Go Cast Out Demons
The complete scope of this commission seemed include proclaim the Kingdom of God, heal the sick and cast out demons. For the sake of an orderly progression in our consideration of the various forms of healing that are within the commissions, I would prefer to consider the casting out of demons next. It is for the healing of the soul, or heart if we prefer to see the heart as that core of personality within us.
Much has been written and said about psycho (soul) somatic (body) medicine in recent years. Those who are involved in Christian healing have talked about a pneuma (spirit) psychosomatic treatment for some time, and the medical profession is beginning to see the desirability of treating the spiritual dimension of those who are suffering from a dis-ease of soul or body.
Entrance into the Kingdom of God requires that the soul be marked by the character of Jesus. We are to reflect in our lives the character that we see revealed in Jesus. Paul, writing to the Galatians enumerates the various qualities of life as the Fruit of Holy Spirit. They are love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, humility and self control. They all translate into some expression of love. Together with other additional qualities, they are expressive of the nature of Jesus Christ.
A number of things that get in the way of these qualities of character growing in our own lives. Original Sin has equipped us with the works of the flesh. We are born in a self centeredness that exhibits pride, envy, sloth, avarice, anger, gluttony and lust, often called the seven deadly sins. Original Sin is not a matter of willfully choosing to be sinful. It is often our effort to be righteous in our own strength. It is a matter of having resources to protect ourselves in a hostile world, wherein we seek to build that kingdom of self that is our bastion of meaning, purpose and position.
If we are to find healing in the Kingdom of God, we must first understand that the works of the flesh are not capable of delivering wholeness. Indeed they are at the root of much of our illness. While there are some exceptions in all generalities, there is a relationship between anxiety and ulcers and other digestive tract problems. There is a connection between anger and cardiovascular illness. There is a connection between resentment and rheumatoid arthritis. We cannot make all disease follow a particular connection, but there is a clear indication that there are some diseases that follow these tendencies.
Ultimately the answer to the healing of the soul is for Holy Spirit to come within us to incarnate the risen Lord in our flesh. That is what Holy Spirit comes to do. When His work is complete, we are complete. The healing process of the soul is commonly called inner healing and covers a number of problems which lie at the heart of the sickness of the soul. It is an effort to set people free from inner bondage to walk in the glorious liberty of the children of God.
The intent of inner healing is to set a person free from all bondage while leaving that bond of love that God intends as the mark of the Kingdom of God. Since I fancy myself as a Johnny Mercer theologian, I see it expressed succinctly in one of his songs "You Gotta Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative, Latch on to the Affirmative, and Don't Mess with Mister In-Between."
The positive we seek is the completed work of Holy Spirit within us. The negatives begin with guilt that stands between us and God, as well as between us and ourselves. It comes as a result of our judging ourselves from our own inner knowledge of good and evil. The second realm that I find is within the memories, where Holy Spirit must come to incarnate the presence of Jesus to redeem the past and set us free from our own perceptive reality to bring our entire life into the actuality of God.
On occasion outside forces invade our soul to impact our thinking and feeling as well as our actions. They are at least distractions from the will of God, and at worst, a possession that will not allow us to live our own lives with integrity and freedom to seek and follow Christ into the Kingdom. In the absence of a metaphysic that includes the reality of such spirits, they are generally seen as a part of our own interior life. As we come to grips with such spirits, we see that they have a life of their own, and are not a part of us.
The casting out of demons includes all of the above areas of life, since it is essentially a removal of some barrier to walking in the Spirit. While guilt is not necessarily a spirit, it can sometimes act as one. While the memories cannot be called outside influences, they often impact a person with a force of conditioned reflexes to divert them from obedience to God. We are often reacting to our past experience rather than responding to God in the present moment.
The realm of the demonic is not as simple as we would like to believe. It is not simply a matter of coming face to face with Satan and his minions. There is as much variety within the spiritual realm as in the material realm. There was a time when I would not hesitate to claim that I could tell you all about what you will find in the spiritual realm, but experience has led me to believe that we can talk only about what we have met there in our effort to minister to people. It has also been my experience that God gives us the tools we need to meet any new situation that we might encounter.
