Satan, demons and unclean spirits

Scripture uses several terms like Satan, demons and unclean spirits. What are they? In this post, we will investigate to correctly identify each of them.

Possessing

Luke 22:3 Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve.

Luke 8:30 Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him.

Mark 9:25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!”

Satan, demons and unclean spirits but all these can posses a man.

Identification

Rev 16:13-14 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

In the book of Revelation, unclean spirits are explained as nothing but the spirit of demons. But who is Satan?

Num 22:22 Then God’s anger was aroused because he went, and the Angel of the LORD took His stand in the way as an adversary [H7854 שָׂטָן satan (saw-tawn’)] against him. And he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.

1 Kgs 5:4 But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary [H7854 שָׂטָן satan (saw-tawn’)] nor evil occurrence.

Satan on the other hand is a generic term for ‘accuser’ and it strictly depends on the context. It is not a proper name as many may think. Satan in Greek is a transliterated Hebrew word. The word ‘satan’ in Scripture is used for the Angel of the LORD, when He stood on the way of Balaam as an adversary to him. It is used against the enemies of Israel and also used for unclean spirits.

Mark 3:22-23 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub,” and, “By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.” So He called them to Himself and said to them in parables: “How can Satan cast out Satan? … (28-30) “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation”– because they said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

In the above passage, we can see all the three words – demons, satan and unclean spirit – all used synonymous to each other. Hence, unclean spirits, demons and satan in context of being against God refers to unclean spirits.

Matt 12:43-45 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”

Matt 12:28 “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Jesus Christ explained to us what the unclean spirit does when it goes out of a man. He also explained that it is through the Spirit of God, demons are cast out. Hence, it is extremely important for us to receive the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion

Satan, demons and unclean spirits can enter and posses a person. Spirits of demons can be referred as unclean spirits. Satan on the other hand simply means adversary. In Scripture, it is used for the Angel of the LORD, when He stood on the way of Balaam as a satan to him, used against the enemies of Israel and also used for unclean spirits. In the gospels, demons, unclean spirit and satan in context of being against God, all are used synonymous to each other.