What does the Bible really say about ‘Satan’ and demons?
DOES EVIL COME FROM SATAN?
Throughout the Bible, God is described as the only source of supernatural disaster and evil: Judges 9:23, 1 Samuel 16:14-23, 2 Samuel 24:1 1 Kings 22:22-23, 1 Chronicles 21:1, 2 Chronicles 18:21-22, Job 1:12, 16, 21; 2:6, 9, 10; 5:17; 6:4; 9:4; 10:2; 11:5-6; 19:21; 27:2; 42:11, Psalm 78:49, Isaiah 45:7, Amos 3:6, Micah 1:12, 2 Corinthians 12:7, Romans 1:25-32, 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
No one can be found in the Old Testament who believed in a supernatural evil being called ‘Satan’: For example, all the individuals in the book of Job belief his disasters came from God, including Job (Job 1:21; 2:20; 6:4; 10:2; 19:21; 27:2), Job’s servant (Job 1:16), Job's wife (Job 2:9), Job's three friends (Job 5:17; 8:4; 11:5-6), Job’s acquaintances and relations (Job 42:11), and Job’s adversary himself (Job 1:12; 2:6).
WHAT ABOUT SATAN?
The Hebrew word ‘satan’ is not a personal name: It is a word meaning ‘adversary’. It is used of different adversaries in different places. In Numbers 22:22 it is used of an obedient angel, in 1 Kings 11:14, 23-24 and Psalm 109:68 it is used of mortal men, in
1 Chronicles 21:1 it is used of an enemy nation, and in Matthew 16:23 and Mark 8:33 it is used of Jesus’ disciple Peter, when he was opposing Jesus.
WHAT ABOUT THE DEVIL?
The Bible says the devil has been destroyed by Jesus: Jesus, by his death, destroyed the devil (Hebrews 2:14-18), and the devil is that which has the power of death, which is sin (Romans 7:8-11, 1 Corinthians 15:56-57). This shows us that ‘the devil’ is a term used for the natural tendency of men to sin.
The ‘devil’ is also sometimes used of evil rulers or kingdoms: 1 Peter 5:8 (quoting Proverbs 20:2; 28:15), Revelation 12:9 (quoting Daniel 7:7, 19-23)
WHAT ABOUT DEMONS?
‘Demons’ are false gods: Leviticus 17:6, Deuteronomy 32:16-17, 2 Chronicles 11:15, Psalm 106:36-37, Acts 17:18, 1 Corinthians 10:19-20. A belief in demons would contradict the Bible teaching that there is one God.
There is only one God – other gods do not exist: 2 Kings 19:18, 2 Chronicles 13:9, Isaiah 37:19; 44:9-10; 45:5-7, 20-22, Jeremiah 2:11; 5:7; 16:20, John 17:3, Acts 19:26, 1 Corinthians 8:5-6; 10:19-20, Galatians 4:8, Ephesians 4:4-6, 1 Timothy 2:5
‘Evil spirits’ in the Old Testament were sent by God: Judges 9:23, 1 Samuel 16:14-23, 1 Kings 22:22-23, 1 Chronicles 18:21-22, Psalm 78:49 (‘destroying angels’). They are not supernatural evil beings, they are God’s judgments on wicked men.
WHAT ABOUT EXORCISMS?
In the Bible we find an ‘evil spirit’ driven out with music: 1 Samuel 16:14-23
In the Bible we find ‘demons’ driven out with the power of God by a single commandment: Matthew 12:28, Mark 3:15; 16:17, Luke 11:20
People who believe in demons today do not follow these methods. If people use methods other than these, they are not following the Bible. If they cannot heal people who they claim are possessed with demons, they are not following the Bible. If these people can be healed with medicine, then they were not possessed by demons. Many people who believe in demons cannot even tell if someone who is sick has a natural illness, or has a demon. This means they are no help at all. Their ideas do not come from the Bible.
