Category Archives: Angels/Demons Questions

Questions about Angels and Demons: What Does It Mean that Satan Is the Father of Lies (John 8:44)?

 

Speaking to a group of Jews, Jesus says, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Satan is the “father of lies” in that he is the original liar. He is the “father” of lies in the same way that Martin Luther is the “father” of the Reformation and Robert Goddard is the “father” of modern rocketry. Satan told the first lie in recorded history to Eve, in the Garden of Eden. After planting seeds of doubt in Eve’s mind with a question (Genesis 3:1), he directly contradicts God’s Word by telling her, “You will not certainly die” (Genesis 3:4). With that lie, Satan led Eve to her death; Adam followed, and so have we all.

Lying is Satan’s primary weapon against God’s children. He uses the tactic of deceit to separate people from their heavenly Father. Some of his more common lies are “there is no God,” “God doesn’t care about you,” “the Bible cannot be trusted,” and “your good works will get you into heaven.” The apostle Paul tells us that Satan “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), so that what he says and does sounds good and seems reasonable. But it is nothing more than a false appearance.

Many of Satan’s lies tend to perpetuate themselves. This is what happened when Eve convinced Adam to also believe the devil’s lie. Today, Satan still uses people to spread his lies for him. Often, he uses charismatic but foolish people to further his falsehoods, as in the case of false religions and cults.

The Bible has many names for Satan to describe his true nature, including “ruler of this world” (John 12:31), “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4), “tempter” (1 Thessalonians 3:5), “deceiver” (Revelation 12:9), “Beelzebub” (literally, “lord of the flies,” the ruler of demons, in Matthew 10:25), and “Belial,” meaning “wicked” (2 Corinthians 6:15).

Satan has told more lies to more people (and even angels) than any being ever created. His success depends on people believing his lies. He has used everything from “little white lies” to huge, pants-on-fire whoppers to deceive folks. Adolph Hitler, a man who learned how to lie effectively, once said, “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”

Whether a lie is small or large is not really the issue. Lies are of the devil. If you’ve lied even once, then, unless you repent, you will not enter heaven. The Bible teaches that all liars “will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). Proverbs 19:9 also teaches that anyone who lies will be punished.

Avoid this fate by obeying Mark 1:15: “Repent and believe in the gospel.” Jesus is the truth (John 14:6), and He will never deceive you. Those who come to Jesus in faith will find that “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Angels and Demons: How Are Catholics Able to Perform Exorcisms If Many of Their Beliefs Are Unbiblical?

 

In movies such as The Exorcist and The Exorcism of Emily Rose—both of which are loosely based on actual events—the demons are cast out by Catholic priests. This has caused some to wonder, if such exorcisms are true, how they could be performed by Catholics, since Catholics are not Christians.

First of all, the statement “Catholics are not Christians” is too broad. The Catholic religion teaches much that is contrary to God’s Word, but sincere believers still exist within the Catholic Church and do much good in the world. Being a Catholic does not make one a Christian, but neither does it prevent one from being a Christian. Please read the following articles: “Is Catholicism a false religion? Are Catholics saved?” and “I am a Catholic. Why should I consider becoming a Christian?”.

Second, miracles can be counterfeited (2 Thessalonians 2:9). Jesus said that some who are not truly His may still perform miraculous signs—including exorcisms—in His name. In Matthew 7:22–23, Jesus warned, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ” On Judgment Day, there will be those who had cast out demons and thought they were saved because of all their good works. They had adopted the mannerisms of Christianity and given mental assent to its doctrines, but they were Christians in name only. They had never surrendered their lives to Christ. At the judgment, these nominal Christians will find their outward show of spirituality will not be enough to earn them entrance into heaven; whatever miracles they performed were empowered by something other than the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, many people today hold the dangerous philosophy that good works can earn salvation.

Satan has a certain amount of power that he uses to deceive and distract. The magicians in Pharaoh’s court were able to replicate many of the miracles Moses performed (Exodus 7:22; 8:7). However, there was a limit to what their magic could accomplish, and God’s power overwhelmed their tricks (Exodus 7:11–12). It could well be that Catholic exorcisms are similar “miracles,” designed to lend credence to Catholic doctrine and “prove” the power of talismans and rituals.

Acts 19:13–16 gives an example of exorcists who did not know the Lord Jesus yet who tried to use His power to cast out demons: “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 the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.’ Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day 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.” The true power is not in speaking Jesus’ name, sprinkling holy water, or touching a stole, but in knowing Jesus personally.

Demons are real. Satan is real. However, Satan is a master trickster and the father of lies (John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 11:14). A demon’s ability to lure gullible human beings into its traps often exceeds our ability to detect the traps (2 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Peter 5:8). If it would serve its purpose to hide within a human body, a demon might do that. Or, if it would serve its purpose to pretend to come out on command, it might do that, too. Satan could very well participate with an unsaved exorcist in order to inflate the exorcist’s pride and boost confidence in his power over evil. The purpose for “staging” an exorcism might be to more deeply entrap those who come to Catholic leaders for help.

