Angels & Demons entire doc

angels and demons.

QUESTIONS ON ANGELS, the DEVIL, DEMONS, DELIVERANCE & SPIRITUAL WARFARE

 Here are 23 questions we were asked during the recent mini-series on the above topic – and then an attempt to give a concise, clear and biblical answer to each.

A : ANGELS

  1. Do you become an angel when you die?
  2. Do believers have angels that protect them?

B : the DEVIL

  1. Should Christians respect the devil?
  2. If only God knows our thoughts, how is the devil (not knowing our thoughts) able to put thoughts into our mind?
  3. Can evil powers be given to you to do the devil’s work (e.g. the ability to move objects)?

C : DEMONS

  1. What is the difference between a ‘power’ and a ‘principality’?
  2. What is the difference between oppression and possession?
  3. Is sickness demonic?
  4. How do you know if it’s demonic or psychological?
  5. Can demons cause physical harm (e.g. scratches on your back)?
  6. Are ghosts, haunted houses, etc demonic real– and, if so, why would demons live in your house?
  7. Is it ancestors speaking to ancestor worshippers or demons?
  8. Where do I draw the line between not getting involved in my parents’ ancestor worship and honouring my parents because that’s what the Bible calls me to do?

D : DELIVERANCE

  1. Should you cast demons out from anyone?
  2. How do you tell the difference between strongholds and demons, especially when demons are not manifesting? How do you break strongholds?
  3. Is there a gift of casting out demons and is it the same as the gift of healing? Do we grow in this ministry? Can some people see and recognize demons?
  4. How do you deal with someone when they are unaware of being possessed and have not asked for help?
  5. Why did Jesus cast the demons into a herd of pigs and not into hell?

SPIRITUAL WARFARE

  1. What about spiritual mapping and territorial spirits?
  2. What about the binding of spirits (e.g. a spirit of murder/sleeping)?

P.S. QUESTIONS FOR PARENTS

  1. Is it advisable to allow my children to watch Harry Potter?
  2. My kids are not saved yet, so does the devil have power over them?
  3. How do we explain demons to our children without scaring them?

A : ANGELS

  1. Do you become an angel when you die?

Contrary to popular belief and sentiment – no! Angels and humans are distinct created beings, now and always (Heb 12/22-23), belonging to the invisible and visible dimensions of God’s creation respectively (Col 1/16). 

  1. Do believers have angels that protect them?

In a general sense, definitely yes. Angels are “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Heb 1/14), and part of their ministry to believers includes protecting them at God’s command (Ps 91/11-12). But whether each believer has a ‘guardian’ angel is not so definite. Ac 12/15 probably reflects a sentimental belief as popular in that time as in hours. Mw 18/10 is more suggestive – but falls some way short of stating conclusively that each individual believer has an assigned individual angel protecting them. Ultimately, however, whether we have a ‘guardian’ angel or not doesn’t matter: if God commands angels (pl./gen.) to watch over us, that’s sufficient.

B : The DEVIL

  1. Should Christians respect the devil?

If by ‘respect’ we mean admire or look up to, definitely not. There is nothing about him whatsoever to earn our respect. Nor is there any reason to ever fear the devil and his angels (Lk 9/1, 10/18-19). But we should recognize that he remains a powerful (though fallen) angelic being, and we do not go around courting trouble by slandering (and otherwise unnecessarily ‘engaging’ with) him and his demons (Jude 8-10, 2 Pe 2/10-12).

  1. If only God knows our thoughts, how is the devil (not knowing our thoughts) able to put thoughts into our mind?

No one “among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him” (1 Co 2/11) – and God “alone knows the hearts of all men” (1 Ki 8/39). But almost anything and anyone, through our five senses, can put thoughts into our mind – and to some extent know what we’re thinking by our expressions/words/actions. The devil can also put thoughts into our minds via our senses and, by watching our actions, work on any effect he perceives those thoughts are having. In fact, he can so twist truth and deceive men that eventually he blinds their minds (2 Co 4/4). However, it is possible that as a supernatural/spiritual being, the devil knows and can access what/where man cannot, and as a fallen being that he does so where God does not give him permission. That is, the devil may be able to put thoughts into our minds directly (not via the senses). Even if this were the case, however, it should be of no concern to the believer: it is not what comes into our minds that matter, but what we do with it. Any thought from the devil, as with any other wrong thought, we take captive to Christ/truth (2 Co 10/5).

  1. Can evil powers be given to you to do the devil’s work (e.g. the ability to move objects)?

Those that are very deep into the occult can be given supernatural powers to do the devil’s work and give him ‘glory’ (Ac 8/9-11) – but there is always double payback from the devil (as well as judgement from God) for those who are used in this way. It goes without saying that the devil would not and cannot give Christians these powers – and that believers should never be dazzled/drawn by or dwell on them.

