The Rev. Dr Colin Warren wrote as a Uniting Church minister and former Principal of Alcorn College in Brisbane and Founder of Freedom Life Ministries. He ministered with teams who counselled and prayed with the sick and afflicted.
Jesus Christ is Lord. He reigns.
We can respond for healing and deliverance
in the power of his Spirit.
Christ has paid the price to set us free, but many Christians are not free. They are bound by compulsions or problems such as fear, grief, hurt, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, anger, lust, hate, sickness, or other emotional disorders.
Yet, many Scriptures promise freedom. Here are some:
‘So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed’ (John 8:36).
‘For freedom Christ has set us free’ (Galatians 5:1).
‘Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Many people in need of counselling, however, are not free. Why are there so many Christians who are not free? Does it mean that we cannot take these Scriptures literally? Or is there another answer? Our experience has shown that freedom is possible and we can take the Scriptures at face value.
The answer lies in taking Jesus seriously. The Christian church in many places, particularly in the western world, has not accepted the threefold task given to it by Jesus, that is to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and cast out demons (Matthew 10:78; Mark 6:13; Luke 9:12).
The area that most often needs attention to set people free is the area of the emotions. Paul’s prayer in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says, ‘may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Our whole being is involved.
This can be represented by three concentric circles. The inner-circle represents the spirit, the core of our being. Outside of that the middle circle represents the soul consisting of mind, emotions and will. Outside of that again the body is represented by the outer circle.
When we accept forgiveness obtained for us by Jesus on the cross and open our lives to God, God the Holy Spirit enters and dwells at the core of our being. No evil spirits can enter the core of our being when we are born of the Spirit of God. They can, however, afflict us to a lesser or greater degree at the levels of our soul and body. A result of that affliction is that we lose the fullness of freedom offered by Jesus.
All is not lost, however. Jesus gave power to the church to remove the offending intruders. This power was given to the twelve when he sent them out and also to the seventy-two who came back rejoicing because the demons submitted to them (Matthew 10:78; Luke 10:17).
Can a Christian be demonized?
The answer is both yes and no. Demons cannot take over the spirit of a Christian. They can, however, invade the soul and the body. Many beautiful Christian people have problems in the areas of their emotions, minds, wills, and bodies. These are areas that evil powers can invade. This robs many of God’s people of the total freedom obtained for them at such cost by our Lord. This state need not continue because Jesus gave the church power to remove demons and set the captives free.
A common false idea is that a person can only be demonised as the result of deliberate involvement with the occult. Evil powers or spirits have other opportunities to oppress a person beside occult involvement. Some of these need to be understood so that we can minister God’s healing and deliverance to the oppressed.
These ills or oppressions do not always involve demonization, so we need to avoid the opposite errors of seeing demons in every situation or of ignoring them altogether. We cannot attribute all pain, sickness, infirmity, or other ills to demonic spirits. Ministry in this area requires the use of gifts of the Holy Spirit including discernment of spirits, and words of knowledge and wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:810) coupled with training in this spiritual field to ascertain if spirits are responsible.
Demonic oppression may be caused in many ways.
1. Deep hurt in interpersonal relationships.
A woman confined to bed with severe pain was referred to us by her doctor. She did not respond to pain-killing drugs and had experienced severe emotional distress. After receiving counselling, which included casting out several spirits, she was able to leave her bed. Approximately two weeks later she asked for further counselling. On that occasion she was set free from other spirits which included those of infirmity, pain and sickness. Immediately the major areas of pain left her. When I met her approximately four weeks later she was free from pain, was filled with a new joy of living and was seeking to help others in need.
If we allow fear, anger, hurt, grief, loss, hate, bitterness, jealousy, rejection or other emotional areas to fester in our lives, or if through circumstances we cannot control they gain a foothold in us, that can allow evil powers to oppress us with a spirit associated with that particular emotion.
2. Inherited problems from forebears.
These may be seen as having only a genetic base. Yet they are often also of a spiritual nature. I have frequently found that such things as sickness, as well as other disorders, have come because of an ancestor’s involvement in behaviour which has passed on a curse to future generations.
One such case is of a successful business man whose life was made difficult by internal physical problems requiring three operations. When he came for prayer several spirits were oppressing him. These were bound to the truth revealing that his grandfather’s relationship with people involved in Luciferian rites had given Satan permission to oppress this man. When the spirits were cast out his condition healed and he was able to have a much closer relationship with God in his prayer and devotional life. This is just one of many such cases.
3. After severe accidents or sickness.
Sometimes people are vulnerable to oppressing powers of evil after serious accidents or illness. Spiritual forces of sickness, grief or infirmity may find entry.
A woman in her late sixties had been totally deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other. When she was twelve years of age abscesses had burst in both ears leaving her hearing seriously impaired. At first I thought that her physical impairment was an automatic result of the abscesses. However, I was constrained by the Holy Spirit to bind and cast out the spirit of deafness. She subsequently went to her specialist and had further tests. These confirmed that her previously totally deaf ear was now hearing.
