Opinions remain divided within the body of Christ over the place of ‘Deliverance’ in Christian ministry. There are those who advocate the belief in the subject as a valid discipline and dimension of Christian ministry that displays the power of the Gospel. While others continue to advocate disbelief in the subject and as result fail to see any validity of its inclusion in Christian ministry.
The latter continue to put forward argument that purports there to be no instruction in the New Testament, which explicitly commands Some have even gone so far as to brand deliverance ministry and ministers heretical. Although the LORD Jesus Himself not only taught deliverance, He advocated that His disciples and would be disciples to continue with it, since it was a key component to His earthly ministry. There is absolutely no way anyone can objectively read the Gospel and fail to be impressed with the overwhelming evidence of deliverance activities happening on account of the LORD Jesus Christ.
First we need to address some of the key points that helps underline deliverance as a valid ministry not only in the days of Christ, but for present and future generations:
- The apostolic teachings and writings was never intended to cover everything that we as Christians will encounter for all times; but they laid the foundation for the Church while also addressing specifically areas where the Church need to improve unique to the settings and circumstances of 1st century A.D.
- The purpose of the apostolic writings and teaching was never to address all that the Church was doing well,but it was to deal with matters adversely affecting the Church and the message of the Gospel.
- The 1st century Church would have been acquainted with deliverance because it was a civilisation that embraced the spiritual and accepted it as the norm.
- Deliverance was not mentioned much in the apostolic writings because it was something that they understood and did quite well. As deliverance was an area where most of the 1st century Church excelled in, it was never singled out for criticism or praise. A case in point can be found in Mark 9:38 - 40 (King James Version); Jesus had to tell the disciples not to prevent or forbid anyone driving out demons in His name; even though they were not part of the original chosen twelve disciples.
- Some of the leading figures amongst the early church fathers taught deliverance and passed down the tradition to generations that would succeed them.
It is incredible that such a wealth of knowledge has been hidden from the Church for ages, which incidentally is no coincidence. At least on the evidence of historical records detailed below, it would appear that the kingdom of darkness prevented the knowledge of their existence from becoming public knowledge in the modern era, or simply that the Church did exactly what she was warned not to do in 2 Corinthians 2:11 (King James Version); and subsequently became ignorant of Satan's many devices.
In his letter to the Corinthians apostle Paul said,
4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
When the Church once more begins to follow examples of the pillars of faith listed below; them we may well see a change in attitude towards the Church with regard to her authority and place in the world. The Church in our view will once again become relevant and wanted in communities, families, and peoples' lives.
Early Church Fathers
The following have witnessed or participated in deliverance and attest to its authenticity and practice for today's Church.
What makes this so poignant is the claim that power demonstration of the gospel did not come to an end with the apostle but continued to thrive well into the 4th Century AD and only fizzled out after the politicization of the Church commensurating with the conquest of Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus or Constantine the great.
Clement I; Apostolic Father and Bishop of Rome (94 - 97AD). Early Church Tradition acknowledges him to be the one mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Philippians see Philippians 4:3 (King James Version). He believed the Devil to unique personality with an ambitious drive to push Christians to sin and degeneration.
Ignatius; Apostolic Father and Bishop of Antioch (107AD). He was a disciple of John, who of course was one of the original twelve disciples of JESUS CHRIST. He was also influenced by Apostle Paul’s letters to the Churches, especially Ephesians. Ignatius famously warned the Ephesians to evade the “stench” of the prince of this world, lest he diverts them from the life that Christ wishes for them.
Polycarp, Apostolic Father, and Bishop of Smyrna (156AD). He was a disciple of John, who of course was one of the original twelve disciples of JESUS CHRIST. He often spoke of the plots the Devil and his cohorts hatches against Christians to lead them to ruin.Justine Martyr of Caesarea, First of Apologetic Fathers (100 - 165AD). He believed that Christians were locked in a cosmic battle with the Devil and his followers.
