The Church has an incredible opportunity available to it to demonstrate the power of the Gospel against the evil demonic forces engulfing today’s society. Just as in Biblical times these forces must be confronted, rebuked, renounced, resisted and where need be exorcised.
The forces of evil and darkness are at work in our homes, community, nation and even in our Churches, as they have never been known before. Today such forces are no longer operating under cover but openly defying the truth of the Gospel, undermining moral standards and destroying Godly values. The New Age and humanistic concepts have crept into all of our systems and social services. The devil is openly worshipped especially through the medium of music, entertainment and the occult. The drug scene is alarmingly expanding, young people being most vulnerable to the exploiting “drug cartels” of our day. Music, entertainment and drugs being amongst the most lucrative markets around the globe are a Mecca for the “get rich quick” merchants with absolutely no concern for the “consumer”. The prospective consumer is enticed to try and as a result their appetite is awakened in much the same way as Adam and Eve was enticed in the garden experience of Gen.3.
Cults and the occult are a little subtler. Many modern day cults have had their beginnings in Christianity often commenced by a founder disenchanted with the so-called Church gathering around him disenchanted Churchgoers. This ministry commenced soon takes shape built around his or her own philosophy of life and interpretation of scripture with self at the centre. The founder or leader usually with a strong charismatic personality soon manipulates and controls his or her followers as in the Jonestown, Waco, Texas and more recently in Kenya. However not all end in such horror. Mormonism and Jehovah Witness being examples of cults centred around an “authority” other than the Lord Jesus and Moral Rearmament centred around a formula or tequneque such as the four absolutes – honesty, purity, unselfishness and love rather than or replacing a living relationship with Jesus Christ. The focus of the cult starts and ends with YOU where as Christianity starts and ends with GOD.
The world of the occult today demonstrates the powers of darkness and brings spiritual bondage to those who engage in it. People are led into the occult for various reasons often seen as a fun thing to do, but clocking a desire to find out about the future as fare asthe individual is concerned. Once opening the “door” in a quest for such knowledge one is led further and further into the damaging world of spirit control. Such practices are forbidden in scripture Deut. 18:9-15. A Biblical example of such deception is given in Acts 8. (Simon the Sorcerer)
We know that Satan is behind and controls these forces through his evil army (demons) referred to in Eph 6:12 as the “rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.
WHAT RESPONSE IS THE CHURCH TO MAKE?
Whilst the Church has enjoyed the privilege of being a part of God’s family and His household Eph. 2:19-22, the Church has neglected her responsibility to make known the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms according to His eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus Eph. 3:10-11.
To carry our that responsibility we need to have an understanding of the Biblical background and the teaching on the material and spiritual worlds, the origin of Satan, demonology, the person and work of Jesus Christ as it relates to the defeat of Satan and the universal nature of spiritual warfare personally, socially and cross-culturally. I do not propose the do that in this paper as I am sure such ground will be covered in other papers presented. We also need to understand the present reality of occult activity worldwide, the enormity of the bondage to drugs and the subtlety of cult movements. Neither do I want to enlarge on this area as daily we are presented via the media, our papers, Television and periodicals such as the Times and Bulletin of such reality.
The Webster dictionary defines a cult as; A system of religious worship// admiration of, or devotion to, a person or thing, a creed or sect. Many are led innocently into cult movements and unfortunately too many of those have been members of Churches but with absolutely no understanding of the World of counterfeit spirits. Consider scriptures such as 1 Tim.4:1, Mat. 24:24, Rev.2:13-15, 2 Thess.2:9, Rev.l3.
The question is often asked, How can I know if a movement is a cult? I have found the following a help in determining that answer.
1. THE ORIGIN OF THE CULT?
a. Who is the Origin of the Cult?
b. Who is its leader?
If Jesus is not the source or the one given glory and honor beware.
2. THE AUTHORITY OF THE CULT?
a. What book is its main authority, e.g. Mormon – Book of Mormon.
The Bible must be our authority.