BUT THE GOSPELS TALK ABOUT DEMONS AND EVIL SPIRITS
The gospel records were written to non-Christians or immature Christians, so it uses the language they are familiar with. It doesn’t try to convert them from their false beliefs, it simply shows them that demons and evil spirits were not to be feared.
In John’s gospel, and the letters of the apostles, which were all written for mature Christian believers, there are no demon possessed people at all. Demons are described as pagan gods. Healings are spoken of simply as making people well. There is no mention of any healings requiring demons or evil spirits being ‘cast out’ of people. Mature Christians no longer held these false beliefs.
To show that the ‘demons’ and ‘evil spirits’ weren’t really speaking, the gospels sometimes speak of the people as if they were the demons themselves: Mark 3:11; 5:9-10, Luke 8:30-31; 11:14
People who were thought to be possessed by demons were treated by Christ and the apostles as sick people: Matthew 8:16-17, Luke 6:17-18; 7:21; 8:2; 19:32, Acts 5:16; 19:12
WHAT ARE EVIL SPIRITS?
In the Old Testament, a perverse attitude or distorted thinking, which can be an illness:
• The evil spirit sent by God between Abimelech and the men of Shechem (Judges 9:23)
• The evil spirit sent by God to Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-23)
• The ‘lying spirit’ sent by God to the false prophets of the king of Israel (1 Kings 22:22-23 and 1 Chronicles 18:21-22)
In the New Testament, they are an illness or a perverse attitude or distorted thinking as a result of an illness (but thought by people to be a supernatural evil being):
Luke 7:21, ‘Jesus cured many people of diseases, sicknesses, and evil spirits’
Luke 8:2, ‘some women who had been healed of evil spirits and disabilities’
Acts 19:12, ‘their diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them’
WHAT ARE UNCLEAN SPIRITS?
In the Old Testament, a perverse attitude or distorted thinking, associated with idol worship:
Zechariah 13:2, ‘I will remove the names of the idols from the land… I will remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land’
In the New Testament, they are a perverse attitude or distorted thinking, sometimes the result of an illness (but thought by people to be a supernatural evil being):
Matthew 12:43, ‘When an unclean spirit goes out of a person, it passes through waterless places looking for rest but does not find it’
Luke 4:33, ‘Now in the synagogue there was a man who had an unclean, demonic spirit’
Luke 6:17-18, ‘They came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases, and those who suffered from unclean spirits were cured’
WHAT ARE DEMONS?
In the Old Testament, pagan false gods or idols made by men:
Deuteronomy 32:17, ‘They sacrificed to demons, not God, to deities they had never known’
2 Chronicles 11:15, ‘and had appointed his own priests for the high places, and for the goat-demons, and for the calves that he had made’
Psalm 106:36-37, ‘They served their idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons’
In the New Testament, they are pagan false gods, not an illness (but thought by people to be a supernatural evil being):
1 Corinthians 10:20, ‘No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God’
Revelation 9:20, ‘they did not stop worshiping demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk about’
All ideas of ‘satan’ and ‘demons’ as supernatural evil beings are just false ideas and false gods. They are made by men, just like idols:
Other gods Idols Demons
Made by men:
2 Kings 19:18, Isaiah 37:18-19; 44:9-10, Jeremiah 16:20 Made by men:
Isaiah 37:18-19; 44:9-10, Revelation 9:20 Made by men:
2 Chronicles 11:15, Revelation 9:20
Exodus 2-:23. Deuteronomy 4:28; 32:16- 7, Isaiah 37:18-19, Jeremiah 16:20 Worshipped as gods:
Exodus 20:23, Deuteronomy 4:28; 32:16, Psalm 96:5, 106:36, Isaiah 37:18-19; 44:9-10, Jeremiah 16:20, Revelation 9:20 Are gods:
Leviticus 17:7, Deuteronomy 32:17, 2 Chronicles 11:15, Psalm 96:6; 106:37, Acts 17:18, 1 Corinthians 10:19-20, Revelation 9:20
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Do you really believe "evil" comes from God?