In Chapter 6 of his Second Apology for Christians Addressed to the Roman Senate, He said "But "Jesus, His name as man and Saviour, has also significance. For He was made man also, as we before said, having been conceived according to the will of God the Father, for the sake of believing men, and for the destruction of the demons. And now you can learn this from what is under your own observation. For numberless demoniacs throughout the whole world, and in your city, many of our Christian men exorcising them in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, have healed and do heal, rendering helpless and driving the possessing devils out of the men, though they could not be cured by all the other exorcists, and those who used incantations and drugs."
In Chapter 8 of his Second Apology for Christians Addressed to the Roman Senate, He said "But " And those of the Stoic school--since, so far as their moral teaching went, they were admirable, as were also the poets in some particulars, on account of the seed of reason [the Logos] implanted in every race of men-- were, we know, hated and put to death,--Heraclitus for instance, and, among those of our own time, Musonius and others. For, as we intimated, the devils have always effected, that all those who anyhow live a reasonable and earnest life and shun vice, be hated. And it is nothing wonderful; if the devils are proved to cause those to be much worse hated who live not according to a part only of the word diffused [among men], but by the knowledge and contemplation of the whole Word, which is Christ. And they, having been shut up in eternal fire, shall suffer their just punishment and penalty. For if they are even now overthrown by men through the name of Jesus Christ, this is an intimation of the punishment in eternal fire which is to be inflicted on themselves and those who serve them. For thus did both all the prophets foretell, and our own teacher Jesus teach."
In Chapter 30 of his dialogue with Trypho, he said "But impute it to your own wickedness, that God even can be accused by those who have no understanding, of not having always instructed all in the same righteous statutes. For such institutions seemed to be unreasonable and unworthy of God to many men, who had not received grace to know that your nation were called to conversion and repentance of spirit, while they were in a sinful condition and labouring under spiritual disease; and that the prophecy which was announced subsequent to the death of Moses is everlasting. And this is mentioned in the Psalm, my friends. And that we, who have been made wise by them, confess that the statutes of the Lord are sweeter than honey and the honey-comb, is manifest from the fact that, though threatened with death, we do not deny His name. Moreover, it is also manifest to all, that we who believe in Him pray to be kept by Him from strange, i.e., from wicked and deceitful, spirits; as the word of prophecy, personating one of those who believe in Him, figuratively declares. For we do continually beseech God by Jesus Christ to preserve us from the demons which are hostile to the worship of God, and whom we of old time served, in order that, after our conversion by Him to God, we may be blameless. For we call Him Helper and Redeemer, the power of whose name even the demons do fear; and at this day, when they are exorcised in the name of Jesus Christ, crucified under Pontius Pilate, governor of Judaea, they are overcome. And thus it is manifest to all, that His Father has given Him so great power, by virtue of which demons are subdued to His name, and to the dispensation of His suffering."
In Chapter 85 of his dialogue with Trypho, he said "For every demon, when exorcised in the name of this very Son of God--who is the First-born of every creature, who became man by the Virgin, who suffered, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate by your nation, who died, who rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven--is overcome and subdued. But though you exorcise any demon in the name of any of those who were amongst you--either kings, or righteous men, or prophets, or patriarchs--it will not be subject to you. But if any of you exorcise it in[the name of] the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, it will perhaps be subject to you. Now assuredly your exorcists, I have said, make use of craft when they exorcise, even as the Gentiles do, and employ fumigations and incantations."
Tatian the Assyrian (120 - 180AD), a disciple of Justine Martyr, an Apologetic Father wrote “For the demons, inspired with frenzy against men by reason of their own wickedness,pervert their minds,which already incline downwards,by various deceptive scenic representations, that they may be disabled from rising to the path that leads to heaven….. Sometimes they themselves disturb the habit of the body by a tempest of folly; but, being smitten by the word of God, they depart in terror, and the sick man is healed.”