3. THE ESSENTIAL DOCTINE OF THE CULT?
a. What do they believe about Jesus?
b. What do they believe about salvation?
c. What do they believe about the Trinity?
1. THE METHOD OF THE CULT?
Such as Moral Rearmament–the four absolutes–honest, purity, unselfishness, love. In any cult the method, formula or technique replaces a living relationship with Jesus Christ.
2. THE FOCUS OF THE CULT?
The cult starts and ends with YOU
Christianity starts and ends with GOD.
The Webster dictionary defines the occult as: beyond the range of normal perspective// secret, mysterious, exotic, dealing with magic, alchomy, astrology etc.
Occultism is deceptive and damaging and comes under three headings:-
l. FORTUNE TELLING such as Astrology, palmistry, clairvoyance.
2. MAGIC both black and white such as charms, spells, curses, spirit healing.
3. SPIRITISM such as Table moving and lifting, automatic writing, spirit communication, speaking in a trance.
Portions of scripture to consider are: Is. 8:19, Is.47:13, Deut.18:11.
2 Kings 1:2 (Beelzebub – god of Ekron – to the Jews Lord of the whole realm of the occult.
1 Sam. 28 (Saul’s encounter with the witch of Endor) see addendum 1.
Acts 16:16-17 (Fortune telling demons)
DRUGS, CHEMICAL DEPENDENCY, SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Prevalent in every society today, we frown on youth who have succumbed to the world of Drugs yet many mature age citizens are chemical dependant and not always because it is necessary to Life but often having become “hooked” as a result of illness requiring a Dr prescription for such drugs, many anti-depressing drugs are being abused in this way. In many areas of Society Drugs are an accepted way of life as evident in a recent article in Times magazine. The above are subtle attempts by the devil to control the masses.
Satan as price of demons causes demonic oppression and possession. There are many examples in the gospels, notable the Gadarene demoniac. See also Luke 11:14-26.
HOW DEMONS GAIN POSSESSION
1. OPPRESSION: They weigh mankind down with sorrow, fear, by bad company, outside influences etc. and worry.
2. OBSESSION: Fill the mind with one thought until all resistance is gone. (Must have a drink or smoke or drugs or commit suicide or have sinful sex).
3. POSSESSION: Complete control or takes over at will. 2 Tim 2:26. (Alcoholics, Insanity, Murder, Sex Maniacs etc. The demons have control).
WHERE IS THE CHURCH IN ALL OF THIS
With an understanding of the nature and strategy of the demonic force yet with a greater understanding of the Work of Jesus Christ in relation to Spiritual Warfare (Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil l John 3:8 and to rescue humanity from the Devil Col. 1:13-20, Heb. 2:14-18) where is the Church today? What is the role of Spiritual Conflict in the evangelistic ministry of the Church?
The Church needs to exercise its given authority more aggressively to continue the work of Jesus Christ. To understand how to do this as it relates to evangelism we need only look to the examples of Jesus in the Gospels.
1. We have recorded for us in the incident early in Jesus ministry Mark 1:21-28 of the deliverance of the possessed man in the synagogue at Capernium as a result news of Jesus spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
2. The story of the demonic at Gadarene Mark 5:1-20 and as a result the region of Decapolis was evangelized owing to the obedience of the delivered man in returning home and proclaiming what the Lord had done for him. It is understood that as the Decapolis was a Greek region of 10 cities all but one east of the Jordan, Jesus would not have been welcomed there.
3 The crowds were amazed as they witnessed the deliverance of the dumb man. Matt. 9:32-34
We see the disciples given such authority Matt 10:l., Mark 3:14-15 and the seventy-two Luke 10:1-20. Note verses 17-20 they were rejoicing that demons submitted to them, Jesus affirmed the fact that they had been given such authority but that the rejoicing should be greater over those whose names were recorded in heaven (evangelized as a result).
There are many passages of scripture we could consider but it would be to our advantage to share stories of such impact on the evangelical ministry of the Church as we have witnessed deliverance from the aforementioned.
