Are There Wicked Spirits?
1. (a) Did Jesus believe that wicked spirits exist? (b) What did Jesus call the Devil?
JESUS CHRIST, who came to earth from the spirit realm, acknowledged the existence of wicked spirits. You may recall that he often spoke of the Devil, and that he called him “the father of the lie” and a “manslayer.” (John 8:44) For our own protection in this time when lying and murder are on the increase, we do well to examine this subject.
2. (a) Contrary to what Jesus taught, what do some persons believe the Devil is? (b) What experience did Jesus have with the Devil?
2 Many persons, of course, do not believe that there are wicked spirit creatures. Even some who claim to use the Bible say that Satan the Devil is only a quality of evil, not an invisible spirit person. But do the facts agree with their belief? What about Jesus Christ’s own experience when the Devil tempted him? The Bible tells us that the Devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and said to him: “All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.” Jesus answered the Devil: “Go away, Satan! For it is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship.’” Then the Devil left Jesus.—Matthew 4:1-11.
3. (a) How does that experience show that the Devil could not be merely a quality of evil? (b) What, then, is Satan the Devil?
3 During that experience, by whom was Jesus Christ tempted? By a real person? or by a mere quality of evil? If he was tempted by a mere quality of evil, in whom did this quality dwell? Was this evil in Jesus Christ? If so, then it could not be true that in him there was no sin. Yet the Bible, God’s Word of truth, makes it very clear that Jesus was “guileless, undefiled, separated from the sinners.” (Hebrews 7:26) The Bible also says: “He committed no sin, nor was deception found in his mouth.” (1 Peter 2:22) So Jesus could not have been carrying on a conversation with “evil” in his own self. He was talking to a living spirit creature. Thus the Scriptures and sound reasoning make clear that Satan is a real, live person in the invisible spirit realm.—1 Peter 5:8.
A SELF-MADE DEVIL
4. From what we know about God, why can we be certain that he would not create someone wicked?
4 But in what way did the Devil originate? Obviously, the God ‘whose work is perfect’ would not create someone wicked. (Deuteronomy 32:4) He would not create intelligent creatures with whom he could not associate. Such would be contrary to reason and God’s love.—Psalm 5:4-6 [5:5-7, Dy].
5. (a) How did the spirit creature who became the Devil take a wrong course? (b) Was it a mere snake that put the idea of rebellion into the mind of Eve?
5 So, the invisible spirit who later became the Devil must at one time have been perfect, without defect as a creation of God, just like all the other millions of angelic “sons of God.” (Job 38:7) How, then, did he go bad? After the creation of the first man and woman, this particular spirit creature entered on a course of rebellion against God. He developed a desire to be worshiped and so enticed Adam and Eve to rebel against God. How did he do this? The Bible shows that a serpent spoke to Eve, telling her a lie. As a result she disobeyed God. Then she caused her husband to join her in revolt against God. But who actually put the idea of rebellion into Eve’s mind? Was it a mere snake with no speech organs? No, there was someone behind the serpent making it appear as if it were talking. We know that some skilled humans can speak words with their lips nearly shut, making it appear as if a nearby animal or a dummy is talking. How much easier for a superhuman invisible person to do this! God made Balaam’s ass speak. (Numbers 22:28) In Eden, Satan used the serpent. And so the Bible identifies the Devil, or Satan, as “the original serpent,” hence the one who really introduced rebellion and wickedness into the universe.—Revelation 12:9; 2 Corinthians 11:3.
6. How could a perfect creature turn to wickedness?
6 But, you may wonder, if this highly intelligent spirit really was perfect, how could he turn to wickedness when there was no one to tempt him? The Bible answers that it was by his thinking upon a wrong idea. (James 1:14, 15) There is nothing wrong in itself with seeing the possibilities in a certain situation. For example, a person in someone else’s home may see money lying on a table. The possibility of his taking that money and putting it into his pocket is there. But, since that would be stealing, he should not even consider it. Or, if the idea does come into his mind, he ought to dismiss it. But if he keeps the idea in his mind and allows it to grow, then wrong desire develops. Soon this may move him to commit an act of wickedness.
7. (a) So how did this spirit creature become wicked? (b) Who, then, made Satan the Devil?
7 So, too, with the perfect spirit creature. The possibility was there of his using the human pair for his own purpose rather than carrying out what God wanted. As a free moral agent, he not only considered it but also failed to dismiss it from his mind, and it led him to sin. Just as a formerly honest man can make himself a thief by stealing, so this spirit creature made himself Satan by acting as a resister of God; and he made himself the Devil by becoming a slanderer of God, because that is what those names mean.
