Foreword / Introduction
By Dr Timothy Warner
In 1956 I went with my wife and two children to Sierra Leone, Africa, to be missionaries, and for a little more than three years, we lived and ministered in a tribal village. When we returned to the States in 1959, I was asked to fill in as the professor of missions at Fort Wayne Bible College. But the one-year fill-in role turned into twenty-one years serving as Chairman of the Missions Department and, subsequently, as Dean and President. But I had very little formal education in missiology to qualify me to teach missions; so I began reading widely to keep at least one step ahead of the students. One of the books that came to my attention was by a German counselor by the name of Kurt Koch and was entitled Between Christ and Satan. In modern language, it “blew my mind.” I had come from a theological background that taught me that if you were a “good Christian,” you didn’t have to worry about Satan—he couldn’t do anything to you. So, the best path was to just ignore him. The idea of Christians having to deal with demonic activity in their lives had not crossed my mind.
This book led me to seek out other material on the subject only to find there were extremely few sources. But as a result of my study, I became convinced it was unconscionable to teach missions without preparing potential missionaries with a biblical worldview that included the reality of spiritual warfare. When it was heard that I was teaching spiritual warfare, some people would say, “I suppose you saw a lot of that in Africa,” to which my answer was somewhat surprising; I had to answer, “No, I didn’t—not because it was not there, but because I had no category in my well-educated Western brain for such things.” In spite of my eight years of theological higher education (a BA from a Christian college, an MDiv specializing in Inductive Biblical Studies from a seminary, and an MA from a state university), such things as demonic activity and how to respond to it were all still just primitive superstition.
Today, many years later, when I read the work of Bruno Sebrechts, I encounter a different approach. Here is a serious attempt to properly link biblical truth with current practical ministry. Nowadays, there is a large library of material on this subject, but few sources can compare to Sebrechts’ biblical probing of the subject with such competence. For a biblical basis for this kind of ministry, there would be few, if any, that can compare.
The scope of the current literature is indicated by an extensive bibliography, to which even more pieces could be added. The strength of this book is its constant reference to the biblical support for what is discussed. There has been an obvious attempt to be true to the original languages and the cultural contexts. His discussion of ‘daimonizomai,’ the Greek word translated by the King James translators as ‘demon possessed,’ is one of the best I have seen (see Appendix 1).
The book is not just a theological treatise on the subject. It is punctuated with current illustrations of the practical application of what is being discussed from the author’s own experience. There is also a definite commitment to considering the broad spectrum of demonic activity in relation to contemporary Western and non-Western societies, as well as to the ancient cultures of the Bible. The approach to the methodology of deliverance seeks to be balanced and to avoid a “one-size-fits-all” attitude.
The church is in debt to the author for his diligent work that has led to this significant addition to the resources for anyone who is serious about being a good soldier and loving counselor in the battle in which we are engaged, whether we want to be or not.
Dr. Timothy Warner,
Board Member at ‘Freedom in Christ Ministries,’ USA.
Professor Emeritus, Trinity, Deerfield.
Author of The Essential Guide to Spiritual Warfare (T. Warner & N. Anderson)
What is Meant by Salvation and Spiritual Deliverance?
Are we not saved and delivered simply because we believe? And is spiritual deliverance not just for extreme believers who see demons at every corner?
Do people in this day and age really suffer from attacks by evil powers?
Deliverance for Believers?
Many argue that a redeemed child of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, has everything he needs to withstand the onslaughts of the devil. Therefore, they argue, casting out demons, breaking curses, delivering from bondage and other aspects are not needed today among believers.
Others argue that growing into full victory over Satan and his cohorts involves a process.
What About Deliverance for Unbelievers?
There is also a debate in the arena of ministering to unbelievers: What can we do to help them in a spiritual crisis? Can an unbeliever be freed from evil spirits? Some say yes, but many say no. Most will argue that an unbeliever’s greatest need is the message of the gospel. Until he has accepted Christ’s work of paying the full penalty for his sins, no further steps toward deliverance can be made. Others presume that the Bible shows us examples of unbelievers being delivered from demons.
Those who defend any of the above viewpoints usually do so in good faith. In wanting to be loyal to God’s word, they will pull out Bible verses to support their arguments. But none of us can approach the Scriptures with a perfect vision, for our religious and theological background, our experiences, and our personalities will always influence our interpretation.
Deliverance in Present Day Life
As we seek to examine and explain Scripture carefully, we will position spiritual deliverance within the wider framework of God's plan of redemption.
About twenty-five years ago, I was introduced to the ministry of deliverance in my local church, assisting in prayer and counseling.
