“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8b). This included healing and deliverance. Then why is there so little deliverance ministry?
- There are fewer demons around? Some think developing countries encounter more demons. Possibly, but the rise of the New Age movement, occult practices, astrology, and Masonry suggest that we are infested with the powers of darkness.
- They are less active? Paul wrote that “in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…” (I Tim. 4:1). If anything, demons have increased their activity. And it is a misconception that only bad people are demonized. Jesus delivered people from demons more in synagogues than in slums.
Were some not healed because they needed deliverance rather than healing or counseling? One doesn’t reason with demons. Could “the devil made me do it” theology contain some truth? Sin includes both choice and bondage. Has the church taken a posture closer to the religious leaders than the disciples? We have taught on it; few of us have done it. What set Jesus off from the Pharisees was that He walked in authority to do what He said.
What are demons? Persons without bodies, intelligent and powerful beings aligned with Satan, part of the fallen world of rebel angels. They entice, harrass, torment, compel, enslave, defile, and deceive. They wear us down to take us out. They attack the mind, emotions, and attitudes. Demons gain entry either by inactivity (non-resistance) or by bad choices. Prolonged sin brings bondage (Rom. 6:16). Traumatic experiences, like abuse, pull down fences and invite demons. Chronic problems leave us vulnerable to the enemy, such as living with an alcoholic. Unforgiveness gives Satan permission to attack.
Involuntary action or compulsive behavior (like longstanding lust, perversion, lying, or suicide attempts) or overwhelming emotions (like depression, hatred, or unforgiveness) might indicate demonic activity. Cultic or occult activity, a disturbed family history, or chronic family sickness may also be traced back to demonic roots. So can extremes of legalism or license.
Sin is putrid, and the garbage of ongoing sin attracts rats (demons). The unwillingness or inability to deal with the garbage invites the demons to hang around. Deliverance usually includes helping people get rid of their garbage, often through receiving and extending forgiveness. The best defense is the armor of God, the character of Christ. People who experience deliverance need the fences built up.
CONSIDER THESE TRUTHS:
We are at war, but not with flesh and blood. We know the general better than his troops. They carry out his mission “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10a). Countless people of God are casualties, operating more out of their senses than God’s Word. Give Satan room and he takes ground.
Jesus’ world-view included a world devastated by the enemy. This conviction impacted Him daily. Our culture has domesticated the demonic, and it has even influenced the church. If demons are responsible for some of our sickness and emotional illness, we must take a more aggressive stance.
It is the nature of God to heal and to deliver. Demons were a threat to people, but Jesus was a threat to demons. When Jesus sent the disciples out, He told them to “heal the sick” and “drive out demons” (Matt. 10:7). That command was never rescinded. With the command comes the authority. When Jesus sent out the apostles, He was going on the offensive. When the disciples returned, Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall from heaven.”
The filling of the Spirit prepares us to battle and deliver. After Jesus was baptized and anointed with the Spirit, He was led into the desert by the Spirit to declare war on the enemy. Healing and deliverance are used interchangeably in the Gospels (Matt. 4:24; 9:32; 15:28 17:16). Some demonized people had physical manifestations of illness, such as blindness (Matt. 12:22).
Counseling and deliverance are both needed. The church has often settled for the former. Demonized people need more than the armor of God. They have been taken captive. Giving a gun to someone who has been shot is not meeting his biggest problem. Deliverance does not do away with the need for counseling, but it usually reduces the need. Renewal of the mind often requires deliverance. Deliverance does not do away with the need for the spiritual disciplines, but it makes them easier.