"Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2Cor 2:11).
The most common "Church of God" teaching on demons was "stay away from it all!" Memberseven ministerswere discouraged from studying the Bible on this subject. The casting out of demons in Church of God groups is an extremely uncommon and unpublicized event. If people in these groups have problems with demons, it is far more likely that the people will be cast out of the group, rather than the demons being cast out of the peeople.
Yet the casting out of demons was a big part of Christs and the Apostles ministry. About 215 verses (see article on facing page) are about the subject of demons. This is about 3% of the New Testament. While it is a small amount in comparison to the big themes of worshipping the Eternal, loving our neighbor and salvation in Christ, there is much more about demons in the New Testament than about the Sabbath, Holy Days or tithing.
I highly encourage you to read the verses in the list at left from your own Bible, and make some notes on them. You can see that demons (interchangably called "unclean spirits") are angels who have left following the Eternal and now follow Satan. They do much evil, but can only do what the Eternal allows them to do (Luke 22:31-32). They have different strengths and characteristics. They can affect men and women, both young and old.
Why Study About Demons?
Many brethren take the approach: "Im not affected by demons now, so why should I study about them?" If we had some kind of guarantee from the Eternal that we would never be affected by them, then this might make sense. But if you are asking the Eternal for spiritual gifts, and hope to serve Him in a significant way, then there is a chance that you will encounter demons in the future. It is more likely that someone in your fellowship will encounter them.
From my experience, the people least affected by demons are atheists and agnostics. Since these people do not believe in any God or anything supernatural, the demons are careful to avoid giving them any reason to begin searching for any kind of spiritual power in the universe. This principle carries over into religion. Demons tend not to bother religious groups that try to live moral lives but expect little direct communication or miracles from the Eternal. They probably realize that any supernatural persecution they might bring would cause people to strongly seek the Eternal for deliverance. So, they leave such groups alone. This seems to be the case for most Church of God groups.
(People who dabble in mystic or occultic ideas, or who have major, repeated sins often have trouble with demons no matter what group they attend. The solution is to repent of the sin, and ask Christ for the power to overcome it. We do not believe that this problem affects many of our readers, so we will not cover it further.)
But when brethren begin to concentrate on their own relationship with the Eternalwhen they begin to minimize or let go of their relationship with corporate churches, then demons see them as targets to trouble.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12).
Fortunately, this scripture continues, explaining how we may use the entire "armor of God" to defeat these evil powers. Satan and his demons cannot win. When believers seek direct guidance from the Eternal or some other miracles in their life, demons may try to scare them or fool them with a false answer. However, a humble believer will also ask the Eternal to deliver him or her from these demonic attacks, drawing even closer to the Eternal and his power.
A second important reason for all believers to learn the Bible teaching on demons is that there will be increased demonic activity near the end:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (1Tim 4:1).
Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time (Rev 12:12).
Learn From Experience as Well
The scriptures in the article on the facing page are the basis for what we know for sure about demons. They are from the Bible, they are true. It is evident that demons have different strengthssome are cast out easily, some are not. Some cause people to be violent, others cause people to be mute, or sick in some way. A person can be affected by more than one demon at a time. It is especially important to realize that the "casting out of demons" is not listed as a spiritual giftany believer can call upon the name of Christ to do it.
While only a very few in the "Church of God" groups have written about this subject, the average Christian bookstore will have dozens of books on "deliverance ministry"the casting out of demons. Some of these books take a very Bible-centered approach. Others concentrate on incantations, objects, spells and other "methods" which are probably demonic in origin. In general, these books are like most other books at a Christian bookstore: a mixture of truth, error and promotion to make money for the authors and publishers.
I am not recommending any specific book. However, there are questions to which believers sometimes need answers, which cannot be directly found in the Bible. For example:
1. Can demons affect people with the Holy Spirit?
2. Does the Eternal allow demons to speak to people claiming that they are "God", "Jesus", "Yahweh" or some other divine name?
I have a number of Sabbatarian friends with experience dealing with demons who would all answer the above questions the same way. Most of the remainder of this article consists of the writing of Tammy Roberts, who did not know the answers to these quesitons a few months ago. I first met Mrs Roberts and her husband on a speaking trip to Orange County in April of 1998. They seemed like average reawakened, indpendent "Church of God members"much like my family or maybe yours. Tammy wrote the following beginning on May 12, 1999, with additional editing later:
Edwards: (My comments are interspersed in this typestyle.)
