05 December 2006

Where do evil spirits come from?

Seems like silly question, doesn't it? At least it would to most Bible believers. Evil spirits come from Satan. But that's not what the Bible says.

The phrase "evil spirit(s)" occurs 14 times (in 13 verses) in the Bible, in 8 of which the evil spirits were sent directly and explicitly by God.

The first evil spirit was sent by God to kill people in war.

Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech. Judges 9:23

God sent the next evil spirit to cause Saul to have a mental breakdown. (But luckily, David plays his harp and makes Saul's "evil spirit from the Lord" go away.)

But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee. Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well. 1 Samuel 16:14-16

And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him. 1 Samuel 16:23

Then God sent an evil spirit to cause Saul to prophesy and sit with a javelin in his hand.

And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul's hand. 1 Samuel 18:10

And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand. 1 Samuel 19:9

The other 6 "evil spirit" occurrences are in the New Testament. The Bible doesn't say where the evil spirits came from, but they are usually associated with some type of illness (Which come from God, right?).

And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. Luke 7:21

And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, Luke 8:2

So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. ... And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. Acts 19:12-16

So the Bible is fairly clear on evil spirits: they are either sent directly by God or their origin is unknown. The Bible never attributes evil spirits to Satan.

(Thanks to Sternwallow at the Raving Atheists Forum for this one.)

22 comments:

JudahGabriel said...

Yes, Scripture appears consistent again, as you mention. If God created all, then God created both good and evil.

Kilgore Trout said...

hehehe awsome, I just challenged my uber-conservative buddy to a book club style read and review of the bible. he thinks that the bible is the only truth, but admits hes never read it. its little gems like this that should keep this ammusing. Ive read bits of it but not much. Im a very liberal atheist so we have interesting conversations to say the least. We've known each other since first grade so we can really get under each others skin and let things slip that might normally get you punched by a theist and clink beers together and were cool again.
anyway thanks this was a good post and im about to read why god hates christmas trees which promises to lend me another smile.

tiny tim said...

There are many, many branches of Christianity who don't believe in the devil or satan or evil spirits as little ghost things that fly around and infect people with badness.

Your points are good. And along with juda's point, yes, it's abundantly clear that evil is often sent by God since God made good and evil. There isn't too much else you can take from Isaiah 45:7. In those instances where God isn't the one bringing evil, it's always the individual who is to blame (not some supernatural ethereal force).

jake3988 said...

JudahGabriel said...
Yes, Scripture appears consistent again, as you mention. If God created all, then God created both good and evil.



Yup. God allows extreme poverty to occur, ravaging diseases like AIDS and ebola in Africa, murderers, etc.

If he 'designs everyone from before they were born' as most christians say, he is thus directly responsible for every murderer on the planet.

He is responsible for designing kids to grow up orphans, in extreme povery, die of cancer. He is responible for all of it.

This is why, from a philosophical standpoint, God cannot exist. That doesn't even take into account his homocidal maniac ways in the old testament.

Anonymous said...

who said God can't destroy people any way he pleases??? Everyone is doomed to hell anyway.

Jason said...

How can you blame God when the cause of most ofof the things you mentioned is mankind? If a man and a woman have unprotected sex and their child is born with AIDs, is this not the parents' fault? If millions of people are dying from hunger every year, why are you blaming God when 99% of the world's population has never lifted a finger to help? If a man kills another man in rage, where's the logic in blaming anyone other then the man who committed the act?

You imply that suffering in human life is inconsistent either with the power or with the love of God: that as a God of love either He has not the power to prevent the suffering, or if He has the power then He has not the will, and is not a God of love. It is assumed that the prevention of suffering as it now affects the apparently innocent is something we should expect from a God of love who is also Almighty. Are these assumptions really justified?

It must be asked: What is it we are really doing when we demand that God remove suffering? Are we not asking that God should (a) suspend natural law, (b) divert the consequences of heredity, and (c) turn aside the effects of man's inhumanity to man? Have we the right to expect God to save men from the consequences of human acts?

These questions can only be asked of situations when the hand of man is involved. Earthquakes, tempests, famines and floods are called 'acts of God' because usually there is no other explanation for their occurrence. So if we look beyond human acts to natural disaster, we find that it falls upon all, innocent and guilty alike. As soon as we begin to question the suffering of innocent victims of these disasters another dilemma is raised. Are we saying that the calamities should be selective in their working, searching out only those who deserve to suffer'?

Underlying all the loose thinking on the subject is one basic assumption: it is that suffering is evil in itself. The Bible view is radically different: suffering is not evil in itself, but a symptom of a deeper evil. The Scriptures portray suffering as a consequence of sin: not necessarily the sin of the individual who suffers, but sin in the history of man and in human society

jake3988 said...

No no no no no.


Look. God could have created the world so that poverty,disease, etc would not have existed. He chose to create a world where it does not exist.

Thus he is NOT benevolent.


If God created us from the womb, he designed murders and purposefully designed people to go to hell.

Thus he is NOT benevolent. (And from that we have no freewill)

God created a hell and sends 90% of the world's population there when he could accept everyone.

Thus he is NOT benevolent.



Can I make it any more clear?

jason said...

In other words, you would have been much happier if an all loving God had created a world that was free of suffering and disease and pain and death and where its inhabitants had no need for a supreme deity or salvation?

God created us yes, but Scripture is abundantly clear that responsibility rests with the individual. Deut 30:19 "...I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life." The decisions we make are ours and ours alone. Deut 30:19 is the logical, opposing viewpoint to your statement that we possess no freewill. One of you is wrong.

We aren't robots. Everyone has freewill. Look around, how much of the evil in your life is caused by man? Murder, famine, war, disease, they all stem from sinful man choosing not to follow God. Is this not the fundamental teaching laid out in Genesis with Adam and Eve? Did God force Adam to sin? Absolutely not.

One more thing: where in the Bible are we told God sends people to hell? If you found out hell didn't exist, would you look at things differently...?

Judah Himango said...

I have to agree with Jason: humanity got itself into this mess of sickness and poverty by rejecting God in the first place. Now we're blaming God and questioning his existence because evil exists in the world.

I found this 20 year old BBC article pertinent to the topic here. It talks about the discovery of a virus Jake mentioned in passing, asking how God could allow such a thing. The article, in retrospect, shows how humans have allowed sickness and disease through living outside the way God outlined humanity to live. Purely a natural thing too -- it's not as if God miraculously and supernaturally intervened, but rather, setup a perfectly self-sustained cause-and-effect relationship of living a life opposing the way God outlined.

I also find it telling that nearly every anti-theist I've talked to or known of is almost entirely consumed with hatred and mocking. I suppose one has to be hateful if one's entire purpose in life is to disprove the existence of a loving God.

Anonymous said...

ahhhh it's like AIDS was created by Dog to infect monkeys alone, but it was man's sinful cross-species sex with monkeys what made AIDS infectious to humankind.

Berend de Boer said...

Please remove previous comment, bad link.

But see on where evil spirits came from.

nazani said...

"The Scriptures portray suffering as a consequence of sin: not necessarily the sin of the individual who suffers, but sin in the history of man and in human society "

And therefore, why should we raise a finger to help any suffering child, since they are simply paying the sin debt of their parents/culture/humanity in general? Suffering was God's plan for them; we shouldn't interfere.

"humans have allowed sickness and disease through living outside the way God outlined humanity to live."
Whoa, Mary Baker Eddy in da house!

"Murder, famine, war, disease, they all stem from sinful man choosing not to follow God."
Wrong, a whole lot of war, etc. was/is at the express command of God. You obviously have never read the Bible.

djl said...

Listen Judah, there is no questioning gods existence here because the maniac DOESNT exist! I was raised catholic and am now an athiest. since my conversion i have no desire to hurt or kill anyone. actally I feel more caring towards my fellow man since I no longer need to prove how catholicism is superior to all other religions and i can accept people for who they are. And how in the hell can you call him a loving god? this freak couldnt care less about you! He sits back and watches innocent children die horrible deaths from starvation, disease, war, etc... loving my ass! This loving being can take his shit somewhere else. So if you ever have a loved one dying a painful death, and i hope it never happens, make sure you pray good and hard and see what happens. God will probably be sitting up in heaven laughing at you because he has another soul to send to hell. Open your minds people! Im not ashamed to be an atheist, im proud of it.

Vivyan's Man said...

God does exist; I died and had an out of body experience but I believe God pushed me with immense force back into my body and held me there until I breathed again, which is why I'm still here today. Less than one week after that, someone came to me and spoke in my ear; it woke me up and in full consciousness the voice whispered and was clearly audible saying "One day I will need you, the promises of love..." I think he was just letting me know that it wasn't my time to go yet.

As for the bad things that happen in the world, it's the result of sin. If everyone did what is right, then even when bad things happen, we'll consider it a blessing.

Now, I wrote something with regard to bad spirits...

If you ever wonder why there are bad spirits around and by why I mean what their purpose is, they are there to spew lies into our hearts and minds in an attempt to influence and direct our paths to walks of unholiness; ultimately to separate us from God!

Jesus called the devil the father of all lies and by this, I believe he is indicating the devils greatest strength. If you think about it, there is nothing he can do to us but lie. Though his deceit can cause a great deal of confusion and hindrance in our walk with God, we must keep watch, as Lord Jesus said and we keep watch by identifying the lie and resisting the devil.

The lie could be something so simple. It could be your own voice in your own mind, saying things that are completely out of your character. It can be so subtle that even followers of Christ may not recognize the influence.

