Is Exorcism Biblical?

The fascination with occult themes has been around since biblical times, but in the past few years, obsession over it seems to have increased in modern western culture. No doubt, the entertainment industry, with “games/toys,” movies (“The Rite”), and TV programs (“Paranormal Witness”) has certainly heightened the interest. In fact The Christian Post recently published an article detailing this fact (“Growing Demand for Exorcisms as More Unchurched Americans Seek Help With Demonic Possession,” The Christian Post, 9-28-16,). Promoting evil like this not only demonstrates a mindset determined to capitalize on sensationalism (making merchandise of people), but also provides clear evidence of the unbiblical nature of what such proponents are teaching and doing. Further, we are witnessing the non-christian/pagan underpinnings of even religious institutions and systems that are advocating such teachings. This is clearly seen as both Roman Catholic and Charismatic/Pentecostal Churches have carved out a niche for themselves in the area identified as “occultic” by supposedly performing “exorcisms,” of demons, and are thereby complicit in a massive deception.

We believe the devil and demons are active in this age. Peter describes Satan as “a roaring lion,” who “walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Paul warns Timothy to beware of “doctrines of devils (demons)” (1 Timothy 4:1) that have caused “some” to abandon the faith. Is it possible that in the spreading of such teachings, demons possess, control, influence, and even indwell these people? The New Testament seems to strongly imply this truth, if not actually affirm it. The question is: How should such “possession” be handled? Are Christians able to “cast out demons?”

There is no biblical teaching to indicate believers have any authority or ability to “cast out demons.” Nothing in the New Testament epistles gives even a hint that such can be done by any New Testament believer today. When confronted with what we might think is someone who is demonically controlled, what should we do? 1) Pray that Christ's power will be given to establish resolution and relief, first in salvation and then in sanctification. 2) When we experience unusual opposition from the powers of darkness, reflect on the nature of sin, renewing our focus on employing the armor of God He has provided to resist such demonic attacks (Ephesians 6:10-17). Both Peter and James exhort believers to focus on submitting to the Lord (1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7). 3) If the person is involved with occult objects (Ouija boards, Tarot cards, etc), these items should be immediately destroyed (not simply discarded).

Believers are never given any indication that they should ever confront Satan or his demons. We are never told to search for them. We are never told to rebuke them. In fact, that is something even Michael the archangel would not do (Jude 9), but left it to the Lord. Paul's thorn in the flesh provided him with what some would claim today to be an opportunity to “rebuke” or “confront” Satan. However, Paul took it to the Lord three times. The Lord would not remove it; rather, it was used to enable Paul to remain spiritually strong (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). As with every facet of our lives, we should continually be drawing nearer to God Himself, not getting off track by seeing demons or the devil everywhere. After all, he is a defeated foe (Genesis 3:15; Hebrews 2:14). — Gary Freel