Spiritual Warfare: A Brief Introduction to Demons
There is no way to discuss supernatural healing from God without discussing the supernatural beings the Bible calls demons. Much of what most people (in the western hemisphere) know about demons is limited to what they see on television or movies. Demons are depicted as evil invisible spirit beings that prey upon humans. Hollywood has shown us that they haunt houses and inhabit people.
They also have shown us that demons are invisible spirits that hate God and people. Yet we must go to the Bible for authoritative and comprehensive information regarding demons. There are two ways in which the Bible discusses demons. The first way is by direct reference. In this manner, the Bible simply reveals a demon’s activity or presence by calling it by name. The second way is by indirect reference or symbolism. This method is God’s artistic way of instructing us of our enemy. We will review both methods.
A Revelation of Demons
A very basic strategy of success in war is to know one’s enemy. Without exception, a general would never take his army against another army without first preparing the soldiers. Foundational to that preparation would be a study of the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy. Failure to study the enemy would virtually guarantee defeat—even if the opposing army were inferior.
We see this truth played out before us daily. The Christian church has all the resources of heaven at its disposal. Yet we suffer defeat after humiliating defeat at the hands of an enemy who is infinitely inferior. A very large part of the reason for this tragedy is that we are ignorant of our enemies. We don’t know who they are. We don’t know how many they are. We don’t know their location. We don’t know their weapons. We don’t know their strategies. We don’t know their weaknesses. We don’t know the necessities to win against this enemy. Perhaps the most pathetic gap in our knowledge is that most of us don’t even know there are enemies.
This is because although the average Christian verbally honors the Bible as the word of God, as a general rule they do not study the Bible much. Most Christians get their spiritual nourishment through second-hand sources: Sermons, radio, opinions, books—anything but the Bible itself.
It is extremely safe to say that most Christians have not read the entire Bible. Nor do they ever intend to do so. Many are perfectly content to let others do their thinking for them. And when it comes to demons, it seems that most Christians would rather not hear about them. This atmosphere of ignorance and unbelief regarding demons reigns in the church.
Yet the Bible speaks more about demons than angels. This should come as no surprise. Angels are not a threat to us; demons are. Should we be more concerned with the activities of our friends or our enemies? Before you give a nice, sanctified, too religious and simplistic an answer, I’ll rephrase the question.
If credible information came to you that ten police officers lived in your neighborhood, and ten psychopathic murderers lived in your neighborhood, which group would concern you more? Honestly you have to admit that we’re certainly not going to lose any sleep over the police. The thought, however, of having ten murderers loose in my neighborhood would certainly concern me.
We need to hear about demons because they are the murderers in our neighborhoods. If we ignore them, they will not go away. They will not leave us alone just because we pretend they don’t exist. If we are ignorant, they will destroy us. If we are passive, they will destroy us. If we are fearful, they will destroy us. If we don’t recognize them, they will destroy us.
The Origin of Demons
The Bible doesn’t spend a great deal of time talking about the origin of demons. Its focus on demons is primarily in their present activities in the human realm. Yet, it does reveal some fascinating details. There are two passages of scriptures that speak of the origin of demons. Both are double-reference scriptures. That means they refer to two or more people or things at once. Or they may speak of a human and a spirit simultaneously. The context of the scriptures and the consistency with which the interpretation fits harmoniously with the rest of the Bible determines whether they are double-reference scriptures. These types of scriptures are also known as prophetic scriptures.
Our first passage is Isaiah 14:12-15:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
The second passage is Ezekiel 28:11-17:
Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou was upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
The above references reveal:
- There is a special demon named Lucifer.
- Lucifer was created.
- Lucifer once inhabited heaven.
- Lucifer once was perfect in wisdom and beauty.
- Lucifer once occupied a very high position in heaven.
- Lucifer was deceived by his exalted position, beauty, and wisdom. He came to believe that he deserved to be worshipped as God.
- Lucifer’s deception led him to sin.
