Someone who impacted me a lot was the late John Barr (d. Jan, 2001). He was a great public figure but what impressed me much more was the time he had for people at a private level, marked by who showed up at his funeral. In this post I unapologetically draw from his perception of ministering healing and freedom to people. He said:
- There are wounds to be healed
- There are bondages to be broken
- There are demons to be cast out
- There are sins to be forgiven.
Any breakdown such as above can be counteracted when another lens is used, but I have found those distinctions to be helpful. The last three posts have been on the big bad devil so maybe start with ‘demons to be cast out’. What is a demon? Multiple choice answers to the question:
- Evil spirits, originally fallen angels, servants of the big bad devil. (Probably only fully formulated in the Second Century by the Christian theologican, Tatian.)
- The ‘spirits’ of the offspring between humans and angels (the ‘strange’ text of Genesis 6 and also of Enoch (not written by the aforementioned!)).
- Not ontological, yet present as personal realities… ‘created’ through the circumstances, choices or events. (The work of Water Wink in the bigger picture on principalities and powers, where he posits spiritual powers being the interiority of a corporation.)
- All of the above / none of the above / some of the above / not got a clue.
(The last option was the opt out option – always good to have one of those! The varied possible answers I increasingly favour as it seems Scripture does not give a simple answer to many of the questions we ask… and I do see Jesus as teaching but not tying a whole bunch of stuff up. There are probably answers in the book, but maybe the answer to our question might not be what we need.)
I am very happy to cast out demons, and very happy for someone sharper than I to say ‘that is not what really happened’. Well possible… though if a freedom comes and there is some parallel with what Jesus did then I am happy to be wrong. Could the person have found freedom through some sort of counselling / inner work? Probably. But probably not in every situation.
The huge danger of ‘demon casting out of’ is that every situation is a demon, and of course demons can be seen through the eyes of one’s theology – and the damage caused with certain ‘conversion therapy’ practices is anything but aligned to the practice of Jesus.
(And on the multiple choice question I actually, when push comes to shove, land on option #3, in spite of many experiences of ‘demons’ manifesting. I land there tentatively as the interaction of the spiritual realm and the material realm is somewhat complex. I even had in one situation certain occult priests manifest materially inside a locked building – they really should not have been there with the poison they were carrying to put in our food… that was naughty!)
Those undefined ‘demons’ always look for a landing place. Persistent behaviour, hence the instruction to ‘not give the devil a foothold’. Behaviour such as unforgiveness, anger, addictions. As per Jesus’ instruction the need to sort out the door of ‘entry’ is a necessary part of coming to freedom.
A whole complex area, with the verb used maybe indicating a spectrum of coming under the influence of demonic powers. Hence in some situations ‘deliverance’ maybe can come through something other than some form of exorcism, in other situations the freedom accelerated through the deliverance, and probably other situations where freedom will only come through the demon being cast out.
‘My method / teaching is correct’ does not normally cut it. Paul did not say ‘the greatest of these is [my] truth’. Back to how we relate to people… love.
In this vague post let me also touch on ‘sins to be forgiven’. Two thoughts that I am pretty close to thinking is definitely the truth(?)!! Sin is better defined along the lines of failing to act as a human, in other words failing to image God, falling short of the glory of God. Yes involves guilt and also shame, but not the fear of being dangled over hell fire. The judgements of God are over humanity and our corporate falling short – hence ‘all have sinned’ cannot be reduced to you + me + this person + that person… it is we all, as a whole, whether Jew or Gentile have sinned. I am not minimising personal ‘sin’ but I am solidy putting corporate sin on the page – sady witnessed to for all to see / increasingly experience with the crisis our planet and life-styes have produced.
There is though also the personal aspect of sin, and in the context of this post they are to be forgiven. Second thought, we need to see forgiveness as freedom, the same forgiveness word being used of untying a ship to go on her voyage. It is more than a release from guilt (or shame if that is the dominant culture), but the word of forgiveness is to untie and say go – maybe like the woman caught in adultery, the non-condemnatory response of Jesus was freedom for her, but there was also a ‘go’ word in the forgiveness.
Kick out demons, proclaim forgiveness on the foundation of repentance. Yes, but how? My way, your way, the highway, whatever way. The way seems secondary, the means is love and the result is freedom. Oh, and the best of us (even me) are finding freedom bit by bit, it is a process, and in the process we might categorise what needs addressing differently, but I am grateful to Mr. Barr whose four phrases have helped me on my journey.