Demons are evil spirits or unclean spirits which are under the leadership of Satan, who is called “the prince of demons” (Matthew 12:24 – NIV). Demons are his obedient subjects, who do his will. Satan carries on his wicked work with them.
As far as their origin is concerned, the Scripture doesn’t say how they came into being. Demons believe that there is one God, and tremble (James 2:19).
Please note the following thing: in the New Testament the KJV speaks of demons as “devils”. However, the underlying Greek word is not diabolos, the term for the devil (Satan), but daimonion which is rightly rendered as “demons” in the NKJV and NIV.
The demons in the days of Jesus
In the days of Jesus there were many people possessed by demons in Israel. And Jesus cast out many demons.
In the Gospels there are many passages which confirm this. Here are just a few of them: “At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed …. Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew him” (Mark 1:32,34 – NKJV); “And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons” (Mark 1:39 – NKJV). Jesus cast out demons by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:28), but the scribes and the Pharisees accused Him of casting out demons by Beelzebub, that is, the prince of demons (Matthew 12:24). So Jesus rebuked them, saying: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils [demons], by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils [demons] by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:25-37). As you can see, Satan cannot cast out Satan, so anyone who is under the power of Satan cannot cast out demons. That is confirmed by the following incident which occurred in the province of Asia while Paul was there: “Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, ‘In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.’ Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. The evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know and Paul I know about, but who are you?’ Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor” (Acts 19:13-17 – NIV).
Jesus gave His apostles power over demons to cast them out (Matthew 10:1) and commanded them to cast out demons (Matthew 10:8), and His apostles cast out many demons (Mark 6:13) in obedience to His command.
The different kinds of demons
As in the kingdom of God there are different kinds of good spirits (cherubim, seraphim, an archangel, and angels) which have different jobs, so is in the kingdom of the prince of the power of the air (that is, the devil), for in it there are various kinds of evils spirits (demons).
There are evil spirits which cause dumbness and deafness like that evil spirit which Jesus cast out of a boy, as it is written in the Gospel according to Mark: “And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose” (Mark 9:14-27). In the Gospel according to Matthew we find another case of a person who was dumb because of a dumb spirit and was able to speak only after Jesus cast out the demon he had, for it is written: “As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil [demon]. And when the devil [demon] was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel” (Matthew 9:32-33). Therefore some of those who are dumb and deaf have a demon, which causes dumbness and deafness; so in these cases, in order to see these persons healed of their dumbness and deafness, this kind of demon must first be discerned and then cast out. Pay attention to this: I have not said that all those who are dumb and deaf have a dumb and deaf demon which causes their sickness, but that some of them have a dumb and deaf demon, for the fact that a person is deaf and dumb does not necessarily mean that he has a dumb and deaf spirit, it can be so, but this is not always the case. It is erroneous – according to the Scripture – to state that every deaf or dumb person is demon-possessed, for just as in the days of Jesus there were many dumb and deaf people who were not demon-possessed at all but simply sick – that’s why Jesus did not cast any demon out of them, but He just healed them (Mark 7:32-37) – so today there are many dumb and deaf people who do not need to be delivered from demons, but simply healed of their sickness.
There are evil spirits which are called ‘seducing spirits’ because their job is to deceive people into accepting all kinds of false doctrines. Paul mentions them when he says to Timothy: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils [demons]; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:1-5). These evil spirits help the false prophets and false christs spread their damnable heresies among the people of this world, as well as the false ministers of the Gospel who are among the Church of the living God spread doctrines of demons, which unfortunately many believers have accepted. I remind you that the father of lies is Satan (the devil), so every false doctrine does not come from God, but from Satan. In order not to be deceived by these spirits it is necessary to watch and pray, and to search the Scriptures continually to see if what is taught is true.
There are evil spirits which perform signs and wonders. The apostle John saw some of them in a vision, for he says in the Book of Revelation: “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils [demons], working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:13-14). These spirits enable the false prophets and the false christs to work signs and wonders in order to seduce people. Many Indian gurus, and the witches and the wizards have these unclean spirits, which enable them to perform signs and wonders, and as you know these servants of the devil have many followers. However, bear in mind that these evil spirits work signs and wonders even among believers through false ministers of the Gospel, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. Beware of them too.
There are evil spirits called spirits of divination, by which some people predict (or foretell) the future, for in the Scripture we read that while Paul and his fellow workers were at Philippi they met a slave girl with a spirit of divination and Paul one day discerned that evil spirit and cast it out. Here is the biblical account of that deliverance: “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour” (Acts 16:16-18). Many people today have this kind of evil spirit and they need to be delivered from it.
There are evil spirits which induce people to kill other people; for instance, one day one of these demons came upon king Saul, while David was playing the harp, and Saul tried to pin David to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall (1 Samuel 19:9-10)
There are evil spirits which rule over large areas of the earth as lords or leaders and governors in the evil spirit world; in the book of the prophet Daniel we read that the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted the messenger of the Lord sent by God to Daniel (Daniel 10:1-20) 21 days, that prince was an evil spirit.
There are evil spirits which are stronger than others, for Jesus said that the spirits which cause dumbness and deafness can be cast out only by prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29); and there are evil spirits which are more wicked than others (Matthew 12:43-45).
The places where demons live
Demons principally live in the air above the earth, since their prince, that is, Satan, is “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). It’s in the air that is above the earth that we find the four categories of demons, which are the principalities, the powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
Some demons live under the earth, and even under the sea; there are several testimonies of former wizards which confirm this.