People in need kept coming our way, and my fellow workers and I have since seen people with greatly varying degrees of demonic infestation find deliverance. The greater the deliverance, the greater our awareness that we were only witnesses to God’s delivering acts. The most important lessons were that deliverance is not achieved by human effort or any kind of magic of formula, but by the fruit of Christ’s work in the believer through His Spirit, and that He has a variety of ways of accomplishing that deliverance.
It is also important to realize that “deliverance” is not always what people need at first.
The Structure of the Book
This book will revolve around biblical principles of salvation and deliverance, punctuated by real-life experiences from people we have come to know very well. People like Marilyn, Loren, John, Jessy, and Joyce, who all had serious problems functioning until they received profound healing, and have grown closer to the Lord since then.
The book will continue through the Scriptures, from the Fall to the New Creation, to get an overview of spiritual captivity and the deliverance that Christ provides.
Chapter One offers the present-day, thrilling story of a woman who had been severely traumatized and demonized, but who found deliverance through Christ. While her testimony sheds light on definitions that follow, it is included purely for illustration, for sound pastoral care can never depend solely upon testimonies.
Chapter Two emphasizes the importance of God’s word and his Spirit. When we think in terms of developing a biblical rationale for deliverance, we may easily be tempted to follow our own human logic, to work out a strict line of cause and effect, or to delude ourselves into assuming we are capable of knowing exactly what is going on. Neither human logic, nor mere theological reasoning, but the revealed truths of Scripture should be held up as the determining benchmark for this ministry.
Chapter Three expands upon the central theme of the Bible—humanity’s fall into sin and God’s response. When humans kept listening to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, they became its victims. But God did not remain idle; he established an enmity between the seed of the serpent and the human race, with the promise that in the end, the head of the serpent would be crushed. Many years later, the prophets announced the coming of God’s restorative reign, free from the evil powers of this present age.
Chapter Four describes God’s answer given on the cross, for the crucifixion and the resurrection are central to the exposure of and the fundamental victory over the powers of darkness.
Chapter Five considers the scope and the current influence of the kingdom of darkness. However, it begins by exploring the greatness of God, and his assurance that all powers remain under his control. For in the end, God will deal with all the idols and their dark powers—but only after humanity has recognized the true nature of sin and idolatry.
Chapter Six explores the subject of demonization. In the New Testament, demons are often called unclean or impure spirits. The Old Testament background of the term “impurity” is explored, to shed light on the causes and character of demonization.
Chapter Seven discusses Jesus’ interactions with the demon-possessed. Deliverance from bondage takes place when the power of God’s kingdom breaks through, and the victim recognizes Christ’s authority, resulting in the remnants of the past being removed. Several practical questions are raised regarding the casting out of demons: What principles did Jesus follow? What was the specific context in which Jesus ministered? Did he leave instructions for us?
Chapter Eight covers the church age, and explores the role of spiritual gifts to minister healing and deliverance. What are the implications of the arrival of the Holy Spirit? What principles can we infer from the descriptions of deliverances in the book of Acts? How should we approach spiritual warfare?
Chapter Nine deals with demonic infestation and deliverance within the concepts of the old and new creation. Paul describes how the “old man,” characterized by one’s former way of living, must make room for the “new man,” who lives under the authority of Christ. Our redemption and deliverance in Christ are to a certain degree progressive, which means that people who are affected by a demonic infestation are not always immediately completely freed from the first day they find salvation. The progress of leaving the old spiritual environment (the “old man”) behind constitutes an important factor in the development of deliverance.
After biblical foundations have been established, Chapter Ten describes five common approaches to bondage and deliverance, and proposes a phased plan for facilitating the release of believers suffering from demonic infestation. The book does not advocate any single approach but offers a method for finding the right approach for the particular circumstances of each individual case. Different approaches complement each other, and open greater insight into all God can do.
Chapter Eleven explores three case studies, offering detailed discussion on specific challenges we may encounter.
Chapter Twelve discusses deceptions that can arise in the practice of deliverance. The book ends with a reference to the glorious deliverance that will take place when we are summoned to meet Jesus Christ face to face on the final, great, and glorious day. It is on that day that every trace of darkness will be completely erased from God’s children.
As the book progresses, the following seven principles will emerge:
1. Humbly trust God and his word.
2. Cling to God’s love.
3. Recognize Christ’s death and resurrection as the foundation of all deliverance.
4. Put salvation and spiritual growth at the center.
5. Clean up remnants of the past.
6. Enter and remain in God’s rest
7. Rely on the work and leading of the Holy Spirit.
Our highest goal is indeed not the freedom of humans but to glorify God.
And deliverance should be a welcome consequence of this.