Many counseling clients are well-versed in many of the tenets of deliverance ministry. Some have labored exhaustively, with varying degrees of success, to call spirits out of themselves before they come to see us. Why does this approach typically offer limited value and help for those securing freedom?
God is sovereign over all things and is not constrained in any way, shape or form on how He interacts with the world and His people. People can get saved at an altar call in a large crowd while others receive the gift of eternal life all alone in their own room.
Some are healed of physical ailments in a healing line or in a ministry session when the man or woman of God lays hands on them. Others receive their physical wholeness in the middle of worship while some see a release from their infirmity when no one else is around.
We’ve heard many declare that God “delivered” them from demonic strongholds while they were with Him alone; some are in a crowd of people, but others are off by themselves. The one receiving deliverance typically has first taken a step of faith in at least one area: confessing a sin, renouncing a sinful act or forgiving someone. They act and then freedom from demonic torment can follow right away.
It is truly phenomenal when these God-encounters occur. It would make things so much simpler if that’s all there was to it. Some people persist in these self-focused efforts and are reluctant (usually because of pride but sometimes out of unavailability) to explore other avenues for freedom.
I encourage individuals with infirmities to go forward to receive healing ministry if it is offered in a service or church meeting. Some are reluctant (because of pride most frequently) and have concluded that God does not need a man to lay hands on them. They have determined that the Lord alone will heal them when He wants to and the time is right.
My bookshelf is full of deliverance ministry resources, methodologies and processes that try to help people do self-deliverance. Most involve some preparation to address past open doors, including curses, unforgiveness, various sins and more. The teaching frequently concludes with a declarative prayer commanding Satan (and sometimes demons) to leave them alone. I respect many of the authors and centers for these books and know they have an audience because they have seen positive results.
My experience with clients who have focused on self-deliverance is that some may have received a measure of freedom but others lament that nothing happened or that fruit was temporary at best. They experience little real lasting change and were often discouraged. When this happens, people can embrace a theology that somehow their faith isn’t strong enough, or that God will heal them when He is ready. I contend that both of these views are unbiblical and that there may be another answer.
2 Potential Barriers To Self-Deliverance
I have concluded that the self-deliverance approach is only partially useful for many because one or more elements are missing:
- An Open Door That Needs To Be Closed.
One key to receiving a fruitful deliverance is that entry points for torment need to be closed. A second set of competent eyes and ears can often be helpful to help discern something that has been missed.
- Jesus Wants to Use His Body to do the Works of Ministry.
While Christ is the head, He has purposed to move through believers to perform His healing and deliverance ministry on earth. The Holy Spirit is sovereign also and moves on whom He chooses and in His timeframe, however the Bible is very clear about God’s will for healing and deliverance in the church today:
* Mark 16:17-18 – Two of the signs to follow believers are:
* Drive out demons
* Lay hands on sick people so they will recover
* James 5:14 – If one is sick, we are to call the elders of the church so they can anoint us with oil and pray for us
* Matthew 10:8 – Disciples, including us today, are called to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and cast out demons
* 2 Corinthians 12 – talks about signs and wonders and also the gift of healing by the Spirt that we are to walk in.
* Acts – full of accounts of signs and wonders by Stephen, Philip and others.
God has raised up many anointed healing and deliverance ministries to help set the captives free! I believe it is consistent with His word and will that people humble themselves to receive ministry from others in their time of need. Those who are not anointed but skilled in these areas can bring great insight and knowledge to the spiritual issues at work that may be hindering the manifestation of healing and deliverance.
Jesus did empty the hospitals and deliver every person that He came across. However, He did minister to all who came to Him out of their faith (however small) and desperation. When I see both of these present in clients, I know that God will do a work in them and I have an opportunity to partner with Him to see the victory! What a blessing!
It is perfectly acceptable to pursue healing and deliverance on our own because the Holy Spirit can sovereignly set us free. If this is not bearing the fruit you desire, then I encourage you to humble yourself if necessary and help from competent brothers and sisters in the Lord. Christ’s church is His body and He wants to partner with us to bring glory to His Father. What could be better?
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