What is a demon?


By BibleAsk Team

Demons, often depicted as most wicked spiritual beings, have been a subject of fear throughout history. Demons are fallen angels who rebelled against God and now serve Satan, the ultimate adversary of God and humanity. To explore the nature of demons according to Christian theology, we will delve into the biblical references, examine their origins, characteristics, and activities, and consider the implications for believers in understanding and confronting spiritual warfare.

Origins of Demons: The Rebellion of Lucifer

A demon is a fallen angel. The biblical narrative provides insights into the origins of demons through the rebellion of Lucifer, a powerful angel who sought to exalt himself above God and was cast out of heaven along with his followers.

Isaiah 14:12-15 (NKJV): “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.”

Lucifer’s aim was to usurp God’s throne (Isaiah 14:13,14). And to that end, he succeeded to persuade one-third of the angels to follow him in the rebellion (Revelation 12:3, 4). But Lucifer and his angels failed and were expelled from heaven.

Revelation 12:7-9 (NKJV): “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

After his expulsion, Lucifer was called Satan (adversary) and devil (slanderer), and his angels were called demons. The devil continued in his course of rebellion and deceived mankind by his lies and thus took dominion over the Earth (Genesis 3).

But the heavenly Father in His great mercy, redeemed humanity by the death of His Son, Jesus Christ  (John 3:16). Every person that accepts Christ by faith and obey Him will be saved (Revelation 12:11). And the Lord also provided all the grace necessary to overcome every sin. Jesus promised, “I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19, NKJV).

Characteristics of Demons

  1. Spiritual Beings: Demons are depicted as spiritual beings, distinct from humans yet possessing intelligence, will, and personality. Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV): “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” This verse highlights the spiritual nature of demonic forces and their role in opposing God’s purposes and influencing human affairs.
  2. Malevolent Intent: Demons are characterized by malevolent intent, seeking to deceive, oppress, and destroy humanity through spiritual warfare. 1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV): “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” This verse portrays Satan, the leader of demonic forces, as a relentless adversary who seeks to devour and destroy those who are vulnerable to his schemes.
  3. Deceptive Strategies: Demons employ deceptive strategies, including temptation, deception, and spiritual bondage, to lead people astray and undermine their faith. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 (NKJV): “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” This passage warns against the deceptive tactics of Satan and his agents, who masquerade as agents of righteousness to deceive and ensnare unsuspecting individuals.

Activities of Demons

  1. Opposition to God’s Kingdom: Demons are engaged in a spiritual conflict against God’s kingdom, seeking to thwart His purposes and hinder the spread of the gospel. Matthew 12:26 (NKJV): “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?” Jesus’ words affirm the existence of Satan’s kingdom and the ongoing spiritual warfare between the forces of darkness and the kingdom of God.
  2. Influence on Human Affairs: Demons exert influence on human affairs through temptation, oppression, and spiritual bondage, seeking to undermine faith and promote sin. Ephesians 2:2 (NKJV): “in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” This verse describes Satan as the ruler of the spiritual realm, exerting influence over those who are disobedient to God’s commands.
  3. Manifestations of Evil: Demons may manifest themselves through various forms of evil, including demonic possession, oppression, and manifestations of supernatural phenomena. Matthew 8:16 (NKJV): “When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick.” This verse illustrates Jesus’ authority over demonic forces and His power to deliver those who are oppressed by evil spirits.

Confronting Demonic Forces

  1. Spiritual Warfare: Believers are called to engage in spiritual warfare against demonic forces through prayer, faith, and reliance on the power of God’s Word. James 4:7 (NKJV): “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” This verse emphasizes the importance of submitting to God’s authority and resisting the devil’s schemes through active spiritual warfare. All what Christians need to do to overcome is to connect themselves daily to God through study of His Word and prayer. Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). And nothing shall be impossible for them (Luke 1:37).
  2. Authority in Christ: Believers possess authority in Christ to confront and overcome demonic forces through the power of His name and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Luke 10:19 (NKJV): “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Jesus’ words affirm the authority bestowed upon believers to confront and overcome the power of the enemy through faith in Him.

The Final End of Demons

Ultimately, God will destroy the devil and his demons in the lake of fire and they will receive the due punishment for their evil (Revelation 20:10; Matthew 25:41). Until then, Christians need to fight the devil by God’s grace. The Lord says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9, NKJV).

    Conclusion: The Reality of Spiritual Warfare

    In conclusion, demons are malevolent spiritual beings who rebelled against God and now serve Satan in opposing His kingdom and influencing human affairs. Their characteristics, activities, and deceptive strategies are depicted throughout the biblical narrative, highlighting the ongoing spiritual warfare between the forces of darkness and the kingdom of God.

    However, believers are not powerless in the face of demonic forces; through faith in Christ and reliance on His authority, they possess the power to confront and overcome all the power of the enemy. By engaging in spiritual warfare through prayer, faith, and reliance on God’s Word, believers can stand firm against the schemes of the devil and experience victory in Christ.

    In His service,
    BibleAsk Team

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