4. Deliberate sin.
Probably the most prevalent area of deliberate involvement and continuing addiction applies to sexual sins. If a person is habitually involved with such things as pornographic literature or videos, sex outside of marriage, or masturbation, those actions give unclean spirits legal right to afflict the person in that way. We have ministered to many people with these problems whom God has graciously set free.
5. Transference from another person.
Given certain conditions a person can be infected with spiritual oppression affecting someone else. An example of this is when a person is in a fear provoking situation with someone who has a spirit of fear oppressing him or her. This can be the condition in which the spirit of fear multiplies and infects the other person also.
6. Involvement with the occult.
We are experiencing large numbers of people who have had a deliberate openness to or involvement with the occult. One example is of a seventeen year old girl who from the age of ten had been gradually getting deeper into occult things. This addiction led to Satan worship with its ugly rituals and sacrifices including eating the flesh of things sacrificed. She was trapped into something she could not escape, thinking there was no power that could deliver her. She came for help and claimed Jesus as her Lord. The spirits were then cast out and she has learned how to live a victorious Christian life and helps others to be set free.
7. The result of a curse.
Curses may not be just empty words. Demonic oppression can be the result of a curse placed on a person either deliberately or unwittingly by someone else where harm is intended and declared against another.
We ministered to a man in his late twenties who from earliest childhood had sexual desire toward males. He had never allowed this desire to be gratified but had suffered greatly from it. He had no desire for women. We have discovered many times that this so called genetic problem was in reality a spiritual problem. In his case, after three unsuccessful attempts to help him, we were told through a word of knowledge to pray and fast for some days. It was then revealed that the problem was the result of a curse on the family from a former generation. Such was the strength of the curse that we were told it would be two years before he was completely free, even though prayer ministry with him was successful.
8. Oppression by astral travel.
Invasion may occur by those involved in astral travel who deliberately seek to enter another person. This requires the breaking of spiritual, emotional and physical ties, and the doorways to the spirit need to be sealed to prevent reentry.
A university student came for counselling because she had the eerie feeling that she was being watched when she was in her home. As we prayed a name was given to one of the team. The student knew that the person named was involved in astral travel and had taken an unnatural interest in her though she did not encourage him. Through prayer, authority was taken over this spirit, the chains binding her to him were broken and the doorways of entry were closed and anointed with the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit. She had no further trouble.
These problems have all been dealt with on many occasions through prayer and deliverance ministry by teams sensitive to the Holy Spirit. People can be set free.
Freedom from principalities and powers
Our western worldview of rationalism has hidden from us the real meaning of much of Scripture. This is being rediscovered now.
An example is Ephesians 6:12, ‘For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.’
We have not understood the significance of this for winning the world for the kingdom of God. Many Scripture passages indicate there are hierarchies of demonic powers. I have described how evil spirits may be cast out of people and this sets them free to be the persons God created them to be. However, if we are going to carry out the great commission under the authority of Jesus to whom all authority has been given in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:1820), then we will need to use the means God has given us to do so. That will involve waging war on the principalities and powers of evil including conflict with world authorities of Satan and the territorial spirits controlling demonic powers over countries and cities.
The Holy Spirit convicted our church of this some years ago. We entered into prayer for eighteen months before God have us the names of the principalities and powers over our city. Then, after a day of prayer and fasting we were told by the Holy Spirit to have a further week of prayer and fasting. At the close of that week God revealed the names of these powers and how to bind them. This was done.
Since that time many people came inquiring about salvation and for counselling. The Lord has taught us that although it took the whole church to be in prayer for eighteen months before these strong spirits could be bound initially, those Satanic powers need to be bound daily.
All Satanic powers were totally defeated by Jesus’ atoning work on the cross. If we do not take advantage of the victory Jesus won then we as a church are not using the weapons God has given us in the power of the Spirit to win the world for Christ. This is why Jesus spoke of binding the strong man and plundering his goods (Matthew 12:2829). As we bind these territorial and ruling spirits God’s power is able to pierce the darkness and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit brings many into the kingdom of God.
Caution! Do not attempt to bind principalities and powers until the church has had sufficient prayer and God the Holy Spirit has given permission and instructions. The degree of prayer required will vary with the strength of the powers being bound. This varies with each situation, hence the need to be guided by the Holy Spirit. These powerful forces can cause great affliction to the unwary.
Real freedom through the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit will come when the church fulfils its threefold commission given by Jesus to preach the kingdom of God, to heal the sick and to cast out demons.
Jesus Christ is Lord. He reigns. Just as we can respond to his reign for our salvation, so we can respond for healing and deliverance in the power of his Spirit in our lives and in the world.
© Renewal Journal 4: Healing (1994, 2011)
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