Jesus majored in deliverance: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8b). He never sent out the twelve or the seventy without commissioning them to deal with demons. Then why is there little deliverance ministry today?
1. There are fewer demons around today? The presence of Christianity to some degree suppresses the activity of demons. But the growth of occult practices and astrology in western countries suggest that we are infested with demons. We see the advertisements, “A zodiac mug with a tank of gasoline.” Eastern mysticism has been popular on campuses for decades. Progress has not dealt with principalities and powers of darkness, as if they are not as effective because we are a high-tech society. We are less armed because we can detect viruses but not demons.
2. There are as many demons, but they are less active? Not likely. Paul said that “in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…” (I Timothy 4:1). Demons know their time is short, so their activity is likely increasing. It is a misconception that only bad people are demonized. Jesus delivered people from demons more in synagogues than slums.
3. We are cautious about a ministry we know so little about? We have heard stories about demons manifesting in weird ways. Like one pastor said, “It’s no fun to be God’s garbage collector.” Maybe we have shied away from this ministry because we don’t want it. Our passive response manifests lack of love toward the oppressed.
1. people we have prayed for or counseled were not healed because they needed deliverance.
2. “the devil made me do it” theology has more truth to it than we have acknowledged. Sin is both choice and bondage. People in bondage need help to escape.
3. we have been more like the scribes than like Jesus, finding it easier to talk and teach than to do. What set Jesus off from the religious leaders of the day was his authority over sickness and dark spirits.
Consider these truths::
1. We are at war, and it is not with flesh and blood. Paul writes that “we are not ignorant of his (Satan’s) designs” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Ignorance would allow him to gain an advantage over us. If we pose little threat to Satan because we are unaware of his sinister activity, demons are all the more free to carry out the orders from headquarters to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10a). If we are only responding to the physical world, we are missing the mark and losing the war. One really sad aspect of war is the casualties among those not even engaged in the war. We know that Christians can be oppressed by the forces of darkness, and casualties abound. We are told to resist the devil, but if we don’t know how demons operate, we won’t be able to defeat them. Sin is not just a decision; it is a personality (Ro 6:16).
2. Jesus’ worldview included a world devastated by the enemy. Jesus believed in the reality of the demonic world, and it affected how he ministered to people. He came on the scene to take back what had been ravaged by Satan. He declared war on the kingdom of darkness, and everything he said and did was a direct hit on the enemy forces. Our culture has domesticated the demonic, and it has impacted how the church interacts with demons. We have mascots on sports teams called the Red Devils. We have kids dress up as underworld creatures for Halloween. We play games that include the powers of darkness in ways that make them playful. We hear people say in a cute fashion to a child, “You little devil.” If demons are responsible for much of the sickness, torment, misery, and mental disorders in the world today, then it behooves us to grow in our understanding of how they attack, so that we can defend ourselves and deliver those who are casualties. Demons are anything but harmless cartoon characters. They have absolutely no sense of decency, fairness, or cleanliness. They are foul, obscene, perverted, and grotesque, totally outside any boundaries of human kindness. The worst criminal we have ever heard about does not begin to compare with these fiends of the underworld. The only rule they operate with is to destroy humans by any means in their power.
COUNSEL FOR CHRISTIANS & CHURCH LEADERS
1. Speak about the devil and demons. Let people know that they are out to get us, and that is not paranoia. Train people for deliverance ministry.
2. Bring deliverance to the demonized. Jesus’ presence caused demons to manifest themselves, and when they did, Jesus brought deliverance. He did not try to shield the demonized from the public. Because we don’t yet move in the same authority, we may need to find quiet places for ministry.
3. Become more aggressive in the fight against the kingdom of darkness. Alert Christians to their authority in Christ. Be ready to deal with demons. Divine action elicits demonic reaction. Jesus was known by demons as a destroyer. Demons were a threat to people, but Jesus was a threat to demons.
4. Let people know how demons enter. They come either by inactivity (non-resistance) or by choice. Some say yes to the enemy in order to gain power. Judas said yes to gain money. Prolonged sin can bring people into bondage. Paul tells us that we become slaves to whomever we obey (Romans 6:16). Traumatic experiences, like sexual or physical abuse, can open the way for the demonic. Chronic problems can wear down our defenses and leave room for invasion, such as living with an alcoholic or an abuser. Unforgiveness in an ongoing way can cause us to be turned over to tormentors (Matthew 18:34). Ancestral sin can bring inherited weakness and vulnerability to Satan and demons.
5. Remind people that Satan has a one-way ticket to hell. He knows his destiny. As a friend of mine says, “When he reminds us of our past, we need to remind him of his future.” When God is done using him for divine purposes, He will consign Satan to the pit. Satan is neither omniscient nor omnipresent. He is not smart enough to deceive the Christian walking in the Spirit.
6. Teach people that to resist the light is to vote for the darkness. Satan knows those who are voting for him, and he will not leave them alone. It is a foolish thing to walk in the world of spirits unarmed, and yet ignorant Christians do it. They are inviting the forces of the enemy to invade them and their homes. Sadly, innocent children can become prey of the devil because of the folly of parents.
7. Help people detect the possible assault of the enemy. Involuntary action or compulsive behavior (longstanding lust, perversion, lying, suicide attempts) or overwhelming emotions (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, as well as extremes–like extreme legalism or license. Garbage attracts rats (demons). The unwillingness or the inability to deal with garbage (unforgiveness, resentment, hostility, anger)` is an invitation for the rats to hang around. 8. The cross of Jesus spelled the ultimate defeat of the devil. Jesus said on his way to Calvary, “Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31).