Casting Out Demons – Are Modern Exorcisms Real?

Exorcisms Real Or Phony?

Recently on the Anderson Cooper show, self-proclaimed Exorcist, Bob Larson was interviewed about casting out demons.

This brought up questions in many people’s minds, and I was asked to post a study on whether or not exorcisms are real.

Deliverance ministry, not unlike healing ministry, is one of those areas that naturally attract attention. Sometimes that attention is not healthy, and it attracts those that would use these aspects for their gain.

But does that mean that all exorcisms are phony? To give you an understanding of biblical deliverance ministry, some foundations have to be made.

Biblical teaching on the existence of Satan and demons has to be established. Whether or not people can be possessed by demons and to what degree needs to be discussed and finally whether or not the Bible shows how to “exorcize” or cast out a demon and how that may be different than what we are seeing with modern-day exorcists.

The Existence of Satan And Demons

In our western world, we have the mindset that everything is rational. We believe that if we study something long enough that it will be explained. Churches in the western world have adopted this mindset.

It is a good thing to study and learn. It is foundational. However, it is incomplete because it does not take into account the supernatural aspect of God or for that matter Satan. The supernatural elements of God and Satan lie beyond rationality.

Now I did not say they were irrational. I said they are beyond rational. They are higher than rationality. They supersede it.

So for you to even come close to understanding the subject of casting out demons you will have to acknowledge that principle.

Satan is mentioned in the first book of the Bible (Gen. 3:2-7) and the last book of the Bible. (Rev. 20:7-10) Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert. (Matthew 4) Jesus said that He saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven when the disciples were out casting out demons from people. (Luke 10:17-18) He also said that Satan had asked to sift Peter as wheat when He was predicting that Peter would deny Him. (Luke 22:31)

It is evident from these accounts that Jesus believed in the existence of Satan.
To Jesus, especially after the temptation in the wilderness, Satan was a genuine entity.

So we in the western church have a dilemma. Do we believe in the things that Jesus thought in or do we believe in what our precepts of rational thinking believe in?

The only biblical conclusion we can come to is that there is a devil and his name is Satan and that he exists to oppose the things God wants to establish here on this earth.

To do otherwise would be to place rationality on a throne higher than the throne of Jesus.

Can People Be Demon Possessed?

Black and white image of the Gaderene Demoniac

Recently I had a person come to me concerned that a member of their family might be demon possessed. I counseled the person to be very discerning.

The reason we need to be discerning is that we have to discern whether or not someone is actually under the control or influence of Satan or if they are in fact dealing with a mental illness.

The two are not the same thing although they may look very similar on the outside at times.

The Bible is pretty clear that people can, in fact, be demon possessed. There are many records of Jesus casting out demons. (Mark 5, Matt. 8:28, Matt. 12:22, Matt. 4:24, Mark 1:32, Matt. 9:32, Matt. 15:22, Matt. 17:18)

In fact, he was so widely known for casting out demons that the Pharisees accused him of casting out Satan by the power of Satan. (Luke 11:15) What type of convoluted thinking is that?

I believe the most striking case to answer the question if people can be demon possessed or not comes from the last supper.

Luke 22:3

Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve.

Here we see a classic example of someone becoming demon possessed or in this case the prince of demons, Satan.

Now I don’t have time to go into the degrees or types of the severity of demonic influences in a person’s life. Suffice it to say that I see three different levels of demonic influence in the Bible. You see full-fledged possession, demonic oppression, and demonic influence.

I also do not believe that born-again Christians can be possessed. They can be demon oppressed or influenced by Satan, but they cannot be possessed. Light and darkness cannot exist in the same room.

So from a biblical perspective, the question is not whether Satan exists because the Bible teaches that he does. The problem is not whether or not people can be demon possessed because once again the Bible teaches that they can.

The only question that remains is whether or not what we see today as modern-day exorcisms are real.

Are Modern Day Exorcisms Real?

This gets us back to what brought this subject up in the first place. I have real concerns about what is being pawned off as deliverance ministry for these reasons.

  1. Hype. Nowhere in scripture do I see deliverance’s happening along with the hype. I know that they are supernatural. I know that they cause a natural commotion with those that are witnessing it. However, I do not see any person who was delivered being exploited. The need to talk to the demons. There is only 1 example out of the many cases of Jesus casting out demons where Jesus talked to the devil. (Mark 5) It was not a long and drawn out conversation. In fact, there was not much accomplished by the communication and the demon skirted the issue. Jesus asked for its name. The devil answered with its numbers. The need to talk with the demons is part of the exploitation of the person possessed. It makes for good ratings and hype.
  2. Charging for the use of a so-called spiritual gift. In the interview with Bob Larson, he admitted that he charges for exorcisms. Right there he lost all credibility. Jesus was moved with compassion when setting the demoniacs free. He did not charge them. Peter rebuked Simon, the sorcerer when he tried to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:22) Spiritual gifts are freely given by God, and they should be freely used for the benefit of others.
  3. Shifting personal responsibility. With a lot of deliverance ministries, they claim to cast out demons of lust, devils of lying, demons of gluttony, and demons of all kinds of fleshly works. (Gal. 5:19) I find this a problem since although people might be tempted by demons to commit these acts, they are explicitly listed in the Bible as works of the flesh, not demonic forces. In fact, there are no names given to demons in the Bible other than to Satan who is the prince of demons. It is like deliverance ministry has taken a cue from standup comedian Flip Wilson and are teaching “the Devil made me do it.”