C : DEMONS

  1. What is the difference between a ‘power’ and a ‘principality’?

Probably very little, if any at all – certainly less than enthusiastic constructors of demonic ‘hierarchies’ would have us believe! When Paul says our battle is against “rulers…authorities…powers…forces” (Ep 6/12 cf. 3/10, Col 1/16, 2/15, Ro 8/38) he is simply using several different words of similar or overlapping meaning (synonyms) to underline his point – as he does when speaking of earthly rulers (Tit 3/1; we might speak of ‘boroughs and municipalities’). While Scripture hints that there may be different ‘classes’ of angels (and thus, in the fallen world, of demons), e.g. that there are archangels as well as ‘normal’ angels, neither here nor anywhere else does Scripture give us sufficient revelation for constructing an angelic or demonic hierarchy. (If there is such, God has chosen not to reveal it to us – after all, we hardly need such knowledge – and it is unhelpful, if not dangerous, to pursue it beyond the limits of revelation: Dt 29/29.)

  1. What is the difference between oppression and possession?

The problem with these 2 words is that they separate all demonic presence/activity in a life into two distinct camps, whereas in reality there is a continuous spectrum of demonic influence, from minimal to maximum. One or both of these 2 words appear in various English translations, but the Greek original just uses daimonizo, tr. demonized, in all cases. This word allows for a whole spectrum of demonic presence/activity, from “the demon-possessed man” (Lk 8/36) to “all who were under the power of the devil” (Ac 10/38; ESV ‘oppressed by’). The word daimonizo and the ‘scale’ of Biblical examples confirm what common sense and our ministry experience suggests: that there is a whole range of demonization, from influence/affliction to control/possession, and that it is not necessary to ‘pigeon-hole’ a sufferer before one can minister (although understanding the degree of seriousness will help). P.S. Most Christians believe that believers cannot be possessed by a demon (because they are owned by God) but they can be (although they do not need to be, and should not be) oppressed by one (e.g. if sin has opened a door to it).

  1. Is sickness demonic?

Just as there can be God-weather and devil-weather but most weather is just weather-weather, so there can be God-sickness (e.g. Job 33/13-28: God uses illness to bring someone to repentance – and then heals him) and devil- sickness but most sickness is just sickness-sickness! That is, we live in a fallen world, and one of the realities of that fallen world is the presence of a multitude of bacteria/viruses and sicknesses (Ro 5/12, 8/20-21). Just as all sickness is not the result of sin (Jn 9/1-3), so all sickness is not the result of demons. We must guard against looking for demons behind every sickness. Nevertheless, some sickness is the result of demonic activity (e.g. Lk 11/14); here we have to cast out the demon in order for the person to be healed (as part of our healing ministry).

  1. How do you know if someone’s behaviour is demonic or psychological?

Sometimes a person’s extreme behaviour is caused by severe psychological/psychiatric factors, sometimes it’s demonic (a possibility dismissed by much psychology/psychiatry), and sometimes it’s a combination. It is often very difficult to discern which – and those who minister in this area regularly admit to not having a clue! Some reading on psychological/psychiatric conditions/symptoms, getting input from those who have a track record ministering in these areas, and gaining your own experience over time, can all be helps to discerning the root – but even so one can still be wholly reliant on the revelation the Spirit gives you in a situation. Obviously, the cure must fit the cause – respectively: psychological/medical treatment, deliverance/ministry, or a combination of both.

  1. Can demons cause physical harm (e.g. scratches on your back)?

In extreme cases demons can cause physical harm; in other cases demon ‘possession’ can be so severe that it causes the person possessed to behave in such a way that they harm themself (Mw 17/15 || Mk 9/18 || Lk 9/39, 8/27&29cf.v35). Obviously, there is no way a Christian can be harmed by a demon or themselves in this fashion.

P.S. As a quite different matter, we should note that Christians can be harmed by the persecution of men (inflamed by Satan: Ac 9/13) or that their own backsliding can lead them to the ‘pig sty’ (where they can be robbed by Satan: Lk 15/14-16); also, that God may use the attack of Satan to bring about even greater godliness in and blessing on his servants (Job ch1&2 cf. ch42), and that church discipline hands a sinning believer over to Satan to be refined and restored (1 Co 5 cf. 2 Co 2).

  1. Are ghosts, haunted houses, etc demonic – and, if so, why would demons live in your house?

If we are talking about ‘the spirits of the departed’, the Bible does not believe in ghosts or haunted houses – period! “A great chasm has been fixed” between the living and the dead so that no-one can cross over from one to the other (Lk 16/26). In many (if not most) cases such phenomena are not real: they are merely the imaginings of frightened or deceived minds that are conditioned to expect and believe what they ‘see’ or ‘hear’. If such phenomena are real then they are demonic manifestations designed to deceive and intimidate – to rob, kill and destroy human lives.

