume that an evil spirit is victimizing everyone who gets sick.
However, it would also be a mistake to assume that such demonic affliction does not exist at all. We should be aware of the Bible’s clear teaching that demonic activity is real and that demons have been responsible for inflicting serious physical harm upon people.
In Mark 5:1-20 there is an example of a demon actually dictating a person’s actions, or what we would call “demonic possession” today. Now the term “demonic possession” can summon up all kinds of late night horror show images but the Biblical idea of demonic possession is actually pretty straight forward. It simply refers to a demonic being that resides within a person and causes that person to do things that they ordinarily would not (or could not) do.
Some people believe that such things don’t occur in our world today but examples of demonic possession can be seen in our present day through those who claim to “channel” the spirits of the dead or in those religions that encourage communication with the spiritual world.
While demonic possession is certainly a reality, one thing that isn’t possible is for a Christian to be demon possessed. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” and 1 John 4:4 reminds us that “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” Christians may be troubled by demonic activity but never possessed.
It’s been said that when the devil knocks at the door of a Christian’s heart and mind, the Holy Spirit opens the door and says, “get lost.”
Temptation And Disinformation
Demons attempt to irritate, harass and afflict Christians to keep them from following Jesus. They also work to encourage non-Christians to continue in unbelief. For example, Satan and his demons tempt believers to…
- Make bad decisions (1 Chronicles 21:1)
- Lie (Acts 5:3)
- Lack self-control (1 Corinthians 7:5)
- Display envy and selfishness (James 3:14-15)
- Turn away from God (1 Timothy 4:1)
Demons work with Satan to blind the minds of unbelievers to the truth of the gospel (see 2 Corinthians 4:4). In one of His parables, Jesus also indicated that Satan (assisted by his demonic representatives, no doubt) attempts to neutralize God’s Word before it takes root in someone’s life (see Matthew 13:18-19). This is done in part through a well-run disinformation campaign that features…
What Does The Future Hold For Demonic Beings?
Well, let’s put it this way: it’s sure not something to look forward to. Matthew 25:41 says that there is an everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels where they will be punished eternally for the evil they have done. This terrifying future once caused a group of demons to ask Jesus, “What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” (Matthew 8:29). While some people claim not to believe in God, demons most certainly do- and knowing what awaits them makes them shudder (see James 2:19).