Do angels help people?
How have wicked spirits influenced humans?
Do we need to fear wicked spirits?
1. Why should we want to learn about angels?
GETTING to know a person usually involves learning something about his family. Similarly, getting to know Jehovah God includes becoming better acquainted with his angelic family. The Bible calls the angels “sons of God.” (Job 38:7) So, what is their place in God’s purpose? Have they played a role in human history? Do angels affect your life? If so, how?
2. Where did angels come from, and how many are there?
2 The Bible refers to angels hundreds of times. Let us consider a few of these references to learn more about angels. Where did angels come from? Colossians 1:16 says: “By means of him [Jesus Christ] all other things were created in the heavens and upon the earth.” Hence, all the spirit creatures called angels were individually created by Jehovah God through his firstborn Son. How many angels are there? The Bible indicates that hundreds of millions of angels were created, and all of them are powerful.
3. What does Job 38:4-7 tell us about angels?
3 God’s Word, the Bible, tells us that when the earth was founded, “all the sons of God began shouting in applause.” (Job 38:4-7) Angels thus existed long before humans were created, even before the creation of the earth. This Bible passage also shows that angels have feelings, for it says that they “joyfully cried out together.” Note that “all the sons of God” rejoiced together. At that time, all the angels were part of a united family serving Jehovah God.
ANGELIC SUPPORT AND PROTECTION
4. How does the Bible show that faithful angels are interested in human activities?
4 Ever since they witnessed the creation of the first humans, faithful spirit creatures have shown keen interest in the growing human family and in the outworking of God’s purpose. (Proverbs 8:30, 31; 1 Peter 1:11, 12) With the passing of time, however, the angels observed that most of the human family turned away from serving their loving Creator. No doubt this saddened the faithful angels. On the other hand, whenever even one human returns to Jehovah, “joy arises among the angels.” (Luke 15:10) Since angels have such deep concern for the welfare of those who serve God, it is no wonder that Jehovah has repeatedly used angels to strengthen and protect his faithful servants on earth. (Hebrews 1:7, 14) Consider some examples.
5. What examples of angelic support do we find in the Bible?
5 Two angels helped the righteous man Lot and his daughters to survive the destruction of the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by leading them out of that area. (Genesis 19:15, 16) Centuries later, the prophet Daniel was thrown into a lions’ pit, but he escaped harm and said: “My own God sent his angel and shut the mouth of the lions.” (Daniel 6:22) In the first century C.E., an angel freed the apostle Peter from prison. (Acts 12:6-11) Moreover, angels supported Jesus at the start of his earthly ministry. (Mark 1:13) And shortly before Jesus’ death, an angel appeared to Jesus and “strengthened him.” (Luke 22:43) What a comfort that must have been for Jesus at those very important times in his life!
6. (a) How do angels protect God’s people today? (b) What questions will we now consider?
6 Today, angels no longer appear visibly to God’s people on earth. Although invisible to human eyes, God’s powerful angels still protect his people, especially from anything spiritually harmful. The Bible says: “The angel of Jehovah is camping all around those fearing him, and he rescues them.” (Psalm 34:7) Why should those words be of great comfort to us? Because there are dangerous wicked spirit creatures who want to destroy us! Who are they? Where do they come from? How are they trying to harm us? To find out, let us briefly consider something that happened at the start of human history.
SPIRIT CREATURES WHO ARE OUR ENEMIES
7. To what extent did Satan succeed in turning people away from God?
7 As we learned in Chapter 3 of this book, one of the angels developed a desire to rule over others and thus turned against God. Later this angel became known as Satan the Devil. (Revelation 12:9) During the 16 centuries after he deceived Eve, Satan succeeded in turning away from God nearly all humans except a few faithful ones, such as Abel, Enoch, and Noah.
8. (a) How did some angels become demons? (b) To survive the Flood of Noah’s day, what did the demons have to do?
8 In Noah’s day, other angels rebelled against Jehovah. They left their place in God’s heavenly family, came down to the earth, and took on fleshly bodies. Why? We read at Genesis 6:2: “The sons of the true God began to notice the daughters of men, that they were good-looking; and they went taking wives for themselves, namely, all whom they chose.” But Jehovah God did not allow the actions of these angels and the resulting corruption of mankind to go on. He brought upon the earth a global flood that swept away all wicked humans and preserved only his faithful servants. (Genesis 7:17, 23) Thus, the rebellious angels, or demons, were forced to abandon their fleshly bodies and return to heaven as spirit creatures. They had put themselves on the side of the Devil, who thus became “the ruler of the demons.”
9. (a) What happened to the demons when they returned to heaven? (b) We will consider what with regard to the demons?
9 When the disobedient angels returned to heaven, they were treated as outcasts, like their ruler, Satan. (2 Peter 2:4) Although they are now unable to take on human bodies, they still exercise a very bad influence over humans. In fact, with the help of these demons, Satan “is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Revelation 12:9; 1 John 5:19) How? Mainly, the demons use methods designed to mislead people. (2 Corinthians 2:11) Let us consider some of these methods.
HOW DEMONS MISLEAD
10. What is spiritism?
10 To mislead people, the demons use spiritism. The practice of spiritism is involvement with the demons, both in a direct way and through a human medium. The Bible condemns spiritism and warns us to keep free from everything connected with it. (Galatians 5:19-21) Spiritism does for the demons what bait does for fishermen. A fisherman uses a variety of baits to catch various kinds of fish. Similarly, wicked spirits use different forms of spiritism to bring all sorts of people under their influence.
