Satan, Demons and Fallen Angels

Some people don’t believe in a personal devil. Yet, when we look around at the evil in the world today, it’s hard to believe that man’s imagination is able to conceive of it all without help.

There is evil and wickedness in the world. Admittedly, much of it comes from “man’s inhumanity to man.” But a lot of it has its origins in the spirit world. The Bible makes it plain that not only is there a personal devil, but also demons and fallen angels. Where did these spirit beings come from? Where are they now? What are they doing?

1. Satan, the Devil

There are two man passages of Scripture that tell us most of what we know concerning Satan’s origin: Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-19. The idea that Satan is a hideous-looking, horned and cloven hoofed creature is not Biblical. His name at his creation was Lucifer, meaning “the light-bearer,” suggesting that he was, in the beginning, the most beautiful and glorious angel ever created.

His fall from grace is given in the context of history (especially in the Ezekiel passage). Two historical kings from two historical kingdoms had blasphemed against God and forced their people to worship them as gods. God, speaking through His prophets, gives a series of warnings to His people and the people of these two historical kingdoms. The essence of these warnings is simple and direct: if God punished the arrogance and prideful blasphemies of His highest angel, Lucifer, no mere human king will escape that same punishment for those same sins.

Satan has been described as a “superhuman being” because in some ways he appears to be far more powerful than any mortal. But as we study this very real personal devil, we must remember what the New Testament teaches:

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

His character

The devil’s character is made known by his names.

  • Satan means “adversary.” Throughout the Bible, we see Satan as God’s adversary and also man’s. He stands opposed to the will of God and he continually seeks to hinder God’s purposes. Not only that, Satan actively seeks to destroy the Church of Jesus Christ through false teaching from within and persecution from without.

  • Devil means “slanderer.” What an apt name for one who lies about God (Genesis 3:2-5) and man (Job 1:9; Zechariah 3:1, 2; Luke 22:31).

  • Apollyon and Abaddon are Greek and Hebrew (respectively) words meaning “destroyer.” They are applied to Satan in Revelation 9:11. He seeks to destroy the works of God and God’s people.

  • Serpent. In both Genesis and Revelation, Satan is referred to as a serpent.

  • Tempter (Matthew 4:3). The Devil tempts God’s people to commit sin and acts of rebellion. God, on the other hand, tests our faith for our good.

  • The prince and god of this world. This is how he is referred to in John 12:31 and 2 Corinthians 4:4. This is a good name because it describes the Devil’s sphere of influence: our world.

His activities

Satan’s names best describe what he does. This list also applies to demons and fallen angels.

  • Nature. Satan constantly does these things:

    • Opposes the work of God, 1 Thessalonians 2:18

    • Hinders the Gospel, Matthew 13:19

    • Possesses, blinds, deceives and ensnares the unsaved, Luke 22:3; 2 Corinthians 4:4

    • Afflicts people, Job 1:12

  • Tempts Christians, 1 Thessalonians 3:5

  • Sphere. Satan’s sphere of activity is the world, but he is not only to be found among the wicked and unsaved. He is known as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14) so it makes sense that he, for example, attends church services and gatherings of believers. In fact, his agents, demons, have been referred to as “ministers of righteousness” in 2 Corinthians 11:15.

  • His driving force. We can understand why Satan hates God so much. But why man? He hates man because God loves man so much. Even the vilest of sinners still bears the stamp of God. Satan especially detests Christians because more than sinners, we remind him of Jesus Christ and we are everything he is no longer and can never be again.

  • His limitation. Satan is not like God. In fact, he is more like man than like God. All of his powers are limited. Satan is definitely strong and powerful, but he is already a defeated foe and he is only strong to those who do not resist him, James 4:7. His power is limited by God Himself. For example, he cannot tempt (Matthew 4:1), afflict (Job 1:16), kill (Job 2:6; Hebrews 2:14), nor touch a Christian without God’s permission.

His Destiny

From very early in the history of the world, Satan’s destiny has been revealed:

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

Since the Garden of Eden, Satan’s career has been on the downhill skids. He is as aware of this as we are. Here is a being, kicked out of Heaven, living and functioning in a world only temporarily his, knowing his days are limited. During the Tribulation he will cast down (not out) of the heavenly realms to the earth (Revelation 12:9) and during the Millennium he will be locked away in the bottomless pit, and finally, after the thousand-year reign of Christ, he will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10). Knowing all this makes Satan the most miserable and pathetic of all God’s creation.

2. Fallen angels

Some people believe fallen angels are demons. This may or may not be true; the Bible is silent as to the origin of demons. For the purposes of this brief study, we consider fallen angels and demons to be separate and distinct from each other. Understand, however, that other Bible teachers may or may not agree with this view. However, while Bible scholars may be divided as the origin of demons, all agree that they are real.