For the sake of our consideration of casting out demons, we will take the three areas of ministry listed above, one at a time. Since the sixth commission of Jesus has to do with remitting sin, we will deal briefly with that aspect until a later chapter on forgiveness. We will deal in greater detail with the healing of memories and exorcism or deliverance in this area of cleaning up the soul.
Needless to say, guilt is a disease of the soul that drives us to actions that are destructive to ourselves and to other people around us.. It is a very great barrier to receiving the healing power of God in areas that need healing. It is so important that it is one of the chief focuses of Jesus in His ministry. It is incorporated in the sixth commission to Remit Sin.
The Greek word for soul is psyche. It is easy to understand, then, why we call the physicians of the soul psychiatrists and psychologists. They seek through counsel and medication to ease the tensions that bind people within. Their goal is understanding, and changes in lifestyle and body chemistry to correct dis-ease. Their quest is any cause of interior stress and bondage which lies beyond the capability of their patients to handle with their own resources.
If we are seeking healing simply for living this present life comfortably, the counsel and drugs of the world are adequate. If we are seeking to enter the Kingdom of God, then we need more than understanding and rearrangement. We need regeneration. Our need is to become a new creation, set free from the old.
Frank Costantino, one of my friends involved in Christian Prison Ministries has said, "If we are to help the prisoners reenter society without falling into the same traps, they will not need rehabilitation so much as they will need regeneration. They do not need to be trained and put back in their same habitat. They need to be made new in whatever habitat they find themselves."
HEALING OF MEMORIES
As near as I can determine, the term healing of memories was coined by Agnes Sanford who saw the necessity of setting people free from their past experience. Agnes, one of the leaders in the field of healing always sought God's will in what she did, and His method in the way she did it. Her teaching on healing of memories was not accepted by everyone who heard about it, and some have condemned it as some form of sorcery or conjuring up something other than the truth. It seems to me that it is both supported by Scripture and effective in setting people free from the past even as Agnes found in her ministry.
Our entire memory lies within as a record of our life script. All that has ever happened to us is recorded just as we perceived it to be happening. It is recorded sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. In addition to the senses, all of the emotional experience of each event are recorded as well. It is not necessarily accurate, but it is our record, and it becomes our personal reality.
We may see this sort of variable perception of reality when we hear two people tell a story of some event they both watched. Each has a view. If they are very diverse, one of the two may be called psychotic, which means there is a difference between their perception and actuality. We are all subject to a little psychosis.
I recall sitting in a meeting with others who conducted services at the psychiatric unit of the local hospital. A psychiatric social worker was talking to us about the people who attended the services. She said, "Some of them are psychotic. They believe God talks to them."
I could not resist interrupting the lady to say, "Maybe I am psychotic. I believe God talks to me." At that point the chaplain in charge of the proceedings terminated the meeting and told us we would have a psychiatrist at the next meeting to talk to us about psychoses.
The following session was very helpful to me because it confirmed what I believed to be true. We all have a reality testing system in our mind through which we process our data. When we see or hear something, we make a decision about how it fits into our reality picture. When we listen to people talking, it is evident that all of these reality testing systems do not yield the same conclusions from the same data. Where we find a difference, one, or both of us is psychotic.
The great issue is the degree of psychosis. If there is such a difference in the perceived reality that we cannot live in a society that has its set of norms to enable us to communicate and work together, then we need treatment of some sort to enable us to get along. Most of us come pretty close together in our evaluation of most data. We all have some areas where we tend to deviate from the norm of our society.
This same sort of principle holds with our memories. Our memory track begins either at conception or shortly after conception. It certainly seems to be recording by the time our mother finds out she is pregnant. One of the people with whom my wife was praying for healing of a feeling of rejection was the occasion for that bit of revelation to me.
As Julia began to pray through her conception and into the gestation period, the woman began to say, "Oh no, not again. Oh no, not again." Then she stopped cold, and said, "That's my mother's voice. She didn't want me. We were poor and could not afford another baby." As in many other cases, the child was loved by the time of the birth. Nothing was said to the woman about what had happened. The mother had likely never given it another thought; but the feeling of rejection remained recorded in the memories of that woman for over fifty years.
