As I related to you in the previous post, my husband and I attended a Deliverance Ministry training session this past weekend, and continue to be encouraged by the Holy Spirit that we are doing the will of God. We were heartened, motivated, and validated by the team of deliverance ministers from Luke 4:18 Ministries, and enjoyed sharing experiences with other attendees.
But I have to say that I was surprised by one question that we received. But first, I must disclose that most of the people in attendance were there to learn on behalf of their churches. The interesting thing is that it appears to be a common occurrence that the church leadership doesn't necessarily buy into spiritual warfare -- and definitely not deliverance ministry -- but is willing to give their permission for someone within the church to learn what they can about it. In fact, when I attended Dr. Charles Kraft's Defeating Dark Angels conference last winter I assumed that everyone was there because they had established ministries within their churches, and they were the assigned leader for that ministry. Imagine my surprise, when one woman sitting at my table informed me, "Oh, honey, we're all here in spite of our churches"!
My husband and I are always the exception to the rule whenever we gather with church or ministry-led conferences because God has pulled us out of the established Church and we are part of a small home church. I'm always a little saddened by some of the reactions that news receives, as if somehow we are less qualified to be doing a ministry. I say "a little" saddened, because my spirit has no doubt that we have been called by God to partner with Jesus and the Holy Spirit to help set people free. What "church people" think about that has no bearing on our service to the Lord. And that leads me back to the sincere question that we were asked at the recent training session we attended.
In fact, some of the more negative or unfavorable responses I have received in regards to spiritual warfare have come from pastors and church leaders who do not believe it exists! But God has shown me that so much of the struggles and pain that Christians experience is due to oppression by demonic forces. But because they hide behind the "Christian culture" in their church -- the culture that has been blinded to the bondage that so many are under -- they will never see, nor admit, that they are hurting. And sadly, they have discouraged members of their churches from seeking any knowledge or experience on waging spiritual warfare. Therefore, without "the covering" of their pastor, Christians continue to be unenlightened about defeating the Enemy in their own lives.
For the life of me, I cannot discover where the idea originated that believers need to be "covered" in order to serve God and minister within Christ's Body. How many people are living Christian lives under the shadow of this fear that without "covering" you dare not minister, preach, teach, pray, or do a myriad of other things you're called to do by the Spirit of God, because you will somehow be ministering without protection?
(NOTE: This same kind of argument is used to discourage women from teaching because they are supposed to "be submissive" or "under the authority" of a man. Unfortunately, this incorrect understanding has applied Scriptures such as 2 Timothy 2:12, and 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, and taken them out of context. Then the last 1600 years of social and cultural influence have somehow cemented these ideas in the Church. For a different take on this interpretation of Scripture, check out my blog post here, and the source of my suggestive theory, here.)
Now back to how I feel about having to be "covered" to do deliverance ministry. I truly feel that this doctrine places the authority of man over the authority of my God. If the Holy Spirit convicts me that Deliverance is something He wants me to do -- and that Jesus wants people healed and wants me to facilitate that healing -- then why do I need to seek any further approval from men? And why would I turn down that calling just because a pastor or church leader does not recognize the need for it? Are we not instructed by Scripture to submit ourselves to God? As born-again believers, we daily make a choice to submit ourselves to God for the work that the Holy Spirit does in us to "conform us to the image of Christ." That image of Christ is one of servanthood, as He sought to do what God instructed Him to do. That included healing, and casting out demons, and spreading the Word about God's mercy unto salvation. Can we have no higher calling than to imitate Christ in this manner?
1 John 2:20 speaks so strongly to my conviction on this matter: But you have an anointing from the Holy One [you have been set apart, specially gifted and prepared by the Holy Spirit], and all of you know [the truth because He teaches us, illuminates our minds, and guards us from error]. Just before we were introduced to this concept of spiritual warfare and deliverance, my husband had a recurring dream in which God told him that He wanted us to sanctify our property, our home, and each other with holy oil. Then, in the dream, there was a clear message that YHWH, Himself, was going to sanctify us. It took him several days to tell me this, but after consecutive nights of receiving the same divinely-inspired communication, he knew he had affirmation that it was from the Lord, and he shared the message with me. At the time, we didn't know what that meant, or why He was anointing us and sanctifying us.
Since then, we know that the anointing was so that He could impart the knowledge of His truth regarding spiritual warfare to us; and we were going to be sanctified, or set apart for God, to do deliverance ministry under the Authority of Christ and the Power of the Holy Spirit. We wanted, so desperately, to share this Good News with the Church and let them know that God wants us to partner with Him in these Last Days ... but they didn't want to hear it. In effect, we could not, and would not, receive any approval of "covering" from The Church. And that's when it became crystal clear that we were not to seek it; that God would be our covering -- He will go before us and protect the work that He has assigned us to do. He will be our shield and our shelter as we continue the work that His Son came to do, namely to set free those who are in bondage to satan and his forces of wickedness.
I guess, in a way, the Apostle Philip is kind of a model for what happened to us. He was personally reached by Jesus himself. While Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, and Andrew brought Peter to Jesus, no one brought Philip to Jesus. Instead, Jesus came right to him. And Philip went where God told him to go, reaching people that would never be drawn to the newly developing church. And that is our similar experience ... God personally revealed His purpose for our lives and is bringing people in bondage directly to our door; people who do not feel comfortable approaching the Church. All they know is that they want to be free, and we have the answer ... it's to experience Jesus healing their spiritual wounds!
So, if you find yourself in a situation similar to the young woman from Bangladesh, and you feel called to a deliverance ministry, but find no support from the establishment of the Body of Christ, then ask the Holy Spirit for confirmation that this is how you are to serve the Kingdom of God. If this is to be the purpose of your life, then God will open doors for you that men cannot close. Trust Him to be your "covering", believing that if He is for you, no one can be against you. The freedom you will feel in setting others free will inspire you, stir your spirit, and clear the way for unprecedented fruit in the lives of others. Don't be afraid to step out!
Psalm 91:14 Because he holds fast to Me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows My name.