Jesus ministry had three major components (Luke 4:14-5:26): Teaching, healing and deliverance. Jesus confronted demonic powers and delivered people from their influence (4:31-37, 41). The early church carried on the ministry of Jesus as the apostles focused on these same three areas of ministry (Acts 5:12-16). We should do the same – go about doing good, teaching, healing, and helping people find freedom from the work of the enemy. The result will be many people being set free and added to the kingdom of God.
Christians cannot be “demon possessed”, as God owns us. However, demons can influence Christians both externally in the form of various attacks (oppression, affliction, torment, etc) and internally if we give them a “foothold” through various access points (see Eph.4:26-27). Paul tells us not to give place to the devil, which means it’s obviously possible. If we give place to the devil, we can give demons the right to “occupy” parts of our lives (like illegal “squatters”). At times people have to be loosed or set free from demonic involvement.Four Possible “Access Points” for Demonic Influence:
- Involvement in the Occult - Involvement in things like the occult and false religion can open us up to the influence of the evil one and therefore needs to be renounced (Dt.18:9-14. Acts 19:18-20).
- Negative Generational Influences - The affect of sins from previous generations can influence us if they are not renounced (Ex.20:5-6. Neh.1:6. Jn.9:2. 2 Cor.5:17). This does not take away personal responsibility and we can begin a new godly generation through appropriating the work of Jesus on the cross.
- Personal Sin - Unless we confess and turn from our sin (“repent”), it can give the enemy an opportunity to take advantage of us (Prov.28:13. Lk.22:3. Acts 5:1-6. 1 Jn.1:9-10).
- Unresolved Hurts - Hurts are unhealed wounds from the past that may come from things such as abuse, rejection and unresolved conflicts. Unless we forgive those who have hurt us, we open ourselves up to spiritual “torment” (Mt.18:34-35. Eph.4:27).
Prayers of Freedom
- Do you think there is too little emphasis on the devil and the demonic today or too much? This is a good question to get a pulse as to where people are at with this subject. The aim is to get people opening up and sharing rather than coming to agreement.
- Do you know of anyone that has been influenced by demons? This question gives an opportunity for people to share any testimonies or stories they’re aware of, just to further stimulate the discussion.
- Paul warns us not to give the devil a “foothold” (Eph.4:27). Have a time of discussing about the four possible “access points” to demons and any others people may think of. The purpose here is to get people talking about the specifics and to reflect on their own life and level of freedom in Christ. It is also a good way to create a healthy fear of God emphasising the seriousness of the spiritual battle we are in.
- Mark shared that demons are like flies in that they’re attracted to wounds and garbage. Instead of just swatting at the flies and causing quite a commotion, it is wiser and more effective to help bring healing to the wound and to remove any garbage that may be attracting them. Dealing with symptoms without getting to the root cause will not be helpful. Spend some time discussing this “word picture” and the balanced approach CityLife Church seeks to adopt in this area of ministry. The objective here is to help people see ‘deliverance’ not as an isolated or stand-alone ministry that is the cure-all for everything, but part of a wider approach to ministering wholeness to people’s lives.
- Attached are the prayers that we said publicly as a congregation. Discuss them and maybe have some time praying over them again and applying personally as appropriate. You may want to have some prayer and ministry time in your small group, depending on the level of openness and vulnerability. The objective is to deal with anything in our lives that may be hindering our walk with God and thereby give no opportunity for the devil to negatively influence us (Jn.10:10). Obviously, this must be an ongoing action and not just a one-off event.
- Surrender – “Heavenly Father, I come to you in Jesus name. I confess that I have sinned against you. Jesus, I thank you for dying on the cross for me and I accept you as my Saviour. I invite you now to be the Lord of every area of my life – Lord of my mind and all my thoughts, Lord of my emotions and all my feelings and reactions, Lord of my will and all my decisions, Lord of my body and all my behaviour, Lord of my spirit and my relationship with you, Lord of my time, my work, my home, my family, my possessions and all my relationships. Thank you that your blood was shed that I might be set free. Amen.”
- The Occult – “Heavenly Father, I renounce all involvement in the occult, in various cults or in false religion. I renounce any group, practice or belief that does not glorify Jesus. I confess Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. I will serve Him only. I now declare that Satan has no legal right to have any foothold in my life. I claim the release and freedom promised by Jesus Christ. The past is dealt with. My future is assured. Today, I will enjoy the abundant life that is available to me in Christ. Thank you for your righteousness, your peace and your joy. Amen.”
- Negative Generational Influences – “Heavenly Father, I confess and renounce every sin that my parents or my ancestors may have committed which has brought bondage or domination to my life, and I ask for forgiveness and cleansing. In the name of Jesus I break every curse or sinful tendency that may have been passed on to me from my family or previous generations. I am now ‘in Christ’ and I have begun a new godly generation. I thank you that Jesus took every curse for me on the cross of Calvary. He died and then rose again so that I might be completely set free. Amen.”
- Personal Sin – “Heavenly Father, I repent of every sin, wrong action or attitude. I ask you to forgive me. Cleanse me and wash me completely. Thank you that you have now forgiven and forgotten my sins. They are dealt with and covered by the blood of Jesus. Thank You for Your mercy. I now choose to forgive myself for the things that I know you have already forgiven me for. I now turn from my sin. Give me discernment to recognise temptation when it comes and the strength to resist it. Amen.”
- Forgiveness – “Father, I confess that, as a result of being hurt, I have allowed myself to hold anger, resentment and bitterness in my heart. I acknowledge this as sin and I now repent and turn from this behaviour. Thank you Jesus for dying that I might be forgiven. By an act of my will I now choose to forgive those who have hurt or offended me. I release each and every one of these people into the freedom of forgiveness and I refuse to hold on to any bitterness or resentment. Amen.”