With the healing of the memory, the rejection was gone. What was needed by the woman was to know while she was in that embryonic stage, that she was loved and wanted in spite of the fact that her mother reacted out of the feeling that the family was not financially able to bring another child into the world. The woman's perception was rejection by her mother, and that perception was registered as reality. When Jesus was asked to enter into the womb and let the baby know that she was loved, the rejection was healed. The psychosis that she had carried since before her birth was brought out of her perceptive reality into the actuality of God's love.
Doctor Wilder Penfield, a Canadian neurosurgeon, did some work with galvanic probes of the human brain that indicated that every event in our lives is recorded, just as we perceived it. That means that our memories are not clear records of objective reality. They are subjective reality. They are truth as we have perceived it, and it is subject to the same psychosis as our normal observation of daily events in our lives. We recorded what we perceived to be reality in any given moment or experience. The presence of such memories, leads us to interpret the present in the same light of error that we have recorded in the past.
For most of us, that means that we recorded most of our life without regard to the presence of Jesus Christ in the various situations and circumstances of our lives. To the extent that He is not recorded as present, we have recorded a perceived reality, but we have not recorded an actuality. The actuality must include the presence of Jesus who was there from the time of our conception to the present moment.
One of the major bases for the condemnation of the ministry of healing of memories is grounded in the fact that the term is not in the Bible. I have seen enough healing as a result of the ministry that I am convinced the Lord intends it to be a part of the tool kit we have been given to work with His children. I asked, "Lord, where do I find the Biblical support for the ministry?"
He answered, "Try Ephesians 5."
My conversations with God are not always simple. My experience with Ephesians 5 had been so distorted during the period when Christian teachers were using that chapter to get families in "Divine Order," that I asked, "What does 'Wives submit to your own husbands.' have to do with it?"
He said, "There is more than that in the chapter. Try up around verse 15."
When I looked, I found it very relevant. "Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." I am grateful to the old translation that I had used for years in the Book of Common Prayer. The RSV, which I now use says, "Making the most of the time." The Greek text reads, "Redeeming.." That was the clearest description of the ministry that I have ever read. What is the healing of memories, but redeeming the time?
When we deal with this area of the soul, we are seeking to redeem the time we have recorded from the past. We are seeking to correct the record by adding to it the presence of Jesus. The addition of His presence changes the entire meaning of any event, and supplies the record with the peace that He alone can bring into our lives.
In my own case, it was a matter of growing up in a dysfunctional family or two. I did not live in the same household two years in a row until I was thirteen. I attended nine different classrooms during the first six years of schooling. My perception was that life was an anxiety-ridden journey. My denial would have led me to say that it was great to have variety in your life.
The people in those dysfunctional families loved me; but they were not able to generate a stable environment of love that would reassure me. I loved my significant adults to the extent that I was able to love them; but we can only love to the extent that we realize we are loved. We cannot give away something we don't have to give.
While most people do not believe that a particular religion is important, it is our religion that actually frames our view of reality and forms the value system that we use to determine our decisions. It supplies us with the reality testing system we use to measure all of the sensory data we accumulate through our lives. I say that, to add that my family's religion was Christian Deism. God was in His heaven, all was right with the world...as long as God stayed there while we managed things here on earth.
Jesus was up in heaven at the right hand of God. He was not in any way here where I was coping with life. If I were good enough, I would go to heaven; but I had to be good in my own wisdom and by my own strength. In other words, my religion equipped me with a built-in psychosis from the very beginning. I would venture to say that is true for many with whom I have since counseled.
My reality presupposed the absence of God, which left the way open for me to acquire many idols which I used as gods even though I did not acknowledge them as gods. In the final analysis, I was God. I made the decisions. I knew good and evil. I was unknowingly the incarnation of Original Sin. I was striving to lead a good life without any earthly idea of what I was doing. I only knew that I was the determining factor. Self righteousness is the primary mark of Original Sin. "I know, and I'm right!"
The consequence of such a religion is that all of the recording of my entire life script is in error. It presupposes a false reality. To redeem that time, we ask Jesus to go back into the memory records, and redeem the time. It requires only that He reveal Himself to the one who is living through that particular event and circumstance. His entrance into the memory record to reveal His presence and thus bring actuality into what we had perceived as reality changes the whole interpretation of our history.
