While checking out some blogs that I like to read, I came upon this post by Scott Hill http://fide-o.blogspot.com. It reminded me of an incident that occurred a few years ago in Mexico while I was serving as a missionary there.
A Mexican Independent Baptist pastor, who was serving a church in Veracruz, came to visit me one day. This was a bit unusual, considering that he had ridden a bus over 90 miles to get to my house. Since indigenous pastors are notoriously poor, I wondered why he had sacrificed his meager resources just to come for a visit.
The mystery was soon cleared up, though, as he began to tell me that he had a serious problem with a member of his church. He said "We have a brother in the church that is demon possessed. He is fine during the day time, but as it begins to get on toward evening, he begins to scream and cry and even curse. This goes on until morning. By then he is so tired that he has to sleep and can't work." He went on to say,"I am trying to get a group of faithful Christians together to come to Veracruz and have an all-night prayer meeting with this brother in order to cast the demon out of him. Will you help?"
That kinda put me on the spot because I had never cast out a demon before. I had never advertised myself as a demon caster outer, nor did I have any desire to learn about casting out demons. However, I did and do believe that demons exist. I believe that they are against God and His purposes. I believe that we are engaged in spiritual warfare. I believe as Paul said in Eph.6:12 that we "Wrestle....against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." But here is what I don't believe: I don't believe that Satan or his minions have any inherent power. They have no power other than what is given to them.
With that in mind, my response to this sincere pastor's request was fourfold:
#1 Stop calling him brother, because, if it is true that he is possessed, he is not a brother in Christ.
#2 Neither Satan himself nor his demons have the ability nor the authority to possess anyone at their whim. Satan cannot take it upon himself to knock down a person's will and take over without permission from God and/or that person.(Isn't it strange that people are willing to grant that power to Satan, who is not sovereign, but not to God who is?) See the 1st two chapters of Job. Although Job in this text was not being "possessed", he was being attacked. However, the principle is clearly taught here that the Devil cannot do just anything without permission. He couldn't touch Job's possessions without permission and he couldn't touch Job' s person without permission, and even then, Satan's boundaries are clearly set.
#3 Without a doubt, this man has opened a door in his life to let those demonic influences in. Find out where the door is open, exhort him to repent of that sin thereby closing the door to satanic influences, exhort him to seek Christ for salvation, and the demon will be gone.(James4:7) "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
#4No amount of praying, pleading the blood, or rebuking the devil, will do any good if he is unwilling to repent of sin, trust Christ, and resist the devil.
Well, the pastor left my house not a little offended. I dare say that he was hoping for a very dramatic and emotional experience that he would be able to tell about for years to come. A tale of spiritual warfare in which he and a few holy men of God prayed all night, confronted the demon, rebuked him in the name of Jesus and pitched him out on his ear. But, if he took my advice, there would be very little drama. No possibility of humbly shaking hands with the brethren while proudly saying "We did it! We cast out a demon!"
THE CONCLUSION OF THE STORY
I didn't hear from the pastor for a while, until we met at an area wide youth meeting. He came to me and said that he hadn't cared much for my advice at first, but as he thought about it, he began to think it was worth a try. He began to investigate and found that the family of the young man was deeply involved in the occult: fortune telling, astrology and such. After making a profession of faith, he had distanced himself from his family's satanic practices for a while, but soon the temptation was too great and he began to participate again. That's when the problem started. The pastor told me that when they confronted him about this, he confessed, repented, surrendered to the Lordship of Christ, moved out of the house where the temptation was and had no more trouble with demons. No drama. Just simple obedience to the Word of God.