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.

 

God’s Angels at Work

In several places in Scripture, we are shown how the angels of God work on behalf of God’s people and against their adversaries: both physical and spiritual.

We see angelic intervention in the lives of Christians – even after Pentecost – for the communication of God’s plans and purposes, deliverance from danger and judgement on the enemies of God (Acts 8:26; 12:5-7, 23 etc.).

In this article, I will share some true life experiences; some from mine and others from the testimonies of other Christians.

This is the first time I’m publicly sharing some of the personal stuff you will read in this piece, so I might not go into details. I just want to use them to gear up your faith in the power of God.

  1. Protection from a messenger of Satan

This happened a year after I began to walk closely with God, in 2004, to be precise.

I had formed a habit of praying every night before going to sleep. That night in April, I remember praying fervently against the operations of the powers of darkness.

That wasn’t my first time of praying these. Those days, I wasn’t even sure of what was fighting me, but the dream I had afterwards gave me a clue.

I don’t think I had slept up to 30 minutes, when I had this revelation. In it, I walked through our house and into the sitting room to see a lady there. This girl had the physical identity of a close family member, but I somehow knew in my spirit that she was diabolical.

She had a big earphone (similar to the one I used in listening to my favourite Christian music) plugged to her ears and it was connected to our stereo. She was listening to something.

I looked at my mum, but she was fast asleep on the couch (now I know what that means). I walked up to this girl and unplugged that earphone from the stereo. I then turned to go into my room which was close by.

Suddenly, I heard footsteps from behind me. As I turned to see who it was, I saw this girl about to pounce on me. This time, her form had changed; she now had fangs protuding from both sides of her mouth like the popular Dracula imagery.

In a flash, a tall man dressed in a white linen appeared between us and held her up like a tractor holding a car off the ground.

I stood back in amazement. Though this strong angel held her with just a hand, she was completely incapacitated as she struggled fruitlessly to be freed from his strong grip. Then I woke up, appreciating the Lord for His love for me.

Was that lady a demon associated with my family? Was she a human agent of Satan in my family? I will never know for sure (though I suspect the latter). But what I do know is that God protected me from her savage bloody rage.

2. “Beware of these things…”

I had this revelation mid 2006, in my late teens. I was on my Pre-Degree Science programme in the University at the time. I was much in prayer and intense study of the Word that year.

One night, in a dream, I saw myself back at home and I heard a knock on the door. When I opened it, I saw a young man standing there. He was dressed neatly and carrying a bag. His mien was like that of a preacher.

At first, I thought to myself, “Is he one of those fake ones, a Jehovah’s witness?” But without uttering a word, it suddenly flashed into my spirit that he was genuine. I quickly apologized for my mistake and he sweetly smiled and nodded in agreement.

He brought what looked like white slides or plaques. On the first one was written a word in capital letters, then he showed me the second one, on it was also written another word in capital letters. These words were sins/vices common to humanity.

On the third one, however, there was no word written on it, but a drawing, illustrating another sin. But it seems to have a double application. Then the dream cleared off.

Later as I prayed and asked the Lord for its meaning, it dawned on me that those things the angel showed me were things I must avoid in my life, particularly in years to come.

In retrospect, there are two interesting things here. One, some years later when I left the ways of the Lord, I now see that one of the things what led me astray was based on the first vice I was shown.

Two, in this present age of the social media, I now see how easy it is for me to be sucked into the second and third vices, but those warnings have helped me to be cautious in those areas.

3. The spirit of death vanquished

I had this experience in 2016. I saw myself in our family sitting room, relaxing on the first chair while my younger brother sat on the second chair. Then a tall, handsome man dressed smartly like a Navy officer walked in and moved close to where we were.

In that dream, I seem to know him from somewhere, because I had no inkling that he was a stranger. He was tall, so he easily reached his hands into the ceiling and brought out two owls nesting there – one from above my head and the other from above my brother’s.

The owls were flapping their wings and struggling, trying to escape from his grip, but he squashed them on the wall. I was shocked.

