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Angels Versus Demons

Descriptions, power and the devil.

What Are Angels?

Angels are spiritual beings created by God to serve Him. They are very powerful beings who function as God's messengers. Many times in the Bible they appeared to people and said, "I have come as a messenger from the Lord."

The New Testament tells us they are also ministering spirits sent to look after human beings who are the heirs of salvation (see Hebrews 1:14). Jesus seemed to indicate that little children have angels assigned to them, for He said their angels always behold the face of God (see Matthew 18:10). So the concept of guardian angels has its basis in the Bible.

In addition to the worker angels, there are archangels--angel princes such as Michael (see Jude 9). Scripture seems to indicate that he represented an entire nation (see Daniel 10:13).

Although we do not know for sure what angels look like, the Bible mentions some angelic features. The first chapter of Ezekiel tells of a vision in which the prophet saw a group of angels who were so holy that they appeared as flames of fire. These creatures seemed to be like men, yet they had four wings and multiple faces (see Ezekiel 1:5-6). They responded instantly to God's Spirit. The book of Isaiah mentions angels called "seraphim" who have six wings (see Isaiah 6:2,6). Another group of angels is called "cherubim." Seemingly, cherabim were present to cover the very holiness of God Himself, and on the lid of the ark of the covenant their wings formed the throne for the presence of the Lord (see Exodus 25:18-22).

Angels are magnificent creatures, not at all like the tiny, childlike cherubs that we see in some Renaissance art. Their power is so great that just one angel was able to destroy 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night (see II Kings 19:35).

Their presence is so awesome that those who see them have been known to fall unconscious on the ground or to voluntarily prostrate themselves (see Daniel 10:9).

The first government was a theocracy, where God dealt directly with the people. When God was in charge of things, no other government was necessary. He worked through the family, clan, or tribe. The father or patriarch acted as the agent of God for the rest of the family.


What Is A Demon?

A demon is a fallen angel. When Satan, who was the very highest angel, rebelled against God, he took a large number of the angels with him in rebellion. When their rebellion failed, they were cast out of heaven. Those angels are now demons. (see Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:12-19, Luke 10:18, Revelation 12:3-9, Matthew 12:43, 45, Matthew 25:41, II Peter 2:4, Ephesians 6:12, Jude 6). In the same way that angels can reach the very heights of spirituality, demons have the ability to reach down into great depths of hatred, bitterness, and perversion. Demons seem to be interested in tormenting people, possessing them, and leading them away from God and His truth.

Although lust, homosexuality, drunkenness, gluttony, and witchcraft are expressions of sinful flesh, these things can also be expressions of demonic activity in the lives of people. I am persuaded that many grossly perverted sexual practices, such as sadomasochism and pedophilia (sexual preference for children), have demonic roots. In a similar manner, schizophrenia (split personality) can be a mental disease, but it can also be caused by demon possession. I believe that Adolf Hitler and Karl Marx were both demonized.

Just as the angels have archangels and higher powers, the demons have what are called "principalities and powers." It is possible that a demon prince is in charge of New York, Detroit, St Louis, or any other city. Particular sins are prevalent in certain cities. One city might have rampant homosexuality, while another might be troubled by excessive lust. In another, it may be witchcraft or spiritism. Nations, as well as cities, can be gripped by demon power. This could explain the willingness of the German people to tolerate the attempt of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi SS to exterminate all of the Jews in Europe.

There is conflict in the invisible world between God's loyal messengers and demonic hosts. Somehow in God's wonderful order, He uses the prayers of His people to restrain demonic activity and to direct the action of angelic powers to control demons. The book of Daniel tells of a struggle between the archangel Michael and the demonic "Prince of Persia" (see Daniel 10:12-13,20).

