What are Demons?

In the previous article, I showed from the Bible two major facts about Jesus and demons:

  1. Jesus spent a considerable amount of his time setting people free from the influence of demons.
  2. Every time he sent out people as his representatives, he gave them power and authority over demons to set other people free as well.

So, dealing with demons was important to Jesus, and it it something that Christians need to be equipped for.

But what exactly is a demon?

The Bible does not provide a scientific definition for us.  There is not a verse that says “A demon is ____.”  But from reading the different accounts of their activity, we can get a good idea of what they are and what kinds of things they can do.

A Demon Is…

A demon is a non-human, spiritual being.  It is an invisible creature that does not have a physical body.  Demons are not just mythological beings that exist only as part of primitive superstition.  They are real, and it was very important to Jesus that His followers be prepared to deal with them.

Although some demons masquerade as the ghosts of deceased loved ones, demons are not dead people.  They are a different class of being.  They are not human.  You can think of them as sub-human.  In this way, they are similar to animals.

However, demons do have abilities that are not always associated with animals.  For example, demons talk (Mark 1:23-24), have thoughts and make decisions (Matthew 12:43-44), form strategies (Ephesians 6:11), have emotions (James 2:19), spread doctrines (1 Timothy 4:1), and many other things associated with an “intelligent” life form.  Although they have much less power than us, they can sometimes affect humans with results that range from mildly annoying all the way to dangerously life-threatening.  They are evil without remorse, and should be treated as such.

Demons  can affect people that don’t know how to (or are unwilling to) stand up to them.  They operate through deception and intimidation, and from the accounts we have in the Bible, they seem to be very concerned with territory and authority.  In this way, they are like bullies, or the mafia.  They are also attracted to sin and garbage.  In this way they are like vultures or flies.  They have an intense desire to be attached to a human host, like parasites.  And they operate largely through deception, like spies conducting espionage.

Terminology and Types

Scripture uses several different terms that refer to demons, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.  The three main terms are:

  • demons
  • foul or unclean spirits
  • evil spirits

All three of these terms refer to the same thing.  A demon is the same thing as an unclean spirit, or an evil spirit.

There are also many different “types” of demons mentioned in the Bible.  Here is a partial list:

  • spirit of infirmity
  • spirit of fear
  • deaf and dumb spirit
  • mute spirit
  • principalities
  • powers
  • rulers
  • princes

While it is clear from the Bible that there is some sort of “ranking” system among demons, there is not a lot of detail given about the hierarchy.  What we do see, even with limited detail, is  that some demons are stronger or more influential than others.  I have seen this in my own personal experience.  When I am casting demons out of an afflicted person, sometimes the person is set free in just seconds.  Other times it is more of a battle.   But never forget that even the strongest, highest ranking demon is no match for the Holy Spirit who lives inside of every Christian (1 John 4:4).  Demons are nothing to be afraid of.

Dealing with demons is not a game, and is not something to be taken lightly.  But on the other hand, there is no need to be afraid or worried either.  It is like termites.  We are not afraid of them, but we also do not take them lightly because of the effect they can have if we ignore them or assume that they are harmless.

No Exceptions

Before I end this article, I want to take a moment to address something.  I have heard on more than one occasion from various speakers that there are certain ranks of demons that Christians do not have authority over.  The teaching usually says that we are not supposed to come against those kinds of demons unless the Lord gives us a specific instruction and a special empowerment beyond what we normally have.

However, according to Ephesians 1:20-21, every demon is far below the feet of Jesus.  And also according to Ephesians 2:6 every believer is also seated with Christ, far above every demon.  So, every demon (including principalities and rulers and etc) is FAR BELOW the feet of every single believer.

When Jesus gives his representatives authority to drive out demons, he does not put qualifications or exceptions on it.  Christians outrank demons, period.  That is a Biblical fact.  The weakest, newest, most immature believer outranks the even the strongest demon, by a large margin.  And while the Christian may not be aware of this authority, or may not know how to use it, his actual rank is not affected by his knowledge or maturity level.  Christians have been given authority over all demons without any qualification.

Luke 10:19 – Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

If you are new to this subject, then your first step is to accept these two facts:  demons are real, and Christians have authority over them.

Leave a Reply