GHOSTS, ghouls, goblins, genies, demons are spirit entities that people of various religions believe in and view as malevolent, benevolent, or both. Other people dismiss belief in spirits as just a superstition or as a figment of the imagination. What does the Bible say?
The Bible teaches that the Creator himself is a Spirit and that his first creations were spirits. (John 4:24; Hebrews 1:13, 14) Further, the Bible mentions wicked spirits, sometimes referring to them as demons. (1 Corinthians 10:20, 21; James 2:19) But it does not teach that God created demons. Who, then, are they, and how did they come to exist?
When God created spirit creatures, he made them free moral agents, able to choose for themselves whether to do good or bad. Sadly, after the creation of humankind, an undisclosed number of angels chose to do bad by rebelling against God.
The first and most infamous spirit to rebel became Satan. “He did not stand fast in the truth,” said Jesus Christ. (John 8:44) What moved Satan to turn against God? He began to covet the worship that belongs exclusively to the Creator, and then he acted on that desire by setting himself up as a rival god. In this way he made himself “Satan,” a word that means “resister.” Centuries later, prior to the Flood of Noah’s day, other angels joined Satan, forsaking their heavenly position to materialize in human form and dwell on earth. (Genesis 6:1-4; James 1:13-15) When the Flood occurred, the materialized “angels that sinned” apparently returned to the spirit realm. (2 Peter 2:4; Genesis 7:17-24) In time, they came to be called demons.—Deuteronomy 32:17; Mark 1:34.
The disobedient angels now found themselves in a very different situation from the one they had enjoyed before rebelling. Jude 6 reads: “The angels that did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place [God] has reserved with eternal bonds under dense darkness for the judgment of the great day.” Yes, God did not allow the demons to enjoy their former privileges in heaven but consigned them to figurative “pits of dense darkness,” cut off from all spiritual enlightenment.
Though evidently prevented from again materializing as humans, the demons still have great power and influence over the minds and lives of people. In fact, Satan, together with his demon hordes, is “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Revelation 12:9; 16:14) How? To a large extent, by means of the “teachings of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1) These false teachings, often religious in nature, have blinded the minds of millions to the truth about God. (2 Corinthians 4:4) Consider some examples.
● The teaching that the dead are still alive. By means of apparitions, voices, and crafty actions, the demons deceive people into believing that the living can communicate with the dead. Moreover, this clever deception tends to give credence to the lie that a soul survives the death of the body. However, the Bible plainly states: “The dead are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6) Having ‘gone down into silence,’ they are unable even to praise God.—Psalm 115:17.
● Anything-goes morality. “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one,” says 1 John 5:19. Satan and his demons exploit their power by using the media and other means to promote the evil notion that humans should give free reign to base fleshly desires. (Ephesians 2:1-3) Hence, immorality of every kind, including sexual perversions, is rife today. Such behavior is even considered normal, whereas Bible standards are often viewed as old-fashioned or narrow-minded.
● The promotion of spiritism. The apostle Paul encountered a servant girl possessed by “a demon of divination,” which enabled her “to furnish her masters with much gain by practicing the art of prediction.” (Acts 16:16) Aware of the source of her supernatural abilities, Paul refused to listen to the girl. Additionally, he did not want to offend God, who views all forms of spiritism—including astrology and appeals to occult powers—as detestable.—Deuteronomy 18:10-12.
How can you protect yourself against wicked spirits? The Bible answers: “Subject yourselves . . . to God; but oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) We heed that injunction when we live by the teachings found in the Bible, the only sacred book that fully exposes Satan, the demons, and their “crafty acts.” (Ephesians 6:11, footnote; 2 Corinthians 2:11) The Bible also tells us that the wicked spirits, along with all who oppose God, will not be around forever. (Romans 16:20) “The upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it,” says Proverbs 2:21.
● Did God create the demons?—2 Peter 2:4.
● Can you speak to the dead?—Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6.
● How can you protect yourself against the demons?—James 4:7.