Current Issue

A 19-year-old man has been playing an Internet game continuously for two weeks. Whenever his parents suggest that he sleep, he responds with profanities. He eventually becomes so violent that he burns his father’s car. When asked why, he says that the game gave him the power to do it.

A nine-year-old girl is invited to play a new board game at her friend’s home. She is surprised that they have to play in semidarkness beneath the stairs, and is even more startled when a glass placed on the board moves without human hands. She no longer wants to play with her friend and is scared at night.

A young man has an unexplained illness. Neither doctors nor traditional medicine can diagnose or cure it. In desperation, he goes to a spiritual healer. The “special” prayer brings no relief. In fact, his problem gets worse, because he hears voices, and they give him destructive messages. He thinks he’s going crazy.

A 20-year-old man still living at home goes with friends to watch a horror movie. He has to sleep in his parents’ room for weeks after, terrified of the “demonic” world the movie opened up to him.

A 15-year-old student starts to read the Bible. His parents are not pleased about this, because they have shrines to other gods in their home. When the student reads the Bible, the lights in his room flicker and go out. When he stops reading, the lights come back on.

A young married mother is home alone in her bed, because her husband works the night shift. Suddenly, she hears footsteps down the hall. Shortly after that, her bedroom door opens. A body mass, which she could not see but could feel, lies on top of her and starts to choke her. She tries to scream but can’t. When she reaches out and touches a Bible on her bedside table, the “presence” leaves her. This happens repeatedly, but after she calls the name of Jesus, the “being” no longer visits.

A woman has excruciating abdominal pain. Doctors and medical examinations cannot explain her condition. The woman finally tells her pastor that a curse was put on her as a child. The pastor prays in Jesus’ name for the curse to be removed. She now no longer has any pain in that area of her body.

A young husband, tired of a life of drug abuse, sees how he is hurting himself and his family. A friend suggests he should try going to church. He decides to do so. However, the evening before, objects are thrown at his house, but no one is there to throw them. He does not go to church because of fear for his life.

These are just a few stories about demonic forces that I have either witnessed personally or heard from reliable people over some 25 years as a religious minister. They tell me that there is a satanic presence in our world, and Satan is real. However, not everyone believes as I do.

Looking at the less ordinary

The way you explain incidents such as those I described depends on your worldview and how you see the world spiritually. Several explanations have been suggested.


Humanists only believe in what they see. As they understand it, the only beings in space and time are humans. The spiritual world does not exist, and everything must be explained scientifically or rationally.


Deists believe there is a God above—an ultimate Higher Power or Supreme Being. They can accept that there are some mysteries in life and that a belief in a God helps explain these mysteries. However, they believe that there is little interaction between God and humans.


Spiritists believe that there are many gods, not One ultimate God. They believe that these many godbeings— spirits or angels—are active in the unseen world.


The Bible tells us that there are humans “below” whom we see; there is a God “above” who explains the ultimate mysteries of life; and there are spirits—angels and demons— who are intermediate between God and humans. This is the biblical view, which Christianity and Islam share.

Many TV shows exploit spiritual views. Among these are Crossing Over, Ghost Whisperer, and Medium. There are also movies that purport to highlight the interaction between human beings and other spiritual realities.

The only way I’ve been able to explain the experiences I’ve heard about, observed, and experienced is with the biblical worldview.

What the Bible says

The Bible provides us with insights into a number of spiritual realities.

Spirits are real. First, the Bible attests that there are both good and evil spirits. Good spirits are usually called angels and bad spirits are called demons. Somewhere back in a past age in the vastness of space, there was a battle between one of these good spirits and God in heaven. All the angels had to choose who they would follow. One-third followed this rebellious spirit called the devil (or Satan), and two-thirds decided to continue following God (Revelation 12:3, 4, 7–9).

Evil spirits are deceptive. People have told me that their visits to a clairvoyant have proved helpful, and that many of the things predicted came true. However, after a while, strange and scary things began happening to them.

The Bible says that the devil “ ‘is a liar and the father of lies’ ” (John 8:44). He uses deception as his greatest tool to play a part in human lives. “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).

Spirits are organized like an army. An army has ranks that mark the level of authority of each person. The Bible suggests that the spirits are organized like an army. Paul wrote that “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” (Ephesians 6:12). This is military language.

The demons know the power and authority of the ultimate Commander. Satan is the leader of demons, but all spirit beings are under the authority of the heavenly Commander, Jesus Christ. If this is true, then the name and authority of Jesus can release people from demonic spiritual powers.

When Jesus was on earth, evil spirits who were harming humans knew who He was, and they submitted to His authority (Mark 1:23–27; 5:1–13). Spiritually, there is a battle going on between evil and good angels for influence over humans. When people recognize their need of spiritual power, they can call to Jesus, and they will experience victory over evil spirits.

People who choose to believe in Jesus have a new spiritual power in their lives (Romans 10:9, 10). They will still experience challenges; they will still need to confess sins; but they will increasingly experience spiritual growth and victory over their temptations.

Playing with fire

According to the Bible, spiritual beings are real, and those who engage with the evil spirits will suffer consequences. One evening I was sitting in my car with a friend. We had just been to a Bible study group and studied about what happens to people when they die. Suddenly, the car started to rock. At first I thought it was a prank from neighbor children, and then I thought my friend was having an asthma attack, but finally I realized that neither was true. Unseen beings were rocking the car. I prayed in Jesus’ name, and the rocking stopped.

In later discussions, we discovered that my friend had spiritual “powers” that had been passed to him through his mother. These powers were interesting but not good. They gave him knowledge that others did not have, and he was able to write things with his own hand and pen but something else was dictating the words he wrote. The spirits made him extremely fearful and paranoid.

These “powers” were not happy that he had decided to follow Jesus. There was a battle for supremacy, and it was only in the name of Jesus that he was freed to live without fear.

The happy ending to the Bible’s story about angels is that ultimately, Jesus and His good angels will defeat Satan and his evil angels and destroy them forever. Between now and then, Jesus will give you complete victory over the forces of evil, who want nothing more than to destroy you. Trust Him. Call on Him when you need help. He’s always there for you.

Is the Devil Real?

by Glenn Townend
From the November 2010 Signs