The word deliverance brings up many pictures to many people. What is it, and when is it needed? How is it achieved?
What is Deliverance?
The Old Testament was written for our example. This means it is relevant to us as Christians today. When we look at deliverance in the OT, it was Israel, God's people, who received it.
Deliverance was needed to take the children of Israel out from under the power of raiding nations that pillaged their goods and killed their families. Today, the children of God are not miraculously, once and for all, delivered when they come to Jesus and are baptized, anymore than Israel of old was forever sovereign upon crossing the Red Sea.
The Red Sea crossing delivered them from the supreme control of Pharoah, just as our baptism delivers us from the supreme control of Satan. Did that mean Israel remained free? Were they established in the Promised Land immediately upon coming out of Egypt? No, and neither are Christians. We look to the Kingdom of Heaven as our Promised Land – but we are not there yet.
Deliverance simply means coming out from the dominion of sin. We were born UNDER sin and its power, (Ephesians 2:2) just as Israel was born under Pharoah and his power.
We are called to be overcomers. Simply put, this is that we come from "under" sin and its power, and 'come over' it. Whenever Israel made this transition, they were 'delivered' from the power of their enemies, and they often put their enemies under tribute to them, if they were not totally destroyed.
To overcome sin, we need to be delivered from the power of it. Jesus speaks to the churches in Revelation on the fact that our salvation is dependent upon our overcoming
When is Deliverance Needed?
Deliverance is needed whenever a Christian is serving sin. Can a Christian serve sin? You bet! Have you ever met a perfect Christian? In the areas of their imperfections, they are serving sin, rather than God. There is no third option in scripture. We either are walking in the law of love, or we are not.
The question, "When is Deliverance Needed?" will bring up a different response, depending on our ability to recognize sin and the magnitude of sin. Evangelically speaking, I think it is fair to say when a person is an alcoholic, even the church can see the need for the person to be delivered from it… for scripture specifically states a drunkard shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Deliverance is need to both deliver us from sin, AND the consequence of sin. Jesus paid the price for both. It is written, "who forgives ALL your iniquities, who heals ALL your diseases." It is written, 'by his stripes you are healed."
Remember the man who was lowered through the ceiling? Jesus said to him, "your sins are forgiven you." The crowd marveled at this apparent blasphemy. Jesus clarified by saying essentially, "what do you think I have been doing each time I have healed? which is easier to say? 'your sins are forgiven,' or take up your bed and walk?"
Jesus was saying healing and forgiveness are synonymous. How can that be?
Paul says, "Know you not to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey?, Whether of sin unto death…." Paul was writing TO THE CHURCH. Even after baptism, our daily choices impact us even unto death. If we walk in sin, in the church, the fruit is death. Think for a minute and I think you will agree – 'disease is death by degrees.'
Sin is the poison. Sickness is the symptom of sin. When Jesus removed the sickness, he also removed the poison of it, called sin. When sin is forgiven, the symptoms of it disappear.
I will not go as far as to say every sickness means the person is living in sin. I will however say that the majority of diseases we find are because we are not walking in perfect love. This link will explain in much further detail.
All this is to say, if we have chronic illnesses, it would be good to look into the possibility of heart issues. Are there areas where your heart has been broken? Are you also dealing with being addicted to known sins? Are there people who have wounded you so badly that you can't forgive them? Ask the Lord to search our hearts and reveal any hidden sins… for sin loves to hide. In being delivered from sin, the fruit of sin is removed as well… "He heals ALL thy diseases" is either a true statement, or it is not. Will we believe scripture, or our experience with illness more?
Deliverance is needed whenever we are operating under the power of sin. When we see sin in our lives and are not mastering it – but it is mastering us – we need deliverance.
How is Deliverance Achieved?
Deliverance is achieved by three means, depending on the level of encroachment of sin and the depth to which it is embedded in our lives.
