What’s The Problem with Deliverance Ministry?

What’s The Problem with Deliverance Ministry?

A brief analysis of deliverance ministries, specifically from the point of view of curses and generational sin. This is not directed at any specific individuals but rather at a category of teaching and ministry that I have had various contacts with over the course of my Christian life. 

Deliverance Ministries may have various definitions or names among Christians. The most common definitions revolve around solving a person’s problems related to curses, demons, spirits, and possession. Those who promote and practice deliverance ministry (sometimes called healing or prayer ministries) claim that Christians can be indwelt with demons. In order to be free from addictions, depression, and all sorts of sins that may weigh or afflict the person, the demon must be exorcised. Deliverance ministry claims that this sets the afflicted person free from the “bondage” they are experiencing. It is common for the person to attend a series of “discipleship” classes ending with exorcisms as a form of treatment.

Dr. Günther H. Juncker defines Deliverance Ministry as “the name commonly given to Christian individuals or ministries who believe: 1) that Christians can have demons inside of them; 2) that there are specific methods, techniques, and prayers for discerning the presence of demons and for casting them out; and 3) that such exorcisms are a necessary prerequisite for living a successful and victorious Christian life.

I would like to make it clear from the outset that both my personal experience and biblical understanding lead me to the conclusion that none of modern deliverance ministry is based in scripture but rather is almost entirely based on subjective experience mixed with bad hermeneutics. In the worst cases I believe it to be a demonic deception in itself. I believe this unbiblical practice can have serious, even disastrous consequences, even though it claims to offer “freedom” to the individual.

Having said that, I would also like to make it clear that:

  • I am not a cessationist.
  • I believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit as practised biblically.
  • I 100% believe in deliverance from evil spirits. 
  • I have witnessed both demonically possessed individuals and true deliverance. 
  • I have had many experiences of deliverance ministry in operation. 
  • I have spent time with many Christians who believe they have been gifted with the ability to deliver others from demons. 

I will attempt to demonstrate from scripture that biblically there is no justification for the practices of this type of ministry.


When talking to people who claim to have the gift of healing or deliverance one often finds the topic of “curses” coming up. The premise is that, because of some action or inaction by you, a relative or someone else entirely, that you are subject to a “curse”. These curses are the reason you are currently experiencing some malaise (pain, anxiety, illness, etc). There then follows a period of prayerful enquiry of how you came to be under the curse and ultimately how you are set free from it.

The bible mentions curses over 150 times but the primary “go-to” text for curses can be found in Deuteronomy. Moses dictated that when the children of Israel were to come into the promised land they were to set half the tribes on Mount Gerizim (to represent the blessings) and the other half on Mount Ebal (to represent the curses). The Levites would then recite all the blessings and curses in a loud voice across the narrow valley that separates the two mountains. This valley is also the location of Israel’s first capital, Shechem, modern day Nablus. They were also to set up a monument and establish an altar on Mount Ebal as a constant reminder of both the rewards and the consequences of keeping (or not keeping) God’s commandments. 

Below is a list of the types of curses as outlined in Deuteronomy ch28 v.15-68

  • National issues
  • Lack of food/bread
  • Birth defects
  • Poor harvests, crops, herds
  • Confusion
  • Punishments
  • Failed projects
  • Diseases
  • Tuberculosis
  • Fevers
  • Inflammation
  • Drought
  • War
  • Plant diseases
  • Heatwaves
  • Untillable ground
  • Dust storms
  • Unable to defeat enemies
  • Boils
  • Cancer
  • Eczema
  • Scabs
  • Mental health issues
  • Blindness
  • Despair
  • Lack of success
  • Being robbed
  • No help
  • Adultery
  • Bankruptcy
  • Property stolen
  • Children deserting you
  • Oppression
  • Hard work but no benefits
  • Madness
  • Skin diseases
  • Nation given to others
  • Persecution
  • Taunted by others
  • Country a mockery
  • Failed crops
  • Famine
  • Lack of worship
  • No anointing
  • Children taken captive
  • Insects eating crops
  • Foreigners taking over the nation
  • Debt
  • Service of enemies
  • Hunger
  • Thirst
  • Cannibalism
  • Hatred of wife
  • Hatred of husband
  • Hatred of children
  • Plagues
  • Long lasting sickness
  • Foriegn illnesses
  • Barrenness
  • Worship or other gods
  • Lack of peace
  • Fear
  • Sorrow
  • Imminent death
  • Sold into slavery

The first question we must answer is: can these curses apply to us as believers in Jesus? 

1. Applied to Israel Specifically?

These curses should not be taken in isolation, they are the flip-side to the blessings listed in 

Verses 1-14. Additionally, they are the direct conditional consequences (both blessings and curses) of how Israel responded to God’s law.  

The Blessings

Deuteronomy 28:1 NASB

"Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.

The Curses

Deuteronomy 28:15 NASB

"But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:

So we see that “IF” Israel kept God’s law then she would receive the blessings, but “IF NOT” then the curses would come upon her. It was a conditional national application - If, then - If not, then. 

We know from the biblical narrative that for national Israel a cycle of blessing and cursing swung like a pendulum. From Moses and Joshua to the period of the period of the Judges, David, Solomon, the divided kingdom, exile into the captivity of Babylon, the restoration of Nehemiah and Ezra, the Maccabees, 70AD, to Israel’s re-creation in 1947, all demonstrate that nationally, God’s dealings with Israel has always been a cyclical chasening. 

