Updated: Jan 24
This book gives a few details of deliverance and exorcism. Deliverance belongs to the Lord (Ps 3:8) and prophet Jeremiah affirms it by saying that God will surely deliver the one who trusts in Him (Jer 1:8). Humanity needs freedom from oppression, obsession and possession of the devil and demons. Divine knowledge sets one free from all demonic bondages because the scripture reiterates, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). Jesus says, “If the Son of man has set you free, you will be freed indeed” (Jn 8.36). This exposition has three parts. The first part explains the terms deliverance and exorcism according to the Bible and Magisterial teachings. The second part provides details of different types of demons or evil spirits according to the scriptures, Church teachings and practical experiences. The third part cites some practical issues, superstitions and esoteric practices which are to be avoided. It also warns the present generation.
Difference between Deliverance and Exorcism
Deliverance is generally done to cast out demons. Exorcism is done mainly by a priest who is authorized by the local ordinary to cast out Satan or Lucifer. There are also profane exorcists, who, transfer the spirit from one body to another; or from one object to another; or from one place to another because they do not have the power to bind and cast out spirits as the disciples of Jesus have. Only Jesus has defeated Satan and the demons when he died on the cross (Col 2:14-15). Therefore, only his disciples have the power to bind and cast demons (Mk 16.17). John and the other apostles saw an exorcist who was exorcising using the name of Jesus and they forbade him and reported it to Jesus. Jesus told them that anybody who believed in him and used the power in his name can cast out demons and the devil. He asked them not to forbid anyone (Lk 9:49-50).
“When the Church asks with its authority in the name of Jesus that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called an exorcism. This is done in ordinary form in the rite of Baptism. A solemn exorcism, called a major exorcism, can be performed only by a priest authorised by the bishop” (CCCC 352 and also in CCC 1673).
“No one may exorcise lawfully the possessed without the special and expressed permission of the local ordinary. This permission is to be granted only to a priest who is endowed with piety, knowledge, prudence and integrity of life” (CIC 1172).
Deliverance prayer is meant to cast out demons, but exorcism is done to cast out Satan. The first one can be done by all the believers (Mk 16:17) but the second is reserved for priests alone. A profane exorcist only transfers the demons from one person to another; or from one place to another; or from one object to another, because he or she does not have the authority to bind and cast out the spirits. Only Jesus has conquered and defeated Satan and demons. Therefore, only a priest belonging to Jesus’ church has the power and authority over these beings and can bind and cast them out. At times through the ordinary deliverance prayer itself along with other demons, Satan too will be cast out.
The Identity of Satan (CCC 2851)
“Evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God. The devil (dia-bolos) is the one who "throws himself across" God's plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ.”
Satan or Devil or Evil One is a person who has no body but is pure spirit. He is known as Lucifer or Beelzebul (Lk 11:19).
Work of the devil (CCC 2852)
"A murderer from the beginning, . . . a liar and the father of lies," Satan is "the deceiver of the whole world." Through him, sin and death entered the world and by his definitive defeat all creation will be "freed from the corruption of sin and death." “Now, we know that anyone born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one (1Jn 5:19)."
The Lord who has taken away the sins of humans and pardoned faults also protects and keeps from the wiles of the adversary, the devil, so that the enemy, who is accustomed to leading into sin, might not surprise. One who entrusts himself to God does not dread the devil. "If God is for us, who is against us?"
Jesus Conquered the Devil (CCC 2853)
“Victory over the "prince of this world" was won once for all at the Hour when Jesus freely gave himself up to death to give humanity his life. This is the judgment of this world, and the prince of this world is "cast out." "He pursued the woman" but had no hold on her: the new Eve, "full of grace" of the Holy Spirit, is preserved from sin and the corruption of death (the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God, Mary, Ever Virgin). "Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring." Therefore, the Spirit and the Church pray: "Come, Lord Jesus," since his coming will deliver us from the Evil One.”
