User-Friendly Deliverance - Part II
In continuation of Part 1 . . .
E. Encounters with the Demonic and Deliverance in the Book of Acts
See Acts 5:16; 8:5-8; 13:6-12; 16:16-18; 19:12
Acts 19:13-17 is worthy of special note.
· Acts 19:13 contains the earliest known occurrence in Greek literature of the word "exorcist" (exorkistes) and the only occurrence of it in the NT. Here it is used of the Jewish "exorcists"; it is never used of Christians engaged in deliverance ministry (perhaps because of its magical connotations).
· Paul was engaging in a successful deliverance ministry in Ephesus, as v. 12 indicates. Although the connection is not explicit, it is instructive that Luke appears to link the presence of disease with that of demons as well as the healing from disease with the expulsion of demons.
· Also present in the vicinity of Ephesus were some itinerant exorcists ("who went from place to place"). These were not Jewish Christians, otherwise they would have simply appealed to the name of Jesus as the one whom they preached. Any reference to Paul would have been unnecessary (v. 13). Also, the way the demon speaks of them indicates they were not true believers.
· The demon is here portrayed as an intelligent being, able to converse openly and clearly with humans, to distinguish between Christian and non-Christian, between true faith and false profession. Also, this demon appears to have something of a sense of humor. He is, at minimum, quite sarcastic: "I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who [the heck] are you?" (v. 15).
· The question in v. 15 is not for the purpose of learning their identity (names) or obtaining personal information about them. It is a case in which the demon challenges their right to use the name of Jesus. "I know Jesus. I must bow to his authority and obey. And I know Paul acts in Jesus' name. But who the heck are you that I should obey what you say or pay any attention to your demands?"
· As John Stott points out, "to be sure, there is power --- saving and healing power --- in the name of Jesus, as Luke has been at pains to illustrate (e.g., 3:6,16; 4:10-12). But its efficacy is not mechanical, nor can people use it second-hand" (307). Christians, such as Paul, most certainly do have a right to the name of Jesus and demons must obey.
· This narrative demonstrates that demons are by nature violent and can infuse their victims with superhuman strength (v. 16).
· Does the narrative in Acts 19, especially vv. 11-12, 18-20, suggest that Paul's ministry of deliverance was to believers? Why would we assume that those in v. 12 from whom "evil spirits went out" were all unbelievers?
F. Neil Anderson's approach to Deliverance
Anderson advocates what he calls the truth encounter method of deliverance as opposed to the power encounter.
A truth encounter requires that the demonized or oppressed individual personally renounce the enemy, repent of all known sin, affirm the truth, and submit to the Lordship of Jesus. No one else need be engaged in the process. It is a form of "self-deliverance."
A power encounter occurs when you confront the demon directly and verbally command that it identify itself (name, function, point of entry, etc. [although this is not essential to the power encounter]) and cast it out (to the abyss, to wherever Jesus sends it). Jesus employed the power encounter approach, as did Paul in Acts 16.
Someone described this approach as follows: (1) Expose (discern and document that demonic activity is present), then (2) Engage (identify, name, function, point or ground of entry), and then (3) Expel (in the name and authority of Jesus).
Anderson rejects using a power encounter in deliverance on the following grounds.
(1) Conversing with demons is never advisable because demons are liars (John 8:44).
Response: Certainly demons will try to lie, but they can be compelled to speak the truth when subjected to the authority of Christ. See Mark 1:24 where demons spoke the truth.
(2) The epistles are our guide to deliverance, not the gospels or Acts. The epistles stress what we do for ourselves, not what others do for us. Says Anderson:
"I have not attempted to 'cast out a demon' in several years. But I have seen hundreds of people find freedom in Christ as I helped them resolve their personal and spiritual conflicts. I no longer deal directly with demons at all, and I prohibit their manifestation [How can he "prohibit" their manifestation without addressing them directly?]. I only work with their victims. As helpers, our success is dependent upon the cooperation of the persons we help" (208).
Response: Anderson gives no textual or reasonable theological arguments for rejecting the gospels and Acts as a pattern for deliverance. His position is probably the fruit of his dispensational approach to biblical interpretation. Also, while it is good for the individual to participate in deliverance, a) what about a child or someone who can't perceive the truth sufficiently to work through Anderson's "Steps to Freedom"? b) What if the bondage is so intense as to have crippled the person's ability and strength to work through the steps, or if a person is so thoroughly deceived that he/she doesn't believe the truth or effectiveness of the steps? c) What if the person has been blinded by the enemy (2 Cor. 4:4)?
Anderson's truth encounter is certainly good and helpful and ought to be employed whenever possible. But in cases of severe demonic stronghold or intractable resistance, a direct power encounter may also be required.
(3) Anderson asks the question, "If you expel or cast out a demon from someone, what is to prevent the demon from returning?" In other words, he says that without the involvement of the person, without the responsible activity and mental participation of the victim, the problem may disappear for a while only later to re-emerge.
Response: What prevents a demon from coming back is the same authority and power by which it was compelled to leave in the first place. In Mark 9 Jesus commanded, "never return." So, too, should we. Of course, the person can always re-open the door, but that should not prevent us from helping them get free.
(4) Anderson's approach is cognitive, being a form of self-deliverance. We are not exorcists, says Anderson, but facilitators:
"In a truth encounter, I deal only with the person, and I do not bypass the person's mind. In that way people are free to make their own choices. There is never a loss of control as I facilitate the process of helping them assume their own responsibility before God. After all, it isn't what I say, do or believe that sets people free – it's what they renounce, confess, forsake, whom they forgive and the truth they affirm that sets them free. This 'truth procedure' requires me to work with the whole person, dealing with body, soul and spirit" (Released from Bondage, 17).
