Deliverance vs. Exorcism

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Deliverance vs. Exorcism

We recently saw Bob Larson on ABC’s Good Morning America AND Nightline and we wanted to comment in this article about him and others who conduct exorcisms and deliverance, and what the differences are between the two.

While Bob may be performing a good work for the Kingdom of God in his “exorcism” ministry, what we saw on TV smacks of “show business”. Several years ago, Mitsi and I were looking for a new church home and we visited MANY churches for a period of time trying to find a church that felt right to us. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay long at too many because the Holy Spirit would keep telling me “show business”. This would usually happen during the worship. I would be trying to get into the flow of the Spirit and lose myself in worship, but I couldn’t because the worship was more like a performance than a worship “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23). I would get to a point where I couldn’t stand the phony feeling I was sensing and would have to leave.

Bob and others like him are using “props” to perform their exorcisms. Using “holy” water, crosses and Bibles, as shown on the above-mentioned shows, is more like Catholic church exorcisms. However, the only “prop” we ever use is olive oil as anointing oil. (We do NOT use any store-bought “special” anointing oils – see Ex. 30:33.) We don’t even use the Bible to touch people with, unless the Holy Spirit directs us to, because the Bible is a only a printed representation of the Word, the true sword of the spirit (Eph. 6:17, John 1), which is all we need to take authority over the spirits. Just our spoken word, combined with the belief/faith/knowledge of who we are in Jesus, is enough to weaken the demonic stronghold, provided the one ministered to has repented all sins.

Now Bob has his daughter and two of her friends (called the Teenage Exorcists) performing his style of exorcisms, and they are about to appear in a reality TV show. So, more show business.

I noticed on the ABC shows that when Bob does his exorcisms, he needs up to four people to hold down the person being ministered to. In our ministry, we have rarely if ever had to hold anyone down. I also notice theatrics in Bob’s ministry as well as others, such as the raising of the voice and arguing with the demons. More show business.

Bob also has a set fee of several hundred dollars for his time. We ask for a donation of whatever God leads the person to give. If they don’t have money and can’t give a donation to our ministry, that’s fine too.

So we minister deliverance and Bob and the Teenage Exorcists minister exorcism. You can see some of the differences above that I noted on the TV shows. What other differences are there?

Both ways expel demons, but one way is possibly less stressful and more successful. Here are some differences:

Deliverance

  • Ministry only to believers in Jesus (unless the Holy Spirit directs otherwise)
  • Only use anointing oil (unless the Holy Spirit directs otherwise)
  • Calmly command demons out, no theatrics
  • No need to hold people down (with rare exceptions)

Exorcism

  • Ministry to anyone, believers and non-believers alike
  • Props include holding a large cross, sprinkling holy water, laying Bible on body, wearing special “priestly” garments
  • Raised voice, theatrical
  • People needed to hold down those ministered to

Perhaps the biggest difference is that we minister only to believers, which affects the power of the demons. This is why you might see more “theatrics” with an exorcism. The Bible says that deliverance is the children’s bread (Matt. 15:26), so unless the Lord directs otherwise, God’s children are all we minister to. Because God’s children are under a covenant blessing that others are not, the ministry is calmer because the demons know that WE know our authority in Jesus.

So, if you want show business, you can easily find it in churches and exorcism ministries. If you want the blessings of Jesus’ true deliverance power, seek out a deliverance minister who is grounded in the Word and is not interested in show business or theatrics.

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