In the Fulness of Time/Part 82
By: Dr. Thomas Figart
|By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2007|
|What is the difference between true and false exorcism? Dr. Figart explains.|
The Agency in True Exorcism: The Holy Spirit. Matthew 12:25-30
The Principle of divine power in true exorcism. Matthew 12:27-28
- Mt. 2:27-28 “And if I, by Beelzebub, cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.”The Scriptures reveal only two kinds of exorcism, the true and the false. Included in true exorcism are the following:
Jesus Himself cast out demons on a number of occasions, claiming the power of the Spirit, and along with this, that He was presenting Himself as Messiah/King to Israel. (Matt. 4:24; 8:16; 9:34; 12:22-24).
The Twelve Apostles were given this authority in Matthew 10:8.
The Seventy were given authority over demons in Luke 10:17-20.
Paul cast out demons in Acts 16:18; 19:12.
Philip cast out demons in Acts 8:5-8.
The “sons” of the Pharisees cast out demons in Matthew 12:27. It is not fair to jump to the conclusion that Christ was saying that these “sons” of the Pharisees were using Satanic power to cast out demons, because this would imply the opposite of what He said about the divided kingdom in Matthew 12:26.
If these “sons” are compared with the individuals mentioned in Mark 9:38-40; Luke 9:49-50, it may well be that these are both instances of an Old Testament miraculous gift of the Spirit. That occasion in Mark and Luke is the same: “And John answered him saying, Master, we saw one casting out demons in thy name, and he followeth not us, and we forbade him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not; for there is no man who shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:38-40).
We may tend to think of the gifts of the Spirit as strictly New Testament phenomena, but as far back as Numbers 11:24-30, seventy elders prophesied when the Spirit rested upon them, and then two others, Eldad and Medad, who did not go out to the Tabernacle, also prophesied when the Spirit rested upon them. But when Joshua asked Moses to forbid them, Moses said, “Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his Spirit upon them” (Num. 11:29).
False exorcism is a pretense of the miraculous:
In Matthew 7:22 Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out demons? And in thy name done many wonderful works?” Notice that these are merely claims by these false teachers. Jesus does not say that they actually cast out demons; they merely say that they did. Jesus does not agree with them at all; He calls them “workers of iniquity.” How then can they be considered anything else? He also contrasts them with those who do His Father’s will, in Matthew 7:21. Finally, He makes it clear that He does not know them and commands them to depart from Him.
In Acts 19:13-17 seven sons of Sceva, a Jew, also called “vagabond Jews, exorcists” attempted to call out an evil spirit, in the name of Jesus, but were overcome by that evil spirit, who would not recognize their authority.
By way of summary, the following comments will indicate that exorcism is not given as a gift to Christians today:
Exorcism was one aspect of the gift of Apostleship, as a “sign” (semeion) of the authentication of their ministry and message as being from God (Acts 14:1-3; Heb. 2:3-4). This was for one generation only because the Apostles were part of the foundation of the Church, the Body of Christ (Eph. 2:20). Our task today is not to lay foundations on foundations, but to build the superstructure by winning the lost. Each new believer becomes a “stone” in that spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:5-8).
As already listed, exorcism was specifically given to the Twelve, the Seventy, and to Paul as part of the “authority” in the gift of apostleship. Therefore, it is impossible to claim apostolic authority to cast out demons without claiming the apostolic gift.
The Apostolic commission in Mark 16:17 lists specific “signs” including casting out demons, speaking in tongues, protection from harm from serpents and from any poison and healing the sick. Thus, if anyone claims exorcism as part of the ministry today, then all of those “signs” must be claimed for today, along with the gift of apostleship. Obviously this is not the case. Furthermore this specific commission is presented as historically fulfilled by the Apostles: “And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and conforming the word with signs following. Amen” (Mark 16:20).
Exorcism is not listed as part of our spiritual armor, nor is it ever related to our spiritual union with Christ, nor to our spiritual warfare. The whole armor of God listed in Ephesians 6:11-18 does not include exorcism, simply obedience and submission to Christ (2 Cor. 10:1-6). Our spiritual authority does not extend to apostolic authority, so we are never permitted to confront demons nor cast them out in the name of Christ.
What authority then, does the Christian have in the presence of one who is demon possessed? Not to confront, but definitely to pray to God and ask Him to expel the demon (Jas. 5:16; Heb. 4:14-16). “In the fulness of time” God will deal with all false apostles and prophets!