The only power that is guaranteed to defeat Satan every time is the power of the Holy Spirit residing within a believer who is equipped with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11–17; 2 Corinthians 10:4). As we submit to God, we can “resist the devil, and he will flee” (James 4:7).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Angels and Demons: Is Satan in Hell?

 

At the moment, Satan is not in hell. Rather, Satan roams the earth, seeking people to tempt into sin and thus separate from God. First Peter 5:8 states, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” In John 14:30, Jesus called Satan the “prince of this world,” and the apostle Paul referred to him as the “ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:2). Satan does not live in hell; he lives and works on the earth and in the heavens circling it.

Satan is the “father of lies,” and he influences and rules the world right now. Satan desires worship (Matthew 4:9), and he uses deceit and distractions to draw man’s focus to himself. The world worships Satan in one way or another, except for those who are of the Kingdom of God and are therefore called out of the devil’s deceptions. If a person is not a child of God, he is by default a child of Satan (see John 8:44; Acts 13:10). First John 3:10 tells us how to distinguish the two: “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” James 4:4 explains that anyone who is a friend of the world is an enemy of God. The children of God must come out of the world and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:17).

This is important to know, because soon Jesus will return to earth and collect what belongs to Him. He will defeat the followers of Satan and claim His elect for Himself. Ultimately, Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire and “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). Afterward, Jesus will judge unbelievers according to what they have done during their lives. Anyone whose name is not found written in the Book of Life is thrown into the lake of fire where Satan and his minions will be by that time (Revelation 20:13, 15). Hell and death are also thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14), so, technically speaking, at no time does Satan reside in hell. But he will be confined permanently in a very hot place that could be called a “hellish” location, to be tormented eternally.

The key takeaway for each person is to ensure that his own name is written in the Book of Life so that he may have eternal life in heaven, rather than eternal separation from God in the lake of fire.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Angels and Demons: Are There Angels among Us?

 

Our society has a fascination with the supernatural, and angels receive a lot of attention. We see bumper stickers, jewelry, T-shirts, movies, and tv shows that glorify angels, especially guardian angels. Some people allege having encounters with angelic beings and contend that there are angels among us.

Maybe you have heard the stories: a mysterious man rescues someone in peril, but as soon as the victim is safe, the mystery person vanishes into thin air, to the confusion of the one he helped. A young woman walking alone passes a would-be rapist lurking in the shadows but is not harmed; the foiled attacker later admits he did not bother the girl because of “the two large men walking on either side of her.” A woman is prevented from getting on an elevator by a strange, intense-looking man in white clothes; the elevator doors close, and the elevator immediately plunges down the shaft, killing everyone on board—but the body of the man in white is never found.

Some people swear such stories are true. Others remain skeptical. Some pray to angels and claim to have their requests answered. Still others believe childish imagination and myth are at the root of all angel-talk.

We could interview people all day long about their theories on angels and never arrive at the truth. The exclusive authority on angels is the Bible. Throughout Scripture, we see numerous instances in which angels were an integral part of God’s plan. One verse alludes to the possibility of angels walking among us today: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). The obvious reference is to Abraham, whose angelic visitors appeared to him as mere men (Genesis 18). This verse may or may not confirm that angels are indeed walking among us unawares; “have shown” is past tense, so present-day encounters are not explicitly mentioned.

There are dozens of scriptural examples of angelic encounters, so we know that God can and does use angels to accomplish certain things. What we don’t know for sure is how often angels allow themselves to be seen by people. Here are the basics about angels from the Bible: angels can instruct people (Genesis 16:9), help people (Daniel 6:22), deliver messages to people (Luke 1:35), appear in visions and dreams (Daniel 10:13), protect people (Exodus 23:20), and help carry out God’s plans.

We know that God created angels, and He uses angels in His plan. Angels have a sense of individuality, as some have names (such as Gabriel and Michael) and all have different responsibilities within the angelic hierarchy.

But do they walk among us? If God so chooses to use them in His custom-made plans for us, yes, they absolutely can walk among us doing God’s will. Angels are mentioned in Genesis and in Revelation and witnessed the creation of the world (Job 38:7). God has used His heavenly host from the beginning of time and will still use them at the end of time, according to Scripture. It is quite possible that many people today have met or seen an angel without realizing it.

If angels do walk among us, it is because they are serving a God-ordained purpose. The Bible mentions demons who wander the earth with no purpose other than to destroy (Matthew 12:43). Satan and his demonic force can probably appear physically, much like holy angels can. Satan’s purpose is to deceive and kill. Satan “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

An important note: angels are not to be glorified or worshiped (Colossians 2:18). They are entities who carry out God’s will, and they refer to themselves as “fellow servants” with us (Revelation 22:9).

