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A Study of Theology IV – Part 6 (Dr. Thomas Figart)
What about the gift of exorcism. Is that still valid for today?
A Study of Theology IV – Part 6
Dr. Thomas Figart
V. Spiritual Gifts in the Church
I. Exorcism:Casting out demons is not for Christians today because:
- Exorcism was one aspect of the gift of Apostleship (Matt. 10:8) as a “sign” (semeion) for the authentication of their ministry and message as from GodActs 14:1-3; Heb. 2:3-4.This was for one generation only because the N.T. Apostles and Prophets were part of the foundation of the Church,Eph. 2:20.Our task today is not to lay foundation upon foundation, but to build the superstructure by winning the lost.Each believer becomes a “stone” in the spiritual house,1 Pet. 2:5-8.
- Exorcism was specifically given to the Twelve Apostles, Matt. 10:1-8,to the 70 sent out in Lk. 10:17-20, and to Paul, Acts 19:11-12.
a. In Matt. 10:1 Jesus “gave them authority(exousia) against unclean spirits, to cast them out.”In 10:8, “…cast out demons; freely ye have received, freely give.”Therefore, it is impossible to claim the authority to cast out demons without claiming the gift of apostleship, since apostles were the only ones to whom this authority was given.
b. In Lk. 10:19-20 Jesus said to the 70, “Behold, I give you authority(exousia) …over all the power (dunamin) of the enemy…Notwithstanding, in this rejoice, not that the spirits are subject untoyou…”Again, this authoritywas part of the apostolic gift, and was not given because of their position in Christ.
c. In Acts 19:11-12,“God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul…and evil spirits went out of them.”Here exorcism is listed as one of the extraordinary miracleswhich God wrought by Paul.“Miracles” is listed as one of the “signs” of an apostle in 2 Cor. 12:12, and thus, anyone who claims to have authority to confront demons is claiming the gift of apostleship.
- Exorcism is presented as part of the apostolic commission in Mark 16:17.
a. This specific commission lists “signs,”including casting out demons, speaking in tongues, protection from harm by serpents and from any poison, and healing the sick.Therefore, if anyone claims exorcism as inherent in the gospel ministry today, then all of these “signs” must be for today as well. This is obviously not the case.
b. This specific commission is presented as historically fulfilled by the apostles:“And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs (semeion) following.”Thus, to claim any or all of these “signs” today as part of the Great Commissionto us, is to claim the gift of apostleship.
- 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!
a. The whole armor of God listed in Eph. 6:11-18 includes truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, the Word of God, and prayer.Since this is the whole armor, exorcism is excluded! Therefore we cannot claim authority to confront or cast out demons because of our position in Christ!
b. The weapons of our warfare (2 Cor. 10:3-5) are not fleshly, but spiritual: obedience and submission of our thoughts to Christ.
c.What authority does a Christian have in the presence of a demon-possessed person?Not to confront the demon, but definitely to pray to God and ask Him toexpel the demon! (Jas. 5:16; Heb. 4:14-16.)
J. True Christians cannot be possessed or indwelt by demons because:
- Direct principles given by Christ in Matthew 12:25-29.
a. The principle of the divided kingdom,12:25-26.
1). A divided kingdom will be brought to desolation;therefore, Satan cannot cast out Satan.
2). Thus, you cannot be a part of two kingdoms at the same time. We have been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of His dear SonCol. 1:13.This is why God forbids any participation with demons1 Cor. 10:20-21.
b. The principle of divine power as the source of exorcism.12:27-28
1). Exorcism by Jews other than Christ and HisApostles was not by Satan’s power,12:27;See also Mark 9:39-40; Lk. 9:49-50.
2). Exorcism by Christ (& Apostles) was by the Spirit ofGod, 12:28.
c. The principle of the “strong man,”12:29
1).In the case of an unbeliever indwelt by Satan or a demon, if anyone wants to enter the strong man’shouse (that is, Satan or a demon in the body of an unbeliever) he must first bind the strong man. Only God the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit arestronger than Satan (1 John 4:4) and they can bind the “strong man” and expel him from the body ofthe unbeliever and enter in and dwell there.
2).In the case of a believer (who is indwelt by the Godhead,John 14:23; Col. 1:27; 1 Cor. 6:19-20), if Satan or a demon attempted to enter this house (the body of the believer) he would first have to bind all Three Persons of the Godhead!Since this is impossible, a Christian cannot be possessed or indwelt by Satan or a demon!It is not a matter oflack of space, but of opposing spiritual personalities.
- Supporting Scriptures show what Satan and demons can do to oppress Christians from the outside.Acts 10:38 tells of Christ healing those who were oppressed of the devil.The word “oppressed” is katadunasteuo which means, “exercise control over” but does not mean indwell.
a. Satan can use temptation.2Cor 11:3
b. Satan can use “wiles” (deception).Eph. 6:11.
c. Satan can use afflictionJob 1;2 Cor. 12:7.
d. Satan tries to snare us.2 Tim. 2:26.
e. Satan tries to sift us.Lk. 22:31.
f. Satan tries to gain advantage over us.2 Cor. 2:7.
g. Satan tries to influence us to lie.Acts 5:3; cf. Eph. 5:18,plero-o “control” used in both of these verses.
h. All of this outside oppression can be successfully resisted and defeatedJames 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:9;1 John 2:13; 4:4.