Tammy Roberts Story
Roberts: I am sitting in the Phoenix, Arizona airport waiting to go home, but I live in southern California. Why am I in Phoenix? Because my flight back to southern California from Tulsa, Oklahoma has a layover in Phoenix. Why was I in Oklahoma?
Here is my story: About one and a half years ago, I met a really nice family. They came to our Sabbath fellowship group in Orange County. They had gentle demeanor, sweet faces, and they loved to praise God. They called him "Yah" and his son, "Yahshua". They sang out loudly in praise to God every Sabbath. Occasionally, they would reach up their arms in worship. Their worship style was different than mine, but I began to want to be like them. They expressed a love for God with their whole hearts.
Edwards: This practice has support from scripture (1Kings 8:22,54;Luke 24:50; 1Tim 2:8)
Roberts: Almost a year ago, before they left our fellowship, they spoke to me privately about the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" or the "baptism of the Spirit". They said this was a deeper relationship with Yah and Yahshua. When one received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they said, the manifestation was the speaking in tongues. I was familiar that the New Testament church had the gift of tongues, and that they began to do this when they had received the Holy Spirit. My curiosity was piqued. They moved away. At that time, in my reading, I saw the scripture "do all speak in tongues?" Well, that settled that, I thought. All do not speak in tongues. I put the matter away.
Then about three weeks ago, I happened to correspond with them for the first time since they had gone. In their E-mail to me, they included a link to the Intenet website they maintain. They are Chris and Connie Barr; 89 Home Place Trail; Pocohantas, Ark. 72455. They work with a Sabbath-keeping group known as "The Little Children of Jesus". Their website is:
The founder of this group was John Quincy Adams (JQA) who preached to many people in the 20s, 30s and 40s. He is now deceased. Chris is resurrecting his old papers and is publishing them to their website.
Edwards: I have met Chris Barr and his family and also found them to be delightful people. They do not have a "Church of God" background but have a similar understanding of the Sabbath, Holy Days and many other doctrines.
So, Chris included the Internet link to some new JQA papers he had just put on his site. These were four articles on the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. I wanted to know what they said, so I read. In one of JQAs articles, he stated that the gift of tongues was not the same as speaking in tongues as evidenced by they Holy Spirit. Hmm. Not the same. O.K . (this was a mistake). The tongues, according to him, were proof that you had the Holy Spirit baptism.
Over the years I had wondered why there have been no spiritual gifts in the Sabbath-keeping churches of God. No miraculous healings, no tongues, no resurrections. Why? They had quoted Psalms 22:3: "God inhabits the praises of his people." According to them, it was in offerings of pure praise to God that one could be inhabited by the Father and the Son. The referenced scripture for the indwelling of God and is Son is in John: John 14:23 "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."
I have wanted a deeper, closer relationship to God. JQA said he had been a Sunday-keeper when the Holy Spirit had told him "Sunday is damned!" That and other tongue-speaking and interpretation led to his change to Sabbath-keeping and holy-day observance. I took these as proofs that it was Gods Spirit that had come upon them (another mistake).
In one of his articles, JQA says that in order to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, you must begin to praise God purely, i.e. praise only. He says that when you are praying longer sentences of praise to God, your mind will run out of things to say. (At the time I didnt question why you couldnt just write down longer sentences of praise and repeat themits because it wont allow your mind to "disconnect") In addition, he says, you cant focus on the intensity and passion of your praise if you are trying to think up praises. He advised to just say the word "glory." "Say it over and over again, then your praise will be a sacrifice to God and he will accept it and evidence it by the outpouring of his Spirit on you." I wanted the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but the idea of just saying "glory" over and over made me feel uncomfortable. I never used that word in my normal speech, prayer or otherwise.
Edwards: Does the Eternal want us to praise "with our whole mind and heart" or "out of our mind and heart"? The idea that there is some physical act that a person can do which will require a response from the Eternal is all wrong. "But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word (Is 66:2).
