Do not be deceived. Much of the information widely published on the subject of the exorcism of demonic influence is not true. Even information originating from sources that one’s own common sense would lead one to believe should be the most reliable and authoritative of sources, is sometimes inaccurate. But why? Here it is important to remember that Satan is a liar, the father thereof (John 8:44), that his tentacles of deception are many and far-reaching, and that even the most well-meaning of human sources are not secure against the Devil’s infiltrations. This is why we must rely upon the written Word of God, the Holy Bible, for understanding and guidance. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says…
An individual is not necessarily responsible for becoming possessed. In fact, there are no references in the Bible to any person being somehow responsible for their being possessed. Nor are there any instances in the Bible where any of the possessed persons were criticized for somehow having allowed themselves to become possessed.
Animals can be possessed by demons. For in Matthew 8:28-32 it tells us, "28 And when he was come on the other side of the water, into the country of the Gerasens, there met him two that were possessed with devils, coming out of the sepulchres, exceeding fierce, so that none could pass by that way. 29 And behold they cried out, saying: What have we to do with thee, Jesus Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? 30 And there was, not far from them, an herd of many swine feeding. 31 And the devils besought him, saying: If thou cast us out hence, send us into the herd of swine. 32 And he said to them: Go. But they going out went into the swine, and behold the whole herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea: and they perished in the waters."
A single individual can be possessed by multiple demons. In the book of Luke we are told of a man who was possessed by many demons, so many in fact, that he called himself "legion," a term that in those days referred to a unit of six thousand soldiers. It reads, "26 And they sailed to the country of the Gerasens, which is over against Galilee. 27 And when he was come forth to the land, there met him a certain man who had a devil now a very long time, and he wore no clothes, neither did he abide in a house, but in the sepulchres. 28 And when he saw Jesus, he fell down before him; and crying out with a loud voice, he said: What have I to do with thee, Jesus, Son of the most high God? I beseech thee, do not torment me. 29 For he commanded the unclean spirit to go out of the man. For many times it seized him, and he was bound with chains, and kept in fetters; and breaking the bonds, he was driven by the devil into the deserts. 30 And Jesus asked him, saying: What is thy name? But he said: Legion; because many devils were entered into him." (Luke 8:26-30)
Demons can make it seem that a person has special powers. Acts 16:16 relates an instance where a girl was seemingly given the power to divine by an evil spirit, " 16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain girl, having a pythonical spirit (A spirit pretending to divine and tell fortunes), met us, who brought to her masters much gain by divining."
Various physical and mental disorders may be the result of demonic possession:
Demons should be cast out in Jesus' name. Acts 16:16-18 gives us the example of even the Apostle Paul driving out a demon in Jesus' name, "16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain girl, having a pythonical spirit, met us, who brought to her masters much gain by divining. 17 This same following Paul and us, cried out, saying: These men are the servants of the most high God, who preach unto you the way of salvation. 18 And this she did many days. But Paul being grieved, turned, and said to the spirit: I command thee, in the name of Jesus Christ, to go out from her. And he went out the same hour."
Even non-Christians can cast out demons in Jesus' name, but there are stipulations. Mark 9:37-40 tells us, "37 John answered him, saying: Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, who followeth not us, and we forbade him. 38 But Jesus said: Do not forbid him. For there is no man that doth a miracle in my name, and can soon speak ill of me. 39 For he that is not against you, is for you. 40 For whosoever shall give you to drink a cup of water in my name, because you belong to Christ: amen I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." Of course, Jesus qualified this ability to His disciples in Matthew 17:19-20 where He makes clear the importance of belief and faith, "14 And when he was come to the multitude, there came to him a man falling down on his knees before him, saying: Lord, have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic, and suffereth much: for he falleth often into the fire, and often into the water. 15 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 16 Then Jesus answered and said: O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. 17 And Jesus rebuked him, and the devil went out of him, and the child was cured from that hour. 18 Then came the disciples to Jesus secretly, and said: Why could not we cast him out? 19 Jesus said to them: Because of your unbelief. For, amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence hither, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you." And then Mark 16:17 tell us about the power Jesus imparted to His followers, "And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils..." Or as Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible explains, "If we resist the devil by faith in Christ, he will flee from us; but if we think to resist him by the using of Christ's name, or his works, as a spell or charm, Satan will prevail against us."
Demons can speak through humans. There are numerous passages in the Bible that relate instances of demons speaking through humans.
Demons can give people superhuman strength. In Mark 5:2-4 we are told of an example of this when, "2 And as he went out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the monuments a man with an unclean spirit, 3 Who had his dwelling in the tombs, and no man now could bind him, not even with chains. 4 For having been often bound with fetters and chains, he had burst the chains, and broken the fetters in pieces, and no one could tame him."
Some demons are worse than others. In Matthew 12:43-45 it speaks of the event of a subsequent possession, saying, "43 And when an unclean spirit is gone out of a man he walketh through dry places seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith: I will return into my house from whence I came out. And coming he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45 Then he goeth, and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is made worse than the first."
Exorcisms should not be difficult. In fact, except for only one example in the Bible, exorcisms seemed to be relatively quick and easy. Jesus or one of His apostles would order the demon to be gone and, apart from a bit of grumbling or complaining, the demon would immediately leave. The one example where the exorcism was a bit more difficult was when Jesus' disciples were unable to exorcise an evil spirit that had caused a young boy to be mute and epileptic. Jesus was able to cast the demon out and then explained to His disciples that the only way to drive out a demon of this type is through prayer and fasting. Mark 9:16-28 relates the story this way, "16 And one of the multitude, answering, said: Master, I have brought my son to thee, having a dumb spirit. 17 Who, wheresoever he taketh him, dasheth him, and he foameth, and gnasheth with the teeth, and pineth away; and I spoke to thy disciples to cast him out, and they could not. 18 Who answering them, said: O incredulous generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 19 And they brought him. And when he had seen him, immediately the spirit troubled him; and being thrown down upon the ground, he rolled about foaming. 20 And he asked his father: How long time is it since this hath happened unto him? But he said: From his infancy: 21 And oftentimes hath he cast him into the fire and into waters to destroy him. But if thou canst do any thing, help us, having compassion on us. 22 And Jesus saith to him: If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 23 And immediately the father of the boy crying out, with tears said: I do believe, Lord: help my unbelief. 24 And when Jesus saw the multitude running together, he threatened the unclean spirit, saying to him: Deaf and dumb spirit, I command thee, go out of him; and enter not any more into him. 25 And crying out, and greatly tearing him, he went out of him, and he became as dead, so that many said: He is dead. 26 But Jesus taking him by the hand, lifted him up; and he arose. 27 And when he was come into the house, his disciples secretly asked him: Why could not we cast him out? 28 And he said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting."
All scriptural passages from the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible.