I had been a pastor for 14 years when I encountered my first demon. At the time, I was pastoring a Baptist church. We had invited a team from the Vineyard to come minister at our church, and during their visit, we experienced a powerful move of the Holy Spirit. Some time earlier, a female evangelist was ministering at a nearby Assemblies of God church. Having heard that manifestations of the presence of the Holy Spirit occurred when this woman preached, I wanted to see for myself what was going on.
At one point during her teaching, a large man got up, roaring, making noises and growling. As his behavior got out of control, four men tackled him, one on each limb. They were screaming at him, and he was yelling, hitting and sweating. He got up and tried to run, and they tackled him again. They wouldn’t let him get away; they were wrestling with him. It was a classic deliverance scene, American-style, and it made me think I didn’t want anything to do with deliverance. Then this guy started vomiting. I’m not a fan of vomiting, so that really sealed the deal for me.
I believe a lot of the behavior we see during deliverance is nothing more than manifestations of cultural expectations. In our limited knowledge as a culture, we expect chaos and things such as vomiting when someone is experiencing deliverance. Other cultures have different expectations. Koreans don’t vomit. They burp—because that is what they believe is supposed to happen when demons come out of a person. Pablo Bottari teaches that vomiting and the like is not necessary to deliver people of demons. His 10-step model for deliverance is found in his book Free in Christ.
Deliverance Is the Children’s Bread
Each one of us is a body, soul and spirit, created as a spirit being. It is our spirits that connect us with God. When anyone asks Jesus Christ to come into his life, God’s Spirit connects with his spirit, and he is joined with Jesus. God’s Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16). When sin separates us from God, our spirits still function, but because the spirit was designed to connect and relate to God, sin causes it to separate from God.
The soul is also a part of our inner man. It comprises the mind, which gives us our capacity to think; the will, which is our capacity to choose; and emotions, which are our capacity to feel. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, and they give us our physical identity and enable us to relate to the physical world.
At the time of our salvation, we are totally redeemed—body, soul and spirit. The spirit is fully redeemed as God’s Spirit connects with ours. What has been redeemed in us must be reclaimed. Since God’s Spirit indwells our spirits, I believe our spirits have been fully reclaimed, but the soul must be reclaimed as well.
Deliverance is the “children’s bread” Jesus referred to in Matthew 15:26. It’s an integral part of the atonement and central to the ministry of healing He entrusted to His church. Deliverance, as New Testament reality, flows from the finished work of the cross.
We now stand in the place of victory with Christ, and it includes victory over the demonic. We never see Jesus wrestling or struggling with demonic powers. He always acts from a position of authority, manifesting the Father’s kingdom (Luke 11:20). He simply commands the demons to come out, using the authority He has from the Father, which the demons have to obey.
As believers standing in victory with Christ, we too have this authority. Jesus has commissioned us to go into the world with His Good News, telling us that miracles, signs and wonders will accompany us. He says specifically, “In My name they will drive out demons” (Mark 16:17).
We in the church today must be courageous enough to acknowledge our need to live in the reality of the nearness of the kingdom of God, for it is just as much at hand today as it was when Jesus first brought it to us 2,000 years ago. I believe the primary purpose of the power of God given to believers is to be a continuing revelation of His love and an integral part of the presentation of the gospel—which includes deliverance. How can someone embrace the Good News of the gospel if they are bound by the powers of darkness? God sent His Son to set the captives free, and Jesus is still releasing prisoners today.
The faddish fascination with the devil and evil that enjoyed resurgence in American culture in the 1970s ushered in a plethora of occult-based New Age practices that have taken root in our culture. Combining that with the half-truths of the entertainment industry, we are left with a spiritually confused culture. Intellectual evangelicalism tends to strong-arm the notion of evil, and thus the need for deliverance, while other segments of the church race after deliverance to such a great extent that they see demons behind everything that ails them.
Add to the mix people whose practice of deliverance borders on questionable and manipulative, and is it any wonder the church tends to throw up its hands in confusion when it comes to deliverance? But there is no need for the church to remain ignorant or confused about deliverance.
Identifying and Closing Open Doors
When ministering deliverance, begin the interview process with questions about relationships, specifically about the person’s mother and father, and continue from there. Look for areas where forgiveness may be necessary, where repentance may help break bondage. Look for hurts, sins, feelings of rejection or fear. Any hurts that are revealed will need to be acknowledged and forgiven. Consider whether a curse is involved if the person has persistent difficulty in an area of life. Also, remember that fear is an entry point for many different spirits and an underlying problem in many illnesses.
Look for open doors stemming from areas such as sex, trauma, addiction, curses, emotions, illness or the occult. Do not hurry this process; be patient, looking for demonic manifestations and the open doors they are coming through.
When you feel that the Holy Spirit has revealed everything, you are ready to begin closing the open doors. If possible during the interview process, have someone keep notes of all the doors that need to be closed. Remember, only one person should minister deliverance. All other team members should pray silently.
The process of closing doors always begins with forgiveness. Rather than asking the person who they need to forgive, ask them what hurts they have. Start by having the person forgive all those who have hurt them. It is important to be specific. Because it can often be painful to relive past hurts, provide comfort, hope, protection and love.
