Do you believe exorcisms are real and do they still occur? Are any recorded in the Bible?
I have a cousin who will remain unnamed and years ago when he was in the county jail, he began reading the Bible. Then he believed in God and started to want to witness, but when a new cell mate was put in his cell, the man started going berserk when my cousin started witnessing to him. He even began to have convulsions and started threatening to kill my cousin and burn his Bible. The man scared my cousin so much that he requested to have another cell. My cousin is sure that this man was possessed, and a few others in the Arkansas jail thought the same thing. They noticed that he started ranting and raving anytime a Bible program came on the radio or a preacher spoke on a Sunday morning. Was this man possessed? We will never know for sure, but it is entirely possible, because demons do exist and they can take possession of a soul, and when they do, it can be a frightening experience.
A Failed Exorcism
The Bible has several accounts of people being demon possessed, and Jesus was the one Who dealt with most of these accounts in the New Testament. I find it interesting that the demons were the first evangelists, because they were the first to profess that Jesus is the Son of the Living God, the Son of the Most High, although Jesus rebuked them, for it wasn’t time for that to be known yet (Mark 5:7), so the disciples and Jesus’ followers were the last to know. Jesus, as God, has authority over everyone, including the demons, but does He give everyone that authority to His disciples, but what happens if these “exorcists” don’t truly know the Lord? The Seven Sons of Sceva had noticed “God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them” (Acts 19:11-12), so these Jewish sons wanted a part of that. They thought they’d take the glory and fame to themselves by casting out demons, but they made a crucial mistake. They didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and so these “itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims” (Acts 19:13), but if you don’t know Christ, Christ doesn’t know you. This makes sense because the demons asked these would-be exorcists, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded” (Acts 19:15-16).
You better be sure you have the authority to cast out demons, because no one has any authority unless it comes from Christ (Matt 28:18), but this authority was given to His disciples, and we read in the Book of Acts where demons were cast out by some of the apostles. The concern comes when many believe they know the Lord (Matt 7:21), but He will say to these same “many” on the day of His visitation, “Depart from Me, for I never knew you” (Matt 7:23). The Seven Sons of Sceva had no relationship with Jesus, so Satan or his demons didn’t know them. If you know Jesus, believe me, the demons will know you, because you’ll be under spiritual attack (Eph 6:11-18). That’s why the demons didn’t know these Jewish sons. If Satan or his demons know you, it’s probably because you’ve shared your faith, you’ve grown in holiness (not sinless though), and you’ve been doing some ministry for the Lord. If that’s the case, you’re going to be hit with the spiritual darts of the enemy, but if you have a clean conscience and put your trust in God, then you no reason to fear the enemy or his demons. For the Christ follower, demon possession is not possible. The Apostle John wrote, “you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1st John 4:4), so if the Holy Spirit is resident, then Satan can never be president. He can afflict us with spiritual darts, but the Holy Spirit is God, and Satan cannot overpower God the Holy Spirit, because God is greater than Satan since God created Satan (as Lucifer). That’s why John writes to encourage them; “I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one” (1st John 2:13).
Are Exorcisms Real?
I really believe exorcisms are real and that they do occur. While I was in seminary, we had to read some diaries of missionaries who gave accounts that terrified us. These demon possessed people displayed supernatural power that intimidated everyone around them. There were certainly demonic powers involved in these accounts, and it was probably because these missionaries had entered into “enemy territory” for the very first time, and they brought a message of doom to the enemy; the gospel of repentance and faith, brought by the precious blood of the Lamb of God. That is something Satan truly detests and cannot listen too, so if you’re ever under demonic affliction, then start praying and thanking God for the victory over the enemy by the sinless life, suffering, shed blood, and death of Jesus Christ; the Lamb without blemish and without spot. Satan hates that. That subject reminds him that his fate was sealed on that day (John 12:31; 16:11).
Exorcisms may be real, because demon possession is real, but the surest way of exorcising a demon or demons, is for the person to repent and trust in Christ. When a person is born again (John 3:3-7), they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit brings conviction of sin, and this causes us to repent and then confess our sins. After we put our trust in Christ, we have no more fear of demon possession. The enemy hates that he has lost another soul to the kingdom. Should you try and perform an exorcism? Should you try to do it by yourself or bring someone with you? Does a church leader have experience in this area? I would move slowly and be cautiously in trying to cast out a demon, because these demons can display great power, although they can’t overcome and overtake the believer. That’s because the Holy Spirit’s living in us. However, they can still fire a lot of flaming darts at us.