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Exorcism

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Not to be confused with the film The Exorcist.

Exorcism is both "the act of driving out, or warding off, demons, or evil spirits, from persons, places, or things, which are believed to be possessed or infested by them, or are liable to become victims or instruments of their malice"[1] and "the means employed for this purpose, especially the solemn and authoritative adjuration of the demon, in the name of Jesus." Exorcism can be defined as the simple removal of a demon through Christ (in Christ's name), or the more material, idolatrous, overwhelmingly misguided Catholic ritual (which advocates the use of material goods for protection; pure unnecessary superstition).

From a Christian perspective, exorcism is the act of rebuking a demonic spirit in the name of Jesus Christ and causing them to leave a person. This was practiced by Jesus Christ and His apostles:

Matthew 8: "28 When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. 29 And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding. 31 So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.” 32 And He said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water."[2]

Matthew 10:

"5 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."[3]

Protestants and Roman Catholics differ about whether the Church has the power to cast out demons, at least in the same way that the Apostles had the ability and authority to do. It is worth noting that the New Testament nowhere gives instructions as to how to perform an exorcism, nor commands Christians to perform them. Rather, "Since the methods of spiritual warfare in the New Testament do not involve casting out demons, it is difficult to determine instructions on how to do such a thing. If necessary at all, it seems that it is through exposing the individual to the truth of the Word of God and the name of Jesus Christ."[4]

Possession

Possession is “when Satan enters and takes over the physical and mental capabilities of a victim, however, the soul and will remains free. Satan acts through the victim without the victim's consent, thus the victim is morally blameless. Satan does not act alone when he possesses an individual. He works side by side with many evil spirits such as spirits of lust, hate, destruction, suicide, revenge, anger, anxiety, desperation, death, torment, etc.”[5] Unfortunately Satanic messages are found everywhere in today’s secular society and it is very easy for the Devil to find and possess a person’s soul when they are not fully embracing God’s love and Christ’s teachings. Symptoms include:[5]

  • Speaking or understanding unknown languages without ever studying the language being spoken or heard
  • Clearly knowing things that are distant or hidden
  • Predicting future events (sometimes through dreams)
  • An intense hatred for holy things
  • Showing a physical strength far above the expected age or normal condition

From the Biblical Christian perspective, "Thus, there is a wide variety of possible symptoms of demon possession, such as a physical impairment that cannot be attributed to an actual physiological problem, a personality change such as depression or aggression, supernatural strength, immodesty, antisocial behavior, and perhaps the ability to share information that one has no natural way of knowing. It is important to note that nearly all, if not all, of these characteristics may have other explanations, so it is important not to label every depressed person or epileptic individual as demon-possessed. On the other hand, western cultures probably do not take satanic involvement in people’s lives seriously enough."[6]

It's also worth noting that Satan is not infinite--not omniscient or omnipotent. It is unlikely that any one person is possessed by Satan himself, but there are many demons in the world--his henchmen, if you will--that carry out evil works such as demonic possession and influence. The extent to which the above, not-italicized portion is true can be measured by comparison with the Scriptures. Please check everything that is said against the word of Scripture, like the Bereans.

Exorcists

In the past, anyone Jesus appointed could cast out demons. Today, priests, pastors, and believers are all capable of this by casting out the demon in Jesus' name if he or she truly believes in Jesus.

Biblically, there is no such thing as a separate "priestly class" of Christians, distinguished from "normal" Christians. Every Christian everywhere is part of the "priesthood of believers."[7] The notion that there are higher ranking Christians, such as priests or popes, is bogus, from a Biblical standpoint. It's a made-up system to satisfy man's sinful pride. The Bible says that he who would be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven should make himself lowest among men on earth--no one has a privileged status in the Christian Church. Biblically, therefore all men and women are equal before God.[8]

How a demon can possess a victim

Biblically, the concept of an "innocent victim" makes no sense, since everyone is a sinner. Anyone who does not have the Holy Spirit in them is vulnerable to demonic possession. God is the only one who can protect you. The only way to be safe from demonic possession is to put on the salvation of Jesus Christ.

