Knowing God’s Will: Focusing on God or Satan?

December 13, 2017 at 9:08 AM 7 comments

I’ve mentioned that at one point in my life, I was involved in the Charismatic Movement. I’ve also noted that I eventually left that movement. However, later on, because I did not realize the connection to the Charismatic Movement, I spent a bit of time attending a “deliverance ministry” church. My involvement was short-lived, thankfully.

That so-called deliverance ministry was similar to many others like it. People there believed that it was important for Christians to take a direct stand against the powers of darkness wherever they were found. If a Christian was “demonized” or oppressed, spiritual people should come forward, lay hands on them and cast out the demons. This also applies to the belief that demons take control of certain areas in the world geographically. Often, Daniel 10 is the go-to section of Scripture that is used to prove this. The concept doesn’t appear to exist in the New Testament.

Unfortunately, as I found out, many in the deliverance ministry appear to be making things up as they go. The Bible itself is relatively silent on such a ministry. Yes, there were times when Jesus went head-to-head with Satan, rebuking him and telling him to leave Him (go away). That does not constitute exorcising Satan from a specific realm, though. There is really nothing in Scripture that allows us to build a solid case for having a deliverance ministry itself. However, there are a ton of people and groups who specialize in this arena.

Let’s consider some biblical facts. First, while demonic activity is real, the only thing that gets through to the Christian is what God allows. In essence, Christians already have the victory against the powers of darkness, though too many Christians don’t live like it because they’re not aware of it. That is due to a lack of study.

Second, deliverance ministries are missing something. They seem unaware of the approach Jesus Himself used in Matthew 4. What did Jesus do then when facing temptation from Satan? He met that temptation with the Scriptures. He did not use His own strength. He did not get into a dialog with Satan. He did not do what those in deliverance ministry often do. Jesus fought temptation with Scriptures. That should also be our model. He had spent His growing up years reading, studying, and memorizing the Scriptures. How much more should we?

Third, while there are certainly instances of demonic activity in Scripture, there also appears to be an absence in the Bible showing anyone going directly against these warriors of Satan, with a few noticeable exceptions. For instance, we know that an unfallen angel who came to Daniel was kept at bay for three weeks by the Prince of Persia in the spiritual realm (Daniel 10). However, Daniel was unaware of this. Daniel did not enter into the fray even after he was informed of the problem. It was beyond his purview. It was Michael the Archangel who provided assistance to the first angel.

Fourth, though Jesus Himself spoke directly to Satan, when Paul speaks of turning a man over to Satan, he is speaking of putting him out of the protective environment of the local church (in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy). Did Paul take on Satan directly there? No.

Fifth, even though Jesus and some of His disciples cast out demons, there is no instruction on how or even if/when we are to do that. In fact, Jesus seems to downplay the issue. When His disciples He sent out return and were giddy about the fact that even demons listened to and obeyed them, Jesus cautioned them that what was more important was the fact that their names were written in the book of Life (Luke 10:20). Salvation is the ultimate act of deliverance.

The problem with that deliverance movement as a whole is based on their focus. It seems to be a very subtle redirecting the Christians’ focus from God to Satan. It concerns me.

If anyone could have taken on Satan directly and removed him from geographical areas, it would be Jesus and that’s not going to happen until He returns. Why hasn’t He “bound” Satan now? Because it is yet future.

Our victory in Christ is already complete and we’ve addressed that in several articles recently. We already have everything we need for our spiritual growth, our maturity, and our victory in Christ because the Holy Spirit lives within us and seals us. Though this is true, Paul tells us that we need to “put on” God’s armor in order to fight the good fight (Ephesians 6). These things are not material weapons, but metaphorical concepts that represent realities in verses 10 through 18. Righteousness is ours in Christ. The shield of faith is our belief in God and His ability to save. The Sword of the Spirit is God’s Word, which we must read, study, and hide in our heart. It takes some effort on the part of the Christian to become a good soldier for Christ.

Paul says our battle is not against flesh and blood but against spirits in the heavenly realms. He is not saying we need to take them on directly. He’s saying that when someone wrongs us or tempts us, we need to realize that they are likely motivated by the unseen evil forces. Because of that, we should not react to them in kind but in gentleness and love, as Jesus did. We should also have what we need to overcome any temptation that comes our way whether through some person or our own flesh.