It does not change the history itself, but it changes our feelings that we had in the past, and it frees us from some of the reactions that we have in the present time. The clearest illustration that I have from my own experience grew out of using my family concepts that I had acquired growing up, as a means of relating to the church. I had come to believe that the church is my family, and my mind keyed the understanding of the church into the only past experience that I had to deal with family.
That is not to say that I was not intellectually able to handle a discussion about my mother and father and the church without confusion. It is to say that when my mind sought to bring information about relating to my family, it did not distinguish between church and my immediate family. It brought all of the feelings along with the other data
There was no great problem with the composite data bank until I went to my first Diocesan Convention. It was , for me, an exciting family reunion. It was very much like moving from one household to another where I would see some people I had not seen for some time. That feeling persisted until an argument arose on the floor of the convention. When the arguments started, I found my stomach upset. Since argument seems to be the mark of all church conventions, it meant that I was going to have a long career in the church as far as conventions were concerned.
The situation improved as my parishioners rallied around in prayer, and I was able to go to convention when I had to go, and I would experience a minimal amount of illness. The final crisis occurred one day at a special convention at which two priests arose to argue. Each would say, "If you do not agree with me, you are not a Christian." I felt as if I were being torn apart inside, and I tried to speak to the nature of that argument.
I could not bear to see people sitting around listening while two people dissected the Family of God. I am not an emotionally demonstrative person, but when I arose, I sobbed and was almost incoherent in my emotional pain. I must have embarrassed all three hundred souls at that convention, but I communicated enough to stop the argument.
On later reflection it dawned on me that was not the me, with whom I lived every day who tried to speak on the floor of that convention. There was something more than what I dealt with daily. When I prayed, looking back for a clue, I found it in my past. All of my households when I was growing up had a dominant female and a recessive male, who was usually alcoholic. If that were the key, then I needed for someone to pray for the healing of the memories of the little boys who were reared in those situations. That meant to redeem the time. It meant to set straight the record that was playing within me; so that I could see and experience the presence of Jesus in those past circumstances that yielded the pain.
I thank God that He sent me to a lady I had taught to pray for inner healing, and not to one of the headliners in the field. It made me realize that we are not dependent on the ministry of an expert. We are dependent on the presence of Jesus Christ within His people, as they are yielded to Him for use in the healing process.
When she began to pray for me, I sat still trying to be receptive to the Lord. I tried to use a gift of imaging the areas of my past for which she prayed, seeing Jesus in each of them with the little boy that I had been. I will never forget the words that she prayed at one point in that prayer. "Jesus, will you go to the little boy who can't stop the arguments."
With those words, my inner screen lit up, and I could see a little boy lying on his side, holding his stomach. He felt the same way I felt on the floor of that convention. There were two adults standing and arguing. I saw Jesus come into the right hand side of the picture. When He got to the middle, the little boy looked up and said, "Jesus where were you? I didn't see you."
Jesus didn't say a word. He simply walked over and put His hand on the little boy's head. When He did that, the peace of God flowed into the little boy...and into me as I sat in that prayer chair. It was significant that the two adults kept on arguing. The situation was not changed, but the perception of it was. The presence of Jesus made all of the difference in the world.
As I reflected on my reaction to seeing Jesus when He walked into the picture, I wondered how I could expect to see Him when He was up in heaven, and not here on earth, let alone where I was living. I wondered also how much of our lives are lived in that psychotic perception of the absence of God in our daily lives and experiences.
The outgrowth of the redemption of that time, was the freedom to go to a convention without getting sick. It has not enhanced my love for church conventions, but it does make them tolerable, arguments and all. It leaves me free to respond to God in the actions that take place there, rather than react to the actions as a little child whose world is coming apart at the seams.
