“How can you believe in angels when so many horrible things are happening in the world today?” That is a typical comment we receive from skeptics. Islam emphasizes the angel Gabriel, and Mormons credit the angel Moroni for their scriptures. A Catholic website claims that all people have guardian angels “to rule and guide.” Around the Christmas season, we are exposed to many stories, movies, and songs based on angel involvement in human affairs. So what is the truth about angels?
The Bible does not suggest that angels are good people who have left this life or that they are robotic agents of God. Angels are beings created by God and not limited to our dimensions of time and space. Being outside of time gives them both abilities and limitations. In Matthew 22:30, Jesus did not say that we will become angels when we die, but we will become like angels with respect to marriage. The Bible tells us that angels can sin and rebel against God. (See 2 Peter 2:4, Galatians 1:8, John 8:44, and Jude 6.) However, angels cannot repent of sin because repentance requires time. If an angel chooses to reject God, there is no turning back – it is a one-way street. Once we leave this physical existence, we will be out of time, and the same will be true of us. We will have no time to change your eternal destiny.
How can you believe in angels? The bottom line is that a war between good and evil is going on that involves both spiritual and physical dimensions. The purpose for our existence is to achieve victory in that war. The book of Job clearly shows that our physical struggle involves spiritual forces. The only recourse for skeptics and atheists is to deny that evil exists, but doing that eliminates the purpose for human existence.
Angels can choose to sin, and the Bible makes it clear that this has happened. (See Revelation 12:9 and 2 Corinthians 11:3-4.) While angels can do what God commands, they cannot remove a human’s ability to choose between good and evil. They also cannot prevent the consequences of bad human choices. (See Galatians 6:7). However, the Bible promises us a way to overcome temptation if we choose to use it. (See 1 Corinthians 10:13.)
Angels are real and have served God’s purpose in the war between good and evil throughout history. (See Genesis 18-19 and Judges 6:11-27.) So how can you believe in angels? They have done things we see as miracles as they serve a purpose in God’s plan. Skeptics can deny the reality of God and angels because they have freedom of choice, as all humans do. But wrong choices carry eternal consequences and remove any real purpose for human existence.
— John N. Clayton © 2022