Since coming to Cincinnati we have been working with guys who are in recovery from various serious serious issues including substance abuse. Our initial approach centered on having a deliverance “encounter” with each person when they arrive. This would last for at least 4 hours. These sessions have been very effective in breaking the “first wave” of issues that people bring. This includes deep wounds from the past, unconfessed sins, anger with God, etc. Exposing these things has enabled people to receive healing for the issues that underlie their actual problems.
What we noticed however, is that after that initial session, the follow-on sessions were not as effective. This is not because every demonic influence in a person’s life has been removed. It is because the ones that remain are deeply enmeshed in their personality. How do you address these? Can you cast them out? Mainstream deliverance ministries would have you think so. I believe that you can cast out any Spirit, but you can’t cast out a person’s character — and usually with this “second level” of issues, you’re talking about the two things working together. In fact, what we have begun to see is that people who have been floating around the charismatic community will tend to do things which are actually counter-productive:
- Blame their character problems on the devil.
- Talk about problems being in their “soul.”
In both cases, you end up with the problem being somewhere else other than with you. “Yeah, that spirit of accusation came on me,” is a convenient way of blaming the devil for you accusing someone. In this sense, the devil doesn’t mind being blamed. As long as you keep blaming him, you’ll never get rid of him! You are responsible to repent when a demonic spirit comes on you, you are also responsible not to obey it. So it is you we need to talk about, not the devil. When you are no longer friends with him, he’s easy to remove.
Secondly, the “soul realm” may be a nice apologetic to explain to Christians why they can have a demon, but it is not helpful in getting rid of them. People start thinking that they have no responsibility because it is in their “soul realm,” while their spirit man is perfect. I do not believe this is a Biblical teaching. The Bible teaches that we are sinners, and we need to repent, not just to come to Christ, but to stay clean. Don’t talk to me about the devil is operating in your soul realm, talk to me about how you sinned, and you are ready to repent. In order to be free you need to take responsibility and you need to start rejecting your sin BEFORE the consequences come in, not just after they happen.
The process becomes not one primarily of “deliverance” but of teaching and repentance. The devil likes us to dance around the problem when he is working through someone else. He wants us to avoid the person with anger, and to lie to the person who is pressuring us, etc. That way the person is never confronted with their own problem — and their demon is never confronted either. He has a nice “perimeter” from which to operate and stay hidden. The loving but firm confrontation is what actually helps to separate the person from the devil. They need to see what they are doing, and then they can disfellowship with it. After this correction, the “casting out” is not a big deal.