Spiritual Warfare book 3: Deliverance and Spiritual Warfare, by Steve Fernandez
PART 2: THE DANGERS OF THE DELIVERANCE MODEL
I would like to conclude by summarizing where the deliverance model is defective in its theology and how it poses a serious concern to the church. The deliverance model is more than a shift in practice. It is a paradigm shift; a subtle move away from the believer's sufficiency in Christ and the sufficiency and authority of scripture.
A DIMINISHED VIEW OF CONVERSION
As was mentioned earlier, the concept that a believer can be indwelt by a demon is rooted in a defective view of conversion. Those who live a "life of bondage" to sin are too readily categorized as Christians. Anderson's theology of conversion is such that apparently regeneration effects nothing. In his accounts, people become Christians who continue on in drunkenness, immorality, with continued indwelling by demons.
In what is a typical account, Anderson writes concerning a young lady named Nancy, who after her conversion continued to be indwelt by demons: "In her high school years, she trusted Christ as her Savior. But instead of leaving her, her 'guardians' continued to harass her".31 Where in scripture do we find such an understanding of the saving power of God? Does not Paul report of the Thessalonians, "how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God." Does not he say to believers, that because of their union with Christ and death to sin - "Though you were slaves to sin you become obedient, from the heart, to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you become slaves of righteousness" (Romans 6:17,18).
The New Testament envisions no such thing as people who come to Christ and remain fundamentally unchanged. It envisions struggles and falling into sin, yes, but not the bondage that Anderson describes. What the deliverance model is teaching is a second blessing view of sanctification. It is in a different form and under a different guise, but it is nonetheless a two stage view of salvation and sanctification that minimizes the transforming nature of a Spirit produced conversion.
A MINIMIZING OF SIN AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
There is an undercurrent to the teaching which subtly removes personal responsibility and places the blame on Satan. Anderson writes:
It is critical that Christians understand their vulnerability to demonic influence. Those who say a demon cannot control an area of a believer's life have left us with only two possible culprits for the problems we face: ourselves or God. If we blame ourselves, we feel helpless, because we cannot do anything to stop what we are doing.32
Incredibly, Anderson says we may blame ourselves for our sinful behavior! What? Are we to conclude that we are not to blame? Is not this the blame shifting philosophy rooted in Freudianism that has infected our culture and now the church? Satan may entice and influence, but we are indeed to blame when we sin! We make the choice, and no one else. James writes: "Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived it gives birth to sin" (James 1:14,15).
Speaking concerning a counselee, Anderson writes: "Over the years she had come to believe Satan's lies, that she was the cause of her troubles, and that she was of no value to God or anybody else."33 Are we to conclude, from this, that a person has a justifiable excuse to not follow the commands of Christ? Can someone be excused from loving the brothers, forgiving, submitting to authority, or whatever scripture requires, because Satan has deceived them? Anderson says his counselee wrongly concluded "she was the cause of her troubles." It sounds much like Adam when he retorted, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree and I ate" (Genesis 3:12). The deliverance model gives new meaning to the phrase "the devil made me do it." It unwittingly permits a blame shifting rationale that finds a welcome response in the sinful heart of man. Perhaps this, in part, explains it's ready acceptance in a church that is becoming more and more self-absorbed and resistant to dealing with sin.
A MISDIRECTING OF THE BELIEVER'S FOCUS
The essence of spiritual warfare is described by Paul as "taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (II Corinthians 10:5). Defeating Satan is positive. It involves repentance, submission, and giving the rightful place to the Word of God on a regular basis. When this is done then Satan's activity will cease. James says, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). In the context, resisting Satan is described as drawing near to God, cleansing our hands, and humbling ourselves (Vs 8-10).
As light dispels darkness, repentance and submission to Christ's authority automatically dispels the enemy. Defeating Satan involves instituting biblically based mind sets and attitudes, where there has been demonically influenced thoughts about God and ourselves. Victory over demonic strongholds occurs when the Holy Spirit produces a repentant heart that commits itself to obedience. Demons no longer have any room to work. The "flaming missiles of the evil one are extinguished" (Ephesians 6:16).
To become concerned about identifying and commanding demons misdirects the believers focus. In doing this, it minimizes the resources God has provided for victory, which is prayer, obedience, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God. In short, the "full armor" of God.
A DENIAL OF THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE
The last concern underlies all the others. The deliverance model is fundamentally an experience based theology. It's primary proponents claim that (in their thinking) the scriptures do not clearly speak on the issue of demon-indwelt believers. From this they develop a theology and practice from "clinical experience."
Paul instructs Timothy concerning scripture that, "all scripture is inspired and profitable" (II Timothy 3:16). This inspired body of truth is, Paul says, "that the man of God may be adequate for every good work" (Vs 17). This is the same Timothy to whom Paul said, "Fight the good fight of faith" (II Timothy 6:2). Paul clearly affirms the sufficiency of scripture for every contingency of ministry. This would obviously include waging spiritual warfare. No issue as critical as whether a believer can be indwelt by demons would be left to experts and their subjective "clinical experience."
Therefore, as we have seen, the scriptures do, in fact, teach that believers cannot be indwelt by demons. The scripture, "adequate for every good work", gives no instruction, nor one example related to their views of spiritual warfare and believers. They have gone beyond the word. They have drawn conclusions and devised techniques not found in the all sufficient adequate word of God.
