Are demons merely the product of folklore? Are they appropriate subjects for video games, movies, TV programs and other forms of entertainment? If you answer yes to these questions, you could be placing yourself in spiritual danger!
The article is based upon the Bible, the authoritative Word of the Creator, so we look to Scripture for the answer to these questions.
A brief biblical history of demons
Let’s examine this subject in historical order. You might assume that means we will start in Genesis, but an earlier beginning is mentioned in John’s Gospel. John 1:1 starts before there were any demons—before the earth and the universe existed—before human beings were created.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Here we see two Beings who have eternally existed, one called “the Word” and the other called “God.”
In other words, from before time as we know it, there have always been two eternal Beings who are God; both are members of the God family. The Word is the One who later came to the earth as Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as is shown in verse 14. (The other is the One we know as the Father.)
Next notice John 1:3: “All things were made through Him [the Word], and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Christ inspired Paul to elaborate: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17, emphasis added throughout).
God created angels
God, through Christ, created all life that we can observe by the eye, as well as invisible life-forms. There are spirit life-forms that we cannot see!
Next, notice some statements in God’s interrogation of Job: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? … When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4, 7).
This is speaking of a point in time much later than that referenced in John 1:1. At this point, the universe exists and God speaks of creating the earth. The term “morning stars” refers to angels, spirit beings who were “sons of God” not by reproduction, but rather by creation. (See Revelation 1:16, 20, where Christ used stars to symbolize angels.) God had created these spirits, the angels, before creating the earth.
The Bible speaks of different types of angels, including cherubim, seraphim and others. Here we see all these created spirit beings harmoniously rejoicing at the earth’s creation.
Some angels turned to the dark side
Because the Bible is essentially the story of God’s plan for humankind, angels are mentioned only in connection with that plan. So we learn about the angels in bits and pieces from a variety of scriptures.
The prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah were inspired to reveal a shocking fact: One of the most powerful angels God had created turned evil!
Scripture names only three angelic beings: Gabriel, Michael and Heylel (called Lucifer in many English Bibles).
God Himself tells how Lucifer turned evil: “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God [the heavenly throne of God]; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones [implying a position of high authority over other angelic beings]. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God” (Ezekiel 28:14-16).
So we see that God created angels with free will—the freedom to choose to be righteous or to be unrighteous. Lucifer—who became known as Satan—chose the latter.So we see that God created angels with free will—the freedom to choose to be righteous or to be unrighteous. Lucifer—who became known as Satan—chose the latter.
Lucifer, from cherub to Satan
Isaiah identifies this great evil angel with the Hebrew name Heylel, the name he had before rebelling against God. (Lucifer is the Latin name, which is used in the New King James Version.) Isaiah adds that Lucifer actually attempted to replace God as supreme ruler (Isaiah 14:12-14). Notice again the reference to “stars,” symbolic of other angels, in verse 13.
This powerful evil spirit is the one called “the devil” and “Satan” elsewhere in the Bible. “Satan” is a Hebrew word for “adversary” or “opponent.” In the New Testament, the name “Satan” comes from an Aramaic word transliterated from the Hebrew for “Satan”; the Old and New Testament words mean virtually the same thing (Spiros Zodhiates, Complete Word Study Dictionaries, 2003).
Sadly, Satan convinced a multitude of other angels, perhaps many millions, to turn against God, as well.
In the book of Revelation, Satan is symbolized by a dragon. This book of prophecy also relates the history of Satan’s initial rebellion. Revelation 12:4 says, “His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven.”
As in the above references, “stars” are symbolic of angels. This indicates that after Satan changed from righteous to evil, his influence caused one-third of the entire angelic creation to follow him in evil. Whether the other angels chose to become evil at the same time as Lucifer or later, the Bible does not say.
The spirits who rebelled are called “the angels who sinned” in 2 Peter 2:4. More often, the Bible refers to them as “demons” or “evil spirits.” They have combined their forces with Satan to relentlessly oppose God and to try to thwart God’s purpose for humanity.
