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Cessationist and Continuationist Get a Lesson in Deliverance

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There is a lot of talk and debate lately asking the question whether deliverance ministry is valid for today and whether Christians can become demon possessed. Those taking sides are usually those of a charismatic persuasion and the opposing team is mostly evangelicals. So what are the basic tenants of each group?

The Charismatic group holds to the belief that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are still practiced today allowing believers to expect supernatural results in their daily lives. They affirm that a continual trust in the Holy Spirit, in conjunction with the counsel of the Bible, is an example of walking by the Spirit. These have been called “continuationist”.

Those of an evangelical persuasion believe that freedom is first derived from the gospel message and is realized at the time of salvation. However their beliefs limit future exchanges with the Holy Spirit. They see the Bible as their highest authority and a means to describe walking by the Spirit. These have been called a Cessationist.

This is actually not an obscure doctrinal divide. The subject remains pivotal when asking how the believer is able to grow in Christ. However what I hope to achieve on either side of the argument is a way to move the church from faith to faith and glory to glory. But that doesn’t happen through osmosis; Jesus did provide us a very simple and clear template for renewal.

If I can share what I know of the good news I think the walls of doctrine can come down on both sides of the fence. Let’s take a look at the gospel message and see where deliverance was first introduced. I begin by asking a question:

“When was the first time in your Christian life you found yourself delivered in either physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual ways?

Wasn’t it on the day of salvation?

That one day was actually the only time all believers agreed that God came into their lives in a supernatural way. In that moment He brought about a radical change in the heart and a new perspective on life and faith was born. No longer were any of us held captive to the flesh, the world and the Devil and that was our simplest example of being set free.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

However that day often becomes a past and fleeting moment in time for many. We stop celebrating the significance of being born again and start thinking about what else we can add to our steps. We take on the mindset that somewhere there is extra wisdom, somewhere there is more popular truth and somewhere there is reward just waiting to be apprehended. We strive always looking ahead for answers, as if the answers are something other than Jesus Himself. What it does is reduce the Christian life to a search for more and more knowledge; but that remains synonymous with eating from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The Christian life is not a pursuit of knowledge; it’s a pursuit of intimacy with our Savior. Only then are we able to make wise choices and gain an understanding of our King and His Kingdom. The Christian life is then about coming to know a God that freely gives of Himself and stands before us complete in His nature and character. If we open the right door of discovery it becomes a journey into His strength, His hope and His love. Yet if we miss it, it turns into a religion based upon our own human inadequacies.

This is the problem; a complete God is ready to share of Himself if we can just get past our narcissistic ways. And this explains why we need to be delivered; not just once but every time we think life and faith should be about us.

For this reason the day of salvation answers the question “What is deliverance”.

Let’s talk about this marvelous way of escape beginning with what happened at the Cross.

When Jesus died on the Cross He was taking humanity in to death with Him. No, we didn’t die physically; but rather we were supernaturally brought into Jesus’ own death so that we can know His life.

We read in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

There are 17 bible references in the New Testament proclaiming our death with Christ. This then tells us that the principle of “dying” carries weight in explaining how change occurs. What we discover is, by dying with Christ we naturally throw off our old mans ways in order to live a new life.

Likewise there are a significant number of verses that tell us additional things Jesus accomplished within our shared death experience.

• The Curse

We were freed from the curse once imposed upon mankind for failing to live up to God’s standards.

Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

• The Law

The Law of Moses was moved out of the way as our chief standard of performance.

Colossians 2:14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

• The Sin nature

The fallen nature of man is always set towards rebellion, but every act of disobedience has been crucified.

Romans 6:6-7 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

Now we bring these points to light in order to make a point; when the Bible makes mention of the Cross it is highlighting a death in the family and has provided us multiple ways to be set free. Paul the Apostle brings it all into perspective by saying;

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

This verse then plays into the equation and makes us ask a valid question: “Since Paul says we are “BEING saved” did Jesus only offer us freedom once, or is salvation something we can still access? Saved and sealed for eternity is not in question here; instead we are talking about the Christian life that remains in process.

