Both Old and New Testaments speak of the reality of the spirit world. Within this unseen world are spirit beings beyond number. They are commonly called angels, some of whom willingly serve God, though others have rebelled against him (Jude 6; see ANGELS). These rebellious, or fallen, angels are variously known as demons, evil spirits, spiritual hosts of wickedness, principalities, powers, rulers, authorities, evil spiritual forces, cosmic powers of evil, and angels of the devil. Their leader is Satan (Luke 10:17-18; Eph 6:12; Col 2:15; James 2:19; Rev 12:9; see SATAN).

In relation to the ministry of Jesus, demons are usually called unclean spirits (Matt 10:1,8; Mark 6:7,13; see UNCLEAN SPIRITS). Demons oppose God and are the spiritual force behind heathen religions and false gods (Deut 32:17; Ps 106:37; 1 Cor 10:19-20; Rev 9:20). Those who follow these religions usually fear demons, and often use magic and sorcery to resist demonic power. But God forbids magic and sorcery, for these things themselves involve cooperating with supernatural evil powers (Lev 19:26; 20:6; Gal 5:20; Rev 9:20-21; 21:8; see MAGIC). The only dealing Jesus would have with demons was one of total condemnation. He brought God’s judgment upon them and freed demonized people from their power (Mark 1:27; Luke 8:2; 13:32; Acts 10:38). Jesus’ power over demons was a sign that the kingdom of God had come (Matt 12:28; see KINGDOM OF GOD).

He gave his followers the power to cast out demons (Matt 10:1,8; Luke 10:17-18; Acts 16:16- 18), and the ability to see whether prophets in the church were speaking through the influence of demons or the influence of God’s Spirit (1 Cor 12:3,10; 1 Tim 4:1; 1 John 4:1-3). Not all demonic activity is spectacular. Demons are busy in every sphere of human life and readily work through the normal activities of human nature and human society (2 Cor 11:14-15; Eph 2:2-3; 6:12; James 3:15). Christians should be aware of their evil purposes, but should not fear them. Christ has conquered them by his death and resurrection, and Christians can claim that conquest for themselves (Col 2:8-10,15; cf. Rom 8:38-39; Eph 1:18-21). The final demonstration of the conquest of demons will be at the last judgment, when God’s punishment will remove them from human society for ever and send them to a place of fitting punishment (Matt 8:29; 25:41; Jude 6).

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