SPECIAL EDITION ON MINISTRY
Authority in Ministry...
CASTING OUT DEMONS!
WHAT WE WRITE in this article is elementary truth. That is, it should be. It was elementary in the ministry of Jesus. It’s about dealing with unclean spirits, called demons, and setting souls free from their strongholds.
The first, indeed the very first, equipment Jesus gave His disciples as He sent them forth was authority to deal with unclean spirits. Matthew 10:1 records the commission. And when he had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them authority against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. In Matthew 10:8, He gave a clear command that they were to cast out demons. Then, His final word, recorded in Matthew 28:20, was that His followers in all the world were to continue observing everything He had commanded.
But, most present day preachers and teachers ignore Christ’s commission to liberate souls from demons. This leaves many to whom they minister still struggling with dark areas of defeat after they become "Christians." This is sad, for these souls do not have the inward stamina to face the attacks Satan plans for their defeat. The war in their own souls weakens them.
THOSE WHO NEGLECT the ministry of casting out demons commonly assume one of three general attitudes. One, they may disregard the presence and activity of demons, never making mention of them in their teaching or preaching. Two, they may adopt the opinion that belief in demons is only for the ignorant. These teach that when Jesus addressed the issue, He did it only to accommodate the ignorance of those to whom He ministered. Three, they may say it is impossible for a Christian to have a demon. They teach that confessing Christ is sufficient.
To take any of the above attitudes is to ignore what Jesus taught regarding the matter. It is almost to assume that Jesus Himself was ignorant, or that He was not truthful, or that people are better today because of the advancement of civilization. We know none of these ideas are true.
Since there is so much ignorance regarding the activity of demons, many believers labor under the strain of dark forces within them that drain them of spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical strength. Much of this comes from demons whose presence is never recognized and dealt with. Many who love righteousness, and seek to walk in the ways of the Lord, find themselves pressured into thinking, saying, and doing things displeasing both to the Lord and to themselves. This is frequently evidence of demons at work.
IN MINISTERING, Glenda and I have occasion to counsel and pray with many Christian workers and Pastors. Many of them have problems that can only be traced to demon activity that has remained in their lives through all their years of consecration, training, service, and strong praying. All they have done for the Lord has left them still with some darkness in their inner man.
One day a woman active in our youth ministry came to our house. She was pale and evidently upset. She had been released from a church in another town to come and work with us. The ministry from which she came taught that it was foolish to think that Christians could be bothered by demons.
When she came in to our house that day, she opened her hand to reveal a knife and asked that I take it from her. She said that from time to time something came over her that made her desire blood. For hours she had been struggling with a drive to kill her own children that she might have their blood. Otherwise she appeared normal and sensible, only from time to time did this ungodly desire overtake her. We recognized that the root of her problem was demonic and dealt with the spirits. God set her free. Upon counseling with her, we found she had been part of a satanic cult before receiving Christ as Savior. When she was saved, no one dealt with the demons that had entered during her years in that cult. Several years under a dedicated and otherwise efficient ministry had left the demons within her untouched.
Recently, a Pastor with whom we are acquainted took a clear stand against the ministry of setting souls free from demonic power. This came after a number of young people in his town were stirred by an evangelist to consider that the rock music to which they had been listening was demon inspired and was leading to much demonic activity in their own lives. When these young people presented themselves to his ministry, he said, "We will not be known as a demon chasing church." The unusual conviction and drawing of the Spirit in the young people subsided. Soon they returned to their former ways. But this Pastor continued with deep trouble in his own soul. For years he had been driven by a sexual need that caused him to frequent pornographic houses and live with only a superficial relationship with his wife. The torment of his own soul caused him to resist the very ministry that could have set him free, until his ministry and calling became greatly damaged. After an astounding defeat, he sought out a believing ministry that cast out the unclean spirits and set him free—but too late to save much heartache and pain.
Those who deal with demons are called upon to know well the authority of God’s Kingdom.
The thing we note about these two cases is that they both had been under outstanding ministry. But, these ministries did not teach or practice deliverance from demons. Therefore, the darkness of demonic activity was not touched in their lives until it was almost too late.
While the above cases may seem a little extreme, we find many souls who appear to be normal members of Christian fellowships, and who come from relatively normal backgrounds, but who are "bothered" by thoughts, ideas, impulses, depressions, and compulsions for which they have little explanation. It often takes some crisis, or some deep conviction of the Holy Spirit to reveal that they are indeed driven by unclean spirits from which they could be free. Sadly, few ministries are available who will deal with demons.