Roberts: Two weeks ago,I prayed with praise only, arms upraised for a long time. But I did not repeat "glory, glory..." I said much longer sentences of praise. I read from the praises that David wrote in Psalms. Nothing happened. I was disappointed. The next day was a repeat. Nothing happened. I began to think that maybe JQA knew what he was talking about, and since I was a novice to all of this, I should just follow his instructions. I began to pray "glory, glory, glory, glory..." over and over again. This is quite a tongue-twister even when it is done slowly. He said the words would began to change, not to worry, this was the Holy Spirit. Yield to the Holy Spirit and let him do his work in you. After a short time, my tongue got tripped up. He said yield to it, so I yielded. I began to gag and cough. I tried to yield more. Suddenly, I began speaking a very rapid language that sounded like Chinese. I became frightened. I tried to pray "Father save me! Father save me!" but the words continued to pour. I felt a warm surge of energy come into my hands and chest. "Ive received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit!", I thought. I was elated!!!
All that week I spoke in tongues in prayer, not knowing what I was saying. Finally one night the tongue said, "Come to Papa." I thought God was telling me, "You are my child and I am your Father." I began to ask questions and this spirit would answer me, using my own voice. My husband had wanted me to ask this a question to "test the spirit" because he feared demons were at work. He had me ask:, "Who shall I say is speaking?" The spirit answered, "My name is Yah." Well, I thought this was Gods name and that he would not allow any demon to appropriate his name.
My husband also had me ask the meaning of the phrase "law of Moses" from Acts 15:5. The spirit responded that the "law of Moses meant "Jewish traditions." Both my husband and I assumed this to be accurate. Later, after the ordeal, we found out we had been lied to, when we checked the Bible.
And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel (Neh 8:1).
On Mothers day, late that night, I went to pray. I had many questions for the "Holy Spirit". I asked about many things and he gave many answers. When he said that the new moon is the conjunction, I said there was a man at our fellowship who was going to present a paper on the crescent new moon. Did he have a message for this man. He gave me the message. Then I asked him if he wanted me to tell my fellowship this Sabbath. He said, "Do not speak to them, they are not my people!" I was shocked.
Trip to Oklahoma
This spirit which I thought was the true God, was a lying spirit, a demon. I will not include, here, all of the lies he told me. To cut the story a little shorter, I will skip to the part where he said that Gerald Flurry was his servant. He told me to go see Gerald in Edmond, Oklahoma. I had previously been a member of the Philadelphia Church of God, but had long since dismissed Gerald Flurrys exaggerated claims about his PCG. Yet I was terrified of disobeying the Most High God, as he began to call himself. He had told me I was going to die in Jerusalem. I was the prophetess of Israel and my name would be Sarah. Gerald would be Lemiel, the Judge of Israel. We would be the two witnesses, etc....
Edwards: Many in the "Church of God" groups have been around corrupt leaders for so long that it is still possible for us to believe that the Eternal will use one as his final, end-time witness. We forget that when corrupt people such as Simon the Sorceror, Annanias and Saphira attempted to "join the Church" that the Eternal completely rejected them.
Roberts: You can imagine the tears and terror of all this. My husband and I were crying. We didnt know if we would ever see each other again. But we all thought it was God, so my family took me to John Wayne airport and I left for Tulsa, Oklahoma on Monday around noon.
This demon began to test me in small measures of control "to strengthen me", he said. On the plane, he said, "Tell that man next to you, Your name is Brian." I felt uncomfortable telling the man this, but I feared disobedience. I said, "Is your name Brian?" Suddenly, all of the strength left my body. "You have failed me!", he intoned. "You must die." The previously placid plane began to shudder violently. "The plane is faltering, it will crash. You must die because you would not work the works of God. Your name will be the name of infamy. You will be called The Woman Who Would Not Walk With God. You will have a myocardial infarction because your heart will not be able to take the stress. You will hear people scream and you will go black. The landing gear will get caught and the plane will break when it lands. You will be thrown into the seat in front of your and both of your legs will be broken. They will be broken because you would not walk with God. I am the Most High God who will not be thwarted!"
Edwards: Is this the Eternal that you know? Contrast this demons methods with the way the Eternal dealt with Gideon, Paul or others who were not sure who was speaking to them. The Bible has stories where individuals were severely punished for disobeying the Eternal, but they were very sure who was speaking to them.
