Today it appears that the Lord is raising up many servants of God especially in charismatic circles who can minister much-needed freedom for saved believers who for some reason are oppressed by demonic forces in various ways—for example, by the unclean spirit of pornography and fantasy lust.
Can a saved believer be demon-possessed? Of course not. A saved believer has been purchased as God’s possession by the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross. But can a believer be demonized or afflicted by a demon in some way? Yes.
It is not necessarily true that once a sinner accepts Christ, all the demons by which he or she was once enslaved or tormented automatically flee. Rather the gospels and Acts tell us that demons had to be purposely cast out either by Jesus or his disciples. Therefore after a person is saved by faith in Jesus Christ, the new believer might need to be set free from the demonic forces which had afflicted him when he was still living in darkness. This is a ministry normally performed by a trained disciple. (Of course since God is sovereign there are and will be exceptions to this.)
We call this ministry to believers “deep-level deliverance.” It involves deliverance from demonic forces deeply embedded in the believers often from childhood. There are believers who although saved are not living the victorious life over sin as they should. They are not experiencing the “life to the full” of which Jesus spoke in John 10:10. It’s possible that they need deliverance.
And so we see the ministry of deliverance experiencing a “revival” of sorts. Since it involves the supernatural it can be quite exciting, especially to charismatic believers. When as the Lord’s disciples we exercise our authority over demons and command them to leave—and they actually obey as apparently evidenced outwardly by physical manifestations in the person being set free—we are much encouraged in our faith in Jesus Christ. It can even be exhilarating to witness demons submitting to our authority in Christ, followed by a dramatic change in the person to whom we are ministering.
“However, there is another ministry more central to the gospel according to the Scriptures…”
As much-needed as the ministry of deliverance for believers is, however, there is another ministry more central to the gospel according to the Scriptures: preaching the gospel to the lost and making disciples. It would behoove us to make this our primary ministry instead of simply deliverance alone. Or at the very least our ministry of deliverance should be leading up to the salvation of souls and the making of disciples of Jesus Christ.
When we preach the gospel as Jesus did and as he taught and commanded his disciples, we will be healing the sick and casting out demons as he commanded.
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:1-2)
Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ (Luke 10:9)
When we obey the Lord’s commands as written above, four things will take place.
- The kingdom of God will be proclaimed to lost sinners and gospel-resistant pagans.
- The sick in their midst will be miraculously healed as evidence to them that Jesus has authority to forgive their sin and grant them eternal life (Mark 2:10-11).
- Demons will be cast out of some as proof to those hearing the gospel that the kingdom of God has come upon them (Luke 11:20).
- As a result, many of not all of the listeners will accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
In another words, we will be preaching the gospel. We will be healing the sick miraculously with power. We will be casting out demons with supernatural authority. And we will witness the greatest miracle of all: the lost receiving eternal life as they come to Jesus Christ. There’s nothing more exciting and exhilarating for a disciple of Jesus than that.
But we will not only be doing that. We will also be teaching other disciples to do the same things as we have been doing just as Jesus commanded us in the Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” (And yes, you might need to minister deliverance as part of the discipling a new believer.)
For me personally there is nothing more exciting and satisfying than that: preaching the gospel, healing the sick, casting out demons, saving the lost, and turning them into disciples who will go on to preach the gospel in the same way. In this way we are bearing fruit that lasts for eternal life (John 15:16; 4:36).
But isn’t casting out demons as Jesus did in the gospels the same as deliverance as it is usually performed today? The answer is no. Casting out demons according to Luke 9:1 is to be in the context of proclaiming the kingdom of God to the lost as evidence to them that the kingdom of God has come upon them according to Luke 11:20. The ministry of deliverance, by contrast, is for saved believers.
Moreover, “deep-level deliverance” is not generally meant for the lost, but rather for believers. When Jesus cast out demons in the gospels as evidence to the lost that he was in fact the promised Messiah, it generally involved demons which caused “surface-level” physical infirmities: blindness, deafness and the inability to speak, epilepsy, and a condition which resulted in a woman having hunchback. By contrast, deliverance for saved believers goes deeper, driving out demons embedded in the believer involving his or her emotions and memories from childhood.
Therefore the ministry of deliverance, as needed and fruitful as it can be, might be considered a prelude for servants of God today to obey the more important and all-encompassing commands as set out in the Great Commission by preaching the gospel to the lost with power and then making disciples of those who are saved.
Why aren’t more servants of God doing this?
It could be that we think healing the sick is somehow mysterious and more difficult than casting demons out of believers. Since we understand that demons are under our authority, it makes sense for us to command the demon to leave, after which it indeed leaves. But when it comes to healing the sick, things become very muddy. “The gift of healing” enters the picture, and we don’t think we have that particular gift. Or we might think that although we have authority over demons, only God has authority over physical diseases and infirmities. And God’s mysterious and unknown will to heal or not to heal also gets involved. The picture can get quite cloudy when we talk about healing the sick as the Church understands it today.
But as Scripture teaches, healing the sick and casting out demons turn out to be simply the two sides of the same coin. If you understand authority and can cast demons out of believers, then you can easily switch over and heal the sick as confirmation of the gospel to the lost!
If you are zealous & desperate to have lasting impact for the Kingdom of God during these last days…