John A. MacMillan

B. Childress
Feb 26 2012

It is natural for men to fear the supernatural.  In what is probably the oldest book of the bible Eliphaz speaks of the
dread which came upon him (Job 4:14-15) in the presence of a spirit.  Daniel (10:7-19) tells of the fear which fell upon
himself and the men who were with him, so that they fled “quaking.”  Saul of Tarsus (Acts 26:14) gives a somewhat
similar description of his contact with the Lord on the road to Damascus, John the Beloved (Revelation 1:17) fell at the
feet of the risen Christ “as one dead.”  We may say that these appearances differ from the manifestations in our day.  
But such differences are only in degree – the mystery of the unseen world with its beings still brings a measure of terror
on the hearts and minds of men, until familiarity has lessened the strangeness in the case of those who ignorantly press
into the seeking of what the Scriptures forbid.

In the case of earnest servants of God, who know His will and have come to an understanding of His Word, godly fear in
His presence never degenerates into a careless familiarity as their knowledge and experience of Himself grows from
more to more.  Nor does there ever come an attitude of self-confidence in dealing with the invisible spirits of darkness,
even though the consciousness of the authority of the Lord increases as they realize that "the spirits are subject" unto
them (Luke 10:20).  On the contrary, their apprehension of the stubborn subtlety of these evil beings intensified, and
they appreciate the fact that only on the ground of the blood of the Lamb is there any power to deal with them.  But
when faith with boldness lays hold of this appointed weapon, they find demons giving up their grip and surely, even
though reluctantly, leaving their victims when commanded in the name of Jesus.

It is the will of God as revealed in His word that those who are oppressed of the devil should be set free.  The Lord
Jesus came "to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound" (Isaiah 61:1; Luke
4:18).  The era in which we are living is "the acceptable year of the Lord," and it will not terminate until the Son of Man
comes again to proclaim "the day of vengeance of our God" and to shut up in the prison house of the "abyss" the rebel
powers that have brought destruction and agelong suffering to our race.  During this period of grace, Christ's servants
are commissioned to "cast devils" (Mark 16:17) as one of the "signs" which follow "them that believe."  The inference is
that throughout the age there will be the need for this important ministry.  History and experience confirm this inference.

Qualifications for This Service

In the days of His flesh the Lord Jesus conferred on His disciples "power against unclean spirits, to cast them out"
(Matthew 10:1; Luke 10:19, etc.).  This was done by the impartation of a divine power which accompanied them as they
went forth preaching the gospel of the kingdom.  Sometimes they failed (Matthew 17:19), and this He told them was due
to lack of faith proceeding from failure to exercise themselves in spiritual approach to God.  On one occasion, at least,
an individual seems to have taken on himself the work of casting out demons in the name of Jesus (Mark 9:28).  The
disciples would have forbidden him, but our Lord passed the matter over with the statement that the individual who was
not against them (as the rulers and many others were) was on their part.

However, the epistle to the Ephesians (2:5-6) gives a wonderful breadth to the fact of the relationship of the Christian to
his risen Lord.  He is made alive with Christ through spiritual regeneration, raised up with Him in resurrection and made
to sit with Him "in heavenly places" where Christ is enthroned at the right hand of God.  The Apostle Paul thus
anticipates the message of the Savior to the seven churches (Revelation 2-3), and sets forth the basis of the victorious
life of the "overcomer," which so few Christians understand or seek to enter into.  It is throughout an appropriation of
faith of that which the Spirit reveals as ours in Christ Jesus.  It is a present-day experience received through
yieldedness to the cross.  It is the acceptance of that identification with Christ which brings His "throne power" into the
earthly ministry of the believer.  It is a living "by the faith of the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself up for us"
(Galatians 2:20).  It is a practical exercising of the Lord's authority in matters which are met in His service.  It is,
moreover, workable and brings a blessing to the believer and to others who seek Him for help.  Finally, it is all of God,
"who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation" (II Corinthians 5:
18) and also the ministry of liberation of men from the powers of the air.