Roberts: I thought, "I have failed! I have failed God and I have failed my family I love so much. I am so sorry, Father. I am so weak." By this time my heart was racing, in fact, my chest did hurt (small twinges) my eyes were closed and I was trying to prepare myself for the crash. The voice then said "You will die at home. When you wake up you will be in the hospital. Doug and the children will bring the van to be with you. You must sign yourself out of the hospital and go home to die. Many people will come to see you as you are dying. You must tell them that you are the woman who would not walk with God; You are the woman who would not work the works of God. For this you must die." I was terrified.
I asked him for forgiveness. He said that he did forgive me but I must die. I accepted the fact of my imminent death and then I offered praise to the one I thought was God. The god who was going to execute me for disobedience. After some time, I became aware that the plane seemed to be rolling. I opened the window-shade and saw that the plane had indeed landed and had not crashed. "Why am I not dead?", I thought. "Because I have changed my mind. You are the woman I want. You repented and praised me, even though you thought you were going to die. You will be strong, you will teach my people to be strong."
He had forgiven me. I had another chance! I would not fail to obey his every command. I had escaped a horrible death. He continued to tell me that he was the Most High God Who Will Not Be Thwarted! He said, "Tell that man his name is Brian." I looked at the man and said, "Your name is Brian." He smiled and said, "No, my name is Cody." "Dont worry about his response, there are strong, dark forces at work. I am only concerned that you speak my words and do my works."
This demons desire to control me continued. He made me fall in the airport, would not let me eat or drink, or speak unless he directed, I must not scratch, I must not push my hair out of my face....etc.
Of course, Gerald Flurry did not show up to greet me as predicted. The demon made me stand in the baggage claim area for almost three hours. Standing perfectly still, not scratching, keeping my head straight ahead, not looking around, etc. "Dont look at your watch!", he commanded when I wondered how much time had passed. Of course, after I thought I had narrowly escaped death, I did everything he commanded. He even made me sing one of my favorite "praise songs" while standing there.
It grew late. He said that the people had failed him just as I had failed him. He would give them another chance. It was late and I must rest. He would not speak to me much from now on until the morning. He told me which cab to get and which motel to go to, that the cab driver would not hurt me, and how much the fare would be. After that, he did not speak to me ever again. On the ride to the Comfort Inn, I began to question why nothing had ever happened as he had predicted. I began to wonder if this was really God. At the motel, I immediately called my husband. "I dont think this is God!", I cried. My husband thought it was. The demon had used Gods name and we both had thought a demon was not allowed to do that. Suddenly, I had a thought. I had missed my family so much during the flight, I had asked the demon what they were doing at home. "They are at Rubys (a restaurant) eating the foods they ate when you were with them." I asked Doug, "Did you go to Rubys today?" "No", he replied.
This I write to all of you in hopes that you will never experience this kind of horrific event in your own lives. Just because we pray specifically to the true Holy Father, does not prevent the demons from coming when you give your mind up by speaking jumbled words. This is the mechanism by which it happened to me. I chose the word, "glory", but it could be any word or phrase that when repeated to the point it becomes mindless repetition, your thinking mind "disconnects" and that is the open door for demons.
I had prayed specifically to our True Father of heaven by addressing him as the only true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. All spirits knew who I addressed. The problem was that I had disconnected my mind when the "glory, glory..." gibberish began. Just because some "Sunday-keepers" say their spirit led them to keep the Sabbath and the holy days, does not make them a source of truth!
My husband and I also thought we noticed more of the "fruit of the Holy Spirit" in my life when the demon arrived. I was full of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness and faith, etc. This counterfeit spirit was so precise as to bring these thoughts and emotions to my life in order to convince me this was the Holy Spirit. This demon told me to not take my Bible (the Word of God) because he (God) was in me. Also, I asked him if I should be praying to him on my knees in private prayer. He said we were that way before, but we are now different. This should have been a warning to me, had I been aware to detect it. This demon was very subtle. Scripture tells us how to fight these demons:
Put on the whole armor 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 armor 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 (Eph 6:11-17).
