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The article “Can We Trust the Reality of Demons Today?” explores the clash between modern skepticism and the clear, consistent testimony of Scripture regarding the existence of demons. It addresses the limitations of science in explaining demonic reality, the inadequacy of natural explanations for certain evils, and the therapeutic contexts that point to spiritual influence.
Explore why the belief in demons still holds relevance today, despite modern skepticism. Dive into Scriptural testimonies, the limitations of science, and examples that defy natural explanations. Learn why ignoring the existence of demons could be a significant oversight.
The Clash Between Modern Skepticism and Scriptural Testimony
In today’s world, many scholars see the belief in demons as outdated, placing it in the same category as elves, dragons, and the idea of a flat Earth. These scholars argue that advancements in modern science—like understanding body chemistry, psychology, and neurology—give us better ways to explain what the ancients blamed on demons.
However, this skepticism directly contradicts the clear and specific messages of Scripture. From the Garden of Eden in Genesis to the downfall of Satan in Revelation, Scripture consistently mentions evil supernatural entities opposing God. The New Testament reveals that such entities became even more active during Jesus and the apostles’ time. Most of what we know about the nature and activities of demons comes from Jesus and Paul.
Limits of Science in Understanding Demons
Some people wrongly think that science has the final word on the existence of demons. This is a flawed perspective. Science focuses on describing and explaining the natural world. It cannot pass judgments on the supernatural, such as the existence of demons.
Inadequacy of Naturalistic Explanations
Some evils in the world are so extreme that they can’t be explained just by human sinfulness. For example, the monstrosities committed in Auschwitz or the inconceivable act of a mother taking the life of her own child suggest something more sinister at play—something possibly demonic.
Therapeutic Contexts That Point to Spiritual Influence
While some psychological conditions have mistakenly been blamed on demonic influence, there are situations best explained by the work of a spiritual being. Even within international mental health circles, this is sometimes categorized as “Trance and Possession Disorder,” particularly in non-Western cultures.
Learning from History and Other Cultures
Belief in evil spirits is not just some outdated concept; it’s prevalent in many cultures around the globe. The last 300 years in Western culture are the exception, not the rule, when it comes to skepticism about the existence of evil spirits.
Balancing Our Perspective
Believing in the existence of evil spirits doesn’t mean we should go to extremes in our views or practices concerning demons. Our focus should be on integrating this aspect of reality, always in alignment with what Scripture teaches. As C.S. Lewis warns in the introduction to “The Screwtape Letters,” we can make two errors concerning the devil: either ignoring his existence or becoming overly fixated on it.
Demons Are Real—So What Are They?
What Are Demons?
Demons are invisible, malevolent spirit beings with superhuman powers. The term demon appears in different forms within the Greek New Testament. The most common Greek word for demon, daiʹmon, occurs only once in Matthew 8:31. Other instances use the word dai·moʹni·on. The term pneuʹma, Greek for “spirit,” is often used in conjunction with descriptors like “wicked,” “unclean,” “speechless,” and “deaf” to refer to these malevolent spirits.
Origin of Demons
Demons were not directly created by God. Rather, the first demon was Satan, who turned himself against God and became the leader of other fallen angels who also turned into demons. These fallen angels materialized on Earth during Noah’s time, engaged in immoral activities with human women, and produced hybrid offspring known as Nephilim. They lost their original lofty positions in the spiritual realm and are now confined to operate in a realm of spiritual darkness.
Purpose and Influence of Demons
The principal aim of demons is to divert people away from the true worship of Jehovah. Throughout history, they have had a strong influence over human thought and actions. This influence escalated during the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, who performed many miracles to cast out these evil spirits. Christ also granted His apostles the ability to expel demons.
Demon Activity Today
The activity of demons is not diminished in modern times. These spirits continue to lure people away from God, and there is prophetic warning in the Scriptures about increasing demonic activity on Earth. Christians must be vigilant in their fight against these evil spirits.
Demons and the Greeks
Paul encountered different perspectives on demons during his missionary journeys. When addressing the Greeks, he used their own terminology, but with the Biblical understanding of demons in mind. He noted that the Greeks were “very religious,” although from his standpoint, their religion could be considered more as superstition.
Confronting the Reality
Christians are warned to stay steadfast in their faith, guarding against “misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons.” It is not sufficient to merely acknowledge the existence of a single God; even demons do this and tremble at the thought. Therefore, Christians must engage in a resolute struggle against these unseen malevolent forces.
In summary, the reality and influence of demons should not be dismissed or underestimated. They are active, malevolent beings whose primary goal is to draw people away from Jehovah and the true worship of God. Being vigilant and leaning on Scriptural teachings are essential for combating this spiritual threat.