Casting out Demons?
Jesus called his disciples to go out into the world and bring people to Himself and share the good news of salvation. These are his words: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to everyone. Those who believes and are baptized will be saved: but those who do not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My Name they will cast out demons and speak with new tongues.” (Mark 16: 15-17) Scripture tells us that believing in Jesus Christ and following Him is everything.
The Bible tells us that along with teaching and healing people, Jesus also went about casting out demons as part of His earthly ministry. And He calls us to do the same in His Name and by His authority! Jesus affirmed that demons do exist. What does this mean?
Many of us are cautious and stay away from churches that cast out demons. We have heard of preachers who have wild and goofy meetings, yelling and showing off as they supposedly cast out demons. There has been terrible abuse in the area of the Christian deliverance ministry. The ministry of deliverance (casting out demons) cannot be placed in the hands of those who try to build their own reputations on it.
Because many are afraid of the deliverance ministry (casting out demons) most churches today try to meet the spiritual and emotional needs of those they serve by psychological counseling. And this is very helpful. But often all of the knowledge and very best counseling still aren’t enough to break through to freedom for some. We need to do our part to break free from bondage but Jesus Christ is the bondage breaker and we cannot do it on our own.
The Bible speaks plainly about the deliverance ministry. People down through the ages have experienced the power of God’s deliverance. The Source for the Church – the Deliverer is Jesus Christ. He has come to set captives free. Deliverance is the act of casting a demon or demons (strongholds of evil, addictions, torments, phobias, or fears) out of the place given to it or them by a person. God wants freedom for all of His children.
It is believed by many that once a person believes in Christ and is possessed by the Holy Spirit that he or she cannot also be possessed by a demon. But a Christian can be harassed, influenced and tormented by demons because of personal trials (2 Corinthians 12:7) or by believing the lies of the enemy (2 Corinthians 10:4-6) or by becoming involved in sinful activity. ( Ephesians 4:27)
Deliverance or casting out demons was part of the normal life of the early church and was also practiced for the first few centuries of church history. But deliverance today has been neglected. Many pastors may be afraid to allow people to lay hands on others to pray for them, let alone to cast out demons. Many church leaders fear that their church will get a reputation for being the weirdest church in town. However some churches actually have effective and powerful deliverance services today. Scripture guides us to do everything “decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40) It can be done.
God’s power can set the prisoner free and can deliver a person from the spirit of fear or hate or pornography or an addiction to drugs or any other evil. The imprisoned person may not have the power to deliver himself. He needs prayer in the Name of Jesus. But after the person has been set free from the demonic spirit, he does have his part to do in staying free. The person who is delivered from a spiritual problem (evil spirit) must work along with God and refuse to welcome the spirit or spirits back into his life. Often deliverance is the act of casting the demon out of the place given to it by the person in the first place. The person being delivered must renounce the sin and uninvited the evil spirit in his life.
Scripture says: “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest: and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and live there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:24-26)
This scripture in Luke 11 seems to be saying that the person who has had the unclean spirit (demon) removed from his life, has the responsibility to shut the door to that unclean spirit’s returning. And not only shut the door but to leave no room or space for the unclean habit or addiction to return. To fill the empty space with something good. And to keep praying and asking the Lord to cover you and keep you strong.
The alcoholic should not go back to the bar where he enjoyed drinking with his buddies but go to AA meetings and cover himself with Christ. And the person who was addicted to porn should fill his time with a new ministry or work and stay away from the internet or wherever he found temptation. Scripture advises: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Romans 13:14) The person being delivered must seriously want to be delivered and do his part. Make no space or provision for the weakness.
Another Bible passage along this line is: Ephesians 6:13-17. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day. And having done all to stand. Stand therefore having tied truth around your waist and put on the breastplate of righteousness. Having put the shoes of the gospel of peace on and above all taking the shield of faith …and the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”.
We are fighting a spiritual war here on earth and we will win only if we put on (cover ourselves with) the Lord Jesus Christ. Too many times we think we are fighting another person or a political party or another country. But the Bible tells us that we are in a war with spiritual beings – demons and rulers of the darkness.
Scripture says: “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) This is why we need spiritual weapons to fight the spiritual battle. The Lord promises to give his followers authority and power over these evil spirits. Next week we will talk about how we are to fight this spiritual war we find ourselves caught up in here on earth. We will discuss the tools necessary for the church to establish an effective and proven deliverance ministry. This is heavy stuff!
Some of the information for this blog was taken from “God’s Cleansing Stream, Deliverance in the Local Church” by Chris Hayward.