How do I write about what I experienced over the weekend? How do I impart the words of knowledge and freedom that I received, with both gratification and glory to God for His revelation, and without offending His Church and the Body of Christ? That's a very difficult tightrope to walk.
But, I guess the message I am getting from the Holy Spirit is this: "Just tell the truth." So here goes... You know that God seems to be leading me and my husband on a path towards accepting our position on the battlefield of Spiritual Warfare. So, this past weekend, we had the privilege to attend a 2-day conference taught by Dr. Charles Kraft, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary for 40 years. The title of the conference was "Defeating Dark Angels", but the central topic of the meeting was based less on the sensational-sounding aspects of that title, and more on the Scripture-affirming concept of inner healing to help deliver defeated Christians as they battle their demons.
There is no way in a single post that I can elucidate all the insight and understanding that my spirit was given during the intense instruction. So I will try to give you the points that opened my eyes, my mind, and my heart to the truth of who I am meant to be as a follower of Jesus.
Let me start by saying that Dr. Kraft is unlike what the secular world -- and for the most part, the Church -- views as a "Deliverance Minister." He is a soft-spoken, gentle man, who never raises his voice. He does not employ any of the histrionics of the so-called "healers" or "exorcists" that characterize the modern perception of evangelists who cast out demons -- there is no melodrama, theatrics, or artificial showmanship; no Benny Hinn, here. There is no writhing on the floor, no yelling, and no dramatic vomiting. As he reiterated many times throughout the conference, "If the healing is not loving, it's not from Jesus."
To begin with, he makes it very clear that there are two levels of demons we encounter in our spiritual warfare. The "ground level" troops are the fallen angels that we call demons or evil spirits; those who envy us our bodies, and who look for someone to inhabit. The "cosmic level" demons are those we encounter in Ephesians 6:12-- the principalities, powers and rulers that command the ground troops. They have different personalities, are destructive to the peace that Jesus has promised His followers, and they differ in power and wickedness. All that sounds like we're waging a losing battle, doesn't it? Sadly, many Christians are living their lives in defeat, rather than through the victory that is ours in Christ.
As a missionary in Nigeria, Dr. Kraft asked the people he had come to serve in Jesus's Name, "What is your biggest problem?" Their answer? "Evil spirits." I think it should be clear that we are all made in the image of God (as spirit beings), so why would we be any different? Oh, yeah... the prosperity, the level of comfort, and our ability to hide from our demons through the means of entertainment, addictions, and a myriad of other distractions. So, in the end, we continue to ignore the attacks and continue in our bondage, while focusing on loving Jesus. We base our Christian Worldview on the 20% of Paul's writings that talk about Love, and turn a blind eye to the 80% that tell us He has given us Power in His Name to be free of all the oppression, pain, and spiritual domination.
The first step towards this freedom is to make two major changes in this worldview towards accepting our role in Spiritual Warfare: 1) Believe there are demons, and 2) Be able to effectively use our conferred Power and Authority (in His Name) to deal with these dark angels (demons) and to "set the captives free". It was an eye-opener to me, when Dr. Kraft pointed out that there are three things that are most important to Christians: Salvation, Freedom, and Habits. We've got the first one down; we understand the origin and process of Salvation pretty well. And we've gotten real good at the last one; our habits are entrenched in our Sunday attendance and all the ceremonies and traditions of our denominations. As Dr. Kraft expressed so well, "Our churches are full of people wonderfully saved, but they're not free."
We seem to have lost sight of the fact that Jesus obviously took Satan and his demons seriously. And, even more importantly, He expects us to take demons seriously and to use His power to get rid of them. That is very evident in the Scripture that instructs us on His Great Commission: Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20).
I have pointed out this Scripture in the past, but now I have an even greater understanding of it. Jesus passed on to His disciples all of His power. He set aside His God Power, and never once used it on earth. He only acted as a human being, using the power of the Holy Spirit. He intends for us to do the same! We modern-day disciples of Christ are no different than the famous Disciples of the Gospels. We are to see ourselves as Jesus sees us. He tells them to go and make disciples of all the nations (and disciples is who we are); to baptize; and to "teach them to observe (or do) everything that I have commanded you." Down through the centuries, each succeeding generation of disciples concentrated on evangelizing and baptizing, but failed to teach how to defeat demons using the power of the Holy Spirit.
So his model of "Deliverance" is to accomplish the inner healing of the Christian first, then see if there are any demons present. In other words, the "garbage" could be a number of things resulting in unresolved pain and hurt in one's life. It could be broken relationships, areas of unconfessed sin, involvement in the occult, or sexual or physical abuse in your past --- anything else that gives the Enemy a "legal right" to influence you, either from the outside or the inside.
When we deal with the "garbage" and get healed from that -- through getting in touch with how Jesus sees us; this Jesus whom we know as our loving Savior who created us, chose and planned us from before God made the world -- then the demons lose their hold on us, and we can often kick them out of our lives without a fight.
But now comes the part that is difficult for me. How do I express my frustration with the Church for their inability to see this dynamic? How do I make my fellow Christians and members of the Body of Christ understand that if Jesus instructed us to be taught on how to use His Power and Authority through the Holy Spirit to defeat Satan and his demons -- yet we don't recognize that authority, or refuse to consider it -- then I humbly see that as irresponsible on our part, as His disciples. This Power and Authority is available to all who follow Jesus, and is meant to be a means to offer Freedom to those held captive by Satan. I will agree that certain people of faith seem to have a "knack" or "gifting", if you will, to "take the ball and run" with the power and authority. But as Dr. Kraft so wisely counseled us, "Obedience precedes gifting." If we will only be obedient to Jesus's command of John 14:12, (We will do the works He did, and do even greater things), I believe we will find that our ability to engage in His Power and Authority, through the Holy Spirit, will come in greater measure.
We should not be afraid of our Commission, and we should not shirk our responsibility to follow our Savior's commands. As 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]." THAT, my fellow Christians is living in true Freedom! And THAT is why Jesus performed the will of His Father on the Cross... to give us the ability to use the same Authority from our Father, and the Power of the Holy Spirit to not only live a free life ourselves, but to help set other captive Christians free.
You see, "Deliverance" doesn't have to be a violent, theatrical show of God's Power and Authority. It can be just like Jesus showed us ... loving; practiced by any Christian; and it leads to healing, not just deliverance.
But ultimately, the choice to practice His Power and Authority is still ours. I agree with Dr. Kraft... God will not violate our Free Will. He will not force the use of His authority upon us, nor will He change our free will. But He can change the circumstances that result from our free will when, in the Name of Jesus, we take authority over demon spirits and break their power in Jesus's Name and through the Holy Spirit.
The final thought I want to leave you with is this ... Deliverance is not a science; it is a journey of faith. Jesus has given us tools to empower ourselves in our spiritual warfare, and they do just that... empower us; but they don't fix us. We are in a spiritual war, and no war is won in a single battle. Throughout our journey through life, we will engage in many battles, and growing into a mature faith is our goal. But God has a goal, too. He always wraps His Power in His Love, with the goal of setting people free. My prayer is that His people will learn to use that Power and Authority to heal themselves and others from the attacks of the Enemy, and to free those whom Satan has in captivity from "the sins that entangle us." It's time for all Christians to begin that journey of healing towards true Freedom.
I have been given a great blessing to be able to spend the next two days in training with Dr. Kraft, as I learn how to use my Authority from Jesus and the Power of the Holy Spirit to help Christians achieve inner healing and deliverance. So, if I am a little late in posting any of your comments, you will understand. I hope to be able to bring you even greater understanding of the amazing God we serve.
Psalm 32:8 "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you."