By Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com
Evil spirits are often presented as entertainment for spooky thrills in movies and TV shows. But it’s important to take them seriously. Not only are evil spirits real, but they can significantly harm you if you’re not careful. It’s vital to be aware of how evil spirits work, and to rely on God’s help to overcome their power. What does the Bible say about evil spirits? This biblical wisdom about how to deal with evil spirits can help you protect yourself and others in even the most dangerous situations.
Does the Bible Talk about Evil Spirits/What Does it Say about Them?
The Bible discusses evil spirits in many passages. Both the Old and New Testaments mention evil spirits, using a variety of terms for them, such as “demons,” “demonic spirits,” “impure spirits,” “unclean spirits,” “lying spirits,” or “deceiving spirits.” While the Bible doesn’t reveal the origin of evil spirits, it does make it clear that fallen angels are among them. Fallen angels, also known as demons, were originally created by God to be holy angels. But they fell away from relationships with God after one angel (known as Lucifer before the fall and Satan afterward) led them in a rebellion to try to grab God’s power for themselves (Isaiah 14:12-14). Most of the holy angels remained faithful to God (Revelation 5:11-12). But those angels who fell in the rebellion became corrupted by sin, so their natures are no longer good because they’re disconnected from God, who is the source of goodness.
What Does the Bible Teach Us about Evil Spirits? Are There Evil Spirits in Our World Today?
Humans need to watch out for evil spirits in our world today, the Bible warns. 1 Peter 5:8 cautions: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” The devil is another name for Satan, who leads the evil spirits. Don’t discount the power of evil spirits. They can deceive you, tempt you to sin, and harm you spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Ephesians 6:12 makes it clear that evil spirits are the source of our human struggles in this fallen world: “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.”
In his earthly ministry, Jesus helped many people break free of evil spirits. Jesus cast out evil spirits who had possessed the souls of humans, and healed those who had been made sick because of oppression from evil spirits. Examples include Jesus helping a large group of people (Matthew 4:4 and Matthew 8:16), a girl whose mother asked for help (Mark 7:24-30), and a man who lived among tombs (Mark 5:1-13). Jesus gave his disciples the spiritual authority to drive spirits out of people’s lives, as well. Matthew 10:1 records: “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”
So, while you need to beware evil spirits in our world today, you never need to be defeated by them. You can defend yourself against evil spirits by relying on God’s power working through you, as long as you’re connected to God through Jesus. Colossians 2:15 says of Jesus: “And having disarmed the powers and authorities [evil spirits], he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Evil spirits are aware of Jesus’ power, and they know they will be judged by him at God’s appointed time (Matthew 8:29).
How Do We Defend Ourselves Against Evil Spirits?
Thankfully, if you’re in a saving relationship with Jesus, you have the power to overcome any type of dangerous situation involving evil spirits. Even though evil spirits are extremely powerful, their power is no match for God’s power. As a Christian, you can always rely on God’s power working through you, because the Holy Spirit lives in your soul (1 Corinthians 6:19) and empowers you (Acts 1:8). There is no greater power than God’s power, which will flow through your life and make sure you’re victorious in the fight against evil spirits. James 4:7 advises: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Ephesians 6:10-13 reveals that spiritual warfare is happening around you, and calls you to fight with the power God gives you to win those battles: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13-17 describes the armor you should put on for the strength to win the unseen yet real spiritual battles around you: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the Gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit. You can do all of that by asking God to help you day by day.
You’ll be prepared to defend yourself and your loved ones against evil spirits when you’re wearing your spiritual armor – communicating with God and trusting him in faith – every day. Wearing that spiritual armor, you can follow the advice in Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” You can be confident that Jesus will help you do so. He promises in Luke 10:19 that he has given believers the authority to “overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
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3 Ways to Defend Ourselves Against Evil Spirits
1. Don’t Contact Any Spirits Apart from God: Deuteronomy 18:10-12 forbids practices that involve contacting spirits – any souls, or any angels – on your own. Stay away from dangerous practices such as visiting mediums, going on ghost hunts, using Ouija boards, channeling, holding seances, and any other practices that involve reaching out to spirits apart from God. The only way you should ever communicate spiritually is directly with God, through prayer and meditation. If you contact spirits like souls or angels without going through God, you’re opening a door for evil spirits to manipulate you while disguised as good spirits. 2 Corinthians 11:14 says that Satan, who leads the fallen angels, “masquerades as an angel of light” and the angels who serve him “masquerade as servants of righteousness.” Only God has the ability to direct your communication properly. You can trust God to respond to your prayers with ultimate wisdom, and to help you in any situation.
2. Test the Spirits: When you receive spiritual messages, don’t just accept them without evaluating them according to the Bible’s criteria for testing them. 1 John 4:1 urges: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Evil spirits may give you false prophecies. John 8:44 calls Satan “a liar and the father of lies.” So, beware of false messages. Test the spirits by evaluating their messages in light of 1 John 4:2: “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.”
3. Fear God Alone: Fearing evil spirits won’t help you defend yourself against them; it will only lead you to worry. Instead, fear God in the biblical sense of the word, where “fear” means reverence that comes from a sense of awe. You never need to be afraid of God. Fearing God means paying attention to the wonder of his work in your life – as my book Wake Up to Wonder shows you how to do – and letting the awe you feel as a result give you a sense of reverence for God. Then, you’ll be able to discern spiritual wisdom. Proverbs 9:10 declares: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Fearing God gives you the wisdom you need to overcome temptations from evil spirits to pull you into sin. Fearing God pulls you in the opposite direction – closer to God – as you’re inspired by awe. Center your life around your relationship with God, making decisions as God leads you. That will strengthen you spiritually, so you won’t need to fear evil spirits. You’ll discover that, with God’s help, you can win every spiritual battle. 1 John 4:4 promises that you can overcome evil spirits’ power with God’s power, which is greater: “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.”
Evil spirits are a reality that you must deal with in this fallen world. They’re not to be taken lightly, for entertainment. You should take them seriously. Evil spirits can harm you and your loved ones significantly if you’re not careful. However, you never need to be afraid of evil spirits when you’re connected to God, whose power is far greater than any type of evil. Jesus has given those who trust him the power to overcome evil. In a relationship with Jesus, you can defend yourself and others successfully against evil spirits. You’ll stay spiritually safe if you stay close to God, day by day.
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Whitney Hopler is the author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). She has also written the young adult novel Dream Factory. Connect with Whitney on X/Twitter and on Facebook.