To Drink Wine, or Not?

The stance of a Christian toward intoxicating drinks or stimulants is one that crops up time and again in Bible study and discipleship classes. It is a legitimate area of discussion because the witness we give to the world about our faith really matters.

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Pet. 2:12).

Several Christian denominations teach that moderate alcohol is permitted but excess drinking is unwholesome.

Reading some of their arguments for this position, one has a feeling they are influenced more by the prevalent culture – particularly western culture – than a willingness to subjugate one’s desires to scriptural dictates.

But Americanism or Eurocentricism is not Christianity. There are some practices that may be deemed acceptable in American, Danish or Irish societies, but the Bible carries the highest authority to arbitrate on these matters.

While opinions differ on wine issues, scientific studies are establishing that the harmful effects of intoxicating drinks exceed their benefits.

Some scientific studies actually show that alcohol consumption can result in erectile dysfunction and low testosterone in men. However, the questions on many lips are:

Should Christians avoid alcoholic beverages? Does the word “wine” in the Bible refer to all fermented drinks – beer, whiskey, cocktails or brandy? Are certain kinds of wine permitted for believers? Or are we to do away with any kind of wine – natural palm wine, grape or other fruit wine?

In sound biblical interpretation, you don’t force a single meaning onto a word when that is used in conversely different ways.

The Bible calls Jesus a Lion and it also refers to the devil as a lion, but that doesn’t mean Jesus is the devil.

Similarly, looking at the Bible, we see that there are two kinds of wine. Though the term “wine” is used, the contexts determine which type is being referred to.

The Bible presents us with the benefits that one kind of wine offer and the damage that the other type does in the lives of those who indulge in it. They are:

Good wine

The Bible describes wine as a good drink and also points at the consequences of its use as desirable.

Different terms are employed by the Bible to describe this kind of wine: “the best of the wine” (Num. 18:12) and “new wine” (Neh. 10:37, 39).

It’s mentioned as part of the blessing or prosperity in the land.

“May God give you of the deal of heaven…and plenty of grain and wine.” (Gen. 27:28); “He will give rain for your land in its season…that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil.” (Deut. 11:14).

It’s referred to as wine from the vine “which cheers gods and men” (Judges 9:13).

The Bible clearly mentions the benefits of this kind of wine and this can be seen in the way it was used as an offering to God in the verses above.

It must be noted that yeast which was used to make wine intoxicating was forbidden with all sacrifices, so the wine mentioned in the temple sacrifices were not intoxicating (“Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast” Exodus 23:18; 34:25).

Leaven or yeast was also used as a symbol of sin and wasn’t acceptable in offering sacrifices to God.

This good wine was used to quench thirst or refresh. “He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and olive oil” (Deut. 7:13)

Then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine” (Prov. 3:10).

It was also used as a symbol of spiritual blessing or of the Holy Spirit (Prov. 9:2; Song 5:1; Eph. 5:18). This is non-fermented “new” or non-alcoholic wine which is permitted.

Strong drink

This kind of wine is the fermented brand, variously described as “mixed wine,” “strong drink”, venomous “poison” and “staggering wine”:

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.” (Prov. 23:29-30).

And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink: The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, They are confused by wine, they stagger from strong drink; They reel while having visions, They totter when rendering judgment.” (Isa. 28:7).

The dogs have a mighty appetite; they never have enough. The shepherds also have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all. “Come,” they say, “let us get wine, let us fill ourselves with strong drink…” (Isa. 56:11-12)

Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down. For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper.” (Prov. 23:31-32).

You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger.” (Ps. 60:3).

It is also described as a “mixture” (Ps. 75:8), “the cup of trembling” (Isa. 51:17), and “the wine cup of fury” (Jer. 25:15). Those who drink this type of wine are described as “sick” and “inflamed with wine” (Hos. 7:5).

In Jeremiah 35, we read about the Recabites (those who descended from Moses’ father in law) who refused to take wine:

Then I set bowls full of wine and some cups before the Rekabites and said to them, “Drink some wine.” But they replied, “We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jehonadab son of Rekab gave us this command: ‘Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine.” (vv. 5-7).

