[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]
Spirits Are Real. What Do You Know About Them?
There is more to the world than what we can see. Beyond the physical realm we can see, touch, feel, and hear, there is an invisible realm—the spirit world, inhabited by both angels and demons. This world impacts us in many ways, but truth about it is sparse. Most people’s beliefs about angels and demons are built upon rumors, speculations, and bad religion. However, Almighty God—the Creator of the spirit world—reveals the truth we need in His word.
Join us right now on Tomorrow’s World as we look at six myths about angels and demons and expose them to the light of Scripture.
Real Spirit Beings, Distinct from Humanity
Greetings, and welcome to Tomorrow’s World, where we help you make sense of your world through the pages of the Bible. And when it comes to making sense of your world, that includes the INVISIBLE part of your world—the SPIRIT world. Today we will look at six myths that many people believe about angels and demons and replace them with the truth of God’s word.
We’ll also give you the opportunity to request a completely free DVD titled “The Occult and the Spirit World.” Be sure to take note of the information we’ll provide so you know how to get your own free copy.
When it comes to angels and demons, regrettably, myths and misunderstandings abound! So many people believe so many different things about these denizens of the spirit realm. But we don’t need to guess, nor do we need to shrug our shoulders and say we simply don’t know. Because if anyone knows the TRUTH about the spirit realm, and about angels and demons, it’s God. And He reveals that truth in his word. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Myth #1: Our first myth is that there is no such thing as the Devil or demons. [That] Satan is just a symbol for evil in the world.
This sort of statement is commonly made by individuals who see themselves as too “enlightened” to believe in tales of a “pointy-tailed” devil with a pitchfork and horns, and by those who have innocently believed them.
But it is false. There IS a very real devil. He is alive. He is intelligent. He is evil. And He is a spirit being who influences people, governments, and events in this world. On this fact, the Bible is extremely plain.
Jesus speaks very plainly of this malevolent entity in many passages, such as in Matthew 12. There, the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting demons out by the power of the devil, and Jesus responds,
Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? (vv. 25–26).
So, not only is Satan referred to as a very real individual here, but Jesus also notes that he has a kingdom of demons under him.
And in Luke 22:31, we read of a warning Jesus gave to Simon Peter about how the devil had set his sights on the disciple:
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.”
We will speak more about the personhood and personality of Satan later in the program. But, clearly, the Bible and the Son of God, Himself, speak of the devil and his demons as real, personal entities, not some vague, impersonal “force” or “evil influence.” Such beliefs are simply myths.
Myth #2: So here is our next myth: Angels are the spirits of dead human beings.
This is a common belief among more people than you might think. Pop culture reinforces the idea, going back, for instance, to the old 1959 song “Teen Angel” and the 1969 movie “The Littlest Angel.” But the idea persists, and some think that, when good people die, they BECOME angels in heaven. Sometimes at a funeral or speaking with a loved one of a recently deceased person, you will hear words of comfort, for instance, in which someone says that, quote, “Heaven has gained another angel.”
But this is a myth, and wrong on many accounts. First, upon death, humans do not live again until their resurrection. This fact of a future resurrection is made plain in many places in your Bible, such as Paul’s comment to Felix in Caesarea:
I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust (Acts 24:15).
Even so, it is also incorrect because human beings and angels are completely DIFFERENT categories of living beings. Humans are created in God’s own image with a startling potential NOT to be angels, but to be a part of God’s own family, inheriting all things under Jesus Christ.
As for angels, they were created—among other possible reasons—to SERVE mankind. In the book of Hebrews, chapter 1, we read,
And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire”… Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? (vv. 7, 14).
Angels are to SERVE, at God’s direction, human beings who will inherit salvation. That inheritance highlights the difference between humans and angels, when we understand it. Actually, the difference between angels and humans is far bigger than this, but we’ll discuss that later in our program.
So, are angels the spirits of dead human beings? Not at all. Mankind and “angelkind” are completely different kinds of beings. While they may have some similarities—such as intelligence, moral accountability, and free will—one does NOT come from the other.
Dangerous to Humans, Subservient to God
Myth #3: Satan is God’s opposite, balancing God’s good with the devil’s evil.