Jesus taught us to pray, “deliver us from the evil one” (Mt 6:13). This is our daily prayer as part of the Lord’s prayer. Jesus also prayed for us, “…do not take them away from the world but I pray that You protect them from the evil one….” (Jn 17:15)
They are angels who were created good but they along with their leader Lucifer disobeyed God and rejected His kingdom. Jesus reiterates that all who believe in him will cast out demons (Mk 16:17).
Origin of Satan, Demons and their Work (CCCC 74)
“This expression indicates that Satan and the other demons, about which Sacred Scripture and the Tradition of the Church speak, were angels, created good by God. They were, however, transformed into evil because with a free and irrevocable choice they rejected God and his Kingdom, thus giving rise to the existence of hell. They try to associate human beings with their revolt against God. However, God has wrought in Christ a sure victory over the Evil One” (CCCC 74 and also in CCC 391-395 & 414).
Satan has No Infinite Power (CCC 395)
“The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries - of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature - to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but "we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him."
How do Satan and Demons enter human beings?
1. Random Selection – Job was a just man. “There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” - (Job 1:1). “The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil’” - (Job 2:3a). But he was randomly selected by the Devil to be persecuted and God allowed it. God said to Satan, “He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason” (Job 2:3b). In the same way in our time some innocent people can be afflicted and persecuted by the Devil randomly.
2. Mortal sins and other sins – Unrepented mortal sins and other sins can invite the dominion of the evil. For example, Judas - “After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do’” – Jn 13:27.
3. Witchcraft, Superstitions, practise of Esotericism, New Age movements etc. – These practices directly invite the dominion of Satan and demons in human life. All those who are involved in it directly or indirectly or being victimised may be afflicted by the evil spirits. “You foolish Galatians! Who has done black magic against you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified!” (Gal.3:1). Galatians faith was being destroyed by witchcraft. Therefore, even your faith can be destroyed if somebody has done witch craft against you.
4. Third Party Influence - There is a possibility of being afflicted by evil spirits if you possess some objects like houses, assets, animals etc which were already used for Blackmagic or sorcery. This affliction will continue as long as you have them or until you have given up all these objects.
Remedies – Deliverance prayer of Pope Leo XIII (pp 35-40), exorcism, confession, binding and casting out prayer (p 103) etc.
Power of Satan and Demons in the OT and NT
Satan worshipers also make use of the word of knowledge and it might even take place as they foretell. Though sorcerers or soothsayers might say things soothing or against; and it might come to pass, even then one should not follow them. It will be a trap. One should not consult with them (Dt 13:1-5).
It is observed that Elymas, who worked wonders through the power of the demons was rebuked by St. Paul. He made him blind until he repented! (Acts 13:6-12)
“So, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did as the LORD had commanded; Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers; and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same by their secret arts. Each one threw down his staff, and they became snakes; but Aaron's staff swallowed up theirs” (Ex 7:10-12).
Acts 16:16-18 mentions of the fortune telling spirit. “One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, ‘These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.’ She kept doing this for many days. But Paul annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And it came out that very hour”
Scriptural References to Overcome the Powers of Demons
Demons will become dust under your feet, when God works for you (Mal 4:3).
Soon the God of peace will destroy the demons under your feet as dust! (Rom 16:20b)
The one who is inside is more powerful than the one who is outside (1Jn 4: 4).
Resist the devil and he will flee from you (Js 4:7).
Resist the devil, who is prowling like a lion to devour someone (1Pt 5:7-8).
Bind Satan (Tob 8:3) and cast him out and send him to the feet of Jesus (Heb 10:13).
Jesus has come to this world to undone what the devil has done against humanity (1Jn 3:8).
Different Types of Spirits
The Bible considers the following as evil spirits. It does not mean that they are demons or the devil but they can also be considered as evil tendencies or manifestations caused by evil spirits directly or indirectly caused by giving consent to the temptations of the evil spirits. In the same way, there are also good tendencies or manifestations caused by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit directly or indirectly caused by the motivation gifts (natural talents and instincts). These are good spirits and one needs to promote such spirits. Few examples are team spirit, nationalistic spirit, sportsmanship spirit, stable spirit, enduring spirit, spirit of compassion, innate talents and others. But it is important to bind and cast out the evil spirit, in the name of Jesus and send it to the feet of Jesus. Jesus had said that those who believe in Him, would cast out demons in His name (Mk 16:17) and He commanded them to do it as well.
