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The issue I have with mass exorcisms

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Pastor Greg Locke has contributed to a resurgence in deliverance ministry with his film “Come Out in Jesus' Name.”  As a former cessationist, he has now come to realize the power of God to heal and cast out demons, which I think is a great thing!

While deliverance was a significant aspect of Jesus' ministry, I believe there are other crucial elements such as healing the sick, preaching, and discipling the 12 apostles that take precedence.

In the film, which I haven't had the chance to see yet, crowds of people undergo deliverance from demons. While I support deliverance ministry, I have some concerns about the concept of mass deliverances.

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Let me clarify my beliefs on this topic.

What are demons? By demons, I refer to disembodied evil spirits that Moses connects to false gods in Deuteronomy 32:16,17:

“They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods;
with abominations they provoked him to anger.
They sacrificed to demons that were no gods,
to gods they had never known,
to new gods that had come recently,
whom your fathers had never dreaded.”

And the apostle Paul connects to the powers of darkness in Ephesians 6:10-13.

There are also hierarchies of the demonic, with Satan as the leader, and principalities, powers, and princes under him, ruling the ungodly world systems. In Matthew and Luke chapters 4, we see the devil offering Jesus all the kingdoms of the world.

John the apostle states that the whole world lies under the control of the evil one in 1 John 5:19.

Regarding the ministry of deliverance, I do believe that Christians can have a demon and/or be oppressed by demons. However, I do not believe that a true Christian can be demon-possessed since they have already been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, as mentioned in 1 Peter 1:18-19.

“Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

Consequently, demons have a legal right to inhabit those who are not following Jesus. That's why I ask a person to commit themselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ before attempting to cast a demon out of them.

So how can a demon harass a true Christian?

According to Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, humans are a tripartite being consisting of a spirit, soul, and body.

Demons cannot dwell inside the spirit of a Christian since we are in union with Jesus in our spirit, according to 1 Corinthians 6:17.

However, they can invade the thoughts and mind of a Christian, which is why we are called to cast down imaginations and thoughts that come against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

This passage suggests that the strongholds we need to break are in the realm of the mind, through thoughts, images, and reasonings that oppose the Word of God.

That's why Jesus used Scripture when He resisted the devil in the wilderness. The demonic can also cause sickness and reside in a person's body, as seen in Luke 13:10-17 when Jesus cast a spirit of infirmity out of a woman who was in covenant with God as she was called “a daughter of Abraham.”

It seems that Jesus only cast demons out of those in covenant with God since demons had no legal right to harass those following Yahweh.

Now, let's discuss my concerns about mass deliverances

As a pastor since 1984, what I have found is that after casting out a demon or demons from a person, they need immediate follow-up and instruction in the Word of God. They have to walk with God, or else the demons will come back seven times worse, as Jesus mentioned in Matthew 12:43-45.

In our church, we provide several weeks of weekly prayer and follow-up for those who experience deliverance. We also address emotional and psychological issues such as bitterness, unforgiveness, generational habit patterns, and rebellious lifestyles. All these aspects are part of the follow-up process after the demon is cast out.

What I'm saying is that casting out a demon is relatively easy — the challenging part is the shepherding aspect, where mature believers assist the person (who was set free) in maintaining their freedom by learning how to walk with God and be continually filled with the Holy Spirit and His Word.

In a public mass deliverance event, promoted to the public with several thousand attendees, I have the following questions:

  • Do the attendees have a church and a pastor?
  • Do they have a local church where they will receive ongoing counseling, Bible study, and discipleship?
  • Do they vet those who come up for deliverance?
  • Do they know if the attendees are ready for it?

For instance, we utilize a thorough questionnaire related to their history and lifestyle to uncover possible issues of rebellion against God and other relevant factors. This way, when we perform a deliverance, we are very thorough and don't overlook anything.

Consequently, considering the above concerns, I would never attempt a public deliverance service unless there is ample local church support, and the attendees are already connected in some way to a form of shepherding and care for follow-up meetings.

As I’ve mentioned before, I haven't seen the movie “Come Out in Jesus' Name.” Perhaps they have already addressed all my concerns. If not, it's possible that such a deliverance gathering may leave individuals churchless and disconnected, in a worse condition, while their need for deliverance persists. No pastor should ever want that.

Dr. Joseph Mattera is an internationally-known author, consultant, and theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence culture. He is the founding pastor of Resurrection Church, and leads several organizations, including The U.S. Coalition of Apostolic Leaders and Christ Covenant Coalition.

To order his books or to join the many thousands who subscribe to his newsletter, go to

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