Revealed Biblical Demonology
Many in the first four centuries of the Church, such as Lactantius and Augustine, wrote of the demons. This doctrine has fallen silent for nearly 1600 years except for a few obscure writers. With Adolph Hitler’s appearance and his known demonic influence the subject has received some attention by theologians. Paul Tillich, the liberal protestant German theologian, wrote of the demonic forces controlling modern history. It is most important to see what the Bible reveals about the demons and demonic forces.
We have seen that sin was originated in Satan (Ezekiel 28: 15). He is a king with a kingdom (Matthew 12:26) and a portion of that kingdom consists of demons (Matthew 12: 24). Scripture does not give us the exact origin of the demons. The New Testament tells of the angels who defected with Satan and “kept not their first estate” and “are reserved unto judgment of the great day” (II Peter 2: 4; Jude 1:6). Most competent conservative Bible teachers view the demons as the fallen angels. Some refer to them as disembodied spirits. This fall happened during Satan’s second domain, the Jeweled Garden of Eden. The Bible is vastly superior in its exposition of demonology compared to the superstitious exaggeration in the general population.
Demons do exist, because the Bible says they do. In the Old Testament they were the power behind the idols prohibited by God for the Israelites to worship. In Hebrew, the demons are called Shedhim (Deut. 32: 17; Psalm 106: 36-37) as well as Seirim (Lev. 17:7; II Chron. 11: 15; Isaiah 13:21; 34: 14).
The New Testament scripture has much to say about the demons:
• They exist (James 2: 19; Revelation 9:20).
• They know who Jesus is (Luke 4: 41).
• They cannot disobey Jesus’ commands (Matt 12:29).
• They are organized under Satan (Matt 12:26; Ephesians 6:12).
• They know their rulers (Luke 8:31; Rev 9”11).
• They are characterized as foul, unclean spirits (Luke 4:33; 6:18; Rev 18:2).
• They are deceitful and perform miracles through unsaved human beings (1 Tim 4:1; Rev 16:14).
• They can possess humans (Mark 1:32).
• They are cast out of humans by Jesus and his disciples (Matt 15:22, 28; Luke 9:1, 42; 10:17).
• They can be rebuked (Mark 5:8).
• They know their final doom (Matt 25:41).
• They are served by the unsaved (1 Corinthians 10:20).
• They cannot be served by those that are in Christ (1 Corinthians 10:21).
The demons have keen and supernatural knowledge. It is not as powerful as God’s holy knowledge or our saving knowledge. They are confirmed in evil, never seek forgiveness and never plead for purity. They know that Jesus is the Lord of the spirit-world but don’t have a trust in Him or submit to Him. They worship Christ but not in adoration or joy in Holy Communion. They bend to His will in resentment and hate. They, like Satan, have limited knowledge and ceaselessly attempt to thwart God’s plans and purposes. They are depraved and completely morally corrupt. These evil beings have a desire to corrupt and are frequently called unclean in the Bible (Matthew 10:1; Mark 1: 27; 3: 11; Luke 4: 36; Acts 8:7; Revelation 16: 13).
Where are the demons today? It is an impetuous conclusion to say that there are no demons active today; much has been written about demonic possession. Many cases of demonic activity up to and including possession (I Peter 5:8) have been validated. Satan walks about like a lion seeking whom he may devour, Peter tells us to be sober and vigilant. Paul tells us that Satan is like an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11: 14). These two revealed characteristics of Satan are important for us to consider and both of these apostles want us to “be aware”. Satan and his demons will masquerade as an angel of light to deceive us into sin so he can devour us. Satan and his demons are adeptly deceptive through out the various ages of human history from the beginning of the Church.
In the primitive societies the Devil can move about openly as a roaring lion.
Missionaries within these societies report much open demonic activity and possession. Only unbelievers can be possessed. In nominally Christian polite society, Satan has to deceive people to turn away from God in order to achieve his goals. The general population of regions of the world have standards of living that are based on Biblical standards. This drives the demons into using tools of deception. Some of the deceptions are:
- Rejecting supernaturalism altogether.
- Rejecting the authority of God’s Word.
- Giving rise to rational thought instead of revealed truth.
- Causing people to be unaware of the origin of their thoughts.
- Causing people to think that no disease has a direct demonic cause.