Each healing that takes place within our memory records leaves us free to walk more objectively in the presence of God. It leaves us free to walk more in God's actuality than in our own perceptive reality. It is the redemption of the past that sets us free in the present. When Pavlov ran his experiments on dogs to show the origin of conditioned reflexes, we saw the way in which past memory impacted present action. The work of healing in the memory patterns is to set us free from reacting to the past that we might act in the present. It is a matter of unconditioning our reflexes
I would add a word about imaging or visualizing because it has come under condemnation by some who would call it incantation or sorcery. They would say that the use of imaging seeks to generate a reality that does not exist. It is the imposition of our will in the formation of our life and circumstances. Its use in the healing of memories is quite the contrary. It is used to visualize the actuality that we missed when we first lived that event, by seeing Jesus as He truly was in the event with us.
The use of visualization is nothing more than praying as Jesus taught us to pray, believing we are receiving. It is not essential to the healing process; but for me, it was a great help to watch the healing of the past take place with the introduction into my awareness of a risen Lord, who is able to make all things new.
THE IMPACT OF MEMORIES
Our memories are our greatest source in developing our identity and direction. The Scriptures would likely include the memories, or our life script, in what it calls the heart. That is why the Scriptures speak of "thinking" with the heart. The heart receives reflective input from the mind, but it is the heart that is the ground of our will and our decision making. The heart holds the thought images from feelings, mind, and memories that compose our religion. It is this combination of inner forces that shapes our entire value system.
Our prejudices are stored in our memories. Prejudice has received a lot of bad press. Lest anyone want divest themselves of their prejudices, I would point out that they are the pre judgments that enable us to recognize what we see, the meaning of words we use, and enable us to orient to our world. To be sure there are some that are destructive, but most of them are essential to our making decisions. Prejudices are simply our perceived values and images.
As I begin to make conscious and willful decisions about my faith, my religion begins to change, and often there is an inner conflict that Paul articulates in the seventh chapter of Romans. "The good that I would do, I do not, and the evil that I would not do, seems always to be at hand."
If we are going to discuss the point at which life begins for a fetus, we have to say that life begins at conception. The growing tissue mass is alive, whether or not it has identity. It seems to me that we ought to talk about the beginning of life with an identity. When we add the identity, we are adding some attribute of personality. The question then is, "When do we become a person?" or "When do we begin to develop our identity as a person?" The memories are the source of our identity and the source of our conditioning to make decisions.
As we wrote earlier, it would seem that the memories of the womb, at least as far back as our mother realized she was pregnant, may have an impact on our lives up to the present moment. At least it has seemed that way for some people for whom I have seen prayer offered and change effected. Certainly the way we are treated when we are young has an impact on how we will be able to cope with life when we become adults.
The media are full of stories about the impact of child abuse and the resultant failure to perform at the adult level as a result. Adult Children of Alcoholics are a case in point. Some attributes that are common to many people were identified as stemming from those reared in codependency in a home where there was at least one alcoholic. When the list became inclusive of people who were not from alcoholic homes; we had to change the source to homes where a parent had an addictive personality.
The media are also full of stories about people in therapy who have apparently found experiences through therapy they did not have in actuality but did have in perception. Strangely enough, it is not the actuality but the perception that seems to make the difference. If we can change the perception, the actuality may actually be used toward the building of experience and wisdom rather than destruction.
The effort we make is to set the person free from the initial reaction patterns which he recorded from his perception of his experiences. We seek to enable the person to become aware of Jesus being there in the past, so he might cope with the experience, and not be preconditioned to react to circumstances. We seek instead to set him free to make his own decisions, free from that reaction..
It is not so important that we are dealing with something that may have actually been recorded as history. We are seeking to deal with the reality of the person who is seeking healing. If a child had actually been abused, or if the child recorded some action as abuse, we are dealing with the same thing. So far as I know, we have not reached the place where we can do instant replays to change history. We can pray to change the impact of the perception on the person who desires to be set free from their conditioned reactions.
The experience of a child at birth has long been called the birth trauma. The child experiences the rejection of coming from a warm womb into a cold world. We experienced the pain of fighting our way through the birth canal. Most of us were then picked up by the heels and whacked on the fanny so we would begin to breathe on our own. To sum it up we began our lives with rejection, pain, anger and fear. Soft birth has alleviated this somewhat, but the elements are all there. We begin life outside the womb with those memories.