This couldn’t be referring to the good wine God promised as a blessing to His people, but fermented wine. Though the term “wine” is still used, the context indicates which kind of wine it is.

The wine apologists

• Those arguing for drunkenness fail to make the necessary distinctions between “good/sweet wine” and “intoxicating/strong wine” but intentionally blur the lines in order to cement their own agenda.

• They also appeal to the instance of Jesus giving the disciples at the Last Supper wine as a legitimation of taking intoxicating wine.

An evidence that the wine served at the Last Supper wasn’t intoxicating can be seen in the fact that leaven/yeast which was used to ferment sweet wine was forbidden for use by Jews during the Passover.

God gave them the law that any Jew who must participate in the Passover must not eat leaven (Ex. 23:18; Lev. 6:17). There’s no reason to suggest that Jesus would break the ceremonial law by identifying with sin, particularly giving or taking intoxicating wine, prior to the Passover.

Another problem for those using this text as a prop is: the drink at the Lord’s Supper is never called wine. The Greek words there are tou genēmatos tēs ampelou meaning “the fruit of the vine.” (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18).

• Most commentators who are pro-social drinking allude to the miracle of Jesus changing water into wine are the wedding of Cana of Galilee (John 2:8-10). This is Jesus’ first miracle in the NT and we need to get a clear picture of it.

Dr. Elmer Towns enunciates:

“Nature’s process to make wine (sweet) is by bringing water from the clouds to the earth, up through the vine into the grape, finally to be crushed into a juice. The miracle followed this process at the wedding although the process was speeded up into an instantaneous act. Making intoxicating wine involves allowing the grape to rot and adding man’s creative elements (leaven) to produce alcohol. God said, “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly” (Prov. 23:31). As God, Jesus could not have contradicted this command from Proverbs and provided wine for the guests at the wedding meal.” (Bible Answers For Almost All Your Questions, Thomas Nelson, TN, 2003, p. 19).

From the passage itself, a distinction is made between “poorer wine” (Greek: elasso) and “good/superior wine” (Greek: kalon).

Intoxicating wine is not the superior or good wine, it’s the inferior wine. We need to be careful of all those who argue otherwise.

• Another desperate argument in support of Christians taking intoxicating wine is to latch on to the accusation of the enemies of Christ that he was a “winebibber” unlike John the Baptist who didn’t take any strong drink (Matt. 11:19 KJV).

One Jehovah’s Witness friend told me rather defiantly, “Jesus drank with sinners, so He drank alcohol.” This statement was quite revealing, since it is an attack on the sinlessness of Jesus Christ.

By alleging that Jesus indulged in sin with sinners, he’s telling us that Jesus is not really a Saviour and that it’s also necessary for us to drink alcohol with sinners, even though celebrating Fathers’ day or Mothers’ day or birthdays with them can mark us for destruction. What a convoluted logic!

Studying the NT, you won’t find any record of Jesus ever tasting wine, not even sweet wine (although He probably enjoyed sweet wine). Second, the verse appealed to is a claim by Jesus’ enemies.

The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

Jesus went to the feast to preach the gospel to them and deliver them from sin – including the sin of drunkenness – but His enemies maliciously accused Him of being a “drunkard.” That’s like someone accusing me of being a stoner because I went to preach to a gang of cannabis addicts.

• Another tactic is for the strong wine teachers to create a moral allowance for drunkenness by creating an artificial distinction between “drinking moderately” or “drinking in excess.”

“It’s not a sin to drink moderate alcohol but it’s a sin when you indulge in it excessively,” they argue.

All you have to do to see the danger lurking in this argument is to replace alcohol with another sin:

“It’s not a sin to fornicate or commit adultery moderately but it becomes a sin only when you indulge in it excessively.”

“It’s not a sin to steal moderately but it becomes a sin only when you indulge in it excessively.”

“It’s not a sin to tell lies moderately but it becomes a sin only when you indulge in them excessively.”

Can you see the warped reasoning this is? Is there any sin in God’s Word that is permitted only in moderation?

Considering the nuance of human variation, who exactly gets to set the definite standard between taking alcohol in moderation and in excess?