- Causing people to think that some sins are really “not so bad”.
- Corrupting doctrinal integrity of the Scriptures so some parts of Scripture are thought of as more important that others.
- Causing the belief that magic is harmless (not sleight of hand).
- Causing a belief that paganism is harmless in its three root forms; magic, divination (seeking fortune tellers) and necromancy (seeking communication with the dead).
- Corrupting the Hebrew Mazzeroth (God’s message in the star constellations of Christ and the Gospel) with astrology.
- Causing myth to come into Christianity replacing truth.
- Causing a belief that all religions are equal, whatever the doctrine.
- Causing schisms in Christian fellowship over doctrine.
- Bringing deception in world governments controlled by wicked ruler and dictators to renounce Christianity and provide a channel for the demons to have a great effect on large numbers of people.
By far the greatest field of activity for Satan and his demons is the Church because Satan can influence believers. The body of believers is charged with bringing converts into saving grace knowledge of Christ and His work. The Church is to teach the truth of the Bible. The powers of darkness are increasing in our day and age and dupe the world against the truth of the Bible and historic Christianity. Satan is dedicated to turning people from God. When men do believe the gospel, Satan exerts every effort to turn them away from God’s will (Matthew 13:19). He knows that once they are saved they are beyond his power to destroy so he seeks to corrupt (Numbers 25: 1-3; 31: 16; James 4: 4; Revelation 2: 14). Therefore, he determines to do them as much damage as he can, seeking to ruin their Christian life and testimony for God.
Satan is unrelenting and pitiless in his hatred for God and the people of God. What makes the devil a fearful foe is the fact of his great power. This is augmented by the assistance of a vast number of fallen angels or demons. Consequently, satanic forces constitute a mighty, evil spiritual reality to be seriously reckoned with by the entire fallen race, both redeemed and unredeemed. We must be aware of the demonic activity and what we are charged with to defeat it.
In its spiritual war, the Church must be knowledgeable about the strategems of our enemy. In physical wars, military strategists are keenly aware of the necessity of knowing the enemy. Accordingly, they employ intricate networks of intelligence and counterintelligence. Missions involving espionage are frequently as crucial to winning a war as actual battles. Without intelligence of the enemy’s strength and position, victory in any military encounter would be doubtful. Yet believers mostly display an obvious disinterest in what the Bible reveals about Satan and demons. The only sound approach is to know the enemy. Only as his wiles are revealed will the believer be able to anticipate and outmaneuver him. Satan’s chief tactics are to hide his identity and his attacks. The Christian must recognize him and anticipate his moves.
Only as the believer knows the powers of darkness will he be able to win against them in his superior position and strength in Christ. The rampant demon activity of these last days (1 Timothy 4:1) means we must “Know our enemy!”
1 Timothy 4: 1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Although we do not always know this enemy, one thing is sure. Satan always knows us! He is thoroughly acquainted with all of God’s children and is quite aware of those who fall for his strategies. He also knows those who recognize and count on their position in Christ and who find and fulfill God’s will for their lives. These saints are what the devil fears most, for they constitute the deadliest threat to his plans and ambitions.It is to us that he attacks in the subtlest manner. He brings us into temptation for the activities, which we know we should not be engaged. We fail to realize or admit his involvement and think that our activities are harmless or out of the purview of anyone else including God.
Ephesians 6: 10-11 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Paul starts this section with two commands to make us aware of the enemy’s plan of attack. The enemy wants to thwart God’s plan for our families and will do whatever he can to draw us away from God. Our protection against this enemy is to avail ourselves of all available God given resources to protect ourselves against the strategy of the enemy… Satan. Christians are not to attack Satan, or advance against him; they are only to “stand” or hold the territory Christ and His body, the church, have conquered. Without God’s armor, believers will be defeated by the “schemes” of the devil, which have been effective for thousands of years.
Understanding the Spiritual Battle Introduction (6:12).
Ephesians 6: 12 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.
This struggle implies hand-to-hand combat. It is not a casual annoyance that is being referred to here. Paul is describing a battle that happens in the mind, for control of the mind, and gets manifested in the flesh. The Devil and his Demons want to destroy us and will take every chance we give them to do that. These are genuine powerful beings not mere fantasies. They live outside of time and space where we will be when we leave these bodies in which we temporarily reside. Once a person becomes a believer in Jesus Christ we become their enemies and they begin their attack. The two major mistakes Christians make toward this evil empire are to ignore it or to give it too much attention.