After all hurts have been revealed and forgiven, have the person release to God each and every person who has hurt them. If the person you are praying for is unable to forgive, do not proceed with deliverance; forgiveness must be given in order to be received. Bondage can be broken only when forgiveness is given.
If the person is able to forgive others, then they are ready to take the next step, which is to seek forgiveness for their own sins. They will receive forgiveness through this process of confession and repentance.
Have the person renounce in the name of Jesus all sins or spirits involved. This is the time when they must renounce all sex partners outside of marriage; and any inner vows, pacts or curses must be renounced and broken. Renunciation must be audible and spoken firmly; renunciation is not a prayer to God but a command spoken to an enemy.
Remain persistent and patient as you close all doors that could lead to future bondage. The person ministering deliverance should break the yoke of bondage and the power of any spirit. This closes the door. Declare, for example: “In the name of Jesus, I break the power of the spirits(s) of [name the spirit(s)] over [name] so that when they are cast out, they will not come back.”
Praying for deliverance is something that must be done with encouragement, acceptance and love. To deliver someone, demons must be driven away and access doors closed to prevent the return of the evil spirits. Access doors can be opened by hurts, sins and unforgiveness, and access doors will remain open if these feelings are not dealt with in a hopeful, loving way. Here are a few steps to guide believers through the deliverance process:
Practical Guidelines for Deliverance Ministry
When we minister deliverance, we are ministering to a person, not a demon. As you minister, counsel the person in order to bring forth the truth. Minister quietly, avoiding flamboyant demonstrations of warfare. Always give the individual priority.
The Person Is the Priority: Recognize and be sensitive to the fact that the person you are praying for may have lost hope of being set free after having spent years in bondage. Remain faithful, steady and comforting. Provide a loving, quiet environment for deliverance. Deliverance can be a long process. Do not try to rush through it.
Taking Authority Over Manifestations: The next step in ministering deliverance involves recognition of manifesting spirits. If a spirit manifests, command it to be quiet and submit to you “in the name of Jesus.” You take authority over a spirit when you order it to submit in Jesus’ name. You must be persistent, as it can take time to command a spirit.
It must submit eventually, so maintain faith. Dr. Arlin Epperson says that demons tend to know how much faith you have, just as dogs know if you have fear. Make sure not to stir the spirit by touching or speaking loudly to the person in bondage. Your goal is to quiet the spirit, not stir it up.
The spirit may manifest by causing the person you are praying for to growl, whine, argue, threaten or contort. Do not speak to the spirit unless it is to command it to submit in the name of Jesus. Ministry should be done in a quiet place where there is little distraction. Maintain authority and communicate clearly.
Determining Sincerity: When you have quieted any manifesting spirits and established communication with the person, it is time to ask them if they want to be free and to determine if they are sincere in their request to be set free. They must be sincere or the bondage can and will likely return. If you find that the person does not want deliverance and wants to continue with the lifestyle holding them in bondage, do not pray for deliverance. Provide love and encouragement, and end the session until they truly wish to be set free.
Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior: If the person is sincere and earnestly desires to be set free, then it is time to ask him if he has accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. This is important because, if he is a believer, the Holy Spirit will help him stay free. If he is not a believer, bondage can and likely will return. If he is not a believer, offer to lead him to Christ. If you cannot, then bless him instead and encourage him to continue to consider accepting Jesus as Lord.
Casting Out Spirits: You now are ready to cast out unclean spirits. Sometimes a person will indicate that the spirit is leaving by burping, yawning, jerking or wincing. If the person you are praying for starts to manifest or is strained in some way, all doors may not be closed. Ask the Holy Spirit for help.
Inviting the Holy Spirit: The last step in deliverance is to ask the person to pray that the Holy Spirit will come and fill all places that formerly were occupied by evil spirits. This is an important step. If the Holy Spirit is not invited to fill the places formerly occupied by evil spirits, the enemy can and will return to those places, oftentimes in a stronger way than before.
When you feel confident that all doors are closed, then you are ready to lead the delivered one in praise and thanksgiving to Jesus for his deliverance. This is a joyful time. Join in with your own thanks and praise.
Even though a person has been delivered, continued healing may be needed in relationships or other areas. John Wimber once remarked to me that deliverance is the easy part. The hard part is helping a person stay free and enter into a healthy relational lifestyle. Encourage the person who has been delivered to continue to seek prayer and counseling if needed.
Those involved in deliverance ministry should get in the habit of covering themselves and their family members with the blood of Jesus and putting on the full armor of God. After ministering to the demonized, take time to dust off any residue from the encounters. Ask the Lord to wash everything off you, to cancel any assignments of hell and to release the assignments of heaven over you and your team. Ask Him to keep your mind pure, guard your emotions, protect your body and bless those who would curse you.
Randy Clark is the president and founder of Global Awakening. A noted international speaker, he is known primarily for revivals associated with healing and impartation. He is the author of There Is More and co-author of The Essential Guide to Healing andHealing Unplugged.
A resource on this topic:
If you want to learn how to fight your spiritual battles with supernatural power and be free of oppression, read Randy Clark’s The Biblical Guidebook to Deliverance(Charisma House). You can find this resource on amazon.com, christianbook.com or wherever Christian books are sold.