The Bible says, "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (I John 4:4). The Christian believer, by having the Holy Spirit within him, has power over all demons. When Jesus Christ sent His apostles out on their mission, He said He was giving them authority (exousia) over all the power (dunamis) of the enemy. Jesus' authority is greater than satanic power. When the disciples returned, they told of casting out demons. The Lord said, "Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20). The Christian believer has unlimited authority over demons in the name of Jesus, but that authority is nothing compared to the glory and authority we will know in heaven.


How Powerful Is Satan?

In a message addressed to the king of Tyre, but obviously meant for Satan, we have these words, "You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.... You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God.... You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you" (Ezekiel 28:12-15).

And in Isaiah, "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!... For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God... I will be like the Most High'" (Isaiah 14:12-14).

Satan was the highest of the created beings. As such, he is extraordinarily powerful. He is also subtle, deceitful, vile, and hateful beyond imagination. Jesus called him the "prince of this earth" and the "father of lies." (See John 8:44)

His name Lucifer means "the light one." His name Satan means the "adversary." His name Beelzebub, according to some, means the "lord of the flies" or the "restless lord." His name Apollyon means "destroyer." (See UNGER'S BIBLE HANDBOOK (Chicago: Moody Press, 1966), 520-521.) The apostle Peter said that he is like a roaring lion going to and fro seeking whom he may devour (see I Peter 5:8).

Christians must remember that Satan appears as "an angel of light"--very beautiful, very seductive, very appealing (II Corinthians 11:14). His initial appearance is not that of some hideously deformed creature. That view comes later. Satan's guile and power notwithstanding, every Christian has the power, in the name of Jesus, to resist him and to overcome him. Jesus gave His disciples authority over all the power of the enemy (see Luke 10:19, I John 3:8, James 4:7).


What Is Demon Possession?

Demon possession is the seizure of a human being by a demonic being to such a degree that the individual is controlled in whole or in part by the demon (see Matthew 8:28-32, Mark 1:23-27, 7:24-30, Luke 9:37-42).

The person who is demon possessed can manifest demonic qualities on minute and then be back in his right mind the next. The disease known as schizophrenia could, in certain individuals, be demon possession. This could be the case in instances where the person may speak in different voices and act in bizarre ways. One minute he could be a nice, calm, normal individual, and the next minute he could rage, foam at the mouth, and speak in an entirely different voice, blaspheming God.

In certain instances, demon-possessed individuals hear voices--voices that tell them to kill somebody, commit suicide, or undertake various kind of sins. Such people may have an uncontrollable lust. They may have an uncontrollable desire to have harm done to themselves. Masochism and sadism and other perverted sex practices are, in many instances, the result of demon possession.

Demon possession can be manifested in many ways. But the goal of demons is to debase, defile, and ultimately destroy a human being who is made in the image of God. That is what Satan wants to do: Attack God by destroying people who are precious in God's sight. However, people who serve Satan--the satanists and devil worshipers--will eventually be destroyed by that which they worship.

It is interesting to note that those who volunteer to serve Satan--the fortunetellers, spiritists, witches, warlocks, and satanists--are themselves consumed by Satan. Not only will they share Satan's ultimate punishment by God, but they will be tormented and debased by Satan himself prior to final judgment.


Can A Christian Be Demon Possessed?

People disagree over whether or not a Christian can be demon possessed.

I recall an incident from my own life when I was staying in a motel near Seattle, Washington. One morning, when I was in that stage between sleep and waking, an awful depression seized me. I felt that everyone was against me, that people around me were failing, and that everything I was doing was falling to pieces. Discouragement overwhelmed me like a dark cloud.

As I struggled to wake up, I realized I was under demonic attack. I immediately took control over it and said, "Satan, in the name of Jesus, I cast you forth." The minute I said that, my mind was free and my despair was gone. I realized later that the Seattle-Tacoma area led the nation in suicides. The spirit that was coming upon me was a suicidal spirit, the sort of influence that would lead to such depression that a person would wish to kill himself. I was in an area where many had been gripped by this kind of demon.

Had I not recognized what I was dealing with, I could have gone into a very deep depression that would have been hard to get out of. Even Spirit-filled Christians are subject to this kind of demonic influence upon their minds or in their bodies.