The demon told me not to bring my Sword (Bible). I am blessed to have much of that Sword in my mind, so I was not totally defenseless, however I was very vulnerable. If I had prayed with my own mind, not trying to "yield to the Spirit" I would have made contact with the True God, my Father in heaven and He could have intervened on my behalf. As it occurred, I believe He probably did intervene. The demon told me he would not be speaking to me much any more, until the morning. That gave me time to think and to critically analyze what was happening. During the conversations that led up to my flight to Tulsa, my husband and I had asked many questions and received many answers. Had we taken the time to verify the answers we could have caught this demon much more quickly. As it was, he bombarded us with statements that we thought were accurate but later found out were mostly lies.
Some things we have learned from this is that the demons are very limited in their access to information. They, for example, did not have access to my husbands mind. He had not opened the door for them, and just because they were right next to him, in me, they still did not have access. They could not read my husbands mind. When questions were put to the lying spirit about Doug the responses were from my memory or general like "Doug will know what to do." They do not have the power to bring their predictions to fruition. They predicted that other people would do many things, but the demons could not perform the work.
Edwards: People I know and books I have read confirm this. Unless a person grants a demon access in some way, most demons cannot "read the mind" of a person. The Bible teaches believers to command demons in Christs name (Acts 16:18). Such commands must actually be saidif they are just "thought", the demon will not hear. (God may still "read our minds" and command the demon for us, but we should follow the Bible example if we know it.)
Roberts: God, on the other hand, says:
Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure (Isa 46:10).
The true God will not need to make excuses that "the strong, dark forces are at work". Remember Pauls warning
And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light 2Cor 11:14).
I experienced this first-hand. I did not understand this scripture the way I do now. I used to think this referred only to false ministers, but now I know it can include actual demonic presence. This demon appeared to be the one true God. I had prayed to the one true God and was expecting no one else.
This was all very subtle at the time it was happening. As I review the events, I see warnings I was blind to. It was a horrifying, gut-wrenching experience. It was also very humiliating to find that I had been led by a demon. As humiliating as it was, my concern for all of you is greater. You must learn from my experience. This is how the lying spirit worked in my life:
1) I had doubts that I had the true Holy Spirit, I was fervently looking for God, and I wanted to know I had God in my life.
2) I opened my mind to the lying spirit by disconnecting my conscious control through "vain repetition," or chanting in fervent emotional prayer.
3) I experienced counterfeit emotions of the true Holy Spirit, "love, joy, and peace."
4) While my intent was to pray to the true God, while my mind was vulnerable in mindless chanting "glory glory...:" the lying spirit manifested itself.
5) It started by asking me to do simple things, like "go to window." I obeyed and established my willingness to obey.
6) It made me speak in tongues Chinese-like soundsthen later, English.
7) It knew my thoughts.
8) It answered questions to gain my confidence, that it was indeed God.
9) Then it began to exercise control over me though fear.
10) It told me that unless I obeyed it would take my family from me.
11) It told me that if I failed it would kill me.
12) It had me leave my family with only the clothes on my back, call a man Brian whos name was Cody, terrify me that I was going to die in a plane crash, stand in an airport baggage area for three hours not permitted to eat, drink water or scratch, and repeatedly sing a song as passengers walked by, all the while waiting for his predicted arrival of a ministerial greeting committee.
Perhaps because my association with this particular lying spirit was so intense the time of affiliation was short. The lying spirit made so many untrue statements and so many subsequently failed predictions, in such a short time, that it became obvious they were lies. The key objective was to gain control over meor you if possible. I have since found that lying spirits have made others live in poverty and suffer, convincing them that they were obeying God. Remember these points:
The way of God is liberating, not controlling: "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2Co 3:17).
You do not have to speak in tongues to be a Christian: "Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?" (1Co 12:30.)
Test the spirits: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1Jo 4:1).
Above all, do not chant: But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking (Matt 6:7, KJV).
Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand. If anyone wishes to contact me, you may do so via e-mail:
Edwards: For some, this story may seem totally bizarreeven unbelievable. For others, it may be all too familiar. The important thing is to realize that this story is neither unbiblical nor untypical. Satan himself desired to gain control of the Apostle Peter (Luke 22:31-32). "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (1Tim 4:1). We should not be surprised. We should not be ignorant.