  1. Is it ancestors speaking to ancestor worshippers or demons?

Given what has just been established from Lk 16/26 [see Q11], it is not ancestors (any more than it is dead people speaking at a séance): the departed may not and cannot. If it is not some trickery from the person conducting the ceremony (not unknown), then it is a demon. Remember, demons are supernatural/spiritual beings that have been around since creation: they would know all about the person being summonsed and would be able to impersonate them – and so very easily convince the vulnerable, gullible person who is eager for it to be their ancestor/relative.

P.S. The example of Samuel appearing to Saul (1 Sa 28) does not support spiritualism (including ancestor worship). This episode may itself have been demonic; but if it wasn’t (if it really was Samuel) it is quite clear that this was a one-off exception allowed and used by God to speak a message of judgement on Saul for all his wickedness – including that of consulting a medium. (God and Samuel are unhappy; and the medium’s surprise when Samuel actually appeared (v12) suggests that in every other case she had only pretended – and knew it.)

  1. Where do I draw the line between not getting involved in my parents’ ancestor worship and honouring

my parents because that’s what the Bible calls me to do?

You draw the line exactly there: you honour your parents without getting involved in their ancestor worship. There will be many things that they are and which they do, as well as simply the fact that they are your life-source, which you can and should honour; there will be other things about them (including their possible ancestor worship) which you can’t and don’t. Anything that does not compromise your primary commitment and allegiance to Christ (and that includes all truth of doctrine and holiness of life contained in his Word) you can honour or participate in; everything that does you cannot. For example, unless it would make a brother with weaker faith stumble, Paul condoned our eating meat sacrificed to idols because we know idols are but figments of man’s imagination and in fact the meat comes from God (1 Co 8; 10/25-30); but he did not condone taking part in idol feasts – for joining in such an act of ‘worship’ conveyed belief in that idol and broke the First Commandment (10/14-22). Similarly, your faith may free you to eat meat sacrificed at an ancestral ceremony, but you could not take part in the ceremony.

D : DELIVERANCE

  1. Should you cast demons out from anyone?

Jesus did (Gospels), he plainly sent his disciples out to do the same (Lk 9/1, 10/17), he equally plainly indicated that all believers would do this (Mk 16/17), and indeed they did (Acts). So the short answer is: yes! However, this ministry is not always easy (immediately successful: Lk 9/40) and unpleasant consequences lie in wait for the inexperienced or presumptious (Ac 19/13-16). So if you are in any doubt about how to proceed when confronted by a demon manifesting in a person, consult or call in someone more experienced in this ministry. Best of all, minister alongside them, as on-the-job training is always the best way to be equipped to minister yourself.

  1. How do you tell the difference between strongholds and demons, especially when demons are not manifesting? How do you break strongholds?

A whole theology of strongholds and breaking them has grown up in pop ‘spiritual warfare’ that has no biblical basis. The only occurrence of the word stronghold(s) in the NT is 2 Co 10/4, where the immediate context (v3-5) indicates it refers to arguments/pretensions/thoughts that set themselves up against the knowledge of God, and the wider context (ch10-13 – and to some measure the whole letter) shows that Paul is referring especially to the ‘reasoning’ some are using to oppose his apostleship to that church. Beyond that, if we were to use the word more loosely, we might say that to give the devil a ‘foothold’ (Ep 4/27: also the sole NT use) through some area of sin in your life may lead in time to a ‘stronghold’ in that area (which, of course, the devil will target). But in each of these meanings of ‘stronghold’ we are talking about something very different from demonization. The solution to strongholds (how you ‘break’ them), whether of thought or life, is repentance (and in some cases a process thereafter of renewing the mind or changing the life); the ‘solution’ for demonization is deliverance. Unless there is clear evidence (a manifestation) of demonization, you treat it as a matter requiring repentance, not deliverance.

  1. Is there a gift of casting out demons and is it the same as the gift of healing? Do we grow in this ministry? Can some people see and recognize demons?

On the one hand, we must say that none of the NT lists of spiritual gifts include ‘the gift of deliverance/exorcism’; this is something [see Q14] that all believers are expected to do. On the other hand, it is true that in the Gospels deliverance is repeatedly seen as a form of healing, and there are ‘gifts of healing’ (1 Co 12/9&30 – but healing is also something that all believers are expected to do: Mk 16/18). One can (and should) certainly grow in ministering both healing and deliverance (in exercising this gift, if you see it as a gift). Some people do seem to be able to see /recognize demons more than others: this could be (a) an exercise of the gift of ‘distinguishing between [discerning of] spirits’ (1 Co 12/10), (b) a greater personal anointing, the presence of which provokes demons into manifesting (cf. Lk 4/33-34&41, 8/28), or (c) their experience in this ministry means they can recognize signs that others miss.

