What are the abilities of demons?

by Matt Slick

There is debate among Christians as to exactly what demons are.  Some say that they are fallen angels that were originally created by God but who rebelled against him and followed Lucifer (Satan).  Others say that they could be the released spirits of the Nephilim. This latter theory, is based on Genesis 6 where it says...

"Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose," (Genesis 6:1-2).

One possibility is that the "Sons of God" are the fallen angels who took human form and had relations with women. The offspring were called the Nephilim. The theory goes that since the Messiah was to be born, Lucifer sought to undermine his future birth by corrupting the human line by having fallen angels interbreed with women.  But, Noah's line was pure in all his generations which means he was not corrupted in this way.

This view was held by the early Christian church and the Jews up to about the 1500s when the Sethite view came into favor which said that the "sons of God" were the offspring of Seth.  Whichever is the case, the former theory would have the demons be the spirits of the Nephilim who were killed in the flood.  This would explain why they seek to embody people so frequently in Scripture.

So whether or not the demons are the result of interbreeding between angels and women or they are simply fallen angels, demonic forces are powerful and very capable. Following is a list many of the things they can accomplish as is revealed in the word of God.

  1. Possession of people (Matt. 8:16, 28; 15:22; Mark 1:32; Mark 7:26)
  2. Possession of single persons by many demons at a time (Mark 5:9-12; Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2; Luke 8:27, 30)
  3. Receive sacrifices (Lev. 17:7; Deut. 32:17; Psalm 106:37; 1 Cor. 10:20)
  4. Speak (Matt. 8:31; Mark 5:12; Luke 4:33-34, 41)
  5. Cause muteness (Matt. 9:32-33; Luke 11:14)
  6. Cause blindness? (Matt. 12:22)
  7. Cause lunacy (Matt. 17:15-18; Luke 4:35)
  8. Cause self-harm (Matt. 17:15-18; Luke 4:35)
  9. Desire to inhabit creatures (Mark 5:12-13; Luke 8:32-33)
  10. Moves people to be naked (Luke 8:27)
  11. Moves people to dwell in tombs (Luke 8:27)
  12. Moves people to dwell in desert (Luke 8:30)
  13. Induces convulsions (Luke 9:42)
  14. Doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1)
  15. Demons acknowledge God (James 2:19)
  16. Demonic wisdom (James 3:15)
  17. Receive worship (Rev. 9:20)
  18. Inhabit geographical regions (Rev. 18:2)

As you can see, the demonic forces have a wide array of capabilities. Of course, there ultimate goal is to injure, separate people from God, and to cause pain and suffering. As Christians, however, we do not have to fear the demonic realm because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).




About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.