With Halloween coming up, many Americans will be indulging in all things creepy and paranormal. But while most of us have heard of ghosts and goblins, not all of us know the entire mythos behind these creatures that go bump in the night. So, using my personal knowledge and the research of traditional texts and scholars, I plan to clarify this mythos all October long in celebration of Halloween.
Today, I will clarify the mythos of the servants of hell and the devil himself, demons.
Demons are widely known creatures in both Western and Eastern societies where Judaism and Christianity have had their influence, but many people, especially the more non-religious, are confused about what exactly their backstory is, or what their role is from a biblically-canon perspective. Fortunately, as a Christian and amateur biblical scholar, I’m here to help.
Contrary to popular belief, demons are not humans who are condemned to hell. No human can turn into a demon, and conversely, no human can become an angel (sorry, anime and Supernatural fans). In the biblical canon, that is an undisputed fact.
However, the origin of demons is not. Many Christians believe that demon is simply another word for the fallen angels who got cast out of heaven for rebelling against God. However, other Christians and biblical scholars, myself included, believe there is a distinction between the two due to a certain account in Genesis.
This is where things get interesting. In Genesis 6, the Bible describes how the sons of God married the daughters of men. Many scholars believe that “sons of God” refers to the fallen angels.
With that in mind, the story goes that, in their rebellion against God, the fallen angels gave in to their lust, married the daughters of men, and had children. These angel-human hybrid children were known as the Nephilim.
The Nephilim were described as “giants,” “mighty men,” and “heroes of renown.” They were powerful but evil. Over time, the Nephilim multiplied on the earth and influenced humanity to rebel against God.
According to the Apocryphal Book of Enoch, which is not an official part of the Protestant Bible but is a part of certain Catholic Bibles, the Nephilim also taught humans skills such as metal-working and writing among other things to help them establish a civilization apart from God.
That gives the ancient myths of gods and their demi-god children a dark explanation. Doesn’t it?
Anyways, the Nephilim multiplied on earth and managed to almost completely corrupt all of humanity. God was tired of their endless evil, so he decided to flood the earth and kill everyone, except for Noah, his family, and the animals he preserved to repopulate the earth.
When the humans died, their souls went to hell, but it is believed that the Nephilim didn’t. As human-angel hybrids, their evil souls remained on earth and they became demons, serving the Devil and their fallen angel parents who are now chained in hell.
Biblically, demons are described as monstrous-looking creatures of alternating size. As far as we know, they can be male or female. They no longer have physical bodies of their own, so they roam the earth to do the Devil’s bidding or spend time in hell tormenting people. Usually, the demons on earth seek empty places to inhabit and people to torment as payback against God.
According to the Bible, demons can torment people in a variety of ways. The New Testament describes a plethora of demonic activity that Jesus had to stop. There are demons driving people to suicide and/or possessing them, meaning taking control of their bodies as their own vessels. There are demons causing severe physical and mental illnesses and demons who grant humans supernatural power at a terrible price, i.e. a life of demonic torment and your soul if you die without repenting.
Biblically, demon-granted power is how witchcraft, fortune telling, and calling upon spirits came into being. To make matters worse, demons can also shapeshift into the ghostly likeness of any deceased or living person to trick the living. That is why such occult activities are forbidden in the Old and New Testament.
Demons are extremely dangerous creatures to humanity, but demons also have several notable weaknesses. Mostly, they cannot act against God, Jesus, or his Holy Spirit. In fact, demons are terrified of God and cannot act unless he allows them to. In addition, believers can drive out, or exorcize, demons with the power of God. However, Christians performing exorcisms must call on the name of the Lord for success.
Furthermore, a demon’s power is limited when it comes to tormenting Christians because all followers of Christ have the Holy Spirit inhabiting their souls. Demons can still make a Christian sick or drive a Christian to suicide. They can haunt a Christian in every other way. Nonetheless, demons cannot possess Christians because of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and ultimately, they cannot take their souls.
That’s all for now, mythos fans. Tune in again for another clarification. Happy Halloween!