Athenagoras of Athens (133 - 190AD), an Apologetic Father wrote in his ‘Plea for Christians’ argued that there were classes of evil spirits. He wrote "The question is if pagan gods do not exist, why is it then that some of their statues display miraculous power? We do not deny such cases of power. But we believe that they are caused, not by the gods, but by the demons, who usurp the name of a given image…….Theses fallen angels, then along with the souls of the giants, are demons who wander about the world and produce impulses while “the Ruler of matter” direct things in a way directly opposed to God’s goodness."
Theophilus Bishop of Antioch (180AD); in his refutation of Homer and Hesiod, two famous Greek philosophers. His discourse 'Theophilus to Autolycus' Second Book, Chapter 8 which was a response to their misguided wisdom he wrote "And without meaning to do so, they acknowledge that they know not the truth; but being inspired by demons and puffed up by them, they spoke at their instance whatever they said. For indeed the poets,--Homer, to wit, and Hesiod, being, as they say, inspired by the Muses,--spoke from a deceptive fancy, and not with a pure but an erring spirit. And this, indeed, clearly appears from the fact, that even to this day the possessed are sometimes exorcised in the name of the living and true God; and these spirits of error themselves confess that they are demons who also formerly inspired these writers. But sometimes some of them wakened up in soul, and, that they might be for a witness both to themselves and to all men, spoke things in harmony with the prophets regarding the monarchy of God, and the judgment and such like."
Tertullian of Carthage (170 - 220AD) an Apologetic Father. In Apology (In defence of Christians facing Roman Persecution) Chapter 23 he said “You make a distinction of places, I suppose, regarding as gods in their temple those whose divinity you do not recognize elsewhere; counting the madness which leads one man to leap from the sacred houses, to be something different from that which leads another to leap from an adjoining house; looking on one who cuts his arms and secret pans as under a different furor from another who cuts his throat. The result of the frenzy is the same, and the manner of instigation is one. But thus far we have been dealing only in words: we now proceed to a proof of facts, in which we shall show that under different names you have real identity. Let a person be brought before your tribunals, who is plainly under demoniacal possession. The wicked spirit, bidden to speak by a follower of Christ, will as readily make the truthful confession that he is a demon, as elsewhere he has falsely asserted that he is a god.”
Tertullian: In Apology 37, He said "Nay, who would deliver you (Romans) from those secret foes (Demons), ever busy both destroying your souls and ruining your health? Who would save you (Romans), I mean, from the attacks of those spirits of evil (Demons), which without reward or hire we exorcise (Cast out)?"
Tertullian Chapter 4, He said "All this might be officially brought Under your notice, and by the very advocates, who are themselves also under obligations to us, although in court they give their voice as it suits them. The clerk of one of them who was liable to be thrown upon the ground by an evil spirit, was set free from his affliction; as was also the relative of another, and the little boy of a third. How many men of rank (to say nothing of common people) have been delivered from devils, and healed of diseases! Even Severus himself, the father of Antonine, was graciously mindful of the Christians; for he sought out the Christian Proculus, surnamed Torpacion, the steward of Euhodias, and in gratitude for his having once cured him by anointing, he kept him in his palace till the day of his death."
Minucius Felix, The Octavious of Minucius Felix (210 AD). Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume VII/Lactantius/The Divine Institutes/Book IV/Chap. XXVII - Chap. XXVII.-Of the Wonders Effected by the Power of the Cross, and of Demons. Quote “At present it is sufficient to show what great efficacy the power of this sign has. How great a terror this sign is to the demons, he will know who shall see how, when adjured by Christ, they flee from the bodies which they have besieged. For as He Himself, when He was living among men, put to flight all the demons by His word, and restored to their former senses the minds of men which had been excited and maddened by their dreadful attacks; so now His followers, in the name of their Master, and by the sign of His passion, banish the same polluted spirits from men.”
