Bible Answers: The difference between angels and demons

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“You wrote about demons in a recent column. Aren’t demons simply fallen angels? What are the differences between angels and demons?” — Matt

The primary difference between these supernatural entities as they appear in Scripture is the object of their loyalty and the subsequent function they perform; i.e., demons serve Satan and carry out his purposes; angels are loyal to God and serve Him.
The Bible does not argue for or against these creatures — it simply assumes their existence and activity. Scant information is provided in Scripture concerning their origins (they are created beings, not “gods”) or their physical appearance (seraphim have wings, Isa. 6:2).  
Angels are the messengers of God. They bring warnings (Gen. 18:16-19:1ff; Num. 22:23-35); deliver good news (Gen. 18:1-15; Judg. 13:15ff; Lk. 1:11, 26ff; 2:9-14; 24:4-7); celebrate the coming of a person to faith (Lk. 15:7, 10); contend against the forces of evil (Jude 9; Rev. 12:7); and, assist in times of spiritual struggle (Dan. 10:13; 12;1; Mt. 4:11; 26:53).
Satan’s “angels” were cast out of heaven, “thrown down to Earth with him” (Rev. 12:7-9). They afflict men with mental and moral disease (Mk. 1:26; passim); instigate false doctrines (I Tim. 4:1); and, inspire false teachers (I Jn. 4:1-3). Known as rulers, authorities, principalities and powers (Rom. 8:38; Eph. 1:21), they exercise power with Satan in “governing” the realm of this world system (Eph. 2:1-2; 6:12).  
Importantly, we are not to worship angels. Their function is to point to the sovereignty and majesty of God. Strangely enough, we could take a lesson from the demons: they knew exactly who Jesus was (Mt. 8:29; Mk. 1:24; 5:7; Acts 19:15) and they trembled at His name (James 2:19).
Thankfully, we do not inevitably share their fate (Col. 2:15; Rev. 20). The God of the angels invites us to find life in Him.

-Pastor Chuck McCollough