The subject of “deliverance” is a hot button topic for believers. What I will write will no doubt fly in the face of the conventional thoughts regarding demons and deliverance. I do not have all the answers, but I want to pass on what I do know, to those who may have ears to hear.
First, I want to make something very clear: I am NOT a “deliverance minister.” Youthfire is NOT a “deliverance ministry” at least not in the way most people have come to think of that term. I have and do deal with occult matters. I have been involved in casting out demons and praying over the demon oppressed. But I’ve also traveled to Indonesia, written books, painted a youth center, done evangelism, and even played Larry the Cucumber. (Do NOT call me for that job again!) I babysit a lot. But that doesn’t mean I am a babysitter by calling. Sometimes I wonder if there is a connection there. You know how it is: Babysit a few times, you get on a list and people assume you are available to do this all the time. And if you do a few deliverances…..
The reason I won’t be tagged as a deliverance ministry is the reason I am WARY of deliverance ministries by and large. Praying for demonized people is surely but only ONE PART of a much bigger calling all of us as believers should have. And once you are known for this, people will be sent to you or come to you in droves, and sometimes keep you from the full measure of ministry God wants you to do.
From that scenario, I have seen two things emerge: One, ministers get overwhelmed, caught up in the deliverance work and completely burn out. As one minister told me, “I never want to see another demonized person as long as I live.” Two, many (though not all) of those who hang out a shingle of “deliverance ministry” have been some of the scariest people I’ve ever seen. If you mean by deliverance the overall healing and setting free of a person, I believe in that. If it is strictly a “demon business”, I see no scripture for that. I have seen the fruit of many of such ministries, and it is chaos, convoluted scripture and messed up lives. I think you understand why I don’t want to be associated with that kind of ministry.
Is there a place for demonized people to get free? Absolutely, yes. It is in the church. Unfortunately, 99% of believers are too terrified of the demonic to do their job, and thus, God has raised up those who are willing. It becomes specialized when it is something we should all be willing to handle if the need arises. “In My Name you shall cast out devils.” (Mark 16:17).
There are two situations in which I will engage the demonic: One, when a demon manifests. Two, when I have been made aware of a situation, and have carefully prayed and gotten God’s go-ahead to become involved.
I believe the first situation is the most frequent and the most Biblical. Wherever Jesus went, demons manifested. They could not stand His presence. I truly believe if we are walking in the Power of God as a church and individuals, this will happen, and we must deal with it when it does.
The second situation is crucial for me. I must know in advance, if someone is brought to my attention, if and when I should engage. I need to be prayed up; I need to be prepared and be sure. Many have been trapped because of getting a reputation for doing deliverance, and before long they are completely overwhelmed. You need to understand that not all demonized people want to be free. And if they do not, they will make the rounds of pastors and ministries and their demons cause havoc.
Let me share, from my own experience over the years, a few essentials concerning deliverance.
We must set the rules and terms of engagement. Sometimes people manifest in church. (expect this to happen more as we approach a time of greater occult involvement in our culture.) We must determine by the Spirit whether to confront, deflect, or move the person into another part of the church to deal with it. A few years ago I was confronted with this situation. It was a large youth outreach at a church. I had just finished giving my testimony and was in the process of leading kids to know Jesus and dedicate their lives to His service, when an ungodly scream came from the congregation and someone fell out of the pew in a demonic fit. Conventional wisdom – as well as “instinct” – would say to deal with it right there – but instead the Spirit urged me to have the elders take the person out and into the prayer room to pray for her. It was crucial, because a moment of eternal consequences was attempted to be sabotaged and we could not allow it.
Sometimes demons are sent to be manifest to create fear, chaos and confusion. Do not let them set the battle. Each situation is different and requires a well-discerned action.
Choose your team carefully.
Deliverance prayer is not a free-for-all. It’s not a time for everyone to “give it a try.” It is a time for order, discipline and unity. Everyone on the team must come CLEANSED. Believe me, you don’t want to carry any sin uncleansed into a deliverance. I have seen and heard too many deliverances where uncleansed private sins get very publicly detailed and exposed by demons who use it to fail the deliverance. But what is CLEANSED is untouchable. Make sure every team member is spiritually strong, humble and ready for anything.