Some myths have a seed of truth to them, and this one does. Satan’s CHARACTER is certainly the opposite of God’s in many ways. While God cannot lie and Christ, the Son of God, is called a “life-giving spirit,” the devil is called the father of lies and “a murderer from the beginning.”
But the idea that, somehow, God and the devil “balance our universe” with good and evil, as if Satan is sort of an eternal “anti-God”—like the eastern idea of Yin and Yang—gives the devil far too much credit.
Satan the Devil is a CREATED being, far less powerful than the All-Powerful God, though he was not created AS the devil. No, God created an angel called, in most English Bibles, “Lucifer,” who eventually rebelled against his Creator. We see one of the descriptions of this given in Ezekiel 28. There, in the midst of a passage containing prophecies about the ruler of the ancient city of Tyre, God inspires the prophet Ezekiel to address the demonic power BEHIND the throne, as well, Satan the Devil. Through the prophet, the Lord says to him,
You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you (vv. 14–15).
Pride, vanity, and selfish ambition corrupted the wisdom of this being (vv. 16–17) until he rose in rebellion against his Creator. Isaiah 14 records his rebellious thoughts, as God says through the prophet in verses 13 and 14,
For you have said in your heart: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”
The result is a thunderous and disastrous defeat for the corrupted angel—just as rebellion against God ALWAYS brings. We have more details for you about this angelic rebellion and the origins of the devil in today’s free DVD, “The Occult and the Spirit World.” But for now, suffice it to say that there is no equality between God and the Devil in any sense. While God has existed forever and is all powerful, Satan has a beginning and is NOT all powerful. In fact, a time is coming when he will be restrained forever, able to influence others no more for the rest of time. We pray that day comes soon!
Myth #4: In the meantime, let’s look at myth number four: Cherubs look like sweet little children with wings.
It is hard to get farther off the mark than this myth does. Most of us have seen paintings, statues, or other depictions of so-called “cherubs.” They look like sweet, innocent infants or children, often wearing little clothing and usually flying about with little wings.
However, “cherubs”—or /ker’əb/ as it would be more properly pronounced—are nothing like these depictions AT ALL. Cherubs are very real spirit beings—angels who attend to God at His very throne in heaven and serve at His command. Genesis 3:24 tells us that after God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, He placed cherubs on the east side of the garden with a flaming sword, preventing mankind from reentering. That doesn’t exactly sound like the job for a bunch of winged infants, does it? It isn’t. Because cherubs are NOT winged infants. We read a description of them in the book of Ezekiel. There, the curtain between us and the spirit world is parted for Ezekiel, and he is allowed to see these beings who are normally hidden from our sight. Here is his description of angelic beings who serve at God’s throne:
And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings.… As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle… Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies… [T]heir appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning (Ezekiel 1:5–8, 10–11, 13).
Now, THAT sounds like something that could wield a flaming sword and keep someone out of the Garden of Eden! And Ezekiel makes plain in chapter 10 and verse 20 that these creatures are cherubs—or, as the plural is in Hebrew, cherubim.
Regrettably, popular depictions of angelic creatures are rarely meant to serve biblical accuracy. What we see in paintings, statues, and movies are generally based more on human fantasy than God’s word and meant to serve human purposes, not God’s.
In fact, in our next segment, we’ll address whether we should be representing angels at all, and what dangers may lie in doing so.
Angels Serve, While Demons Rebel
Myth #5 Is that angels and humans had offspring in the ancient past.
This myth is based on a misunderstanding of a statement in Genesis 6. Let’s take a look here in Genesis 6, beginning in verse 1:
Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.
In verse 4 it adds,
There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
Some have taken the words “sons of God” to mean angels, and they take this passage to imply that sinning angels selected human women to breed with and create a race of half-human, half-angel “hybrids.”
One reason that some believe this is a description of angels having children with human women is the use of the phrase “sons of God,” which is used in the book of Job to refer to angels.
However, the description “sons of God” is not limited to angels in the Old Testament. For instance, through Hosea God promises to Israel that, if they repent, they shall become His people again and shall be called “sons of the living God” (Hosea 1:10).
