Have people seen angels (good and bad)? This is kind of like asking the question whether a person believes in ghosts. It is hard to discern the difference. The Bible does give some examples of angels manifesting themselves in various ways, but rarely demons (fallen angels). Other than the big controversy over Genesis 6, there is not much seen of the fallen angels, other than what I will explain below. In modern days, there have been many reports of sightings regarding angels, spirits, and ‘aliens.’ One thing we do have to be clear on, is that when people die, their spirits do not linger, so anything we see of the spiritual realm must be either angel or demon.
In the Bible are examples of messengers from both God and Satan showing up. They are agents for good and evil, light and darkness, working for their master to accomplish their greater purposes. Most times, it seems these angels and demons show up to work, yet are unseen by human eyes. In those cases, it takes a great man of God to recognize the presence. One case that comes to mind of this is the army of angels protecting Elisha at Dothan in 2 Kings 6. Situations where it was demons at work are noted in the New Testament, where Jesus taught His disciples how to recognize and remove the presence of these fallen angels at work within a person.
A lot of instances, especially in the Old Testament, show angels coming in human form, not recognized as angels at first. This is seen in the story of Abraham, and his nephew Lot, in the book of Genesis. In the circumstances where an angel comes to make an announcement (with Manoah in Judges, with Mary in Matthew, with Joshua in the book of Joshua), it is unknown what the angel looked like, but they were definitely recognized as angels from God.
It is interesting to note that demons do not seem to take physical form in the Bible, other than possibly in Genesis 6, but rather influence and possess people. Possessing people to cause them physical and spiritual harm (Matthew 12:22; Mark 5:1-20) and to make them do evil (Luke 22:3-4). Blinding the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). Deceiving people by disguising themselves as “servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Promoting false doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1) and performing signs to deceive humans (Revelation 16:14). Tormenting believers (2 Corinthians 12:7).
Job 4:12-19 gives an example of a man seeing a ‘spirit’ go by, then speaking to that man. It becomes evident that it is a demon, going against God’s truth and seeking to deceive. Matthew 8:31 gives an example of demons, who had once possessed (or lived in) a man, now going into animals (in this case, pigs). 1 Samuel 28 describes a controversial instance where the prophet Samuel seems to come back from the dead to speak to Saul. Whether God allowed Samuel to do this, or it was a demon, the Bible doesn’t say; however the Bible is very clearly against witchcraft.
Are there ghosts? If so, what are they? According to Answers in Genesis, “No evidence has produced a single fact that should sway a Christian into believing that the spirits of deceased people can loiter on earth. In light of the Bible, the only conclusion is that ghost sightings are either the figments of overactive imaginations, or else they are demons.” Another writer (Julie Lucas) explains further, “Either by research or contact with a medium, most apparitions of ghosts are mistakenly identified to be a dead person that lived around or near their place of encounter. We should be assured they are not, they are only demons seeking to deceive and possibly find a new host.” Dr. Roger Barrier encourages us to consider “the possibility that our minds are perfectly capable of fooling us into experiencing a ghost that doesn’t exist!”
The scary thing is that the devil and his fallen angel partners often take on the appearance of angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). This is why Jesus and the NT writers express the need for caution and to ‘test the spirits.’ Part of being angels of ‘light’ means that they use the truth, or partial truths to gain an evil end, that is to destroy or distract a person from God’s path.
I have heard of stories, that are very viable, of people seeing angels (either spirit form, or human form) helping them, then disappearing. A verse in Hebrews tells us that this can be true (angels taking human form) of God’s messengers, reminding us to be hospitable as we could be entertaining angels.
1. Angels from God can appear either as a spirit, majestic being, or as a normal human.
2. Angels do not live in people, nor do they take the form of a dead person.
3. Demons can live in and control a person, or appear as a spirit.
4. Demons do not seem to take human form, but can deceive by seeming to take the form of a dead person’s spirit.
5. We do not need to fear angels or demons if you have the Spirit of God living in you.