(an expanded excerpt from The Supernatural Battle by Richard J Grund)
The concept and topic of exorcisms in the church have been a frustration for me. The release of the 1973 movie The Exorcist ignited the imagination of movie audiences. It brought the topic and the Roman Catholic ritual back into the spotlight. Since that time, we have had numerous movies, television show and books promoting the erroneous concept that the ritual is a Biblical one.
Lately, I’ve even seen Protestant teachers and writers trying to ride the wave of this popularity by mistakenly claiming to be “exorcists”.
Let’s set the record (Biblical and otherwise) straight on this topic.
An exorcist is “one who expels demons by the use of magical formulas. In the strict etymological sense, there is no exorcism in the Bible.
The term “exorcists” is used once (Acts 19:13) in a way to discredit the professional exorcists familiarly known both among Jews and Gentiles.”[i] During the time of the Lord or the Book of Acts Church it was not a recognized or respected ritual. Let me be clearer, the “office of the exorcist” and the practice of expelling demons by some ritual act are not found in the Hebrew Bible or in the New Testament. Its origins are from a source outside of The Bible.
The ritual of exorcism is a long known religious practice from Mesopotamia.[ii] Ancient Babylonian priests served as exorcists who performed the ritual by destroying a clay or wax image of a demon meant to destroy the attached spirit.[iii] Accounts from ancient Persia, 6th century BC, offer evidence of exorcism using prayer, ritual, and holy water by the religious leader Zoroaster, who was considered the first magician, and who founded the religion Zoroastrianism.[iv]
Zoroastrianism (or Mazdaism) refers to the religion developed from the teachings of the Persian prophet Zarathushtra (c. tenth century B.C.), who is commonly known in the West as Zoroaster. Zoroastrians most commonly refer to themselves as Zartoshti (“Zoroastrians”), Mazdayasni (“Wisdom-Worshippers”), and Behdini (“Followers of the Good Religion”). In India, they are known as Parsis (“People from Pars,” which refers to the Persian heritage of the group).
Zoroastrianism was tremendously influential in the history, culture, and art of Persia. Zoroastrianism believes in angels, a day of judgment, a Satan figure, and an ongoing battle between forces of light and darkness in the cosmos but from outside the parameters of The Bible.
Luke 4:31-37(NKJV) 31 Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. 32 And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. 33 Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, 34 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him. 36 Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, “What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” 37 And the report about Him went out into every place in the surrounding region.
No ritual. No ointments or icons. No Holy Water. This is the same authority He delegated to all who believe in Him. Believing in Him and being Born Again was the only prerequisite for this newfound authority.
This upset the religious system and their desire for control. When the Pharisees saw this they attacked it and, in an act of unforgivable blasphemy, attributed such power to the devil himself.
Matthew 12:22-24(NKJV) 22 Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the £blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
The arrival of Jesus of Nazareth into the Jewish religious system eliminated the validity and viability of this pagan ritual. He immediately conferred this authority on His disciples in Mark 3:13-15 as a declaration that a supernatural shift of power had taken place.
No longer was it necessary to use rituals or religious icons to cast out demons.
Jesus of Nazareth did it with the SPOKEN WORD.
Matthew 8:16(NKJV) 16When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick,
That’s why when the sons of Sceva the chief priest and member of the Jewish Council in Acts 19:11-17 try this new technique it does not work for them. The power in the supernatural realm had shifted with the death, resurrection and ascension of the Yeshua/Jesus. Religious ritual, icons and humanistic efforts had no power. This was so amazing to the occult familiar people of Ephesus, in an act of repentance, burned occult materials that would be worth over $100,000 today.
The arrival of the Messiah and His coronation as King of kings and Lord of lords gave to ALL BELIEVERS the authority and power over the demonic.
For almost 300 years this belief was good for the church and was bad business for religious leaders and the demons influencing them. In Biblical Christian tradition, the Lord expelled demons by a word and stated that this act was a sign of the coming of God’s Kingdom. His followers, and others as well, drove out demons “in His name.” In the first two centuries of the Christian era, the power of to cast out demons was considered a special gift that might be bestowed on anyone, lay or cleric.
However, around 250 AD, a special class of the lower clergy was created to take this authority out of the hands of the average Believer and put it into a new group called exorcist. No longer was it a basic belief and ability given to all who Believe in Yeshua/Jesus but now became an elite group to whom this special function was entrusted. About the same time, exorcism became one of the ceremonies done in preparation to baptism, and it has remained a part of the Roman Catholic baptismal service. None of that is Biblical or has precedence in the Book of Acts Church or direction from the Lord.
The exorcism of persons possessed by demons is carefully now regulated by canon law in the Roman Catholic church, and the elaborate rite is contained within the Roman ritual. This ritual does not reappear until the Roman Ritual of 1614, which was then replaced in 1999 by the Second Vatican Council.[v]
According to the office and ritual of an exorcist, as written by the Roman Catholic Church, only Catholic priests can do the ritual and only if they have the permission of their local Bishop. And, this will only happen if they deem you are worthy and can get an appointment. Many of the people and families I’ve helped over the last almost 24-years are people who have been rejected by the Vatican. To the Roman Catholic Church (specifically Cardinal Estevez), the numerous Protestants promoting exorcisms and everyone who believes that this pagan ritual is Biblical, I say – “Sorry, wrong answer. Thank you for playing religious games. Please pick up your parting gifts on the way out!”
It’s no wonder that the demonic has flourished since the church abdicated its authority to religious men who have countermanded the Word of God and the spoken guidelines of The Lord for pagan rituals. It’s been one demonic deception after another seeping into the church to trick us into laying down the weapons of our warfare thereby taking us off of the supernatural battlefield. Although there are still many like myself that hold to the Biblical model the majority of the church, and the world, have fallen for this misleading manmade teaching.
The power of casting out devils was conferred by the Lord on his apostles (Matt. 10:8), and on the seventy (Luke 10:17-19), and was exercised by Believers after his ascension (Mark 16:17; Acts 16:18); but this power was never spoken of as exorcism.
And, while we are on the topic, there is no such thing as a “Deliverance Ministry.” You either have a Yeshua/Jesus authorized ministry as defined in The Word, or you don’t. Specializing is not only not an option it’s not Biblical. By doing so and labeling yourself as such you are recreating the poisonous “elite” status and attempting to elevate yourself to a superior position of authority from the rest of the church.
We are called to get people saved, healed and delivered so that they can become disciples of The Messiah Yeshua/Jesus AND THAT IS IT!
He came to set the captives free by destroying the works of the devil. And, we must continue that work until He Returns.
As the world gets darker and the demonic become more prevalent and powerful, let’s stop the religious games and get back to Kingdom of Heaven business!
Leaving the LIGHT on!
Richard J Grund
SRT, the Supernatural Response Teamwebsite.
[i]International Standard Bible Encyclopedia First Edition; Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1998, Parsons Technology, Inc.
[ii]Holman Bible Dictionary; Third Edition; Copyright © 1991 Holman Bible Publishers. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1998, Parsons Technology, Inc.