We could tell of many who have been set free from demonic power after years of trying to serve the Lord. But the purpose of this study is otherwise. We want to learn straight from the Scriptures what Jesus taught His disciples about this ministry, both by the precepts He laid out and by the examples of His Own ministry.
We draw most of the insight in this article from the Gospel of Matthew. This is important because Matthew lays much emphasis on the Gospel of the Kingdom. Those who deal with demons are called upon to know well the power and authority of God’s Kingdom.
THE FIRST MENTION of demons is in Matthew 4:24, where there is a great list of afflictions healed by Jesus. And His fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them.
Those which were possessed with devils in the above verse is from the Greek word daimonizomai which means "to be under the influence of demons"—driven, oppressed, suppressed, and sometime possessed by them. The word occurs thirteen times in the Greek New Testament. A study of each of these would be beneficial.
How precious to note that Jesus healed those under the distress of demonic activity. Healed is from therapeuo, which means He rendered service unto them by curing their ills. In Matthew 4:23,24 there are eight categories of human ill to which Jesus ministered. Trouble from demons is only one of the ills Jesus healed. As we consider His ministry, however, we find it was one of the foremost troubles drawing the attention of His power and authority. And, it is the first one to which he directed his disciples as He sent them forth.
Matthew 8:16 is enlightening as to how Jesus dealt with demons. When the even was come they brought unto Him many that were possessed with devils: and He cast out the spirits with His word.
Take special note here as to how Jesus ministered. He cast out the spirits with His word. In viewing this passage in the Greek New Testament, we find the word for His is absent. It simply says, "He cast out the spirits with a word." It is apparent He used but one word. One powerful word did all the work. But, what was that word? Are we ever told?
Yes. It was a very simple word. The Gospel of Matthew records that Jesus used it twice, once in dealing with the devil himself (Matthew 4:10) and once in dealing with unclean spirits (Matthew 8:32).
He used but one word. One powerful word did all the work.
By taking a quick look at Matthew 4:10, we find Jesus speaking to the devil himself. He said to him, Get thee hence, Satan. Get thee hence is from one Greek word. It meant, "Go!" So certain was Jesus’ commitment to His Heavenly Father, and so powerful was the Throne backing Him, that no further word of command was needed.
In MATTHEW 8:28-32 we find the account of Jesus using one word in commanding demons to leave. They dwelt in two men who were so fierce no one could come near them. Yet, Jesus came. Since we have several things to learn from this passage, we will take note of it verse by verse.
The Greek word might in this verse is from ischuo, a very powerful Greek word at which we will look later. It informs us that no persons had enough strength within themselves to approach the men. Later—when we look at Ephesians 1:19—we will find this same word used to describe the power released for us through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Because of what happened then, we need never fear approaching any demon.
29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God? Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?
The spirits recognized Jesus. It is amazing that every evil spirit knows He is Lord. Through all the kingdom of darkness they know how He defeated their leader, took from him all rank and authority, and made a show of him openly. Paul speaks of this in Colossians 2:15—And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Reading this from the Greek text, we find it to mean, "After He stripped the principalities and powers of all rank and authority, He made a bold display of their dishonor, parading them around publicly for all to see."
James had an interesting observation at this point. He said, . . . the devils also believe, and tremble—James 2:19. Tremble is from the Greek phrizzo, the word from which "frizzy" comes. It means "to feel the chill of fright so much that one’s hair stands on end."
Demons bristle like frightened little animals when confronted with the Name of Jesus. No demon is strong enough to withstand what He accomplished. They get goose bumps at the mention of Him.
30 And there was a good way off from them a herd of many swine
Though Jesus did not engage the demons in conversation, nor did He ask them any question, they did plea bargain with Him. This is because they feared not having bodies in which to dwell. They preferred dwelling in swine as opposed to existing with no body. He granted their request and allowed them to run off in the filthy scavengers.
32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
What a simple word Jesus spoke to the demons! "Go!" It is the same word He spoke to the devil. There was so much authority resident in Him there was no need for any more word than that.
IN MY FIRST ENCOUNTER with a demon, I became all "frizzy" and the hair stood up on the back of my neck. But I learned something then that has remained with me. I learned I don’t have to be afraid of demons. I also learned they fear the Name of Jesus.
When I had my first encounter with demons, I learned they cannot stand before the Name of Jesus.
