DELIVER US FROM… (#7 of 12 Ministries)
BY PETER BIGGS
‘There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.’ C. S. Lewis
The Bible affirms the existence of evil spirits (demons) numerous times in both the Old and New Testaments (1 Kings 22:19-23, Luke 8:30-33, Acts 16:16-18, etc.).
The term “demon possession,” (propagated by poor English translations of the Greek use the word “possession”) is not accurate. The actual Greek term used to describe a demonic presence in the life of a person is daimonizo, which is correctly translated “demonized.”
The Bible plainly depicts the existence of Satan and demons as fallen angels who work in the world to oppose God and his people, and deceive and blind unbelievers to the truth of the gospel.
A Pastor of a conservative evangelical church shared about being approached by a couple – members of his church.
“They were good solid Christian people, both with teachers with Masters degrees.
Mainly the wife described bizarre outbursts of anger in her husband – not directed at her, but quite out of character and seemingly untriggered by anything. I made an appointment with them both for next week. (I had a younger church leader accompany me). Although having never sensed it before in my Ministry, I felt we were dealing with an evil spirit.
On arrival I coached them that I would explore this by taking the authority Christ has given us and commanding if there be anything of the sort to manifest (for the purpose of expulsion). After prayer, I ‘commanded’ any evil to manifest. Immediately and inexplicably he began to growl like a dog! His wife touched me on the arm to get my attentinon, ’That’s not him!’ she said. I commanded this spirit of anger to leave in Jesus name. He shuddered, leapt out of his chair and burst into tears. He then described, for the first time the sensation that this anger was ‘not his’. There were two other spirits that he was also delivered from that evening.
Later this couple became full time oversees missionaries.”
As with all disorders there are degrees. In some instances the Bible describes being tormented at different times. (Saul in 1 Samuel 16:13-15)
Others are described as being indwelt by an evil spirit (Mark 5:5 night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. Luke 8:30)
All Christians undergo temptations to a variety of sins. Sometimes this comes from within (our own sinful nature), but other times it is an enemy attack.
• Perhaps a wave of intense lust rolls in from nowhere.
• Perhaps an impulse to steal.
• A wave of profound doubt and despair.
• An irrational fear comes out of nowhere.
It is important to state that these things may not be demonic, but if they re-occur frequently we may need to seek discernment. They also do not necessaily indicate demonization. Talk to your Pastor.
The Truth will set you free
Respected author and Pastor John Piper reminds us of the teaching way. Online he states:
‘the ordinary way of bringing people out of the clutches of the devil is described in 2 Timothy 2 where it says, “Teach with gentleness, correct your opponents in love. God may perhaps grant them to repent and come to a knowledge of the truth and be delivered or escape from the power of the evil one who had taken them captive.” That’s a paraphrase. So clearly in that passage, teaching and love and patience and God’s sovereignty – maybe he’ll intervene – is the normal way that Timothy is being told to free people from the will and the bondage of the devil.
Demons are real, Satan is real, and every pastor should do a serious study of the devil and of his ways and of demons, and decide how he is going to deal with that. Because there is an attack on the church in various forms all the time. Peter describes a very real adversary who roams around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Pe 5:8).
Likely targets of the enemy
1. Unity between churches & Christians – that is connectedness and agape love for one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 15:35
2. Prayer – especially for the Kingdom of God and evangelism in one’s community.
Thy kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven. Matthew 6
The disciples’ task was to be a difficult one, as they would be as sheep in the midst of wolves, but their demeanour should be that of being wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
The gift of discerning spirits, or distinguishing spirits, is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit described in 1 Cor 12:4-11
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good… … to another the ability to distinguish between spirits (empasis mine)
The Light spoke to leaders from Transform Central – an evangelical church in Abbotsford. Along with Hillside Church (also in Abbotsford) they have a trained Deliverance ministry team of 10. Sessions involve around four team members with a recipientant, and can take 3-4 hours. Most weeks they are busy (and have a waiting list).
Prayer sessions are carefully prepared for. After an intial ‘triage’ (informal sharing) the recipient may be sent away wth a printed questionairre containing 50 or more questions. A return appointment is set. At that time the team examines and prays over the results.
The recipient may then be asked to fill out a Trauma Timeline where they record all memories of past truamas decade by decade. The willingness to forgive is also assessed.
“Around 80 percent of people know they have a ‘demonic problem somehow. They have to have a commitment to getting the evil spirit(s) out.“ Transform’s team leader says.
Asked what might precipitate someone being demonized he outlined, “we have learned that there are ‘doorways’ that can open up that allow the possibility of the enemy coming in, such as::
• SIN – certain sins become strongholds and addictions
• UNFORGIVENESS – is a big one
• OCCULT involvement, sometimes the offering of sacrifices
• TRAUMA past hurts and abuse
• GENERATIONAL CURSES & SINS – such as incest
We find people hate their addictions but have loved what it gave them. We coach them to specifically repent and renounce sins, curses and vows. This removes the claim an evil spirit has to be in their lives.”
Put on the full armour of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes….
… 13 Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
14 Stand firm then, with
Notice the threefold emphasis on STANDING FIRM (not advancing or retreating) No triumphalism.
the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
Truthfulness is meant here (in the Greek) more than ‘The Truth’ – it is foundational.
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
This again has to do with our character – being clear of secret sins.
15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Readiness means a present tense consciousness of the gospel within. (sleep with your boots on!)
The following three pieces involve our choice to ‘take them up’…( v13 when the day of evil comes)
16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
‘Arrow’s of the evil one (often negative feelings or words), need extinguishing. Our faith IS a shield!
17 Take the helmet of salvation
‘Take’ here is a different word. It here means to receive (likely from the Lord). Perhaps in view here is ‘authority’ – the helmet was an impressive sign of Roman power. The battle is often in the mind.
and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
There were two swords the soldier was equipped with. The Greek here describes the short sword for hand to hand combat. Christ used this in the wilderness when tempted by Satan.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
Offence > polarization > tribalism
The issue of offence is described in John Bevere’s important book The Bait of Satan. Offence is often the most difficult obstacle an individual must face and overcome. It is a tool of the devil to bring people into captivity.
Paul instructed young Timothy: And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (empasis mine) 2 Timothy 2: 24
• Offended individuals
This usually starts with hurt – a perceived insult. Anger easily follows hurt. We may then rationize/justify our chronic anger by judging the other party. This now entrenches a relational estrangement. What follows is our complaining to others, some of whom take on our offence.
• Offence in churches
Virtually all pastors have experienced this. The sad ‘infiltration’ by the enemy using offence. Often the focal point is the leader. Some support him or her, some share the offence against him or her. Groups form – churches are split.
• Offended culture
This is a disturbing trend, in Canada (although more obviously seen in the US). Politicians are offended resulting in polorization and tribalism. Each (Party) tribe doesn’t just disagree with the other’s policies, they express vitriol and hatred and implacable dissagreement (no matter the facts).
This resulting polarization makes collaboration and effective government impossible. Alas Christians are sometimes at the forefront of this ‘spirit’.
Bevere offers ‘A declaration’:
In these last days when many are offended and filled with hate and betrayal toward others,
I refuse to join them.
I will commit to living my life in such a way that the agape of God, which has been poured out in my heart, will radiate in this darkened world of offence.