Now we might be able to ignore Paul’s mention of “being saved” since we only hear him say it once. However Paul is establishing a biblical principle by pointing out that our walk with Christ remains progressive. Besides “being saved” we also hear in his letters him referencing “being enlightened in Christ”, “being filled”, and being renewed in the image of our Creator”.

Ephesians 1:17-19 The eyes of your understanding BEING enlightened…

Philippians 1:10-12 BEING filled with the fruits of righteousness…

Colossians 3:9-10 BEING renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator…

For this reason we can conclude that the pattern of “being” keeps us moving from faith to faith and glory to glory; but it only makes sense in the confines of Christ. I surmise that until we see a complete renewing of our person we are going to have to let go of certain worldly precepts that keep us responding as a child of the fall. For instance:

If you take into account that we where created as triune beings and made in the image of God, we recognize that we have been busy engaging body, soul and spirit in all sorts of activities.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This gives us a glimpse of how man initially took dominion over the earth. Adam was formed from the dust of the earth and engaged body, soul and spirit in an attempt to fulfill a commission. Obviously his physical body, and his soul being “mind will and emotions”, would speak to the need of managing a physical world, where as “his spirit” gained fellowship with God and became one way in which we communicate and make exchanges with others. None the less, as long as we are natural in our expectations body, soul and spirit will be active in our choices.

Of course we know that the Devil or “the prince of the power of the air” has also engaged man in spiritual ways. Adam and Eve’s encounter with the Devil in the garden was the moment that they gave up rights over their lives and over the earth. A spiritual contract was sealed that day which would allow the Devil and his minions to have a say over the affairs of men.

1 John 5:19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

So what broke the contract with that spiritual realm? That’s right, we are back to trusting in the work of the Cross.

Colossians 2:15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, Jesus made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

As we come forward into our own day and age we still utilize body, soul and spirit within a fallen world. In fact we would be hard pressed to not make fleshly triune exchanges with people and powers on a daily basis. This includes how we engage worldly activities and slide into all sorts of sins such as sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language.

Rhetorically I must ask; if a Christian engages in these sinful activities can these activities leave a mark? In other words does a freewill choice to engage in the flesh, the world and the Devil ever hold us captive to the flesh, the world and the Devil? Paul speaks to the issue;

Romans 6:16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Of course this is the basis of what we call “bondage” which amounts to “the right of a man to give away his authority over any aspect of his person. But make no mistake; we are deciding which kingdom will rule in our triune lives presently. The determining factor is clarified by Paul when he says;

Romans 8:1-3 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16, 17 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

Here is another defining moment: The flesh is the triune thing we are trying to lay down. What that tells us is we have baggage due to having one foot in the world and one in the Kingdom of God. Now Jesus began a good work in us and will carry it on to completion; but that still includes our participation. It is our obligation to shed a dependency on the flesh in all its seedy forms. For this reason Paul offers us a way out through death and at the Cross.

Colossians 3:5-10 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Paul adds support for how we actually put to death our sordid behavior; it is by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:12-13 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

Yes, transformation does require our participation with the Holy Spirit to walk in His ways. This deliverance amounts to making a simple request of God just as it was on the day of salvation; the same Savior, the same Holy Spirit, the same death in Christ, and the same separation from the flesh, the world and the Devil. And just like salvation we then experience the same newness of life on the other side.

Romans 6:4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

You might notice that Paul still believed in repentance. Repentance reminds us who we answer to regarding life and godliness. As touching any sinful matter, this is where we experience God forgiving us time and time again; 70 times 7 to be exact. However the deliverance that is now available to us breaks an unhealthy cycle of failing and repenting for the same sin. This is why Paul’s message of the Cross is so profound.

Certainly we have found a pure biblical example of deliverance still tied to our salvation experience. We highlight it as such because we should be running to it in order to throw off every imposing weight. And when we do we find that we have actually returned to basking in the arms of our First Love. So the plan of salvation remains complete and still waits for us to say yes to a renewed mind and heart. Hence a complete God, a complete salvation and a complete way to freedom should be the standard that carries us into eternity. Here’s a simple application worth applying to your walk with God.

