Satan and Demons: Theology

Renewalists believe in sound doctrine, and they believe in victory through Christ over the kingdom of darkness.

As noted in other posts, certain modern interpreters of the Bible seem to be embarrassed about Scriptures that talk about Satan and demons. They try to “demythologize” the verses. That is, they try to strip them away or explain them away, to suit modern tastes. They have drunk too deeply of the anti-supernatural biases of the Enlightenment (1600-1800+).

However, Renewalists believe the Bible is infallible and authoritative in these matters. Many of them have had run-ins with the devil that cannot be explained in any other way than what Scripture says.

The Question and Answer format is designed for clarity.

Please note that some answers are speculative.

Let’s begin.

1.. Who is Satan?

He is an evil spirit being, a former archangel (say most Bible interpreters) that fell before man’s fall.

2.. Is Satan eternal?

No, he was created as an archangel (say most Bible interpreters) and therefore was part of God’s creation. He had a beginning, because all created things have beginnings.

3.. Is Satan equal to God?

No, not even close. Satan is a created being.

4.. What are demons?

Many scholars teach that they too are fallen angels, and apparently they fell with Satan (Jude 6). Scripture indicates that Satan took one-third of the angels with him when he fell (Rev. 12:4). Jesus said that Satan is the “ruler” of demons (Matt. 12:24), and Jesus said, “The devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). Demons are those angels.

5.. Are Satan and demon gods?

Scriptures indicate that people worshiped gods who are equated with demons. In this passage, humans thought they were sacrificing to gods, but these gods were actually demons:

They stirred him [God] to jealousy with strange gods; with abominable practices they provoked him to anger. They sacrificed to demons which were no gods, to gods they had never known. (Deut. 32:16-17)

Psalm 106:35-37 makes this equation clear in the context of pagan nations.

They mingled with the nations and learned to do as they did. They served their idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons (Ps. 106:35-37, NIV)

Further, Paul writes that people who sacrifice to a god offer things to demons (1 Cor. 10:20).

Nations were under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19), which implies that their gods were demons.

Nations that worship gods often engaged in destroying humanity. One example is the Aztecs priests who demanded the blood of humans, and so they sacrificed humans on the pinnacle of their temple. Canaanites and other tribes, like the Ammonites, also sacrificed children to the god Molech (Lev. 18:21; 20:2-5). The kings and people of Israel and Judah absorbed their culture and did the same (1 Kings 11:5-7, 33; 2 Kings 23:10, 13; Jer. 32:35).

Satan destroys people, and whenever we find this in history, then we can be sure Satan is behind it (John 10:10).

6.. Is there a hierarchy in Satan’s kingdom?

The pantheon of gods surrounding Israel or in the greater Middle East have a hierarchy and jurisdictions.

Here are some examples:

Baal (storm god of Canaan);

Ashtoreth / Astarte (mother goddess; sexual desire, fertility of Canaan);

Chemosh (national god of war of Moab);

Molek / Molech / Malkam / Milkom (national god of Ammon);

Dagon (national god of grain of Philistia).

There are other gods of other nations like Babylonia and Egypt and Greece. This mirrors Satan’s kingdoms and ranks and dominions.

New Testament verses hint that there is a hierarchy (Eph. 3:10; Eph. 6:12-13; Col. 2:13-15). However, it is hard to decode from those verses which of those titles are ranked above the other one, if at all.

There is certainly a hierarchy in God’s kingdom. Here is a simplified look: the Father at the top, and the Son subordinate to him (in function but not in essence), then archangels and angels.

No doubt Satan’s kingdom mirrors God’s kingdom, though in an evil and weaker way.

Some Christian teachers explore this satanic hierarchy more thoroughly, but I personally don’t bother with it (except in my creative endeavors). The main point is that we have victory through Christ over demons.

7.. Are there two groups of fallen angels?

Yes, there seems to be. It is clear from Scripture that demons roam the earth (all the references in the first sections prove it). Then there are demons who appear to be confined in tartaros (2 Pet. 2:4). In 2 Pet. 2:4 it is actually the verb tartaroō (pronounced tahr-tahr-oh-oh), and it is related to the noun tartaros. Jude 6 may also refer to this confinement.

8.. So what is tartaros?

In early Greek religious belief, it refers to “a deep abyss, as deep below Hades as earth [is] below the heaven” … “the prison of the Titans.” (The Titans were the first generation of gods who were overthrown by the later generation, led by Zeus, who threw them in tartaros.) Later it is the term for “the nether world.”

It looks like Peter, inspired by the Spirit, took over the term and applied it to demons. In this context, it is a prison or a dark abyss or “holding tank” that confines and imprison demons. It is different from the eternal fire which was created for Satan and his angels (Matt. 25:41). Using Bible-based speculation based on Bible-based logic, we can believe that these demons were so awful that they were not permitted to be cut loose after their fall from heaven.