If mother was sick, or baby was sick, they were separated, and the baby was denied the experience of bonding with mother, there is often a sense of fear of abandonment that pursues the child throughout life. If a child had been put up for adoption, the love from the new family may well have aided the baby in overcoming these things, but the experience is never the less present in the memory banks.
If a the parents of a child wanted a boy, and the baby turned out to be a girl, there is often a sense of failure that pursues the child through life, since he is not able to meet that expectation that was recorded somehow in the baby's memories. If that happens at birth, then puberty becomes a real time of confusion for the child becoming an adult.
What we need is to see the actuality of God in the past. In the process of inner healing we invite God into the past situation to reveal Himself to us in that particular circumstance, In a sense it is the removal of the demon of misconception or deceit, that the truth may be seen in the light of God's presence.
There may be a bit of concern that the memory is not a real demon, but the truth is that it acts as one in distorting our response to a given situation in the present, because of something that is within us. When the healing takes place within, the force that we would remove is gone and the memory of the presence of God is supplied.
The nature of this ministry is contingent on the faith of the people who evaluate it. If we believe that Jesus has been with us from the moment of our conception, we are simply changing the perception from the psychosis of not being aware of His presence to the actuality of His presence. If we do not believe He was present, then we are practicing some sort of sorcery.
We have included a section in the appendix on suggested methods of prayer for the healing of memories.
THE REALITY OF THE DEMONIC
The rites of exorcism have been given bizarre press at best. The church publications speak little of them, and the secular press presents them in a manner of a check-out counter tabloid. The truth is that we were sent to cast out demons. Why would we be given the commission if there were no spirits to cast out? The schools of Biblical criticism which have shaped the minds of many of our modern clergy in the traditional churches have regarded demons as superstitious creations of the human mind.
My own involvement in the realm of spiritual combat did not come from what I learned in seminary. I am sure that any of the faculty on reading this, will be relieved to find they are not connected with the ministry. It arose in response to a need in a man who came to me for counsel. He was not one of my parishioners, but had come in hope that the healing ministry might be of some help to him.
He told me, "My psychiatrist tells me that I have a demon."
My query was, "What is he going to do about it?"
"Nothing." He continued, "My priest tells me that I have a demon."
"What is he going to do about it?" I wanted to know. I was surprised that a psychiatrist would talk about demons, but I had no feeling about his failure to offer help under the circumstances. On the other hand, I was a little angry that a priest would tell anyone they had a demon, and then do nothing.
I got the answer I somehow expected, "Nothing."
I thought if the church were truly the Body of Christ, certainly someone should be able to do something for this man. So in a rash moment, I said, "I will either find you an exorcist, or I will do it myself."
I could not find anyone to exorcise the man, and so on Christmas Eve, the date I set as deadline for finding someone else, I gathered with another priest, a devoted and prayerful layman, and the man who had the demon, and we sought to cast out the demon that plagued him. The exorcism was not effective for nine months, but for some reason it took effect at the end of the nine months. I am still at a loss to know the nature of the demon, but I was not at a loss to see that something had bound the man in a state of depression that left him virtually helpless until he was set free.
By that time, I had been involved in a number of other cases that had come to light. Those of us who practiced the ministry in that parish walked as the Lord led. This was a great period of learning for us all. In that initial stage we encountered a number of different kinds of spirits. Satan was the most often encountered. The formula was as simple as the New Testament gave example. In the Name of Jesus, I command you to depart.
I had heard some other exorcists binding spirits in chains and casting them into the bottomless pit, but we were led to send them all to Jesus. If Paul is right in his Epistle to the Colossians, they must at some time follow behind the cross, as Jesus leads them as prisoners of war, in triumphant procession. I still believe Jesus knows more about how to make up that parade than I do, so I still send them all to Him.
There was a woman who came to our parish from out of town for ministry. She had narcolepsy. When we determined that the onset was during her last pregnancy, we asked how she felt about her pregnancy. Her response was, "I was angry." Our discernment was that we felt God wanted us to pray for the healing of the memories of her pregnancy, and to cast out a spirit of anger.
The process was very simple. The intercession for the healing of memories was made, and the spirit was cast out. The woman was healed of the narcolepsy. That does not mean that all narcolepsy is caused by a spirit of anger; but there seemed to be some relationship between the two in that particular woman.
