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The Scholar's Corner - Deliverance Ministry 2 articles

Casting out Demons

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I have been in the pastoral ministry only about three and one half years. But through a small prayer fellowship that meets in my house, we have been called into a ministry of prayer and intercession that includes delivering those who have been afflicted with demons. Admittedly, I am a younger brother in this ministry, and I kind of tag along to see what the Lord is doing, but because it is not anything like I expected, I thought that if I shared my discoveries with you, it might put your mind at ease about serving in this ministry yourself.

A couple of years ago, I could never have imagined myself having anything to do with a deliverance ministry. That was the last thing I wanted. I yearned for a ministry of healing, besides, I thought, "those who cast out demons are super-Christians." I never thought that I could ever have enough faith for a ministry like that. The idea also scared me a little bit. The only knowledge I had of casting out demons was what I read in the Scriptures, and I knew I didn't have the power or the confidence to command demons like Jesus did. So my perceptions of this ministry lay somewhere between Mark 9: 14-29 and the movie The Exorcist. It conjured up visions of a lot of hocus-pocus and superstitious magic, and I wanted nothing to do with it. I am sure there are many of you who feel that way.

Well, I know this ministry is of the Lord, because I certainly didn't seek it. And the Lord did a lot to prepare me for it. He has been healing me of my wounds and cleansing me of my imperfection. But last year something happened that made me able to enter this ministry without fear. Paul says in Romans 8:15, "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him you cry 'Daddy, Father.'" But even though Paul says that, I found that whenever we would discuss the demonic in our prayer fellowship, it would create anxiety and tension in me. So, I brought this up to the group. And an older brother in the Lord, named Lew Rossi, asked me when it all started. And I remember the first time I ever felt this anxiety was when I was about 8 years old and stayed up to watch my first horror movie, called The House on Haunted Hill. And ever since that time, horror movies, especially vampire movies, and eerie music would make my skin crawl and create a great fear inside me. And most of my nightmares had to do with vampires and a feeling of helplessness. So, I avoided all these things like the plague. But the problem was, I still had a fear of Satan and of the occult. And it wasn't a holy fear – it was just plain fear. But the Bible says we are not supposed to have a spirit of fear, but of sonship.

Guess what -- I had a spirit of fear. I don't know the proper term; oppression, affliction, or what; but this spirit prevented me from fighting the Lord's battles because it made me afraid of the supernatural and made me lose confidence in the Lord's power. This fear is Satan's chief weapon against us: since he has no real power, he tries to create in us a feeling of helplessness and victimization and terror, so that we will be afraid to fight him. And he does this very effectively through horror movies, occult involvement, drugs, threats, etc. He must keep us in slavery through fear, because as soon as we are not afraid of him, his battle is lost and he will run from us; so he does his best to create that feeling of terror inside of us.

You know that in the Old Testament those who were afraid or timid were excused from battle and were sent home from the war. Well, Jesus wants us to have no fear at all in this battle with Satan's kingdom; for when we stand our ground, Satan flees. But if you have fear, you cannot do battle against demons, and so you are of no use to the Lord in this area. If you have fear of the supernatural, you are not yet complete.

Well, this fear that plagued me for 25 years was lifted from me very quickly and simply. I never believed it could happen because it had been a part of me for so long. I assumed it was part of my personality or nature. But Lew led me through a prayer asking Jesus to forgive me for my sin of watching this movie, accepting his forgiveness by faith, and then I just commanded Satan to leave in Jesus' name. And guess what! He did! And the fear I had of the demonic is gone! It is still hard for me to believe, but it has been 1/2 a year since I have known any fear. And this absence of fear now feels normal!

Since January, Lew and I, together with the prayer group, have been called to minister to people who have occult involvement. There has been an rise in Satanism and satanic cult activities and witchcraft in our area, especially among the young, including ritual sacrifice of animals; and so the need has been very great. We have spoken to PTA's and been given the opportunity to present the Gospel in secular settings because of the fear people have of the satanic and its consequences. What is more, we are able to show that Jesus is the only alternative to Satanism and that Jesus alone has the power to fight the demonic.