“High Places” is Hebrew phraseology for the connecting medium to the world that Christ spoke of as life (Matthew 18:8-9; 19: 17; Mark 9: 43; 45). The high places of gross idolatry are physical locations where interaction with demons is carried out to connect to the demonic inhabitants that live there and not to God. These interactions with demons are carried out in the sphere of conflict seeking to damage and kill those who would come to God and find eternal salvation. The Old Testament referred to the phallic idols of the Canaanites, which the Hebrews followed and set up on hills as “High Places.” It occurs ninety times in the OT in the exact phrase “High Places.” It always refers to an effort to thwart God’s plans. Darkness refers to the ugly nature of evil that has entered the earth’s domain when Satan caused Eve to ignore the Word of God and follow the temptation offered by Satan.
Idolatry in itself poses a terrible danger and has to be destroyed. The Hebrew’s were commanded to perform a “herem”, which is a total destruction of the “High Places” and all associated with them. These places are demon energized and an affront to God. Their existence violated the first two commandments of the Decalogue as well.
Exodus 20: 1- 6 And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
The principal entities which represent the demons in time and space in the OT are the:
- Idolaters who burn incense to Baal, the sun, moon and stars and planets also known as astrologers.
- Adorers of Ashera or sexual worship.
- Male and female prostitutes.
- Worshippers of Molech who offered their children as sacrifices, which is modern day abortion.
So, images and idols are intimately connected with occult and demon worship because the entity behind the idol is a demon enticing the worshipper to some desirable sensual experience. If there were not some “charge” or excitement the worshipper would not be attracted to an inanimate object.
Standing Your Ground
The Whole Armor of God (Withstanding Evil).
Truth, The Breastplate of Righteousness
Shoes of the Gospel of Truth
Faith as a Shield
Salvation as a Helmut
The Word of God is our Sword
Prayer in the Spirit of God
The principal danger the Christian faces is whether the demonic world is credible or not. The problem is not unbelief but credulity. Satan stands ready to take advantage of this in an era when occult religion and liberalism is threatening to replace pure biblical Christianity. Liberalism produces a fuzzy imprecise rendering of the Bible reducing its credibility. This draws people away from the truth and protection of God’s Word causing a spiritual vacuum. The occultic religions seek to invade the vacuum opened by liberalism. Satan then is let in to deceive in greater measure. One example of this is to reject the activity of the demons altogether and fail to discern a condition of the general nature of the fall vis-à-vis direct involvement of demons. For example, in demon-ridden China of the nineteenth century the natives had no difficulty differentiating between mental disease and demon-possession. Dr. Alfred Lechler, a German psychologist, stressed the need to distinguish between the diseased and the demonic. In this connection he showed the difference between schizophrenia, epilepsy, depression, neurosis, psychopathy, senile dementia, and the demonic. Christians must exercise every precaution to avoid falling prey to Satan’s two popular tricks of either seeing Satan and demons in nothing or else seeing them in everything.
Ephesians 6: 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
The apostle knowing that this front is a battle uses the illustration of Roman soldier’s armament for us to utilize in our war with the enemy. This is so that we may be able to stand against the wiles and stratagems of Satan, against his power and might, to oppose his schemes, and resist his temptations. Because this is a battle it is fitting that the battle gear is used to describe the spiritual equipment given to us to succeed in deflecting the “arrows” of the evil one. We routinely meet him to face to face and give him battle, being fitted with the whole armour of God. Satan and his dominions are very busy bringing about trials, afflictions, and persecution because of the Word of God. We are then told having put on the whole armour of God in order to stand, we can as conquers withstand the enemy.