During this time, it dawned on me that the early church exorcised all of the new people coming to catechism, and then as they came to baptism, they were exorcised again. In the words of a Russian Orthodox theologian, "First you get the bad spirits out, and then you put the good Spirit in."
My reaction was that the church had not done that for years, and so we were undoubtedly inundated by demons in the church today. The comforting Word from the Lord was, "Don't get upset, my child. The church is no worse today than it was yesterday before the truth dawned on you. You do what I tell you to do, and let me worry about the rest."
Throughout this period of learning, I was totally dependent on other people who had the gift of discernment. They could pray with a person, and give me the name of the spirit that indwelt them. When they gave me the name, I was able, in the Name of Jesus to cast out the spirit.
I asked the Lord, one day, why He didn't give me the gift of discernment. His answer was, "If you had the gift of discernment, you would be self-sufficient, and you could not afford that. Trust me to provide what you need to do the ministry that I put in your hand to do." The few times when I have had discernment, were times when there was no one around with that gift. He has always provided what was needed, on His own terms rather than mine.
There was a woman who came to the altar one day for ministry, and the lady who was doing the discerning said, "You are dealing with an Elizabeth." This was a new idea to me, and when in doubt, I ask the Lord. "Lord what do I do with this?"
His answer was, "Absolve her and send her to me."
I had read an article written by The Reverend George Bennett from England. He had been dealing with a nun who had acquired some sort of spirit. When the spirit was encountered, it turned out to be a spirit that behaved like a human spirit. When it was assured that it could leave the person, and go on to Jesus, which it seemed to call the Shining One, the nun was delivered from the disease of the spirit from which she had been suffering. I determined to try that approach to exorcism.
The spirit seemed to be a spirit of a person named Elizabeth who needed to be loosed on earth that she might be loosed in heaven. That made sense in a way; but it was not a very popular thing to believe. The results of the ministry seemed to issue in a more integrated person from whom the spirit departed. I have learned that I cannot deny any person's experience. I might not agree with their interpretation of their experience, but I cannot deny their experience.
The data was the presence of a spirit that responded to the name, Elizabeth. When I assured it that God loved it, and forgave all of its sins; it departed from the person in whom it was found, and never troubled her again. My conclusion was there are spirits which seem to behave like departed humans, that can be dealt with most easily by preaching to them, as Jesus preached to the departed spirits in prison, absolving them from their sins and sending them to Him.
MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER
Multiple personality disorder is relatively new on the scene. That does not mean that is has not been around for a long time. It simply means that it has not been known for what it is until recently. Multiple personality got its great publicity from The Three Faces of Eve, but it had been seen more often as a form of schizophrenia, or some other name that would indicate that the person was a little crazy.
The apparent cause of the disease is the capacity of a person to dissociate from themselves under high stress, and establish another alter personality within. The alters will take on an identity, and a personality that may be in relationship to the host person, but will not always agree or give in to the other. It creates a situation in which there are a number of people within the body, competing for the use of the body as a means of expression.
The symptoms may well imitate another indwelling spirit that is causing problems with a person's integrity; but an alter cannot be cast out, it must be brought into relationship with host personality and fused back into unity with that person. Only when all of the alters are put back together and integrated within, will the person find the integrity that is needed for health of the soul.
The clearest experience I have had with the problem came through a woman who came to me seeking deliverance. She had an inner voice telling her to leave her devotion to Jesus and follow Satan. That sounded to me like a spirit of some sort, and so we began by casting out Satan. We managed to rid her of a number of spirits, but the voice persisted.
We proceeded then to remove any spirit that responded as a human spirit, and could find nothing of the sort within her. The voice still persisted. We sought to break any spells that might be acting to produce the symptoms, and after we had done all else, the voice persisted.
When I went back to the Lord, He indicated that it was an alter that had broken away from here when she was very young. We were to be gentle with her, and we were to let her know that there would be no going to Satan. We were to invite the little one to join the woman in her life with Jesus. In this particular case, we went back to pray for the area of memories that may have caused the dissociation.