In fact, in Deuteronomy 14 and verse 1, we read that God declares to Israel, “You are the children of the LORD your God….” The English translation of the New King James Version inadvertently hides the fact that the word translated “children” is exactly the same Hebrew word that is translated “sons” in Genesis 6. So, the idea that this phrasing is used exclusively for the angels is simply false. It is also used to describe human beings.
Add to this the fact that Genesis 1 speaks of creatures reproducing only after their own kind and Jesus Christ’s statement in Luke 20 [vv. 34–36] plainly says that angels do not marry.
Even the mention of “giants” in Genesis 6 doesn’t support this myth, as nowhere does Genesis 6:4 say that the “giants” were the offspring of this union—in fact, it says that such giant humans were already in the world before these marriages. Note, it says, “There were giants on the earth in those days, AND ALSO AFTERWARD….”
There are a number of ways that Genesis 6 can be understood, but the answer must always be consistent with the REST of the Bible. As Jesus Himself warns us in John 10:35, “…the Scripture cannot be broken….”
The biblical evidence weighs heavily against this myth, which, frankly, belongs more in the realm of science fiction and perverse fantasy. In fact, to say that an angel can produce a child in the world is potentially blasphemous, given that the Bible describes only God as producing a son through the miraculous pregnancy of Mary—and a future family of sons through the Work He and His Son are doing in the Church of God that Christ founded.
Myth #6: This brings us to our sixth and final myth of today’s program: Angels can be worshiped, revered, or even prayed to.
To be sure, angels are very real spirit beings, and, as we noticed earlier, God tells us that He made them to serve and care for humanity as we progress on our path toward salvation. But we can’t allow knowing this to cause us to fixate on them or begin to give them the sort of honor that should be reserved for God alone—or to give them the kind of attention that the Bible forbids.
For instance, in the book of Revelation, when the Apostle John was overwhelmed during the vision Christ had given him, he fell down at the feet of one of the angels who was guiding him. But notice how this angel responds:
Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (Revelation 22:9).
That’s how righteous angels respond. They do not want attention and they recognize that only God should be worshiped. Meanwhile, how do demonic, fallen angels respond? We see that in the devil’s example at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness. Read the account in Matthew 4. There, the devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, noting that he had the power to give Jesus those kingdoms. He only asked one thing: “All these things I will give You [Satan said] if You will fall down and worship me” (v. 9).
Unlike righteous angels, who understand that only God the Father and the Son of God deserve our worship, adoration, and reverence, the fallen angels SEEK that attention and worship for themselves.
Rather than pray to angels or risk giving them a place in our lives that only God should occupy, we should do as as Jesus Christ did and resist temptation saying with Him,
Away with you, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him ONLY you shall serve” (v. 10).
This is one of many reasons why we should not decorate our home, clothing, or jewelry with images or statues of angels. Not only do such images often differ from the Bible’s descriptions of angels, but God plainly forbids crafting images of beings in heaven for religious purposes. And righteous angels have no INTEREST in being depicted, unlike Satan and the demons, who crave such attention. God’s angels redirect attention to HIM, not to themselves. In fact, the Apostle Paul notes that sometimes Christians interact with angels and aren’t even aware (Hebrews 13:2). Because righteous angels want your attention directed to their Creator, not to themselves.
Those are our six myths, but more important than all of them is one, very important TRUTH. One of the most important truths about the spirit world that few human beings on earth understand, yet every angel and demon surely does.
Mankind’s True Destiny as Part of God’s Family
As we close today, we need to discuss one more vital difference between humanity and angels—a difference we alluded to earlier in our program.
We pointed out that human beings do not become angels. But what do they become, then? The destiny of humanity is very much related to the angels and the spirit realm, but it is very different than many understand.
Consider the words of the Apostle Paul to those in ancient Corinth who were dragging their fellow Christians to worldly, pagan courts, instead of seeking wise individuals in the Church to help them settle their problems:
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? (1 Corinthians 6:2–3).
Indeed, those who yield to Jesus Christ and God the Father in this life will actually one day JUDGE ANGELS. Human beings are destined for something so much greater and more glorious than any angel will ever experience. God’s plan is not to help each of us one day “join the angels.” His plan is to help each of us join HIM—as members of the Family of God, ruling, reigning, and inheriting all things.