Regardless of whether we actually experience angelic encounters, the most important thing is that we experience salvation through Jesus Christ. He is beyond all angels and all humans, and He alone is worthy of worship. “You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you” (Nehemiah 9:6).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Angels and Demons: What Is Deliverance Ministry, and Is It Biblical?

 

The generally agreed-upon definition of “deliverance ministry” will usually focus on the casting out of demons or spirits in an attempt to solve problems related to specific demons. For example, a deliverance minister may seek to help someone overcome anger by casting out a spirit of anger. Deliverance ministries also focus on tearing down spiritual strongholds in one’s life, finding inner healing, and claiming the victory in Christ over all enemies. Many refer to soul ties, curses, and the “legal rights” of demons. Biblically, demons or evil spirits are known to be fallen angels that rebelled in heaven with Satan (Revelation 12:4, 9; Isaiah 14:12–20; Ezekiel 28:1–19).

There is certainly quite a bit in Scripture about Satan and his horde of demons. There is little said about deliverance from them, and nothing said about deliverance as a “ministry.” The offices of the church are found in Ephesians 4:11. First were the apostles and prophets, the foundation of the church—with Jesus being the Chief Corner Stone (Ephesians 2:20). Next are listed evangelists, then pastors and teachers. The ability to cast out demons is not listed as a spiritual gift or a ministerial duty.

The Gospels and Acts relate that Jesus and the disciples cast out demons. The teaching portions of the New Testament (Romans through Jude) refer to demonic activity yet do not discuss the method of casting them out, nor are believers exhorted to do so. We are told to put on the armor to stand against spiritual wickedness (Ephesians 6:10–18). We are told to resist the devil (James 4:7) and not give him room in our lives (Ephesians 4:27). However, we are not told how to cast him or his demons out of others, or that we should even consider doing so.

It is interesting that we have no record of Jesus’ instructions to His disciples onhowto cast out demons, with the possible exception of Matthew 12:43–45, where some insight is given. When the disciples discovered that demons were subject to them in the name and authority of Jesus, they were joyful (Luke 10:17; cf. Acts 5:16; 8:7; 16:18; 19:12). But Jesus told the disciples, “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (verse 20).

Rather than being given a specific “deliverance ministry,” we have an authority in the powerful name of Jesus. One day, John said to Jesus, “We saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.’ ‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said. ‘For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us’ ” (Mark 9:38–40). Authority over demons is clearly the power of the Lord at work, whether or not the exorcist has a special ministry of deliverance.

The emphasis in spiritual warfare is highlighted in verses such as 1 John 4:4, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world [the devil].” The victory is ours because of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Believers can overcome their struggles with the past, habits, and addictions, because “everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4). We need prayer, godly counsel, and the support of a good church, but not necessarily a “deliverance minister.”

We are told to “be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.… And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast (1 Peter 5:8–10).

The key to victory in the Christian life is to be filled (controlled and empowered) with the Holy Spirit on a moment-by-moment basis (Ephesians 5:18). The Father knows who are His: “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (Romans 8:14). The Holy Spirit will not indwell anyone who is not born again (John 3:3–8; 2 Timothy 2:19; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 3:16), so the first step in spiritual victory is to place our faith in Jesus Christ. Then, rejoice that Jesus is in you and you have His power and His victory[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Angels and Demons: What Are the Names of Angels in the Bible?

 

The Bible describes angels as powerful spiritual beings whom God created to perform specific jobs both in heaven and on earth. And although the Bible often mentions a “host” of angels, it only names a few.

Gabriel is the most well-known named angel to appear in Scripture. Each time He is mentioned, we see him act as a messenger to impart wisdom or a special announcement from God. In the book of Daniel, Gabriel appeared to the prophet Daniel in order to explain some visions God gave Daniel about the end times (Daniel 8:15–27; 9:20–27). While Daniel still had trouble wrapping his mind around the visions, Gabriel’s explanations, along with other biblical information about the end times, have allowed us to come to some conclusions about how the end times will play out.

Gabriel also appears in the New Testament. He appears to Zacharias in the temple to herald the news that Zacharias’s wife, Elizabeth, would give birth to John. Gabriel also approaches Mary with the announcement of the birth of Christ. Later, Joseph receives guidance in a couple visits from Gabriel. Because of the monumental importance of these history-shaping announcements, it seems likely that Gabriel is one of God’s chief messengers.

The second angel the Bible calls by name is Michael, who functions very differently from the angel Gabriel. Michael is an archangel, which means “chief angel”; this title indicates that Michael holds a high rank in heaven. Although it is not certain that Michael is the only archangel, the possibility exists, according to Jude 9, where Michael is referred to in definite terms as “the archangel Michael.” If other archangels exist, it is likely that Michael leads them.