Origen, Against Celsus, Book I, 46 (230-254AD); he said "For the law and the prophets are full of marvels similar to those recorded of Jesus at His baptism, viz., regarding the dove and the voice from heaven. And I think the wonders wrought by Jesus are a proof of the Holy Spirit's having then appeared in the form of a dove, although Celsus, from a desire to cast discredit upon them, alleges that He performed only what He had learned among the Egyptians. And I shall refer not only to His miracles, but, as is proper, to those also of the apostles of Jesus. For they could not without the help of miracles and wonders have prevailed on those who heard their new doctrines and new teachings to abandon their national usages, and to accept their instructions at the danger to themselves even of death. And there are still preserved among Christians traces of that Holy Spirit which appeared in the form of a dove. They expel evil spirits, and perform many cures, and foresee certain events, according to the will of the Logos."
Origen, Against Celsus, Book I, 67 (230-254AD); he said "For we assert that the whole habitable world contains evidence of the works of Jesus, in the existence of those Churches of God which have been founded through Him by those who have been converted from the practice of innumerable sins. And the name of Jesus can still remove distractions from the minds of men, and expel demons, and also take away diseases; and produce a marvellous meekness of spirit and complete change of character, and a humanity, and goodness, and gentleness in those individuals who do not feign themselves to be Christians for the sake of subsistence or the supply of any mortal wants, but who have honestly accepted the doctrine concerning God and Christ, and the judgment to come."
Cyprian (250AD) to Demetrian Chapter 15, he said "Oh, if you would hear and see them, when they are adjured by us, when they are tortured by spiritual scourges and are ejected by torments of words from the bodies of the possessed, when howling and groaning at a human voice and feeling the lashes and scourges of divine power they confess the judgment which is to come. Come and learn that what we say is true, and since you say that you thus worship the gods, then believe them whom you worship. Or if you should wish to believe yourself also, within your hearing he (the demon) will speak of you yourself, who now has possessed your breast, who now has blinded your mind with the night of ignorance. You will see that we are entreated by those whom you entreat, that we are feared by those whom you adore. You will see that they stand bound under our hand and tremble as captives whom you look up to and venerate as lords. Surely even so you can be confounded in those errors of yours, when you see and hear that your gods on our questioning immediately betray what they are, and that even in your presence cannot conceal those deceptions and trickeries."
Lactentius, The Divine lnstitutes, Book II, 16 (250-320AD), "But they (demons) fear the righteous, that is, the worshippers of God, adjured by whose name they depart from the bodies (of people); for, being lashed by the Christians’ words, they not only confess to be demons, but even utter their own names." Also deliverance is mentioned in Book V, 22, and in The Epitome of the Divine Institutes, Ch. 51.
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecturer, 16:12 (350-375 A.D.), "For He (Holy Spirit) employs the tongue of one man for wisdom; the soul of another He enlightens by prophecy, to another He gives power to drive away demons …."
The Divine Institutes, Book V, 22, "For these (demons), as long as there is peace among the people of God, flee from the righteous, and fear them; and when they seize upon the bodies of men, and house their souls, they are adjured by the Christians, and at the Name of the true God are put to flight. For when the demons hear this name they tremble, cry out, and assert that they are branded and beaten; and being asked who they are, whence they are come, and how they have insinuated themselves into a man, confess it. Thus, being tortured and excruciated by the power of the divine name, they come out of the man."
Lactantius, The Epitome of the Divine Institutes, Ch. 51, "But of what great weight the cross is, and what power it has, is evident, since all the hosts of demons are expelled and put to flight by it. And as He Himself before His passion put to confusion demons by His word and command, so now, by the name and sign of the same passion, unclean spirits, having insinuated themselves into the bodies of men, are driven out, when racked and tormented, and confessing themselves to be demons, they yield themselves to God, who harasses them. What therefore can the Greeks expect from their superstitions and with their wisdom, when they see that their gods, whom they do not deny to be demons, also, are subdued by men through the cross?"
Whose Report Do You Believe?