However, I believe that if our spirits are joined to Jesus Christ, there is no way a demon can possess them. We have given our spirits to the Holy Spirit who keeps them safe. He is stronger than demons (see I John 4:4, Revelation 12:11). So I believe it would be impossible for a Christian to be possessed in his spirit by a demon.


What Is Exorcism? How Can A Demon Be Cast Out?

Exorcism is commanding, in the name of Jesus, a demon to come out of an individual, a house, or wherever the demon happens to be. Exorcism is accomplished by the spoken word, in the name of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and it is done simply and quickly (see Acts 16:16-18).

The person who is doing the exorcism should be filled with God's Spirit. He should not have any unsurrendered sin in his life, because the demon will take advantage of any weakness. (see Acts 19:13-16). So, this person has to be pure of ulterior motives, sexual impurities, greed, and any other things that might lay him open to some charge by the devil, who is the accuser of the brethren.

Another word of caution: People should not go out looking for demons or make up demons where they do not exist. A believer should be prepared to confront demons when the need arises, but he or she should not go out looking for this kind of encounter.


What Is Going To Happen To Satan?

Several things will happen to Satan. The Bible says that he comes to earth, knowing that he has a short time (see Revelation 12:12). Because he knows that his days are short, he will be filled with wrath. We are going to see manifestations of Satan in this world that will be frightening to those who do not know Jesus. We have already seen some hideous manifestations of demonic power.

For example, I think that Adolf Hitler was demon possessed and that the terrible crimes he committed against humanity were satanic manifestations. I also believe that Karl Marx was a satanist priest and that his hideous philosophy, which has resulted in the massacre of tens of millions of people, is clearly based on satanism. The persecutions of innocent people in the gulags of the Soviet Union and other Communist countries are manifestations of supernatural inhumanity. In the future we may see a flood of evil that will attempt to destroy all human witness to God on earth.

Another thing that will happen to Satan is that he will possess a human being who is known as "the beast," or "the Anti-christ," who will become a worldwide dictator.

This individual will exercise power in the name of Satan for at least three-and-a-half years (see Revelation 13:4-8). There will be an attempt to set up a satanic kingdom on earth, with all manner of lying signs and wonders to back up the authority of the Antichrist. Finally, the people will be told to worship this creature. At that point, there will be a revolt against God and an attempt to destroy Israel. But when this happens, Jesus Christ will come back to earth and destroy the Antichrist. The devil will then be bound for one thousand years (see Revelation 20:1-3).

During that time, we will have a period of peace on earth. Men will no longer be under demonic oppression. It will be a time of love, brotherhood, and no more war; even the animals will be at peace. But at the end of this time, after man has seen the paradise that results when God's will is done on earth, the devil will be set free one final time. He will lead one final assault on God. But he will lose, and he will be cast into a lake of fire. He and his angels will be there for the rest of eternity with no possibility of escape. (see Revelation 20:7-10).


Does Satan Know What I Am Thinking?

We do not know precisely how much Satan knows or does not know of what we are thinking. Scientists have shown that electrical current is generated by the human brain. According to at least one source I read, this current takes on the transmission qualities of radio signals. This explains, in some measure, why people who are very close often know what each other is thinking without spoken words being exchanged. For this reason, it is possible that Satan knows at least a little bit about what we are thinking.

It would seem, also, that satanic forces are aware of blessings and opportunities that lie before believers. It seems that demonic forces do everything they can to discourage the Christian just at the moment of blessing. That has happened repeatedly in my life. Just before some great blessing comes, a time of maximum attack or discouragement seems to occur.

We do not know how well-informed, intelligent, or powerful Satan and his demons are. We understand something of their abilities, but we cannot be too definitive. What we do know is that as believers, we have authority over Satan and his entire army. We also learn that God has placed a hedge of protection around us (see Job 1:10). We have the ability to attack and defeat Satan while being defended by God against Satan.


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