Are There Wicked Spirits?
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.
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?
IS THE DEVIL REALLY A SPIRIT PERSON?
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.—Matt. 4:1-11.
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.” (Heb. 7:26) The Bible also says: “He committed no sin, nor was deception found in his mouth.” (1 Pet. 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.
In the account about the God-fearing man Job, the Bible tells us that Jehovah talked to Satan. It says: “Jehovah said to Satan: ‘Where do you come from?’ At that Satan answered Jehovah and said: ‘From roving about in the earth and from walking about in it.’” (Job 1:6, 7) Well, now, was Satan on that occasion not a real person, but merely a quality of evil? Then to whom was God talking? To himself? If so, the quality of evil was in God Almighty himself, and that would mean that evil started with Jehovah. Such an idea is in conflict with all the rest of the Holy Bible and is contrary to reason.—Ps. 145:17; Rev. 4:8.
Thus the Scriptures and sound reasoning make clear that Satan is a real, live person in the invisible spirit realm. He was, and is, a historical person, an actual living creature. For this reason the apostle Peter urged Christians to be on guard against his advances, saying: “Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone. But take your stand against him, Solid in the faith.”—1 Pet. 5:8, 9.
HOW A PERFECT CREATURE BECAME THE DEVIL
But in what way did the Devil originate? Obviously, the God ‘whose work is perfect’ would not create someone wicked. (Deut. 32:4) He would not create intelligent creatures with whom he could not associate. Such would be contrary to reason and God’s love.—Ps. 5:4-6.
So, the invisible spirit who later became the Devil must at one time have been perfect, without defect as a creation of God. In this respect he was like all the other millions of angelic “sons of God” whom God had created long before the earth had been prepared for habitation by humans. (Job 38:4, 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. (Gen. 3:1-6; 1 Tim. 2:13, 14) 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, for example, made Balaam’s ass speak, as the Bible observes: “Jehovah opened the mouth of the ass and she said to Balaam: ‘What have I done to you so that you have beaten me these three times?’”—Num. 22:28.
Similarly, in Eden, Satan used the serpent to speak to Eve. Therefore, the apostle Paul explained: “The serpent seduced Eve by its cunning.” (2 Cor. 11:3) Yes, the Bible identifies the Devil, or Satan, as “the original serpent,” hence the one who really introduced rebellion and wickedness into the universe.—Rev. 12:9.
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. “Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire,” the Bible says. “Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.”—Jas. 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.
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.
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
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?
It was for the purpose of enjoying 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.”—Matt. 9:34.
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, as the Bible explains: “God did not hold back from punishing the angels that sinned, but, by throwing them into Tartarus, delivered them to pits of dense darkness to be reserved for judgment.”—2 Pet. 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.” (Rev. 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.