I had the benefit of receiving deliverance ministry about 18 months ago, which helped me find freedom at a whole new level in my life. This past week, I was able to study under experienced teachers and get some hands on training for five deliverances. I’ve had more than a few questions about the trip, so I thought I would share what I’ve been learning.
For those of you who are not in the know or are a little unsure of what I mean by “deliverance,” deliverance is casting out demons. It’s not figurative speech or a metaphor for some type of inner-healing ministry (though often the two go hand-in-hand). I just mean casting out demons, Jesus-style.
Some Problems with Deliverance in America
Deliverance is by no means a new ministry, but in the States it’s difficult to find people who won’t complicate it with a 29-step program, a 300-page self-help book or (in some churches) a three-hour scream session that ends with puking in a bucket. Of all the ministries in the church today, deliverance is probably the least understood and the most stigmatized.
And it makes sense — for the majority, the fact that demons can even exist would take a huge leap of the imagination. We’ve rationalized the stories we hear in the bible with explanations of psychological instability or mental illness, which may or may not have anything to do with demonization. For most of the remainder who actually do believe in demons, they find them debilitating and terrifying, lacking any knowledge of the simple authority Christ has given us.
So How Does it Work?
I don’t mean to make this overly academic — I simply haven’t studied the topic far enough beyond its practical applications to do so, but here are a few things I’ve learned about deliverance in the past couple of years:
Believers can also be demonized
A few years ago, when some close friends of mine were telling me about their own deliverance experiences, I was extremely resistant to the idea that I needed deliverance. I had the idea that believers couldn’t be demonized and more so, spirit-filled believers could not be demonized. How could God’s spirit inhabit the same space as the enemies?
This question was mostly unanswered when eventually my desire to move forward in my Christian walk overpowered my pride to be theologically right, and I went ahead to get delivered all the same.
On the other side of it, I’ve had the opportunity to do some study to explain how this works to others.
In the new testament, there are three words used to describe the concept of demon possession. The Greek words show up in our English bibles as “oppressed,” “possessed,” and “to have” as in, “she had a demon.” “To have” literally means what it sounds like, but it’s interesting that both “oppressed” (katadunasteuó) and “possessed” (daimonizomai) are often translated interchangeably and share the same core definition “to be under the power of.”
Being demonized doesn’t meant that your every move is decided by evil spirits. They can’t and don’t “own” you — God owns you. You are the victim of constant brutal attack that is so severe, it can warp your behavior and worldview permanently. Most believers are mature enough in their faith to avoid manifestations of these spirits, but being unaware of their attack, they internalize their oppressors mindsets and can act out of them.
Demons also operate at two levels, internally and externally. A rejection demon, for example, will cause you to interpret the all actions of others as rejection. Some individuals will respond by feeling hurt or by preimtively sabotaging their relationships to avoid the pain of rejection. At the same time, that demon will also go out before you to create situations or influence others to avoid you. In a sense, they’ll make you feel unapproachable.
Inner-healing starts with deliverance
When we get a headache, we reach for a bottle of aspirin. A couple pills and a few minutes later, that headache will probably go away. We’ve successfully treated the symptom.
We do the same thing in the church today. Through a heavy focus on discipleship and inner-healing, we can patch up our wounds and get ourselves on the right path. That said, often times, the underlying problems remains, and most believers admittedly are in a constant battle to be free of old habits and sins.
I was speaking last week with some pastors who have been doing an inner-healing ministry called Sozos for years. Sozos can often be long, drawn-out sessions where Sozo leaders will guide their seekers through hours of searching to find and identify past lies and hurts.
These same ministers said that after they started doing deliverance ministry about a year ago, they can get through most Sozos in less than an hour. Without the underlying cause for some of the problems attempting to conceal and avoid the issue, they can cut right to the heart of the matter.
In short, if you’ve been working at something for days/months/years and it’s still not getting better, there’s probably a deeper cause rooted in demonization.
Deliverance is about authority
Big shows of flopping around with shouting and extensive use of buckets and holy water are exactly what demons want: excuses to further torment people.
Demons respond only to authority, the kind of authority that comes directly from God. During the deliverance sessions we did last week, after praying through humility and protection, our team immediately binds any unclean spirit and prevents demonic manifestations through the authority that Christ gave us.
The team I worked with as done dozens of deliverances over the past year, and of those they have only seen a handful of people show any manifestations at all. One of these manifestations happened on a different team at the same retreat we did last week.
We were waiting and chatting before another session when we heard heavy breathing come from the next room. Rushing over to see what was wrong, we found the seeker flopping back and forth in her chair and gasping for air. We later learned that this particular woman had been involved in voodoo magic in Costa Rica. She had used black magic, and when they found out they were under attack, they went and found another voodoo witch doctor to do white magic for them. Of course, she was brimming in spiritual darkness when she showed up. As soon as she walked in the room before the team was able to pray for her, she started to manifest.
At first the team reacted poorly, and everyone was in disarray attempting to take authority of the matter. When my friend, who was leading our team, arrived into the other room, he asked if he could help. He calmly had everyone return to their seats and very quietly spoke to the spirit and commanded it to stop manifesting. In less than a minute, the demon was bound, and the rest of the deliverance session took just a few minutes.
It was simple authority in Christ that prevented the demon from tormenting
Prophetic deliverance differentiators
There are about as many opinions about methods for deliverance as their are believers, so I recognize that it would be naive to claim that the methods we used last week were the only methods or some how the best.
That said, I have never seen or heard of a method that brought freedom that was as fast and painless as prophetic deliverance.
Here are a few of the things that we do differently:
- We don’t do deliverance alone. There’s little biblical precedent for the apostles or any of Jesus’s disciples operating in this ministry independently. It’s dangerous, and prophetic ministry relies on the biblical principle of testing one another’s words. We work in teams of no less than four.
- As I mentioned before, we do not allow demons to manifest in any way, and we never provoke demons to act. The seeker usually has already suffered enough, and we don’t want demons to get any last huzzah.
- Prophetic deliverance is prophetic. We don’t ask any questions of the seeker at all, but we go directly to the Holy Spirit to ask him to show us exactly what the afflicting spirit is.
- Prophetic deliverance focuses on identifying and casting out the chief and ruling spirit. Demons are incredibly hierarchical and legalistic. Identifying the most powerful and ruling spirit, allows our team to cast it out first and then all of its underlings.
- Deliverance works well when the ministers do not have a relationship with the seeker. This allows our team to be completely reliant on the Spirit to discern spirits, bringing in no history or human perspective. Family members or friends are not allowed to operate in the session, nor are they allowed to observe.
Well folks, this is already way to long for a normal blog post, but I’ve had more than a few folks asking Emi and I about our experiences, so I thought it would be worth it to get some of this down on paper. Really, this is by no means an all-encompassing description — just some trends I’ve noticed.