I would like to share a story with you concerning someone who came to me desperate for help. This account is written in his own words:
I had heard about it before—and what I thought about it wasn’t good. I am talking about deliverance. My mind went to some demon-possessed person, foaming at the mouth, pale in appearance, in a room with a man dressed in full religious robes and multiple cross necklaces! Not a comforting scene to say the least!
But…I was desperate! I was at the end of myself. Years of sexual addiction had created a stronghold over me. I had used up all the “chances” in my marriage. My latest and last mistake was it—the proverbial “final straw.”
So when I met with Chuck, and he said, “I know a guy who can help you,” I was quick to respond, “Yes, I will meet him.” Chuck told me I had done all I could in terms of my treatment except for one thing. He was right. Despite years of counseling (individual, couple, and group), countless 12-step meetings, outpatient rehab, and ultimately inpatient rehab, I still was not well. My mind wasn’t right. I didn’t know it at that time, but I needed deliverance.
Chuck was very vague about “this man” who could help me and even more vague about the process. I didn’t really ask any more questions, and he didn’t offer any more information. He told me he would reach out to him and see if we could meet in the next day or so. He tried to reassure me by saying, “Don’t worry, he does this type of ministry all the time.” I am sure he saw the fear on my face and felt the pain of my situation as the tears came down my face. I had been kicked out of my house for what I thought was the last time.
We parted, and I spent the next several hours driving aimlessly around the city to numerous hotels, only to leave in fear and not check in. Finally, in pure exhaustion, I checked into a Holiday Inn, telling the clerk that I didn’t know how long I would be staying. Later that night, I received a call from Chuck. He had spoken with the man and had lined up a meeting for the next evening! Chuck seemed very hopeful and excited that we could meet so quickly. At this point, I was desperate and willing to do anything to get free.
We met the next evening at the local YMCA, and he drove me to the man’s house. Although I had never been there before, I immediately felt at home when we drove up. It felt safe, and I had peace as we walked down the sidewalk to the home. We were warmly greeted at the front door by “the man” who now had a face and a name, Percy Burns. He brought us into his office; we all sat down, and he began to explain what he was going to do. He made me feel at ease and eliminated any fears I had. All my previous misconceptions about deliverance seemed to fade away as he began to minister to me.
He ministered for hours that first night and again the following night. Sitting here writing this several years later, I still cannot fully grasp or explain what happened those two nights. Percy didn’t know my story, my specifics, my trauma, my pain, but yet the Holy Spirit revealed things to him and allowed him to minister powerfully to my soul—to the deepest areas of my heart! I am sure of this: I felt a burden, a weight (I would now call it a bondage) come off me. I felt lighter, and I felt freer. I knew I had my mind back! I also experienced physical warmth, an almost electrical-like sensation, throughout my body. This unusual feeling lasted for weeks! I would later come to understand this as the Baptism of Fire or the Holy Spirit.
However, the most impactful thing for me was that I felt the love of my eternal Father—a deep, soul-changing, accepting love. As I think back, that was the first time in my life that I had encountered His love for me in such a real, tangible way. I was filled with a sense of awe and love for God. I had tasted His goodness, and it was like nothing I could have imagined!
I left Percy’s house forever changed, forever different. My gratefulness to his ministry cannot be expressed in words! My life since has been filled with the Lord’s presence. His undeniable love, mercy, and grace has become the foundation of my witness to other men who are in my former situation, desperate and at the end of themselves. I can tell them there is hope! I am a living testimony to it!
– a man set free from sexual addiction
Do I Need Discipline or Deliverance?
Do I need deliverance or just more discipline? This is a question I often hear. I learned decades ago that “deliverance does not take the place of discipline, and discipline does not take the place of deliverance.” In other words, we need both.
In the testimony of the man delivered from sexual addictions, we see that he had tried to be disciplined in his own strength. That might have worked at first, but because of his continual, willful involvement in the sin over the years, his attempts at discipline later on had little effect. The demons found a way into this man’s life through the willful sin. It took deliverance und disciplined obedience. I believe that is one reason why Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to “go, and sin no more.”
I once ministered to a lady whose practice was to get up early in the morning and have an hour-long devotional. That was followed by an hour of exercise. Even though she lived a very disciplined life, she still sought and received deliverance. It was not a matter of “either, or” but both discipline and deliverance.