But please note; God’s law as outlined in the Torah was for Israel ONLY. God never asked or expected the Gentiles (save those who converted to the Jewish God and dwelt with them) to keep his law - Only the Jews of Israel!

But ultimately in the New Testament we are told that to be under the law at all is a curse:

Galatians 3:10 NASB

For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM."

The real curse was that the Law had to be taken as a whole - if you broke one of God’s commandments you broke them all. Thus making it impossible to keep.

The Apostle Paul tells us that it is impossible for Israel (or anyone else for that matter) to keep the law, which is the entire reason why Jesus, the Son of God, HAD to come and die on our behalf. In fact the whole purpose of the law was to teach us about sin, that it was impossible to pay for that sin ourselves, and therefore required Christ to redeem us.

Romans 3:20 NKJV

Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

James 2:10 NASB

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

To attempt to keep God’s law is a curse in itself, as it is not possible for us to do it. More than that we are told to live by faith NOT the law. 

Romans 7:6 MKJV

But now we having been set free from the Law, having died to that in which we were held, so that we serve in newness of spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

Galatians 3:11 NKJV

But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

More than that, when the believers tried to introduce the keeping of the law, the Apostle Paul had to correct them by saying:

Galatians 2:21 - 3:1 NASB

"I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly." You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?

As previously stated, the law as outlined in the Torah was applicable ONLY to national Israel and therefore it follows that the conditional blessings and curses also ONLY apply to national Israel. However in a general sense ALL Gentiles are subject to some aspects of God’s law and its curses - These being a direct result of the fall of Adam (rather than the law of Moses) - Specifically the law of sin and death:

Romans 5:12 NASB

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned


Jesus Paid the Price.

By adoption, Gentiles who accept the Jewish Messiah are grafted in and become children of Abraham. So does that mean we now face the same conditional blessings and curses? No, not at all! Why? Because we are set free from the law (as are all believing Jews) by Jesus.  We are even freed from the general consequential curse of sin and death.

Romans 8:1-2 MKJV

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. But the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

In order to allow the promises of God’s salvation to come to the Gentiles and to nullify the curses of the law, Jesus actually became accursed on our behalf. 

Galatians 3:13-14 NASB

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

When we were born again we were set free. Set free from sin, set free from death, set free from any and all curses. Because we are washed in the precious blood of Jesus. It is really important to remember that Jesus set us free at the cross - it is NOT sanctification, not ongoing, not something we have to work at.

1 John 1:7 NASB

but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

His atoning sacrifice paid the price for all sin, for all time - there is no need to repeat it, ever, it’s done, eternal, everlasting - It is finished!

Hebrews 9:12 NASB

and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

2. Trusting in the Promises of This World

As believers in Jesus we are told NOT to put our trust/hope in the things of this world and its benefits. Jesus and the apostles told us that our hope is not in this world.

Mark 4:19 NKJV

and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

John 12:25 NKJV

He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

John 18:36 NKJV

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here."

Romans 12:2 NKJV

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Nowhere does the bible teach that our rewards are in this world, quite the opposite - in this world we will most likely find things VERY difficult, precisely because we trust in Jesus.

Luke 6:22 NKJV

Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake.

Matthew 10:22 NKJV

And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

Matthew 24:9 NKJV

"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake.

More than that, we are told that many have already suffered in this world for their faith. 

Hebrews 11:36-40 NKJV

Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

It is a perversion of the truth to suggest that anyone who may suffer any of the afflictions listed in Deuteronomy, such as poverty, persecution, illness, famine, blindness etc. are cursed in some way. This is simply not true. More than that it has the potential to place believers into bondage, desperately believing that in some way their problems in life are a result of a wrong relationship with God - when in fact it is more likely that the opposite is true.

This is a result of twisted “cause & effect” logic. It is fine to say that Israel suffered these types of curses BECAUSE of their actions. But you cannot flip that around and say that anyone who suffers from any of these afflictions does so BECAUSE of their own actions - that is nonsense. Was John the Baptist imprisoned and murdered because of some past sin? Did Paul suffer a thorn in the flesh because of a wrong relationship with God? Was Peter thrown into prison for worshipping idols? Was John exiled to Patmos for bowing down to foreign gods? Of course not. 

3. Adding to God’s Word

This whole “it’s all your fault” thing gets even more nonsensical when you add in generational sin and consequences. That, in some way, the actions of your ancestors have caused you to inherit curses and therefore require deliverance from them.

It is true to say that sin and death are passed down from generation to generation. All mankind has inherited this from Adam. It is also true that the consequences of individual transgressions can have long lasting effects on an individual, a family, a nation. 

But the bible says that at the moment we were saved we were changed, regenerate, we are not the same person we previously were.

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 NASB

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

All bets are off, all debts cancelled, NOT GUILTY - we have been made new!

Ah, but what about those consequences? Imagine a murderer on death row, guilty, sentenced to death, not knowing Christ, hell-bound. But then, through the grace of God he is saved, redeemed, a true repentant sinner! He is living a life pleasing to God, praying continually, preaching the gospel to his fellow inmates and guards alike, a son of the light, everyone who meets him smells the aroma of Christ... 

  • Is he the same person? No, he is a new creation. 
  • Is he going to hell?  No, he’s going to paradise. 
  • Is he still going to be executed? Yes, most likely! The consequences of that past life still affect him. 
  • Can he change that? No. But while he has breath he can serve the Lord. 
  • Will The Lord free him from prison and his sentence? Possibly, possibly not.

The point is that The Lord may or may not change the consequences of past sin, but that’s not what is important anyway - Our current walk with The Lord is.

