The terms “spiritual warfare” and “deliverance ministry” are bandied about frequently in the church. One in particular can evoke strong emotions and the divergence in views and understanding is as broad as the Red Sea!
What follows is my perception of the linkage between the two. The best definition of spiritual warfare is given by Paul in Ephesians 6:12 – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (NIV). We battle spiritual forces of evil and understand that Jesus, by virtue of his death and resurrection, has secured the victory but the battles continue. As individuals, our spiritual warfare on this earth ends only when Jesus comes back or if we graduate into glory first as our earthly body assumes room temperature.
The bible talks about three heavens and the book of Daniel details one encounter in the second heaven (“heavenly realms”) where the answer to Daniel’s prayer was delayed by warfare there (Daniel 10:12-13). Warfare there involves demon princes who have authority over earthly kingdoms, cities, churches and the like. Many believers focus their intercessory prayer in this realm but this is not the focus of deliverance ministry.
The third heaven is where the throne room of God is located and Paul was transported there (2 Cor. 12:2). The first heaven, the earthly realm, is where we eat, sleep and breathe. Demonic spirits operate here also and there purpose is to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). One aspect of spiritual warfare involves discerning (1 Cor 12:9-10) and resisting (James 4:7) demon spirits so they will leave us alone.
Much of the church, at least the Pentecostal/charismatic crowd, attempts to address this and encourages people to resist and rebuke demons. Sadly, you cannot fight what you cannot see and the gift of discernment is not operating as powerfully in the body of Christ as much as it could because very little is taught on it and relatively few eagerly desire it as Paul commanded.
Deliverance ministry is, quite simply, the driving out of demons. Demons reside in a person’s body or soul (not their born-again spirit) and this too is part of the greater spiritual warfare umbrella. Sadly, again, relatively few in the body of Christ believe in this important ministry and some are openly antagonistic against those of us who engage in it.
Deliverance ministry, like a golf club in a bag of many, is one available resource that Christ has given, rather commanded, his church to use to help bring people into spiritual wholeness. He said that one of the signs to follow believers was that they would cast out demons (Mark 16:17).