Ephesians 6: 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
Keep your ground, do not desert the army which is the church of Christ, nor his cause. Continue in the station in which you are placed, keep your post, be upon your watch, stand upon your guard. Have your loins girted about with truth; by which is meant the Gospel as depicted in Ephesians 1:13. It also means that we are not to embrace superstitions but check everything against the Word of God (Acts 17:11). Girding our loins with the truth shows that the Word should be near and close to us, and never departed from it. It is a means of keeping us close to God and Christ, and of strengthening us against the assaults and attacks of Satan; and is great use in the Christian’s spiritual conflict with our demonic enemies. The girdle is the part of armour, that is so important that it sometimes represents the whole armament (Isaiah 5:27). The breastplate of righteousness is a reference to Isaiah 59:17, meaning not works of righteousness done by men (though these are a deterrent when correctly used against the reproaches and charges of the enemy as they were by Samuel in 1Samuel 12:3). Therefore it seems best to understand this of the righteousness of Christ, which being imputed by God and received by faith, is a guard against and repels the accusations and charges of Satan, and is a security from all wrath and condemnation.
The Whole Armour (The Gospel fights Wickedness).
Ephesians 6: 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.
Our sure footing and stability in battle is due to our having our feet shod with the gospel of peace. We have the blessed assurance that we are God’s children and we receive peace with God at the time we accept His gospel. Among the armour of soldiers to provide balance and keep them upright were shoes, or boots, sometimes made of iron, and other times made of brass. The Gospel is our firm foundation. A firm, solid knowledge of the Gospel, as it emanates peace by Jesus Christ, yields a sure foundation for the Christian soldier to set his foot upon and stand fast. The gospel of peace means we are no longer at war with Him (Romans 5: 1). Our countenance reflects this peace as the war with Him is ended, and we have become a traitor to Satan and his demons and their overwhelming influence over us prior to conversion. Once saved, we receive the peace of God who will bruise Satan under our feet shortly (Romans 16: 20; Philippians 4: 7).
Ephesians 6: 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
The Whole Armor (Word of God is our weapon).
Our faith is based upon truth as given by Christ and revealed in the Bible. When we accept that and believe, our faith becomes as strong as a shield to buffet the many attempts we will experience to erode our faith. Satan is a formidable foe. If we take up our faith seriously he can’t hurt us. He will try and we must resist.
Ephesians 6: 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
The helmet protects the head, which is the control center of our bodies, and our salvation acts in the same way. Salvation by Christ is a defense of the head against false doctrines. Just as the helmet is a piece of armor for the head, our salvation is a protector of the head in times of difficulty, affliction, and distress. Like a helmet, it covers the head in the day of battle when engaged with Satan, the enemy of souls.
The word of God is compared to a “sword” for its two edges: Christ’s New Testament law and Gospel. The one convicts of sin and cuts to the heart, and the other cuts down all the goodliness of man. The Scriptures in general are a sharp sword, in convincing of sin, reproving for it, threatening with wrath and ruin, in refuting error and heresy, and repelling Satan’s temptations. They will be used in the destruction of antichrist. God’s word may be called the sword of the Spirit because it is not carnal, but of a spiritual nature because the Holy Spirit is the author of it. He furnishes us with it, teaches us how to make use of it, and makes it powerful and effectual. The Jews say the words of the law are like to a sword, and speak of “the sword of the law” (Bereshit Rabbah, sect. 21. fol. 19. 1.).
The Whole Armor (Spirit filled prayer and utterances).
Ephesians 6: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
The last weapon is prayer. It says that a man should pray as often as he has an opportunity and particularly in times of darkness, desertion, and temptation. This, when performed correctly, is performed in the Spirit with the heart, soul, and spirit engaged in it. It is offered up with a true heart, and a right spirit of fervent sincere prayer knowing that God hears us and will answer our petition. If we do these things Satan has no chance to dissuade us from God. But he will try and we must resist.
James 4: 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.
Ephesians 6: 19-20 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Paul asked his readers not only to pray in general for all saints but also specifically to pray for him that he might make known the mystery of the gospel. He had to be clear regarding the “mystery of the gospel” when he would be on trial before Caesar in Rome. The Romans looked on the Christians as a sect of the Jews, but the Jews considered them as a heretical group. In his trial, Paul needed to make clear that Christians are neither a Jewish sect nor a heretical group but a new entity. This new entity is called the church, the body of Christ, which is composed of Jewish and Gentile believers. This recalls Paul’s lengthy discussion of this “mystery of the gospel” in 2:11-3:11. For this reason Paul was an ambassador in chains (Acts 28:16, 20; Eph. 3:1; 4:1; Phil. 1:7, 13-14, 16; Col. 4:3, 18; Philippians 1, 9-10, 13).
Daniel E. Woodhead Ph.D.