Wednesday’s Word is a blog series about words associated with Christian theology. Today’s, August 23, 2017, Wednesday’s Word is Demon.
The subject of demons seems to get much attention from Hollywood, but little attention in churches. Demons are a part of the Bible so we shouldn’t back away from speaking or writing about them. The problem arises from two misconceptions. First, some people with a strong naturalistic worldview believe that demons are myth (think Rudolf Bultmann). Second, the other group believes that to speak or write about demons will provoke an attack so that group lives in fear. I hope this article will help answer both of these misconceptions.
Where did demons come from?
The best and easiest answer to that question is: demons are angels who sinned against God. God created everything in the world and then described his creation as “good” (Gn 1:31). Sometime between Gn 1:31 and Gn 3:1, angels sinned against God and were cast out of heaven away from God’s glory. Satan was an angel and according to Isaiah 14, he sought to ascend to God’s place meaning that he tried to usurp God’s authority. When God cast him out, Satan took with him one-third of the heavenly host (Rv 12:4). Satan’s pride, along with the pride of the angels, seemed to be their downfall from God’s glory. Again, the simple answer is that demons are angels who fell to Earth when Satan rebelled against God.
What are demons doing?
Satan introduced sin to the world through his prideful and disobedient actions. Not only did Satan cause other angels to “Fall,” but he tempted Eve and Adam to sin against God as well. Satan, as a fallen angel (demon), worked to impede the worship of God. The result is that demons as being followers of Satan are doing the exact same thing. They work to impede the worship of God by influencing people to sin against God.
A time of rising influence by demons seemed to happen during the life of Jesus. The Gospels are filled with stories of demons “possessing” or influencing people to make them act in strange ways (Lk 8:26-37). Maybe there was more demonic activity during the ministry of Jesus because they knew He was working. However, I’m led to believe that demons continue to work their influence today in much the same way as they did when Jesus walked the Earth. The major difference between then and now is that Jesus isn’t walking this Earth casting them out.
Can Christians be possessed by demons?
First, what does that even mean? I think when people use that terminology they mean to communicate that a person is influenced by a demon in such a way that he or she succumbs to that influence. In fact, the word translated by our English translations of the bible as “demon possessed” is a passive word that means “to be demonized.” This is what I like to say when I’m speaking on this subject: A Christian cannot be possessed by an evil spirit, because he or she is already possessed by a holy spirit, the Holy Spirit. To put it succinctly, I cannot be “possessed” by an evil spirit because I’m already walking in step (possessed) by the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:16).
Second, can I, as a Christian, suffer from demonic work in this world? Yes! Let’s just say that a demon influenced a person to kill me, then yes that would be suffering from demonic work. Was I “possessed”? No. Did the demon’s influence cause bad circumstances in my life? Yes. A Christian is not immune to demonic work in this world.
Do Christians have power over demons?
Yes. According to the Bible, Christians possess the power to “resist” the devil, which would include demons. James wrote, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas 4:7). Likewise, Peter wrote, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him . . .” (1 Pt 5:8-9). We have the power to resist the devil and his forces.
Any power that a Christian may have over Satan and his forces is delegated power from God. Yes, Satan and demons have power, but their power is much less than God’s power. Likewise, the Person who lives within us as Christians, the Holy Spirit, is more powerful than any evil spirit (1 Jn 4:4).
What would you like to add to this discussion?