By Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com
Demons get a lot of attention in movies and TV shows about the paranormal. But are they real, and what does the Bible say about demons? Learning about demons is unpleasant. But it’s important to know what the Bible says about demons in order to protect yourself from them.
What Is a Demon?
A demon is a fallen angel – one of the angels who rebelled against God in a quest for even more power long ago, and became evil as a result. God created all angels to be holy angels with purely good natures. However, whenever any creature separates from God (who is the source of all that’s good) that creature’s nature changes from good to evil because it no longer is connected to the source of goodness. A demon used to be a holy angel, but now has an evil nature because it has become corrupted by sin.
What Does the Bible Say about Demons?
The Bible says that demons were banished from heaven with Satan because they rebelled against God. Demons are the “stars” described in Revelation 12:3-4: “Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.” This passage reveals that a third of the angels fell from grace, while two-thirds of the angels are still holy and serving God.
Isaiah 14:12-15 describes the fall of Satan, who is the leader of the demons: “How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.”
In Luke 10:18, Jesus says: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Revelation 12:7-9 describes how the angels who became demons fell from heaven along with Satan: “Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”
Jesus often delivered people from demons during his ministry on Earth. Throughout the Gospels, you’ll notice many different encounters between Jesus and demons. Each time, Jesus stopped the demons’ evil work and brought spiritual healing for diverse types of afflictions. Matthew 4:4 says of Jesus’ healing work: “… people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.” Jesus’ followers also cast out demons from people – sometimes successfully (Luke 10:17 and Acts 16:18) and sometimes unsuccessfully, when they needed extra help from Jesus (Mark 9:28-29).
The Bible says that demons are working on Earth today, fighting to destroy God’s work and deceive people (1 Peter 5:8 and 2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Demons proclaim false teachings (1 Timothy 4:1), deceive the world (2 Corinthians 4:4), attack people who are faithful to God (2 Corinthians 12:7 and 1 Peter 5:8), and fight holy angels (Revelation 12:4-9). Demonic possession – in which demons enter the bodies of humans – can happen to vulnerable people who aren’t connected to God in saving relationships, as the Gospel stories of demon possession show. However, Christians cannot become bodily possessed, because the Holy Spirit lives inside of us (Romans 8:38-39 and 1 Corinthians 3:16).
What Does the Bible Say about Where Demons Come From/Where They Are Now?
As we’ve explored, demons were originally holy angels who have since become fallen angels. The Bible mentions that some demons are active on Earth; they are referred to in Ephesians 6:12: “For 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.” Other demons are already experiencing punishment for their sins. Jude 1:6 mentions them: “And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling – these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.”
God has planned an “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). Demons are aware of their eternal destination. In Matthew 8:29, two demons shout at Jesus: “’What do you want with us, Son of God?’ they shouted. ‘Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?’”
Right now, demons are still deceiving people, hurting people, and influencing people to sin. But God is doing redemptive work in the world, and we can find protection from demons by asking God to help us with his unlimited power. As Jesus says in Luke 11:20: “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
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How to Protect Yourself from Demons
Demons can harm you in a variety of ways, from lying to you and tempting you to sin, to causing mental anguish like depression and anxiety or physical illnesses or injuries in your life. Thankfully, with God’s help you can protect yourself from falling prey to demons. Here's how:
Put on Your Spiritual Battle Armor: Ephesians 6:11 urges you to: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:13-17 describes the armor you should put on for the strength to win the unseen yet real spiritual battles around you: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the Gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit. You can do all of that by asking God to help you day by day.
Don’t Try to Contact Angels on Your Own: Instead of trying to contact angels on your own, wait for God to bring angels into your life, according to what is truly best. If you contact angels yourself, you can’t choose which angels will respond. If you reach out to angels rather than directly to God, you’re opening a door for fallen angels to manipulate you while disguised as holy angels. 2 Corinthians 11:14 of the Bible says that Satan, who leads the fallen angels, “masquerades as an angel of light” and the angels who serve him “masquerade as servants of righteousness.” Deuteronomy 18:10-12 forbids practices that involve contacting the spirit world apart from God. Stay away from Ouija boards, seances, channeling, and other similar practices that may be tempting but are actually quite dangerous.
Test the Spiritual Messages You Receive: Don’t just accept whatever messages you may receive from angels as true without examining and testing those messages. 1 John 4:1 advises: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Beware of false messages. Satan, whom demons follow, is “a liar and the father of lies,” according to John 8:44, demons may speak as false prophets, and Jeremiah 23:16 says that false prophets “speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.” The true test of whether or not an angel is truly communicating a message from God is what the angel has to say about Jesus Christ, the Bible says in 1 John 4:2: “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.”
Pursue Wisdom Through a Close Relationship with God: While demons can easily influence you to sin if you’re not walking closely with God, you can gain the wisdom you need to overcome temptation by staying close to God. Proverbs 9:10 declares: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Fearing God doesn’t mean being afraid of him. Fearing God involves being in awe of him, which comes from paying attention to the wonder of his work around you, as I explain in my book Wake Up to Wonder.
Choose to Follow Where God Leads: Finally, it's important to intentionally base your daily decisions on the values that reflect what God says matters most. Choose to do what’s right, as God leads you, whenever you can. Don't compromise what you believe when you make choices each day. This is vital because demons are constantly tempting you to sin to try to pull you away from God. However, 1 John 4:4 assures you that, through a relationship with Jesus, you can win every spiritual battle: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
To wrap up what the Bible says about demons, they are fallen angels who are dangerous because of their evil actions toward humanity. However, through a relationship with Jesus, you have access to all the power you need to protect yourself from demons. Colossians 2:15 says that Jesus has “disarmed the powers and authorities,” and “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15). When you resist demons through God’s power, you have nothing to fear.
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Whitney Hopler is the author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). She has also written the young adult novel Dream Factory. Connect with Whitney on Twitter and Facebook.