When Michael appears in the Bible, it is usually in a battle of some type. He wars with the fallen angels (those who sinned against God and became demons) and Satan on behalf of God and His people. Michael appears several times in the book of Daniel as a warrior (see Daniel 10:21 and 12:1). In one instance, the angel Gabriel describes Michael as fighting against the demonic “prince of the Persian kingdom,” enabling Gabriel to reach Daniel and explain the visions to him (Daniel 10:13).

Michael is also seen in the Book of Revelation, when he battles the great dragon—Satan—during the end times (Revelation 12:7–9). The fact that Michael is leading an army of angels against Satan himself testifies to Michael’s high rank and power.

If fallen angels are included in the list of angels who are named in the Bible, two more names should be mentioned: Lucifer/Satan and Apollyon/Abaddon. Lucifer rebelled against God and was thrown down from heaven along with the angels who followed him. Before his rebellion, Lucifer was a beautiful and powerful being; but he coveted equality with the Most High God and therefore became unholy and cursed (Isaiah 14:12–18; Luke 10:18). He is now known as Satan and is God’s chief enemy who seeks to deceive and destroy all of mankind (John 10:10). Apollyon/Abaddon is another fallen angel, mentioned in Revelation 9:11, who leads an end-times demonic army.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Angels and Demons: How Much Emphasis Should Be Given to Demonic Deliverance in the Christian Life?

 

There are two extremes in people’s thinking about demons. One says that what we call demons are nothing more than negative thoughts and behaviors that any human being is capable of. Those who hold this view believe that “deliverance” from a “demon” is brought about by the application of self-control; this view is usually accompanied by the discounting of anything supernatural. The other extreme says that any bad happening whatsoever is the work of demons. Those who hold this view often “rebuke” everything from the common cold to a drop in the stock market. The correct emphasis on demonic deliverance lies somewhere between these two extremes.

Scripture is clear that demons are real and that they interfere in human affairs (Matthew 12:43; Mark 1:26; Acts 8:7). Demons were very much at work in Bible times, and there is no reason to assume that demons are inactive now (1 Peter 5:8). However, among those who do believe demons are at work today, there are a variety of perspectives. Some tend to over-emphasize the work of Satan, giving him more attention than he deserves. Our focus should be on the glory of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), since “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Satan and God are not “equal” or “balanced” opposites, in a yin-yang way. Satan is a created, finite being who possesses only the power God allows him to have (Job 1:9–10).

Jesus cast out many demons during His earthly ministry, and the early church continued to address spiritual warfare after Jesus had ascended back to heaven (Acts 5:3; 8:7; Ephesians 6:11–13; 2 Corinthians 10:3–5). There is no evidence to suggest that Satan and his fallen angels have ceased to torment human beings. However, James 1:13–15 makes it clear that much of our struggle against sin is due to our own fleshly desires, not a direct attack from Satan.

The Greek word daimonizomai, often translated “demon-possessed” in the Gospels, simply means “demonized.” The word refers to more than just possession. Anyone under the influence of a demon could be considered “demonized.” Even a Christian can be “demonized” or suffer demonic oppression if he allows his thoughts, actions, or attitudes to be influenced by demons. Even Peter, one of the Lord’s closest friends, allowed himself to be a mouthpiece for Satan when he tried to talk Jesus out of going to the cross (Matthew 16:21–23). Although a Christian has been purchased by the blood of Jesus (John 10:28–29; Romans 5:9), Satan can still wreak a great deal of havoc if allowed. He cannot steal the soul of a Christian or possess him, but he can render him fruitless and rob his life of joy and victory.

Ephesians 6:10–17 instructs us in combating the forces of darkness. We are told to continually put on the “full armor of God” and “stand firm.” Although Satan and his forces are constantly at work to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10), God’s armor allows His children to be victorious against the attacks. Often, in situations when demonic oppression in a believer’s life is overwhelming, it is due to that believer’s sinful choices (2 Corinthians 2:11). We are told to resist the devil (James 4:7), be careful of him (1 Peter 5:8), and not give him room in our lives (Ephesians 4:27).

The most scriptural way of defeating demonic influence in a Christian’s life is to follow Jesus’ example when He was tempted by Satan. Luke 4:1–12 recounts the conversation between Jesus and Satan. Although Jesus is God in the flesh, He did not rely on His own wit or authority to rebuke His enemy. Every time Satan came against Him, He replied, “It is written …” The best defense against demonic attack is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

Christians are in a spiritual battle, and we need to be aware of the spiritual realities around us. But our focus should not be on the demons; our eyes are to be fixed “on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). That’s where the victory is.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.