Do Demons Exist and What Are They Like?
Within in the church, and throughout broader society, a great deal of mysticism and superstition surrounds the reality, ability, and work of demons. Because of this haze of opinions, we must root our understanding in Scripture.
The Demonic Narrative
Satan is the origin of evil, the father of lies (John 8:44).
Satan and his angels apparently still have access to heaven because during the tribulation period, there will be a war in heaven and they will be cast out unto the earth (Revelation 12:7-9).
Though crushed by the work of Christ two thousand years ago, their final end, eternal punishment, and endless torture is yet to come (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).
The Nature of the Demonic Spirits
Demonic beings can be referred to as (unclean/evil) spirits or demons interchangeably (Matthew 8:16; 1 Timothy 4:1; Revelation 18:2). Angels and demons are referred to as spiritual kings/rulers/princes (Daniel 10:12-13; 1 Corinthians 6:12).
Demons are not disembodied spirits of a previous generation of humanity, nor are they the result of an illicit union between angels and women before the flood. The biblical material indicates that demons should be identified with fallen angels, commissioned by their powerful counterpart, Satan.
Because demons have flexibility of appearance (like angels they can appear as beings that are able to speak, etc.) most “ghosts” are probably demons masquerading as the dead. Those who enlist the help of a witch and/or channel the dead are often speaking to demons who knew the dead individual, thus capable of deceiving the unwary.
Demons must submit to the command of God (1 Kings 22:19-23; 1 Samuel 19:9-10; Judges 9:23). Thus, we have no reason to fear them. We serve an omnipotent God, who has control over both the vilest demon’s activity and the outcome of seemingly insignificant details.
Good angels are also spirits, according to Christ; they do not have flesh and bones in the same way we do though they can appear as human (Luke 24:4; Genesis 19:1-5).
The Demonic Realm
Satan resides upon the Earth and rules it (Ephesians 2:1-2; Revelation 2:12-13; Job 1:7; Revelation 12:12). He is also described as the “god” of this world (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). While it is argued that some powerful fallen angels supervise large areas (Daniel 10:12-13), the demonic realm primarily influences us in a personal manner. Through contact with leaders and select individuals, they can warp, manipulate, control, and corrupt societies, cultures, and groups. False worship, with its subtle or flagrant idolatry, is often the result of such activity. Idolatry is demonic worship (1 Corinthians 10:19-20; Deuteronomy 32:17).
Demons disguise themselves (2 Corinthians 11:14). For this reason, we must cautiously discern the validity of any professed vision or prophecy originating from angelic beings. In essence, “do not believe every spirit” (1 John 4:1).
Satan and his servants blind the minds of men (2 Corinthians 4:4). They ever desire to steal away the Word of God to promote unbelief (Matthew 13:19).
Demons can control and manipulate the bodies of humans and animals (Mark 9:22; Leviticus 17:7; Mark 5:13).
They can operate in groups (Luke 8:2; Matthew 12:45; Mark 5:9).
Demons can cause physical pain and symptoms (Luke 11:14; Matthew 17:14-18). In Western culture, we regularly categorize to extremes, but we must not discount that natural events and normal occurrences may have a spiritual root.
Many believers categorize personal demonic attacks with three primary categories: obsession/oppression (attack of the mind), affliction (attack of the body), and possession (control of the will or being). As these are historical terms, they should not be quickly dismissed, but we should be careful not to rashly reduce Satan’s behavior to predefined arenas.
We must always remember that our hope is found in Christ. We are united with Him and granted all the rights and privileges of God’s Son. If we lose sight of Christ and our eternal identity, we are vulnerable to deception and temptation.