“Jesus, by your Holy Spirit and at the Cross, put to death my sinful action (name it) and free me of the spiritual forces that have been feeding my habit.”

The request is so intricately tied to being born again that we can just as easily ask for more salvation.

“Jesus, I ask that, your continued provision of salvation, would free me now of my bondage to (Name it) and to the spiritual forces that have been feeding my habit.”

Of course since we are His children, even if we say ” Save me Jesus” He would come to our rescue enlisting all the benefits of His death, burial and resurrection in order to make “saving” happen.

Now let’s talk candidly about what sickens us. The simplest gospel is the one God first gave. So if man puts his hands on the plan of God he will start a new religion. For example;

2 Corinthians 11:3-5 says; But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

I’ve got news for you; there will come a day that we enter heaven and immediately know we were all wrong in our doctrine. That includes our take on ministry practice and a trust in forty thousand different Christian denominations. This is a sure sign that we needed a gospel that offers us a valid means of deliverance.

Since we have so completely bound ourselves up within religious nonsense a sure foundation does exists back at the Cross. And if we are smart we will allow even our own personal religious perspective to be challenged. In so doing we return to trusting in a pure faith. And keep in mind we don’t have to sweat or white knuckle are way to freedom; instead we simply put to death by the Holy Spirit our most precious sacred cows. Only then do we gain a better view of fellowship with Jesus and what it means to be part of the body of Christ.

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

There’s that “BEING saved” principle again!

Hopefully by now the ministry of deliverance can be held as a precious transforming practice in order to come closer to God. But let’s address the issue that holds many captive to spiritual foes.

Since we are body, soul and spirit we are talking about life and faith inappropriately drawing to ourselves spiritual control. Make no mistake; the Devil permeates worldly pleasures and adds spiritual seduction in a myriad of ways. If that gets passed on to us it represents a spiritual bondage that amounts to a possession.

A very vivid example of  spiritual bondage was present in the Bibles mention of Judas, though for the record I don’t believe he was ever saved. Judas so lusted after money that he betrayed the Messiah for thirty pieces of silver. A prophetic statement in Psalms shows us how his actions were once supported.

Psalm 109:5 KJV And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love. 6 Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.

The point of entry into the life of Judas was based on his own greed; Judas sought to save himself through greed and this trust or faith in his own accomplishments found spiritual support.

Was Judas then possessed and under the power of a demon? Yes, but let’s add some depth to our understanding.

In its simplest form possession can mean that Judas was in touch with a spirit that tickled his ears. Such a spirit alerted him to opportunities to steal and covet more money. This simple form of spiritual control doesn’t require any greater degree of ownership.

But then we know that a seducing spirit seduces the senses. When Judas basked in his victories a spiritual presence was there to enhance his experience in physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual ways.

However the four Gospels then speak of a greater level of bondage.

As Judas began to plot his betrayal of Jesus, Satan breached the veil of his flesh and entered into him (Luke 22:2).

Similar forms of exchange can affect us as well. For the believer we are then talking about various degrees of demonic control on our lives.

If you are wondering does the bible provide us a clear example of a Christian being possessed? Yes, there are two passages with two more honorable mentions.

1. Our first example is Paul the Apostle. Paul suffered an infirmity which was the direct result of a spirit altering his way of life.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9a Because of these surpassing great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”…

What we learn from this occurrence is; no matter where we remain stuck in process, God is always present to support us and sustain us by His marvelous Grace.

2.Our second example: 1 Timothy 4:1-3 Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

“Giving heed” is a unique term. In the Greek it means;

“To apply oneself to, attach oneself to, or hold or cleave to a thing”.

In this respect those that depart from the faith get owned by seducing spirits that are frequently hatched by embracing poor doctrine, poor ministry and poor religion. What is a doctrine of Devils? For the Christian it would be a belief that disrupts a trust in Jesus and a distortion of His simple gospel message. Yes, we have freedom to conduct ourselves in life based on the dictates of a natural world, but we shouldn’t make a doctrine out of it. To be held captive in this way is to choose our own unique brand of possession; hence depending on our previous sinful choices, activities, and associations each one can invite its own unique “level” of spiritual control. For this reason continued trust in deliverance has the potential of setting us free of the religious spirits that have defined our past attempts at devotion. This includes away in which those that have departed the faith can be restored.