8. Why was it not Just a mistake that Satan made?
8 Of course, someone may say, “Might it not have been simply a mistake that he made? Could he not have apologized and so ended the matter there?” In answer, we need to keep in mind that a perfect individual is different from us. When he uses his free will, the choice that he makes is not due to weakness or imperfection. Imperfect people often make mistakes due to inherited weakness. They can admit their mistakes, apologize and change their course. But when a perfect creature chooses to do wrong, he does it deliberately and he does not later turn back to doing good. This was the case with the one who made himself the Devil.
OTHER SPIRIT CREATURES MAKE THEMSELVES DEMONS
9. How did others of God’s holy angels make themselves demons?
9 The Devil was not the only spirit creature to turn to disobedience and wickedness. God had created a great number of holy angels, millions of them. Daniel 7:10 reveals a portion of them as being 100,000,000. The Bible record at Genesis 6:1-5 explains that before the flood of Noah’s day some of these spirit “sons of God” materialized as men, that is, they left their place in heaven as spirit creatures and clothed themselves with fleshly bodies. And why? To enjoy human passions by marrying the good-looking daughters of men. This was an act of disobedience to God, and the Bible associates it with the actions of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah who ‘went after flesh for unnatural use.’ (Jude 6, 7) So, too, it was against their heavenly nature for angels to come down and seek human flesh with which to have sex relations. Their course brought bad results, including a freakish offspring, “mighty ones” called Nephilim. By their rebellious action, those spirit sons of God turned themselves into demons and put themselves on the side of the Devil, who is the “ruler of the demons.”—Matthew 9:34.
10. (a) When the flood of Noah’s day came, what happened to the disobedient angels who had married the daughters of men? (b) To what should the increase in wrongdoing in our day alert us?
10 When the global flood of Noah’s day destroyed all the wicked humans, the unfaithful angels dissolved their fleshly bodies and returned to the spirit realm. But they were not allowed to become part of God’s organization of holy angels again. Instead, they were confined in a debased condition of spiritual darkness. (2 Peter 2:4) Since the Flood, God has not permitted these demonic angels to materialize in the flesh as they did before then. Yet they can still exercise dangerous power over men and women. In fact, with the help of these demons Satan is “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Revelation 12:9) The great increase in wrongdoing that we see all over the earth today should alert us to the need to be on guard against being misled by them.
THE DEVIL IS THE “RULER OF THIS WORLD”
11. What position does Satan hold with regard to all nations?
11 Three times in the Bible book of John we read that the Lord Jesus Christ called the Devil “the ruler of this world.” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) At 2 Corinthians 4:4 he is referred to as “the god of this system of things.” Does this mean, then, that all the nations of the earth are under the control of Satan the Devil? The Bible answers: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) Thus the Devil, as “ruler of the world,” exercises great influence on men, overreaching them and even controlling political governments.—Revelation 16:13, 14.
12. (a) According to Revelation 13:1, 2, to what does the Devil give power and authority? (b) How does the Devil’s offer to Jesus help us to identify the “wild beast”? (c) Since the account about the “wild beast” of Revelation 13:1, 2 and the one about the beasts of Daniel’s vision both refer to the same kinds of animals, what must the “wild beast” represent?
12 If you will open your Bible to Revelation 12:9, you will see that the Devil is described as “the great dragon.” In the next chapter, Re 13 verses 1 and 2, we are told that this dragon, the Devil, gave power and a throne and great authority to what is symbolically called a “wild beast” out of the sea. What is this symbolic “wild beast”? Well, over what does Satan hold authority? What did he offer to Jesus Christ? “All the kingdoms of the inhabited earth.” (Luke 4:5-8) Jesus quickly rejected that offer, but he did not deny that the Devil ruled over the political kingdoms of the earth. In harmony with this, Revelation 13:7 says concerning the symbolic “wild beast,” that “authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.” Further, with what did the prophet Daniel identify certain beasts? With “kingdoms,” or political governments. (Daniel 7:2-7, 17, 23) That the symbolic beasts of Daniel’s vision and the “wild beast” of Revelation have a similar meaning is seen from the fact that both accounts refer to the same kinds of creatures: a lion, a bear, a leopard and a ten-horned beast. (Revelation 13:1, 2) So the “wild beast” represents the Devil’s entire political organization that has exercised beastlike rule over the earth throughout the centuries until now. No wonder Jesus Christ said: “My kingdom is no part of this world.” And no wonder that his followers would be no part of the world either, that is, they would avoid getting involved in its affairs.—John 18:36; 17:14-16.
KEEP FREE FROM EVERY FORM OF SPIRITISM
13. What is spiritism, and why does the Bible warn us to keep free from it?
13 One of the ways that wicked spirits mislead men and women is through spiritism. What is spiritism? It is getting in touch with wicked spirit creatures, being misled by them either directly or through a human or other medium. The Bible warns us to keep from every practice associated with spiritism, because spiritism brings a person under the influence of the demons.—Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:8.