The US Department of Health and Human Services says one drink or less per day for women or two drinks or less per day for men qualifies for moderate drinking. But this is quite dicey and is not applicable to everyone.

It has been scientifically established that the human body acclamatizes to the intake of alcohol such that the quantity that can make you tipsy varies within few months. But if you start out with a bottle of alcohol, your body soon gets used to it until you want more and more of it.

On the other hand, those who abstain from alcohol for months will find just one bottle quite intoxicating. The fact is: drunkenness is drunkenness. It’s a matter of action, not its degree.

I have personally known and lived with religious people who subscribe to this broken cistern of “moderate” drunkenness and I don’t know of a single one of them that didn’t become a full-blown drunk within a period of time.

That is the deceptive power of sin. “I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free,” was Samson’s rationalization after his consecration had been shaved off in the valley of Sorek.

Bondage to sinful habits usually start out with that sweet little voice in our heads: “I’ll just do it a little and walk away from it.” Go check the lives of these people ten years down the line, they are addicts still repeating it to themselves: “I’ll do it just a little once more and I’ll finally stop.”

It’s only a matter of time before they realize that the fleeting pleasure that alcohol offers holds them like a fly in amber and all their superb intentions will fail to keep them from being dragged down into the morass of physical, mental, psychological and spiritual ruin!

Why a Christian should avoid alcoholic beverages

1. God rejects drunkenness because it degrades human dignity.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph. 5:18).

Here, we see intoxicating wine or strong drink contrasted with the filling of the Spirit.

Just as the Holy Spirit wields influence over our thinking, manner of speech and comportment – to the degree at which we yield to him – alcohol can also affect the way we talk, walk and our outlook on life.

God warns us, not to gaze at intoxicating wine because it stings like a viper (Prov. 23:31-32). The deleterious health effects of indulging alcohol testify to it.

The kind of wine that gets you drunk and make you stagger is not what you should justify. “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies!” (Hab. 2:15).

If God pronounces woe on something then it’s dangerous for us to wink at it.

2. The Bible identifies drunkenness as a characteristic of the unsaved. (1 Cor. 6:10). In ancient Rome drunkenness was very rampant. It was seen as a social beverage but Paul writing to Christians there, exhorts them to avoid it:

Let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Rom. 13:13-14).

We cannot use our culture as an excuse to indulge in liquor or drugs. God will hold us accountable to His revelation.

3. Drunkenness defiles the body. (1 Cor. 6:19) In addition to this, it destroys the personal and collective morals of any society. It opens the door to lawlessness, violence and disrespect for God-instituted authorities.

4. It is a lifestyle that is contrary to the Spirit and teaching of Christ. As Christians, we are to follow the examples of Jesus Christ. He never gave Himself to drunkenness and He never sinned (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:21). He always did the will of God and would not disobey God’s commands regarding drunkenness.

5. Drunkenness opens the door to other sins. Whilst it’s known to numb pain by tranquilization, it removes a person’s inhibitions and destroys his self-control.

With the inner moral restrain of the drunken person now out of the picture, sinful acts he would never consider doing otherwise becomes very easy to indulge in. This has led to some of the most vile, degrading and abominable outcomes in human experience.

The spectres of drunk persons spewing obscene language, reacting in rage, unleashing violence on others or engaging in sexual depravity even to the point of committing murder is an indicator of the destructive consequences of the sin of taking intoxicating wine.

A man who is a distinguished professional in his field under the influence of alcohol would roll in gutters and even wet his own pants. Another would get drunk at various places where he worked and would be fired and even the savings he had would be frittered on alcohol. Alcoholism strips people of their dignity.

I once interrogated a man who bragged of sexually assaulting many young men after intentionally plying them with alcohol in order to draft them into his debased gay circle. He personally admitted that alcohol is his biggest tool of weakening their moral defenses.

The Bible never teaches that happiness is result of an artificial stimulant such as alcohol. True happiness comes from within – peace, observing the beauty of nature, joy in the Holy Spirit and doing God’s will.

Does the Bible Endorse Slavery? (II)

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One of the common charges levied against the Bible is that, since the New Testament writers exhorted slaves to obey their masters in the Roman social system, the Bible actually approves of slavery and has contributed to inhumanity and oppression.

