Our Spiritual Soldier Series continues as we address the issue of casting out demons. Depending on where you go to get information about spiritual warfare, you will find people talking about exorcisms or casting out demons. We must know how to deal with demons and evil spirits.
We see Jesus and the apostles doing this in the New Testament. When they faced demons they cast them out as part of advancing God’s Kingdom. You have a lot of questions about casting out demons. So let’s take a look at this part of spiritual warfare.
- Who can cast out demons?
Jesus and the apostles in the first century regularly cast out demons. Today we hear a lot about Catholic priests who have the ability of exorcism. But only priests in the Catholic Church can do this. Some people ask if everyday Christians can cast out demons.
Yes, any Christian has the authority in Christ to cast out demons. But not every Christian is prepared to. The seven sons of Sceva discovered this firsthand (Acts 19:13-16). They went around casting out demons “By Jesus Christ whom Paul preaches.”
While it may have worked with some demons they ran into more powerful ones that called them on the carpet and drove them away naked and bleeding. The authority is not in the words. It’s in our relationship with Jesus.
Jesus has divested his authority in every Christian. Because we are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14) the Spirit dwells in us. No demon can stand against the presence of God. Greater is the Holy Spirit in us then the demons and evil spirits in the world (1 John 4:4).
While Satan with his demons controls the world right now (Ephesians 2:2) they don’t come close to God’s authority and power over them. Because you walk with Jesus you have His light in you (Matthew 5:14-16). Demons must flee from you.
- What do I need to cast out demons?
You need to exercise the authority of Christ in you. While you have Jesus’ authority already, you must be authoritative in using it. Know your identity in Christ and stand on who you are in Him. There’s no need to be timid or afraid.
You know you have the upper ground and every weapon to stand against the enemy in whatever form it comes against you. You stand on that authority in Christ and command the demon to leave in the name of Jesus. That’s all there is to it.
You need a continuous and vibrant relationship with Jesus. As I mentioned with the seven sons of Sceva the power behind commanding demons to leave comes from your relationship with Jesus.
It’s not you the demons are afraid of. It is not Jesus’ name or some formula you think will work. Just as the world sees you as Jesus with skin on, demons sense the presence of God and Jesus in you. That is why they flee.
So when you stand against demons with a connected and vibrant relationship with Him they cannot stick around. Jesus tells us that without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). This is true of our walk with Him as His disciples and in spiritual warfare.
You need to be prayed up and fully committed on the deepest levels to obedience in Christ. In one example in the Gospels the disciples were unable to cast out a demon (Matthew 17:19-21). When they ask Jesus why they could not cast it out Jesus answers that, “These only come out by prayer and fasting.”
Unfortunately, Hollywood and overly dramatic ministries have taken this out of context. They make it sound like there are certain steps that must be part of casting out demons. When Jesus states you must pray and fast He is referring to being fully prepared to walk in the power and authority He gives us.
Deep intercessory prayer and fasting are “going the extra mile” in our culture. Most Christians don’t fast at all, let alone in preparation to have spiritual power when they command and declare Jesus’ authority.
You must not be lacking in all of the duties of your relationship with Jesus. The deeper your relationship with Jesus the more power you have to do greater things for Him. In a world of uncommitted people, wishy-washy and sticking their toes in the water instead of jumping in, going “all in” in your relationship with Jesus prepares you for anything out there.
You don’t need to be a Catholic priest. You don’t need to have incantations or scriptures against demons. You don’t need certain spiritual gifts or abilities. You don’t need to watch The Exorcist.
- Is there a protocol for casting out demons?
Not necessarily. People watch Hollywood movies and way too much TV about exorcism with some magic words or incantations. Others think you have to have objects like a cross, a rosary, or a Bible with you.
But this is not the case at all. You must declare the name of Jesus because His name is above every other name in heaven and on earth (Philippians 2:9-10). Tell the demon to leave and it must obey the name of Jesus. As long as you have prepared yourself in the ways I have discussed in question 2 the demon must obey you.
Jesus very seldom did anything more than these few steps. Only one time did Jesus have an extended conversation with a demon. Every other time He cast them out with barely more than a word or two.
There’s no need have a conversation with a demon because it will not yield any results. Demons by nature are liars. They will attempt to deceive you. There’s no need to ask them about themselves because they will lie to you.
Asking them questions will only let them think they can overpower you or find a way out of the situation. They will attempt to make you feel like you are inadequate or not powerful enough to cast them out.