I’ve read numerous articles on the ‘Net that provide us with a great deal of alleged insight into the dark forces of the spiritual realm. Where are they getting this from? Usually extra-biblical sources.

I’ve also noticed there are even lists of the types of demons by name. Paul tells us that demons are lying spirits (2 Corinthians 11:14-15), but I don’t see where demons have specific names that allow them to attack believers by using specific sins. “Legion” was one such group of demons but it represented the fact that there were many inhabiting that one man (Mark 5:9). So Jesus asked their name and that was the response. It went on biblical record that their individual name does not matter and shouldn’t to us.

Jesus said that Satan was a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies (John 8:44). Satan’s demons simply do the same thing Satan does when they work to thwart God and attack believers. They seek to destroy using weaknesses inherent in each Christian to overcome that Christian. James explains this clearly in James 1:14-15: “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” The sinful desires are already resident within us because of our fallen natures. It will be different from one Christian to another regarding specific weaknesses.

Dangle a piece of cooked liver in front of me and I’m not the least bit interested. Dangle a New York Strip steak and you’ve got my attention. Maybe gluttony is a problem for one Christian. Lust is a problem for another. Anger is an issue for yet another Christian. Satan’s angels can easily figure out which buttons to push based on our weaknesses as they observe us. They simply use those weaknesses they see to their advantage, hoping to make us crash and burn.

Again, our victory comes by first, reading and studying God’s Word. Second, it is done through prayer and constant communication with God. Third, it is done by memorizing Scripture, hiding it in our hearts so that the Holy Spirit can recall it during times of temptation. You want victory? Do these things, though it’s easier to yell at spiritual entities who may or may not be there. But how does that develop godly character?

Many Christians will tell you that they suffer from problems, maladies, and issues, and often attribute these to demonic activity. People within deliverance ministries support that notion. However, Christians who appear to be suffering from certain maladies may actually have a physiological problem that needs to be diagnosed by a medical professional. How many Christians do you know who are overweight (sometimes severely), and eat anything put in front of them? They have no clue of their own potential food allergies or what all those preservatives and added chemicals do to their bodies.

Jesus healed a man and later told him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you,” (John 5:14 ESV). The implication is that the man’s lifestyle caused his sin. Jesus was saying, avoid the sin and you’ll remain whole.

How many times have you heard about someone getting their stomach stapled? It works for a while, then they start to gain weight again. Why? Because they did not change their lifestyle. They treated the stomach surgery as a form of “dieting.” They continued to do what originally made them fat after they had their stomach surgically reduced. They got fat again and possibly even fatter.

To attribute everything to Satan is a bit shortsighted. Sometimes, it’s simply health-related. I submitted DNA samples for genetic testing several years ago. I learned that there are certain substances that my body cannot tolerate so I now avoid them like the plague.

For instance, I have the MTHFR genetic issue, which means, among other things, my body cannot tolerate or process Folic Acid. Yet our bodies need Folic Acid, so what do I do? I now ensure that my Folic Acid is in its methylated form – FOLATE – which is digestible by my body. I also ensure that I eat green, leafy vegetables as well. It surprised me to learn how many food products on store shelves are “enriched” with Folic Acid, so I must avoid them for my health.

Symptoms of Folic Acid “overdose” include extreme fatigue, tiredness, and may even cause what outwardly appears to be forms of depression. Someone from a deliverance ministry would likely have told me that I was “demonized.” No, I was simply ingesting things my body rejected leaving me with unpleasant side-effects.

I now fully believe that many (not all), of the symptoms and maladies people (including Christians) suffer from are often due to food and drink. Longtime readers of this blog will recall the articles I’ve written about my journey to health, which started about five years ago. My health has greatly improved because I avoid anything with Folic Acid, high fructose corn syrup, gluten (it’s fattening and my sister had Celiac disease), corn in any form (which is tough considering how many products have corn meal or a derivative in them), and several other things. I try to buy non-GMO and Gluten-Free as often as possible. My wife and I eat very simply now. But I continue to see other Christians with a range of problems and much of it can be traced back to what they eat and drink.

