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Welcome back to week 46. We hope the past week has been a blessed one for you. Last week we briefly examined the reasons for counseling termination. We terminate when the counselee has grown enough in Christlikeness to continue on his own and make other disciples. We also terminate when a counselee ultimately refuses to submit himself or herself to Scripture. At that point, we switch to evangelism. This week we will briefly consider whether or not we, as counselors, are to cast out demons. Is that part of our job description?  

In order to answer in short, there is no place in biblical counseling for casting out demons. Demonic activity goes on every day, as it always has, and the biblical methodology for dealing with it is the same as it has always been, with the exception of the apostolic era. 

In biblical counseling it would be helpful to know that no Christian can ever be possessed by a demon (1 Peter 1:5; 1 John 5:18). Never in the New Testament are believers warned about the potential of possession, nor is anyone ever seen rebuking, binding, or casting demons out of a true believer. Since the Holy Spirit indwells believers there is no possibility of a demon also indwelling a believer.[1]

Christ has delivered the Christian from darkness to light (Col. 1:13). Thus, the Christian experiences victory over the realm of sin and darkness where demons operate (Rom. 8:37; 2 Cor. 2:14; 1 John 2:13). This is great news! Thanks to the Lord, a believer can never be demon possessed. At the same time, thanks to the Lord, a believer can never claim, “The Devil made me do it.”

What about casting demons out of unbelievers? Unbelievers do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit or protection from the Lord against demonic possession. Thus, unbelievers can be demonically possessed. In fact, demonic possession is strong evidence of lacking salvation. How do we deal with this?

First, biblical counselors should not be counseling unbelievers. Biblical counselors should be evangelizing them.[2]Next, no one on the planet has the power to cast out a demon, nor is it even biblical to try to cast out a demon. Jesus was the only One who ever had the intrinsic authority needed to cast out a demon. It is the power of Christ that casts out demons (Matt. 12:28).

Jesus temporarily gave the gift of authority to His Apostles, and an evangelist named Philip, to cast out demons from unbelievers (Luke 10:17; Acts 5:16; 8:7; 16:18). Castings out demons, and other sign gifts, were an apostolic gift given for the purpose of confirming the Apostle’s teaching as divine truth and establishing Christ’s church (Mark 16:17-20; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; 13:8-10; 2 Cor. 12:12; Eph. 4:7-12; Heb. 2:1-4.). Before the time of Christ and His Apostles (i.e. Old Testament times) demons were removed from people by God’s gracious and merciful answer to prayer and fasting (cf. Matt.17:21).

Now, and for about 2,000 years, Christ’s church has been established, the Apostle’s Spirit inspired teaching is finished. God has said all He wanted to say and His Word is closed (Heb. 1:1-3; Rev. 22:18-19). Therefore, apostolic gifts do not exist today –including casting out demons by individuals. There is simply no need for it. We have the Scriptures and Christ’s church has been established. Therefore, what do we do when faced with a demon possessed person? 

Considering the truth above one would deal with a demon possessed person like one would deal with any other person who is lost in sin. Casting out a demon is not a counselor’s focal point –nor should it be anyone else’s focal point. Having a demon is sin, just like adultery is sin, and Christ is the only One with total power over sin in whatever form it is in. A counselor would deal with a demon possessed person using the same principles people used before the apostolic age. They would fast, pray, and present the unbeliever with the truth of Christ found in God’s Word. The power resides in Christ and we would ask Him to act salvifically on behalf of the unbeliever. He is the only true hope for the demonically possessed person because salvation from sin only comes through Him.

We hope our short time considering the casting out of demons was helpful. That particular act is not in our job description. The power to do so belongs to Jesus Christ. Lord willing, next week we will briefly examine what it means to minister the Scripture in counseling. Is there a difference between a “professional, medical model,” and a “ministry of the Word,” model? Until then may our Lord bless you and keep you.

[1] Cf. 2 Cor.6:15-17 (no cohabitation); 1 John 4:4 (the indwelling Holy Spirit is greater than demons). 

[2] Explained in week 45.

Foundations of Biblical Counseling: Terminating Counseling Foundations of Biblical Counseling: The Ministry vs. Professional Model of Counseling