As suggested in the feature article in this issue, the term “demon” appears to come from a Greek root form meaning “to know.” Plato, in his Cratylus (i.398), suggested that the word is derived from daemon, “knowing.” Whatever else, therefore, may be said of demons, they were intelligent beings; they “knew” certain truths.
A consideration of the testimony of those demons whose statements are recorded in the New Testament is of considerable interest. From their words, one may draw some reasonable conclusions.
(1) Demons were not atheists; they believed in God; moreover, they were not polytheists; they believed that God is “one” (see James 2:19). Their faith, however, never had been coupled with obedience, hence, it was a “dead” faith (James 2:14-16). Never, however, did they seek to justify themselves in their rebellion.
(2) Demons were not religious modernists. They did not subscribe to the notion that Jesus was a mere man. They acknowledged the Lord as “the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24). In His presence they cried: “Thou art the Son of God” (Mark 3:11). Observe that they did not address Jesus as “the son of Joseph,” or any other human. Obviously they were aware of the fact that Christ, as the Son of God, was born of a virgin. There are numerous religious leaders today who refuse to make this bold and wonderful confession.
(3) The demons conceded the divine authority of Christ. On one occasion they entreated the Lord that He “would not command them to depart into the abyss” (Luke 8:31). They clearly knew that when that awesome time came, they would be obliged to obey.
(4) Demons did not deny personal responsibility. They once inquired of Jesus: “Are you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29). Observe that they recognized that a certain “time” was inevitable when they would give account for their wickedness.
(5) Demons did not deny the existence of hell, like some modern cultists do, for they knew that “torment” (a term that implies conscious punishment) was in their future (Matthew 8:29), and they trembled at the prospect of such (James 2:19).
It is a sobering fact that some modern folks do not have enough knowledge and/or faith to rival even that of a demon. This is a tragic circumstance.