In most Protestant Christian churches, demonic exorcism ministries are seriously questioned. Is it a valid and necessary ministry today? If so, why aren’t more Christians involved in it? And for those who are, how can we be sure they are doing it “correctly”?
The Bible tells us that Jesus Himself established the ministry of deliverance. He spent a fourth of His time casting out demons, and then told us to do the same. Not only did He rebuke demons, but He called His twelve disciples and gave them power over unclean spirits (demons), to cast them out (Matthew 10:1).
But that ministry was not just for His time. Jesus knew that people down through the ages would need to be delivered of demonic oppression. Certain signs, including exorcism, would be part of the “Great Commission”.
Contemporary leaders in the field of deliverance are seeing firsthand the ongoing need for this ministry. There are people in every church in America who are bound. And the culture around us is so accepting of activities that are possible entry points for demonic activity, that the need for this ministry is actually increasing.
Even more unfortunate than our obvious need for deliverance ministry is the fact that only a handful of churches in America are addressing it. Most deliverance ministries, therefore, are done in parachurch settings. Why aren’t we casting out demons when they show up in church? Because it‘s a very controversial, very time-consuming, very unpleasant ministry. And many pastors fail to get involved primarily because they are afraid of it. They receive no training on deliverance in seminary or Bible school, feel inadequate and are concerned about being sued. Also, many believe in the cessation theory – the belief that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for today. O following Jesus’ mandate to cast out demons isn’t even a consideration for them.
Is deliverance for Christians. Can a Christian be demon possessed? If by “possession” is meant ownership, then no! A born-again Christian has been purchased by the Shed Blood of Jesus Christ. But if “possession” means certain aspects of their thoughts, behaviors, and/or personality traits are controlled by demons, then yes! Demons do not inhabit the spirit of a Christian, because the human spirit is where the Holy Spirit indwells. But demons can inhabit our mind, our will, and our emotions, and they can inhabit our body. Demonic control of aspects of a Christians life is a theological impossibility and very common phenomenon; therefore, the theology is wrong!
But deliverance requires the person being delivered to want to be set free. The only people, Christians or not, who can really benefit from deliverance are people who are willing to repent and change their lifestyle. Of course, there are cases in which an unbeliever is so demonized he is unable to make a decision to receive Jesus as Lord, so in those cases we deliver first and then, immediately, lead them to Jesus.
How do demons gain a foothold in a Christian’s life? By any of a number of possible “entry points” that give opportunity for demonic activity, because at those points the person inadvertently gives them permission to enter.
- The most obvious is a wilful sin. Other ways are bondages from past generations.
- Traumatic experiences are other common entry points.
- Still other common entry points are sexual sins and occult practices.
Most demonized people are demonized at an early age, but carry those demons into their adult years. The more demons that come into them in their childhood, the more doors are open for demons to come in during later years. The most common example of early childhood entry point is rejection.
Anyone who has willfully or inadvertently opened the door to the enemy through any of these means is a candidate for deliverance. But for those who are still wondering if they fall into this category, there are some indicators that five us a clue. Examples are: if you have a chronic problem with certain sins that you can’t overcome; if you’re out of control in any area of your life; if you cannot seem to progress spiritually; if something is hindering you from praying or fasting or understanding God’s word.
What should you do if you think you need deliverance? Get into prayer and ask God for help. Forsake, that is forsake, all sins in your life that you know about! Fasting may be needed. Try self-deliverance first; then seek help if that doesn’t work.