John A. MacMillan

B. Childress
Feb 05 2012

Who are these demons, which are everywhere distributed among mankind?  Our knowledge of the unseen world does
not permit us to state with assurance their origin.  Scripture, while it speaks frequently of them, gives no definite
information regarding whence they come.  It details various orders of the angelic beings but tells little of their functions.  
That all are of God's creation goes without saying, for everything has come from His hand and was perfect when it was
made.  But we find now disorder prevailing in creation: there is but one source to which to trace it - the rebellion of

One-third of the heavenly angels seem to have followed the devil in his revolt against God (Revelation 12:4).  Their
number may be roughly estimated by comparison with those which remained faithful, who are spoken of as myriads of
myriads and thousands of thousands (5:11).  The passage reads literally, "Ten thousand times ten thousand, and
thousands of thousands," which gives an incalculable host; one-third of this total gives the number which are rebellious
among the angels.

There seem, however, to be others than angels who were involved in the mighty conspiracy of the devil and who have
shared in his ruin: these are the demons.  In the enumeration given by the apostle of the malign forces with whom the
Christian has to wrestle, four classes are mentioned (Ephesians 6:12).  The first of these are called "principalities,"
mighty satanic princes, who have been appointed by their dread master to rule over the nations.  Two of such princes
are indicated, the "prince of the kingdom of Persia" (Daniel 10:13) and the "prince of Grecia" (10:20).  It would seem
from this that earth's kingdoms are each presided over by one of these evil beings and that their councils of the nations
are really dominated by unseen beings.  It is a sad thought that Michael, the prince of Israel (12:1), is the only one
among these principalities who remained faithful to God (10:21).  We wonder sometimes at the confusion and lack of
unity among the kings and rulers of the nations, but it is easily accounted for as we remember that these great unseen
princes exercise the deciding influence among them.

The second class is named "powers" (
exousias, authorities).  We find them joined with "principalities" frequently
(Romans 8:38; Ephesians 3:10; 6:12; Colossians 1:16; 2:15) but always in a secondary place, from which we judge that
they are inferior in positions, probably as cabinet ministers associated in government.

The third class is called "the world rulers of this darkness" (RV).  The name suggests a ministry of deception, the
keeping in darkness of the minds of men, especially of the leaders of thought.  To them is probably due the introduction
into our educational systems of such heresies as evolution, to which men hold with strange tenacity, seeing there is no
shred of evidence as to its correctness.

The fourth class consists of "hosts of wicked spirits in the heavenlies."  The term "spirits" is used in the Gospels as
synonymous with "demons" (Matthew 8:16; Luke 9:42; and other places).  That the Jews recognized the difference
between the classes of unseen beings is clear from Acts 23:8-9, where the controversy between Pharisees and
Sadducees over Paul is mentioned.  To these beings are due the gross sins and deceptions, the stirring up of the
animal passions and the incitement to all sorts of sensuous and sensual passions.  These are the beings that are
present in spiritist seances, impersonating and deceiving people of keen intelligence, as the well-known leaders of the
cults today.

These beings are also to the fore at religious meetings and are a source of peculiar danger, especially when the
emotions are deeply stirred.  Many earnest souls, who have been urged to entirely surrender to God, open their beings
with utmost abandon to whatever spiritual power approached them, unaware of the peril of so doing.  Such yielding
frequently provides a channel for entrance of demons, who thus gain control of the will.  To dislodge them and once
more to free the victim is usually a most difficult task.

Their Probable Origin

As mentioned above, the Holy Scriptures refer frequently to demons without suggesting in any manner who they are.  
Let us be quite clear at the beginning of our study that they are not the spirits of the departed.  Spiritists would have us
believe that they are and that they can be recalled to communication with us almost any time desired.  The demons
themselves seek to emphasize this theory, that they may the more readily gain access to those who are anxious to
come into touch with their departed loved ones.  We recall a well-known Methodist minister in Toronto who claimed that
he could communicate with his deceased wife, who would come to him in his study and with whom he would have at such
times full freedom of communication.  But the invariable end of such contact is the entangling of the seeker in the toils of

The demons who are contacted in the seance are wholly untrustworthy.  They are described by such writers as Dr. A.
Conan Doyle as malicious, liars, mischievous, unclean.  Another writer, Dr. Hereward Carrington, connected with the
Society for Psychical Research says, "I gained the distinct impression throughout the sitting that, instead of the spirit of
the personage who claimed to be present, I was dealing with an exceedingly sly, cunning, tricky and deceitful
intelligence, which threw out chance remarks, fishing guesses and shrewd inference, leaving the sitter to pick these up
and elaborate them, if he would.  If anything could make me believe in the doctrine of evil and lying spirits, it would be
the sitting with Mrs. Piper (the medium).  I do not for one moment implicate the normal Mrs. Piper in this criticism."  
These spirits have no conception of truth, or desire for it.  The writer, in casting out a demon, said in answer to some
statement which it had made, "You are a liar, aren't you?" to which it replied cheerfully, "Oh, yes."  Lying appeared to be
its nature.

Demons must be carefully differentiated from the angels, whether the holy or the fallen.  The demons, as stated above,
are disembodied spirits, while the angels are clothed with spiritual bodies similar to those which the saints shall have
after the resurrection.  For we are told by our Lord (Luke 20:36) that the "children of the resurrection" are equal unto
the angels (that is, those believers who are partakers of the first resurrection, Revelation 20:5).  The inference is of
course clear - that the angels are also equal to the children of the resurrection, having spiritual bodies.

Heathen mythology recognizes these demons and traces them to a previous golden age.  But, if we realize that the
ancient writers were under the inspiration of the "prince of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), it will be easy to
understand that their words are what he would dictate.  They are benefactors of mortal men, roving the earth and
dispensing blessings and favors to them.  If we recall that the heathen gods are demons who uttered oracles and
received worship, we shall see how this doctrine of Satan spread widely over the earth, and how men were deceived
into believing that these creatures were revealers of divine benefits.


THE AUTHORITY OF THE BELIEVER, by John A. MacMillan, Copyright 2007, WingSpread Publishers.