Do demons exist?
In the past, I’ve had interesting discussions with believers in Christ and unbelievers about whether or not evil spirits, or demons, are real and active in today’s world. People have given me opinions that range from a disbelief in their existence to evil spirits being present at every turn. Some Christians have told me that when Christ came and died for our sins he got rid of all of the evil angels that were roaming the earth. Unbelievers have expressed that since there were unexplained occurrences that happened in biblical times and they were not advanced scientifically, the writers of the Bible labeled these weird happenings as originating with demons. Now that humans have advanced in the sciences, their opinion is that there is no longer a need to attribute strange behavior or strange occurrences as demonic, but tap into our scientific knowledge to explain these things.
My personal opinion, which is based on what the Bible says, is that evil spirits are real and active all over the world, but I don’t believe that people should blame them for their own bad behavior or that a devil is behind every tree waiting to pounce on every potential victim that passes by. The spirit realm–including God, Satan, and their forces of angels–interact quite often with the affairs of men and it is necessary for Christians to be aware of how both sides operate so we can make choices that promote what pleases God. There are several scriptures that point out the fact that evil spirits are still active on Earth and here are two scriptures written after Christ’s ascension to prove that Christ didn’t rid the world of them yet:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 1 Peter 5:8
The principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness that Paul speaks of, since they are not flesh and blood, are evil spirits roaming the Earth and are like their leader, Satan, who is seeking people to destroy. Revelation 12:9 also tells us these evil angels were kicked out of heaven with Satan into the Earth.
The devil’s devices
Satan and his devils have many tools at their disposal to deceive people and in some cases to possess them (i.e. inhabit their bodies). Devils are very crafty and have had thousands of years to work out their various strategies. Here are a few of their devices:
1. Questioning/twisting God’s words: This is one of their main points of attack and it’s used most often because they know that if people have doubts about God and what he says, they will be open to almost any of the other devilish devices and sin that is thrown their way. Questioning and twisting God’s words were used to deceive Eve in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3 when Satan in his subtilty asked, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Then he went on to say, “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” In other words, Satan was calling God a cosmic killjoy, standing in the way of what they should be allowed to do.
Satan used the tactic of twisting God’s word with Christ when he tempted him in the desert by telling him to throw himself off the temple in Matthew 4 where he misquoted Psalm 91:11 to try to make Jesus believe that God would send angels to rescue him. This is also why the word of God fails to take effect in some people’s lives when it’s preached as portrayed in the parable of the sower since “Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.” [Mark 4:15]
One way he uses this tactic in modern times is by influencing “scholars” and publishers to release a whole array of Bible versions with the often quoted statement that a certain reliable version that has stood the test of time is not translated accurately or that it can’t be understood, causing believers to question it. Then they scramble around to buy versions that omit words and misinterpret the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek of reliable manuscripts.
2. Appearing as an angel of light: Satan and his angels have the power to change their appearance to transform into angels of light [2 Corinthians 11:14]. By appearing as if they are good angels, they can easily deceive people who focus on outward appearances and can easily make them believe any ungodly message they speak. This is why we are commanded in 1 John 4:1 to try (test) the spirits that speak to us to see whether they are truly from God. Just because someone has a vision or apparition of an angel of light does not automatically mean the vision is legitimate. Since devils have this ability, it should be no surprise that there are ministers who appear innocent, but preach dangerous false doctrines because they are under satanic influence [2 Corinthians 11:13, 15] as is witnessed on Christian TV every day.
3. Metaphysical practices/curious arts: These would include all practices used to convey or contact the evil forces of the spiritual world. As stated in Deuteronomy 18, “There shall not be found among you any one … that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive [the heathens] out from before thee.” What do all of these terms mean?
Divination is the practice of telling the future or revealing secrets. It’s Satan’s counterfeit gift of mimicking God’s gift of prophecy and includes the use of tarot cards, crystal balls, tea leaves, and ESP or clairvoyance. Observing times includes astrology and numerology. An enchanter uses charms and spells to influence people or situations. A witch, whether using “white” or “black” witchcraft, uses magick and rituals (holidays) to manipulate people and situations for selfish purposes (usually to become more powerful) and includes practicing Wicca, voodoo, vampirism, or santeria.
Charmers use objects they dedicate with magick for good luck or to ward off spells. To consult with familiar spirits means a person becomes a medium for certain spirits or welcomes a particular spirit they become familiar with who accompanies them. A familiar spirit can also be a devil masquerading as a person’s dead relative or friend. Using a ouija board and candles or some other form of seance are popular ways of conjuring up familiar spirits. Wizards use magick in much the same way as witches. Necromancers are those who call up dead people who are really devils pretending to be the dead person supposedly contacted in the seance.
