In the last church service we had a visiting preacher who spoke about some things that were very close to my heart. Amongst other things, he spoke about the fact that we can be bound by evil; the fact that we can find ourselves incapable of breaking free of those ties unless we are set free by Jesus – whether it be alcoholism, a negative attitude or any other thing that prevents us from being the person God has called us to be. This is all true, but it does bring up some interesting questions, and I would guess that people will be divided on this issue.
You will get one group of people who would say that it is all about Jesus. We were bound by sin, but then Jesus came and died for us, so we are now free from sin. You’ll get the second group who will say that it is down to us and the decisions that we make. They’ll say that God won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can resist, and it is our responsibility to resist. You’ll have a third group saying that we (as Christians) are told to deliver people from demonic strongholds (cast out demons), and that we should exercise that responsibility in order to see people get set free. If you ask me which group I agree with, my answer will be… all three!
You see, it is often not a simple solution. In fact, I don’t think there is a solution that can be applied to all situations, but there is a good starting point. I have had the privilege of praying for many people and I also don’t shy away from using my spiritual authority, but it needs to be used with wisdom. The conclusion that I have come up with, is that all three of the ideas presented above play a role in seeing someone set free. I will show you why I think this and what I believe needs to be done to see that someone is set free from these strongholds.
Firstly, we do have the authority to cast out demons, but we need to remember that we don’t have authority over someone else’s life, only they do. This is free will. I know that Calvinists may disagree when it comes to salvation, but I don’t think that many people will disagree that we have choices to make, and that those choices are up to us. So yes, I can command a demon to release you in the name of Jesus and, yes, I have authority over that demon. I don’t have authority over you. If you don’t want that demon to release you, I can’t make it. Now you may say that it is silly to have a demonic influence and not want to be set free from it. You’ll be surprised. People slip so far into these bonds and get so used to them, that they actually feel scared to break free. They don’t want to be in that situation, but coming out of it scares them too. They end up actually sabotaging the ‘rescue mission’ by choosing not to come out of it. Whether it is a conscious or sub-conscious choice, it is a choice none the less. This brings me to my second point, our free will. If someone doesn’t want to be free from the stronghold, then they won’t be, so they need to choose to be free. Now all of this is made possible by what Christ did, so yes, it is all about Him. Because He died on the cross, we have the authority to cast demons out and break demonic strongholds, and because He died, we have the ability to resist the devil so that he will flee from us. Note, not leave us alone, but flee!
Let’s have a look at a practical example; I’ll use a simple illustration. I have felt that there were curses over my life; a mind-set that I was stuck in and couldn’t get out of; a lack of self-worth. Where these things came from is debatable, but that is not the issue. Someone prayed for me and broke those curses (at my request), and I also prayed against them. This was step one. Thanks to what Jesus did on the cross, I had the ability to break those strongholds after many years of submitting to them. This didn’t mean that they would never try and bring me down again, they did. They still do. The difference now is that I can resist them, I know where they come from, and I don’t want anything to do with them. Now, when I get a thought which challenges my self-worth, I throw scripture at it. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, I am a new creation, I was fearfully and wonderfully made. For God so loved me. They go on and on. I make the decision not to give into it. And, do you know what, I not only defeat those thoughts but I am stronger when I come through this situation than when I go in. God really is good, even when I do get it wrong from time to time and give in to the wrong thoughts, for there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus!
So, to sum up, it is not always a problem that can be fixed in one prayer, but it starts with one prayer. Remember, the Bible tells us to repent and, contrary to popular belief, repentance is not grovelling to say sorry, but making a change (read ‘Repentance is the Cure‘ for more information). Changing from a way of sin, to a way of righteousness. Jesus made it possible for us to do just that, and He made it possible for us to help others get on their way by releasing them from the chains.
Make the right choice.