A demon is a supernatural immortal creature which is an enemy of God. Demons may also be referred to as 'devils,' with a lowercase initial letter to differentiate them from The Devil, a title for Satan. A succubus is an example of one kind of demon.
Demons in the bible
In the Old Testament, God uses 'evil spirits' to serve His purposes. The precise nature of these spirits is unclear, but they may be classed as demons.
- Judges 9:23, God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem
- 1 Kings 22:23, ...behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets...
- 1 Samuel 16:14, But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.
In the New Testament, Jesus cures the illnesses of various people by casting possessing demons from them.
- Matthew 4:24: ...they brought unto him [Jesus] all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy...
- Matthew 8:16: When the even was come, they brought unto him [Jesus] many that were possessed with devils...
- Matthew 8:28-34: And when he [Jesus] was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce...
Demons, and 'evil' or 'unclean' spirits are mentioned at least fifty times in the new testament.
Modern views of demons
More liberal-leaning protestants tend to either ignore or explicitly reject the existence of demons. The Catholic Church still claims demons exist and actively try to corrupt humans into sinful behavior, but has reduced the significance of this element of doctrine.
More conservative protestants, especially those from evangelical denominations, see demons as engaging in a constant struggle for the soul of each person. Fallen angels who followed satan in his rebellion, demons are believed to operate in secret in order to corrupt and influence individual humans in order to ensure they turn away from Christ. For some examples of this, see the works of Jack Chick.
Demons in fiction
Demons are, by definition, evil. This moral unambiguity makes them useful antagonists in TV series such as Charmed, as the 'good guys' can kill demons without either moral dilemma or proof of guilt for any specific crime. They also play important parts in Frank E. Peretti's novels, such as This Present Darkness and The Visitation.