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The Spiritual Nature of Angels

No one can deny that angels are spiritual beings. In Psalm 104:4, the psalmist states, “He makes the winds His messengers, Flaming fire His ministers.” Another term used in place of winds is spirits. The angels are messengers or ministers that live in the spiritual realm. They work on behalf of God’s people.

Quoting from the Psalm in Hebrews 1:13-14, the writer shares the following about their spiritual nature, “But to which of the angels has He ever said, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET"? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” The term used here is “ministering spirits”.

Then in Matthew 18:10, the gospel records that the angels are assigned to exist before the face of their Creator that made them into spirit beings. In Colossians 1:16-17, Paul wrote, “For by Him all things were created, [both] in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” The angels are incorporeal, celestial beings as Paul described the difference between the fleshly and the spiritual nature of our bodies in both heaven and earth. In I Corinthians 15:40, he states, “There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the [glory] of the earthly is another.” They are heavenly creatures, while we are earthly, living in a physical body. The conclusion is that angels bear a heavenly body. While they can take on many forms when making an appearance, they are spiritual in nature.

Angels fall under the category of the unseen. God created two worlds, the seen and the unseen, the physical and the spiritual, the earthly and the heavenly. Just as we cannot see a magnetic field, electrical current or the minuscule details of an atom with the naked human eye, likewise, we cannot see into the spirit world unaided. In II Cor. 4:18, the Apostle Paul wrote, “while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Again, the angels dwell in the unseen realm as spirit beings. This other dimension is unseen unless we are permitted to catch a glimpse by the revelation of God.

Some may wonder why it is important to emphasize the spiritual nature of angels. One unique fact about angels being spiritual creatures is that they do not marry in heaven. In Matthew 22:30 and Mark 12:25, Jesus taught about our marital status after being raised from the dead, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” To be like the angels is to be unmarried and dwelling in heaven in spiritual bodies.

While angels appear to be male only (Gabriel and Micheal for example) some have tried to claim an occurrence of a female angel (See Zechariah 5:9),where a woman is pictured with wings. Overall, the text of the Bible speaks of these spirit beings in language that addresses them as gender masculine. The reality is that the gender of an angel is meaningless, as they do not marry or procreate. Once angels are created they do dwell eternally, so there is no need for them to produce among themselves. The population remains the same as in creation.

I hate to burst your bubble, but there are no baby angels. They are made fully capable beings and do not die physically. Jesus taught in Luke 20:36, “for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” The heavenly hosts are completely devoted to being messengers and servants of God forever.

One similarity of these spiritual angels with fleshly man is that they do have free will. In Psalm 103:20, the psalmist wrote, “Bless the LORD, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word!” If they were programmed to perform, they would not have the choice to obey or disobey. Here we learn that the angels in heaven obey the voice of the Lord. This also means that these spirit beings are capable of stepping outside of their proper domain and sinning. We learn in II Peter 2:4, “God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment…” Angels can think and decide, they have emotions and longings, and they work and worship, communicate and travel etc. The angels are fully capable of making their own choices, even though they are in the spirit.

Some of these spirit beings or angels remain holy and serve as the elect or chosen of God. In Matthew 25:31 the Bible speaks of the angels that accompany the Lord in judgment that have been faithful to Him. In I Timothy 5:21, Paul refers to the chosen angels.

Other spirit beings are associated with Satan having fallen into sin and being cast out of heaven In Matt. 25:41, we learn, “Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” From this text we see that Satan (a fallen angel/spirit) has a host of spirits or angels that fell with him into error and judgment from God. If you turn to Revelation 20:10, we read, “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” If you flip back to Revelation 12:9, you find, “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” This means that Satan has his own fellow demonic spirits with him to work against the will of God. We also see in Jude verse 6, “And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.” There has been much speculation about what the angels did to step out of their own domain and to abandon their proper abode, but we will be true in claiming that God had directives for them that they did not follow or obey.

Note: Some believe that part of the fall of angels came from trying to have children with women on the earth in the book of Genesis 6, but that is another lesson for another episode. Let me briefly summarize and give my concise perspective on this matter. It is said that these angels and human women produced the giants of the earth. Yet the text in Genesis 6:1-3, expressly states that the Nephilim (which means fallen ones in Hebrew) were on the earth both before and after the sons of God showed an interest in the women of the earth (daughters of men). These were the ancient heroes. So the sons of God and their relations with earthly women, has nothing to do with the producing of giants on the earth. Some facts that you need to know about this doctrine is that it is largely perpetuated by an apocryphal book called I Enoch. This extra biblical writing tries to place the blame for evil in the world on the sin of the angels (sons of God), when in fact, the Bible teaches that sin entered the world by man’s sin. While angels did sin and at one point abandon their appointed place (Jude 6), we cannot assume that angels are the original cause of sin and its consequences. While it is true that “sons of God” in the Hebrew text only referred to angels in all 5 occurrences of the exact phrase in the OT, it is interesting that in the Greek text, Adam was referred to as a son of God, along with his son Seth. Could it be that here the sons of God refer to offspring of Seth having relations with the daughters of men, the offspring of Cain, who was banished because of his own sin of killing his brother Abel? In any case, this is a widely debated subject that deserves your own private study and interpretation. We will draw no particular conclusion in this episode. I just wanted to make you aware of this doctrine and offer some general guidelines.

