Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How to Cast out Demons without Shouting at the Devil and Frothing at the Mouth

Exorcisms sound scary. The whole idea of 'demon possession' and 'casting out demons' has been hollywoodified (to coin a new term), and thus has tarnished us from having a clearer picture of one aspect of spiritual warfare.

There's much to be said. Some argue about the existence of the demonic. Some argue about how much focus we should give to the devil. Some downplay the reality of the Christian's need to even explore 'spiritual warfare' and all that that entails.

I'm seeking to take the middle road. Please hear me first. I have blogged about the grace of God, the nature of God, the love of God, the need for Godly leadership, the characteristics of Godly people, the need for missional churches, evangelism and loads more. Now for a blog on casting out demons, that should be seen within the whole picture of following Jesus.

Do Demons exist?

This has been a theological conundrum for some, who question the reality of the demonic realm. We clearly see Scripture that highlights Jesus casting out demons, and many references to the reality of the existence of the demonic. Have a quick look at these:

Matthew 5:24 -  'News about [Jesus] spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.'
Matthew 8:16 - 'When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to [Jesus], and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.'
Luke 8:27 - 'When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man...' (Jesus subsequently cast out the demon).

I would argue that the difficulty is not so much on whether the demonic exists, but rather what form do they take. This is the difficult question, but I pose a solution.

Now, I have purposefully labelled the post with a somewhat provocative title to ignite your interest, but there is really not much that is provocative about this post.

How to Cast out Demons without Shouting at the Devil and Frothing at the Mouth

Let me give you a scenario. Someone is clearly distressed. They are crying, feeling depressed, are looking for hope, and they find themselves coming to you for support. Can I suggest, that whether or not the 'devil is at work' and the 'demons are seeking to devour' and whatever colourful language you want to use to help yourself describe the situation, that is somewhat irrelevant. Hear me right here. It is not irrelevant that the negative emotions and feelings of the person are ones of distress and hurt. But it IS irrelevant whether or not the demonic is at work. Let me explain.

Helping the person connect on a deeper level with Jesus is what matters. James 4:7 says, 'Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.' If you continually submit yourselves to God, the rest will take place. Without sounding too liberal for the fundamentalists, and too fundamental for the liberals, what I'm trying to say, is that by pointing people to Christ, the rest will take care of itself (whether or not the person was demon-possessed, merely emotionally hurt, etc). The healing will occur. Jesus will bring fullness of life.

Hebrews 12:2 speaks of fixing our eyes on Jesus, not the demonic. We don't need to shout at the devil and froth at the mouth. Without offending any pentecostal readers, I suggest you don't even need to speak in tongues to witness God bring peace and joy into someones life. There may be a moment where you are prompted by the Holy Spirit to say, 'Get out in Jesus name!' but there may not. You may not even be able to discern what the reasoning is behind the hurt the person is experiencing. And does it even matter?

I am suggesting we lead people to Jesus, through the cross of Jesus, to the resurrection of Jesus. Through the cross there is forgiveness, and through the resurrection there is hope for eternal life here and now, and in the future to come.

Exorcisms may sound scary, and the whole idea of 'demon-possession' and spiritual warfare may be over dramatised by the media industry and some Christian churches, but what matters is turning to Christ for the fullness of life that he promises.


Here's a story from Sam Hancock:

'Give me somebody able to cast out devils, and I don't care whether they can read or write, or put a grammatical sentence together' (Catherine Booth, AGGRESSIVE CHRISTIANITY, p57).

There's a wonderful irony here. A few years ago I received a phone call from a journalist at a capital city paper asking me for a comment on 'casting out devils'. The Pope had issued a new statement on exorcism, and the religion writer was looking to put together an interesting article. She had rung the Uniting Church PR person, and he just happened to be the guy who had been my Pastor mate in our suburb. He had heard me tell stories about some of the 'casting out devils' that Ev and I had done.
I knew better than to make any comment to a city journo without contacting PR. So I rang the guy in charge at the time. He encouraged me to comment, as long as I simply descibed my experiences.
So I rang the journo back and told her some of our stories. I was excited at the prospect of a city daily publishing the promise of 'freedom in Jesus Name' that people in bondage to the devil might read.
At 8.15 am the next morning I received a troubled phone call. Not from the demon possessed, but from the PR person. They were not happy! And I was to blame!
The PR person had composed a letter that he read to me over the phone. The letter was a complaint to the journalist and the Editor of the paper for their mis-reporting of what I had said. He said he was faxing it to me, and I should sign it and return it to him right away.
I told him I couldn't do that because the letter said things that weren't true. He sounded flustered, and asked me what I could say. I suggested some things, and later in the day turned the letter around for him.
I thank God for the courage and power to 'cast out devils' in Jesus name!


1 comment:

  1. My name in Ray Perritt, I live in Michigan and I believe in the Lord Jesus. I have been in the midst of a struggle since this past summer when, right after that annular eclipse, I was sitting on the couch when I felt something come into me...like into my chest. I was paralyzed from head to toe, not even being able to swallow the snack I had been chewing.
    Since that time, I keep getting strange thoughts, to go see a psychic, I get preassure on my chest frequently and have been suffering from my ears ringing constantly, sometimes it comes and goes...sometimes its so accute that I can hardly think, when the ringing is bad, so in the chest preassure. I am asking it you could pray for me because I believe that if you do, the LORD will hear you and help me.

    Thank you.


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