The ministry of Jesus touched three great areas of human need – sin, sickness and bondage to evil spirits – and delivering people was both the practical application and the confirmation of the message He was preaching, “The Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk 1:15; Act 10:38).
1/. Deliverance from sin
The main theme of the Bible is the work of Christ in potentially delivering humanity from the power and penalty of sin which results in eternal death (also termed separation from God). Its effectiveness is only realised when we individually repent and choose to walk in His ways (Ezek 18:4; Jn 3:16; 1 Thes 1:10).
Adam and Eve rebelled against God and through that sin the whole world came under a curse with the resulting bondage continuing to affect every aspect of life to this day (Gen 3:1-19). Although Jesus legally destroyed the destructive stranglehold of Satan, the actual liberating effect of His work will not be fully outworked until eternity (Rom 6:23; Heb 2:8; 1 Jn 3:8).
The gospel has the power to break the stranglehold of sin – have you experienced its effects?
Christian doesn’t exempt us from hardships, sickness or the tragedies of life they work for our eternal good if we allow such trials to refine our character and make us better people, becoming more in love with God (Rom 8:28,29; Gal 5:22,23). When trials and temptation come, recall how He has delivered you in the past, focus on His victory over the enemy on your behalf and centre your attention on the Lord who is able to deliver (Ps 18:2, 40:17, 119:170; 2 Pet 2:9).
It is God’s presence and activity in our lives that breaks the yoke of bondage to Satan’s control (Zech 4:6; Jn 8:32,36). We have been delivered out of the enemy’s hand so that we might serve God without fear, co-operating with the Holy Spirit’s dealings in our lives (Lk 1:74,75). When teaching about prayer Jesus included the phrase, “Deliver us from evil” – that is, from Satan and his deceit (Mt 6:13). Christ has provided the means for us to be released, and victorious, as we co-operate by removing whatever hinders or prevents that taking place (Gal 4:30). Paul voiced the question many of us ask when struggling in our Christian walk, “Who will deliver me from my slavery to the deadly sinful nature?” Then He immediately acknowledged this has already been accomplished. “Thank God! Jesus Christ our Lord has done it. He has set me free” (Rom 7:23-25). In faith visualize yourself walking in victory over what once held you captive. Use the authority of the name of Jesus to come to a greater understanding of His power to deliver. “Help us, O God our Saviour, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake” (Ps 79:9).
As new creations in Christ, the old way of life must be replaced by growing in our knowledge of God and the outworking of His truth. The outcomes will include a changed mind-set, transformed lifestyle and the powerful confession of “telling how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you” (Mk 5:19; Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 5:17; Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:5-10; Rev 12:11). What is my testimony of His power delivering me from destructive habits and the power of sin?
Am I living in increasing freedom from the attraction to,
and participation in, sin? Thank Him for this
Jas 4:7,8). Rather than an instantaneous transformation, coming into wholeness and freedom is normally a process, replacing the wrong with the good, ensuring we don’t become ensnared again as we consolidate the ground already taken (Ex 23:29,30; Lk 11:26; Gal 5:1). With self-discipline, say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and live self-controlled, upright and godly lives, living victoriously for God thinking, speaking and doing as the Bible says (Ps 103:2-5; Rom 6:15-22; Eph 4:27; Phil 4:8; Tit 2:12; Heb 12:1,2).
2/. Delivery from sickness and evil spirits
Among Christians, there are wide ranging views as to the extent we can expect and claim Christ’s provision (in this life) relating to the areas of healing from disease, release from harmful evil spirits and His intervention in our lives. Jesus healed by expelling evil spirits (termed exorcism) from the mute, deaf, blind and a woman who had spinal curvature (Mt 9:32,33, 12:22, 15:30; Lk 11:14, 13:11-16). Jesus and His disciples delivered may people from evil spirits (Mk 1:34,39, 3:14,15; Lk 4:40,41, 9:1, 10:17; Act 16:18). Christ gave His authority to us, His present-day disciples, to preach the gospel, heal the sick and bring deliverance through His name (Mt 28:19,20; Mk 16:17; Act 5:16, 8:7, 19:12).
3/. Following in Jesus’ footsteps
Deliverance can be actioned by mature fellow believers who can discern what is of a demonic nature, what is just an undisciplined human habit or a generational/human curse which needs to be broken. Dealing with evil involves spiritual battles and heavenly resources to achieve victory and be ‘more than conquerors’ in Christ (Lk 4:1-12; 1 Cor 15:57; Rom 8:37; Eph 6:10-18; 1 Jn 5:4). The power of release from Satan’s clutches is through Jesus and His victorious death as our substitute. “They overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb [Jesus] and by the word of their testimony” (Heb 2:14,15; Rev 12:11). Deliverance from evil forces is more a truth realization than a power encounter with evil losing its power when exposed to the light of Christ. We can successfully stand against any demonic scheme because Christ working through us is more powerful than Satan (1 Jn 4:4).
When a person doesn’t ‘take captive’ their thoughts they can admit spiritual powers that are intent on creating strongholds in their minds, and become evident in all manner of evil (Mk 7:20-23; 2 Cor 10:4,5). We too, need to have a new outlook, walking obediently in the present, not rehearsing the bondage of the past; realising that although God delivers we must ‘possess’ what is rightfully ours (Num 33:53; Deut 1:21; Josh 18:3, 23:5). Even Christians who are sincerely living for Christ can have areas of their personality that have not yet come under the control of the Holy Spirit and so may need deliverance from oppression as do those living in or visiting an evil place. Am I willing to pay the price, whatever it costs, to be delivered from the emotional baggage of my past with the continual pull of the flesh and come into the glorious freedom available in Christ?
The person requesting ministry must repent and turn from all evil activity Act 19:18,19; 1 Cor 10:21). Once expelled these evil spiritual beings then look for another receptive human to harass (Mt 12:43-45; 1 Pet 5:8). After ministering deliverance pray into the person the ‘opposite spirit’ to what was cast out, and so replace the evil with good. Suitable counselling can play an important role because by our lifestyle, forethought and wise choices many of the avoidable ailments and problems that are prevalent in today’s society can be thwarted.
A Christian walking with the Lord can also turn directly to Jesus, the deliverer, to expel evil spirits from their own life. Major marriage and interpersonal relationship issues, health and financial troubles can stem from demonic powers too, so seek release from their destructive power by the blood of Jesus. As there are no set formulas to use, intimacy with the Lord through the Holy Spirit to know His leading is pivotal (Act 3:6, 4:29,30; 1 Cor 12:8,10).
See also: armour (spiritual), authority, evil spirit, forgiveness, freedom, healing, health, Jesus (Name of), opposite spirit, spirit oppression/possession, prayer (unanswered), put off/put on, repentance, responsible/responsibility, self-discipline, spirit realm, spiritual warfare, strongholds, temptation, wholeness.