Possession and protection
Matthew, Mark and Luke record numerous examples of individuals who were either cruelly afflicted or possessed by demons (demon possession occurs when an evil spirit completely takes over a person’s mind). Christ expelled demons (often called “unclean spirits” in the Gospels) from many people. Demons are so real and so powerful that Jesus also taught us to pray on a daily basis for God to “deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13).
The fact that Jesus taught us to include this in our daily prayers emphasizes that demons should be taken seriously. They truly exist; they are not just scary figments of the human imagination to be toyed with as some form of entertainment. We should pray every day for God’s protection from the spiritual danger of Satan and the demons.
Do not get too close to the edge
Before God can grant us protection, we have to do our part—seeking God’s righteousness and doing what we can to keep our minds spiritually healthy. In that way we will not become vulnerable to demons who are constantly doing their level best to sidetrack us spiritually. “You shall not tempt the Lord your God,” Jesus said (Matthew 4:7). In the context of this statement, tempting God means purposefully putting ourselves in harm’s way and still expecting God to rescue us.
Examples of tempting God include filling our minds with movies, books, games or activities that deal with the occult or horror themes, black magic, witchcraft (Wicca), tarot cards, mediums, fortune-tellers and the like.
Although we are flesh and blood, we have to be aware of the invisible spirit world and its potential for harming us. The Bible puts it this way: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [physical weapons] but mighty in God [spiritual weapons] for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
The spiritual battle takes place in our minds—in our thoughts. We must therefore be on guard about whatever we allow into our minds. The mind is, of course, affected by the physical brain. In order to function well, the brain needs to be well-rested, as well as well-nourished with good food.
There are other physical steps we should take, such as keeping our environment orderly and clean. Order is of God; confusion and chaos are of Satan (see 1 Corinthians 14:33).
Demons and religion
As shocking as the thought might be, demons also involve themselves in religions! But stop to consider: What better way to subtly influence people than by pretending to be righteous messengers of God?
The apostle Paul warned the Christians in Corinth to avoid other religions, saying that their worship was directed “to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy [do we tempt God]? Are we stronger than He?” (1 Corinthians 10:20-22).
In another place, Christ inspired Paul to warn, “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers [servants] also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
What a startling thought that Satan would work through those whom many people would think of as righteous men—or through a religion that seems to be of God!
This brings up an extremely important related issue, that of finding the true Church and true ministers of God. See “True Church: What Is Its Name?” and “The Church—The Body of Christ.”
Demons are constantly active
Demons remain active today, working invisibly behind the scenes to assist Satan in opposing God, His plan for humanity, His Church and His people. In fact, Bible prophecies reveal that demonic efforts will greatly increase before Christ returns. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).
Notice again the mixture of demons and religion.
Demons count on gullibility
One of the tactics of Satan and the demons is to deceive, both intellectually and with visible signs and actions. Intellectual deception takes place through both religious and nonreligious information; demons will use whatever works. Since demons are liars, they have no conscience preventing them from twisting the truth any way they choose to spin it! They will say anything necessary to get you off track from the true teachings of Jesus Christ.
Regarding miracles, Revelation 16:14 describes a future sensation that will occur just prior to the end of this world: “For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”
People can be too easily impressed by an act that seems miraculous, readily assuming that the one who performs it and the message he teaches are of God. Scripture warns us that even the ability to foretell the future is not proof of God’s authority (compare Deuteronomy 13:1-4).
An end to demons
The influence of demons will come to an end. Prophecy reveals that when Jesus Christ returns, Satan and the demons will be banished from influencing humankind for 1,000 years. Jude shows their eventual judgment and sentencing: “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 1:6). (See “Satan Destroyed? How?”)
Yes, demons and Satan most certainly do exist. However, we need not fear them if we are doing our part in surrendering our lives to God and His way of life, which is the opposite of Satan and his demons’ way of life. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
God has also shown how we may put on spiritual armor as protection against the attacks of these wicked spirits (see Ephesians 6:10-18).
To learn more about the unseen spirit world, read “God vs. Satan” and “God’s Plan.” These articles explain the mystery of why God, whose creation is obviously beautiful and marvelous, is said to be working with a world that is in chaos and confusion—“without form and void” (Genesis 1:1-2).