Let’s Talk About Demon Possession
Why do exorcisms seem to be predominantly in the domain of the Catholic Church? Do Protestants, in general, not believe demon possession can happen anymore, and if we do, are the Catholic methods the best practices? This may be too big of a question for the “Ask Dr. E” podcast, but it’s been on my mind and heart lately.
Catholics are still the ones pioneering how to do exorcisms. If you want to jump on your search engine and look at some bonafide Catholic websites, you can go deep into all this. Protestants typically do not follow these kinds of procedures, and it’s important to know why. A great book on this subject is Angels Elect and Evil by C. Fred Dickason. Understanding what angels do and don’t do in scripture is a good starting point. They did possess people and harass people in both the Old and New Testaments. But the difference is Jesus Christ is the One who has authority over demons.
All we have to do is point to Mark 5 or Matthew 8, with the Gerasene demoniac. Only Christ could do that. The idea that a Catholic priest could go through some ritual to do it raises all sorts of questions. In the New Testament, even His disciples are ineffective and were given authority to do this for a season. But Jesus says, don’t rejoice in this. That was a temporary commission. In Acts, we see Paul dealing with demons, but it falls off after that.
Signs and Wonders vs. Their Purpose
The so-called ‘signs and wonders’ gifts were given to authenticate the message of the gospel. Jesus gave these to certain individuals for a period of time. By Acts 28, we don’t hear about these gifts anymore. Instead, the church is established, apostolic authority is in place, and apostles are making disciples like Timothy and Titus. They’re carrying on the work they were to do from Acts 1:8.
These miracles were an authentication Christ gave them, but that wasn’t the mission. The mission was to make disciples of all ethnos. The mission was to present the gospel to people. Jesus didn’t stand in line forever and heal everybody. He didn’t come just to be a healer. All the miracles Christ performed were a spiritual reference.
The point of exorcism in Matthew 8 and Mark 5 is not the act but the believer. Jesus sent him back to be a disciple-maker to his people. He wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus told him to witness to his people. So, a believer in Jesus Christ, who is indwelt by the person of the Holy Spirit, cannot be possessed.
The Holy Spirit will not allow a demon to co-inhabit a believer. Once you trust Christ and Christ alone, you are immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit. You’re born again, and the Holy Spirit lives in you. The challenge is not fighting off demons but submitting to God’s Word and Spirit, as in Ephesians 5:18.
Resist The Devil, and He Will Flee
If a person was demon possessed today, you wouldn’t call a Catholic priest; you would pray to Christ, saying, ‘Christ, You’re the only One that can do this.’ We don’t need rituals and repetition to get rid of a demon. That’s man’s work in the flesh, in a religious wrapping. Those rituals in and of themselves are demonic. So this whole idea of demonology is very dangerous.
Whenever you talk of Satan, be aware he’s smarter than you. And even when you talk of him in the right way, he can use it in the wrong way. We can’t fight him. Protestants would say you can be harassed. However, if the Holy Spirit of God indwells you, and you’re living a lifestyle of sin, you can’t blame it on Satan. Satan can lure us, but James 4:7 is very clear. Submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
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