As he turned to leave, I got up from the chair and went after him. I asked, “Sir, how were you able to do that so effortlessly? But I was told that those who killed these animal familiars usually get killed?”

He looked at me with such love and understanding of my naivete and smiled without saying a word. Then he kept moving. And the dream cleared off.

There’s more to this story. Those owls represented the spirit of death. In any case, my naive question in that dream is a reflection of how our little human reasoning makes us want to figure out the supernatural or succumb to fear rather than faith.

About a year after this revelation, my brother and I were delivered from two separate happenstance that would have taken our lives. Glory to be to God.

4. Deliverance from spiritual assassins

This happened to a close family member who is an ordained minister. Let’s call her Funke. I narrate it here as she told it to me.

In 2006, Funke was ordained as a pastor and posted to a church branch. This church had been a troubled one almost from the time it was started in 1999 or so.

The church was not growing; its members were lukewarm and indifferent towards Christian living, and the last pastor had tendered his resignation after his wife died of cancer. He abruptly left the church in despair and was not heard from again.

Few months after Funke was posted there, she started to lead the church to pray aggressively and the powers of darkness fought in return. She began to experience demonic attacks – about four people (whose physical identity she knew) would pursue her in the dream with guns and shoot her.

Soon, she began to observe physical lumps growing on her breasts. She went for a scan which revealed them to be cysts and consulted a doctor. Though she knew this was a result of spiritual arrows, she also sought medical therapy.

After some sessions of spiritual warfare, the lumps disappeared. Then she had that dream again. As these people were pursuing her this time around, a man appeared and stood between her and these spiritual assassins. He also had a gun with which he shot each one of them in the head and the dream cleared away.

Since then, that nightmare never repeated itself, and soon, two of these agents of darkness, (long standing church members) physically stopped coming to the church. Funke was also transferred to another branch.

5. Rescued from kidnappers

This was a testimony relayed by a lady (I’ll call her Gloria) during a programme held in my family church in 2007.

Gloria was kidnapped by ritual murderers at a bank near Iwo Road, Ibadan. She vaguely remembered that a man walked up to her as she was leaving the bank premises, and asked her what time it was by her wrist watch. Then she took a look at her watch; that was all she could recall.

Gloria regained consciousness as she was being roughly dragged from a vehicle and forced into a room. She lost count of days.

Others victims were in the room too, incapacitated by hypnotism. These murderers would come into the room, select any of them and take them away. She never saw them again.

At a point, she was the only one left. After the last victim was taken out, the door to the room was left unlocked. It seemed far-fetched, because she didn’t hear the “click” sound the door always made each time it was closed.

Then she mustered some bravery and escaped that evening. It was dark, and after running for a while in the forest, she fell down in exhaustion and slept off. She woke up the next day and continued to try to find her way out of the forest.

Gloria finally saw a man who inquired of her and informed her that she was far from Ibadan (where she was kidnapped). He took her through a path to the main road, helped her flag down a vehicle and talked with the driver (she didn’t hear the content of their discussion) who conveyed her right back to Ibadan.

I have no doubts that the man Gloria met in that forest was an angel of God.

6. The invisible helpers in spiritual warfare

The next three stories are taken from Paul Ivbarue’s book, Deliverance: The Children’s Bread (House of Grace Publications, 2000, pp. 38-40).

I have known Pastor Paul since 2001 and I have been under his ministration. He has been (and is being) used by God in the ministry of healing and deliverance.

“Some 8 years ago at Oyo town, we were ministering deliverance to a sister. We were four, plus the sister, making five altogether. The demons in her spoke through her mouth, inviting other demons to come and attack us as the fire of prayers was too much for them to bear. The next words we heard from the sister’s mouth was: “You mean you cannot attack them because they are too many? No! They are only four, attack them and help us!”

“Immediately, it dawned on us that truly there were many heavenly angels around us to protect us during the ministration.

“A woman came for our Wednesday deliverance clinic, and the power of God touched her. She was on the floor for about 30 minutes.