The angelic spirit beings in heaven were present at the creation of the world and they praised God for his handiwork. In Job 38:4-7, we hear these words, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell [Me,] if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? "On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars (again, a reference to angelic beings) sang together And all the sons of God (again, the angels) shouted for joy?”

The angels were created somewhere on the timeline before earth and its inhabitants. In Nehemiah 9:6, the writer states, “"You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You.”

Angels are sometimes referred to as sons of God, because they were created by God or holy ones because they are called for a holy purpose In Job 1:6, we find, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.” In Psalm 89:5, 7, the text states, “The heavens will praise Your wonders, O LORD; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones. ... A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, And awesome above all those who are around Him? These spirit beings called angels were created just like the rest of the world as stated in Psalm 148:2-5, “Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light! Praise Him, highest heavens, And the waters that are above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created”. Also in John 1:1-3, we learn that nothing that is in existence came into being unless it was created by the Lord, including angelic beings.

While angels are subservient to God and His purposes, being spiritual creatures, they are one higher order than man and we are for a little while lower than the angels, while on this earth. In Psalm 8:4-5, we see, “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” This is specifically applied to Jesus who was for a while lower than the angels in His earthly body but also applies to all those that anticipate the glories to come. In Hebrews 2:9, the author wrote, “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Once Jesus died for the sins of the world and ascended into heaven, now the angels are subject to Him. In I Peter 3:22, the Apostle Peter said, “who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” Then in Hebrews 1:3-6, we learn, “When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say, "YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU"? And again, "I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO ME"? And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, "AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM." Even we are a spectacle to the angels as we are to inherit salvation in Christ. In I Corinthians 4:8, the Apostle Paul wrote, “we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.” The angels are watchers of the godly according to I Timothy 3:16, where we read, “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.”

One day according to the Scriptures we will judge the angels as those destined for glory, as in I Cor. 6:3, Paul said, “Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?” This will occur after they have assisted the Lord with redeeming the saved and punishing the wicked. In Revelation 3:5, John penned these words, “'He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Why confess our name before these spiritual beings? Because the Lord wants the angels to know who the saved are so that they can harvest them from the earth and carry them into the eternal home. They have a vested interest in us and long to look into our salvation.

I don’t want to downplay the angels in saying these things. Never underestimate the strength of an angel as a spiritual being or the multitude of ways that God uses these creatures. Angels are strong creatures, stronger than mankind and “greater in might” (II Peter 2:11). They are called “mighty angels” in reference to their coming in judgment (II Thessalonians 1:7) and it only took one angel to destroy every first born of Egypt in Moses’ day. In Exodus 12:23, take note of the following regarding the Passover blood being on the doorposts, “the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer (some translations say “destroying angel”) to come into your house to smite you. Since angels were involved in destroying Sodom and Gomorrah and other biblical massacres against sinners, it is concluded that this destroyer was an angel of death, even though this specific term is not found in the Bible. In another context, one angel called the angel of the Lord destroyed 185,000 Assyrians, in II Kings 19:35. In Revelation 7:1 we are told how the angels are holding back the four winds of destruction so that it did not blow on the earth and sea, symbolizing God’s wrath. While it is the LORD’s judgment, the angels carry it out.

These strong spiritual creatures form a spiritual army. Both angels in heaven and those from the depths of hell are a warring division according to Revelation 12 where the good angels and the angels of hell square off in a battle with eternal implications.

In these ranks there are some angels that are chief or captains which are referred to as archangels (Jude 9; Daniel 10:13). These captains were appointed to announce the time of the end. In I Thessalonians 4:16 we read, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of [the] archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” These angels will lead the victory of the saved over Satan and sin. The word “tsabe” is the word for “hosts” and is a military term for the troops that would assemble for battle in the form of offense but also for defense or protection. Christ is the supreme ruler over all of these troops now that He is exalted to the right hand of God. In Ephesians 1:21, the word of God reveals that Jesus is, “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”

The battle continues to rage not against flesh and blood, but against the powers and world forces of this darkness, the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 reveals, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual [forces] of wickedness in the heavenly [places.].”