Casting Out Demons Biblically

Image of a woman breaking chains of possessionSo because there are people out there abusing and conning people with deliverance ministry does that mean that we should call all exorcisms false? I think not.

I have always believed that when you have a phony, then you also have the authentic. Just as bank tellers learn to tell the difference between real money and fake money by handling real money, so we can tell the difference between counterfeit ministry and authentic ministry by experiencing true ministry.

Jesus told the disciples in Mark 16:17 that they were to cast out demons in His name. That is the only method the Bible teaches for casting out demons. Using the name of Jesus on the devil.

As much as these other experts will tell you to use a formula, or some relic or religious instrument to do so, the Bible teaches that we, believers in Jesus, have the authority to cast them out in His name.

However, I also know that God cares more for the people who are in bondage than He does about method so I would suspect that there are authentic deliverances done in less than biblical fashion.

I have only had one experience casting out a demon. I was not a “Reverend” at the time. I was not trained in the Bible. I was only a couple of years old in the Lord.

A high school buddy that I used to do drugs with before my conversion took some acid. His friend that he was out getting stoned with brought him to me late during the night since I was the only believer they knew.

My friend fell out of the truck and started frothing at the mouth. It scared the living daylights out of me. I told the demon to come out in Jesus name.

Within 15 minutes it did, and my friend was stone cold sober and in his right mind. He gave his life to Jesus that night. No hype. No fanfare. No talking to the demon. (Like who wants to talk to a demon anyway?)

But I did make them buy me a cup of coffee.

To Dig Deeper Into This Topic, We Recommend

Follow Us


Popular Christian Living Articles

24 Bible Verses About Guidance To Find God’s Direction For Your Life

bible verses about guidance featured image
Take a beautiful journey of images and Bible verses about guidance that will help you hear the the Holy Spirit to know which direction to go.

7 Ways To Resist The Devil And Make Him Flee

Learn how you can resist the devil and live in such victory that he will flee from you every time he sees you!

How To Boldly Go Into Your Next Spiritual Assignment

next spiritual assignment featured image
Are you looking for guidance on how to enter into your next spiritual assignment? Check out these 10 steps you can take to get there.

How Do You Know God Is Opening A Door For You?

Is God opening a door featured image
God opens and closes doors all the time. Learn how to tell if God is opening doors for you to walk through in your life.

15 Inspirational Bible Verses About Love

Bible verses about love featured image
Here are some of the most inspiring Bible verses on love that have enriched and nurtured my soul over the years.

Latest Christian Living Articles

17 Bible Verses About Peace To Calm The Storms Of Life

Bible verses about peace featured image
The Bible promises you can have peace beyond understanding. Read these Bible verses about peace and find the peace of God in your storm.

Casting Out Demons – Are Modern Exorcisms Real?

are exorcisms real featured image
The Bible talks about casting out demons but are modern-day exorcisms real? Find out in this eye-opening article.

Experiencing Life With God – 22 Christian Quotes About Life

Christian quotes about life featured image
Do you want to experience more of God in your life? These Christian quotes about life will help you find the life in God you are looking for.

The Power To Forgive – 21 Christian Quotes On Forgiveness

Are you struggling to forgive? These 21 Christian quotes on forgiveness will help you find the power to forgive others, and even yourself.

How To Walk In The Peace Of God

how to walk in the peace of God featured image
Do you want to have God's peace in your life every day? Learn how you can walk in the peace of God in your life in this informative article.
Duke Taber
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of L.I.F.E. Bible College and Multnomah Biblical Seminary. He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988. Pastor Duke specializes in healing hurting churches and bringing revival, renewal, and restoration of the presence of God to the body of Christ in America to make the church spiritual again. Pastor Duke has a few limited dates available to speak in other churches. If your church needs a fresh move of the Spirit of God or has gone through a painful and wounding season, click here. Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world. He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center.

Related Posts

How To Boldly Go Into Your Next Spiritual Assignment

Are you looking for guidance on how to enter into your next spiritual assignment? Check out these 10 steps you can take to get there.

Christian Lessons When Walking Through Pain And Suffering

Can good actually come out of pain and suffering? Learn how to turn your pain and suffering into something that has meaning!

Why Christian Believe Abortion Is Murder

Abortion is a confusing subject with some people but not with Christians. Find out why Christians believe abortion is murder.

Bible Verses About Provision – 11 Scriptures Showing God Will Provide

Read these Bible verses about provision to help you place your faith in God's providence in every area of your life.

Waiting For God In A Warp Speed World

There are many times in life where we are waiting for God to answer prayer. Learn what to do when you have to wait upon the Lord

8 Great Guideposts For Discerning God’s Will

Understanding the will of God doesn't have to be hard. Take a look at these 8 tips to help you understand God's will.

What Are The Biblical Signs Of The Second Coming Of Jesus?

The Bible teaches that Jesus will return a second time. Find out if there are signs today pointing to the second coming of Jesus to this world

Bible Verses About Joy To Brighten Your Day

Do you want to live a life filled with Joy? Check out these great Bible verses about joy from the Old and New Testament in this informative article.

Commenting Policy

Unfortunately, due to the high number of spam comments we receive, we are unable to spend the time filtering out spam comments. So we have instituted a policy that will prevent most spam. Here are the requirements for commenting.

  1. Since most spam comes from the exploitation of workers in 3rd world countries or from computers located in those 3rd world countries, we only allow comments originating from the U.S., U.K., CA., AU., and NZ.
  2. We do not allow the sharing of hyperlinks of any kind. Since the purpose of comment spam is to place hyperlinks on websites pointing to another website, we automatically delete any comment with a hyperlink.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here