This is not to minimize satanic attacks on Christians. They are real. Paul experienced it as well in 2 Corinthians 12. Notice he did not direct his apostolic authority at the “messenger of Satan” who inflicted him with some problem. Instead, verse 8 tells us that he went to the Lord three times. If deliverance ministry is legitimate, why didn’t Paul simply take on that satanic messenger directly in his apostolic authority, banishing it to the outer realms or the pit? Jesus did not send demons to the pit either (Mark 5).

The best way to face temptations is with the Sword of the Lord, God’s Word, but our focus is to be on God, not ourselves, and certainly not on Satan. Demons will attack Christians wherever they are weakest, as previously noted, and only as God allows. What is your specific weakness or Achilles’ heel? Demons will attempt to cause a Christian to become angry, to lust, to want to murder someone, or something else entirely because of the weakness that is already inherent within that particular Christian. It is not because that particular demon specializes in one particular sin and goes by that name.

Regardless of the tendency toward sin in each Christian, the path to victory is the same for us all. It is to hide God’s Word in our hearts. When we face temptation, we can then recall Scripture that speaks to that area and the power of God’s Word causes Satan and his minions to flee, just as Satan fled in Matthew 4.

This emphasis on deliverance ministry seems off-path. The greatest deliverance each and every person could ever have in life is to be delivered from Satan’s kingdom of darkness to God’s glorious Kingdom of Light and that happens when a person receives salvation. That is true deliverance.

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Knowing God’s Will: Living It! Knowing God’s Will: Context Means a Great Deal

7 Comments

  • […] readers are encouraged to read the articles for themselves. They can be found here, here, here, here, […]

  • […] I’ve pretty much agreed with his articles on his Study – Grow – Know blog. In Knowing God’s Will: Focusing on God or Satan?, Deruvo discusses the practice of deliverance ministry from a Biblical perspective. His insights are […]

    • 3. modres  |  December 16, 2017 at 9:42 AM

      Thank you for the pingback. Thanks also for taking the time to “vet” me and my articles. All Christians need to take the Acts 17 approach to anyone who teaches anything about God’s Word. Thumbs up!

  • 4. rutnerh  |  December 15, 2017 at 6:58 PM

    Good advice for Mikal. He needs your personal counseling and our supporting prayers. I recently posted the full 4 verses of the hymnal prayer What a Friend we have in Jesus …should be helpful to Mikal or anyone overburdened with the cares and confusions of this world.
    Re battling demons, the closest verses I know are in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 6;10-20 where we are urged to put on virtual Roman armor not so much to physically battle “wicked spirits in high places”, but to “Stand”…..and let Jesus do the rebuking and fighting.

    • 5. modres  |  December 16, 2017 at 4:20 AM

      Thanks very much!

  • 6. Mikal  |  December 14, 2017 at 1:43 PM

    Is this the right place to be if you’re confused about your beliefs?
    I was born and raised a Roman Catholic. At the age of 30 I left the church and became a Theistic Satanist. Ten years later I left Satanism and went to confession, confessed my sins and went back to the church, I even read from the bible. Now, I’m at a very low point in my life, mentally and physically. I do not know where I am and what to believe in, I’m lost.

    • 7. modres  |  December 14, 2017 at 2:53 PM

      Yes, you are in the correct place! I’m so sorry for your confusion but I certainly understand.

      You need to know the Bible teaches that people are saved by grace through faith alone, in Christ alone, and not by our works (Ephesians 2:8-10).

      Romans 10:9-10 says “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

      When humanity sinned a sin nature developed as a result consequently every person is born in rebellion against God.

      God solved this problem by becoming a human being (thru virgin birth), yet remained fully God (Philippians 2), as Jesus. He lived a sunless life and offered Himself as a sacrifice to Pay for our sin – yours and mine.

      While dying on the cross God the Father poured out His wrath on Jesus, wrath that was meant for each person because of our sin.

      “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

      Because of this those who place faith in Him (believe that Jesus is God, that He was without sin, that He died and rose again), they become saved (born again or born from above; John 3).

      I’m glad you are reading your Bible. Please spend some time reading the Gospel of John several times.

      If you’d like to email me at fred_deruvo@hotmail.com, please do. You may wish to let me know where you live (city, state) and I can help you find a Bible believing church.

      May the Lord bless you.


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