Every knee (in heaven, on earth, and under the earth) will eventually bow to the Christ who was given a name above all name, the name of Jesus (Phil. 2:9-10). He is head over all rule and authority (Col. 2:10). He disarmed the evil forces through His death and resurrection. They know that their fate of eternal destruction is imminent. In Colossians 2:15, Paul shared, “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” We need to decide which side we are fighting on! The battle and struggle is indeed real in this spiritual attack.

About 1/3 of the angels fell along with Satan (also a created angel) and they were cast out and bound, reserved and kept for eternal damnation in hell. We learn of this end in Revelation 12:4-9, “And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. And she gave birth to a son, a male [child,] who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” From the best estimates that we can make, the fall must have occurred between the time that God said everything was good in Genesis 1:27 and the time that Satan appears to tempt Eve. All angels are from God and therefore they are all subject to His authority (even demons). In Job 1:1, 6-12; 2:1-3, we see how the fallen angels and Satan had to ask permission to pursue the life of the righteous man, Job. “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil”. Continue in verse 6 “...Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it." The LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil." Then Satan answered the LORD, "Does Job fear God for nothing? "Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. "But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face." Then the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him." So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.”

We see the exact same scene unfold again in Job 2:1-3, “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it." The LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause." We won’t read the entire story here. The point is that Satan is a fallen angel that works against the will of God. He is subject to the permission of God to perform his evil work. He is not omnipresent like God either. He walks around looking for opportunities to destroy our lives and when we face his schemes, we have to choose to remain true to the calling of God. Even after Job lost everything, including his personal health and well-being, he remained faithful and blessed the name of the Lord. He recognized that Satan was the source of the evils that he endured. Job said even if slain, I will trust in the Lord.

In the New Testament, Satan is still asking permission to sift Peter like wheat. In Luke 22:31-32, Jesus informs Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded [permission] to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.". Satan continues his prowling around to tries to deceive us. Listen to Peter in I Pet. 5:8-9, “Be of sober [spirit,] be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in [your] faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” We have to resist the evil one and understand that we are not alone in the battle against the devil. In Zech. 3:1-2, we get another glimpse into this deceptive work of Satan where we see, “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?" Keep in mind that all of these meetings occur in the spirit realm amongst spirit beings. The good news is that we recognize our certain victory over sin and death, through the death and resurrection of Christ. In John 12:31; 10:10 we hear, “"Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out…The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have [it] abundantly.” Amen. Let us believe that Satan is cast out and that we have the promised life that Jesus brought to us. While for the present the whole world is under the control of the evil one we do all that we can to not let the devil get a foothold. In I John 5:19, John states, “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in [the power of] the evil one.” We are admonished in Ephesians 4:27, “do not give the devil an opportunity.”

We acknowledge that the One that is in us (the Spirit of the Lord or the Holy Spirit) is greater than he (Satan) that is in the world (I John 4:4). So we submit to God, resist the devil and we are promised that he will flee from us (James 4:7). Because we know that we are to overcome and defeat Satan, we cannot give Him any chance to creep into our lives. Even when the temptations come and he is permitted to try our faith, we know that in every circumstance there is a way of escape provided by the Lord, if we would only choose to take it (I Cor. 10:13). It is common to man to face trials and temptations. God will never allow you to be tempted beyond your ability to withstand Satan.

Sometime the devil attempts to appear as an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14-15). It can be a challenge to decipher right from wrong, so test the spirits to see whether they are from God. The fact remains that if we sin, it is not because we are not able to withstand the evil one with the armor of God. Listen to Paul in Ephesians 6:10-18, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual [forces] of wickedness in the heavenly [places.] Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil [one.] And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints…”, In our weak moments where we struggle we sin, we have simply surrendered to the temptations instead of escaping through the avenue that the Lord provides. We are told that not even angels cannot separate us from the love of God, including the fallen angels (Rom. 8:38).

The Bible speaks of the possibility of experiencing an angel, but yet completely unaware. While you may never encounter an angel on this earth before you die, it is a fact that you will one day meet the angels of heaven. In Matthew 16:27, we see, “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.” An angel is responsible for carrying your soul away to either usher you into heaven or to cast you into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, in a place separated from God in hell.

God’s entire purpose in utilizing the angelic force to reveal truth and serve His people was in order to get us to obey the gospel concerning Christ and be found faithful when we face the eternal judgment. They have longed to see and comprehend the depth of our salvation and have worked on behalf of the saved. They rejoice in just one sinner who repents and that decision starts a celebration in heaven.

What a shame it would be if we despise so great a salvation and find ourselves lost. What a glory it will be to be carried away by the angels into the light of the everlasting kingdom. Have you obeyed the gospel? Are you ready for the Day of Judgment? How can we help?

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