Some demons live in the bodies of some human beings, in this case we speak about demon possession. Since, according to the Scripture, demons can enter animals as well (Mark 5:11-13), we say that some demons live in certain animals.
Some demons live in arid places, for Jesus said that when an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places seeking rest (Matthew 12:43).
Some demons live in buildings, both private and public buildings. Some houses where some crimes have been committed are inhabited by certain demons. The pagan temples are inhabited by demons.
Demons live in cities; some cities of certain countries are particularly full of demons.
Demons live in certain mountains, rocks and trees, which are inhabited by evil spirits; the heathen know very well these places for they go there to worship these demons.
Demons and idolatry
Idolatry is one of the works of the devil. That’s why Paul warns us not to become idolaters. Here are his eloquent words: “What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?” (1 Corinthians 10:19-22 – NKJV).
From the words of Paul we learn that even though both the idol and what is offered to the idol are nothing, all the sacrifices that the Gentiles sacrifice to the idols are sacrificed to demons and not to God. In other words, behind all the idols there are demons. That every time someone sacrifices something to an idol he sacrifices it to demons, is confirmed by these passages of the Scripture concerning the Israelites: “They served their idols, Which became a snare to them. They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons, and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood” (Psalm 106:36-39 – NKJV).
Therefore, since these sacrifices sacrificed by the pagans are polluted by idols, we must abstain from them lest we have fellowship with demons and thus provoke the Lord to jealously, because He is a jealous God. That’s why when the apostles and the elders gathered together in Jerusalem they decided in the Lord to command the brethren who were of the Gentiles to abstain from things polluted by idols or offered to idols (Acts 15:20,29). Their command is still mandatory, therefore I exhort you to abstain from all those things which the pagans offer to their idols.
The form of demons
Even though demons are spiritual beings or entities, they have a form (or a shape). Some of them look like animals. As we saw before, the spirits that John saw looked like frogs (Revelation 16:13). But there are others which look like monkeys, crocodiles, snakes, goats, pigs, etc. Other evil spirits look like ordinary persons, others are half human and half animal, and others look like unknown creatures. The Holy Spirit sometimes allows believers to discern the demons, so that they might be warned against their schemes and they might cast them out. This manifestation of the Spirit of God is called “discerning of spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10).
Demons can be cast out in the name of Jesus Christ
Demons are at work all over the world. In some countries their work is more evident than in others, but certainly they do evil works everywhere. According to some of the above mentioned passages of the Holy Scripture, one of the ways the demons manifest themselves is through the human beings. They enter the bodies of human beings and begin to work evil things. This is called demon-possession and when a person has one or more than one spirit (a person can be possessed even by thousands of demons) we say that he is demon-possessed. When demons enter a person, that person loses the control of his body and begins to do and say strange things; in other words his behaviour becomes completely different. Let’s see some of the things such a person can say and do while he is under the power of demons. He can undress himself before other people, he can cry out with a loud voice blaspheming and insulting people (very often he speaks in a voice entirely different from his normal one), he can go to live in the tombs, he can cut himself with stones or knives, he can display a superhuman strength, he can disappear from sight and appear again some time later, he can be thrown to the ground by the demons and begin to foam at the mouth, to gnash his teeth and become rigid. Demons can induce him to kill other people, to slaughter children in order to sacrifice them to Satan, and he may perform various lying wonders or display occult powers (such as telepathy, clairvoyance, clairaudience). Many people who are regarded as ‘crazy’ actually are demon-possessed. At this point let me tell you that a person who is born again and walks in the Spirit cannot be possessed by demons, for the Scripture states that the One who dwells in him is greater than any demon who might attack him and that “when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will put him to flight” (Isaiah 59:19 – NIV).
Can we deliver the demon-possessed from the power of demons, as the apostles did in the first century after Christ? Yes, we can. How? By invoking the name of Jesus Christ over those who are possessed by demons, rebuking the demons and commanding them in the name of JESUS CHRIST to come out of the body where they are. Demons know that they must obey when they are rebuked in the name of Jesus Christ and so they know that they must leave the body where they dwell. It doesn’t matter how many demons are in that person, or how much strong they are, they must obey and will obey. Jesus Christ said about those who believe in Him: “In My name they will cast out demons” (Mark 16:17 – NKJV). Let us, therefore, have faith in the name of Jesus Christ, and let us invoke His glorious and powerful name, which scares Satan and all his evil spirits, over the demon-possessed, and we will see the captives delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit, yes, for – as I said before – demons are cast out by the Holy Spirit.
As we saw before, Jesus rebuked severely those who accused Him of casting out demons by Satan, for they attributed the work of the Spirit to the devil. Among other things, He said to them: “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matthew 12:31-32). Therefore, I warn all those Christians who have been deceived into believing that the days of miracles ended with the death of the apostles not to speak against the Holy Spirit, when they see or hear that some Christians invoke the name of Jesus Christ over the demon-possessed. ‘Be careful not to say, ‘They cast out demons by Satan,’ lest you blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.’
The destiny of demons
One day all demons will be thrown into the everlasting fire, where they will be tormented for ever along with their prince (that is, Satan) and all the disobedient angels. They know that this is the destiny awaiting them, for on one occasion some of them asked Jesus: “Have You come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29 – NKJV). Therefore, there is an appointed time when they will be tormented.