Demons and free will

I get that we live in a fallen world and God apparently is OK with that, so there will always be people that tempt us. But what gives with God allowing demons and other supernatural entities to tempt us and lead us away from Him? I know that technically we still have free will, although it’s hard to imagine how one’s free will can be strong enough to overcome a supernatural force.

So if we have free will, why does God allow demons to interfere with that?

Additionally, why did God bless Priests with the ability to cast out demons, but not, say, the ordinary faithful? I’m not trying to take away from the importance of Priests but it seems a little weird to me that God would say something like this, “can the faithful person find a Priest to handle it? Yes? Good. No? Sorry, you’re out of luck!”

Three different ways we can be tempted:

  1. The World
  2. The Flesh
  3. The Devil

Where temptation abounds, so much more does grace given by God abound. There is always a way out, always a way to say no, even if it isnt easy.

That’s all I got.

I agree. But want to add this little bit. Casting out demons isn’t for the faint hearted. If you don’t know what you’re dealing with, you might make matters worse. IMHO

I just wanted to add that everyone gets the grace to resist. If youre at the point where only a priest can help through the Rite of Exorcism, its because the person willfully put themselves in that situation.

And why does God allow evil people to roam and cause havoc? How are they any different than demons?

Uh, I believe the bible does say someone who is not a priest CAN cast out demons, a person that is strong in their faith. I forget what verse this is, but Im sure someone on here knows it…says something along the lines of…‘you will be able to cast out devils in my name’.

What is so hard to believe about this…after all, we are taught that God has control over Satan and the demons, so using Gods name to rebuke them would really HAVE TO WORK, otherwise it would not be true that Gods name is enough to overpower a demon.

I’m thinking because demons are supernatural entities, more powerful than men. Supposedly the reason there is evil in this world is because God thought it best to allow man to have free will. Well if I have free will that means that I can, say, listen to someone who is trying to get me to sin… or I can reject that person. But in the case of demons, supposedly they can influence and control you in ways that mere mortals cannot. If that’s the case, and God really values our free will and wants us in heaven, then why throw this impediment in our face?

Not that I accept the following perspective, but I at least understand it more: the idea that Satan “works” for God (as he does in the book of Job) makes a ton more sense to me than the Church’s ideas. So I just want to hear the reasons why the Church is correct on this, to help me better accept it.

I believe he was speaking to the apostles and their successors, priests.

Yeah, I was thinking about this same thing a couple of weeks ago. I was contemplating about how it seems like we can sin even when we don’t really want to. Like we don’t want to, question why we are doing it while it occurs, and regret it afterwords. Similar to a person who is struggling to quit smoking and succumbs to the desire while berating himself for doing so. I began wondering how much our will was influenced. For the smoker, his will is influenced by the physical addiction to cigarettes. If demons could have influence on our will to push us towards sin, then just how free is our will?

I had thought of the old classic depiction of an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other, each encouraging the person to make right or wrong choices. It’s a silly depiction, but the analogy is workable. This eventually lead me to imagine our personal will as the mercury in a thermometer. With the Holy Spirit raising the tempurature and demons trying to bring it down.

Under those thoughts, I questioned how anyone’s will could be free at all. If we were nothing more than the mercury, what could we possibly do to change anything?

Then it occurred to me that where we can make a difference, what we have the free will to do, is to ask God to stoke the fire. That’s when this silly analogy started to work for me.

We can’t make ourselves righteous. That much is clear in the Bible. Demons or no demons, we are all incapable of achieving righteousness by our own will. Add the possibility of demons trying to bring you down, and it looks like the odds are stacked against us. We ask the Lord for help. We ask him to raise the temperature. As that temperature rises, we can focus more on reading the Bible, prayer, community, charity, love, etc. The hotter we are, the easier we find it to ignore the cold (aka evil influences).

I don’t know if that does anything to answer your question or if anyone will think this is useful or meaningful at all. I often come up with thoughts or analogies that make a lot more sense to me than they do to anyone else, lol! :whacky:

I have another question: what is in it for the demons who try to lead us astray? Is it their pride and arrogance being confirmed, or misery loves company, or do they really think theirs is a better course than that of G-d and they believe they’re doing us a favor?

It seems unfair that a very powerful supernatural force is allowed, to a point, to tempt us, normally through our selfish desires which were there in the first place.
But it may be a way for God to bring us closer to him as a mother hen protects her chicks from the fox. Without the fox, no gathering under the wing is necessary.
I know I sound simplistic, but as I grow older I see the value of coming to my Christ as a small child rather than an erudite academic full of himself in the wisdom of the great tomes.
Recently I was really irritated that I was beset with a particular temptation to which I always failed after even very heavy attempts against such failure.
So I said, enough is enough.I cannot beat this. I am too weak and it is unfair.
So I asked Our Lord to strengthen, not my will, which was a complete an utter failure, but my guardian angel. I also asked Our Lady who has some considerable authority over the Angels to send a troop to protect me against the temptation. Sounds childish?
Well from that day many months ago, no temptation. I feel like a young man able to love my God again as He deserves.
Silly story, but I was amazed at how effective complete surrender to the power of God can be against temptation.

The evil spirits are on a leash, so to speak, and can tempt only when God allows it. He allows it so we can gain spiritual muscle by resisting the temptations and choosing what pleases God.

The evil spirits cannot control us unless we have given them entry by dabbling in occult activities, which is sinful and opens the door to many problems.

I think it was one of the Apostles that told Jesus (I could be wrong. Better start reading the Bible again!) that a man was casting out demons (not one of them) and Jesus said something along the lines that it was fine because his faith was strong.

I wonder how the logistics of this actually works. For instance, as I understand it, the Devil is constantly trying to ensnare people, so that’s potentially billions of temptations each day.* So, does God consult with the Devil – in advance – billions of times each day, deciding which people will be tempted and which won’t?

The evil spirits cannot control us unless we have given them entry by dabbling in occult activities, which is sinful and opens the door to many problems.

Except I’ve also read on these forums and elsewhere that even people in the state of grace – people who haven’t dabbled in any occult practices whatsoever – can also be tempted and possessed.


  • However, I also understand that the Devil is not omnipresent, like God is, so it would seem that these temptations must be done individually, one at a time. If that’s true, then it would seem that the Devil could only tempt a very limited number of people each day.

Those in the state of grace can indeed be tempted. However they cannot be possessed. God and His grace is stronger than the demons.


  • However, I also understand that the Devil is not omnipresent, like God is, so it would seem that these temptations must be done individually, one at a time. If that’s true, then it would seem that the Devil could only tempt a very limited number of people each day.

From my understanding and from what I’ve read, their aim is our eternal ruin to have the satisfaction to have taken a soul from God, also known as: if you can’t touch the dad, hurt his children. Additionally I’m sure they get a kick out of doing evil, causing trouble, sorrow, just like a generous person enjoys helping others. But, basically a lost soul is the kingdom of hell’s victory over God.

:popcorn:
This is interesting.
Just following along. :slight_smile:

I’ve heard exorcist Fr. Euteneuer say otherwise in an interview on EWTN.

  • However, I also understand that the Devil is not omnipresent, like God is, so it would seem that these temptations must be done individually, one at a time. If that’s true, then it would seem that the Devil could only tempt a very limited number of people each day.

Dont forget that there are millions of demons as well. :eek:

Where can I find authoritative information as to the number of demons?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.