Since we are a spiritual people and demonic control can follow along on our issues of human depravity, I also give an honorable mention to another couple of passages.

Jude 1:11 Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.

Here’s another example

Revelation 2:20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

These people died thousands of years prior, yet their actions have reappeared in the attitudes of others. We don’t necessarily find listed in the bible “the spirit of” Cain, or of Jezebel; Yet we have to ask why they are mentioned in the last two books of the Bible. Even the idea of a believer coming out of Babylon can’t relate to a fleshly exodus. No God is seeking to resolve a spiritual matter. Admittedly we don’t even find terms such as “a spirit of lust, pride or greed; none the less these terms reveal issues that are common to man. So a pattern repeats itself to the degree;

In order to access the same spirit all one needs to do is have the same fallen goals.

The strongholds that come about through mankind’s self centered rule have changed very little since their initial inception. History often repeats itself because spiritually induced ideas don’t die; they just keep getting passed on from one generation to the next.

You may ask why I don’t use examples of possession as they are revealed in the four gospels.

The gospels were a record of Jesus having been sent to the lost sheep of Israel. Their deliverance came prior to the death, burial and resurrection of the Son of God. It was a unique time of transition from the old and into the New Covenant. But could I use the four gospels as a means to validate New Testament deliverance? No; I can only validate that the triune nature of man is prone to getting into spiritual trouble. There is a reason I bring this up:

I believe in the ministry of deliverance and know that it can be beneficial in releasing a person who has been stuck in the world. Make no mistake I still offer praise to God for those that have been called to set the captives free. No matter their creative style it is still the Holy Spirit who is the Deliverer. For that reason people may want to mock a colorful messenger but they should find some constraint when realizing where the power actually comes from.

Where ministry can improve is in capturing what the Cross and salvation has accomplished for us. Once Jesus passed through death, burial and resurrection and entered the heart of the believer the rules changed. No longer did we need a person to be the liaison between us and God, but the Counselor and Deliverer remains within us. You may also know that deliverance isn’t a spiritual gift as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12, yet men do remain gifted in proclaiming freedom. They can function with the help of valid Spiritual gifts like “discernment of spirits, words of wisdom, and words of knowledge”; all these come in handy if called to minister in deliverance. However since Jesus is the new standard, the minister would benefit in teaching the people how easy it is to fish for themselves. And let us not forget that this new covenant of deliverance is freeing up our whole person in physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual ways.

Some will ask but what about all those radical reactions in the deliverance we’ve seen; won’t I have trouble when I am in my place of prayer?

That’s the beauty of a New Testament model. Jesus by the Holy Spirit is on the inside managing freedom for us. For twenty five years I’ve never had a negative reaction. It is the Holy Spirit that subdues and sends demons on their way.

Another question may arise; if the Holy Spirit is on the inside then why are we dealing with demons at all?

The simplest response is to say that we have yet to trade the perishable for the imperishable and remain making poor choices with the flesh, the world and the Devil.

Now I don’t deny that there are verses that speak to us about the victory we have in Christ. Many promises given to us in the Word frame in a victory, a place of solace, as well as a reward for being steadfast in our faith. I call these “positional truths”; in other words they are promises that are set in motion as we remain seeking after Jesus and pushing away from the desires of the flesh. Yes we can interrupt the free flow of God on our lives.

Still another question maybe on the minds of some; if the Holy Spirit is on the inside how can demons occupy the same body?

Well Paul’s condition should carry some weight in answering that. Having a messenger of Satan in the flesh suggests that we don’t rightly perceive what it means for us to be the temple of God. It is possible since we are called “God’s temple” His Spirit remains within His own holy of holies. That is speculation; but I will also say that it should be obvious that the Holy Spirit only dwells within our new man and not in the old.

