POWER IN THE NAME OF JESUS
Hilarion (AD 291-371), an early church leader, was famous throughout the Mediterranean world for his faith and power to work miracles of healing and spiritual deliverance. He gives one case in which a young Christian woman became possessed. A youth of Gaza fell in love with her, but she would have nothing to do with him. So he went off to Memphis to learn the arts of a magician. At the end of a year’s instruction, he returned and buried an engraved plate and magical formulas beneath the woman’s house. Thereupon the maid began to show signs of insanity, to throw away the covering of her head, tear her hair, gnash her teeth, and loudly call the youth by name. When the maid was brought to Hilarion, the spirit within her began to talk and howl. He asked how it dared to enter into the body of one who belonged to God. The demon claimed to have done so to preserve the virginity of the girl, an idea which seemed a bit outrageous to Hilarion. He then put the girl through the process of “purgation” (spiritual deliverance), and when she was well, he rebuked her for having permitted the spirit to enter into her “by her conduct.” Thus he assumed that she was in some way responsible for the spirit’s entrance.
Hilarion also believed that it was possible for a spirit to make a Christian sick, and this included the “saints,” himself as well. Furthermore, he held another common belief of that day, that it was possible for the saints (particularly the ascetic hermits who lived in the deserts) to be physically attacked and beaten by evil spirits. He claimed that such had happened to him several times.
One of Hilarion’s exorcistic techniques was demonstrated in another case. A prominent and wealthy man of Aira (by the Red Sea) who was demonized was brought to him, bound with iron. When the man saw Hilarion, he broke free, grabbed him, and held him mid-air. Hilarion nevertheless cured him by praying for the man’s release. In yet another case, an officer of the Emperor Constantius came to Hilarion because he was possessed. From a very early age he had compulsions to groan, howl, and gnash his teeth. The spirit spoke perfectly in foreign languages which the man did not understand. Hilarion cured him with a simple command in the name of Jesus. That is the same authority and power we have.