God will deliver us from the spirits, when we stand for God as the Psalmist prays in Ps. 68:1-2 “Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, let the wicked perish before God.” The following are some of the names and manifestations of evil spirits:
1. Hasty Spirit (Mt 26:51) “Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear.” Peter did it without thinking twice. Such a kind of spirit, working in a person is called a hasty spirit.
2. Spirit of Lust (Mt 5:27- 28) “You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery' but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Spirit of fornication, adultery (1Cor 6 :18), masturbation, homosexuality, pornography, orgy, premarital and extramarital sex and others are some of the manifestations of spirit of lust. Pre-marital sex at times leads one to hate one’s life partner before marriage or after the marriage, as in the case of Amnon vs Tamar (2Sam 13:15-16). That is the danger of premarital sex or extra marital sex. That type of hatred is created by the devil. The devil comes to destroy, steal and kill. That happened in Amnon’s life.
3. Spirit of Nudity (Mk 5:1-20) Gerasene demoniac could not bear to have cloth on his body (Mk 5:15). Those who have this spirit may not wear proper clothes in accordance with their ages. They might exhibit their nakedness or would like to enjoy the nudity of other people. Mk 5:15 states, “They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid.”
4. Spirit of Wealth (Mt 6:24) You cannot serve two masters: God and wealth. “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” All those who have this spirit have only one aim in their life and that is to earn money and buy pleasures with their wealth.
5. Spirit of Pride (Lk 10: 20) It is a ‘better than thou’ attitude and pride in one’s own achievements. Jesus said, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Lk 10: 20).
6. Spirit of Vengeance (Lk 9: 51-55) “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.” Jesus rebuked the spirit of vengeance.
7. Broken Spirit (Ps 51) These people may act quickly and make mistakes or even harm their body. "He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, "I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me" (Mt 26:37-38). Jesus overcame this spirit of brokenness by prayer and communion with his Father.
8. Spirit of Jealousy (Acts 5:17-18) “Then the high priest took action; he and all who were with him (the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.”
9. Spirit of Slumber (Rom 11:8) “as it is written, ‘God gave them a sluggish spirit, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.’’’ Those who have this spirit might sleep always, while praying or reading the Word of God or listening to the Word of God. A variation of the spirit of slumber can also be, “Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’” (Mt 26: 40-41).
10. Spirit of Disobedience (Eph 2:1-2) “You were dead through the trespasses and sins; in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.” The ones with this spirit are disobedient to every authority – man’s and God’s.
“And Samuel said, ‘Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the LORD? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams’” (1Sam 15:22).
11. Spirit of Sickness or Infirmities (Lk 13: 11-12) “And just then, there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Woman, you are set free from your ailment." Jesus considered sickness as a bondage (Lk 13:16). Jesus cast out the spirit of infirmity and took the infirmity upon his body and set us free (Mt 8:17). Even today some Christians have a Stoic approach. It is not a good Christian spiritual approach. (Philosopher Zeno was an ancient Greek philosopher and his disciples are known as Stoics). A Stoic achieves happiness by submission to destiny or sufferings. Or a Stoic is someone who is seemingly indifferent to emotions and sufferings. St. Paul negated it and he said that “…we are all the more conquerors in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:37). CCC 1 reveals that we are called to share a blessed life with God. Above all the Bible shares that we are called to inherit a blessing and not a curse (1Pt 3:9).
12. Spirit of Poverty (2 Cor 8:9) St. Paul says, by the poverty of Jesus we have become rich. The Mother Church reiterates in CCC 517 and 2448 that by the poverty of Jesus, we have to become rich. The vow of poverty is excellent but temporal poverty is a social evil. All those who have this bad spirit will never have enough riches even though they work hard.
13. Crippled Spirit (Lk 13:10-17) Jesus says “And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?" (Lk 13:16) Jesus set her free from the bondage of the crippled spirit and then she was healed.