These types of deliverance ministries always attempt to add steps and processes to either salvation or to the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification. It always seems like the message is, “Ah, your saved? That’s great, but now we have to go do something else to get you right with God or to make your life better for you in this world” 

Whilst it is true that none of us are completely perfected at the point of salvation, we are however a new creation, forever changed at the point of regeneration. Over time, the sanctification process is what changes us, through grace and ultimately we will be made perfect in Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Philippians 1:6 NASB

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

“HE” who began the good work will finish it - not US. We need not do anything but walk humbly with our Lord. Through our walk with God we are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Ultimately, at his coming we will all be perfected by Him.

1 Corinthians 15:52 NASB

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

It is important for us to always remember that when we were saved we were changed. No further work (other than the ongoing sanctification process) is required to make us fit for heaven. Any teaching that requires us to do something else to be truly free is an addition to God's word. In much of what is called deliverance ministry today we find teachings and practices not contained anywhere in the new testament. 

4. Shamanism in the Church

Almost universally in deliverance ministry there is a requirement for an intermediary, someone who through training, “gifting”, experience & practice has the skill-set required to “do the delivering”. I have chosen to call them a shaman but you could replace that with medicine man, witch doctor, healer, etc. 

The basic premise is that this individual has an understanding of the spiritual realms that ordinary believers lack and therefore would struggle to cope with or understand how to manipulate. Most often this is called “discernment” but it is not discernment as the Word of God describes it.

1 Corinthians 12:10 MKJV

and to another workings of powers, to another prophecy; and to another discerning of spirits; and to another kinds of tongues; and to another the interpretation of tongues.

I would suggest that the “spirits” mentioned here is a general term whereby we as believers are able, by revelation, to determine whether or not what we believe we are seeing/hearing is indeed from God or not. An example would be when Peter, by the Spirit, knew that Ananias was lying:

Acts 5:3 MKJV

But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart for you to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

It would seem that the primary use of discernment is to spot erroneous teaching or false prophets.  

1 John 4:1 NASB

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Ephesians 4:14 NASB

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

However, this “gift of spiritual discernment” has been almost totally usurped by deliverance ministries to exclusively relate to the identification of demons (usually by name). Don't get me wrong, I do also believe that by revelation it is possible for believers to recognise the activity of the wicked one where the unsaved cannot, but I do not see this as the primary reason for the gift. 

It is clear from scripture that there are (evil) spiritual forces at work in this world and they seek to divert, mislead, thwart and deceive the believer in any way possible.

Ephesians 6:12 NASB

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

1 Peter 5:8 NASB

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

But we are told how to deal with this in simple and clear terms.

Ephesians 6:10-11 NASB

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armour of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

Put on the whole armour of God and “Stand Firm” that’s all. James says “Submit to God, resist the Devil and he will flee from you”. We are certainly NOT instructed to enter these “heavenly places” and seek out these “spiritual forces” to do battle with them. As an example of the type of thing I am referring to; in C. Peter Wagner’s (a major Christian author in this area) book, Confronting the Powers (1996), he says:

“I suggest that it may be possible to receive selected, but valid, information from the world of darkness itself. I am careful to stress strongly that discernment is needed while attempting to do this because evil spirits are by nature deceivers and they must be treated as hostile witnesses. Nevertheless, certain people such as shamans, witch doctors, practitioners of Eastern religions, New Age gurus or professors of the occult on university faculties are examples of the kind of people who may have much more extensive knowledge of the spirit world than most Christians have. Some of the information they furnish is accurate”

He tells us to use “discernment” when gaining information from the world of darkness. But discernment is impossible when going into an unseen world. The discernment the Bible gives us is objective and concerns the confession of Jesus Christ (1John 4:1-5). These shamans are disqualified on that ground. Wagner encourages Christians to seek truth from the very people God condemns.

Deuteronomy 18:10-12 NASB

"There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. "For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you.

Even if some of this information is accurate, it is nevertheless forbidden in the strongest terms possible. God forbids us access to secret knowledge for our own spiritual good, not because some of it might be inaccurate. It is forbidden because it is destructive—regardless of whether or not it is true!

Deuteronomy 29:29 NASB

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.

In seeking to combat forces that are rallied against us, deliverance ministries inadvertently become part of the problem. Attempting to use divination and secret knowledge as a method of healing problems that don’t even exist anymore. 

5. But What About Generational Sins?

Deliverance ministries often times indicate that your current life problems may be rooted in something that one of your ancestors was responsible for.

It is completely true that the bible clearly states in multiple places that the sins of the fathers will be visited on their sons for multiple generations:

Exodus 20:5 NASB

"You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,

Deuteronomy 23:2 NASB

"No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD.

Numbers 14:18 NASB

'The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.'

However there are a few things to consider in these statements. 

  1. As mentioned above, they are specific warnings to the Jewish nation living under the conditional law. I cannot stress this enough. As Christians we are NOT bound by the law of Moses.
  2. There is nothing even remotely like this in the new testament.
  3. If taken literally they would seem to indicate that it only affects the male lineage of a family.
  4. These are judgements metered out by God and make no mention of the activity of Satan or demons etc.
  5. If read in context there is always the possibility for forgiveness.


Taking this last point first, we can see a clear connection between judgement and forgiveness when we look at the Numbers ch14 example in its full context, we find Moses pleading with God....

Numbers 14:17-20 NASB

"But now, I pray, let the power of the Lord be great, just as You have declared, 'The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.' "Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness, just as You also have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now." So the LORD said, "I have pardoned them according to your word;

So it is clear that these generational consequences (curses) are conditional on continued sin and unrepentance. By the same logic they can also be cancelled through repentance, God’s mercy, or in this case, by Moses’ intercession.

