Question: I was talking to a friend and she shared with me that she had some friends from her church come over and pray over her house. She said that they prayed in every room and that they “found” the “spirit of shame and sorrows” and chased it out through the attic with their prayers. Are there such things? I pray for my own home and its protection, but never actually thought a “spirit” lived there. Also, isn’t there just one Spirit, the Holy one? Is this what others might call demons? And, what is the Biblical definition of demon?
Answer: There are two theories as to what demons are. One says they are fallen angels, angels who followed Satan in his rebellion against God and decided they didn’t want God’s rule over them. They have become Satan’s henchmen in carrying out his strategy of destroying God’s people. They are not able to be in more than one place at a time and neither is Satan. But with their numbers and being spirits without bodies they are an invisible army he can call on to accomplish his purposes.
The second view is that demons are the spirits of the offspring of fallen angels and human women, based on an interpretation of Genesis 6 which says that the sons of God (fallen angels in this interpretation) had children by the daughters of men (human women). They would have all the characteristics of fallen angels mentioned above, with a desperate desire to be embodied as they once were. Though there is a certain appeal to this view, it does not seem to fit with the general inability of species to reproduce with other species (in this case, angels and humans). Did the fallen angels have the ability to take on human forms, including human reproductive systems and some form of DNA to create a third species (demons)? Seems very unlikely.
So no, there is not just one spirit. Humans have spirits and angels are spirits and God the Father is a spirit, as is the Holy Spirit. A spirit is a personal being without a body, at least, that is a definition suitable for our purposes. God is uncreated spirit, angels are created spirits, humans have created spirits, and bodies that are integrated with their spirits.
Demons can and do make their presence known in certain locations and in certain people (witness the demoniac in Gadara out of whom Jesus cast a legion of demons, Mark 5:1-20). They have been known to cause some illnesses (Matthew 12:22) but not all illnesses are caused by demons (Matthew 10:1,8). Demons are often “flushed out” or forced into the open by the presence of Jesus or his representatives (Mark 1:21-26; Acts 16:16-18). Though there is much in Scripture about demons, there is much not said.
There seems to be evidence that demons can be attached in some way to a home. This is the likely explanation for “ghosts” or supposedly haunted houses. God does not allow the spirits of dead people to remain around to haunt others. The spirits of the dead go either to heaven, if saved, or Hades, if not (Hebrews 9:27; Philippians 1:21-26; Luke 16:19-31). Therefore, the presence of ghostly manifestations will either be a fraud or could possibly be demons masquerading as ghosts.
However, something seems a bit fanciful about chasing a demon through the attic. Demons must submit to the authority of Jesus (Luke 10:17; Acts 19:13-17). We do not need to be searching out demons, or even necessarily be performing rituals over our houses, though there is nothing wrong with commanding demons to leave a premises and expect them to do so in Jesus’ name. If you have some reason to believe that there are demons in your home, and there would need to be strong evidence, first try exercising the authority Christ gave us over demons and command them to leave. If the symptoms of demon presence do not cease, gather believing friends or church leaders to pray and fast and then to exorcise these evil spirits in the name of Christ. As Jesus told his disciples, some demons do not come out except through prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29).