Tuesday, 21 February 2012
33 Once when he was in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon—an evil[a] spirit—began shouting at Jesus, 34 “Go away! Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
35 Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the demon threw the man to the floor as the crowd watched; then it came out of him without hurting him further.
36 Amazed, the people exclaimed, “What authority and power this man’s words possess! Even evil spirits obey him, and they flee at his command!” 37 The news about Jesus spread through every village in the entire region.
Here it seems as if with a short word the demon left the man with just a word.
Here is where Jesus gave us the authority to cast them out in Mark 16:17:
These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages.[a]
It could be that we just do not believe as much as we should. An example of this is that in all honesty the church is not equipped to do the casting out of demons -- in fact I think often the person is quickly dismissed with psychological problems and referred to counseling, therapists, etc.
In Mark 9:29 the disciples themselves once encountered a demon possessed person and they were unable to cast out. Jesus ended up rebuking them because of their lack of faith and dismissed the demons, saying this to them,“This kind can be cast out only by prayer." I know in my experience there were five and that it took a few of my friends giving time doing this passage for them to come out of myself when I was demonized. In fact they even requested friends they had to pray with them -- some of which I never met or they have never met me.
I also thought I would add that in the Old Testament times, once a person had a demon -- as far as we can tell from the Bible -- he/she had to live with it. One good example of this would be Saul who had demons who came to him after he rejected God and the Spirit of the Lord left him.
It seems like the idea of casting out demons comes with authority and in the New Testament Greek, the word often used is exousia, which means privilege, that is, (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence: authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.
So we only have that authority because of Jesus giving us that authority. Here are some passages you can look up: Luke 9:1, Luke 10:17. Still Jesus was able to cast them out with a simple command (see Matthew 17:14-21, Matthew 9:25). However, even the early apostles from what one may think were able to do so in the following passage in Acts 16:18:
This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her.
One may wonder what happened behind the scenes as this person followed him around for several days. Were there more interactions? Was there a battle of the wills? Were he and the other apostles praying and fasting? We do not know.
That is something I am curious about as well. It seems as if the times that Jesus cast them out of people with a simple command there was a crowd gathered. Were there times during one-one interactions where Jesus had a battle of the wills between the demons and Himself? Or could it have happened in giant crowds? Also why is it we have a hard time not just giving a command and they leave?
In closing I just want to ask this and hear people's thoughts on it:
I often wonder if when Jesus cast out demons from people there was more to it than Jesus just commanding them and they left, or if he ever had to do a "battle of the will" with someone demonized as is often the case with people who get delivered. If not, why do people who try and deliver someone from demon possession have to often battle the demon(s) for hours to months or even years in some cases? The best answer I have come up with is that demons do not want to admit that Christians have the same authority that Christ had over them and He has given us the same authority. I would be interested to hear other thoughts on this.
Based on the scriptures mentioned above, do we today have the authority to cast out demons? If so, why is it that it seems our authority has less power than that of the disciples and Jesus himself? Why do Christians not take demon possession seriously anymore?