The guidance I got was to tell the woman to talk to the little one when she raised the issue of turning to Satan, and to tell her that Jesus loved her, and that He was the only one who could bring peace into their life, so they could be one person instead to two. I saw her about six weeks later, and she said the alter had said she was ready to accept Jesus, which was the first step toward her fusion and integration.
An alter in an MPD may well appear to be another spirit. It will show all of the symptoms of such, but it is one of the variables in the realm of the soul with which we cannot deal by simple exorcism. It is a matter of healing the separation of the single personality to whom the body belongs. The effort we make in dealing with MPD is to effect the union, not cast out the alter.
SPELLS AND CURSES
There are two other situations which will show symptoms similar to demonic presence. One of them is a curse or spell cast by someone in the occult. The other is what someone told me was a soul force, which I find is much like a spell. While they are not truly demonic indwelling, they seem to cause similar symptoms. The spell has the marks of a spirit, but it is to be handled differently.
A spell is an intentional curse or blessing cast by incantation on someone, or some place. It is of the realm of the occult, and so cannot ground in a Christian without the Christian's permission. Since few Christians are aware of their existence, those who cast such spells have an almost open field today.
The soul force is generated by people praying against someone. That usually means that they will not be praying to the Triune God, but they may believe they are. I encountered a situation in one of my parishes where one of the parishioners was praying against some of the others because he was convinced that they were witches. The force manifested as a tight band around the chest. When it was commanded in the Name of Jesus to be broken, it was broken. Had there been only one person with the experience, I would have written it off as a particular case of bondage, but there were three of them in the matter of two days.
The experience raises some questions about the nature of prayer, and the nature of a God who would allow such a binding. The nature of prayer as we pointed out in an earlier chapter is to seek to know God and to know His will. When we begin to pray that our own will be done, we are practicing incantation, not prayer. Incantation does, in fact wield power in the context of an Old Creation where there are many gods. Our prayer as we have been taught is for the Kingdom of God to come to set people free, not to bind them. We are to bind serpents and scorpions, and all the power of the enemy. We are not to bind people, but set them free.
Perhaps a clearer illustration of the soul force is the concern of Pointman Ministries, which was established to help the Vietnam veterans. Their thesis is that the Buddhists and Spiritists in Vietnam prayed against the American soldiers that they would be restless wanderers who could find no peace. How apt the description of many of our returning veterans.
I recall one veteran of the Vietnam war who was brought to one of my parishes for prayer ministry. He was a typical veteran complete with all of the nightmares and the agony of just getting through a day. We prayed with him using all of the tools in our kit, from exorcism and healing of memories to returning spells to their sender. There was no miraculous transformation. There was a growing stability and freedom. When it dawned on me that I had not seen him for some time, I asked the person who had brought him to the parish what had happened. He had found the peace of God, had no more nightmares, quit his traveling job, bought a restaurant, gotten married and settled down. He was healed enough to live normally
The way I have been led to deal with the spells or soul forces is to rebuke them in the Name of Jesus and send them back to the one who sent them. They cannot ground on a Christian without permission. When the permission is rescinded, the spell must return to sender. That seems to be the nature of the spiritual power of the Old Creation. It is something I learned from a witch who was leaving Witchcraft for Christianity.
I have heard it confirmed by Christopher Neil-Smith, an English priest, who had one of his parishioners come to his front door at two o'clock in the morning. The person was in obvious distress, and said that someone was trying to kill him by casting a death spell on him. He took him into the house, prayed over him and with him. It was later heard that the person in India, who cast the spell, had died.
Agnes Sanford told the story of an evangelist in England who was staying in a local castle and was assaulted by a coven of warlocks. When they started casting their spells at him, the man awoke and cried out, "Jesus, help me!" Two of the warlocks who had been involved in the spelling died.
It would seem to me that all of the above would be considered as a part of the commission to cast out demons. It is the commission to set us free within to act instead of reacting. It is a commission to set people free from bondage to act without the compulsion or the distraction of inner forces that prevent our responding to God in the vocations He has sent us to pursue.
We have included a section in the Appendix for prayers that are typical of the ones I have used and seen used in the ministry of exorcism or deliverance.