Revelation 16:14—Can demons perform miracles?

Problem: The Bible sometimes uses the same words (sign, wonders, power) to describe the power of demons as those used to describe miracles of God (Rev. 16:14; 2 Thes. 2:9). However, a miracle is a supernatural act of God, and only God can perform such acts. The devil is a created being and has only limited power.

Solution: Although Satan has great spiritual powers, there is a gigantic difference between the power of the devil and the power of God. First, God is infinite in power (omnipotent); the devil (and demons) is only finite and limited. Second, only God can create life (Gen. 1:1, 21; Deut. 32:39); the devil cannot (cf. Ex. 8:19). Only God can raise the dead (John 10:18; Rev. 1:18); the devil cannot, though he gave “breath” (animation) to the idolatrous image of the Antichrist (Rev. 13:15).

The devil has great power to deceive people (Rev. 12:9), to oppress those who yield to him and even to possess them (Acts 16:16). He is a master magician and a super scientist. And with his vast knowledge of God, man, and the universe, he is able to perform “lying wonders” (2 Thes. 2:9; cf. Rev. 13:13–14). But true miracles can be performed only by God. The devil can do the supernormal but not the supernatural. Only God can control the natural laws He has established, though on one occasion He granted Satan the power to bring a whirlwind on Job’s family (Job. 1:19). Further, all the power the devil has is given him by God and is carefully limited and monitored (cf. Job 1:10–12). Christ had defeated the devil and triumphed over him and all his host (Heb. 2:14–15; Col. 2:15), thus giving power to His people to be victorious over demonic forces (Eph. 4:4–11). Thus, John informed believers: “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.