It is worth noting that Jesus cast our demons but cured the sick. Luke 13:32
He lay hands on the sick but did not lay hands on the demonized. Luke 4:40
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE IN MINISTRY
Over a number of years I have both lectured on Spiritual Warfare and experienced the Ministry of Deliverance over such bondage and it is my firm belief that the Church has a responsibility to exercise the delegated authority of Jesus over the world of darkness.
The ministry of deliverance is that special area of ministry relating to problems in people’s lives caused by the activity of evil spirits.
We need to acknowledge and understand the activities of demons – demonization
There are two position of attack:-
1. External – We are to resist and break that assignment. James 4:7
2. Internal – The spirits must be expelled. Matt.8:l6, Mark l:39
However, before engaging the battle whether deliverance of a demonized person, destroying strongholds over homes, territories, Nations or personal attacks, it is necessary to be well prepared and ready. I have therefore found the following to be essential:-
l. Accept TOTAL mastership of Jesus in every area of our life.
1. Be willing for a TOTAL dealing of the Cross daily in our life.
2. Must be willing to lay down our own life and those of our loved ones Mt.10:37-38
3. We must learn to hear the Lord speak to us in our spirit John 16:12-14
4. We must learn how to bring our mind captive to Christ. 2 Cor. 10:3-5, Rom. 12:2
5. Memorize key scriptures and understand them. 2 Tim. 3:16, 2 Tim 2:15.
6. We must be subject to God’s delegated authority
7. Never underestimate Satan’s power 1 Peter 5:8
WHERE DO WE MINISTER DELIVERANCE?
We have to minister in whatever circumstance and wherever the Lord calls us to minister such deliverance, however, common sense needs to be taken into consideration.
It is a good practice to have at least two ministering and if possible a team of people praying (possibly in another room or place)
HOW TO MINISTER DELIVERANCE
We cast the Demon or demons out in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
However, it is first important to make sure the person to be delivered has been prepared:-
1. The person must recognize that it is Jesus and in His Name that the deliverance will be accomplished.
2. Thorough counselling to make sure all sin and entrance points have been declared. That there is a desire to break with all involvement with the occult practices and destroy any books, idols, fetishes etc.
3. That there has been true repentance and an understanding of what was accomplished at the Cross.
1. That just as they are forgiven, they are prepared to forgive others.
2. Being prepared to continue in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
3. Being prepared to have Christian fellowship with other believers.
Note that failure to “let go and let God” may be the reason why deliverance is not obtained.
USE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS
In my own Ministry I have found it vital to use the gifts of the Spirit such as the Gift of Knowledge, Gift of Wisdom, and of course the Gift of Discerning of spirits. For obvious reasons one needs to operate in the gifting to obtain positive deliverance.
SOME MANIFESTATIONS THAT ACCOMPANY DELIVERANCE ARE:-
Yawning, coughing, screaming, vomiting, body convulsions, voice change, violent behaviour and reactions, extreme strength in a struggle etc.
WHEN IS MINISTRY COMPLETED
When there is a deep godly peace within the person… there is an attitude of Praise and Joy…yet the person may seem drained and tired.
CONTINUING IN VICTORY
Every VICTORY must lead to OCCUPANCY. We must be more that a CONQUEROR.
We must seize the territory won and take possession so that the Enemy cannot recapture it (Num 21:21-32) This goes for deliverance from evil spirits or “Taking Cities”. We must make any counter attack by the enemy impossible, or the end may be worse than the beginning, Matt.12:43-45.
There must be NO VACANCY after VICTORY
In any area of the life where victory has been won – the Holy Spirit must be allowed to create new desires etc. e.g. hate replaced with love – bitterness replaced with Praise and Thanksgiving. Behaviour patterns must be broken. Friendships may need to be terminated.
It must be noted that inner healing may still need to be allowed to take place.
The person must be encouraged to spend time in reading and meditating on God’s Word and the need to establish good prayer patterns must be encouraged.