When it comes to the issue of exorcism, I think there are two equally problematic approaches.
Problematic Approach 1. Seek to exactly replicate Jesus and the apostles.
One of those approaches is to see the example of Jesus and the apostles, who have a direct spiritual insight into where there’s demonic activity and a direct authority to rebuke that demonic activity, and to seek to replicate that.
People with this mentality will encounter someone who may not have any demonic involvement at all but who is suffering from mental illness or suffering from any other kind of malady and to seek to exercise that. Or they will seek to devise elaborate exorcism rituals that are work in and of themselves. I don’t think that’s biblical.
Problematic Approach 2. Completely dismiss the idea of demonic activity.
On the other side, that is equally problematic, is the mentality of those, even very conservative Christians, who dismiss the very idea of demonic possession or demonic oppression.
We live in a demon-haunted universe. The Scripture teaches us that there are people who are oppressed by demonic beings and there are people who are being persecuted by demonic beings.
How Should Christians Approach Exorcism and Demonic Possession?
1. With Humility
I think the way we have to approach that is with a sense of humility, in that, we don’t have the direct insight that Jesus does as to when demons are involved.
2. With the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Be willing to speak boldly to someone with the gospel. That is the ultimate exorcism –the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When someone seems to be under some type of demonic influence:
- Pray for the restraint of that demonic influence
- Pray for the authority of Jesus to remove it, if it’s present
- And then speak to the person with the gospel.
In any kind of situation, you always have someone, maybe under a thousand layers, who’s still there. And the power of the gospel, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4, can break through the power of darkness. Go forward with the gospel and wrestle as best you can against those principalities and powers of the dark places.
Demonic Activity and Modern Western Culture
I think Christians are going to be encountering more explicit demonic presence in the years to come. Simply because the demonic powers are very sophisticated; they’re watchers of human nature.
In a culture that is afraid of invisible spirits, the demonic beings are going to use that fear in order to exercise power over people. And in a culture where there is a very technological, sanitized, rationalistic understanding of the universe – a mechanistic explanation of the universe, the demonic powers are going to be very quiet because they don’t want to be noticed. Because in that kind of a culture, if someone sees the reality of the supernatural, that could lead to a questioning that could ultimately lead to Jesus Christ.
I think we’re moving out of the hyper-rationalist world that we’re accustomed to. It’s tipping over into a more occultic future for us. In the future, we’re going to see more people in the “first world” experiencing exactly what “third world” peoples are experiencing right now, which is a heightened sense of spirituality. That doesn’t necessarily mean Christianity. Often it’s going to mean a resurgent paganism. You can see that right now in popular culture in a variety of ways, such as in the way that the occult is being used or at least appreciated. Where that is the case, the demonic powers tend to make themselves more visibly known. And I think we should be prepared for that.
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