1 – "You shall Know the Truth and the Truth shall make you Free." John 8:32. Many times deliverance is achieved simply by knowing the truth. When our hearts come alive to the truth, the lie of Satan's kingdom that has duped us into thinking we were not sinning, or that we had no choice but to sin, is exposed. Our faith in God ignites and our hearts totally reject the lie. The enemy has lost all pretense and defense and we are set free… simply by hearing a sermon or teaching, or a word of wisdom!
Addictions are great examples of this. Sometimes they miraculously go when a person hears a testimony or teaching on the radio. I know of a man who was milking his cows and listening to Christian radio. He was convicted of the sin of tobacco and knelt down right there, confessed and repented and the nicotene addiction was broken on the spot!
2 – "Resist the Devil and he will Flee from you." James 4:7. Other times, we hear the truth, we receive conviction, but the pull of sin is still there. This means we must engage the enemy though resistance. We must note the first part of this verse is to "draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." In the strength of that, we enter into resisting the devil (whether he is on the inside or the outside, it doesn't matter)
We throw out our cigarettes, we resist the pull to pick them up again. We throw out the angry heart and resist when anger knocks again. We confess our fear as the sin that it is, for "sin is the transgression of the law," and God's "law is love" and "whosoever fears is not made perfect in love." We find the strength to resist fear by first drawing near to God and resting in the strength of His love for us to protect us from the things we would defend ourselves against in our flesh.
In the course of time, the strength of sin diminishes and eventually goes away, leaving us with peace in that area.
3 – "Speak to the mountain."
"And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
"Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
"Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." Matthew 17:18-21
What did Jesus do? He CAST OUT a devil. How did He do it? He spoke to it verbally.
The third means of deliverance is the one focused on (seemingly exclusively) by deliverance ministries. They will teach the Word to prepare for deliverance. They will in the process of deliverance have the person draw near to God in Praise and Worship and prayer. They will have them resist the devil. Many times the devil is gone by the time they get to the third stage of commanding it to leave.
Notice Jesus spoke to the devil and commanded it to leave, then he told his disciples 'you shall say unto this mountain, be removed,'' and it shall remove. God uses mountains symbolically to represent kingdoms. It is no wonder Jesus naturally went from addressing the kingdom of Satan and commanding it to remove from this boy's life, to speaking of telling mountains where to go!
Many go around shouting at the devil, but if they are not filled with the Spirit, through much prayer and fasting, they are like the disciples whose words were powerless, though they had spoken to this thing to leave.
The Churches and Deliverance
Today even those churches who do not believe a Christian can have a devil, see deliverance. They do not recognize it as such, due to their theological limitations. They see saints delivered from alcoholism through the first two stages of deliverance – hearing the Word and Resisting. They promote 12 steps – which are clearly patterned on resisting the devil until the devil flees. Praise God, He honors His Word to the degree we believe it – "according to your faith be it unto you."
Regrettably, in the success of these deliverances, many churches take it as the whole counsel of God on the matter and they do not 'speak to the mountain' nor do they allow others to, without calling them apostate, or of the devil. When they do that, they are saying these other churches are not Christian, for if they believe a Christian cannot have a devil, and yet these churches are of the devil, they are saying these churches cannot have true believers in them and are false.
Because of this, a tone of arrogance is seen in how some respond to the teaching of deliverance through casting out devils as though it is maliciously given.
In all things let the Word of God be our Counsel. Nowhere does the Bible state "A Christian cannot have a devil" yet people will defend that statement and accuse others of being wrong because they demand others show where the Bible says, "A Christian can have a devil." The Bible does not clearly state it either way. When a Christian is delivered of a devil, some will say that proves they were not Christian to start with. Was Peter a Christian? He said Jesus was the Christ one minute and Jesus affirmed he heard from God Himself, and the next minute, Jesus looks AT PETER and says, "get behind me Satan." The truth is, the devil works through Christians all the time. A devil can live in a person without 'possessing' them. Most do! A Christian does not have to be possessed to need deliverance and have a devil come out of him. If it is easier for you to imagine, then you may think of it as leaving the person's shoulder, but the people so delivered often testify to the release of something internal.
I hope this helps clarify some points on the discussion of deliverance. There is a lot to be said on the topic and I have tried to boil it down as best I can.