Now the really good news: casting out demons is no big deal. It is not as scary as I thought it would be. It is no more mystical or magical than praying for healing. In fact, it is usually as gentle and peaceful as that type of intercession. We just bind the demons in Jesus name before we minister, and we command them to be silent so they don't create a ruckus. And as for being a super-Christian; I've found that it just isn't so. As my friend Lew says, "It takes more faith to heal the sick than to cast out demons. To heal the sick, it takes faith. To cast out demons, it doesn't take any faith at all. All it takes is the name of Jesus."

Finally, if reading this article has caused you any anxiety or tension, you probably have a spirit of fear and that is not from God. God does not want you to suffer from this, but he wants you to be a fearless warrior on the battlefield of faith so that you can minister to others and deliver them from their fears. If you are afraid of Satan and the occult, or have a very nervous personality, or are subject to severe depression, make sure you are in a prayer fellowship of Spirit-filled (or Spirit released) believers so they can help you in prayer as necessary. But right now just ask Jesus to forgive you of any occult involvement of any type {Ouija boards, horoscopes, transcendental meditation, Tarot cards, horror films -- whatever God shows you has brought fear into your life.}. Ask Jesus to forgive you of this, and by faith accept his forgiveness. Then just command Satan to leave you in Jesus' name.

A sample prayer. "Lord Jesus, I confess my disobedience to you for my involvement in __________, and I ask you to forgive me for seeking life in these things. By faith, I accept your forgiveness. I thank you Lord for forgiving me. And now, I command you Satan to leave me in Jesus' name."


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last issue, I wrote to you concerning the work of our prayer group in a deliverance ministry. For those of you who find yourself being called into this ministry on occasion, I thought a few practical guidelines might be of help. Although there is no substitute for learning from other brothers and sisters in Christ who are experienced in this ministry, some of you may find yourself on the battlefield, called by Christ, without much training or support.

First of all, I want you to be aware that there is an awful lot of magic and superstition associated with the idea of casting out demons. Most of these ideas come to us through non-Christian sources like movies, television, and novels. Unfortunately, some of our misunderstandings can come to us from other Christians who, through lack of balanced teaching and instruction, pass on a mixture of emotionalism and magic. And a lot of our superstition is visible in the way we approach this ministry. If, for example, we feel like we need to sprinkle holy water and wave a crucifix, we are already being misled by medieval superstition. Oil, in itself, has no supernatural power, and yet people rely on it to excess, coating their homes with it. As a sign of anointing with the Holy Spirit it has some value, but Satan is not as superstitious as we are. Jesus does not want us to be sidetracked from our relationship to him. The authority for delivering people from demonic oppression does not rest in oil, but in the name of Jesus. And it is the name of Jesus that Satan fears, not Holy Water, crucifixes, rosaries, rote prayers, or incantations. The offensive weapon, the sword of the Spirit, is the Word of God. It is the name of Jesus that delivers the oppressed from bondage.

The most important thing to realize when you approach a deliverance ministry is that it is not a contest. The battle is over and the enemy is already defeated. Jesus has overcome the powers of the Evil One (1 Col. 2:15). If you want to deliver someone from demonic oppression, just say, "Satan, in the name of Jesus Christ, I bind you and your power. And in Jesus' name I command you to leave this person." That sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? Maybe even too simple. But it is important to remember that it is not our faith that causes Satan to leave; it is the name of Jesus. Just as a prisoner can be ordered here and there by the warden; so Satan must obey Jesus; for Satan is Jesus' prisoner. If you are a guard in a prison and you tell a prisoner where to go, the prisoner has no choice but to obey you. So it is for us when you minister in the name of Jesus; Satan has no choice but to obey you; for you are the warden's representative on this earth.

Now, just because we have power and authority, it does not mean that we will be able to cast out every demon. The issue is far more complex than that. Even though the Lord has given us this authority, he has not taken away the free will of those to whom we minister. Some people are not ready to be delivered, and some do not want to be delivered. Only the Lord knows the heart. So, don't be surprised if you meet with resistance and apparent "failure." Strange as it might seem, it may be an act of the Lord's mercy that he does not deliver the afflicted. For remember, Jesus said that if a demon is driven out of a person, but that person does not repent and fill up the empty space with the Holy Spirit, the demon returns to the person with seven spirits more evil than itself, so that the final state of the person is worse than if he had never been delivered at all, (Luke 11: 24-26). The Lord knows the heart, and if someone is not ready to repent, then it may be an act of His mercy that the person is not set free. So, do not be discouraged if your deliverance ministry does not always meet with success, and do not despair or think it is because of your lack of faith that you fail. If a person is ready to repent, the Lord will deliver them, no matter how inexperienced you are. And if a person is unrepentant, the Lord may not deliver them, no matter how much faith you have.

