The Bible speaks of demons as real, actual beings. However, Scripture’s depiction of demons is very different from the popular concept of them. The Bible describes demons as powerful but limited and ultimately defeated creatures. They are angels who followed Satan in rebellion against God (Revelation 12:3–4).
The Bible doesn’t give many details about demons, but what it provides is enough to dispel typical myths.
When exactly God created angels is open for debate, but what is known for sure is that God created everything good because God, in His holiness, cannot create something sinful. So when Satan, who was once the angel Lucifer, rebelled against God and fell from heaven (Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28), one third of the angelic host joined his insurrection (Revelation 12:3-4,9). There is no doubt these fallen angels are now known as the demons.
Jesus the Messiah understood exorcism as part of his ministry: Demons are referred to by several alternate names, including “unclean spirits” and “evil spirits.” Some of the false gods that received human sacrifices are described as actual demons (2 Chronicles 11:15; Deuteronomy 32:17). Since demons are fallen angels, they possess the same level of power and influence as angels. However, Scripture seems to indicate that God has limited their abilities (2 Thessalonians 2:6–7). The Bible indicates that not all afflictions are due to demonic influence (Matthew 10:1; Luke 8:2). The vast majority of demonic influence is spiritual, not physical.
- Luke 13:32 — And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.’
- Luke 4:18 — “The Spirit of the Master is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed.”
Jesus drove out demons from individuals brought to him: We know that hell was prepared for the devil and his angels,
- According to Matthew 25:41: “Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’”
- Jesus, by using the possessive word his makes it clear that these angels belong to Satan.
- Revelation 12:7-9 describes an end-times angelic battle between Michael and “his angels” and the devil and “his angels.” From these and similar verses, it is clear that demons and fallen angels are synonymous.
- Matthew 8:16 — When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill.
- Matthew 4:24 — The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them.
Jesus drove out demons from individuals whom he encountered: An unclean spirit or demon is “unclean” in that it is wicked. Evil spirits are not only wicked themselves, but they delight in wickedness and promote wickedness in humans. They are spiritually polluted and impure, and they seek to contaminate all of God’s creation with their filth. Their foul, putrid nature is in direct contrast to the purity and incorruption of the Holy Spirit’s nature. When a person is defiled by an unclean spirit, he takes pleasure in corrupt thoughts and actions; when a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, his thoughts and actions are heavenly.
- Mark 1:23–26 — Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him.
- Mark 1:39 — And Jesus went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.