It is important to pose the question where is God in this debate? Has God taken any side and if so, which side is He on? The answer to this question is not whether you believe that God has taken any side, but to what extent are you willing to believe in what God says and does. Clearly anyone that doesn’t believe in deliverance will not reap the fruit of that ministry.
To now answer the question posed more specifically, God will work with anyone of His children to the extent the child of God is willing to believe in the integrity of His Word. So if you don’t believe that God can deliver people from evil spirits today, because you believe that evil spirits are no longer extant, then you have no right to expect a miracle from God.
To appreciate deliverance we need to understand first and foremost what we are being delivered from and what we are been delivered to. Failure to grasp what we are been delivered displays ignorance of the powers that are at work against a victim of darkness. Many within the body of Christ are of the view that non-Christians opposed to Christians need deliverance; because they have already been delivered in accepting Christ Jesus as LORD and Saviour.
The fact that we have given our lives to the LORD Jesus Christ has not in anyway made us automatically immune from any form of demonic attacks should we choose to conduct our lives purposely in ways which denies the Gospel's power. The doctrine that once saved always saved has been responsible for producing Christians that are no longer living worthy of the salvation with which they have been saved and delivered from the kingdom of darkness.
For if it is possible for a Christian to sin and continues sinning after the new birth in CHRIST JESUS then it suggest that there is something fundamentally wrong and not right in the life of that Christian.
The Scripture of 1 John 3:1 - 10 (King James Version) informs that it is impossible for anyone professing to be a Christian to sin. Accordingly a Christian should be pure as Christ is pure; a Christian should continue in Christ (meaning bereft of the ability to sin as there is no sin in Christ) because Christ is in him/her; and a Christian should never sin.
Many within the body of Christ have succumbed to the temptation of teaching that sinning is permissible within defined limits, thus contradicting 1 John 3:1 - 10 (King James Version).
We don’t find Christians, Scholars or theologians alike in their droves saying that Christians can never sin, even though the Scripture clearly says so. However, we find that many scholars, theologians and pastors of diverse persuasions are zealously against deliverance and spiritual warfare for reasons that are not grounded in Scripture; and at times even they cannot explain except to narrate what they have been told by either their mentors or piers.
We have ended up with a situation which has lead to vast majority of Christians being seduced by deceiving spirits into sinful state of being, while being prevented from obtaining deliverance from seducing spirits that are at the helm or summit of many churches and Christian organisations. It sounds extremely harsh to say so but the fact of the matter is, most mainstream churches and Christain organisations are spending lots of money in producing literature; sponsoring scholarships, theology and even re-orientation programmes in an attempt to educate people out of the truth pertaining to the Devil, his cohorts and evil in this world.
Such approach has proven to be fruitless and over many years and decades the evidence mounted supports that Churches where growth has been effective, is where there is an understanding of the spirit world and only then can real difference be made in lives, communities, families and nations.
You will find in your own daily experience as a Christian, you are more than likely than not to sin, and that being said is not an inevitability. Now we may take for granted the grace of God, but Apostle Paul has warned in Scripture that it is foolishness to continue to sin that grace may abound see Romans 6 (King James Version). The fact that a Christian struggles with sin or continues to sin is a clear sign of spiritual hindrance and opposition at work against the sanctified works of God in his or her life.
It is conclusive therefore that Christians who sin or are involved with the preoccupation of sin contrary to the Gospel message that liberated them from sin and satanic bondage, are slaves to demonic influence and tendencies. Sin does not just imply or mean what we do by way of conduct towards others; but also that which we believe to be contrary to the integrity of the Gospel and the Word of God. In that respect sin is also denying what JESUS did and that He also provided for the Church to stand successfully against the powers and works of darkness.
The Scripture has correctly identified anyone who is a slave to sin as lawful captives of the Devil and are therefore candidates for deliverance, if they are to live in ways that glorifies and magnifies the LORD Jesus Christ who paid the price for their freedom.