The concept of demonic possession has long been a touchy topic in religious circles, including Christianity. For years, many Christians practiced a sloppy exegesis with Scriptures, leading them to come up with supposed ways to tell if someone was demonically possessed or oppressed. In fact, many sad parts of history (even in our own nation) are a result of this; for example, even though the Salem Witch Trials were technically about the townspeople believing some members to be witches, the underlying belief is that they were all demonically possessed. It’s difficult to say, at least in 21st century America, how and when demonic possession takes place. Some Christians lean towards saying it comes as a result of certain mental illnesses or pharmaceuticals, while others tend to believe that anybody who is a drug addict, alcoholic, etc. are demonically possessed. The Bible does not tell us specifically how to tell who may or may not be demonically possessed, but it certainly does talk about demons, and even talks about casting them out. Many churches around the world have ministries devoted to casting out demons, while another great majority of churches believe that to be weird and would never practice it themselves. So, in the effort to put out some information regarding this topic, I will give some passages that refer to demon possession/casting out demons in the Old Testament times as well as in Jesus’ day. From there, it is up to you to do further study and come to a decision for yourself.
Matthew 12:43-45 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.” ESV
Here, Jesus is making mention of a profound principle: sometimes people get worse, not better. They may appear to be better for a little while, but seem to fall deeper into their sin, or in this case into demonic possession.
Luke 10:17 “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” ESV
The disciples learned a valuable truth which they did not believe until it actually worked: Jesus name has power!
Mark 3:11 “And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” ESV
Throughout the New Testament you will see demons understanding who Jesus truly was, even when his own disciples didn’t quite get it!
Acts 16:16-18 “As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.” ESV
Notice that, whenever the disciples or Paul wanted to cast out a demon, they did it in the name of Jesus!
Luke 4:33-36 “And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” ESV
Jesus casted out demons with ease, and anyone who witnessed was baffled at the power Jesus had over the unclean spirits.
Mark 9:29 “And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” ESV
According to Jesus, there were some demons who could only be driven out with prayer.
Mark 16:17 “And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;” ESV
Jesus told His disciples what to expect. By His power, they could and would cast out demons.
Demon possession is a tricky and very scary subject. Although it’s pretty safe to assume it’s nothing like what is shown in the movies, Jesus did show that it was a real thing that was happening. Christians argue over if and how it happens today, but at the very least we can all agree that Jesus cast out demons and the Bible verses above reference demon possession.