Notes on Exorcism for Pastors
"And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils..". -Mark 16:17
"And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." -Matthew 10:1
"And He called unto Him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits." -Mark 6:7
"And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils..". -Mark 16:17
"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give." -Matthew 10:8
However, even ministers should not rush into exorcism without proper preparation, as the sons of Sceva discovered (Acts 19). It is also important that those in this area of ministry do not become demon focused. We are not called to be “demon hunters”. We are called to be servants of the Most High, to offer the Holy Eucharist, and to tend His flock. Those who are too fascinated with this area of ministry, or who seem to delight in its discussion are not suitable exorcists and should not be involved whatsoever.
Detecting a Demon
The exorcist must be a person of keen discernment and should be entirely sanctified. To do war with demonic powers it is also important to be able to recognize their presence and tactics. The Holy Spirit has provided a special spiritual gift for this purpose. This gift is called "discerning of spirits" (I Corinthians 12:10). To discern means "to discover, evaluate, and make a distinction between." The gift of discerning of spirits enables the minister to discern the spirits operating in others. It permits him to discover, evaluate, and identify evil spirits. The gift of discerning of spirits is very important in spiritual warfare. It enables you to discern whether or not a person has a demonic entity operating through or against him. It prevents deception by recognizing when other more plausible answers are available.
There are some basic forms of diabolic influence. The first is what is called the ordinary form of diabolic influence.
Temptation- The usual way most are subject to as fallen humanity. After Adam and Eve fell they in effect gave ground to sin and Satan on the earth, and in our lives. This is where the central focus of the battleground is- our lives. Many of the sins of the world appeal to the flesh and thus these are the things a demon will use to appeal to us. Sin feels good, otherwise we would never engage in it. And as an extension, sin and Satan can influence your thoughts. Every sin begins as a thought, and every past sin remains in your memory. Satan already knows about them because he or his demons have seen them. They will go back into your memory, no matter how long ago the sin, and pull it out as a temptation. Normally these temptations are in areas you need to work on and deal with. These areas lack virtue and therefore open us to demonic attack.
The following are considered extraordinary forms of diabolic influence.
Demonic obsession- This is when the person's thoughts are bombarding them through the influence of the demonic. Their minds are fixated on any given sinful thought. We see an extreme rise of this due to the ease of access to pornography, for example. What most people don't know is that one of the expected results of willful sin is demonic possession. It is only kept from occurring because God, in His grace, keeps it from happening in the vast majority of cases. When one is in a state of grace, one is subject to God, but when one commits willful sin one moves away from God and places oneself under the potential influence of Satan. What we see more often in our modern degenerate culture is sexual sin; homosexuality, promiscuity, adultery, bisexuality, lesbianism, and transgenderism. These are the preferred sins of the day- sexual sins. And most of the victims of sexual sins are women. There are two reasons for this. The Church Fathers tell us that Satan has a particular hatred for women, because it was through a woman (Mary) that his head was crushed. The other reason is that women are often victimized. Now why does that make a difference? When someone is raped, molested, or abused they are being used in a disordered fashion, and it opens the door for the demonic to attack the victim. The vast majority of exorcism cases reported by ministers around the world are women who have been raped, molested or abused. Likewise when you use your mind badly Satan can come in through that open door influencing those sinful thoughts to a greater degree.
How does one tell if it is diabolic or psychological? All cases should be referred to the proper psychological and medical experts before any assumption of demonic activity is made.
Demonic oppression- This is primarily external to the individual. One's health will decline, relationships implode for no reason, your job is lost, finances collapse, etc. There is also a form of oppression common to the New Age Movement, and this is a state wherein the demon doesn't possess the person, but rather speaks through them. It is what happens in seances or with spirit Channelers. Psychics, Channelers and the like are not contacting the spirit of a dead person or some fallacious "Ascended Master", but merely opening the door to a demonic entity. Sometimes a demon may actually possess the person, but there is a higher demon in charge who doesn't possess the person, yet controls the situation from outside. Chronic sickness may be demonic oppression. All illness is not caused by demonic powers, so don't allow yourself to fall into this extremist line of thought. Most illness is caused by a violation of natural laws, such as not eating properly or drinking bad water. Some illness is also chastisement.