  1. How do you deal with someone when they are unaware of being possessed and have not asked for help?

First, they may not actually be possessed – you may have wrongly assumed they are. Second, it is unlikely that anyone truly possessed by a demon will be unaware of it. Third, if they are possessed but somehow are unaware of it, ask God for an anointing on you that provokes demons into manifesting. Fourth, if a demon manifests, you can deal with it (demons possessing people manifested in Jesus’ presence so he drove them out, even though the people who were possessed didn’t ask to be delivered) – but normally if someone doesn’t want help you can’t minister.

  1. Why did Jesus cast the demons into a herd of pigs and not into hell?

Amongst all demons (fallen angels), some are active in this world and age (e.g. those we see demonizing people / being driven out in the Gospels), and others are confined, awaiting judgement (2 Pe 2/4, Jude 6). The latter group are not in hell (gehenna), the place of final/eternal judgement, but in “gloomy dungeons” (Tartarus – prison or Abyss), a place of provisional punishment awaiting the day of judgement. (It does seem, however, either that some active demons are free only for certain periods/functions or that some confined demons are loosed for these periods /functions: Re 9/1-3&11, 16/14). With this background we can now answer the question. Jesus didn’t ‘cast’ any demons into hell during his earthly life and ministry. The demons he drove out were active demons, those who possess a certain freedom to oppose God in this world. He drove them out of certain people – but they would have been free to seek a new ‘house’ (i.e. person) thereafter (Lk 12/24-26). The demons in the Gadarene demoniac begged Jesus not to send them into the Abyss (not hell: Lk 8/31), and by not doing so (i.e. by allowing them to remain active v confined demons) Jesus was doing no more and no less than he did with every other demon he cast out. Not knowing this, or terrified by the Incarnate God before them, these demons probably begged to go into the pigs as a preferred alternative to going into the Abyss (the pigs would be a new ‘house’ for them). Knowing that he had no intention of sending them to the Abyss, and that they would remain active demons anyway, Jesus agreed.

SPIRITUAL WARFARE

  1. What about spiritual mapping and territorial spirits?

In perhaps no other area has pop ‘spiritual warfare’ led to such confusion and excess. On no more than a handful of occasions the Bible gives us a glimpse into the spiritual realm, a hint that certain demons may seek to control or influence a region of the world (presumably by controlling the other demons active in that area and seeking to influence mankind in that region according to their particular bent). For example, Daniel, as a powerful intercessor and someone highly esteemed by God, is given the information that there was a demonic ‘prince of Persia’ and ‘prince of Greece’ (Da 10/13,20). He is not told this so he can now join this true spiritual warfare between angels in the heavenly realm (nowhere is he instructed/invited to ‘join in’ or told how to) but to assure him that his prayers were heard and answered from day one (v1-14). It is the angel sent to Daniel who takes a stand to support and protect Michael (10/21b–11/1), not Daniel (how is a human being going to protect an archangel?) Such occasional revelation, to a privileged person and/or for quite another purpose, is no basis at all for the belief in some quarters that we cannot effectively do ministry or mission anywhere without first ‘spiritually mapping’ that city/region/ nation by identifying the ‘territorial spirits’ over it, and then praying ‘against’ them. Nowhere in Scripture do you see the people of God doing that; nowhere did Jesus indicate that was the case (‘Go into all the world – but not before you spiritually map it all and pray down the territorial spirits’); nowhere do we see the church pausing in its mission to do this or powerless in its mission because it hasn’t done it (still less substituting mission with these activities). If God shows you something in the spiritual realm, use it in praying – to God; otherwise get on with what God has told us to do (preaching, healing, etc)! Greater is the One who is in us than the one who is in the world (1 Jn 4/4), and He has given us authority over all the power of the enemy (Lk 10/19) to get on with mission.

  1. What about the binding of spirits (e.g. a spirit of murder/sleeping)?

Another area where pop ‘spiritual warfare’ has done the church no favours – we waste time and energy endlessly ‘binding and loosing’ all sorts. Jesus is the stronger one who has bound the strong man (Satan) in his incarnation, death and resurrection; we can now rob the strong man of his possessions (people and influence) by doing the regular stuff of ministry and mission (Lk 11/21-22). Sound interpretation will show the texts about binding and loosing (Mw 16/19 cf. Jn 20/23) have to do with the authority of the church and leadership to make judgements on matters of truth and righteousness. Except when tempted by the devil (Mw 4/1, 16/23) or driving out demons, Jesus never addressed (or ‘bound’) either; except for these same situations, get on with God, people and the world!