You must have encountered churches in Kenya that do weekly deliverance services, either across the street or on some TV channel. Week in and week out, the pastors of these churches are usually caught up in battles with demons and dark forces. Members of the congregations of these churches will be either screaming, falling or rolling on the ground in response to the man of God’s ferocious commands. However, if one was to observe closely, it is often the same people being delivered repeatedly. But what is the goal of these services, their genuineness and the biblical stance?
The Spiritual Realm and Evil Spirits
First, we must acknowledge that there is a spiritual realm with rulers and authorities (Ephesians 6:12-18). Chief amongst these rulers and authorities is the devil himself (Genesis 3:1-6, 1 Peter 5:8), and he has many demons (fallen angels) operating under him (Mark 1:27, Ephesians 6:12). Scripture also tells us how the devil and his demons inflict harm on earth. Here are a few examples of what they do.
- Possess people to cause them physical and spiritual harm (Matthew 12:22; Mark 5:1-20) and lead them to do evil to other people (Luke 22:3-4)
- Blind the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4)
- Deceive people by disguising themselves as “servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)
- Promote false doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1) and perform signs to deceive people (Revelation 16:14)
- Oppress believers (2 Corinthians 12:7)
The Bible clearly states that the devil and his demons have real power. However, their power doesn’t even compare to the power of God. Jesus healed many who were demon oppressed and possessed by casting the demons out (Matthew 8:16). Scripture tells us that through the power and name of Jesus, believers can cast out demons as an accompaniment to the proclamation of the Gospel (Mark 16:15-17).
We must be keen on semantics because the scripture in Matthew 16:15-17 does not say that the believers will become demon hunters, running everywhere, seeking out the demons and spirits. Instead, Jesus, in Mark 16:17, said that signs will “accompany” those who believe, not them using signs to draw people in for their gain. Also, we cannot conclude that this means all believers will be able to perform these signs and that they will happen all the time. To infer from this scripture and other accompanying texts, it is dangerous if demon slaying is the norm in church life. This is because it can easily lead us to misinterpret God and his work among us. Further, people will end up elevating miracles above the Gospel, which is having everything upside down.
The scriptures openly declare that some believers cast out demons (Acts 5:16, 8:7, 16:16-18, 19:11-12), others spoke in tongues (Acts 2:4, 10:46, 19:6, 1 Cor. 12:10, 28), and still, others healed the sick (Acts 9:17, 28:8). As we submit ourselves and abide in Jesus (John 15:4), he will cause these works to follow us. Because of such, it is not the preacher’s prerogative to plan where, when and how the possessed man will be released. The works or signs follow the preacher and his gospel proclamation, not vice versa (Mark 16:20).
Questions about Deliverance Ministries
Now, there are things we must question about these miracles we see. Some biblical qualifications and truths must be used as a plumbline for measuring the genuineness of deliverance ministries and any other ministry.
- Price tags for deliverance
In Matthew 10:1-15 Jesus sends out his disciples to do ministry. He gives them the authority to cast out demons and instructs them to do so (Matthew 10:1, 8). Notice that he commands them to go to the house of Israel alone–in this instance–and perform the following ministries (which he had ordained in advance), namely, healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the leper and casting out demons (Matthew 10:5-8). We cannot quickly pass over the last phrase in verse 8, “You received without paying; give without pay.” Therefore, we see an instance where Christ outrightly instructs the disciples not to receive any pay for the miracles they perform. It is even in God’s nature to bless his people without money (Isaiah 55:1).
Since the days passed, the LORD qualified His gifts of miracles to humanity by this one thing; they are free of charge! Putting a price tag on God’s work contradicts God’s nature. Peter and John ministered to the lame man at the beautiful gate without price. Peter said, “I have not silver or gold, but what I do have I give to you” (Acts 3:6). That is what any Gospel ministry should be about because we did not work for or pay for the ability to perform the miracles; therefore, we should not charge others for any miracle (Acts 8:19-20).
- Recurring Deliverances
The second question we must wrestle with is the recurrence of such experiences in deliverance ministries. In such cases, either of these two things can be true: what is happening is not genuine, or the people who fill up these places have no idea what it means to be set free by the Son of God (Mark 3:22-27, 2 Corinthians 5:17). So, again, let us use the Scripture as our plumbline against these matters. In Acts 2:42-47, we see the description of what the church of Christ is supposed to be like. In the maiden fellowship of all that would be called ‘church’, continual demon exorcism was not one of the proper marks of a Spirit-filled, Christ-centered church. Instead, the apostles focused on teaching and communion, and prayers. When they went out, signs and wonders happened through them (Acts 8:7, 16:18, 19:22). But deliverance was certainly not planned for weekly.
Now, whether this is agreeable to you or not, Scripture is clear about how one gets faith; by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Afterwards, one walks in the faith by abiding in the vine, who is Christ (John 15:1-5, Colossians 3:1-3). Christ raised an important matter when he talked about the way the demons work when they are exorcised. He said that they go around and seek another place to settle. If they lack one, they come back to where they were removed. If they find the heart is cleansed and empty- delivered from demons but not having the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13), they bring seven others, and the person’s condition becomes worse than it was at first (Matthew 12:43-45). So if you are born again, you have the Holy Spirit; otherwise, you’re not born again (Romans 8:9, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13). Where the Spirit of the Lord is, demons will not be able to inhabit because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
The gospel truth about Being in Christ
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:17 that the one joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with God, and again in 2 Corinthians 6:15-16, he adds that there is no harmony between Christ and Satan. The fundamental belief is that there is much more in the spirit world than our minds are able to comprehend fully. The Holy Spirit indwells all saints, and where the LORD is, there is no darkness (1 John 1:5).
In general, Biblical salvation implies the following:
- We have been removed from the domain of and transferred into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). We are entirely delivered and protected from Satan by the Lord (Romans 8:37-39).
- We are more than conquerors through Christ (Romans 8:37-39). A conqueror is simply one who is above others; in Christ, we are precisely that.
- God gives us victory through Jesus and leads us in triumph, not in defeat and desperation (1 Corinthians 15:57, 2 Corinthians 2:14).
- We have overcome the evil one because the One in us is greater than the one in the world (1 John 2:13, 4:4).
- It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, not for bondage (Galatians 5:1)
If one affirms all these things, it is absurd to claim that demons can possess and take charge of genuine believers. In essence, believing such claims undermines Christ’s work; his death, burial, resurrection and ascension.
The scriptures tell us in James 4:7 that our responsibility is two-fold:
- Submit and trust in God. Surrender to God through and through, and walk in obedience to him. Let Christ be Lord over every aspect of your life. This is what it means to glorify God with your life.
- Resist the Devil. Because you are submitted to God’s power, he will enable you to resist the devil and his schemes. The Devil can cause harm, as he did Job (Job 1:6-12), but he will not pluck you from God’s hands (John 10:28).
As a caution, please stop being taken advantage of by men and women who are swindling you, not only financially but spiritually too. The remedy; get down to studying the Scriptures. Trust our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ because in him, we are free indeed.