|This devil is so unimportant that a bird pooped on it. Photo by eisenbahner|
Imagine two young Christians are being demonically harangued in identical ways. What happens is this: when they retire to their bedrooms they are bombarded with anxieties about work and school, and they have no peace in mind or in body. At times they even hyperventilate and succumb to anxiety attacks. Lets say that between these two Christians, one believes in demons, and one of them does not. There is no compelling reason they need to behave differently in response to their problem.
The Christian who has faith in Christ but none in demons, if he or she is wise, ought to place each anxiety before the Lord in prayer (Philippians 4:6-7), and meditate on God's word (Psalm 1:2-3) so that he or she can take each thought captive (2 Corinthians 2:5). It may also be wise to read a pleasant book or decorate the room with a serene theme (Philippians 4:8). This first Christian, by acting in godly faith, and by putting the word into practice, will create an intolerable environment for hell's messenger. The unwelcome roommate will leave.
The second person, believing in and recognizing a devil, should do everything the first Christian did. This second person, wise or not, may address the demon directly to declare Christ's lordship. If they do all that the first Christian did then it makes no difference, but if they neglect engaging with God through prayer and the word, then their exorcism will fail. A verbal declaration isn't necessary, and in some cases it may even be detrimental. If it is done without faith it is ineffective (Acts 19:13-15). If done with faith, but the Christan doesn't fill their heart with the things of God, then it will again be ineffective (Luke 11:24-26). An exorcism is either a reassuring but unnecessary addition, or it is a destructive distraction.
Scripture promises that if we resist the devil he will flee us (James 4:7). Resisting the devil comes quite naturally to a practicing Christian. Any pursuit of God is resistance to the devil. According to James 4:7, a thankful prayer should be as effective as an exorcism. A simple act of submitting to God will either be as effective as, or more effective than, a verbal “casting-out.”
Verbal exorcisms are carried out in a myriad of reasons, many of which are bad. In my experience exorcisms tend to be sensational and dramatic, inflating the importance of utterly insubstantial spirits instead of directing attention and glory to the Spirit of God. “Resisting the devil” is a natural byproduct of what we call, “following Jesus.” No special procedure is necessary to “cast out” a devil; all devils, real and imagined, readily flee from simple Christian living.
There is no reason to avoid exorcisms. Exorcisms, like demons, are not important. If it seems prudent, and you have faith, verbally declare God's dominion. We oughtn't hesitate to verbally declare God's dominion, whether or not we have a demonic audience. If, however, you have announced God's truth and power, but a devil persists in its pestering, it is silly to just make another speech.
No one's speeches are effective if their works aren't convincing. Put God's word into practice. Praise your God. Think about something excellent and praiseworthy. Practice hospitality. Thank Jesus for something. Read the Bible, and mediate on it. Honor your parents. Consider the lilies of the field. Each of these is as or more effective in defeating the kingdom of hell. Having this thorough education on the subject, please go read something else today. Like demons and like exorcisms, this post is not important. Have a nice day.