All of these practices overlap and are intertwined. God hates all of them because they allow open access to satanic influence. Rituals that accompany such practices can include premarital or extramarital sex, drug abuse, and sacrificing animals or humans. A few other satanic practices are palm reading, transcendental meditation, and tantric yoga.
4. False religion/paganism: As the scripture says, “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles [unbelievers] sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.” [1 Corinthians 10:20] Therefore, every false god is really a representation of an evil spirit who is hiding behind it. A false religion is any religion that denies that there is one God who came to Earth as Jesus Christ to die for the sins of the world and who rose from the dead on the third day. Jesus Christ is the only way to God, according to the scriptures, and any religion that says otherwise is a false religion and is of the devil, according to the scriptures.
However, this does not give anyone who may call themselves a Christian the right to hate anyone who is not a Christian. Jesus Christ is love and anyone who would justify hatred towards another person needs to examine themselves. We are commanded to love all people since Christ loved by dying for all of them, even if they bow down to false gods. And those Christians who would justify their hatred should remember that all of us at one time were heathens who served Satan through our sinful nature.
5. Music/Entertainment: Isaiah 14:12-17 and Ezekiel 28:12-19 tell us about the origins of Satan, or Lucifer, or the devil. In Ezekiel 28:13 we are told Lucifer had tabrets and pipes prepared in him in the day he was created. He was all about making music to glorify God and brightly reflected God’s glory until iniquity, or evil, was found in him. He ended up wanting glory for himself. In the midst of him getting kicked out of heaven, God never revoked his gift to make music. Lucifer just converted his skills to promote his own ideas and to attack God’s principles as much as possible. Since he was so good at music, his talents transferred over to the entertainment industry in general.
If you travel all over the world, you can hear the music of people praising their sin–from worshipping their false gods to boasting about unjustified violence to bragging about sexual escapades. You can also see movies that promote lying, fornication of every kind, violence, false religion, and other harmful ideas. We owe it all to man’s sinful nature in partnership with the influence of devils.
But let me also add that all entertainment is not evil. As a matter of fact, some of it is quite good and inspirational. I just wanted to point out the true spirit behind the stuff that tends to be trash.
6. Laying claim to physical territory: The devil is called the prince of this world in John 12 and the prince of the power of the air in Ephesians 2, so we can conclude that he and his angels stake claim over territories around the world. This is also implied in several other scriptures including Daniel 10 when God personally sent an angel to Daniel to answer his prayer about a timeline on Israel’s captivity. The angel had to fight with the prince of Persia, an evil angel, for 21 days before Michael the archangel came along to help him fight off the prince so he could give Daniel his message. As the angel was getting ready to leave Daniel he warned that the prince of Grecia (Greece), another devil, was going to arrive after his departure.
Jesus in Revelation 2:13 tells us that Pergamos is the city where Satan had his seat (throne) and was where he dwelled, or had his headquarters. So at the time Revelation 2 was written (95 A.D.), Satan set up his territory in and around this city. If we apply this information to today, it’s not such a stretch to believe that evil spirits can be assigned to a nation, city, or could even haunt a house of a person who may have been dedicated to Satan’s service at one time.
Back in 1996, I had the pleasure of visiting the D.C. area. During that visit, I went to see a memorial building dedicated to one of our Presidents. Upon arriving at the memorial with a friend of mine, we both felt a presence over the place at the same time and looked at each other and asked, “Did you feel that?” almost simultaneously. There was a donation box right inside the door and I had my wallet out ready to give a donation when I had a strong feeling telling me to close my wallet and not give them any money. This was the very moment my friend and I looked at each other. We were hesitant to enter but were curious as to what was happening. Knowing that God would protect us, we went in and it was then that we discovered that the memorial was run by the Freemasons and was also a Masonic temple where Masonic literature was sold. That explained everything and it was then that we knew that God was warning us about an evil spirit assigned to the place. We both felt God’s presence surrounding us in that place until we left.
7. Imitating God’s spiritual gifts: This devilish device was used by the magicians Jannes and Jambres when Moses and Aaron went before Pharaoh to pronounce the seven plagues. The magicians, with their devilish powers were able to copy some of the miracles performed by Moses and Aaron, like turning their rods to serpents, using enchantments to turn the Nile water to blood, and to bring up frogs. Revelation 13 also lets us know that both the Antichrist and his sidekick, the false prophet, will be able to work signs and wonders to deceive the people of the world by Satan’s power. Since signs and wonders can be used by devils to deceive us, Christians should not be so caught up in them that we don’t question them. Although I have heard many a charismatic preacher criticize people for having what they call the “paralysis of analysis” to question so-called prophetic words and miracles, we have the right to test the spirits even if we are accused of not having faith to buy what they’re selling.
In pt. 2, I’ll highlight some of the ways we can tell that a person is being influenced or even possessed by an evil spirit.
–posted by Harry A. Gaylord–