Deliverance Ministries – A Definition
Deliverance Ministries may have various definitions among Christians. The most common definitions revolve around solving a person’s problems related to demons, spirits, and possession. Those who promote and practice deliverance ministry claim that Christians can be indwelt with demons. In order to be free from addictions, depression, and all sorts of sins that may weigh or afflict the person, the demon must be exorcised. Deliverance ministry claims that this sets the afflicted person free from the “bondage” they are experiencing. It is common for the person to attend a series of “discipleship” classes ending with exorcisms as the form of treatment.
Deliverance Ministry is a contemporary movement that is gaining ground and is crossing denominational lines. Although it is gaining popularity, many Christians are now seeing it as a negative and unbiblical practice that can have serious and disastrous consequences, even though it claims to offer “freedom” to the individual. There are even support groups forming to help people who have been victimized from various deliverance ministries.
Dr. Juncker defines Deliverance Ministry as “the name commonly given to Christian individuals or ministries who believe: (1) that Christians can have demons inside of them; (2) that there are specific methods, techniques, and prayers for discerning the presence of demons and for casting them out; and (3) that such exorcisms are a necessary prerequisite for living a successful and victorious Christian life. Evidence for these beliefs is derived from experience and from a handful of Scriptures that have been taken out of context.”1
Deliverance Ministries – Demons and the Believer
When we study what the Bible says about demons, it is very clear that Christians cannot be demon possessed. However, the Bible does say that a believer can be oppressed or influenced by a demon. What’s the difference? Possession means that the demon has full control over the person. Examples of this can be found in Matthew 17:14-18 and Luke 4:33-35; 8:27-33. Demon oppression is very different. If a person is oppressed by a demon, that demon influences the person toward sin.
There are no instructions or commands in the Bible to cast a demon out of a believer. Instead, believers are instructed to resist the devil: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
Today’s deliverance teachers often claim that it is a matter of semantics. They say that a Christian cannot be possessed and state that he can be “influenced” or “oppressed” instead. However, their practices are not in agreement. They believe that a Christian can be influenced or oppressed to the point of becoming indwelt with demons with the need to cast them out. They state there is a space inside the believer’s body where a demon can indwell, but the Bible nowhere teaches such specifics.
Believers are a new creation and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, not indwelt by demons. Romans 8:9-11 says, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” The Bible is very clear that believers war with Satan and his demons, but not from within themselves, but rather externally. “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you [God] is greater than the one who is in the world [Satan]” (1 John 4:4).
Chuck Smith explains how proponents of Deliverance Ministry get around these clear verses, “The proponents of this unscriptural doctrine use such terms as Christians being ‘invaded by demons’ rather than demon possessed. This is nothing more than a word game and a smoke screen to hide the scriptural weakness of their position. They also present an illogical supposition that demons can invade or control the mind or body but not the spirit. God’s Word declares that the body is a temple of the Holy Ghost who is in us.”2
Deliverance Ministries– A Warning
Listen to this account from a prior participant of a deliverance ministry. When asked why he feels the need to warn others about deliverance ministry, he said:
“I warn that this practice can be paralleled to 2 Peter 2:19 in which a legalistic form of ‘freedom’ is being offered that will only lead to further bondage, ending in futility and disillusionment. It enslaves people to the delusion that they continually need demons cast out of them. This works against the freedom that Christ offers.
“Jesus Christ warned us to watch out for false prophets who can mislead others (Matthew 7:15-23, 2 Peter 2:1-2).
“We must ask ourselves why Jesus would label those who were casting out demons as evildoers? After further examination of what deliverance ministry teaches, compared to the objective truths found in Scripture, it became clear to me that many of the leaders were ‘evildoers.’ Even though they may have been passionate and sincere, they were sincerely wrong. We have been warned in Scripture not to go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6).
“Deliverance Ministry attacked essential areas of my theology. 1) It denied the person and work of Jesus Christ by teaching that He is weak and cannot protect His own children. 2) It denied the sufficient grace and new creation granted to the believer upon salvation (2 Corinthians 5:17). 3) It ignored Scripture that states the evil one can no longer touch the believer, unless the Lord would allow for the purpose of discipline (1 Corinthians 5:4-5, Hebrews 12:4-7).
“Many believers fail to see God’s sovereign faithfulness and protection found in 1 Corinthians 10:13 which always provides a way out. We are really without excuse, as believers, to blame our behavior on demons.
“John gives us great assurance when he says: ‘We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him” (1 John 5:18). The Greek word for translated as “harm” is hapto. It means “to fasten to.” The evil one cannot fasten to a believer.
“Job is our clearest example of God allowing Satan to torment and oppress. We have been purchased and redeemed through Christ’s sacrifice and are no longer our own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We have been called to put to death the sins that can entangle us and to walk by the Holy Spirit who now indwells us. We are called to glorify the Lord with our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2).
“If you are considering becoming involved in a deliverance ministry, I encourage you to study what the Bible says and make an informed decision. Remember, it is Christ and His truth that will set you free (John 8:31-32), not the casting out of demons.”
Deliverance Ministries – The Dangerous Results
A shift of blame: Deliverance ministry shifts the blame for sin, addiction, and other struggles to the demonic. This is an unhealthy and unbiblical way of dealing with sin. Instead, a believer is called to repent and surrender to God. Our wickedness comes from the heart (Mark 7:20-23), as well as from the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21), even without the aid of demons. We are called to "crucify" fleshly desires and reckon them as dead, walking in the strength of the Holy spirit instead (Titus 2:11-14; Galatians 5:24, Colossians 3:3-5).
An unbiblical view of God’s sovereignty and a distorted theology of the Holy Spirit: Deliverance ministries deny the Lord’s power over Satan and actually grant the illusion of Satan having greater strength over the Lord than he really has. Deception has a high price that can enslave many into having a false assurance and relationship with Christ, as spoken from Himself in Matthew 7:15-23. To teach that the Holy Spirit can share the same temple along with demons would certainly be a house divided as well as come dangerously close to blaspheming Christ who indwells the believer (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).
A dangerous preoccupation with the demonic: God calls believers to be preoccupied with Him, not obsessed with things that oppose Him (Romans 8:5-8). Those involved with deliverance ministry have reported that they become dependent on their deliverance minister as the solution to their possession. It fostered paranoia rather than peace and security.
A false view of salvation: Many in the deliverance ministry misunderstand Jesus’ death on the cross. The Bible very clearly says that Christ’s work on the cross was sufficient. Further deliverance is not necessary. To teach otherwise gives the impression that Christ’s work is incomplete.
1 Dr. Günther Juncker - http://faculty.tfc.edu/juncker/Doctrines%20of%20Demons.htm
2 Chuck Smith, “Christian Possession—The Scriptures Say No!” Costa Mesa, CA: The Word for Today, 1979. Quoted here: http://www.pfo.org/wdemons.htm
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