Satan, Satanism, Demonism, and Exorcism
Chapter 8: Exorcism
The Bible has much to say about demonic possession and exorcism, the casting of demons—evil spirits—out of people. Exorcism was done by Jesus and the Apostles (Matt. 8:16, 28-34; 9:32, 33; 12:22; 15:22-28; 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29; 16:9; Acts 5:16; 8:7; 16:16-18). Jesus Himself was accused of being possessed by demons and of casting out demons by Satan's power (Matt. 9:34; 10:25; 12:24-30; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 11:15; John 7:20; 8:48; 10:20). It is easy to think that someone is possessed by a demon when such is not the case. The demons sought to discredit Jesus and the Apostles even by giving favorable testimony of them (Matt. 8:29; Mark 1:23, 24; 3:11; 5:7; Luke 8:28; Acts 16:16-18; 19:13-16).
That there is a world of demons, is perfectly clear to all who know the Scriptures and respect and accept them as inspired of God. His people are children of light, not of darkness (1 Thes. 5:1-5). The prevalent degradation among mankind is in large measure the result of demonic influence. The Apostle Paul urges us to "put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in heavenly places" (Eph. 6:11, 12, margin).
Suggestions, diversions and impressions can be received from Satan's demons and harbored to such an extent that one becomes beset or obsessed with an evil idea, desire, emotion or passion, and if this obsession is not resisted it leads to full demonic control or possession.
This is well illustrated in the case of Judas Iscariot. He received and harbored evil suggestions in his heart and was thereby diverted from the path of truth and righteousness. These evil suggestions were not overcome but produced deepened impressions, which worked in him an obsession to accomplish his evil purpose (Matt. 26:14-16); thus Satan entered into him to the point of obsession (Luke 22:3-6)—he put it into Judas' heart to betray Jesus (John 13:2). After Jesus had repeatedly warned Judas and finally exposed him and told him to make up his mind and act quickly, Judas fully yielded to Satan as his master and Satan entered into him in the fullest sense and possessed him fully (John 13:21-30).
In these days of uncertainty, insecurity, distress, confusion and trouble, the widespread great interest in and engagement with the supernatural, psychic phenomena, mysticism, spiritism, Satanism and the occult, is alarming; yet this is as the Bible prophesied it would be (1 Tim. 4:1). Georgetown University reports that of all the $8,000 worth of books stolen from its main library, more books on the devil and witchcraft have disappeared than those on any other subject.
THE FILM "THE EXORCIST"
"The Exorcist," one of the most popular and top money-making movies of all time, has greatly accentuated this interest, as has also the book. Some scenes of this movie that expose the results of demonic possession are so repulsive that many have vomited in the theaters, blacked out, and suffered hallucinations, hysteria, great depression and apprehension.
Some have acted very strangely after seeing this film, thus arousing fear that they are themselves obsessed or possessed by demons. Some have found it hard to concentrate, to think clearly or to carry on conversations coherently. Some are driven by "strange powers" to say and do evil things, contrary to their desires. People have committed suicide after seeing this film.
Some strange things happened also in the production of "The Exorcist." The following are just a few: Fires broke out on the set. The large object that the star performer worshiped in the film disappeared and ended up in the East, thousands of miles away. One actor's child was on the beach and as from nowhere a car ran over him and he almost died. Serious illnesses and accidents (heart attacks, a broken back, etc.) happened to almost everyone in the film, and family members of many who had parts in it died. All the main actors in it said they will never be the same again.
Commenting on the upsurge of concern about demonology, partly resulting from "The Exorcist," the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, said: "There are genuine exorcisms, but there also is a lot of phony superstition around."
However, whether through superstition or otherwise, Satan and his fallen angels are ever seeking to influence humans and to gain control of them. Some people are strong enough in faith to command the demon or demons in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to leave them, laying hold on God's promise, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7; note our Lord's example—Matt. 4:8-11).
Others are so sick spiritually that they should call for the spiritually minded elders of the Lord's Church to pray over them, anointing them with the oil of God's holy Spirit, and if they have committed sins, they will be forgiven because of the prayers of the elders (John 15:7) and the true repentance and the earnest desire of faith manifested in calling for the elders (James 5:14-16). If in any case exorcism is needed, the exorcists who are called upon for help should be true and devout followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. They must have strong faith and may need to engage in much prayer and fasting in some cases (Matt. 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29).
