A thorough knowledge of the enemy is a well-known principle in any study of warfare—and spiritual warfare is no exception. We are better prepared to prevail over our adversary when we are aware of his purposes, his numbers and his nature.

The Bible does not state the numbers of demon spirits, although Revelation 12:4 indicates that there are only a third as many of them as the holy angels who remained faithful and continue to serve God continually. Regardless of how many may oppose you, there are always more of us than there are of them.

Descriptions of what demons look like are not found in the Bible, since they have no physical body or form. In fact, there is biblical evidence that demon spirits seek to occupy physical bodies of men or even animals, apparently in an attempt to increase their influence in the earth, and possibly to ease their torment. Evidence for this is found in Luke 8:26-33.

There have been occasions when demon spirits have been seen as a result of the gift of discerning of spirits as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:10. When they are seen they are usually hideous and grotesque. Clarita Villanueva, a young woman in Manila, suffered from a well-documented case of demonic possession until she was set free by Dr. Lester Sumrall in a dramatic encounter that led to a culture-shaking revival in the Philippines. She described one of the demons who attacked her as “…big and dark with curly hair on his head, chest, and arms. He had large sharp eyes and two fangs. His voice was a deep echoing sound. He was shrouded in black. ”

It should come as no surprise that demons often have a frightful appearance, but the Bible also says in 2 Corinthians 11:14, “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. ”Since deception is a hallmark of satanic activity, we should not be surprised that his accomplices would try to shield their nature and behavior by appearing to be respectable or even righteous beings.

The list of ills that demons perpetrate on the human family would fill volumes all by itself. Here is a small sampling of the fruit of demonic activity.

  • They cause physical infirmities. Luke 13:11
  • They can cause manifestations similar to epileptic seizures or other disorders. Matthew 17:15
  • They tempt men to do evil. 1 Thessalonians 3:5
  • At all times and in all places, they continually oppose the work of God.

The Bible also tells us where demons live.

  • They inhabit spiritually dry places. Matthew 12:43-44
  • Their dwelling is in the atmosphere around the earth. Satan is called the prince of the power of the air (atmosphere) in Ephesians 2:2. Ephesians 6:12 refers to spiritual wickedness in high (heavenly) places. Satan and demon spirits do not yet inhabit the lake of fire—that is reserved for his everlasting punishment, as recorded in Revelation 20:10.
  • Evil spirits also congregate in certain places on the earth. Revelation 2:13 refers to the ancient city of Pergamos, where Satan’s seat was. Babylon is described as a habitation of devils in Revelation 18:2. They seem to be attracted to cities because of the large numbers of people who dwell there.
  • Demons can also possess inanimate objects, such as the image of the beast in Revelation 13:15, as well as animals, as we have already seen. The incident where demons were cast into the herd of swine is also recorded in Mark 5:12-13.
  • Their ultimate ability to express themselves is when they can possess human beings, which is why they seek to control humans.

The present activity of the devil and his forces can best be summarized by John 10:10: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. ”

The devil’s doom is well documented in the word of God. Revelation 20:1-3 declares, “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. ”

Revelation 20:7-10 continues,

“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. ”

In the meantime, we are not to be afraid of the devil or demons. Dr. Lester Sumrall, who arguably had more experience in this area than any minister in his generation, said, “Jesus did not warn the apostles to protect themselves against demon power. And above all He did not warn them that they may become possessed or injured while rebuking demons. Jesus gave them divine authority over all demonic forces. The Bible nowhere teaches disciples to fear the devil, or of a danger of personal demon possession. ”

We are to take authority over evil spirits, as instructed by Jesus in Luke 10:19: “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. ”We are also to use the word of God against them, as Jesus did in His encounter with the devil in the wilderness. This incident is recorded in Matthew 4:3-10, and Jesus successfully countered every temptation by responding, “It is written…. ”Our resistance is also urged in 1 Peter 5: 8-9: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith…. ”

We must remember at all times that our struggle is not in the flesh, but in the spirit, where we are always victorious. Ephesians 6:11-18 describes our warfare this way:

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints…. ”