On the other hand, we should not treat everyone who either has or wants to speak in tongues like they are "agents of Satan". Many of us were once deceived into thinking that people had to belong to a certain organization in order to be in the "True Church"even though the Bible does not say that. We should not be surprised to find that others think that speaking in tongues is required for the true believer. While some of the scriptures about "speaking in tongues" refer to actual languages, the Greek for word used to "interpret" tongues in 1 Corinthians 12 & 14 is diermeneuo (Strong's #1329) which means "to expound"distinct from hermaeneuo (#2059) which means "to translate". Also, consider these scriptures:
For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries (1Cor 14:2).
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal (1Cor 13:1).
These verses speak of a gift that involves speaking to God in a way that no one understands. But nowhere does the Bible teach continual repetition or letting go of ones mind. Chris Barr, the man who introduced these methods to Tammy Roberts, has written many pages about this incident, and believes that with his guidance, it is still possible to use these methods to reach God instead of demons. I believe that these methods are unbiblical and should be avoided, but in fairness to anyone who wants to hear the "other side", they may contact him at Chris Barr; 89 Home Place Trail; Pocahontas, AR 72455; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Studying the Bible teaching on spiritual gifts helps to put this entire issue in perspective (Rom 12:6-8; 1Cor 12:7-11,28-31; Eph 4:11-15; 1Pet 4:8-11). These gifts are given by the Eternal. They are not given by church hierachies, but nor are they "worked up" by something that individuals do. We are encouraged to pray for the gifts, but the Bible contains no formula to assure us if or when we will receive them. Spiritual gifts are "for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Eph 4:12). They are not a reward from God so people can feel close to Him. People I have known who feel close to God are people who do what He doesgive of themselves to help some less fortunate than themselves. The Bible clearly shows that we will be judged by how we love our neighbors, not what kind of spiritual experiences we have had. Read 1 Corinthians 13! There are no "shortcuts" to growing in the mind and character of the Eternal.
Beware of All False Spiritual Gifts
It is important not to single out mindless repetition as the single practice that leads to demon problems. Christ warned about what would happen in the time of the end:
For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect (Math 24:24).
Are demons easy to recognize? Are they all clearly evil? The scriptures show that they have incredible variety: some are incredibly violent, others can be very "religious", proclaiming "You [Jesus] are the Christ, the Son of God!" (Luke 4:41). Simon the sorceror convinced people that he had the " the great power of God" (Acts 8:9-11).
In general, demonic forces are usually either "black" or "white" (the origin of the terms "black magic", "white magic", "black witches", "white witches", etc). The black ones are usually evil, grotesque, and always opposed to the Eternals way. The white ones often pretend to be good and sometimes say things from the Eternal. Balaam (Num 22-24) and the witch at Endor (1Sam 28:7-25) fall into this category. Obviously, the Eternal says that we should seek Him directly: "Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God" (Lev 19:31).
Most Church of God brethren would try to stay away from all demonic influence, black or white. Unfor tunately, the entire purpose of "white demons" is to be "transformed into an angel of light" (2Cor 11:4) so that people do not recognize them. As one example that will be familiar to most of our readers, do you remember the Walt Disney classic Mary Poppins? She comes to work as a nanny for the Banks family. She shows the children a marvelously good time, and through a variety of events brings the workaholic father and independant mother closer to each other, their children, and the rest of humanity.
But Mary Poppins is clearly a powerful white witch. She flys on an umbrella instead of a broom. She got rid of other nannies competing for her job by causing a powerful storm to blow them away. She performs numerous miracles without giving any credit to God. At the end, her parrot taunts her that she will never be able to have her own family, but must always keep moving with the change of the wind. (This is a common practice of demonsawarding supernatural powers but in exchange taking away something even more valuable. By contrast, the Eternal gives without taking some other good thing away.)
I am not saying that watching Mary Poppins will cause someone to have trouble with demons. The point is, that demons can be very subtle and very difficult to detect. They might even come preaching Bible truth. If we are to avoid being fooled by false miracles, we need to know what the Bible says about Satan and his demons. We need to learn from the experience of other believers and we need to pray "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matt 6:13, KJV).