14. What are some practices associated with spiritism, and how does God view those who turn to such practices?
14 God condemns every kind of spiritism. The Bible tells us what some of these disapproved things are: divination, magic, looking for omens, sorcery, binding others with a spell (hypnotism, black magic, and so forth), consulting a spirit medium or a fortune-teller and inquiring of the dead. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Isaiah 8:19) All of this is demonism, and those who turn to such practices make themselves enemies of God.—Leviticus 19:31; 1 Chronicles 10:13, 14.*
15. (a) What is divination, and what are some of the ways that people engage in it today? (b) Where did astrology and magic begin?
15 Divination is one of the common forms of spiritism. It is the effort to obtain knowledge of the unknown or of the future by means of omens or demon power. (Acts 16:16) Many are the ways divination is practiced today, such as by divining rods, pendulums, crystal-ball gazing, Ouija boards, ESP, examining the lines of one’s hand (palmistry), studying the flight of certain birds, looking for omens in one’s dreams and in other incidents in one’s life and then trying to relate these to the future. There is also divination by the stars, commonly called astrology. This originated in ancient Babylon, as did various forms of the magical arts. The Bible shows that all who use divination sin against God.—1 Samuel 15:22, 23.*
16. What should we do if we ever hear a “voice” from the invisible realm speak to us?
16 One of the common ways in which wicked spirits mislead people is by talking to them, either through a spirit medium or by a “voice” from the invisible realm. The “voice” pretends to be a departed relative or a good spirit; but this is falsehood! The voice is actually a wicked spirit speaking! What should you do if such a “voice” speaks to you? Well, what did Jesus Christ do when the ruler of the wicked spirits spoke to him? Jesus rejected the Devil’s suggestions, saying: “Go away, Satan!” (Matthew 4:10) You can do that too. Also, you can call on Jehovah for aid, praying aloud and using his name. Follow this wise course, and do not give ear to such voices from the invisible realm.—Proverbs 18:10; James 4:7.
17. How can one break free of spiritism today by following the example of the early Christians at Ephesus?
17 But what if one has been dabbling in some of the spiritistic religions or sciences and now wants to break free from spiritism? Well, what did many of the early Christians at Ephesus do when they wanted to get free from the magical arts? The Bible tells us that, after accepting the “word of Jehovah” preached by the apostle Paul, they “brought their books together and burned them up before everybody,” even though they were worth 50,000 pieces of silver! (Acts 19:19, 20) Their example of destroying objects related to spiritistic practices is the wise one to follow.
18. (a) What will happen to all wicked spirits? (b) In view of this, what must we do if we want eternal life?
18 Do not be deceived by the increasing interest in mystic and occult matters. Wicked spirit creatures are promoting such spiritism. But these wicked spirit forces, including the Devil, will eventually be destroyed. (Matthew 25:41) If you want eternal life you need to stay free from their influence by avoiding every kind of spiritism.
THE DEVIL PROMOTES FALSE RELIGION
19. (a) What is the chief means by which the Devil turns mankind away from God? (b) What is false religion? (c) If one practices false religion, to whom is one really giving service?
19 It should not surprise us that the Devil and his demons have many ways of misleading mankind, spiritism being just one of these. What, then, is the foremost means by which the Devil, “the father of the lie,” turns mankind away from God? (John 8:44) It is by means of false religion! False religion is worship that is built on falsehoods and that is in conflict with God’s Word of truth, the Bible. That is one reason why the Bible points out that if a person worships in a way that is not in harmony with God’s Word, he is in reality serving the demons, because he is acting in harmony with what they want and in conflict with God.—Deuteronomy 32:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 10:20.
20. Like crime leaders, how does the Devil deceive people?
20 Although false religions may appear respectable, we should realize that the Devil is like many modern-day underworld or crime leaders who hide behind a front of respectability. What more subtle way could there be for him to deceive people and get them to serve him than by using a religious front that has an outward appearance of righteousness? That the Devil would mislead people by religion that outwardly claims to serve God is shown in the Bible. (Matthew 7:22, 23) In fact, the Christian apostle Paul said that “Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light” and “his ministers also keep transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness.”—2 Corinthians 11:14, 15.
21. (a) What does the Bible show as to the time left for the wicked spirits? (b) Why should a person break free from spiritism and all other false religion?
21 So Jesus Christ was not imagining something when he called the Devil “the ruler of this world.” (John 12:31) There are indeed wicked spirits misleading “the entire inhabited earth.” But only a “short period of time” remains before the Devil and his wicked angels are to be put out of operation. (Revelation 12:9, 12) Meantime, keep free from every form of spiritism and break free from religion that may appear respectable but is really based on falsehood. You cannot hold to spiritism or any other religious falsehood and get eternal life in God’s new system of things, because it is only the truth that leads to eternal life.—Ephesians 6:12, 16.
1 Paralipomenon 10:13, 14, Dy.
1 Kings 15:22, 23, Dy.