Bible Study # 3
A SHORT STUDY ON FALLEN ANGELS/DEMONS:
Since the fall of mankind Satan and the fallen angels have roamed the earth to see whom they could destroy or turn away from God. After Jesus's crucifixion, resurrection and victorious ascension into heaven, their eternal doom has been sealed: they have nothing left to lose. The only way Satan and the demons can take revenge on God and His beloved creatures - us - is by deceiving, stealing and destroying as many human souls as they possibly can in the time left to them.
What are demons?
(Note: The Bible does not make a clear distinction between fallen angels and demons, and we cannot say for sure whether they are the same beings or not. Unless I can be otherwise convinced by Scriptural evidence, I will use the terms 'demons' and 'fallen angels' interchangeably for the same beings.)
Whether they are, in fact, the same beings or not, they share the following traits/fate:
- they are evil spiritual beings under the leadership of Satan;
- are Earthbound, but many fallen angels have been bound in the Abyss;
- differ in degree of wickedness (some are more powerful and evil than others);
- are out to mislead, kill and destroy mankind;
- try to keep people from serving God;
- are in opposition to God, Christ, the Church and God's holy angels;
- tempt humans to sin;
- can only be in one place at a time (they are not omnipotent like God);
- intelligent beings who can exercise their will;
- are emotional (they fear judgment);
- are immortal;
- have been around for a very long time;
- cannot create anything;
- are doomed;
- are subordinate to God;
- recognise Jesus as the Son of God.
Demons can tempt, influence, oppress and possess people. They can also cause mental and physical illness and even death; rob us of our finances or peace of mind, and torment us with terrible fears and phobias. Think of any kind of evil and vice on earth, and you can be sure that demons are somehow involved.
Satan and his demons cannot force us to give in to temptation. We can exercise our God-given free will to choose whether to resist temptations that come our way, or not. God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our capabilities of resistance. Consequently, we have to take full responsibility for our choices and actions, and we cannot blame the devil for our words, thoughts and deeds.
Many people are demoniacally oppressed, which means that a demon or demons have attached themselves to these individuals. They can then mentally torture their victims by bombarding their minds with terrible thoughts, visions and dreams. They will fill their victims' minds with temptations, lies and ungodly thoughts so that they can influence and gain control over them.
In some cases demons are even able to fully possess humans, which means that they are able to enter the body of a living being and inflict a lot of damage to and through the people they possess. Remember: they are spirits, and having the use of a physical human body as a vehicle gives them greater opportunities for carrying out their evil schemes. They can be much more effective if they have a physical mouth to spread lies with, or physical hands with which to hurt or kill others. Being demon-possessed is a terrible state to be in, because possessed people are continually tormented and can eventually be destroyed.
The Bible teaches us a lot about demons and their 'modus operandi'. In Luke 8:27-35 (the case of the demoniac from Garasenes/Gadarenes) we learn that:
- demons can cause insanity;
- they try to separate the afflicted person from the company of other people;
- one or more demons can possess a person at the same time;
- they fear the Abyss;
- they can speak;
- they can enter and possess animals as well as humans;
- they recognize Jesus as the Son of the Most High God;
- demons can give the person they possess superhuman strength; and
- demoniacs can be completely delivered from demons.
There are other examples in the Bible of demons causing physical illnesses, convulsions and self-destructive behavior. This does not mean that all illnesses are caused by demons, but it does show us that they could be responsible. In such cases physical and mental health should be fully restored after the demons have been cast out.
Demonic Ranks: The Bible does not give us a clear outline of the demonic hierarchy. It does tell us, however, that Satan is the prince of the demons, and there are demons of different degrees of power, strength and evil under his rule.
Fallen angels used to belong to the angelic hierarchy before their fall. It stands to reason that they retained their places in order of importance and strength when they were cast out of heaven.
Demonic Names: The name 'Lucifer' which means 'light-bearer' or 'brilliant star' only appears once in some versions of the Bible, and not at all in others. It appears in a prophecy brought by the prophet Isaiah against a Babylonian king called Lucifer. Many scholars believe that the second part of the prophecy refers to Satan, and not to the king. (Isaiah 14:12-15).
Except for Satan, the Bible mentions one more fallen angel by name, and that is the angel of the Abyss known as Apollyon. Apollyon means 'Destroyer' in Greek.
Sometimes demons are called by whatever it is they afflict people with. Jesus once cast a 'deaf and mute' spirit out of a boy, and in the Book of Acts we read about a girl who had a 'spirit of divination' which enabled her to foretell the future.
We shouldn't confuse demons with human emotions such as anger or envy. True, demons can use our emotions against us, but it is up to us to resist their efforts and to practice self-control.
What do demons look like? Satan used to be 'perfect in beauty' before his fall, but what does he look like now? Does a beautiful face, filled with hatred and rage still look beautiful? Can someone who emanates evil be pleasant to look at? I don't think so. Although Satan and the demons probably kept their original form and features after the fall, hatred, evil and rage must have contorted their faces to such a degree that they've become totally repulsive creatures.
The Book of Revelation liken some of these fallen angels to 'locusts', and describes them as follows:
- they look like war horses;
- they wear golden crowns;
- they have human-like facial features;
- they have long hair;
- their teeth look like lions' teeth;
- they wear iron breastplates;
- they have wings;
- they have tails with stings like scorpions. (Rev 9:7-10).
It is comforting to know that Jesus destroyed the works of Satan; He came to set the captives free. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords - God's Lamb Who has overcome. Praise God!