Victims who turn to evil

There are many ways for people to turn to evil and many of these diabolical variants from God’s Will have catastrophic consequences. People often turn to occult practices and other activities that aren’t God-centered or even blatantly deny God.[5] Such blasphemous and heretical practices include use of a Ouija board, playing games about magic or witchcraft, or games with false gods; attempting to perform magic, being a Satanist (includes making an actual pact with Satan), use of “new age” tools, sex out of wedlock, homosexuality, adultery, having an abortion[9], or having suicidal thoughts.[5]

"Scripture repeatedly relates idol worship to the actual worship of demons (Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 32:17; Psalm 106:37; 1 Corinthians 10:20), so it should not be surprising that involvement with idolatry could lead to demon possession."[10]

The Biblical procedure

While many Catholics have good intentions in their desire to use objects in rituals, the use of material things for the purpose of performing an exorcism is neither necessary nor required by scriptures. While traditions are perfectly acceptable with the Bible (as long as they are godly), a real 'exorcism' is merely casting out the demons in the name of Jesus. Medallions, crucifixes and other goods are not needed, and some of them are actually superstitious and idolatrous.

Furthermore, the concept of using material goods to protect you from demons and Satan is superstitious and un-Biblical. This is no different than the concept of witches needing wands (as in Harry Potter, for example) in order to do magic. If God hasn't explicitly declared that you are to use a particular object for a particular purpose, then to do so outside of Scriptural instruction is a heretical act.

Personal exorcism

Although personal deliverance prayers can renounce the demon, a commitment to God is vital for spiritual purity. Obviously one must cease their sinning and confess their defiance of God.

Steps

  • Repentance and Faith: If you have been foolishly denying God, start a relationship with Him, ask Him to enter your life, and confess your sins to Him.
  • Forgiveness: Forgive others to prevent death to your soul and don’t be afraid to ask God for help.
  • Renouncing the works of your enemies: Renounce the trouble in your life and give up the power of Satan.
  • Standing in the authority you have in Christ: We have been given authority ahead of time in the name of Jesus Christ to promote the Kingdom of God. Only though Christ can we defeat such demons.
  • Receiving God's blessing of your identity and destiny: Satan’s goal for you while you are in his possession is to deny God. Thanking God is a way of bringing Him into your life and defying the evil works of Satan and his legion.

The Christian Method

The above Catholic example is very similar to the Biblical method, which will be reproduced here.

  • Since only God has the power to cast out demons, you cannot cast them out apart from His power. Any attempt to cast out demons by any other means will be futile.
    • Even if you use the name of Jesus Christ to rebuke a demon but you don't believe in Him, then it will not work.[11]
  • If you are a Christian, then you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and you cannot be possessed by demons.[12]
  • Thus, in order to be protected from demon possession, or alternately, to cast out a demon, the person possessed must come to a true saving faith in Jesus Christ. This is the ONLY WAY to be saved, and it is the only way to be protected from demonic possession.
  • In order to be saved, you must first Repent, meaning to confess your sins to God, earnestly, and to genuinely desire to and turn away from them. The concept of a person continually wallowing in sin is known as them being "unrepentant." It's a sign that they're not saved.
    • After repenting, place your trust in Jesus Christ, accepting His sacrifice for your sins on your behalf as an atonement that allows you to be justified in God's sight, and considered a Child of God, a Saint, and part of the Royal Priesthood of believers mentioned in 1 Peter 2).
    • If you have 1) truly repented and 2) truly believed on Jesus, then you have eternal assurance of your salvation (Read 1 John 1) and God will never let you be snatched out of His hand.

In the New Testament

In the New Testament Jesus proves His undeniable status as Messiah by His power over demons by casting them out of victims with the Almighty finger of God.[1]

Christ also allows his Apostles and Disciples to perform exorcisms in His name while he was still on earth (Matthew 10:1 and 8; Mark 6:7; Luke 9:1; 10:17).[1]

See also

Further Reading

Links

Got Questions

Youtube

Mark Driscoll

John Piper

Footnotes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Catholic Encyclopedia
  2. Bible Gateway, Matthew 8:28-34
  3. Bible Gateway, Matthew 10:5-8
  4. Can a Christian Today Perform an Exorcism?
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 St Michael
  6. What Does the Bible Say About Demonic Possession?
  7. 1 Peter 2:9-10. "9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy."
  8. [1] Galatians 3:28.
  9. If you have had an abortion in the past, this site provides help for you.
  10. What Does the Bible Say About Demon Possession?
  11. Acts 19:11-16 "11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded."
  12. 1 John 4:4 ESV "Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."