The exorcists are those who cast out spirits. It is from a Greek word signifying to conjure, to use the name of God or certain magical ceremonies with design to expel devils from places or bodies which they possess. The apostles were able to cast out evil spirits in Jesus' name and God still grants that power. Designing men, however, both before and after the Savior's death, pretended to exercise the same power.

Exorcists in the ancient world were thought to have gained this power by secret studies respecting the nature of demons, and the powers of certain herbs, drugs, and stones and were accustomed to use various forms of adjuration and incantation in their unlawful art; but the whole was delusion and imposture and strictly forbidden. The practice of using magical words, chants, crosses and ceremonies to expel evil spirits or demons is the false counterpart to what Jesus has given us. The phenomenon was characteristic of heathenism and thought incompatible with either the religion of Israel or Christianity. The power in Jesus' name is the real power and it can eminate from any of us with the faith able to do it. This is no pretended power that is found in true ministry, it is the power promised and given to us all who are willing to accept it.

Jesus would demonstrate His authority in many astounding ways, one of which was in the power of exorcism. In the Capernaum synagogue, a man with an unclean spirit cried out, "Let us alone, what have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Are you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God." The demon did not praise Jesus but tried to control Him by calling out His name. Jesus rebuked him and said, "Hold your peace and come out of him." Well if Jesus says come out to a demon, he has to obey and leave the man he did. It amazed those around Jesus and showed them the authority that Jesus has in the spirit world.

Jesus again cast out demons in a man that was called legion. A Roman legion in the army consisted of about six thousand soldiers, representing a great number. In this case, a legion meant this man was possessed with a slew of demons, it's no wonder that he was distressed. His actions were mournful and self-destructive, he lived around dead people apparently naked, elicited fear in those around him and could not be restrained. This man hardly looked like a candidate for conversion yet when Jesus was still a long way off, ran to meet him and worshipped Him. The demons identified Jesus directly - "Jesus, Son of the most High God" and begged the Lord for mercy. Jesus demanded the name of the demon, they do have names you know and many times identify the sin itself. Jesus then sent them into a herd of swine. For the Jews, pigs were ritually unclean animals but this was the eastern shore of the sea of Galilee where there would have been many Gentiles. It would be hard to explain why so many demons took up residence in this man or why they wanted to be sent into the pigs, or why Jesus let them. What we do know is that Jesus had authority over them and that Jesus has told us that we also have that authority in His name. All we have to do to cast out demons ourselves is to believe it, receive the authority and tell them to go. The next time we hear of the man that had so many demons, he is properly dressed and in his right mind and Jesus sends him off to tell the story of what Jesus has done for Him.
[380, BD, Mark 1:23-27; 5, 415]

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