Response: In the final analysis, it isn't what "I" say, do or renounce even in the power encounter, but what "I, in the name and authority of Jesus," say and do that brings deliverance. Let us also remember that there is no power inherent in truth. All power is in God. It is the God of truth who has power to set the captives free.
G. A Practical Model for Deliverance
(1) Pray for Discernment
I again emphasize the value of having someone skilled in deliverance and gifted in discernment present with you. Those who are new in deliverance ministry often presumptuously and incorrectly connect demonic spirits with certain emotional and/or psychological symptoms and bizarre behaviors. Whereas we don’t want to ignore demons if they are present, even greater damage can be done by assuming that they are the cause of a problem when they aren’t.
Some important steps in the process of discernment:
· Pray for the Holy Spirit to open your spiritual eyes and speak to you regarding the individual.
· Pray with your eyes open. The presence of a demonic spirit will often lead to physical, visible manifestations.
· Learn (by experience) the signs and symptoms of oppression and demonization.
(2) Instruct the person
· Take time to explain to the individual what you are doing and why. This will help alleviate their fears.
· Explain to them that if they have a demon, this does not mean they are dirty, more sinful than other Christians, sub-spiritual, or unloved of God.
· Instruct the person to cooperate with what is happening by constantly giving you feedback: what they are feeling, thinking, physical sensations, intrusive thoughts, violent or sinful impulses, etc.
(3) Articulate your Authority in Christ
· Begin by verbally declaring the authority of Christ and His supremacy over all demonic spirits.
· Read aloud (or have the person do it) Luke 10:17-20, Ephesians 1:15-23 (esp. v. 21) and Colossians 2:9-15.
· Direct, authoritative prayer and Bible-reading should stir and agitate demonic spirits if they are present. Ask the person if they are hearing or feeling anything unusual when you read the Bible or speak of Jesus and his blood.
(4) Explore the possibility of other than demonic causes
· Never assume too quickly that the problem is demonically caused.
· Conduct an interview of sufficient depth that you explore the possibility of other potential sources for the problem such as: physiological (have they had a physical examination recently?), prescription medication (are they on any?), other organic causes, stress, fatigue, circumstantial issues, relational dynamics, etc.
· Be aware of the fact that even if the presenting problem is caused by something other than a demonic spirit, the Enemy can still aggravate, intensify, and exploit such factors.
(5) Ask the right questions
· Ask the person to give you a personal testimony of faith in Christ. Do they struggle in doing so? Are they able to affirm without agitation or hesitation their submission to the Lordship of Jesus?
· Ask the person if they experience any special hindrances when they engage in spiritual activities such as praying, reading the Bible, worship, etc.
· Ask the person if at any time he/she is feeling anger or hate toward you. Do they feel prompted to assault you either verbally or physically?
· Determine as best you can if any behavior or beliefs of the person may have opened the door to demonic activity. Focus particularly on family history (any involvement of ancestors in the occult or unbiblical practices) and personal sins (idolatry, witchcraft, unforgiveness, sexual immorality, etc.). If something in particular is discovered, lead the person in a prayer of confession, repentance, and repudiation of whatever it is that may have led to demonic intrusion. In short, lead them in a prayer by which they close any doors that may have been opened.
(6) Confront the Enemy
· I have found the most effective strategy is to engage the person in eye-to-eye contact. Explain to them that whereas you will be looking at them, you will not be speaking to them. You will be addressing any demonic spirit that might be present.
· Look directly into their eyes and say: “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and through the power of His shed blood and resurrection life, I take authority over any demonic spirit either present in or around __________ (name of person). In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I command any and every demonic spirit to leave ___________ (name of person) and never return.”
Note: These commands and prayers for deliverance may take any number of forms. You may want to be specific in naming any sins which may have led to the problem. You may want to pray for the Holy Spirit to shine the light of revelation and truth into the person’s heart and mind, dispelling all darkness and confusion, etc. You may wish to pray prayers of protection over the person. Remember: the key is not in particular words or formulas, but in the simple, irresistible authority of the risen Christ in whose name you act.
· If there is a demon present, you can usually expect some form of resistance or physical manifestation. Encourage the person to report to you any impressions, thoughts, emotional impulses, physical sensations, voices, etc. that occur in the course of your prayer.
One of three things is true.
· The demon(s) really did leave.
Its departure may be loud, violent, and visible, or silent, simple, and unseen. Don’t be too quick to draw conclusions about whether it left based on how the person felt or reacted. If you suspect it might still be present, repeat the above procedures.
· The demon(s) is still there.
If it is still present, there are three possible reasons: (1) the person doesn’t want it to go; (2) the demon(s) has moral grounds for staying; or (3) this is an especially powerful demon that requires more prayer, faith, fasting, and concentrated effort on the part of all involved.
· The demon(s) was never there in the first place.
(8) Concluding Prayer
It might be helpful to close with a prayer such as this:
“Father, I thank you that _____________ (name of person) is your child, redeemed by the blood of Christ Jesus, forgiven and justified by faith in His name, and indwelled by the precious and powerful Holy Spirit. Guard him/her. Protect him/her. Surround your child with your angelic hosts. Fill him/her with a renewed sense of your love and the peace that surpasses all understanding.”