The concept of deliverance was briefly mentioned in the seminary I attended, even though the gospels record numerous encounters that Jesus had with demons. I was taught that Jesus demonstrated His superiority over demons, but that was about all. With little instruction and no experience I was poorly equipped to help those who were being attacked by the evil one. A man in our church told me that he was hearing a voice in his head that was condemning and blasphemous, but I had no idea what that was. Even if I knew at the time that it was a deceiving spirit, I wouldn’t have known how to help him. So he continued to be a problem in the church and struggle in his marriage.
Most deliverance ministries at the time practiced the power encounter approach. The idea was to confront the demonic forces. Various techniques were used to make them manifest. The pastor would try to identify their name and rank, and attempt to cast them out. Often this would result in what appeared as a complete demonic takeover in the person. Some would fall off their chairs and writhe on the floor. I tried that approach and it did appear to be raw power against raw power. Such encounters leave the impression that Satan is up for the fight. The poor victim was like a pawn caught between two superpowers going head to head. Even if I managed to gain the upper hand, the results didn’t seem to last. One lady jumped across my lap to grab a pencil from my desk and attempted to cut her wrists with it. I thought, Dear God, there has to be a better way than this! There is.
One Sunday afternoon a pastor called me asking for prayer. We are in a spiritual battle, He said. I could hear the shouting, naming, and claiming going in the background. I promised to pray and he went back to battle the devil. Two hours later he called, Praise God she is free, thank you for praying, and hung up. I told my wife, I’ll get another call within two days. Sure enough, he called Monday morning saying, We are back at it again, please pray!
People’s lives are like a house where the garbage hasn’t been taken out in months. That is going to attract a lot of flies. Should we study the flight patterns of the flies, try to get their name and rank, and determine their commander in chief? Such an approach may have a value that I am not aware of, but chasing off the flies may only result in them telling seven others where the garbage is. “Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first” (Lu. 11:26).
For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog