“And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered a house, and would not have any one know it; yet he could not be hid. But immediately a woman, whose little daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children first be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And he said to her, “For this saying you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home, and found the child lying in bed, and the demon gone.
Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech; and they besought him to lay his hand upon him. And taking him aside from the multitude privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And he charged them to tell no one; but the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well; he even makes the deaf hear and the dumb to speak.”
“And they cast out many demons…”
“And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal.”
“On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. And behold, a man from the crowd cried, “Teacher, I beg you to look upon my son, for he is my only child; and behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him till he foams, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not. Jesus answered, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” While he was coming, the demon tore him and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astonished at the majesty of God.”
Russian novelist Fydor Dostoevsky wrote, “God and the devil are at war in the universe and their battlefield is the human heart.” Just after Christ’s transfiguration one of these skirmishes is to be seen.
When Jesus was transfigured, the entire mountain shone with the radiance of heaven. Moses was there. So was Elijah. And when Peter found his voice, he said, “Master, it’s good that we are here! Let’s build!” But Jesus pointed them back down the mountain where they were immediately confronted with a little boy in the awful throes of demonic possession. And it was a messy affair, fraught with convulsions, shrieks, and finally, failure on the disciple’s part.
Certainly we’d all prefer the transfigured mountain top to the complicated valley of human need. Yet Jesus calls us down the mountain into ministries of deliverance.
If one reads the New Testament, he will find Christ spent one-third of His time preaching, one-third healing, and one-third delivering people from the demonic. I call deliverance the forgotten third of Jesus’ ministry.
1 John 3:8 explains, “The reason the Son of Man appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” Christ, you see, never met a demon He didn’t dislike. And He met plenty. At His temptation in the wilderness (Luke 4), at His first sermon (Mark 1), while ministering in Gadara (Mark 5), and here, among many others, in a father’s beloved child. Christ always dealt with demons swiftly and ruthlessly. And He gave this ministry to His followers– authority to cast out all demons.
Many Christians are fearful of taking on Satan. Somehow in their minds they’ve determined we have a Ronald McDonald God and an Arnold Schwarzenegger devil. But it’s actually the reverse. Luke 10:17 explains how those Jesus sent out to minister returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name!”
So, today from the story of a little boy tormented by demons, let us take a general look at deliverance.
First of all, who is this presence in the child? The text says, “A spirit seizes him.” It mentions a “demon,” “an unclean spirit.” In the Greek “demon” is “daimonia” meaning “devils”. The Scripture explains demons are “spirits” (Matthew 12:43, 45), Satan’s emissaries (Mt. 12:26-27), they are numerous (Mark 5:9), seek embodiment to do evil (Mt. 12:43-44), are unclean, sullen, violent, and malicious (Mt. 8:28, 9:33, 10:1, 12:43), know who Christ is, recognize His authority (Mt. 8:31), and understand their fate is to be tormented (Mk. 1:22-24, Mt. 8:29).
One discovers the demonic throughout the Scriptures. There is no escaping it. It’s there on the first page of Scripture at Eve’s temptation. It’s there in the center of the Bible at Job’s affliction. It’s there at the start of Christ’s ministry when He was tempted in the wilderness. It’s there in Paul’s life with his illness, “a messenger from Satan.” And it is there in the final book of the Bible, Revelation, where Satan makes war on the saints.
The evil behind all this demonic activity is Satan. In Greek his name means “adversary” or “accuser.” He’s known variously as devil, slanderer, liar, deceiver, murderer, and prince of this world.
The second question is, “What is the power of this demon in the child?” The text says it is considerable, using such words as “convulses,” “foams,” “shatters him,” and “tore him.”
Scripture explains Satan has three overall powers. He tempts. This is simply an enticement to do evil. (See 1 Corinthians 10:13).
He oppresses. This is a temptation often succumbed to which forms a bad habit. 2 Corinthians 10:4 calls it a “stronghold.”
Then there is possession which is to be invaded, lived in, and controlled by evil. This can happen to people (Mark 5), animals (Mark 5 and Genesis 3), and even nature as in lightning, wind and storms (Job 1-2).
In using his three powers of tempting, oppressing, and possessing, Satan is 100% bent on destroying Christ and His works. He follows no rules and is no gentleman.
The third question: How did this demon get into this child? Verse 40 mentions, “Cast it out.” Who put it in in the first place? The text simply does not tell us. It is a mystery.
Some paths Satan walks to embody persons include overindulging natural desires. For example, a teen in becoming sexually mature begins to indulge his passion in movies, bawdy humor, and fantasy. Next comes pornography. And the next thing you know he’s absolutely infested with the demonic.
Trauma can give opening to Satan. A child of a fine Brazilian missionary couple watched her family get hurt in an ugly church division. She left for college in the USA nursing deep wounds. Afraid to bond with other Christians for fear she’d be hurt afresh, she hopped from church to church, developed a fascination with angels, took in a lot of misinformation, and began to get crazy impulses like driving her car full of fellow Christians head on into a truck.
Satan can also enter a person by invitation. The desire for power leads some to ask for the devil’s presence in their lives.
Dabbling in the occult such as séances, Tarot cards, Ouija boards, palm reading and such can make one vulnerable.
Rejecting light also is an avenue. Jesus said in Matthew 13:12 that when He gives us light and we walk in it, we receive more. But if we reject His light, even what we have will be taken away. So always remember when light goes, darkness comes.
A final point of entry Satan uses is rebellion. 1 Samuel 15:23 warns, “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” Why is this so? Because Satan was the first rebel. And so it is that when we rebel against God, His church, family, etc., we become most like him.
A fourth question: What are the symptoms of demonic possession? In the text the child “foams” and “convulses.” Throughout the Bible we are given hints of what demons in people do to give away their presence: a carnal appetite out of control, unexplainable physical strength (Mark 5, Acts 19), unexplainable intelligence (Acts 16:16), self-destruction tendencies (Mark 5), rage against Jesus (Mark 1:22), pride, rebelliousness, filthiness, and even such physical liabilities as dumbness (Matthew 9:32-33), blindness (Mt. 12:22-23), epilepsy (Mt. 17:14-21), insanity (Mk. 5), crippledness (Luke 13:10-17), and disease (Job 1-2).
Now, be cautious here. Just because a person is fat or blind or mentally ill or suicidal does not mean he is infested with demons. One must be discerning of spirits, look for cumulative evidence. It is when one finds numerous symptoms beginning to add up that one can be more certain. But ultimately it is the Holy Spirit who confirms it.
How To Evict?
The fifth question is crucial: How does one evict demons? In the text the disciples tried but failed. Yet Luke 9:1-2 says Jesus “gave them power and authority to drive out all demons.”
Note the power to deliver is not our own. It is given to us.
The other day I watched a traffic cop throw up his hand and stop a line of automobiles. Surely wearing a badge and uniform did not make him strong enough to halt 19,000 pounds of Detroit steel moving toward him at 45 MPH. Yet he held his hand up and all traffic came to a halt, not by his power, but by the power of the entire police force, the courts, and the prisons.
The point is, we halt Satan by the power of Jesus. So we must learn to live under His authority, to exercise our given authority to the limit. We are not practicing nominal, defensive Christianity but bold, loving, cosmic take-no-prisoners Christianity!
So how is it we evict Satan? Some basic guidelines: The person must be willing to be delivered (Mark 5). He must honestly confess his demons (1 John 1:9). One must take authority over the demons in Jesus’ name (Mark 16:17, Luke 10:19). It is helpful to get the demon to name himself. A name is an essence and knowing it strips a demon of his darkness (Mark 5). The person must renounce the demon. And one must forgive (Matthew 6:15).
Exorcism can be an unsavory ministry. Manifestations of demons leaving can include screaming, weeping, convulsions, shaking, vomiting, nausea, fainting, laughter, retching, and other unsettling behavior.
Can Demons Return?
Jesus spoke of a man who swept his house and put it in order but did not fill it. The evicted demon went and found some buddies also disembodied. They came back to check out the old abode, found it empty, and reentered. (Matthew 12:45)
This chilling parable reminds us we must be saved from Satan’s power to Christ’s power. We must get under authority in solid a church (1 Samuel 15:23, Ephesians 6, Hebrews 10:25), quit sinning (John 5:14), live by the Scriptures (Luke 4), praise the Lord, guard the thought life (2 Corinthians 10:5), cultivate right relationships (Proverbs 13:20), and submit to discipline (Hebrews 12:7-11).
A final question: What are some of the common mistakes we make in starting a ministry of deliverance?
Just to mention a few: seeing demons behind all human misery, seeing exorcism as a means of instant sainthood, getting ruffled and yelling back at demons, draining oneself with too much ministry, panicking when Satan counter-attacks, thinking everybody is ready for this sort of ministry, and believing it is not okay to fail.
In the heat of summer, God sends in a cool front to break the drought. Where cold and warm air collide there is a violent storm full of lightning, thunder, wind and rain. Just so, in the story today one sees the kingdom of Satan collide with God’s kingdom. And God’s grace prevails as the child is released from his evil tormentors.
If you understand you need this ministry, call out to an elder. We’ll interview you at length, and if it is discerned deliverance is needed, we’ll set up an appointment with some gifted, fasting, righteous Christians who will pray for you and minister deliverance.
Times of refreshing can be yours in Jesus!
Lord, deliver me from evil, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.