The Type of Faith Needed to Cast Out Demons

In his book The Covet War, Howard Pittman reflected on the type of faith that is needed to deliver from demons:

Matthew 17:20. “And Jesus said unto the, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to younder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

Jesus was herein talking to his disciples and accused them of not being believers because they had just failed to cast out an evil spirit that was in a little boy. Back in Luke 9:1, they had heard with their own ears, the authority that Jesus had spoken with his own lips, over all unclean spirits. (“Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.”)

Until Matthew 17, that authority had worked. In each case, where the disciples had commanded an unclean spirit to come out of a person, it had obeyed! (“And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. “) Luke 10:17.

So, how come this one devil refused to obey them, if they had the authority?

Because they were believers only so long as they did not doubt! Until the case of the little boy, all demon spirits had responded to their first command. In Matthew 17, in the case of the little boy, this was a different kind of spirit (Howbeit THIS KIND goeth not out but by prayer and fasting”).

Matthew 17:21 and required more commitment on the part of the disciples. When the spirit did not respond to their first command, they doubted, thus becoming unbelievers. When one doubts, one is not a believer. (Matthew 17:20) In verse 20 Jesus told the disciples why they could not cast out the spirit. (Because of their unbelief). In verse 21 he told them why their unbelief had manifested. (A different kind of Spirit than they had run into.) This particular spirit did not respond to a first command.

Verse 21 showed that a commitment over a period of time was needed to deal with this spirit. Jesus was not condemning his disciples for not fasting, as some people claim, because they could not fast, (Matthew 9:14-15) (14) Then came to him the ·disciples of John, saying, why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? ( 15) And Jesus said unto them, can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then they shall fast.” Their failure to deal with the spirit in the little boy was because they lost their authority by doubting! A good rule to remember is that 2 ounces of doubt can destroy 12 pounds of faith!

Can A Person Be Baptised Even Though He/She Doesn’t Quite Believe?

Let me begin my saying who this essay is NOT being aimed at. It is not aimed at those of you who are about to get baptised, who on the whole possess a sincere faith in Jesus Christ, but due to immaturity, may still struggle in certain aspects of your faith.

Rather, this essay is aimed at those of you who do not possess a genuine faith in Jesus Christ, but are planning to get baptised due to ulterior motives.

The ulterior motives include the wish to get baptised to impress your believing boyfriend or girlfriend.  Or perhaps you think it is “cool” to be labelled as a Christian (even though you don’t believe in Jesus Christ). Or perhaps your friends or relatives have been nagging you to become a Christian and you wish to get them off your back.

Whatever the reasons, if you do not possess an ounce of faith in Jesus Christ, you must refrain from getting baptised.

Some people may view baptism as nothing more than like an act in a movie, but what they don’t realise is that the act has indeed serious spiritual implications.

In particular, baptism is an emblem of death and burial, as Romans 6:3-4 below (with emphasis mine) explains:

3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Please read that again (and slowly), paying particular attention to the following two words:  death and burial.

Not that I wish to alarm you unnecessarily, but one’s involvement with spiritual emblems do indeed open the doors to consequences in one’s life, be they positive or negative.

For instance, in 1 Corinthians 11,  we find that believers who partook of the Holy Communion (the emblem of the body and blood of Jesus Christ) in an unworthy manner came under God’s judgment (verse 29), and led to their sickness or even death (verse 30).

A real-life example of someone who had perhaps take baptism too lightly was the late Dr Richard Teo.

In a speech in 2011, Dr Teo admitted: “I was baptised 20 years ago, but it was because it was fashionable to be a Christian then. All my friends were becoming Christians then [and] I wanted to be baptised, so that when I filled in a form, I could put there “Christian” – [it] feels good!”

“In truth, I never had a bible; I don’t know what the bible is all about.”

“I went to church for a while; after some time, I got tired.”

Indeed, although Dr Teo had been baptised, and therefore, was in principle supposed to be dead to the world and living a new life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4), perhaps due to the lack of proper guidance in church, Dr Teo found himself, over time, increasingly drawn to the things of the world.

By the time he was in his 30s, Dr Teo achieved almost everything that most Singaporeans can only aspire to — wealth measured in millions of dollars, a thriving business and membership in high society. (Read about his story in my previous blog)

However, his life came crashing down when he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

The good thing, though, was that his sickness led him back to God.

Dr Teo would also later come to the understanding that his sickness was God’s way of disciplining him.

Eventually, Dr Teo did not recover from lung cancer and died at the age of 40 years. His inspiring testimony of God’s dealing with him can be watched in the Youtube link below.

That said, baptism is a sacred and serious event in one’s life. It represents the death to one’s former life and the intention to live a new life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4)

Personally, I wish that every person on this planet would find faith in Jesus Christ, repent and be baptised (Acts 2:38). But it would be naive to think that everyone alive would be willing to say ‘no’ to the world and its pleasures, and to give up one’s former life.

The Lord Jesus Christ told those who wanted to follow Him to count the cost to being His disciple (Luke 14:25-34), and this is exactly what those who are planning to get baptised need to be aware that they are getting themsleves into.