What Is the Difference Between Angels and Demons?
Our society struggles to keep God’s angels in their rightful place. The struggle to properly understand demons is no less real. Sincere students of the Bible cannot ignore demons, for the term is mentioned over eighty times in the New Testament. On the other hand, dwelling on demonic activity is unhealthy and unnecessary. Let me tell you that you don’t need to know every word about demons. You just need to know the Word about demons, and that’s what we’ll study here.
When we study Scripture’s record of Creation, Genesis 1:31 reveals God’s opinion of His handiwork: “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” If angels are part of God’s “very good” Creation, then what are demons and where did they come from? Who do they work for? How do they interact with humans? What does this have to do with me?
What are demons?
Considering that the totality of Creation was “very good” and God’s nature is the very essence of goodness, we can logically conclude God did not create demons.
They slinked onto the scene sometime after the world was created. Scripture does not elaborate much upon their origins, but something curious happened between the glorious goodness of Genesis chapter 1 and the appearance of a cunning serpent who would forever change the course of human history in Genesis chapter 3. We must understand God neither invented nor inspired evil; it grew apart from Him.
Who does the dragon represent in Revelation 12?
At the tail end of Scripture, we find a disturbing metaphor in Revelation 12 that provides insight into the origins of demons and evil itself. There is a woman laboring to give birth to a child, and there is a seven-headed dragon. I won’t spend a lot of time on the woman, but I’ll tell you she is symbolic of the nation of Israel. Her child is none other than Jesus Christ. It is the dragon that informs us of the origins of evil. Focusing only on the dragon and his minions, here is what the passage says:
“Behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born…And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12:3-4, Revelation 12:7-9).
Here, in our mind’s eye, we observe a third of the stars of heaven being thrown to the earth by the dragon as it threatens the woman and her child. Our studies in part one acquainted us with the biblical connection between angels and stars. So, it shouldn’t surprise us to see the metaphor unveiled in verse 8 where we are told that the great dragon represents Satan and the stars are his angels. Evil entered our world when Satan and his angels determined in their hearts to oppose the plans of Almighty God.
Who do demons work for?
Allow me to state it plainly: demons are fallen angels. They are Satan’s servants committed to his plan to thwart the plan of God. During the interlude between Genesis 1 and Genesis 3, Scripture indicates God continued to be intimately involved with his creation, lovingly appointing the earth in exquisite detail. Genesis 2:8 says He planted a garden, which might be thought of more as an orchard because it contained every tree that is “pleasant to the sight and good for food.” This garden was watered by a river that parted into four riverheads. These rivers flowed into lands full of gold and onyx (Genesis 2:9-14). For all these splendid features, God did not adorn earth with gardens and rivers and jewels for His own benefit. With His throne room in heaven, earth is merely God’s footstool (Matthew 5:35). Rather, earth is man’s abode, and God designed it for man’s enjoyment. Scripture emphasizes this truth by stating twice that God placed man in this lush garden
Most of God’s created angels rejoiced at His outpouring of lovingkindness to man; however, there was one who despised it. There was one angel who resented God’s power and plan and authority. His name was Lucifer.
How is Lucifer described?
Ezekiel 28:12 describes this angel, Lucifer, as “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” The passage reveals that Lucifer (also referred to as the King of Tyre) had been in Eden and had been the “anointed cherub who covers” with access to the holy mountain of God (verse 14). Verse 13 suggests Lucifer was created as an instrument of praise with “timbrels” and “pipes.” He had been given a special, distinct commission from God to minister unto Him and cover His glory with music through worship and praise. Lucifer was a walking orchestra. What’s more, this spectacular angel was brilliantly ornamented with every precious stone. In all his radiance, however, Lucifer developed a fatal flaw: he became prideful. Ezekiel’s account explains, “You [Lucifer] were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you…You became filled with violence within, and you sinned.” (Ezekiel 28:15-16).
Lucifer became Satan.
A careful reading of Scripture helps us understand Lucifer’s downfall. He was created perfectly; however, inner iniquity and violence led him to sin. Isaiah describes what happened in Lucifer’s heart when he decided it was no longer good enough to be a perfect angel created in the beauty of God. Notice the five “I will” statements of Lucifer found in Isaiah 14:12-15:
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.”
Lucifer chose evil.