2 Chronicles 7:13-14 NASB

"If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

If this mercy was available to Israel under the old covenant, how much more is it available to those living under the new covenant? More than that, it is in itself, found in the atonement.

Isaiah 53:5 MKJV

But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was on Him; and with His stripes we ourselves are healed.

Just a cursory look at the scriptures regarding justification and regeneration can lead us to no other conclusion than we have been set free from any and all guilt from past sin, even those that are ancestral (if you wanted to include them) or unknown to us - Anything less would be to deny the sufficiency of the cross. At our new birth everything changed. Any debt to this world or it’s wicked ruler, Satan was nailed to the cross.

Colossians 2:10-15 NASB

and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

What further rebuttal does one need than these beautiful verses.

6. God’s Righteous Judgement or the Works of Satan

Proponents of deliverance will endeavour to demonstrate that through sins we committed before we were saved, curses or ancestral connections, Satan has a pathway to infect a believers life. What they seem to ignore is that in most of their prooftext it is not the activity of the enemy being demonstrated but the righteous judgement of God.

In Derek Prince’s (a popular author of deliverance theology) book “They Shall Expel Demons” he explains how he believes generational sins operate. 

God warns against all forms of idolatry or other involvement with false "gods." The evil consequences of these particular sins can extend to four generations. Counting backward for four generations gives us four levels of ancestors: Parents (2), Grandparents (4), Great-Grandparents (8), Great-Great Grandparents (16)  Total: 30

Any or all of these thirty persons could be a channel through whom we may have been exposed to satanic influence. I doubt if any of us can guarantee that none of our thirty immediate ancestors was ever involved in any form of the occult or false religion. This occult influence can begin while we are still in the womb. After all, what is weaker or more helpless than an unborn baby? It is entirely dependent on its parents for protection. Righteous, God-fearing parents provide that protection, but parents with an occult background expose their babies to the same spiritual influences that are at work in their own lives.

I have discovered that such babies are often demonized before they emerge from the womb. This is particularly true of people with backgrounds in Eastern religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism, or other false religions such as Freemasonry or Mormonism. 

Notice how Prince puts the emphasis on the works of the enemy rather than on God’s judgement. If we are talking about an unsaved, unregenerate person then he “may” have a case but really there is no need to try and justify any kind of generational curse, as ALL the unsaved are under the curse of sin and death and in the power of the ruler of this world. All those who don’t know Jesus as saviour are effectively owned by Satan and therefore are automatically “a channel through whom we may have been exposed to satanic influence”

John 8:44 NASB

"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Romans 5:12 MKJV

Therefore, even as through one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed on all men inasmuch as all sinned:

But Derek Prince is not talking about the unsaved, not talking about the unregenerate, he’s talking to Christians. If he is to be believed then we have not left the power of the wicked one, we still belong to him in some way. However the scripture clearly states the opposite:

Colossians 1:13-14 NASB

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

To put it into worldly terms - we have emigrated! We are the subjects of a different King now. The old king has no authority over us as we are no longer in his country. The old rules no longer apply. Yes, we still physically reside in this world but we have the spiritual equivalent of “Diplomatic Immunity” because this is not where we really live...

Ephesians 2:4-7 NASB

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Notice the past tense... “raised,” ”seated.” We are already citizens of heaven. Hallelujah! 

Even if it were not so that we had not been set free from darkness it would still be false to suggest that the enemy was the reason for the continuing effects of sin in our lives. No, in every scripture that mentions any kind of ongoing or generational punishment for sin it is God himself who is responsible:

Exodus 20:5 NASB

"You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,

7. Present and Ongoing Effects of Sin.

Whilst the guilt of past sin has been atoned for there is still the possibility of ongoing effect of sin in our lives. Some examples might be:

  • The death row prisoner who comes to salvation but is still in prison.
  • The former prostitute, now saved but dying from STDs.
  • The gambler who went bankrupt, found Jesus but cannot get a mortgage.
  • The redeemed alcoholic, now dry but suffering from liver disease.

In all the above cases the consequences of past sin still lingers. But surely “we are made new” I hear you say. Of course, we are born again, born of the spirit. Jesus has redeemed us, paid the price - we belong to him. So why hasn’t he finished the job? Well the answer is he did already, at the resurrection. Jesus being the first fruits of it but all of us will also be partakers of it on that glorious day. 

1Co 15:42-44 MKJV

So also the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

So the sanctification continues until that day. It is true that the Lord may heal us or set us free from our current worldly struggles, but He may not. Does that matter? Well the apostle Paul says in Philippians that:

Php 1:21-24 NASB

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.

Paul actually says that it would be better to die than to go on in this life, in fact he says it “is very much better” to die. This begs the question - Why don’t we just die the moment we are born again? The truth is, it would be better for US but not for the Lord and not for others. 

As believers we have work to do. As part of the body in fellowship with others (ministering, teaching etc) and taking the Gospel out to an unsaved world. Our physical health, well-being, status, persecutions, wealth, temptations, possessions, jobs, etc are actually not important. For God will use us even when we are at our lowest ebb and he’ll never try us more than we can endure. For there is a purpose in our suffering.

2Co 12:7-10 NASB

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

1Co 10:13 NASB

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

Rom 5:3-5 NASB

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

The point is that in this world we’ll suffer the consequence of sin, maybe of our own past, present or future sin. But because of repentance, forgiveness and mercy we have been set free from the penalty that was due us. 