One person alone should be the “point man.” Everyone else should pray, support and follow that person’s lead. The worst situations I’ve seen are where there is no order at all and the person being prayed for is put through a round-robin of people all wanting to cast the demon out, or worse, everyone yelling at one. (Demons are not deaf. But they do love that kind of attention.) I don’t care who leads, but if I am called to lead, everyone else MUST follow that lead and back me up. If someone else leads, it is my responsibility to pray, back them up and only engage if called on to do so.
It is not for us to dialogue with demons. Part of their strategy, because they are desperate to maintain their dwelling in the person, is to engage you in conversation. Do not fall for it. If you begin to speak to them, they will twist you, intrigue you, lie to you and wear you out. Your ONLY communication should be the steady and unbending demand for their expulsion. NOTHING ELSE.
Whatever you think you’ve learned from the last deliverance, put it on the back burner. This is a whole new situation. You are dealing with demons that are older than you can fathom. God has NOT required you to match wits with them. You are only to expel them, not with methods or what you learned before or from some book, but with the pure power of God alone. Make sure your team is not made up of people who have their own ideas based on books or “deliverance manuals.” They will only cause division and chaos.
Recently, a well-meaning person who brought a woman with epilepsy cornered me to engage my help in casting demons out of her. I declined. He had already decided that epilepsy = possession. Such assumptions are dangerous and can result in terrible harm, and on rare occasions, even death. I cannot bide that. All epilepsy and sickness is not the result of possession. Multiple personality disorder is not the result of demons. (Though sometimes they may be demonized.) Schizophrenia (healable by God) is not demons but a quantifiable medical brain condition. I have even met occultists who were saved and were not possessed! (They did, however, need deliverance from oppression and occult ties of the past.) I have also witnessed, for example, a good church going lady who came to an outdoor rally I was speaking at and she began to
”preach” from Revelations right in the middle of my message – loudly, crazily, disrupting the whole evening – as demonized as anyone I’ve ever seen. We simply cannot afford to “assume” what we are dealing with. Assume NOTHING but that it is God’s intention to deliver the demon bound, and that we have been given the authority to do so. Perhaps terminology hangs us up too much. The Bible does not use the term possessed, but “demonized.” And demonization can be anything from oppressive headaches to full-blown takeover. Let’s not get too hung up over words here.
Having read numerous “deliverance manuals” I can pretty confidently recommend that you don’t bother with them. There IS no “formula” deliverance.
Know your authority.
“You” do not cast out the demons. It is JESUS IN YOU. They fear you not one whit. In fact they could crush you without God’s protection. Do not allow ONE OUNCE of arrogance, either in you or in your team, when you walk into that room. Let it be only, “It is JESUS who commands you to leave. It is HIS Name, HIS Blood and HIS Power that demands that you leave.” The minute you forget that it is only HIS authority they fear, you become like a uniformless, badge-less police officer in the middle of a gunfight trying to convince them to stop.
A few additional points:
– Do not fear either the devil or the demonic. Fear cuts those in need off from those who could set them free. It is the devil and demons who truly fear Jesus in US. Even a child who speaks the Name of Jesus cam make all hell tremble and every demon flee.
Do not become “interested” in knowing about the demonic realm. Except for Neil Anderson’s books, everything else I have read is either useless, wrong or dangerous – or all three. All you need in order to be able to accomplish the job is an intimate relationship with Jesus, a solid knowledge of the Word of God, humility and availability.
DO NOT tackle a situation alone. Always work with a team, and have plenty of prayer covering besides.
Treat deliverance as just one aspect of all Jesus has called us to do and to be.
There is little doubt that we are living in an age of unprecedented demon influence, which is resulting in vast numbers of demonized people. Be ready for anything. And do not be afraid. This is part of the church’s job, and we need to stop relegating it to a few because the majority are afraid and unprepared. Obeying Mark is for us all.
Dr. Gregory R Reid