“Later she testified that while on the floor, two men in white overall like doctors (angels) took her on a stretcher and wheeled her to a beautiful theatre where there were other doctors (as she called them) who began to operate her womb.

“She said when the operation was completed, the two men wheeled her back and placed her on the floor. It was then she opened her eyes.”

“We were in a meeting in Lagos, and our Father in the Lord, Rev. Kayode Kolawole was ministering. The power of God touched a sister among others. She started shouting “Give me my brain! Give me my brain!!” I moved to where the sister was and laid hands on her commanding her brain where it is hidden to be returned to her.

“Later, this sister came to me to say that when the command was being given, she saw an angel with a flaming sword cut down a big tree and there she saw her brain being held by a man under the tree. The angel ordered the man to return her brain to her and he did and fled.

“She said she was preparing to [write] her School Certificate (W.A.S.C) the third time. The ones she did were not successful despite her preparation. I then prayed with her and assured her that God has delivered her and this time around, she will succeed in her exams.”

7. A satanist arrested by angels

The following account is taken from Evangelist Kalu Abosi’s book, Born Twice: From Demonism to Christianity. In this book, he narrated his past sojourn in the kingdom of darkness and how he was caught in the net of the Lord Jesus to witness for Him.

This is the most informative book authored by an ex-satanist (published in the early 1990s) I’ve read so far exposing the infrastructure of Satanism in Africa. Unfortunately, it’s now out of print.

The part I am relaying is his encounter with the angels of God during an occult assignment in Abiriba, Abia State.

One day, at about 4:30am, while he was having sex with his “spiritual mother”, the Queen of the Coast (she would transform into a girl of about his age whenever they had intercourse), the entire palace began to shake.

They had to disengage and she changed back into her real form. At her command, their screen showed where the quake was coming from: a Christian man was preaching the gospel (“morning cry”) around Ameke Square.

Whenever the gospel of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed in the physical world, it causes ripples in the realm of darkness.

The queen began to chant an incantation and a bottle appeared in her hand. She rubbed its gummy/sticky contents on Kalu’s face and commanded him to go after that preacher and stare at him face-face with that concoction and the demons would melt that preacher into natural water. It was a deadly occult weapon.

Kalu woke up physically, and left the house immediately. His family knew he had a habit of visiting the restroom every morning so they didn’t think it was unusual for him to go out at that time.

After walking hurriedly, he located the preacher from a distance, as he was about catching up with him, suddenly, two angels appeared and we’re walking towards him.

It soon got to a point that the angels were close to him and wouldn’t allow him go any further. He chanted an incantation against them, it didn’t work. He had been given a “special” ring when he visited Satan’s kingdom; the ring is called “the good, the bad, the destroyer.”

Satan told him that the demons attached to the ring would make a bad situation become “good”; turn a good thing into bad and would also destroy a bad thing/person. He used this ring against the angels as he had been instructed, but it didn’t faze them.

He couldn’t even stand in their presence as their countenance was like the sun in its zenith, so he began to stagger like one who is drunk. The two angels captured him and took him to a place in the woods where they had him tied down to a tree by bright white cords they produced from their bodies.

They then left their two swords by each of his ear and left the place. The sword began to sing in a most melodious voice he had ever heard and later began to preach the gospel to him.

Though he found the message tormenting (each time the name of Jesus was mentioned, he would feel burns on his body) one line from the messages stuck with him: “I will make you fishers of men if you will follow Me.”

Later, the angels returned, picked up their swords and untied him. By then, the day had dawned, and after an initial frustrated attempt, he chanted an incantation that took him back home.

We Christians simply have no idea of the invisible battles that take place in the spirit realm with each step we take for Christ. But let me assure you, if you are with Christ, God’s angels will protect you. But if you are not in Christ, you will not be protected.

 

 

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

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A while ago, I read a post put up by a bitter feminist agnostic, titled “Why I left Christianity.”

