3 – What are Demons?
“12 For we[c] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 NLT
As we begin to look at the agents of spiritual warfare, we now look at demon – or fallen angels.
In our culture today, there are countless horror or sci-fi movies that depict demons and their supernatural and destructive powers. Because movies often mix a touch of truth with creative stories and special effects, our culture will often dismiss demonic activity as an imaginative fantasy. Still, we are left to wonder. What are demons, really? Are they spirits of evil people that linger? Are they even real? If they are real, what do they do? Maybe the most important question to ask is, what does the Bible teach us about these creatures? What do we need to know about these agents of spiritual warfare?
In order to learn the truth about demons, we need to turn to the Word of God to gain some accurate insights.
Demons are fallen angels
“3 In that wonderful day when the Lord gives his people rest from sorrow and fear, from slavery and chains, 4 you will taunt the king of Babylon. You will say,
“The mighty man has been destroyed.
Yes, your insolence[a] is ended.
5 For the Lord has crushed your wicked power
and broken your evil rule.
6 You struck the people with endless blows of rage
and held the nations in your angry grip
with unrelenting tyranny.
7 But finally the earth is at rest and quiet.
Now it can sing again!
8 Even the trees of the forest—
the cypress trees and the cedars of Lebanon—
sing out this joyous song:
‘Since you have been cut down,
no one will come now to cut us down!’
9 “In the place of the dead[b] there is excitement
over your arrival.
The spirits of world leaders and mighty kings long dead
stand up to see you.
10 With one voice they all cry out,
‘Now you are as weak as we are!
11 Your might and power were buried with you.[c]
The sound of the harp in your palace has ceased.
Now maggots are your sheet,
and worms your blanket.’
12 “How you are fallen from heaven,
O shining star, son of the morning!
You have been thrown down to the earth,
you who destroyed the nations of the world.
13 For you said to yourself,
‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars.
I will preside on the mountain of the gods
far away in the north.[d]
14 I will climb to the highest heavens
and be like the Most High.’
15 Instead, you will be brought down to the place of the dead,
down to its lowest depths.
16 Everyone there will stare at you and ask,
‘Can this be the one who shook the earth
and made the kingdoms of the world tremble?
17 Is this the one who destroyed the world
and made it into a wasteland?
Is this the king who demolished the world’s greatest cities
and had no mercy on his prisoners?’
18 “The kings of the nations lie in stately glory,
each in his own tomb,
19 but you will be thrown out of your grave
like a worthless branch.
Like a corpse trampled underfoot,
you will be dumped into a mass grave
with those killed in battle.
You will descend to the pit.
20 You will not be given a proper burial,
for you have destroyed your nation
and slaughtered your people.
The descendants of such an evil person
will never again receive honor.” Isaiah 14:3-20 NLT
Satan fell because of his pride. He wanted equal recognition to God. Satan’s goal was not only to have recognition like God, he wanted to replace God. In his desire to become glorious like God, he became the pinnacle of what is against God.
This teaches us that the core of sin is when we want to be the god of our own lives. Nothing makes a being less like God, than the urge to be His equal. Since we see that demons are fallen angels, they have many similar characteristics.
Demons were created good as stated in Genesis 1:31, sinned against God, and were evil by Genesis 3:1.
“31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!
And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31 NLT
“3 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” Genesis 3:1 NLT
We see in Genesis 1:31 that in the beginning, all that God created “was very good.” By Genesis 3:1, we find that the serpent (or the Devil) came to Adam and Eve. This tells us that the happenings of Isaiah 14:3-20, the fall of Lucifer, occurred somewhere between Genesis 1:31 and Genesis 3:1. Often times people will ask why a loving God would create the Devil. Here we see that God did NOT create the Devil. God created Lucifer and the other angels good. Like people however, God created the angels with the ability to choose how they will use their strength. Lucifer chose to turn away from God and became the Devil.
Demons are aware of God’s plan of salvation
“19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God.[a] Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” James 2:19 NLT
We can see from James 2:19 that the demons know Jesus and they know of God’s plan for salvation by faith. They know that God wants to draw people unto Himself, and they tremble in terror when people submit their lives to God.
Demons cannot be saved
This is a humbling thought. The angels who turned God away were not spared. God “threw them into hell.” This should serve as a sobering reminder that because God is such a holy God that He would be justified in sending all of humankind to hell based on the fact that we have all turned away from Him. All of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and He still chose to pursue us. He didn’t have to spare the angels and He didn’t. He didn’t have to spare us either, but because of His great love, He chose to come to save us from our sin.
Demons are not omnipresent – they can be in one place at a time.
“16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:16
As we’ve seen in Colossians 1:16, angels, unlike God, are created beings. Demons, being fallen angels are also created beings and thus are not omnipresent. The Devil cannot be in many places at once. He is a part of God’s creation and is limited to where he can be. Because there are many demons however, there can be strong demonic influence in different areas and among different peoples if demons dwell there.
Demons can take the appearance of an “angel of light.”
“14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:14 NLT
While traditionally demons are thought to be hideous and ugly creatures, Paul says that demons can “take the appearance of an ‘angel of light.’” If demons always appeared ugly and unappealing they may not be very influential to people. Their ability to appear as an “angel of light” makes them that much more deceiving since they don’t always appear “scary.” Instead, they appear enticing, luring, and even beautiful. Doctrines that demons use to lure people away from the Gospel are not always openly satanic and ugly, but often come in the form of being “accepting,” “tolerant,” “freedom to choose,” “inclusive,” or “modern.” Perhaps more simply put, the serpent didn’t seduce Eve with an ugly, smelly, rotten apple, but one that was pleasing to the eyes.
Holy Spirit help me be discerning and wise when it comes to following You. May I be grounded in Your Word so as not to be enticed to the deception of the enemy. In Jesus’ name, amen.