Is the Church missing out on a vital spiritual resource by not pursuing exorcisms? It’s certainly biblical. Exorcisms were a part of Jesus’ ministry. Paul cast out a demon from a young girl who had been stalking them:
· She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. (Acts 16:17-18; ESV; 19:12; by Peter, Acts 5:16; by Philip, Acts 8:7)
However, Paul didn’t attempt to cast the demon out of her until after “many days.” Why not on the first day? This raises many questions about deliverance ministry.
Why do the Epistles never mention this seemingly important means of deliverance?
While Jesus cast out many demons, He also instructed His disciples about the downside of exorcisms:
· “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first.” (Matthew 12:43-45)
It seems that if someone has been delivered from an “unclean spirit,” he is even more vulnerable than he had been before to demon possession unless what had become empty is subsequently filled. Filled by what? By the Spirit of God! Scripture teaches that if we are filled by the Spirit of God – “Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world” - no opening remains for demons.
Besides, according to the Epistles, trusting and obeying, according to the Scriptures, is sufficient for salvation and for sanctification:
· And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (Ephesians 4:11-15)
These verses, along with many similar ones, suggests that we – all of us Christians – can attain to the “unity of the faith” and maturity “in every way” without exorcisms. They suggest that the Spirit, working through the Word is enough:
· He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7)
Although there is nothing in the NT that teaches against deliverance ministry, it seems that it is not essential.