SATAN'S AGENTS NOT TO BE CONSULTED
Some make the mistake of going to Satan's own agents to get relief from physical ailments and demonic control. Note, for example, the following news item:
The parents of a girl three years old have called in clairvoyants, mediums, and exorcists because they fear that the child "has been taken over by some sort of supernatural presence." "Light switches clicked on and off, ash trays fell off tables, solid pieces of furniture moved themselves, firmly closed doors flew open, and warm rooms suddenly became icy cold," the girl's mother said. She added: "Most frightening of all, though, was the transformation of Carol. She started holding conversations with somebody else, using words which no three-year-old could ever know."
Before asking for clairvoyant help, the parents decided to fight the spirit by putting a wooden cross in their living room. "When Carol went near the cross, her face contorted. She would bunch her fingers up into claws and bare her teeth. It was frightening!"
Many exorcisms are being performed by clairvoyants, spirit mediums, promoters of Satan's lies (Gen. 3:4, 5; John 7:44; 2 Cor. 4:4) and other servants of Satan. We are not to think it strange that in these "last days" Satan is casting out Satan and healing diseases, for he now realizes that his time is short (Rev. 12:12), as he sees his "kingdom divided against itself" (Matt. 12:25, 26) and falling to pieces (Psa. 2:9; Rev. 2:27). In his desperate efforts to hold the people under his power he practices all kinds of deception, even ascribing to God the praise for the conversions that he makes to his own errors, and the healings and exorcisms accomplished by his own "power and signs and lying wonders" (2 Thes. 2:9, 10; Matt. 24:24). Otherwise there are many whom he would not be so able to deceive.
Indeed, "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light," and his servants, his ministers, are "transformed as the ministers of righteousness" (2 Cor. 11:14, 15). Many of these servants of Satan, in forwarding his errors and practices, are sincere and think they are serving God when really they are serving Satan (Matt. 7:21-23; Luke 13:24-28). Some exorcists who have no right to take the Lord's name upon them (Psa. 50:16, 17), because they are not true disciples of Christ, suffer as a result of their practices, sometimes from the demons themselves, even though some good may be accomplished (Acts 19:13-20).
We encourage all Christians to consecrate, or dedicate, themselves fully to God (Rom. 12:1, 2) and then to walk carefully in Jesus' steps (1 Pet. 2:21), obeying only His voice, as God speaks to us through Him, and not giving any heed to the many contrary voices that speak to us on every hand (John 10:4, 5, 14, 27). In making our consecration to God we vow to lay down self-will and to accept His will as our will in all things (Psa. 40:7; Heb. 10:7; Matt. 26:39; John 6:38).
As a part of their general consecration to do God's will, some have made the following specific vow or pledge as a means of fortifying themselves against the special present-day attacks of Satan and his demons and their ensnarements along the lines of Spiritism and Occultism, and have found it very helpful; for the evil powers soon turn from a Christian so fortified and seek easier prey:
"I vow to Thee that I will be on the alert to resist everything akin to Spiritism and Occultism, and that, remembering that there are but the two masters, I shall resist these snares in all reasonable ways, as being of the Adversary."
We must put on and keep on the whole armor of God if we would stand against the wiles of the devil and his wicked spirits in high positions (Eph. 6:11, 12); for Satan, as a roaring lion, goes about, seeking whom he may devour. We must be steadfast in the faith in resisting him (1 Pet. 5:8, 9). If he approaches us, especially in a tempting or tormenting way, we should repulse him, and examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith, or in some measure unfaithful (1 Cor. 11:28; 2 Cor. 13:5).
All occult involvement must be recognized as disobedience to God, must be repented of, confessed to Him and repudiated, if we would be forgiven by Him. We should desire and pray earnestly in Jesus' name for God's forgiveness. Then, exercising the full assurance of faith, we should follow Jesus' example in directly commanding Satan (and/or his demons) to depart (Matt. 4:10). Our command should be in the name of our Lord Jesus.
If called upon to assist another who is troubled by evil spirits, we should pray earnestly with the troubled one, in Jesus' name asking for his deliverance from Satanic power. If after careful investigation (snap judgment should be avoided) it seems to be a case of obsession or possession by Satanic powers, and if we feel strong enough in the faith, we might follow the example of the Apostle Paul, saying: "I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out" (Acts 16:18). May God bless us all as we avoid Satan's snares, repulse his temptations and attacks and keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 21), remembering that "if God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31)!
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