First of all, the atheist has no moral or logical ground to stand on to condemn slavery. If our actions are determined by random collisions of molecules in our brain – as many atheists believe – then slavery cannot be morally wrong. It would be an expression of natural selection.

Unbelievers vainly boast that humans, not God, put an end to slavery in America while the slave traders justified their dehumanization with some Bible verses. The fact is, the abolitionists were Christians, and they appealed to the Bible to support their anti-slavery stance.

The chancellor of Protestant University, William Wilson, stated that slavery was “at war with the image of God in which man was created” as it treats other humans as less than human as God created him and lowering the person to property.

On the other hand, the biblical texts the pro-slavery advocates were able to cobble together were weak, astutely wrenched and tortured paths.

These men were simply a bunch of wicked, racist and bigoted folks who used the Bible to rationalize their atrocities. That didn’t mean the Bible was really on their side.

Even the most well intentioned religious text can be misinterpreted and misused by people for their own advantage. Interestingly, the Western slave masters and modern atheists are united in their absurd misinterpretation and mutilation of the Bible. They approach the Book the same way a butcher approaches a hog!

It’s not enough for skeptics of all stripes to quote some extracted Bible verses (often to “prove” their preconceived notions), we must examine the complete testimony and see the big picture.

Of course, the dogmatic Bible hater will derisively dismiss this, but once their false assertions are refuted, their propaganda collapses into a pile of pixie dust.

The following texts are often quoted to “prove” that the NT upholds slavery:

“Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord” (Colossians 3:22).

Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ” (Ephesians 6:5)

Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative” (Titus 2:9).

1. Jesus Christ had already pointed to the mission of freedom from all forms of slavery: spiritual, mental and physical. Quoting Isaiah 61:1-2, He declared:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed (Lk. 4:18).

The practical application of this verse is what led to the elucidation of freedom and the denunciation of forms of slavery.

2. The church was born into an already existing secular social world. Christianity didn’t come with a social reform programme for Israel and Rome, because that is not how the kingdom of God – which is inward, rather than geographical – works.

Therefore, when apostle Paul exhorts slaves within the Roman systems to behave themselves, he is not promoting or advocating the situation they were in, but was calling for good conduct while in such an already existing predicament in the hopes that their masters would see such good conduct and convert to Christianity and be saved (Titus 2:10). It was for the benefit of people’s eternal salvation.

3. The apostles weren’t revolutionaries and the early Christians were minorites. The older religions within the Roman Empire (Heathenism, Mystery Religions, State religion) should have borne a higher responsibility of emancipation of slaves because they had greater political might.

As for Eph. 6:5 what did unbelievers expect Paul to say? Should he incite Christian slaves to defy their Roman masters? What do they think happened to insubordinate slaves under Roman law? Did they even bother to think that far?

Under Roman law, a runaway slave was often mercilessly dealt with:

“He could be scourged branded, mutilated, or fitted with a metal collar, perhaps even be crucified, thrown to beasts, or killed. (Joseph Fitzmyer, The Letter to Philemon, Doubleday Publishing, 2000, p. 28).

I am sure that if the NT had admonished Christian slaves to rebel against their Roman masters, modern atheists would still find a way to gripe over that. If believers walked by the Tiber, cynics would still say they walked because they couldn’t swim.

4. Paul exhorts slave masters to treat their slaves well. He commands those who are slave masters in this existing social system to be good to and not threaten their slaves.

Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your hearts. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free” (Eph. 6:6-8)

5. Paul affirmed freedom over slavery

Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so” (1 Cor. 7:21).

Gleason Archer has shown that while Paul exhorted slaves to obey their masters, he said that slaves should do do all in their ability to purchase their own freedom. (Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Zondervan, 1982, p. 87).

6. The Bible does not support Slave and Master casses

Slavery runs on the cultural machinery of racial, political, religious and social-economic superiority. But the Bible elevates man as created in the image of God and affirms the equality of all men. This conflicts with the idea behind slavery.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11).

Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven” (Colossians 4:1)

Here, apostle Paul affirms both slaves and masters are equal having a true master in heaven, and that masters on earth must not mistreat their slaves.

7. The Bible condemns slavery and the slave trade

We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers,for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:9-10).

Notice that slavery is included in the list of vices here and slave traders are grouped together with murderers and ungodly people.

In Revelation 18:10-13 Babylon is rebuked and judged in the context of trafficking slaves and greedily making wealth with merchants:

And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore … cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.”

Most unbelievers are fond of selectively citing bible passages and neglecting cross-references, hence giving a distorted picture. And the most arrogant part is how they believe they know the Bible more than Christians who have spent the whole of their lives studying it.

Can Christians need Deliverance? (II)

Having explained the relationship between salvation and the ministry of liberation, let’s now take it up a notch by examining the issues surrounding demonization:

(1) The term “demonization” is an Anglicization of the Greek word frequently used in the New Testament: daimonizomai. The word may be translated “under demonic influence” or “to be demonized.” Some folks interpret demonization as being “demon possessed,” but this is incorrect and misplaced.

The term demon possession is an unfortunate term that found its way into some English translations of the Bible but is not really reflected in the Greek text. The Greek NT speaks of people who “have a demon” (e.g Matt. 11:18) or people who are suffering from demonic influence (Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine, Inter-Varsity Press: England, 1999, p. 179).

Demonization can range from demonic oppression to severe demonic control. Though there are degrees of demonic attack or influence in the lives of believers, the term “demon possession” should not be conflated with demonization and shouldn’t be applied to Christians.

The term “demon possession” conveys to an English ear that a person is owned by a demon, but this is impossible for Christians. A Christian’s personality can come under demonic influence but he/she is still owned by Christ. Therefore, a demon cannot have a Christian, but a Christian can have a demon.

(2) A major objection raised against deliverance is, since the Holy Spirit lives within the believer, it would be impossible for a demon to live in the same place as the Holy Spirit. This brings us back to the question: can a Christian who has the Holy Spirit also have a demon?

While the Bible does not definitively answer that question, there are some things we need to reflect on. For instance, the Holy Spirit is everywhere in the universe; would this mean that there are no demons anywhere in the universe? Obviously not.

The Scriptures teach that the true believer is no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit (Rom. 8:1-9), yet the flesh continues to operate in the believer’s life alongside the Spirit. So let’s rephrase the initial question with a twist: How can the Holy Spirit cohabit the same body with the unholy flesh?

Our flesh/carnal nature is not any less evil or unclean than is a demon. Both the flesh and demons are in sinful rebellion against a holy God. Therefore, if the Holy Spirit can indwell a saved sinner who still has the flesh, then He can also live in a believer who has a demon. The demon wouldn’t “hurt” the Holy Spirit. That idea is even absurd. And the demon wouldn’t automatically flee because of the Holy Spirit (William Schnoebelen, Blood on the Doorposts, Chick Pub., 1994, p. 47).

Contrary to what some folks teach, the Holy Spirit will not come into you and cast out the demons that you’ve invited in, and which Christ has already given you the authority to expel.

(3) The Bible says we are the temples of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 3:16). Just like the ancient temple of the Lord in the OT, we have three basic constituents – body, soul and spirit. The temple had the outer court, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place.

In Ezekiel 8, we see that the temple of God was defiled. The people brought an idol of jealously into it; they practised abominable acts; drew images of demon gods and unclean animals on its walls; burned incense to idols; they worshipped the rising sun and their women wept for Tammuz – occult rites that invited evil spirits into the temple.

Yet, all the while, the presence of God was still in the Holy of Holies. This can be a reflection of a Christian today; the Holy Spirit can dwell in His spirit while sinful practices – before or after salvation – have led to demonic infestation in his body and soul.

It doesn’t mean he’s unsaved or evil, he only needs to purge his temple and evacuate the evil strangers from their hiding places.

(4) An objection raised to the above is to appeal to 2 Cor. 6:14-16 that since there can be no agreement between darkness and light, or Christ and Belial, a Christian who has the Holy Spirit in him/her cannot also have a demon in him/her.

