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THEOLOGY > Sin > Reality of Satan > Demons > Supernatural Evil  


The extraordinary evil concocted and perpetrated by men must have some explanation beyond the depravity of their own human nature; while much of man’s evil work flows from his own sinful fountain, some of the wickedness must be supernatural, prompted and enabled by something or someone outside of the human mind. This does not in any manner absolve the individual of personal guilt, but it does give some degree of understanding to the bizarre and depraved nature of various acts and beliefs of individuals. There are some events that seem to be beyond the scope of human invention, and, perhaps, their source should be sought in the realm of supernatural beings and the evil those beings devise.

Supernatural evil is seen in sinful religion and the accompanying practices that arise within it from time to time. Manasseh in the Old Testament is an example.

He rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals, and made Asherahs, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. And he built altars in the house of Yahweh, of which Yahweh had said, "In Jerusalem shall my name be forever." And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of Yahweh. And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of Yahweh provoking Him to anger. And the carved image of the idol that he had made he set in the house of God . . . Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom Yahweh destroyed before the people of Israel (II Chron. 33:3-7, 9).

Verse two affirms that the evil conduct of Manasseh was “according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel” (II Chron. 33), that is, his practices were reflective of and consistent with the practices of the surrounding pagans. And according to Paul in the New Testament the religion of the pagans was associated with demons (I Cor. 10:20); if it was true in the past, then there is no reason for not concluding that it is still true today. Therefore, it is proper to conclude that some of the practices described in the above passage were devised by demons and the performance of them was inspired by demons.

Supernatural evil is seen in the sacrifices that people make to demons, sacrifices that often include human sacrifices. The psalmist reveals that in sacrificing their children to idols the people of Israel were sacrificing their children to demons: “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” (Ps. 106:36-38). The point is that the “idols of Canaan” were “demons”; the pronouncement of the text is lucid.

Several centuries earlier through Moses God had warned the people against sacrificing to goat demons: “So they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to goat demons, after whom they whore. This shall be a statute forever for them” (Lev. 17:7). But later Jeroboam, the king of Israel, set up priests for the “goat idols” (II Chron. 11:15, “the demons” in the NKJV; see: Deut. 32:17; Rev. 9:20).

In the New Testament pagan sacrifices are equated with demonic sacrifices; there is no misinterpreting or misunderstanding the words of Paul: “No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God” (I Cor. 10:20; the NKJV reads: “the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons”). Emphatically Paul equates pagan rituals with demons; for the pagan the worship is directed toward a certain god in their belief system, but the “god” is really a demon. Pagans blindly worship demons without knowing that they are worshiping evil spirits.

Involved in all false religion, which in itself constitutes a denial of the one true God, is the influence of demons who deceive people by advancing concepts that are religious and yet embody a rejection of the God of the Bible; the demons foster and accept the worship of gods made in their own creation, any god except the God of the Bible. And most of the population is gullible and, therefore, deceived (see: Demonic Religion).

Supernatural evil is seen in the impact of demons on the physical body. From Mark 9:14-27 the following quotes are taken:

“a spirit that makes him mute”; “whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid”; “it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth”; “it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him”; “you mute and deaf spirit”; and “after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse.”

These descriptions are not symptomatic of normal sickness; there is an additional dimension to these manifestations, and it is explained by the text—it is the influence of a demon on the physical body.

Similar conduct is seen in the demon-possessed man of the country of the Gadarenes; he was cutting himself with stones (Mk. 5:5). In addition, demons can cause emotional anguish; as he cut himself the man was crying out (Mk. 5:5; see: Mk. 1:26; Lu. 9:39; Acts 8:7). And demons can afflict with disease; the Scriptures speak of a spirit that produced muteness and deafness (Mk. 9:17-18, 20, 25; Lu. 9:38-42; see: Matt. 9:33; 17:14-19; Lu. 13:11; Acts 8:7; 10:38; I Cor. 5:5). It is possible that mild, as well as extreme abnormalities of the body, can be caused by a demon or demons (see: Demonic Activity).

Supernatural evil is seen in the increased sinful activity at the first coming of Christ. There was the personal confrontation of Christ by Satan during the Temptations, and the personal confrontation between Him and numerous demons during His life on earth. It is also conceivable that there was a visitation by Satan and/or demons during Christ’s ordeal in Gethsemane. For all of this He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power (Acts 10:38), and angels ministered to Him (Matt. 4:11; see: Heb. 1:14).

It was this demonic activity that occasioned a number of Christ’s miracles, and it was through these confrontations that insight was gained into the essential nature of both the demons and the Christ. By His coming into the strong man’s house and binding him, Christ plundered his goods (Matt. 12:28-29) and thereby hastened the end of demonic activity.

Supernatural evil is seen in the increased Satanic and demonic activity that will appear at the end time. The Scriptures are plain:

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing (II Thess. 2:9-10);

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (I Tim. 4:1; it is proper to remember that the end time began with the accomplished work of Christ);

He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit . . . then out of the smoke locust came upon the earth . . . and they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon (Rev. 9:2-3, 11; the passage depicts a demonic scourge at the end time);

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hand nor give up worshiping demons and idols . . . (Rev. 9:20);

But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short (Rev. 12:12);

The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority . . . so they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast (Rev. 13:2, 4; for identification of the dragon, see: 12:9);

Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit (Rev. 18:2).

From the above verses, something of a picture forms of the end time doings of Satan and his demons. Spoken of is “the activity of Satan” and the “deceiving spirits” who will exercise their power performing “false signs and wonders”; through these supernatural acts people will be so deceived that they will worship Satan himself.

Supernatural evil is seen when demons unite to perpetrate evil. Some demons are more evil and powerful than others (Matt. 12:43-45), and those which are not as evil do not hesitate to summon those who are more evil to come and join them. Thus, it is evident that there are degrees of wickedness among the demons, and they used this fact to their advantage.

Supernatural evil is seen as a result of God’s work in the world whereby man’s thinking which is inclined toward sin is increased in that direction. Through Isaiah God speaks of confusing the people; He will send to the nation of Egypt a “perverse spirit” (19:14; “spirit of confusion” in KJV). Consequently “Egypt will stagger in all its deeds, as a drunken man staggers in his vomit” (Isa. 19:14). Paul states a similar sentiment: “God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (II Thess. 2:11). Staggering in one’s vomit and believing a lie follows from the blinding and the uncertainty sent by God; the mechanism by which this blinding is effected originates at times with a demon or demons, or it is accomplished by a good angel doing the will of God (I Ki. 22:22-23; it is debatable whether the “lying spirit” is a demon or an angel; see: Limitation of Demons).

Supernatural evil is seen in the evil that is faced by the believer in the world surrounding him, an evil which finds its origin in several supernatural sources. To the saints at Ephesus, Paul speaks of various levels of evil: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Some of the struggles of the believer are supernatural because the struggles they experience arise out of the work of supernatural personalities: “rulers,” “authorities,” “cosmic powers” and “spiritual forces” in the “heavenly places.” Similar reference is made by Paul in Chapter 3: “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (v. 10; see: Col. 2:15).

While a definitive definition cannot be given of these beings, several points can be made: one, they are not flesh and blood; two, they are spiritual forces of evil; three, they inhabit the heavenly places; four, against such the believer must contend; and five, because of their nature and power our hope is not in ourselves, but in Him.

Return to: Demons; Next Article: Limitation of Demons 

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