Identifying the Enemy

The spirits of evil are quick to recognize those who are armed with the authority of the Lord and who have knowledge of
their devices.  From such they will often seek to hide themselves.  At times they will seem to have withdrawn from their
victim, when the time for dealing with them has come.  Commands for their departure will bring no response, and prayer
seemingly has no effect.  The individual may have a period of apparent freedom and comfort, but it is deceptive.  Or he
will plead with the worker or workers to be let alone, control of the mind and will being held by the demons, although the
possessed person seems to be expressing his own desire.  Often the individual will profess willingness to unite in prayer
or to join in singing or praise to God.  But, almost invariably, if his assurance is accepted, there will be inability to take
any spiritual stand.  

The work of dispossession should always be preceded by prayer.  If a group of believing persons can be gotten
together to persevere in supplication, the result will be very helpful.  Then, when the work of deliverance is taken up, the
way has been prepared and the yielding of Satan's power is certain.

While demons will yield to the word of a single believer, when such a one knows how to use the name and authority of
the risen Christ, it is well for two or three of like mind to work together.  At times there may be struggling, when the
power of the possessed person may seem superhuman.  Or, at other times, the demons may cause the sufferer to
attempt self-destruction, and it will be necessary to prevent this by force.  Again, while one may undertake the exorcism
of the spirits the others may pray either silently or aloud as the case may be.  The united authority of the brethren will
aid in the gaining of victory, although of course the power is entirely of God, and the ground of deliverance is the
finished work of Calvary.

Full Deliverance

It must be remembered that in seeking the casting out of demons the worker is dealing with a crafty and lying foe.  Not
infrequently it may appear as if, in answer to the command to depart; the enemy has withdrawn, when he is merely in
concealment.  We have known of a sincere worker giving such a command and then asserting that the spirit had
departed and the person was free when such was not the case.  Shortly after the worker had left, the demon again
manifested himself in triumph.

The possessing spirit may be of a very stubborn nature, and the work of freeing the sufferer may be protracted.  At
such times there may lie behind the difficulty some previous sin that gives a special hold.  Impurity which has been
practiced in the life may have given access to an impure spirit which holds to the ground gained with great persistence.  
Usually there will be some indication of this in the words of the victim or in the speeches of the demon if he be allowed to

Demons may try at times to divert the worker by engaging him in conversation.  In such a case it is well to silence him
with some such statement, "We are not here to argue with you, but to cast you out.  On the ground of the blood of the
Lamb, we command you to go out of this body."  On occasion the demon may become abusive and may threaten the
worker.  Or the sufferer, unconsciously to himself or herself, being under the complete control of the spirit, will endeavor
to harm the worker, often snapping and biting like a dog or wild animal.  Care must be exercised in such cases, and the
worker's body kept under the covering of the power of the Lord.

When real deliverance is granted there will be no question about it.  The freed sufferer, if a child of the Lord, will often
praise Him with shouting and tears.  Utterance in the name of the Lord, which may have been hindered previously, is
now joyously free.  However, the exhaustion of the body through the possession may be so extreme that for a period
there must be rest and recuperation.  In such cases prayer for healing and strengthening of the body will usually be

After Deliverance

Our Lord Himself warned very solemnly of the danger of the life which has been delivered.

    The unclean spirit, when he is gone out of the man, passeth through waterless places, seeking rest, and findeth it
    not.  Then he saith, I will return into my house whence I came out, and when he is come, he findeth it empty,
    swept and garnished.  Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they
    enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man becometh worse than the first.  (Matthew 12:43-45, ASV)

This is a truth that needs impressing.  If the life is left open to the world and its desires, there is constant danger of the
return of the expelled enemy with reinforcements.  Even in the case of the delivered believer, the peril exists.  One of
whom we have personal knowledge was pursued for weeks after deliverance by spirits of evil.  They would come at night
and try by arguments, threats and wheedling to find entrance.  Discouraged at times, the restored child of God
steadfastly resisted, and at last they withdrew completely, fulfilling the promise, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from
you" (James 4:7).

The foregoing statements are all within the knowledge of the writer.  The reality and possibility of children of God falling
under the power of the enemy and finding themselves controlled by him is a tremendous reality.  But it is also a
condition that no one need come into.  If the life has been regenerated through faith in and acceptance of the Lord
Jesus, if it is surrendered to Him, if prayer and the reading of the Word of God is the daily rule, if obedience to God is
sought after, there need be no fear.  The Lord "is able to keep that which is committed unto him against that day" (II
Timothy 1:12).


THE AUTHORITY OF THE BELIEVER, by John A. MacMillan, Copyright 2007, WingSpread Publishers.