This argument is based on the fallacious notion that for the Spirit of God and an evil spirit to reside simultaneously in the same person, mutual cooperation is required between both of them. This is a fatally flawed thinking.

The passage was actually directed to the Christians in Corinth who were in unequal partnership with pagans and their norms. Apostle Paul was warning them against entanglement with unbelievers (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Eerdmans, 1979, Vol. 1, p. 780).

(5) In several places, Scripture tells us that sin opens the door to captivity, affliction, bondage and attack from the devil e.g. Eccl. 10:8; Isa. 5:12-13; Matt. 23:37; John 5:14; Eph. 4:26-27.

If a Christian for instance, dabbles in divination (consulting palm readers, Tarot cards, psychics etc.), that sin can open the door to demonic bondage/invasion. This may not always be the case every time, because demonization is not a cut and dry phenomenon as some of us think.

The demons’ degree of influence in Christians varies from person to person – depending on the magnitude of sin and the class of demons involved – yet, the spiritual doorways provided by sin are no less real.

(6) Scripture shows us that our lives can be defiled, and we are to cleanse ourselves from spiritual filthiness and have our bodies, souls and spirits preserved blameless (1Cor. 3:16-17; 1Cor.7:1; 1 Thess. 5:23). If it wasn’t possible for Christians to be defiled (whether by sin or demons), these verses wouldn’t be in the Bible.

Interestingly, the same Greek word for “defile”, phtherei, is also used for “destroy.” It means to spoil, corrupt, bring to a worse state and to deprave. This is what sowing to the flesh does to the believer (A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, Ethelbert Bullinger, Zondervan MI, 1975, p. 213).

(7) To neglect, deny or ignore the ministry of deliverance has more serious consequences than the other way round. If a Christian who needs to be liberated is being taught that he doesn’t need deliverance, two major things can happen:

One, the Christian fruitlessly struggles against besetting sins until he/she is exhausted or completely demoralized. It becomes a vicious cycle of falling into the sinful habit, praying for forgiveness, promising to apply spiritual discipline and falling after a few hours and praying for mercy again. It soon gets to a point where he begins to embrace it as normal.

Two, the Christian is overwhelmed with demonic oppression and begins to doubt if he was ever saved at all. The demons will then bombard his mind with thoughts like: “I can never be a good Christian!”; “This is my destiny”; “God has rejected me because I was too evil”; “God doesn’t answer prayers” etc. 

(8) What I find striking about the “demons-in-Christians” debate is how people on both sides of the divide, usually reduce deliverance to casting out of demons from a person or place. That’s reductionist and distracting, and it should be pointed out.

Any Christian who has studied the Bible and has a keen understanding of spiritual things will agree that deliverance is more than expulsion of evil spirits. There are many people who are not infested from within but bound from without. Therefore, deliverance in its full scope involves:

(a) Releasing people from destructive pacts/covenants and seals (Isa. 28:18). These things remain in place even after salvation unless they are specifically addressed in prayer.

(b) Releasing people from generational/family and personal curses (Gal. 3:13). These are also categorized as “vertical and horizontal curses.”

(c) Breaking occult spells, triggers and cues that have been placed on/in people (Micah 5:12). These are tools used by the enemy to enslave individuals or groups of people.

(d) Destroying evil linkages, soul ties and spiritual yokes (Isa. 10:27). These are used to impede a person’s progress in a divine direction.

(e) Removing demonic implants and demonic luggage from people (Matt. 15:13).

(f) Breaking spiritual chains placed on people by the powers of darkness and setting them free from spiritual prisons and cages (Isa. 61:1).

(g) Revoking evil dedications, renouncing false worship/communal bondages (Acts 19:19).

(h) Recovery of what the enemy stole (Obadiah 1:17). It could be a person’s virtues, joy, finances, vision, body parts or spouse.

Conclusively, from the highlighted points, it’s important that believers understand what this aspect of spiritual warfare entails. We have been commissioned to keep enforcing the defeat of Satan and his imps in our lives and those of others.

While the ministry of deliverance is not to be touted as the silver bullet to every problem, it should not also be ignored, disparaged nor reserved only for extreme cases in our churches.