I believe that there are several conditions which are necessary for a person to be delivered from demonic oppression. I may not have a full understanding of how God works, but this has been our experience.

1) A person must realize he needs help and must want it: just like an alcoholic who will not admit he has a problem, you will have a hard time bringing a long lasting change into a person's life if he will not admit he has a need.

2) If he or she is not already born again, during your process of ministry, the person must, at some point, be ready and want to receive Jesus Christ and be saved: a person cannot be set free of demonic influences for very long without coming under the lordship of Jesus Christ.

3) And finally, they must experience a true repentance and truly desire to turn to Jesus. For example, they cannot want to continue in their occult practices and immoral behavior, or they will soon fall back into bondage.

We have witnessed many, who after a period of freedom, gradually reject Jesus' lordship in areas of their life and then fall back into old habits. And oppression soon follows. So, don't expect every success to be sustained. The easy part is deliverance; the hard part is obedience. And many who are delivered decide not to follow. So don't be too surprised when you see this happen.

Finally, let me give you some practical guidelines for the ministry of deliverance. First of all, it is important that you rest in the Lord's presence and be led by his peace. Do not go out in a spirit of anxiety or obligation. You are not responsible for "saving" the other person. The Lord will bring to your door or to your prayer fellowship those who are in need. Do not go out in your own strength; nor be led astray by your compassion. Just because you see that some one is afflicted, it does not mean that they are ready to receive the Lord's ministry. If they are ready, the Lord will lead them to you or to someone. You don't have to go looking for them.

Second, always minister in teams of 2 or more. The Lord does not need any hot-dogs or glory hounds in his service. Even Paul went out with Barnabas or Silas or other equals. If an apostle needed that support, who are we to do without it?

Third, either in silent prayer or group prayer before you start to minister, bind Satan and command him to be silent. In this way, the Lord will allow you to minister to the person and get at the root of the disease without so much interference.

Fourth, pray with your eyes open! You've got to be on your toes when you are dealing with the afflicted because demons will sometimes strike out at you through the person who is afflicted. (If that happens, command them to be still in Jesus' name.) So keep your eyes open!

Fifth, look for occult involvement in the person's past or present which may have opened the door for demonic oppression. This is not always the case, but it is very common. You can do this very gently by asking questions: "have you ever played with a Ouija board or have you studied meditation or studied under a guru? Have you gone to a fortuneteller, a medium, or used Tarot cards? Have you practiced witchcraft?" There are so many ways to have occult involvement that it is not practical to list them here, but they are at the root of a lot of demonic activity.

Fifth, look for areas of unforgiveness towards others or for unconfessed and unrepentant sin. The Lord will help you discover these or he will bring them to the person's mind.

Once you have identified the root or roots of sin, lead the person through a prayer of confession. If they are not saved, have them receive Jesus. After they asked for forgiveness, have them thank Jesus by faith, and have them command Satan to leave in Jesus' name.

Finally, you may find resistance of the demons to leave. A person may allow you to minister to them for only so long. Bill Rudge, a man who ministers in Sharon, PA, says, "If you have to pray longer than a half an hour for deliverance, you are no longer dealing with a demon; you are dealing with a problem of the will." A person may be refusing to repent, to forgive, or to ask for forgiveness. This is a real, spiritual block to the ministry; and often you may have to accept this limit, and wait until some future time when the person is finally and truly ready to be completely cleansed.

I know that some of you may have much more dramatic testimony than I have. You may have seen the Lord overcome these spiritual blocks through a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit. (If you have an understanding of how or why this exceptional grace operates, I would love to be instructed.) But my main purpose in giving this counsel is to help you understand and accept the limits of your responsibility as you begin this ministry, so that you will not feel like it all depends upon you or your faith. It is not your faith that is being tested. This is a contest between a defeated enemy and God.

The Rev. Jeff Peterson

Dead Sea Scrolls

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