That first encounter came years ago, the night after I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. I was about one hundred miles from my home and had just spent one of the most glorious days of my life. It was Saturday night and I had to travel to where I lived and pastored so I could minister the next day. As I went to get in my car to make the trip, something said to me, "I will kill you. You will have a head-on collision tonight." Since I was not yet aware of the ways demons work, this frightened me. Some of the brethren present prayed with me and I traveled to my home safely. I preached three times that day, each time with such anointing that it startled the people. They knew something had happened to their Pastor, but they could not understand it. There was such a presence of the Lord I didn’t know how to respond to it. At the close of the last service, I walked to the rear door of the church, prayed a benediction, then ran to my car without speaking to anyone. Although I had graduated from one of the oldest Christian colleges in the States, and had my degree from the third largest theological seminary in the world, no one had ever told me how to minister with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I was frightened—both by the presence of the Lord and by the lie of a demon trying to cut me off from what God was doing in my life.
I ran to my car, drove the short distance to my home, and ran into the house, chased by a demon that now I could see. He was grotesque and vile and had an angry countenance. Just inside my house, I fell into a chair, looked at the demon by the door, and said one word—"Jesus."
At the mention of that Name, the ugly thing departed. I had my first lesson in dealing with demons. I learned they cannot stand before the Name of Jesus.
THERE IS ANOTHER interesting passage in Matthew at which we should look now—Matthew 12:22-29. It tells of an encounter between Jesus and the Pharisees as they accused Him of working by the power of Satan. This passage Introduces us to the term Beelzebub, a derogatory term meaning, "lord of flies," the kind of flies attracted to the garbage dump and drawn by the stench of rotten flesh. The Jews themselves used this title to speak of the devil.
The Pharisees held the preposterous idea that Jesus could cast out demons by the power of Satan. Their strong religious tenets and their emotional feelings against Jesus hindered their ability to reason. They could not see that, if He cast out demons by Beelzebub, it would mean a division in Satan’s own kingdom.
29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
This Verse speaks of entering a strong man’s house and spoiling his goods. This means going into a life ruled by Satan and setting it free from his stronghold. Strong man is from ischuos, a word of which we have already taken note in Matthew 8:28. It describes one who rules by brute force. It names the power demons bring with them when they afflict and bind souls. Sometimes they impart this same power to the ones they afflict so that no one can control them or even come near them—except those who now know the power and authority of God’s Kingdom.
Jesus spoke of entering the house of the strong man and spoiling his goods. Spoil is from the Greek diarpazo, meaning "to tear in pieces; to dismantle; to snatch from; to seize as plunder." Goods is from skeuos, meaning "a full outfit of implements, either of household gear or military equipment." The strong man has his goods. They are things like blindness and dumbness. But they are also things like fear, depression, anxiety, anger, inordinate lust, and accusation. Not all the strong man’s goods are wild and violent. Sometimes they almost go unnoticed— until the Holy Spirit points them out.
Jesus went into the "house" where Satan had set up his goods and dismantled them. He seized the blindness, snatched away the dumbness, and set free the one who had been bound— all through the power of God’s Kingdom. The wonderful fact is there is nothing of Satan’s goods that cannot be plundered and dismantled through the power of that Kingdom.
IN MATTHEW 10:1, we find the Lord Jesus sending forth His first disciples. What an important Verse! We should note it well. And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, he gave them authority against unclean spirits to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
As we noted near the beginning of this article, the first equipment the Lord Jesus gave His disciples was authority against unclean spirits to cast them out. The word we’ve translated authority is translated power in the King James Version. It is from the Greek exousia. It means executive power to act and speak backed by a higher power or authority. The authority Jesus gave His disciples was backed by the power of God’s Kingdom. How different from today!
Now it is more common for young preachers to be given Bible school diplomas, or degrees from seminaries.
Jesus told His disciples to make a public declaration that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand— and then, to demonstrate the power of that Kingdom.
The ministries Jesus was sending forth would face challenges calling for more than human zeal or skill. They needed equipment that could break the strongholds of Satan. Lessons on how to present four points in the plan of salvation, or on the homiletic structure of a sermon, or on how to lead a church to financial success would prove of little value in what faced them. They needed to know how to bring deliverance to the captives and how to open the prisons of them that were bound. To do this, He gave them authority.
Authority is a simple thing. Under it, the weight of performance rests on someone else. With regard to its use in casting out demons, the weight of actually bringing this to pass rests with the power resident in the Kingdom of God.