In contrast, a person may be dramatically set free by the ministry of deliverance but never attempts to bring Christian disciplines to bear in his or her life. Consequently, deliverance may not have the full effect in that person’s life because he or she did not walk in discipline.
This ministry, like all ministries, depends on what you do with it. For the ministry of deliverance to have its full effect, a disciplined life must follow. The willful practice of a sinful life will allow demons that once came in to enter a person’s life again.
For emphasis I repeat the quote, “Deliverance does not take the place of discipline, and discipline does not take the place of deliverance.” It is important that we grasp this truth and make it part of the reality of our worldview. Some people have received deliverance and then made no changes in their lives. The long-term results were not nearly as good as they could have been had they walked in righteousness and self-control.
In contrast, some people are very disciplined, but they have bondages in their lives that wound those around them. Their lives also fall short of what they could have been with the freedom made possible by deliverance.
If you are like me, you love instant and dramatic changes in people. But in some people God works in different ways. After deliverance takes place, the Lord allows a person to learn to draw strength from Him and to exert personal discipline. Victory comes over a period of time rather than in a few ministry sessions. Either way He brings glory to Himself.
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Recognizing Destructive Patterns
There can be clues that point to a demonic problem. I will list just a few, but I am quick to say that this is not an exhaustive list. Anything that is excessive in nature or foreboding in emotion or defeating in living can indicate the activity of demons, especially if it is a defining lifestyle:
Defeated at every turn
Foreboding sense of darkness
One of the most important issues is how to determine if the source of the problem you are facing is demonic. As you prayerfully examine the list of possible clues, be courageous and honest enough to recognize if any of these patterns are present in your life or your child’s life. Are there any destructive patterns or sins that you cannot get victory over or resolve no matter how hard you try?
This could be an indication that the problem has become demonic in nature. It is time to suspect that the demonic is working against you.
If you are really brave, you could ask a trusted friend if he or she sees any destructive or driving tendencies in your life. The answer may be hard to hear, but be intentional in having an open ear. The Holy Spirit may be speaking through your friend.
I will amplify on the list of clues just a bit more. One indicator of a destructive spirit’s presence is bizarre thoughts that arise in your mind. Most of us have unwholesome and even dark thoughts that occasionally flit across our minds. I am not speaking of these kinds of thoughts. I speak of bizarre thoughts that are not you and have never been you. I suspect a demon to be behind this activity.
If you hear a voice speaking to you internally, encouraging you to do something you know is against God’s will, it is a spirit. Sometimes, such “a voice” will try to get you to harm yourself or harm someone else. Or the “voice” tempts you to return to previous sins or addictions in your life. This “voice” may try to cause you to mistrust God or to convince you that God doesn’t love you or cannot help you. Know that a demon has hacked into your thought process! The demon is trying to imitate the Holy Spirit promptings. Remember, the Holy Spirit never goes against God’s Word, the Bible. The Holy Spirit leads us; demons drive uns.
The Holy Spirit leads us; demons drive uns.
There may be times when you feel like another personality has taken over your inner being. For a brief period of time the “hacker” surfaces and spews out destructive words and actions. If something occasionally overshadows your personality and brings forth rage, wounding others, it might be a demonic force rearing its ugly head.
A frequent sense of confusion and or a struggle to learn and retain truth can be caused by demons. I realize that there are a number of “legitimate” factors that hinder our capacity to learn and to recall and to process what we have learned. But, if you are unusually indecisive and often don’t think clearly, the reason could be the demonic. Scripture states that we have the mind of Christ. He wants us free from confusion.
Spirits often can cause depression. I am mindful, also, that there are medical and physical reasons that cause depression. But, if there is no medical or physical reason for the depression, its source could be demonic.
Hopefully, this will help you better identify whether the problem is demonic or not. Again, it is only a sampling of what you may be facing. I have said many times to people that I would rather “chase” something that is not there, than ignore something that could be a demon in hiding.
Be encouraged! God is our Deliverer! He is your Deliverer; and if you have children, He is your children’s Deliverer. You do not have to live the rest of your life with these forces of darkness. You can experience glorious freedom!