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How to Cast Out Demons Like Jesus

Exorcisms have exploded into some Christians circles recently. Often so-called “deliverance” meetings or “spiritual encounters” have more hype and hysteria surrounding them than the emotional frenzy seen in tween girls at a popular boy band concert.

Like a skilled conductor who brings the entire orchestra to the a peak of a crescendo so an expert exorcist can with ease bring his crowd of eager spectators to the edge of emotional sanity.

UcWnUkfCnvWL8qD2NNZa27-970-80Sadly the cunning teaching and unscriptural practices of certain unscrupulous teachers have gulled their listeners into believing a lies through careful manipulation of Biblical texts, mixed with extraordinary stories of supernatural encounters. This mangled breed of theology and practice inflicts great damage in the life of the Church and individual believers.

Lest you think that I do not believe in Satan or in that his demons can “possess” a person let me simply state the following:

I believe demons and Satan exist and that they have a limited influence our world.
I have participated in exorcisms.
I have seen violent and clear demon possession.

That being said this article will not be based upon my experiences with the demonic world.

Why?

Because I have seen far too much teaching based upon man’s experience. Stories of demon possession are a dime a dozen. Most who call themselves “exorcist” also enjoy entertaining their audiences with stories of their past encounters with demons.

While they may have seen real demon possession the problem is that they then base their teaching and their practice upon their own subjective experiences. Rather than interpreting their experiences through the prism of God’s Word, they begin to look at God’s Word through the distortion of their own experiences.

My goal here is not to share with you my personal encounters with demons but rather to simply show you exactly what God’s Word says.

How the New Testament Talks about Demons and Exorcisms

Let’s first make sure we have a basic understanding of demon possession in the the New Testament.

The main word used to refer to the evil spirit beings is simply “Demon” (Greek= Diamonion), which is found 60 times. Other places use the phrase “unclean spirit” (24 times) and once “python spirit” (Acts 16:16).

Commonly when we talk about manifestations of demons in people we call it “demon possession,” however this terminology does not exist in the New Testament. There are two common ways that the authors of Scripture refer to situations where people exhibited some sort of demonic behavior. First, they are called “demonized” (Greek daimonizomai). Second, they are described as having or being with an unclean spirit or demon.

Twice people are referred to as lunatics or moonstruck. It is unclear whether this is a result of demonization in Mat 4:24 but in Mat 17:15 Jesus later casts a demon out of the boy who was moonstruck.

When exorcisms were performed it is often says they “came out” which leads us to the understanding that the demons were spatially in the person.

In the rest of this article I will use the Biblical term demonized or demonization instead of demon possession.

Signs of Demonization

Demonized individuals in the New Testament exhibited a limited number of clear signs of demonic activity.
There are 7 different physical manifestations, these did not all appear in every case of demonization but every demonized person exhibited at least one or more of these signs, they include:
  1. Blindness (Mat 12:22)
  2. Deafness (Mat 12:22)
  3. Dumbness (Mar 9:32)
  4. Convulsions (Mar 1:26)
  5. Unusual strength (Mar 5:3-4)
  6. Screaming, crying loudly (Mar 5:5)
  7. Self-harm (Mar 5:5)
In addition to these physical manifestations demonized individuals prophesied (Acts 16:16) and occasionally recognized Jesus and the apostles (Mar 1:34, Act 19:15)

How Jesus dealt with Demons

Jesus’ approach to demons was not always the same, it depended on the context. However as we look at how Jesus dealt with demons we can see a few common factors.

There are only 6 occasions in the Gospels that describe a specific instance where Jesus cast demons out of someone.

1. Man with an unclean spirit at the synagogue Mar 1:23-20, Luke 4:33-37
2. Man who was mute Mat 9:32-33, Luke 11:14
3. Man who was mute and blind Mat 12:22-23
4. Demoniac of Gadarene Mar 5:1-20, Mat 8:28-34, Luke 8:26-39
5. Greek woman’s daughter Mark 7:25-30, Mat 15:21-28
6. Boy with deaf and dumb spirit Mar 9:17-29, Mat 17:14-21, Luke 9:37-43

There are other general references to Jesus casting out demons but because they don’t include details of the exorcisms they are not as useful for this study.

Here are a few common factors that we see in every case of exorcism that Jesus did.

1. Jesus never sought the demon possessed, they came to Him.

Jesus approach to exorcisms was contrary to many contemporary “exorcists.” The accounts of Jesus casting out demons show us that Jesus never looked for demonized people. He never held special exorcism meetings, he never prepared his audience with stories of how he had previously exercised demons. Jesus simply went and preached the Gospel and it was the people who brought the sick and the demonized to Him.
And evening having come on, they brought to Him many having been possessed by demons. And He cast out the spirits by a word, and He healed all those having illness,
(Mat 8:16)

2. Jesus was not violently aggressive towards demonized individuals.

I’m not sure why but it seems that many exorcists today feel they need to raise their voices and verbally abuse the demons in order to get them to come out. Maybe they’re just trying to be so loud and annoying that the demons will leave so they can have some peace and quiet!
In most instances Jesus simply rebukes the demon and tells it to come out.