As we know, God created angels at some point in the dateless past, possibly during His work in Genesis 1. Like man, it seems that angels were give the power of free choice, just as man. Under the influence of Lucifer, a large number of them, swollen with pride and flush with rebellion, sinned and were cast out of Heaven, John 8:44; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6.

At this present time, fallen angels are to be found in various places. Some are in Hell (2 Peter 2:4), and some are in the world (John 12:31; 14:30; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:4, 7-9).

Exactly what evil angels are doing is not specifically addressed but rather inferred in Scripture.

He unleashed against them his hot anger, his wrath, indignation and hostility—a band of destroying angels. (Psalm 78:49)

It is implied that these “destroying angels” were sent to torment wicked people. They also try to separate believers from Christ.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers… (Romans 8:38)

Fallen angels oppose the work of angels:

Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. [13] But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. (Daniel 10:12-13)

It may very well be that the reason some of our prayers today seem slow in being answered is because of spiritual interference.

Fallen angels work with Satan in carrying out his plans in this world.

“Then he will say to those on his left, `Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'” (Matthew 25:41)

There is no hope for the redemption of these fallen angels; their fate is sealed: Hell has been specifically prepared for their eternal punishment.

3. Demons

The Bible does not tell us where demons came from. As was stated earlier, some think that fallen angels became demons, other believe demons are their own created class. This study takes the latter position. Demons, unclean spirits, and evil spirits are one and the same and are not fallen angels.

While we don’t know why, where, or when they were created, the Bible does tell us much about what they do in our world.

  • They inflict disease. Job 1:5-10; Matthew 9:33; 12:22; Luke 9:37-42; 13:11, 16. Thanks to the prologue in Job, we know that when God permitted Satan to inflict disease upon Job, He set definite limits beyond which Satan could not pass. It is unwarranted to suggest that Satan and demonic spirits cause all disease, for the Bible clearly teaches they do not. However, they do cause, through influence, human beings to desire things that may hurt them and cause damage to their bodies. Demonic oppression causes man to think incorrectly, speak in error, and act out of ignorance.

  • They cause mental disorders. Mark 5:4, 5; Luke 8:35. It should be stressed, though, that NOT all mental problems are caused by Satan and demonic activity.

  • They lead people into perversions. Matthew 10:1; 12:43; Mark 1:23-27; 3:11; 5:2-13; Luke 4:33; etc. Satan and demons lead people into all kinds of moral and ethical impurities. In Leviticus 18:6-30, we read a long list of sexual sins and declares that because of these sins, God would punish the Canaanites by kicking them of their land. In Deuteronomy 18:9-14, we learn that it was because of their spiritism and idolatry that they were cast out.

  • They spread false doctrine. 1 Kings 22:21-23; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Timothy 4:1. Satan and demons lead people astray through false and misleading theology. They twist the words of Scripture and cause preachers to preach and teach out of ignorance, if not outright intentional deception.

  • They try to stunt spiritual growth among Christians. Ephesians 6:12.

  • They possess human beings and even animals. Matthew 4:24; Mark 5:8-14; Luke 8:2; Acts 8:7; 16:16.

  • They are sometimes used by God in carrying out His purposes. Judges 9:23; 1 Samuel 16:14; Psalm 78:49.

4. The destiny of all spirit beings

In bringing this study of angels, demons, and Satan to a close, we need to discuss their future. Just like man has an eternal destiny, so also do all spirit beings.


It seems as though “good angels” will continue to serve God throughout all eternity. In the New Jerusalem, for example, John saw angels at the 12 gates of the city (Revelation 21:12).

Fallen Angels

Evil or fallen angels won’t fair so well in the future. The Bible teaches clearly they will end up in the Lake of Fire (Matthew 25:41). Meanwhile, many are kept in chains and in darkness until their day of judgment (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). At the coming of Christ, believers will have a part in condemning fallen angels (1 Corinthians 6:3).

Satan and Demons

We have already discussed the future of Satan, and it seems that the future of his minions is linked to his; his punishment will be theirs. Their destiny involves torment for all of eternity.

Martin Luther famously said:

The devil is the ape of God.

Satan, in other words, is the enemy of God who is always trying to copy or counterfeit God’s works. Demon possession, for example, is a terrible counterfeit of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; demon-inspired utterances are a copy of the gifts of the Spirit. Those who are indwelled by demonic spirits have great strength, counterfeiting the power of the Holy Spirit. Satan himself tries to appear very appealing to man; he comes as a friend, but the only thing he is interested in is stealing your soul and making you miserable. The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to deliver man from the power of Satan and his evil agents and to put them under the care and control of God’s Holy Spirit.


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