It is possible that we may even suffer because of the sins of others, perhaps our parents, our children, those who oppose and persecute us, or maybe even our ancestors past sins. But NONE of these have any power over us. Even the worst efforts of the enemy merely serve to build us up in the faith.

8. Putting the Saints into Bondage

Perhaps one of the saddest and most dangerous aspects of this type of deliverance and healing ministry is the effect it can have on believers.

To tell a believer that they may NEED to be healed or set free from curses, historical sin or demons is to a) deny the sufficiency of their salvation and b) to take their eyes off the continuing work of the Lord and put their focus on their own needs. 

Ask yourself - Who is it that denies the sufficiency of the cross and gets us to think about our own needs? 

Notice how it usually starts with some personal life issues - illness, anxiety etc. But rarely is the cause obvious. It always takes “investigation” to understand what spiritual ailment is at the root of our problems. It is always “complicated”, “difficult”, “a lengthy process”. What a contrast to the simplicity of faith in Jesus.

Rom 10:13 KJV

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Act 16:31 NASB

They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."

Rev 3:20 NASB

'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

And perhaps one of the most wonderful examples in the scripture of the transition from death to life...

Luk 23:40-43 NASB

But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? "And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."

Oh! How we love to complicate things. Every false religion that ever existed, be it Mormonism. Islam, Catholicism, Bhudism, Hinduism, Rabinic Judasim, whatever... they all have one thing in common, they all deny the sufficiency of the cross in some way to pay the price required for sin. They also require the adherent to “do something” to be fully saved. 

The “deliverance ministry” does exactly the same, as I’ve highlighted, denying the sufficiency of the cross and placing the believer into a cycle of self-examination from which a believer is rarely fully set free - having to always return again and again to “the process” of deliverance/healing. The only examining we are called to do is to check to make sure we are actually saved.

2Co 13:5 MKJV

examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith, prove your own selves. Do you not know your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are reprobates?

Also notice how a large part of the teaching on deliverance is based on personal experience rather than scriptural exhortation. 

Over 50 pages of Derek Prince’s book “They Shall Expel Demons” are a catalogue of personal experiences. Approximately 27 pages are exposition of scripture, whilst the rest (187 pages) is given over to either justifying the process of deliverance, examining and explaining the occult or outlining how this “method” works. I would classify most of this book as...

Mat 15:9 NASB


John Wesley said “Teaching the commandments of men - As equal with, nay, superior to, those of God. What can be a more heinous sin?”

The rise of the faith prosperity movement took this idea even further. The basics of which are that:

  1. If you are sick/troubled/poor it is because of either sin or a demon
  2. You can claim your healing in Jesus’ name and you WILL receive it
  3. If you don’t receive it then it is your lack of faith that is to blame

This teaching is just so obviously false that it is hardly worth exploring. Remarkably though you can usually demonstrate your faith by giving generously to the [insert televangelist name here] ministry.

However it does have some similarities with the type of ministries we are looking at. They both make the connection that there is some root cause to your troubles that you can get a solution to. That in some way you have a right to be set free, they both have an expectation of healing. That the solution to your problems can only be found by your own efforts (in some way). 

Ultimately all these ministries do is put people into a place where they are continually seeking and rarely finding. In the worst cases being told it is their own faith that is at fault.  

9. The Power of the Enemy

In much of what is called deliverance ministry the emphasis seems to be firmly weighted towards Satan, demons, the forces of darkness generally and what effect they can have on a believer. It is my contention that this is not just overstated but vastly exaggerated to the point of  fear mongery.

Satan is one of the most powerful (if not the most) being ever to have been created. The scripture makes clear that he has power and authority. In fact we are told that he is the ruler of this world and everyone in it, he is the prince of the power of the air, the god of this world and the evil one. 

John 12:31 NKJV

Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.

Ephesians 2:2 NKJV

in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,

2 Corinthians 4:4 NASB

in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

1 John 5:19 NASB

We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

In the temptation narrative we even see how Satan has the (implicit) authority to offer the kingdoms of this world to Jesus if he will only bow the knee.

Luke 4:5-7 NKJV

Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours."

IF this is true then surely we are in trouble? The problem is that Satan’s power and authority is not given to him by God. Any power he has, he took for himself.

Isaiah 14:12-15 NASB

"How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! "But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. 'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' "Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit.

However, ultimately he has no authority over God. He is powerful but not all-powerful - he has vast knowledge but he is not all-knowing, and he is certainly not omnipresent. 

Likewise he has no authority over those whom Jesus has purchased with his precious blood, as they don’t belong to him. Quite the opposite is true. God has ALL the authority! 

I recall a story I once heard where a well known minister was disturbed in his sleep - He woke to find Satan standing at the foot of his bed. He looked at him, said “oh... it’s only you” and went back to sleep.

How accurate this tale is I have no idea but I’ve always liked it for two reasons. Firstly, it illustrates the principle that is so clearly taught in James - “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 NASB) and secondly it also showed me that there was no need to fear the enemy - as no matter what happens, nothing, not even the most powerful created being has the ability to snatch me out of God’s hands.

Romans 8:38-39 NASB

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

One other thing that this story showed me was that the immediate reaction was not one of leaping to battle stations, no casting out “in the name of Jesus”, no binding and loosing.

When Paul was in Athens we read:

Acts 17:16 NASB

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols.