Demonic Possession- This is the state wherein the person's entire body is subject to the control of the demonic entity. The person in this state has given their will completely over to the demon. As frightening as it may seem there are people who like being possessed. When someone comes to an exorcist with claims of demonic attack in their lives one of the first questions a seasoned exorcist will ask is 'Do you want to be liberated?' What you have in operation here is the psychology of abuse. The demonic entities establish an abusive relationship with their victim. First they entice them, treat them nicely and once the person is under their influence they mercilessly abuse them, and blame the victim for their tormented state. Sometimes, however, they will set up a relationship wherein the person does what the demon wants and the person is fine. If this person realizes the situation they're in and seeks God instead, that is when things get ugly. The entity begins to attack the victim and frighten or demoralize them so they continue to do the demonic entity's bidding.
Simple Guidelines for Exorcism
The following are recommended preparations for any minister who will undertake the expulsion of a demon:
1. Make a good and complete confession of any and all sins.
2. Fast at least three days before the exorcism.
3. Receive the Holy Eucharist, and engage in extensive daily devotions.
4. Appoint a team of godly men and women to pray for and with you during the exorcism.
5. Discuss the experiences with your prayer team after each session.
6. Disregard all the things the demonic entity will say, reveal, and entice you with, as well as manifest experiences you may see.
7. Accept that the New Testament means exactly what it says. Accept it as true and act accordingly. You are the representative of Christ (II Corinthians 5:20).
Whenever possible, a team of intercessors should be used when binding or casting out demons. Jesus sent out His disciples in pairs for this ministry:
"And He called unto Him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two: and gave them power over unclean spirits." -Mark 6:7
This does not mean you cannot be effective alone, but there is strength in unity of prayer. Since strength comes from unity, those who are joining you in the exorcism should be similarly prepared with prayer and fasting. In cases of oppression and obsession, prepare the client. They need to have their faith built. Proper spiritual instruction must be given. Sometimes, God delivers without such instruction. But in exorcism ministry you want to properly use every tool available to see the work done. Faith is essential for God's delivering power and it comes by hearing God's Word, so instruction is important. Christ combined preaching and teaching with healing and deliverance and He instructed His followers to do so also.
The Place of Exorcism
Exorcism is more properly performed in a church. Many have the misguided notion that this occurs in the bedroom of the victim only.
The Time of Exorcism
When you are ready to begin an exorcism session the following are basic guidelines of how best to proceed.
1. Begin with a hymn- We enter the presence of Christ the King through worship and praise. Singing hymns establishes an environment of holiness.
2. Pray first- Ask for wisdom and discernment before you begin. Ask for the presence of the Holy Spirit.
3. Decide whether to continue.- Determine whether or not to repeat the exorcism during a session or wait until another date. In most cases, you will continue to pray against the demon, but in some, do not be surprised if the Lord directs you not to pray or to delay prayer. Jesus delayed healing in the case of the Syro-Phonecian woman's daughter and Lazarus. He did not do many works at all in Nazareth because of unbelief. The Lord may also direct you to delay until further instruction is given, i.e., the victim may need to deal with an unconfessed, need more instruction, a curse or occult object is revealed, etc.
4. Pray the ritual exactly as it is worded- If you are using a ritual of exorcism, stick to the text exactly. Deviation causes weakness in the process and disturbs the focus of the ritual itself. Do not spend time talking with the demon, should it manifest itself through spoken words outside what is required by the ritual. Jesus rebuked demons and told them to be quiet (Luke 4:34-35). Remember that any conversation with demons is dangerous because there are lying spirits. When forced to speak to the demon use the following as preparatory commands: "In the name of Jesus Christ and on the basis of the authority of His power, His Word, His blood, and the Holy Spirit..." This establishes Christ as the authority and true minister for exorcism.
Signs of Release
In cases of demonic possession, sometimes the demons come out with a struggle, such as crying out or throwing the person on the floor. When demons have departed (whether in possession or oppression), there will be a sense of release, joy, like the lifting of a weight. The victim will be able to receive holy objects, pray, receive blessings, praise the Lord, etc.
After exorcism, those who have been possessed by demons should receive ongoing pastoral counseling and integration into the community life of the church. Christ taught that the departure of evil spirits leaves an empty place. There is danger of a demon returning to his former victim accompanied by worse spirits:
"When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first." -Luke 11:24-26
When a demon is cast out it is restless and discontent outside of a human body. It is only by indwelling and controlling a human life that a demon is able to fulfill Satan's evil purposes. This is why casting the demon out is not enough. Follow up counseling and ministry is necessary. The person should be immersed in the Word of God and prayer and become part of the community of disciples.