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THEOLOGY > Sin > Reality of Satan > Demons > Demonic Activity 


The current activity of demons is in contrast to their original purpose which was to worship and serve God. They were created for a noble task and occupied a lofty position; but they have descended into darkness, and their doings are now depraved and damnable. Their master is not God but Satan, and the demons seek to accomplish his desires. Their allegiance is to “the ruler of the demons” (Matt. 9:34; 12:24; “the prince of demons” in the ESV and NIV); and the demons are said to be “his angels” (Matt. 25:41). The work of the demons is the work of their master; what Satan decrees they do.

Since he is not omnipresent, Satan uses the demons to fulfill his plan on earth. Unlike God, Satan cannot be in all places at all times; therefore, he must work through intermediaries, the fallen angels who originally followed him to accomplish his evil schemes (see: Sin in Heaven and Fall from Heaven).

It does not seem that all the demons are free to follow Satan in his present activities for they are bound, bound in tartarus (II Pet. 2:4) and/or the pit (Lu. 8:31; Rev. 9:2), from which they will be released during the Tribulation (Rev. 9:3-11). According to Peter they did not keep their first estate (I Pet. 3:19-20; II Pet. 2:4; Jude 6), a fact that leads some authors to conclude that they are bound because of their cohabitation with woman in the days of Noah. The question regarding their being bound is whether the reference is literal or symbolic of limitations placed on them because of their sin.

The demons who are free and active have great ability, greater ability than man but their ability is minor in relationship to God's ability. He alone is omnipotent. While more powerful than men, the demons are still subservient to the will of God; they cannot thwart nor change His purpose (see: Providence).

The Bible records examples of their activity:

They possess people (Matt. 12:43-45; according to the text demons possess people; demons leave people and then return to repossess the person; more than one demon can possess a person; and some demons are more evil than other demons; see: Mk. 1:23, 34, 39; 3:15; 7:26; 9:17; Lu. 8:2; 8:30; 22:3; Acts 8:7; 19:12, 15; see: Demon Possession);

They possess animals (Mk. 5:11-13; when demons possess an animal they can cause the death of the animal);

They have supernatural strength (Mk. 5:3-4; their power can be manifested through individuals they possess; see: Acts 19:16; Rev. 16:14);

They can cause physical harm (Mk. 5:5, the demon possessed man was cutting himself; Mk. 9:22, the demon would cast the boy into the fire and water with the intent to destroy him);

They can cause emotional anguish (Mk. 5:5; the man was crying out; see: Mk. 1:26; Lu. 9:39; Acts 8:7);

They afflict with disease (Lu. 9:38-42; see: Matt. 9:33; 17:14-19; Mk. 9:17-18, 20, 25, a spirit that produced muteness and deafness; Lu. 13:11; Acts 8:7; 10:38; I Cor. 5:5);

They torment (I Sam. 16:15-16, 23; see: Matt. 4:24);

They lie through the prophets they influence and speak (I Ki. 22:21-23);

They oppose the good angels (Dan. 10:13);

They impersonate gods (Deut. 32:16-17; Israel forsook God and followed strange gods, “they sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known”; false gods are equated with demons);

They accept sacrificial worship (Ps. 106:36-38; in sacrificing their children to idols they were sacrificing their children to demons; the “idols of Canaan” were “demons”; Paul affirms in I Cor. 10:20 that when pagans sacrifice they are sacrificing to demons; Lev. 17:7, “So they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to goat demons, after whom they whore. This shall be a statute forever for them”; see II Chron. 11:15 where Jeroboam set up priests for the “goat idols”; see: Deut. 32:17; Rev. 9:20);

Note: it would seem appropriate from the above two points to infer that all false worship is at heart demonic; behind every false religion is the work of demons who, on the one hand, deceive individuals as to the true worship, and, on the other hand, seek to satisfy the spiritual need of man with variations of false worship; demons are always opposed to the Truth (see: Demonic Religion);

They attempt to hinder evangelism (Acts 16:16-19);

They lead astray (Eph. 6:11; the believer is in conflict with unseen spiritual forces, “the schemes of the devil”);

They affect the mind (Lu. 8:35; Jo. 10:21);

They foster a false wisdom (Jas. 3:15);

They sin (II Pet. 2:4; Peter makes reference to angels that sinned);

They deceive (I Tim. 4:1; Rev. 12:9; Satan deceives the whole world and surely the angels who followed him do the same; see: Rev. 16:14 and II Cor. 11:14);

They teach (I Tim. 4:1; their teaching is via “the insincerity of liars”; some of their false teaching has to do with marriage and abstinence from certain foods);

They may have the power of death (Heb. 2:14; if “the power of death” refers to physical death, then perhaps this ability is delegated at times by Satan to his demons; of course, this power is under the control of God; see: Ps. 78:14);

They perform miracles (Rev. 16:14);

They are involved in governmental and military affairs (Rev. 16:14).

It is obvious from the above that the activities of demons are destructive; they are powerful, crafty, and wicked creatures, capable of inciting evil and inflicting suffering on both men and animals. Always their actions are opposed to God and serve to forward the agenda of Satan, but they are not autonomous in their actions; their conduct is determined by God who is Sovereign in all things (see: All Things). They are of a completely evil nature—there is no good in them; they, along with Satan, deserve the eternal destiny that is awaiting them at the end time.

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