Before I give an answer to your main question, I will admit that this is a hotly-debated subject in some Christian circles. Some believe that the gift of “casting out demons” have ceased; others believe it is just as valid today as it was in the early church. I take the position of those who believe it is NOT a gift that is given today. Now I will explain, from Scripture, why I hold this view.

Let’s read Mark 16:17-18, “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name THEY WILL CAST OUT DEMONS; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (NKJV). Ironically, those who believe the gift of casting out demons is valid today use this verse, above any other, as their PROOF TEXT. They say that the Lord promised that believers would have these various gifts, and they usually add, “and they are valid until the Lord returns to take us Home to heaven.” To that I would respond, “Jesus did NOT say they would be in use throughout the whole church age.” The key word in this passage is the word “signs.” These gifts would serve as a SIGN to point people to something else. What would they point people to, you ask? The answer is given in verse 20, “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and CONFIRMING THE WORD THROUGH THE ACCOMPANING SIGNS.” The SIGNS were given to CONFIRM THE WORD.

Let’s remember that the Lord had not given any new revelations since the prophet Malachi was inspired to write the book bearing his name (400 years before Christ’s birth). Now God was going to give the world a new revelation (the “New Testament”) and in grace He would use miraculous signs to “confirm (establish) the Word.” We read throughout the book of Acts of these miracle gifts being used by the Apostles for that very purpose and in Hebrews 2:3-4 we read these words, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was CONFIRMED TO US by those who heard Him, God also BEARING WITNESS BOTH WITH SIGNS AND WONDERS, with VARIOUS MIRACLES, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” So, when the Lord was here He began preaching God’s new revelation to man and He confirmed the Word with miracles; then those who heard Him (the Apostles) also preached God’s Word of salvation to a lost world and they too confirmed the Word with miracles, including “casting out demons.” Once the Word was confirmed (that is, once it was obvious to all that what they were preaching was God’s new revelation to man), the miracles were no longer needed. It is interesting to note that as one gets nearer to the close of the history of early church (recorded in the book of Acts) there is very little said about miracles. This is a testimony to what we have been saying, for once it was established beyond doubt that the Apostles had been declaring God’s Word, there was no longer a need for miraculous signs. I have used a simple illustration by saying that I have often followed “road signs” on a trip to a certain destination, but once I arrive at my destination the signs, which were “behind me,” were no longer necessary.

In closing, I have heard some reports where God gave missionaries in third world countries the ability to “cast out demons” or to “speak with new tongues” and that this resulted in people being willing to listen to the gospel message they preached. I would not try to refute their claims; instead I would say that even though the “sign gifts” may not be given to the church as they were in the early church, God can still, in His sovereignty, give believers the ability to perform signs and wonders if He so chooses. Yet in most instances missionaries do NOT rely on miraculous signs. For example, they do not expect to have the gift of tongues; rather they spend months and even years learning the language of the people that they are going to be ministering the gospel to. (295.5) (DO)