- Lucifer has been condemned and is eternally doomed.
Now, I’ll add a couple of other scriptures to complement the above:
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth…Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
(Revelation 12:7-9, 12)
If you read Revelation 12, you can be overwhelmed with imagery that has baffled the best theologians. To make our case, we don’t need to unravel that which has bewildered greater minds than ours. It’s sufficient for us to see that this passage clearly reveals other interesting facts about our enemies.
- The chief demon is now known as the dragon, the serpent, the devil, and Satan. (There are other names, as well.)
- He was able to persuade other spirits to join him in his attempt to be like God.
- He and his host were kicked out of heaven.
- Satan is now on Earth.
- Satan and his spirits are called angels. (Other scriptures also call them demons.)
- Satan deceives the whole world.
The above information is enough to give us a good picture of our enemy. Lucifer was a spiritual being created by almighty God. He was trusted with great beauty, wisdom, honor, power, and talent. Over the course of time, however, he grew restless of his possessions and wondered at the possibility of gaining more.
Apparently, the only thing that was withheld from him was the very throne of God. Lucifer decided he must have this also. So he treacherously planted seeds of rebellion in the hearts of many angels. Some rejected his lies; others received them. At the perfect time, Lucifer and his army made their move. They found out all too late why God is known as Almighty. Lucifer and his cohorts were cast down to Earth. They have victimized and destroyed people ever since their great fall from heaven.
Names of Lucifer
Names in the Bible often hold significant meaning. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham because he was to become “a father of many nations.” Abraham means “father of many nations.” God changed Abraham’s wife’s name from Sarai to Sarah. The name change signified that she was to become a “mother of many nations.”
God changed Lucifer’s name when he got kicked out of heaven. Actually, he took the name Lucifer, which meant “light-bearer,” and gave him several other names that describe his fallen condition. Some of the names are dragon, serpent, devil, and Satan. And there are other names:
- Father of lies (John 8:44).
- Angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
- Prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2).
- Spirit that works in the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2).
- Wicked one (Matthew 13:19).
- The thief (John 10:10).
These names reveal a great deal about Satan’s character. He is a one-of-a-kind brilliant liar. What kind of persuasive skills did it require for Satan to talk angels in heaven into rebelling against their Creator? Dictators come to power by magnifying the weaknesses of the present government. They convince the population that they could do a better job if they only had the power. Promises of prosperity are made. Revolutionary reforms are presented. The oppressed masses rise up as a great social tidal wave and the dictator rides their simplistic hopes to absolute power.
But here we speak not of a third-world country in Africa, where the conditions seem to always be ripe for a revolution. Nor do we speak of Central or Southern America, which have histories of frequent revolutions. We speak of heaven, the home of God. There was no oppression or hunger or economic chaos. There was nothing to reform. So what did Satan use to win the allegiance of God’s angels?
Satan’s Ability to Deceive
Since there was no oppression in heaven, Satan had to create the illusion of oppression. He then offered himself as the answer to the oppression. How could this be done in heaven? The answer could be a book of its own. We’ll not presently delve too deeply into this subject. But it’s relevant to our goal of obtaining healing to understand that Satan’s power to deceive goes far beyond any descriptive word we know. It’s astonishing, incredible, amazing, extraordinary, and more.
In his first recorded interaction with humanity in Genesis 3, we see Satan’s masterful deception at work as he deceives Eve in the Garden of Eden. God had already commanded Adam and Eve to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil:
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
Satan’s first successful campaign of lies occurred in heaven–God’s paradise. His second successful campaign of lies occurred in the Garden of Eden–man’s paradise. No doubt the same strategy was used in both. He usually follows the same strategy he used in the Garden of Eden.
How Satan Deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden
First, in Eden Satan spoke through a serpent. Since Eve was not alarmed at the snake’s presence, we can safely assume that he wasn’t considered a threat. Thus we see that Satan comes to us through that which is acceptable to us. Had he announced himself to Eve as God’s enemy, she would have instantly rejected him.
We see the effectiveness of this strategy today. Does Satan offer sexual sin with the explanation that no homosexual or fornicator shall go to heaven? Does he tell them that God places sexual sin in a special category with special punishments? Does Satan tell them that their sexual sin will result in a sexually transmitted disease? Does he tell them that unwanted pregnancies ended through abortion is murder? Does he tell them that sexual sin opens the door to all kinds of demons? No, he offers them the pleasures of the physical body.
And what about alcohol? Does he offer the first drink with an explanation that the first drink is the first step to becoming an alcoholic? Does he tell them that hundreds of millions of others through the ages have become alcoholics? Does he tell them that all alcoholics—without exception—were once responsible, self-disciplined drinkers who drank in moderation?
No, he offers them a drink with the promise of a harmless high. Or he tells them that only weak Christians are offended at alcohol use. He offers them a cup of sin disguised as liberty and stirs it with a straw of pride.
Second, once Satan saw that his appearance was acceptable to Eve, he boldly told her that if she ate of the tree, she would not die. In fact, said Satan, not only would she not die, but her eyes would be opened, and she would become as a god, knowing good and evil. Eve accepted Satan’s word and bit the fruit. The question begs to be answered: Why would a perfect human in a perfect environment sin against God?
When You Place Anyone’s Word Above God’s Word,
It Opens You Up to Deception
I have purposefully said with many words what I could have said with few. The intent is to graphically impress upon you Satan’s amazing ability to deceive. It’s also to strongly show you the life-threatening danger of believing anyone’s word more than God’s word. Eve sinned against God and her own soul because she placed someone’s word above God’s word. It’s as simple as that.
What does this have to do with getting healed? Everything. Know that as much as you desire to be healed, Satan desires you to be sick. He may even desire your destruction more than you desire deliverance. He will use every weapon at his disposal, and his primary weapon is deception. You have seen how he operates. You have seen how he appears to you. He appears in a way in which you will accept him.
For some, this means he will speak through a spouse or relative. To others, he will speak through a friend or minister. Still, others will hear thoughts. No matter what appearance Satan chooses to appear to you, his intent is always the same. He desires to steal the word of God out of your heart. But you can shut down his brilliant arguments by believing God’s word above all else. When you believe God above all else, you will be able to say with the psalmist, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears,” (Psalms 34:4).
- The Bible doesn’t say much clearly and directly about the origin of demons and Satan (or even good angels). Background information is gleaned from such Bible passages as Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:11-17.
- The Bible does, however, say a great deal about the existence and activities of Satan and evil spirits (Matthew 4:1-11; 8:28-34; 9:32-34; 17:14-21; Mark 1:21-28; Luke 11:14-26; 13:10-17; Revelation 12:7-9, 12; and many other Scriptures). Like life, we must deal with realities without knowing every possible fact about them.
- Satan’s biblical names describe his activities:
- Father of lies (John 8:44)
- Angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14)
- Prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2)
- Wicked one (Matthew 13:19)
- Thief (John 10:10)
- Satan’s ability to deceive is unparalleled. He was able to talk perfect people in a perfect environment into rebelling against Almighty God (Genesis 3). An enemy with this kind of ability must be handled with extreme caution.
- Satan deceived Eve by getting her to entertain his conversation (Genesis 3). Other than brief, controlled, and strategic moments when casting him out of someone, do not talk to him. Talk “at” him. Order him to leave!
- It is suicidal, spiritual and otherwise, to value anyone’s word above God’s Word (Genesis 3).
What questions has this study prompted? What are your own observations? I’d like to hear them. Please leave a comment.
This is an excerpt from my book, Deliverance from Demons and Diseases. The next post in the Deliverance from Demons and Diseases series is Is It God or Satan Who Tries to Destroy Us With Sickness and Trials? Subscribe here and I’ll notify you of new postings.
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