I’ve heard another question brought about in conversation and I think it is a question worth answering.

Why don’t we see one example of a demon being cast out of a person prior to Christ?

What God did in the Old Testament was put a hedge around His people for their protection (Isaiah 5:5). This was to preserve a covenant of flesh that God gave to Adam. You might notice that even the Spirit of God did not enter Old Testament saints, but rather came “upon them”.  When the hedge was taken down in Job’s case he experienced great spiritual torment and personal loss at the hands of the Devil. Having been given permission to do Job harm, the evil that was inflicted on him was demonic. Yet Job was eventually restored and the Devil sent away. This in its own way describes a unique example of Old Testament deliverance.

Now that doesn’t mean there had not been demonic attacks in other cases. Yet these where imposed upon people at the direction of God Himself. In such cases God pronounced judgment on some people and released the hounds on them.

Why is there no sign of Christians being delivered in the four gospels?

It’s because there were no Christians in the four gospels. If you recall Jesus was sent to the lost sheep of Israel and the gospels are mainly a record of their salvation and deliverance.

Why don’t we see in scripture a demon cast out after the founding of the Church and after the Cross and the Holy Spirit had come?

You should know the answer by now; deliverance is tied to salvation and available to all.

Where in the Bible do we see any type of mass deliverance?

Salvation again answers that question. Technically speaking we all partook of One person’s deliverance which was a singular act of passing through death, burial and resurrection.

Many more things can be said about how to make the most of deliverance in the Christian life. I’ve written much on the subject within three books. The books are free in PDF form just for the asking.

Out from the Shadow of Other Gods

Every Christian is desperate for a true relationship and life changing experience with God, but our most prevalent model of success and failure has been religion. The things that have been taught to us have had more to do with man’s search for meaning, rather than allowing God to show us His ways. There is a place where religion dies and genuine relationship begins. The first in a series, the author provides a platform for change and a simple yet powerful way out from the trappings of humanities religion. Ministering with honor to the pastor as well as to the prodigal and revealing a surprising bounty of Jesus in every page. Get ready to be encouraged, challenged, and renewed in your walk of faith.

The Shadow of the Spiritual

Got Spirit?

That’s an interesting question, but after two thousand years of Christian history, maybe we should be asking “which spirit?” Though the Christian faith has been provided with a sure foundation in Christ, our propensity to get worldly or even religious has actually pushed us past safe boundaries. There is a quagmire of spiritual alternatives all vying for our attention, yet none of them has anything to do with a true faith in Jesus. “The Shadow of the Spiritual” is meaty, thought provoking, in-depth look into the rising tide of spiritual pollution within the Church. Its lingering effects remain oppressive and damaging to any believer who desires a pure expression of relationship with the Son of God. This self help book is a must read for any Christian wanting to understand how improper spiritual connections get formed, fed and how unhealthy spiritual bondage gets passed around. Yet, by embracing a simple biblical truth, we can separate ourselves from all sorts of added trouble. The second in a series, the author provides a platform for change and a simple yet powerful way out from the trappings of humanities many fallen exploits.

Lord I Want To Change!

Is It time for a change? The Christian life is not always an easy life. Though we are assured that all things have become new, “New life” may end up looking a lot like the old one. This is due to our inability to properly transition away from certain worldly influences. A growing number of our troubles include the weight of family dysfunction, years of social conditioning and any number of personal failures remaining a black mark on our record. All of these issues have a tendency to warp our sense of “self” and we walk through life emotionally crippled; yet Jesus has other plans for us. The Bible provides the Christian a “get out of jail free card”. Jesus offers us a simple and effective way of escape out from the trappings of a difficult past. If you have ever wondered whether there is more to the Christian life, then get ready to be encouraged, challenged, and set free in your walk of faith.

For free PDF Versions of any or all of the books, Send an E-mail message to [email protected] and in the “subject” heading abbreviate the title of the book you want. I’ll send it shortly.

Out from the shadow of Other Gods = ofs

The Shadow of the Spiritual = sos

Lord I want to Change = Lwc


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