The entire city was given over to the worship of other gods. Other gods or foreign/false gods are simply demons (1 Cor 10:20) masquerading as gods. So Paul finds himself standing right in the middle of the worship of false spirits and demons. Notice that he doesn’t suddenly begin some kind of ritualistic procedure to expel the forces of evil, or start claiming the blood of Jesus over himself for protection. No, but what does he do? 

Acts 17:17 NASB

So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.

He preached the Gospel! The antidote to the presence of evil is the revelation of Jesus Christ. 

So if the enemy cannot spiritually harm us, even when we are in proximity to him or his agents, what CAN he do? I’ll not go into too much depth, but I can see at least the following in scripture:

  • Tempt us into sin (Mar 1:13)
  • Accuse the brethren before the Father (Zec 3:1, Rev 12:10)
  • Counterfeit the miraculous (2Th 2:9)
  • Persecute the church (Rev 2:10)
  • Try to deceive with false doctrine (1 Tim 4:1)

If my reading of scripture is correct - he can actually do nothing to a believer without God’s permission. This understanding is specifically demonstrated in the book of Job but also in other places in scripture. 

Luke 22:31 NASB

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;

Ultimately though, anything we go through as believers, even if it was instigated by the enemy, is either for our benefit directly or so that God can be glorified. 

Romans 8:28 NASB

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

2 Corinthians 12:10 NASB

Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB

in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

But please remember - his relationship with the rest of the world is entirely different to that of a believer.

1 John 5:19 NASB

We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

We also know from scripture what the enemy CANNOT do:

  • Make us sin (Jas 1:13-15)
  • Tempt us more than we can bear (1Co 10:13)
  • Control our actions (Jas 4:7)
  • Be everywhere at the same time (Job 1:7)
  • Do anything without God’s permission (Luk 22:31, Job 2:6)
  • Steal our faith (Rom 8:38-39)
  • See into our hearts (1Ki 8:39)
  • Defeat God’s plan (Rev 12:10)

The tendency with deliverance ministries is to overplay the power Satan has over a believers life. The idea that Satan or one of his demons can take control of a believer’s life in some way is pure fantasy and is not supported in scripture at all.

It is certainly true that through not walking with God in a right way or through sin it is possible to allow him a foothold in our lives. But unless the individual has backslidden beyond a terrible point, effectively rejecting the gift of salvation, then there is always a solution to sin - it’s called repentance.

And finally we also know that Satan is ultimately defeated because of the cross of Jesus

10. Demonic possession, oppression and Christians

It might seem like semantics to differentiate between possession and oppression but I believe that there is an important difference. Possession is what I would define as when the forces of evil are working from "inside" an individual, whereas oppression is where they work from "outside" a person. For me, when I read...

Mark 5:2-9 NASB

When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; and shouting with a loud voice, he *said, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!" For He had been saying to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!" And He was asking him, "What is your name?" And he *said to Him, "My name is Legion; for we are many."

... it is clear that this poor man’s entire being had been taken over by demons. He was completely under their control in all aspects. Being that we know “the fruit of the spirit is self control” (Gal 5:22-23) and we also read:

Luke 11:21 NASB

"When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed.

I find it hard to believe that this man could also have been filled with God’ spirit. But we do see instances where it would seem that people (obvious believers) are indeed troubled by demonic powers, either in their physical bodies, their mind or in their life in general. But importantly I see that even in these afflictions they still maintain and demonstrate the fruit of the spirit.

So we know that the Bible is crystal clear that it is possible for human beings to be invaded and controlled by unclean spirits, demons or forces of darkness.

Mark 1:23-24 NASB

Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!"

Matthew 12:22 NASB

Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw.

I think one of the most obvious questions we need to ask ourselves is, as a spirit filled, born again believer in Christ, is it possible for us to be possessed?

Well the answer has to be NO you can’t. For the very simple reason that if Satan had the ability and authority to just possess a believer at will then every believer would be! Another reason would be that scripture seems to indicate that those that are the Lord’s, Satan cannot touch.

1 John 5:18 NASB

We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.

But interestingly, we see in this scripture a link between sin and Satan’s ability to do us harm... more on that later.

Well the next question must be, are there any circumstances where it becomes possible? Again I would say the simple answer is NO for the very straightforward reason that there is no evidence anywhere in scripture of it happening to any believer. Quite the contrary: In Colossians 1:13, Paul says God “delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”  Salvation brings true deliverance and protection from Satan. In Romans 8:37, Paul says we overwhelmingly conquer through Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:57, he says God gives us the victory. In 2 Corinthians 2:14, he says God always leads us in triumph. In 1 John 2:13, John says we have overcome the evil one. And, in 4:4, he says the indwelling Holy Spirit is greater than Satan. How could anyone affirm those glorious truths, yet believe demons can indwell genuine believers?

However I’d like to qualify this. Many might argue that Judas was possessed, which is quite true, and more than that he was possessed by Satan himself!

Luke 22:3 NASB

And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve.

My personal belief is that Judas was never saved in the first place and I believe the scripture supports this. For example:

1 John 2:18-19 NASB

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.

Even so, I am quite prepared to accept that it is possible to reject your own salvation. 

Without entering into a debate about eternal security I will say this. Either Judas was never saved in the first place or he actively decided to reject Jesus and fell away beyond a terrible point. Whether it is one or the other it is clear that, no matter what the starting point was (unsaved or saved) his state in the end was exactly the same either way and he became vulnerable to possession.

Another scripture that might point to this type of rejection of God resulting in demonic takeover would be:

1 Samuel 16:14 NASB

Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him.

So the longer explanation is: There is no evidence in scripture of a believer in Jesus being possessed. There “might” be evidence of a believer who has subsequently rejected their salvation being possessed. 

