Jesus drove demons out of many people. Were they saved? Did they believe in him before he did that? Should deliverance ministers drive demons out of people without consideration of their spiritual condition?
We have ministered deliverance to thousands of people at Above & Beyond and I want to put forth our perspective on this very important question.
Salvation has always been tied to faith, even before the cross. Old testament believers had to believe the promises of Yahweh and that the remedies for sin worked for them. After the cross, the dynamic for us changed: believe in the finished work of Christ and His resurrection from the cross, and be committed to making him Lord of our life.
As Christian counselors and deliverance ministers, we try to assess each client’s spiritual condition. We ask, “If you died today, where would you be, in heaven or in hell?”. That’s a no-nonsense question and we measure each response. Only the Lord knows for sure, but one can draw reasonable conclusions from the answers.
Is the person saved, religious or both?
Determining Salvation State Prior to Deliverance
As you look at the works of Christ, one thing stands out. He did not put people through a spiritual grilling or special prayer before he healed or delivered them. What he looked for was desperation and a level of faith that he (Jesus) could meet their need. Scriptures abound with examples of this dynamic (Matthew 8:16, Mark 6:56, Matthew 8:8, Luke 6:19, Matthew 9:21 to name only a few). Those who came to him on their own accord clearly had “enough” faith to satisfy Christ and he met their need.
We try to follow Christ’s example as follows:
- Do they believe in their heart, and confessed with their mouths, that Jesus is Lord, and, are they committed, going forward, to making him the Lord of their lives? It’s admittedly a judgment call on our part, but we are comfortable with our role in that dynamic? Salvation involves more than praying a prayer at the altar. Eternal life is a gift we receive by grace, through faith, but if it is genuine works will follow (James 2:14-26).
- We emphasize the importance of discipleship and growing in Christ after deliverance because when the devils are kicked out, they will come back, looking for an open door (Matt 12:45-47).
- We want to be certain that each one coming for deliverance is there by their own free will – that they have a measure of desperation and faith that Jesus will do a work. Those who come under duress (“my wife/husband/mother/father thinks I have a problem”) rarely reap lasting fruit.
We have no problems declining or delaying deliverance for someone for any of the following reasons:
- They are not willing to receive Jesus as their Lord and savior (rare)
- They will not commit to ceasing sinful and willful behavior by their own free will. Most common examples include:
- Ending a sexual relationship
- Setting proper boundaries with a controlling individual. What purpose does it serve to get set free yet not be able to stay free?
- There are instances where we will look delivery on a commitment before proceeding. For example, a counselee may indicate their willingness to cease sexual activity with their unmarried partner. We tell them to call back and make an appointment after thirty days (flexible) of success. That directive puts the onus on them to engage in responsible behavior for some period. We don’t try to monitor that; the Holy Spirit excels in the conviction business!
While Jesus was hanging on the cross, the thief next to him received the gift of eternal life without fanfare or fancy words. That dying man knew, and confessed, that Jesus did not deserve the same and asked for him to remember him. Remember him! Jesus told him that he would be with him that day in paradise. Faith in action leading to great blessings!
Does one need to be saved to be delivered? Having unsaved people been delivered of demons, then receive Jesus and move on in their walk with Him? I’m sure of it but we take a different route.
At Above & Beyond, we have determined that the best approach is to be comfortable with the salvation issue first, coupled with the confidence in the client’s commitment to walk with Christ going forward. We are not judge and jury, but we do the best we can in one or more follow up sessions to help guide them to the narrow road that leads to life (Matt 7:12-14).
You might be reading this and have an unsaved loved one in mind who needs deliverance? Keep praying, binding up the devils in them (Matt 16:19) and schedule an appointment with one of our counselors if you need more direction.
*More Ways to Enjoy This Post*