If I may, I will even go as far as to say that the influence of the devil can effect those around us, to cause a stumbling in our lives. Without realizing, our own loved ones may be subject to random thoughts and questions that can result in chaos in our lives (sparking arguments). You may be trying to get right with God and the devil may not see a way into your heart and so it is very possible that he will enter through someone close to you or even strangers and they may innocently and under the devils influence cause situations to come up and induce stress, anxiety, fear, anger and any of the sort to break down the very walls we build to keep him out. Once those walls are down again, he can begin to influence our hearts and minds once more.

Therefore, we must keep watch. Listen to your thoughts and understand that when unclean thoughts enter, then you must pray, read and focus with all your heart on God's love and mercy through our Lord Jesus Christ. A-men.

tozierpatriot said...

Vivyan, The bible says that God deceives; so then we cannot know if it is God or satan that is speaking to us, or leading us into "sin". It is also important to note that God causes us to suffer for the sins of others- that is the whole concept of sin anyways, that God punishes us all for the sin of Adam. As Nazani said, God intended for one to suffer so who are we to intervene? So, suffering is not evil, it is God's way. The point of the article was to show that this God not only causes suffering, but that he purposely withholds good from whomever he chooses and there is no recourse for us. Either we are chosen or we are damned, the choice was made before we even existed.

the static fanatic said...

Epicurus spelled it out for us thousands of years ago with his Trilemma concerning God:

1. if God is unable to prevent evil, he is not omnipotent
2. if God is not willing to prevent evil, he is not good
3. if God is willing and able to prevent evil, then why is there evil?

fouachaud said...

What can be said about "the idiom of permission"?

edensgardener said...

Kids, Kids!!
We digress. The topic, I remind you, is "Where do evil spirits come from?”
Here is the Biblical reference to what may be the sum explanation of the origin of evil spirits in the Earth, if one acknowledges that evil spirits are angels who left their first estate by following Lucifer, and paid the price for it.
"And another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.4And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth . . . " (Rev. 12:3-4).
"And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him," (Rev. 12:9).
It is also interesting to note that although this reference is in Revelation, the last book of the NT/Bible, the chronology of the event seems to predate the creation account in Genesis, since the influence of the devil-as-serpent was in the earth by that time.

Benny Hauk said...

God sent an evil spirit in the same sense that He sent evil armies to capture His chosen people (Israelites) on occasion. He occasionally uses evil to punish evil. He is, however, not the author of evil (Genesis 1:31, John 1:13, 1 John 1:5, 1 Corinthians 14:33).

As far as God being benevolent, that sounds like a strawman argument. Believers should never claim the universality of God's "benevolence" (aka, being kindly or charitable) because that's indeed not biblically accurate anyway. God is, however, universally "good". In that I mean he is always either just (in the final analysis people receive what they deserve) or gracious (people are shown favor they don't deserve). However God is never unjust. If someone sees God as not benevolent then the "fault" as it were lies with the person, not with God. God may be acting toward many different ends (refining the person through fire and punishing or judging the person's evil deeds or thoughts, are just two such examples).

Whether you believe you or people in general are good and God if exists is evil or whether you think it is mankind who chooses evil and God who's inherently good is a if not the fundamental question at the heart of whether you are a believer or not. Your posture to that question determines your trust in God (your faith) and not the other way around.

I'll just add one other thought: the fact that we can be agents of evil doesn't make God (who created us capable of being agents of evil) held morally responsible for our evil any more than it implies we were created "flawed". Our ability to chose to rebel against God, displeasing Him at every corner, doesn't mean we're flawed rather it merely gives evidence to the fact that we were created with the ability to love. Robots don't love because they simply do the only thing they are capable of (namely to obey their creator; their programming). The fact that we can disobey and create evil is only evidence that God desired to create us with the ability to love Him. Love that is forced or coerced simply isn't love. To love means to have the ability to not love. To always have a perfect world means no one has the ability to choose evil. I think there will be a perfect world one day and all wrongs will be made right but we're not there yet. The decision is ours to choose. Not whether to be good or to be bad but merely whether to have faith that God is good or to not have that faith. As for evidence of His goodness, well that's where we find the object of that faith: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth (or as we Christians refer to him: Emmanuel: God with us). Properly understood, He is all the evidence we need. He's the smoking gun that points to the goodness of God.

Big Ray said...

The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (KJV)
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ."

James Heinz said...

Please forgive me for i feel i should be a voice of opposition. I am a firm believer in the book of enoch. A contraversial topic in itself. It is in my belief this book should have been in the bible and once upon a time it was. That being said in the book of Enoch fallen angels had sexual inconters with the woman of man kind and from there off spring the nephilim were born. When God flooded the Earth the nephilim being from a mortal mother and spiritual father both perished in the flood and spiritually as evil spirits continued to roam all the parts of Earth. So there for if Enochs words are correct God did not create evil spirits but instead came from the sin of the fallen angels

James Heinz said...

Oops that last part didnt make any sense. When the nephilim died from the flood there mortal bodies perished but they continued to remain on this Earth as evil spirits forever roaming the lands