Ask yourself this question - If believer’s deliverance from curses or demons was even half as important as we are told - if it is true, then is it not very strange indeed that no deliverance of any kind is mentioned or taught or practised on any born again, Spirit-indwelt believer in the New Testament? If it truly is such an important area of a believers walk, why can it be found nowhere in the New Testament. Nowhere! Not in the Gospels, not in the Epistles, not anywhere! If the New Testament contains all that is needed for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3), and for equipping the Saints for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17), then deliverance is at best completely irrelevant and unnecessary.

Demonic “Oppression” is somewhat different. It follows that, if the unsaved can be possessed then they can obviously be oppressed also. But what about believers in Christ?

In scripture we find verses like this:

2 Corinthians 12:7 NASB

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

1 Thessalonians 2:18 NASB

For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and yet Satan hindered us.

Revelation 2:10 NASB

'Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Mark 1:13 NASB

And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.

1 Chronicles 21:1 NASB

Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.

1 Timothy 4:1 NASB

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,

This is simply a selection but you can see how when the powers of the wicked one are employed against a believer it can manifest in a myriad of ways. From temptation to sin, to the thwarting of our plans, to physical disability, to persecution or even doctrinal deception.

The real point is that light and darkness cannot occupy the same space, or person.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 NASB

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.

No fewer than 7 times the bible speaks of our bodies as being the temple of God.

1 Corinthians 3:16 NASB

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

John 2:21 NASB

But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

When I read about the temple of God I read that it was constructed in three main sections.

  1. The outer courts - this was the part of the temple that everyone had access to. It was visible to all. This corresponds to our physical body.
  2. The holy place - No-one could enter here except the priesthood it was a restricted space and only those permitted to enter were allowed in. I believe this relates to our personality, our emotions, our intellect - our soul, if you will. 
  3. The Holy of Holies - Only the high priest himself was permitted to enter here (and then only once a year) as this is where the presence of God dwelt. This I believe corresponds to our spirit - The place where God dwells in us.

If Satan or his minions are not permitted to enter the Holy of Holies (because that is where God dwells) can they enter into the Holy place? It would seem from the scriptures I mentioned a moment ago that they can.

Every believer's personal experience will testify that at some point or other that they have faced some kind of temptation or situation that caused them to react in a wrong way. For sure this is exactly how the old man wants to behave - But doesn’t Satan love to stir the pot from time to time? And sometimes our reaction to temptation or attack has the most disastrous outcomes and not just for us - I think of “Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.” This one act of David’s sin cost the lives of 70,000 men! 

Likewise I know many Christians who have believed the lies of the Devil in regards to false doctrine. The usual result of wrong doctrine is wrong behaviour. I know of a man, who as a young believer was taken in by a group who promoted “once saved always saved” and he believed that it didn’t matter what he did in his life, even continuing in sin, as his salvation was eternally secure.

Are not both of these examples of Satan coming into our very soul to attack us? The solution to both these believers problems was not exorcism or deliverance, but simply repentance. An acknowledgement of our sinful behaviour and a turning back to righteousness.

Now we come to the tricky one - The body - Illnesses, physical afflictions, disease, bad backs, failing eyesight, to name but a few of the maladies we might all suffer from. Are these always from the enemy, or only sometimes and how do we tell the difference. 

Well first of all I’ll state the obvious - we are fallen! As such our bodies in this world suffer from the result of the fall. If you like science then lets call it entropy. Whichever way you look at it, at some point we all physically die, and usually because one or another part of our physical bodies has failed in some way. After extensive research I have concluded that, (bar Enoch and Elijah) the mortality rate for human beings is 100%

Having said that, it is also clear from scripture that sometimes the reason we get sick can be spiritual, perhaps even because of the forces of wickedness. What do we do about that? 

Let’s look at Paul’s example in 2nd Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NASB

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Things to notice here:

  • Paul’s affliction is in his flesh
  • It was given to him to keep him humble
  • It came from Satan
  • He was tormented by it
  • He implored God (presumably in prayer) 3 times to be delivered from it
  • God said “no” because he had a purpose in it
  • Paul was “well content” to accept this
  • It was all for Christ’s sake

I think it is safe to conclude that this “messenger of Satan” had been permitted by God to afflict Paul, more than that, to torment him. On the face of it this doesn’t seem a very Godly thing to allow a true son of the faith to have to endure - but ultimately we see God’s wisdom in it.

What does this all mean for us as believers today? Well firstly I’d reiterate that not EVERY physical problem we might suffer is a result of Satanic activity. Before we try to cast out the demon of earache or get delivered of the spirit of bad knees, maybe take a trip to the doctor first? Don’t get me wrong - I’m not saying “don’t pray about it”, only that in most cases the reason we are sick is simply because we are human. 

But what about those afflictions that we truly believe  or have been shown are from the enemy? Well I say, let's take Paul’s example. Whatever it is, God has permitted it. Pray and ask the Lord to release you from it - but don’t be surprised if his response is...

"My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."


  1. The curses and their causes outlined in Deuteronomy 28 apply to national Israel and form a central element of the consequences of breaking God’s law. We see clearly in the new testament that we are set free from, not only the law but the consequences of it. Therefore it is not biblically sound for deliverance ministries to apply these curses to a believer's life.

  2. The benefits of this life, be it health, wealth, comfort or success are NOT things that we are instructed to pursue as believers. The clear direction of the new testament is to seek first the Kingdom of God. We should not and cannot measure our spiritual health by the standards of this world. By constantly pointing a believer back to his own needs these types of ministries are inadvertently encouraging Christians to trust in this world. This course will only ever lead to disappointment, discouragement and ultimately in missing the actual real peace and contentment that can only be found in Jesus’ rest.