I will close with the words of John Calvin who waged war against the experience and tradition based theology of Catholicism. His appeal was that the church bind itself to the scripture, never going against it, and particularly never going beyond it. May we heed his words in this time where a return to the full sufficiency and power of scripture is so desperately needed. He writes:
Suppose we ponder how slippery is the fall of the human mind into forgetfulness of God, how great the tendency to every kind of error, how great the lust to fashion constantly new and artificial religions...We must come, I say, to the Word, where God is truly and vividly described to us from His works, while these very works are appraised, not by our depraved judgment, but by the rule of eternal truth. If we turn aside from the Word, as I have now said, though we may strive with strenuous haste, yet since we have got off the track, we shall never reach the goal...so it's better to limp along this path that to dash with all speed outside it.34
1. J.I. Packer, Keep in Step With the Spirit ( Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1984), p. 159
2. Neil Anderson, The Bondage Breaker (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1990), p. 31
3. Hymns for the Family of God (Nashville, Tennassee: Paragon Associates, Inc.), p. 118
4. Neil Anderson, The Bondage Breaker (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1990), p. 64
5. Ibid. p. 62
6. Ibid. pp. 69-70
7. Ibid. p. 66
8. Ibid. p. 57
9. Ibid. p. 173
10. Ibid. p. 173
11. Ibid. p. 173
12. Charles Craft, Defeating Dark Angels (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Servant Publications, 1992), pp. 64-65
13. C. Fred Dickason, Demon Possession and the Christian (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1987), p. 175
14. Neil Anderson, The Bondage Breaker (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1990) p. 174
15. Ibid. p. 175
16. Ibid. pp. 148-149
17. C. Fred Dickason, Demon Possession and the Christian (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1987 ), pp. 175-176
18. Roland Bainton, Here I Stand (Nashville, Tennessee: Festival Books, 1980) p. 144
19. Joseph H. Thayer, D.D., Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972) p. 189
20. Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing House, 1977), p. 730
21. John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries, Volume 22 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baler Book House, 1981), p. 234
22. Brooke F. Westcott, D.D., D.C. L., The Epistles of St. John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdman Publishing Company, 1986), p. 195
23. John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries, Volume 22 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baler Book House, 1981), p. 271
24. A word needs to be said regarding the casting out of demons by non believers, such as Priests, or by believers who have been involved in exorcism with supposedly true Christians. Christ acknowledged that the Pharisee's sons cast out demons in Matthew 12:27. He says, "and if I cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges?" Later He makes reference to demons which after "going out of a man" (vs. 43) look for a new abode, and eventually return with seven others to their original "house". Here we have a situation where the casting out is apparently of no avail. The Pharisees and their sons are in league with Satan. Jesus says in John 8:44: "You are of your father the devil and you want to do the desires of your father." Evidently Satan permits the non believing Pharisees to cast out his demons in what is a display of mock spiritual power. In other words, Satan permits the relocating and rearranging of his subordinates to further his deceptive hold.
Dabbling with demons is dangerous business. Not every demon exorcism is from God. Christ affirms that false believers cast out demons. He says: "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord', did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?" Christ's response is amazing. He does not deny they did it, He simply denies they did it in His power. He says: "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:22,23).
If Christians begin to dabble with demons; if they go on the offensive, then Satan will allow mock displays of power to deceive them. Godet writes: (Commentary on St. Lukes Gospel, Volume II, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 38 George St., 1957) "...The seeming allies, who have the appearance of fighting for the same cause as he does, but who, in reality, scatter abroad with Satan, are the exorcists...it is only in appearance that they drive out his underlings: in reality, they serve no end by those alleged exploits, except to strengthen the previous state of things, and to keep up the reign of the ancient master of the world. The exorcist has plied his art; the impure spirit has let go his prey, quitted his dwelling, which, for the time, has become intolerable to him. But two things are wanting to the cure to make it real and durable.
First of all, the enemy has not been conquered, bound; he has only been expelled, and he is free to take his course in the world, perhaps to return" (p. 67,68). The supernatural displayed and described by the people in deliverance ministry is not necessarily to be denied. However, it very well could be a mock display of power where Satan relocates demons to increase his deceptive hold. It is a ploy to subtly divert people from Christ, all the while claiming Christ's power. Are those who are the supposed experts in deception in reality the most deceived? The least we can state is that the admitted experience based theology and practice of deliverance ministry leaves an open door for Satanic manipulation and deception.
25. Neil Anderson, The Bondage Breaker (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publications, 1990), p. 190
26. Ibid. p. 218
27. F. Godet, Commentaries on St. Luke's Gospel, Volume II (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 38 George St., 1957), p. 66
28. Henry Alford, The Greek Testament, Vol. I, The Four Gospels ( Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1968), pp. 553-554
29. William Hendrickson, New Testament Commentary, The Epistle to the Colossians (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1964), pp. 122-123
30. Neil Anderson, The Bondage Breaker (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publications, 1990), p. 88
31. Ibid. p. 10
32. Ibid. p. 174
33. Ibid. p. 149
34. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Volume I, pp. 72-73
The booklet on spiritual warfare, published in Reformation and Revival Journal (Winter, 1995) is also available at the church under Pastor Steve Fernandez, Community Bible Church of Vallejo
Spiritual Warfare book: Deliverance and Spiritual Warfare ©1995 Steve Fernandez