So to answer Question no. 7 directly, yes, there are two groups of fallen angels: free and imprisoned.

And this brings up another question, next.

8.. Why would God allow demons to roam free and make our lives more miserable than they are already?

In the eternal perspective, God will end this whole present order of the three kingdoms: His kingdom, human’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom. Soon his kingdom will be the only unrivaled and exclusive one. However, the Bible teaches that after Satan is bound for a thousand years, then God will release the evil being so he can wreak havoc on the world, yet again. Or some believe that the thousand years are not literal, and Satan is doing this right now.

Either way, there is still coming a time when God will put a stop to human and satanic evil, forever, and no turning back.

As for the question directly, the answer is forever hidden in the counsel of God, but one good answer (good enough for me) is that we are being trained for reigning. We are going through the Valley of Soul-Making. We learn to fight and overcome and be victorious.

It is a blessing that he has provided weapons for us. Here are just three.

1.. For humankind generally, he has given them a conscience and moral law. They can avoid evil—certainly great and horrendous evil. Two opposite examples: Chinese philosophers taught peace and harmony, while bloodthirsty Aztec priests did very evil acts, like sacrificing humans (see Question no. 5, above).

2.. For believers in Christ, we have all sorts of weapons, but the main one is to surrender to God through Christ (Jas. 4:7). If we don’t, then Satan can gain a foothold in our lives (1 Peter 5:6-9).

3.. Another weapon is the name of Jesus (Luke 10:17; Acts 16:18). Use it to command evil spirits to leave.

Let’s shift gears.

9.. Can Satan know the future?

Probably not, unless he can glimpse some elements of the future from his vantage point in the spirit world. We don’t know what happens in the spirit world exactly, except from the fragments we learn from Scripture. And from them, we don’t know how much a spirit being can learn about our natural world, where we live.

However, Satan’s knowledge of the future, if he has this ability, is extremely, extremely limited. Even angels do not know the time of Jesus’s return (Mark 13:32). Satan can only make guesses, much as we can, based on numerous factors. He can guess that a human heavily influenced by him will (probably) pursue drugs tomorrow, because that is what the human victim does every Friday night. He can guess that when the gospel goes forth, people will (probably) get saved and leave his dominion. These are guesses about the future, not knowledge.

God on the other hand can know the future in one simultaneous act (Is. 49:9-10), which leads to the next point.

10.. Is Satan omniscient (all-knowing)?

As noted, here’s how to define omniscience: knowing everything about everything in one simultaneous act. Only God can do that, not Satan.

However, Satan is more intelligent than humans because he lives in the spirit world and has access to our own natural world. Therefore it takes the Holy Spirit and the Bible to tell us what his strategies are (2 Cor. 2:11; Eph. 6:11).

11.. Is Satan omnipresent (everywhere all at once)?

No, and this is shown by the nature of the case. Satan is simply a fallen archangel, and even an unfallen archangel cannot be omnipresent.

12.. Is Satan omnipotent (all-powerful)?

No! Not even close! A demon can deploy super-human strength while dominating a human (Mark 5:4; Acts 19:15-16), but that does not even come close to omnipotence. It must anger Satan every time a believer uses the name of Jesus to push him and his dominion back from people’s lives. We have power and authority over him. And since we are not omnipotent, that goes double for him!

13.. Are all sin and evil from Satan?

No, because sin and evil reside in people’s nature. Often sin and evil are human caused. Therefore we do not need to rebuke Satan or demons whenever evil or sin surfaces. We just need more discipleship and sanctification (growth in Christ).

Even though 1 John 3:8 says that “whoever commits sin is of the devil,” this does not mean that all sin is done by the devil. John goes on to divide the world into two camps, the children of God and the children of the devil (v. 10). So v. 8 is merely saying that those not surrendered to Christ are in the devil’s camp and the whole world is in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19).

However, there may be some degree, difficult to measure, of satanic influence in all sin and destructive activity, behind the scenes. In other words, it is difficult to know by our intellect where to draw the line between Satan’s influence and our own self-destructive, sinful behavior.

But this longtime adage is best: “You cannot disciple a demon or cast out the flesh” (flesh being our sin nature). You have to disciple an immature believer and cast out a demon from an oppressed person.

We need the Spirit’s discernment to know the difference between the two.

How does this post help me grow in Christ and know him better?

Sound doctrine is important in your life and in our ministries, but most importantly, you can have victory over the kingdom of darkness.

This point is important to realize. You fight and live from victory, not for victory. Jesus already won the battle on the cross. He is victorious, and so are you when you live in him, like a branch lives in a vine (John 15:5). This does not mean Satan is totally defeated in fact, because billions of people have not surrendered to Christ. So for them Satan is as strong as ever. But he is defeated for everyone who submits and surrenders to the Lord Jesus Christ (Jas. 4:7).

Written by James Malcolm

SOURCES

Works Cited at Renewal Theology

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