They will try to talk you out of casting them out. Or they will try to hurt the person they possess. Don’t talk to them or fight with them. You have the upper hand. Cast them out and let that be the end of it.
- How did Jesus cast out demons?
Throughout the Gospels when Jesus faced demons His most common approach was to simply cast them out. With a word or two he commanded them to leave. Many times He would ask about the symptoms of the demon possession, but He was talking to the people, not the demon.
You may notice Jesus commanded demons to be silent about His identity. There are two reasons for this. First, a common belief in paganism is that if you know the name of the spiritual entity you are addressing you have power over it. But they cannot gain power over Him.
The other reason is that they would reveal who He is and may have attempted to speed the completion of His mission on earth. Throughout the Gospel of John Jesus says that His hour has not yet come.
There was a divinely designated and planned time for everything Jesus accomplished to be done. The demons may have been attempting to preempt that divine timing to get rid of Jesus faster. Either way, because demons are innate liars Jesus had no reason to speak to them.
But demons would not be able to lie to Jesus. They know who He is. He has greater authority and power. This Faith Church blog post by Brian Dennert is a thorough resource on the subject of Jesus and demons in the Gospels.
At one time Jesus had an extended conversation with a demon (Mark 5:1-13). Jesus asks the demon his name and he calls himself Legion. Scholars point to a Roman legion, a group of soldiers. There were thousands of soldiers in a Roman legion. The demon says, “We are many.”
Jesus not only shows His power over such a large demonic force that demonstrates how important it is for us to be prepared to cast out demons. The demon begged Jesus not to cast him out (Mark 5:10). We must not be afraid of demons no matter how powerful they say they are. We have the power of Jesus living inside us, the Holy Spirit.
- Do demons still possess people today?
The New Testament does talk about what we call demon possession in a few ways. The terminology of possession may or may not be accurate according to the terms used in the Bible. It may be better for us to say something like “demonized” or talking about demonic influence or oppression.
Throughout the Bible you don’t see much demon possession in the Old Testament. One of the only occurrences is when King Saul is inhabited by an evil spirit (). They were surely part of the culture and theology of Israel.
After the book of Acts you don’t see much about demon possession and how to deal with it throughout the New Testament either. But this doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen today. Nothing in the Bible gives us the impression that things have changed.
It is still quite possible to face off with a demon possessing a person. The Bible says we have the authority and power to cast out demons (Mark 16:17). So we must still be prepared to encounter demon possession and cast out demons.
- Where would I find demon possession today?
Demon possession is still around today. Nothing in the New Testament tells us that it stopped. We are told we will have the ability to cast out demons (Mark 16:17). This tells us demons are still around today and still do what they did in the Bible.
It is rare for you to see demon possessed people today. But you need to be prepared in case you come across one. Do your due diligence before going right to demon possession. Some people may have mental issues, sin in their lives, or some other reason that they seem demon possessed.
This is not to say a person is not demon possessed. But when we go right to demon possession we may not have the discernment and perception to see other issues in a person’s life.
Jesus and the apostles were often moving into new territory when they encountered demons. The sheer fact of Jesus’ power being God on earth, invading Satan’s space may be a reason we see more demonic activity in his ministry.
The apostles in the book of Acts were going into new places of the world, carrying Jesus’ light with them. When they ran into demonic activity it may have been because they were moving into new physical territory.
Today I hear more accounts of demonic activity from missionaries who are going to countries and places the gospel has never been before. They must deal with demonic activity more because they are breaking new ground for the gospel.
But if you encounter demonic activity, you are a Spiritual Soldier taking the gospel wherever you go. Be prepared for whatever spiritual situation you encounter, demonic activity included.
You will find demons lurking in spiritual darkness. If you enter one of their strongholds where they have enjoyed unchallenged power they will come out of the wood works. You may not even realize you are treading on their territory.
Your best weapons in fights against demons and evil spirits is to preach the gospel, be a prayer warrior and interceder, and have a vibrant relationship with Jesus. And the evil spirits or demons will not be able to stand against these weapons.
Demon possession is not as common today as it was in the past. But even Christians can experience demonic influence, especially if they open the doors to it through sin, temptation, and experimenting with the occult, for example.
Be prepared to encounter demons and demonic activity. Cast out demons without playing games with them or talking to them. You already know everything you need to know about them. What are some other principles you can think of if you have dealt with demonic activity before?
Now that we have addressed casting out demons we will return to the subject of territorial spirits. Do you need to be concerned about territorial spirits? Onward in the march as Christ’s Spiritual Soldiers in His power and authority.