Years ago I saw a simple illustration of authority that remained with me. It was in a little old lady who stepped off the curb and stopped me and a huge truck travelling next to me. She wore a white coat, a little cap, and white gloves. In her hand she had a whistle. We stopped at her command to allow some children to cross the street. Now she had no power, as we think of dynamic power, to stop either of the vehicles approaching her. But, authority had been given her, and that authority was backed by the power of the government under which she resided. All she had to do was throw up her hand and blow her whistle, and traffic stopped.
So, Jesus gave His disciples authority backed by the power of the Kingdom. With the authority given them, they could "blow the whistle" on unclean spirits; command them to cease their activity, and release the souls held in bondage.
LATER IN CHAPTER 10, we note six aspects of ministry Jesus expected would come through His disciples. And as ye go, PREACH, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, HEAL the sick, CLEANSE the lepers, RAISE the dead; CAST OUT demons; freely you have received, freely GIVE—Matthew 10:7,8.
How different today! Most ministries take only the first—PREACH. Even then, this is changed to the preaching of sermons. But alas! The word "sermon" does not even appear in the Bible! Jesus expected His disciples to preach the Kingdom of Heaven. The word PREACH comes from the Greek kerusso. It means "to proclaim as a herald; to cry out as a conqueror; to announce publicly." Jesus told His disciples to make a public announcement that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. And then, to demonstrate the power of that Kingdom by healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, casting out demons, and raising the dead. Even placing a spiritual meaning on most of these, like healing those who are sick from sin, cleansing those who are defiled by sin, and giving life to those who are dead in sin, leaves the casting out of demons clearly defined in the ministerial charge.
There is another part of the commission given the early disciples that is grossly changed today. Whereas Jesus told them to give, most ministries today "take." We are left with preaching sermons and taking offerings, sometimes the only public ministry in which present day preachers of the Gospel engage—other than sometimes participating in the singing of some songs, a ministry that Jesus never mentioned.
Look at those six ministries to which the Lord Jesus commissioned His disciples. They were all ministries of authority requiring the backup of God’s power. They were not ministries of performance, or intellectual skill, or talent, or of the manipulation of men’s souls. They were simply ministries of authority.
WE MADE MENTION of Ephesians 1:19 earlier in this article. In fact, we’ve made mention of it in several articles. The verse is full of power. It speaks of so much power, the Apostle Paul had to call upon four different Greek words to help describe it. This is because he was speaking of the power released through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. There was dynamic power, energetic power, muscle power, and governmental power. All of them worked in the tomb to bring Christ forth. Now, since He has triumphed over death, they are all available to us Christians today. And, we can be assured that this same power is given us in the ministries to which He commissions us.
Ephesians 1:19 is part of the Apostle Paul’s prayer that Christ’s power be known. We have adopted it as part of our discipline of intercession. Paul prayed that the eyes of our understanding might be enlightened so we could know ... what is the exceeding greatness of His POWER (dunamis) toward us who believe, according to the WORKING (energeian) of the His MIGHTY (kratos) POWER (ischuos) which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead... Ephesians 1:19,20. To put it simply, Paul was saying, "I want you to know the power of Christ’s resurrection in your life. I want you to know the dunamis that comes to us who believe, according to the energeian of the kratos of His ischuos."
All these words for power stand to back the authority given believers who minister in obedience of Christ’s commission.
There is the power described by the word dunamis. This is the dynamic power of creation, or of an explosion. It will bring forth something out of nothing, or it will blast away any stone of impossibility. In it is the force of miracles.
Then, there is the power described by the word energeian. This is the power of energy. It is dynamic power brought under control so the machine can run, the light can burn—and the miracle can take place in some afflicted soul.
Then, there is the power described by the word kratos. This is the power of government. It enters the land, conquers the foe, and sets up a new order. It brings the government of Christ into the inner man of a person once ruled by demons. It sets up a new order of life.
And, there is the power of ischuos. This is the muscle power that lays hold on the strong man and spoils his goods. It suppresses the demons that drive men mad. It brings down the oppressor.
Jesus gives His disciples authority. He backs that authority with all the power of His resurrection.
We need not fear to obey His commission.
POWERFUL, LOVING AND GENTLE LORD: Help me hear what you are saying today about dealing with unclean spirits. First of all, search me and try me, and see if there be any of their wicked ways in me. Release the power of the resurrection in my life to drive forth any unclean spirit.
Then, let the authority of that power move through me to set others free.
Thank You for Your patient love toward me and toward those to whom I minister in Your Name.
© Berean Ministries
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