I took my time to read it carefully because most “deconversion” stories provide clues into how people reject what they never had a proper understanding of to begin with. Like Gilbert Chesterton said, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

Of course, it was filled with what I had expected:

“An elder in my church cheated on his wife many times; a pastor in my church abandoned his indisposed children and wife. I saw many things as a child,” and some other regular rhetoric of how bad Christians are (and apparently how morally superior she and her comrades are).

All her arguments were a desperate claw at reason. Her reasons for rejecting Christianity are as strong as a limp noodle.

But one fact stood out though: her gaze was not (and probably never) on Jesus Christ. I say this because I have walked that path before, and it leads nowhere. Let me narrate it a bit.

In 2011, when I was seeking help for a problem I had, I joined an online Christian recovery program. It was a group made up of largely men and women from different backgrounds, with similar pasts seeking healing and victory over defiling habits.

We all shared personal experiences, struggles and pain and received prayers, encouragement, Biblical instruction and accountability.

But months into my membership, things began to crop up; the ugly reality of the sin nature rearing its head in the group – hypocrisy, arrogance, deceit, hasty condemnations, strife, intrusion of privacy.

Some members also had impure motives; they were there not to quit their habits of sin but to sneak people out through the backdoor back into their old ways.

My zeal soon waned, and I gradually began to flirt with my old pattern of living and fell flat again into it. This time around, I was ashamed and felt like a failure. It became clear to me that my personal will power and sincere intentions weren’t enough.

Though I received some encouragement from one or two friends on that path, it didn’t allay my sadness, shame and guilt. I slid into depression and nearly lost the will to live.

I decided to stop fighting. Christianity didn’t seem to meet my needs. It appeared to thrust unrealistic expectations on me. As the sadness drifted, my heart became hardened against the Christian life. I left the group and severed my ties with these people.

It would take a couple of years before the Lord in His glorious mercy began to draw me again to Himself and helped me find my bearing. That is just one of the bad experiences I’ve had. Yet I’m still a Christian today.

In retrospect, I can see why I fell back then. I was looking up to (sinful) people; I was trusting in a formula; I was fixing my gaze on myself and my abilities, but I wasn’t looking at the Lord Jesus.

I feel in my spirit that some of my readers are in this shoe. You’ve trusted in your church leaders and they’ve shipwrecked your faith. You’ve trusted in a religious institution, but it has led you astray.

You’ve trusted in a rite or a format and it has left you in the gutter. You’re still being defeated by that unclean habit (hard drugs, sex, porn, vile affections, theft, occult snares, name it).

There’s a piece of the puzzle you may have missed:

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).

In Greek, the word “archegon” (author) means founder or leader and “teleioten” (perfecter) means a completer and finisher.

Jesus has the power to rescue you and complete your faith. He sits before the throne of God to intercede for us. No human or religious intercession can match that of Jesus Christ. Only He has the power to completely deliver you from whatever spiritual challenge you’re having.

“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always live to intercede for them” (Heb. 7:25).

Many people miss this crucial step. They rush to the next prophet, the next deliverance minister, the next group therapy, the next retreat centre, the next “mercy land,” but they have never surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ and directly ask Him to deliver them completely. They have never sought Jesus to cleanse them, remould them and fill them with power to live as children of God.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against seeking counseling, instruction and prayer ministry. But first things must come first.

We are to be “rooted and built up in him [Christ], strengthened in the faith” (Col. 2:7). That’s the key of a strong Christian life. A house that is not built on the rock cannot withstand the wind, storms and flood of life.

Your ability to stand in spite of how others fail you, persecute you or oppose you is directly proportional to how deep you are in Christ. The deeper your root in Christ, the more your branches extend and the stronger you become.

Many of the sinful habits we struggle with linger because we have not yet consecrated our lives to Christ and fervently dedicate ourselves to serve Him with all of our lives.

We are all in a race. A tasking one. Your church leader cannot run your race for you. Neither your friends.

Don’t let the floundering of people in the church divert you from the glory ahead. Follow Jesus personally with all your heart and He will work in your life.