You may be wondering how could a perfect, holy being fall? How could the first unholy affection arise in his angelic being? I’m convinced the answer to these hard questions lies in the fact that Lucifer was created by God with one attribute exactly like you and I have—he had freedom to choose. Lucifer could have chosen humble obedience; instead, he chose prideful rebellion. Proverbs 16:18 warns us, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Indeed. Pride turned an angel into a devil—pride.
Angels and demons - How do they relate?
Angels and demons are very real, active, and about the work of their masters. But the difference is whom they work for. Angels are created beings - created by God for the purpose of serving Him. Demons used to be God's angels but rebelled against him, were kicked out of heaven with Satan and now work to do evil with him as their master.
Oxford Professor and author C.S. Lewis said "There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them."1
Jesus says of Satan (and his demons) "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). Satan is also known as a tempter, oppressor, and deceiver. In John 8:44, he is called the father of all lies. His underlings are sent about to undermine all good, love, and righteousness of God.
Satan and his demons are in a spiritual battle with God's angels for control and over the eternal destiny of human souls. 1 Peter 5:8 says we are to "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Psalms 68:17 states there are thousands of God's angels and in Psalm 91:11 we are told that God gives them charge over us to keep us in all ways. We are to discern and test which spirits may come to us.
We are not to fear demons because God offers us the equipment to resist the devil and his demons. "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). Paul explains in Ephesians 6:11-12 that we can "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Sin is of the devil, but Jesus came to destroy those works (1 John 3:8).
God's angels serve believers as ministering spirits as they did with Jesus Christ in Matthew 4:11. They are used as messengers of God and mighty warriors through out the Bible. As mighty and comforting as God's angels are, they are His servants and not to be glorified above Him.
What is an Angel or Demon?
First, it’s important to understand who angels and demons are by definition. In the Christian understanding of creation, angels are the first beings created by God. The word “angel” comes from the Greek word "aggelos," meaning “messenger.” God has sent these beings to deliver messages to mankind: the angel Gabriel appeared to the Blessed Virgin Mary to announce the good news that God had chosen her to bear His Son, for example.
A demon is a supernatural source or agent of evil. Demons are dark, fallen angels who follow Satan instead of God. These fallen angels, along with Satan, chose to rebel against God. As they look to Satan as their leader, they do everything in the power to thwart God’s plan and hinder His people (Daniel 10:13).
Angels Appear Human, Demons Inhabit Humans
When angels are sent to us, they take on human form. While the bodies they adopt are material, they exist only so long as the angels appear to us. When an angel no longer has need of a human appearance, their "body" ceases to exist.
Demons, on the other hand, seek to possess bodies and seem rather uncomfortable being outside of them. Take for instance the story of a man possessed by an entire legion of demons. While being cast out, the demons in that story begged Jesus to send them into a herd of pigs that was nearby. The demons begged, "If you cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine" (Matt. 8:30–31). These spirits need to inhabit a physical form.
Angels Love God, Demons Fear Him
Angels announce the Savior in love and expectation, and they want to see us be saved by Jesus Christ. God’s holy angels will someday take us back home to Him. Colossians 1:16-17 speaks of the creation of angels, telling us “For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
Demons, however, have rejected God from the beginning. They are terrified of the Lord and want us to be far away from Him. Demons scream His name in fear, provoking further fear in those non-believers who may be watching. Ephesians 6:12 tells us “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Angels Protect Us, Demons Attack Us
While both angels and demons are watching over us, demons are watching for a very dark purpose. Demons are looking carefully for another host to attack. Thankfully, as Christians, we are able to cast out these demons when they choose to attack us. Mark 9:25 says "And when Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, 'You deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.'" Angels, on the other hand, can be our true protective graduations. They are making sure we are safe and sound while on earth.
Angels Point Us to God, Demons Distract Us From God
Angels want to point us in the direction of God, and try and guide us on the correct path. They want us to find salvation with Jesus Christ. Demons are doing all they can to distract us from God and take away our salvation. In fact, they try to accomplish this by acting as false gods to divert our attention from the true God. Revelation 9:20-21 says "The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood-idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts."
While the description of demons may sound scary, remember they are defeated enemies of God. They have no competition against Him and His army of angels. God’s love conquered sin and death, triumphing over Satan and all his empty promises. We have been protected from the “evil one” and the many demons who are active in the world. Continue to spend time with the Lord, and give Him your full attention. You won’t have to worry beyond that. Read more at https://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/christianity/what-are-the-differences-between-angels-and-demons.aspx?p=7#TH6cJJjT4fjdXYsB.99
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