11. What is divination, and why should we avoid it?
11 One type of bait used by the demons is divination. What is divination? It is an attempt to find out about the future or about something unknown. Some forms of divination are astrology, the use of tarot cards, crystal gazing, palmistry, and the search for mysterious omens, or signs, in dreams. Although many people think that practicing divination is harmless, the Bible shows that fortune-tellers and wicked spirits work together. For instance, Acts 16:16-18 mentions “a demon of divination” that enabled a girl to practice “the art of prediction.” But she lost this ability when the demon was cast out of her.
12. Why is it dangerous to try to communicate with the dead?
12 Another way that the demons mislead people is by encouraging them to inquire of the dead. People grieving over the death of a loved one are often deceived by wrong ideas about those who have died. A spirit medium may give special information or may speak in a voice that seems to be that of a dead person. As a result, many people become convinced that the dead are really alive and that contacting them will help the living to endure their grief. But any such “comfort” is really false as well as dangerous. Why? Because the demons can imitate the voice of a dead person and give a spirit medium information about the one who died. (1 Samuel 28:3-19) Moreover, as we learned in Chapter 6, the dead have ceased to exist. (Psalm 115:17) So “anyone who inquires of the dead” has been misled by wicked spirits and is acting contrary to the will of God. (Deuteronomy 18:10, 11; Isaiah 8:19) Therefore, be careful to reject this dangerous bait used by the demons.
13. What have many who once feared the demons been able to do?
13 Wicked spirits not only mislead people but also frighten them. Today, Satan and his demons know that they have only “a short period of time” left before they are put out of action, and they are now more vicious than ever. (Revelation 12:12, 17) Even so, thousands of people who once lived in daily dread of such wicked spirits have been able to break free. How did they do this? What can a person do even if he is already involved in spiritism?
HOW TO RESIST WICKED SPIRITS
14. Like the first-century Christians in Ephesus, how can we break free from wicked spirits?
14 The Bible tells us both how to resist wicked spirits and how to break free from them. Consider the example of the first-century Christians in the city of Ephesus. Some of them practiced spiritism before becoming Christians. When they decided to break free from spiritism, what did they do? The Bible says: “Quite a number of those who practiced magical arts brought their books together and burned them up before everybody.” (Acts 19:19) By destroying their books on magic, those new Christians set an example for those who wish to resist wicked spirits today. People who want to serve Jehovah need to get rid of everything related to spiritism. That includes books, magazines, movies, posters, and music recordings that encourage the practice of spiritism and make it seem appealing and exciting. Included, too, are amulets or other items worn for protection against evil.
15. To resist wicked spirit forces, what do we need to do?
15 Some years after the Christians in Ephesus destroyed their books on magic, the apostle Paul wrote them: “We have a wrestling . . . against the wicked spirit forces.” (Ephesians 6:12) The demons had not given up. They were still trying to gain an advantage. So, what else did those Christians need to do? “Above all things,” said Paul, “take up the large shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the wicked one’s [Satan’s] burning missiles.” (Ephesians 6:16) The stronger our shield of faith, the greater our resistance to wicked spirit forces will be.
16. How can we strengthen our faith?
16 How, then, can we strengthen our faith? By studying the Bible. The firmness of a wall depends very much on the strength of its foundation. In the same way, the firmness of our faith depends greatly on the strength of its base, which is accurate knowledge of God’s Word, the Bible. If we read and study the Bible daily, our faith will become strong. Like a strong wall, such faith will shield us from the influence of wicked spirits.
17. What step is necessary in order to resist wicked spirits?
17 What other step did those Christians in Ephesus need to take? They needed further protection because they were living in a city filled with demonism. So Paul told them: “With every form of prayer and supplication . . . carry on prayer on every occasion in spirit.” (Ephesians 6:18) Since we too live in a world full of demonism, earnestly praying to Jehovah for his protection is essential in resisting wicked spirits. Of course, we need to use Jehovah’s name in our prayers. (Proverbs 18:10) Hence, we should keep on praying to God to “deliver us from the wicked one,” Satan the Devil. (Matthew 6:13) Jehovah will answer such earnest prayers.
18, 19. (a) Why can we be sure of victory in our fight against wicked spirit creatures? (b) What question will be answered in the next chapter?
18 Wicked spirits are dangerous, but we need not live in fear of them if we oppose the Devil and draw close to God by doing His will. (James 4:7, 8) The power of wicked spirits is limited. They were punished in Noah’s day, and they face their final judgment in the future. (Jude 6) Remember, too, that we have the protection of Jehovah’s powerful angels. (2 Kings 6:15-17) Those angels are deeply interested in seeing us succeed in resisting wicked spirits. The righteous angels are cheering us on, so to speak. Let us therefore stay close to Jehovah and his family of faithful spirit creatures. May we also avoid every kind of spiritism and always apply the counsel of God’s Word. (1 Peter 5:6, 7; 2 Peter 2:9) Then we can be sure of victory in our fight against wicked spirit creatures.
19 But why has God tolerated evil spirits and the wickedness that has caused people so much suffering? That question will be answered in the next chapter.