[CF Devotionals] 2003-06-22 - The Doctrine of Angels

The Doctrine of Angels Part 7 ~ Demons
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Various Passages

Satan often succeeds in his purposes because people either do not believe in his existence or believe him to be more powerful than he really is. Hollywood has contributed to both approaches by some of their films, either by portraying him as a comic figure or as a being who has equal power to God. Folklore has done the same with demons, Satan's followers. Folktales have taken truths of scripture and turned them into fodder for fanciful tales. Even those who should be grounded in scripture have strange ideas about demons. Consider the following Yiddish folktale.

"Neither Eat Nor Drink What A Demon Offers It once happened that a number of Hasidim driving in a carriage came to a town and asked the local moyel, the ritual circumciser, to accompany them to a village for a few hours. The unsuspecting moyel went with them. They drove on and on, on and on. The trip seemed endless. At last they drove into a dense and very dark forest. In its midst stood a fine house into which they led the moyel. As he was examining the child to be circumcised, the newly delivered mother said, in a whisper: 'Whatever you do, don't eat or drink anything here or you'll be lost. These people are demons, and everything you see here is meant to deceive you. Long ago I was traveling, when they handed me a drink of water, and from that time on, they had such power over me I could not escape.' Well, he circumcised the child, after which he was led into a grand hall royally furnished and decorated, with a table full of good things to eat. But when the moyel refused to eat or drink anything, the house suddenly disappeared. It was weeks until, footsore and weary, he found his way back to his home town." 1

My primary source continues to be Through the Bible in One Year. Other books you might want to refer to include Harold Lindsell's The World, The Flesh, & The Devil, and Donald Grey Barnhouse's, The Invisible War.

  1. Introduction

    Biblically there are two classes of angels. Stringfellow calls them "holy" angels and fallen angels. The "leader" of the fallen angels is Satan. We have looked at the first group and at Satan. Now we will consider the fallen angels. We have already seen much regarding their creation, as well as their limitations (see the study on Satan) in the previous two studies. Because Satan is limited in areas of omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence, his work is carried out by the fallen angels, better known as demons. Just as angels are involved in our lives as God's ministers, demons can be involved in our lives as Satan's ministers of destruction.

    In his introduction to this study, Stringfellow notes:

    "this lesson shall deal with all of us where we are, what we have felt in the past, what we face each day because Satan is always trying to entrap us. The person who knows Christ, has sufficient strength to overcome Satan because 'greater is He that is in you, that he that is in the world' (1 John 4:4). This does not eliminate the temptation which is ever present, appealing to the carnal nature. The person who does not know Christ as Lord and Savior is constantly seeking the things of this world. "All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 John 2:16). They are open to the power of Satan and his emissaries." 3

  2. The Fall of Angels

    Interestingly enough there are two groups of fallen angels identified in scripture. These are the fallen and the chained angels.

    1. The Chained

      This group was not only cast out of heaven, but they were cast into "Tartarus," that is the pit of darkness. We read of this group in 2 Peter 2:4.

      "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment" (KJV).

      "And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home” these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day" (Jude 1:6).

      "Tartarus is only the temporary prison; their final end will be the 'lake of  fire' (Matt 25:41), the eternal abode of Satan, demons, and unsaved human beings." 4

      "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels'" (Matthew 25:41).

      We do not know what these angels did that was so uniquely vile, that God chained them after they fell. Some speculate these were the "Sons of God" in Genesis 6:4, and that they slept with the "daughters of men." This position, while popular among some, is simply wild speculation, with no scriptural foundation for it. There is no explanation as to why these angels have been locked away.

      Dr. McGee states:

      "Apparently, the fallen angels are divided into two groups. The group whose rebellion was so great is evidently locked up, incarcerated, and has no freedom of movement any longer." 5

      Referring back to Genesis 6, Stringfellow presents what I believe is the most reasonable understanding of the passage. "The reference in Genesis 6:2-6 has to do with the breakdown of the separation of the godly line of Seth, by intermarriage with the godless line of Cain." 6

      Stringfellow points out something I hadn't noticed before. In scripture, the only time we see an angel taking on human form is when it is a "holy" angel sent by God. 7 While this doesn't preclude demons taking on human form, there is no biblical support for this occurring.

    2. The Free

      This second group of fallen angels are defined as free, in contrast to the chained. These are the beings we call demons. They are Satan's minions and carry out the work of the Satanic kingdom.Keep in mind then, when we talk about Satan doing this and Satan doing that, we are frequently talking about his kingdom and therefore demons. It is simply easier to use his name for all things done by his realm.

  3. The Power of Fallen Angels

    Here I will turn to The NIV Dictionary for a definition of demons. Then we will look at them in detail. " As purely spiritual beings or personalities, demons operate above the laws of the natural realm and are invisible and incorporeal. As spirit personalities, demons have an  intellectual nature through which they possess superhuman knowledge. Scripture features the shrewdness of demons. In their moral nature all demons (as fallen angels) are evil and depraved, in distinction to the good spirits (the unfallen angels), who are sinless." 7

    1. Their Names Describe Their Job Functions

      The word demon itself means "knowing" or "to know" and refers to their "wisdom." In this context, Stringfellow points out that the word is erroneously translated devils by the King James Version. "Devil" is always simply another name of Satan. Following are some of the name given to demons.

      1. Familiar Spirits

        "Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God." And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people"   (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6 KJV).

      2. Unclean Spirits

        " And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, 'Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.' And Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, 'What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him'" (Mark 1:23-27).

  1. Weinreich, Beatrice Silverman, ed., Yiddish Folktales, "Neither Eat Nor Drink What A Demon Offers," Pantheon Books, New York, NY, 1988, p. 356.
  2. Stringfellow, Alan B., ed., Through the Bible in One Year, Vol. 3, Great Truths of the Bible, © 1981 by Virgil W. Hensley, Inc., Publisher, Tulsa, OK, p. 73-91.
  3. Ibid., p. 87.
  4. Douglas, J. D. and Merrill C. Tenney, editors, NIV Bible Dictionary, Zondervan Interactive Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1989.
  5. McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. 5, "1 Corinthians - Revelation," Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville, TN 1982, p.855.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Douglas.

[email geoff] GKragen@aol.com

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CFD | June 2003 | Geoff's Devotions | Geoff's Studies | Angels Study | Devotional Topics