When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that won’t let him talk or hear—I command you to come out of him and never enter him again!” (Mar 9:25)

3. Jesus never used “holy” objects to drive the demons out.

Crosses, holy water, big Bibles, I’ve seen all these used as way to “torture” the demons until they come out. Did it not cross anyone’s mind that you can’t torture a spiritual being with a physical object, not to mention that Jesus did absolutely none of these things! According to Jesus he cast out Demons by the Spirit of God (Mat 12:28)
Paul also tell us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood (Eph 6:12) and thus we are not to fight the spiritual battle with physcial objects.

4. Jesus did not make a “show” out of the exorcisms.

Often the exorcists will bring the demonized person in front of an audience and only then take them through a long string of questions, then a bunch of “repeat after me” statements to cut all the dreamed up ancient curses that are holding the person down.
Finally, once the demonized person is worked up into a frenzy the exorcists will then begin pulling out all his “spiritual” tricks until the person finally calms down and comes back to normal. It makes for an exciting show and it gives the next volunteer and example to follow.
But Jesus never did that way! In fact Jesus often rebuked the demons and told them to be quiet so that they wouldn’t attract so much attention. (Mar 3:11-12)

5. Jesus didn’t speak much with the demons.

I find it strange that so many modern exorcists make it a practice of conversing in detail with demons and demanding they say their names and how they came to be in that person on and so on. There is no Biblical imperative to talk with demons and while Christ did on occasion talk with evil spirits, it does not seem that this was a prolonged conversation.
If we don’t have to talk to demons, I don’t think we should. We should limit our contact with them as possible.

6. All exorcisms were immediate and complete.

Jesus’ didn’t spend a long time trying to cast out demons, he did it completely and immediately. When the disciples couldn’t exorcise a demon notice that Jesus didn’t tell them to use more holy water, try to break more of the generational curses, or yell a little louder in Jesus name. No, instead Jesus simply said,

“This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.” (Mar 9:29)

There is no Biblical evidence that we are to engage in prolonged “spiritual” battle of this kind, yelling at demons and demanding this and that in the name of Christ. Further-more there is no Biblical precedent to spend hours investigating the past life of a demonized person and then individually casting out different demons and breaking past “generational curses.”

If a demonized person is not immediately healed we are called to simply fast and pray. Unfortunately, fasting and praying doesn’t usually attract such a crowd and it’s certainly not interesting to watch on YouTube and that’s probably way we don’t see many contemporary exorcists taking this Biblical approach.

7. All those from whom Jesus exorcised demons exhibited clear signs of demonization well before they met Jesus.

It is important to note that when Jesus encountered demonized individuals, they had exhibited clear signs of demonization well before their meeting with Jesus. This is in contrast to many contemporary exorcists who often work to bring the demonic manifestations out of a person who may have never exhibited signs of demonization or even known they were demonized beforehand.

The secret to spiritual freedom

Modern day exorcists would like all people to believe that there could be a demon hiding in them somewhere. They would like them to believe there are some “secret” keys that will unlock the spiritual world and rid them of their demons. They would like people to believe that without a special “bondage breaking” prayer, or “generational curse breaking” prayer they will never have victory over sin.
The Bible however, gives us a far different picture of demons and their influence in our world. Yes, unbelievers can be possessed or demonized, but the only real lasting solution may not look as good on TV as the teleexorcists had hoped.
Let me state this a clear as possible!
The only real method of spiritual deliverance is repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
Ultimately we can’t scare out, yell out, or magically push out demons. If somehow we do succeed in casting a demon out without preaching the gospel then we have simply opened the heart of the demonized to further torment. (Mat 12:43-45)
Those who are held in the Devil’s snare need our prayers and they also need patient, gentle teaching and clear gospel instruction and exhortation.
But the servant of the Lord must not strive, but to be gentle to all, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those who oppose, if perhaps God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth, and that they awake out of the snare of the Devil, having been taken captive by him, so as to do the will of that one. (2Ti 2:24-26)
Ultimate freedom from demons, sin, death, and our own ugly sin nature is found uniquely in the truth of the gospel message!

Resources

Below are a few resources I’ve found helpful on the topic of demon possession and demonic/spiritual authority.

Bob DeWaay of Critical Issues Commentary has a number of good teachings related to demon possession, check out his lecture below and also look on his website for more material.

Dr. Phil Fernandes speaks more specifically about some of the flawed exorcism methods used commonly by the Catholic Church. He also touches on a few of the things I mentioned in this article like “holy objects.”

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I am a pastor, missionary, and preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Ukraine since 2007. God blessed me with a wonderful wife and 5 amazing children!

My greatest passion is to teach, encourage, and exhort others to turn to Jesus, who is Savior, Lord, and God!

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