  3. By suggesting that there are curses, demons or spiritual baggage that we have inherited and must be set free from, is to diminish the all-saving, life changing transformation that occurs the moment we were born again. In fact it diminishes the power of the cross and ultimately denies the power therein. Whilst we recognise the necessity to become more like Jesus (a process that God is working in us) and that past sin may well still have a tangible effect on our new life - We must also recognise that Sanctification is not the same as Justification or Regeneration. We must also understand that we will not fully escape the clutches of this world until the Sanctification process is complete and we are Glorified at our Lord’s return. To suggest that this is not so or to try and add to the process is, at best, to add to the word of God and at worst another Gospel entirely.

  4. The Church has permitted forbidden practices to enter in - not just as fringe doctrinal beliefs but sometimes as a core aspect of ministry and sometimes as the primary reason for a congregation’s existence! This delving into forbidden things is nothing short of a combination of divination, shamanism and the occult, dressed up as Christian teaching. It is deceptive and attractive in equal measure as it appeals to our flesh and has a “spiritual” element to it. It is specifically outlawed in scripture and is both dangerous and destructive to those involved, both to those giving and those receiving. As I said in my introduction, this is not to judge individuals, most are dear and earnest Christians who only seek to help brothers and sisters in need. But the reality is they are “earnestly” wrong. 

  5. The idea that in some way we are guilty because of the sins of our ancestors is just not biblical. Even if you were to apply the conditional Mosaic covenant to Christians (which is in itself not biblical), to suggest that we still remain accountable for them is to deny the atonement entirely.

  6. God's judgement is always righteous and those curses poured out on Israel for their sins was entirely His work. To suggest that Satan piggybacks on God's judgements to reach into the future and demonically infect Christians is simply not supported anywhere in scripture. It is pure supposition and an invention of men. 

  7. I reiterate that even as Christians we may not fully escape the natural consequences of past sin but we are not guilty of them. If we find ourselves living a life of suffering because of past sin (ours or others) then God will use it to refine us and witness Jesus to others. The bible does not teach an obligation on God to remove the natural effects of past sin.

  8. One of the dangers of this false teaching is that believers find themselves chasing a phantom and at the same time getting involved in practices the bible outlaws. All the while missing out on God's true blessing for them. If permitted to continue it becomes a cycle of bondage.

  9. Satan is a defeated enemy whose remaining power is useless against a spirit filled heart. By overstating the power the enemy has over a believer you a) create fear where there is no need for fear and b) are in danger of down playing the omnipotence of God, creating the false impression that Satan and God are on an equal footing - which is itself a heretical concept. 

  10. There are no biblical verses that can justify the demonic possession of a believer, not one! Neither is there any support for a believer either seeking or receiving deliverance from demonic possession. Interestingly the epistles never instruct believers to cast out demons, even from an unbeliever. It simply isn’t in the Bible. There are verses that indicate Satanic activity in believers lives but these are most usually endured as part of the Christian walk. Christians CANNOT be possessed. 

Once again I would like to reiterate that I personally DO believe in the biblical practice of delivering an unsaved person from a foreign spirit or demon - I see it in scripture and I have seen it with my own eyes. I have also witnessed the Lord delivering Christians of various ailments and diseases. I am not a cessationist, I believe in healing, I believe in true deliverance - But only as practised biblically.

The Solution

It is my belief that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have been given to the Church for the benefit of the Body and to glorify God. Any manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit are a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit through an individual believer. These gifts do NOT belong to the individual - it is simply God giving to the Body “through” the believer. 

Additionally the gifts operate at the will of God. It is not possible for us, using simply our own will, to exercise Spiritual Gifts. It is clear from the New Testament that when the Gifts were in operation that the power of God had to be present. Even Jesus said "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (Jn 5:19)

This premise calls into question the whole notion of a “deliverance ministry” at all. Jesus did not have a deliverance ministry, he didn’t have a healing ministry or a prophecy ministry. Jesus had a salvation and repentance ministry! He used miracles (including deliverance) as a tool to a) demonstrate His messiahship b) fulfil prophecy and c) to see sinners saved.

It is my belief that the entire modern deliverance ministry is so far away from biblical truth that it could be considered another Gospel.

Galatians 1:8 NASB

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

As bible believing congregations we are warned to watch out for false teachers and false doctrines. Especially in the last days.

1 Timothy 4:1 NASB

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,

Matthew 24:4 NASB

And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you.

Acts 20:28-30 NASB

"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

We are specifically directed to both watch out for and deal with any false teaching within the congregation. 

As practical measures I would suggest the following:

  • By true spiritual discernment, recognise false teaching when it arises.
  • Immediately but in a loving way, stop it where we see it.
  • In love and with sound teaching, correct whoever was teaching it.
  • Potential teaching topics might be :
    • The sufficiency of the cross
    • The book of Galatians 
    • Law vs Grace 
    • The conditional Mosaic covenant. 
    • The life of a suffering servant
  • If necessary, rectify the false teaching by explaining to the congregation why it was wrong.

Deliverance Ministries hold to dangerous false doctrines. I would go so far as to say that, on the whole, they preach a different gospel. They entice believers in by appealing to the flesh whilst sounding like Christian teaching. It is a subtle deception that can have disastrous consequences for the believers and congregations involved. As shepherds of God’s flock it is incumbent on us to both watch for it and act when and where we find it. 


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