Please Note: Before you dive into this blog post, I want to make it clear that I believe in the existence of Satan, demons, and spiritual forces of evil. I also hold the belief that unbelievers can be demon-possessed and that these spiritual entities can tempt believers as taught by the Bible. 

In recent years, deliverance ministries have been propelled into the spotlight as believers seek deeper spiritual experiences and solutions to life’s challenges. These ministries have gained prominence for their emphasis on spiritual warfare, demonology, and the casting of demons out of Christians, supposedly securing their spiritual healing and freedom.

The nature of these ministries and their teachings raises questions as to whether they align with Scripture and rightfully so. Hence, in this blog post, we’ll delve into an examination of deliverance ministries, addressing the concerns that surround them.

What is Deliverance?

In Christianity, “deliverance” generally refers to being set free or rescued from sin, spiritual bondage, oppression, or demonic influence. It’s often associated with prayers, spiritual warfare, and seeking God’s intervention to break chains and release individuals from the grip of negative forces. The concept of deliverance is rooted in various biblical passages that emphasize God’s power to save and set people free. Here are some scriptural references related to deliverance:

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles." Psalm 34:17 NIV
"Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress." Psalm 107:6 NIV
"The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen." 2 Timothy 4:18 NIV
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." Matthew 6:13 NIV
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free." Luke 4:18 NIV
"how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil because God was with him." Acts 10:38 NIV

Deliverance in the Context of Deliverance Ministry

At the core of deliverance ministry is the belief that Christians can be demon-possessed or oppressed in such a manner that they would need demons to be cast out of them. In this belief system, salvation is considered as just the initial step in the journey of faith.

The subsequent step, deliverance, is regarded as crucial for a complete salvation experience. According to this perspective, while sin is forgiven at the point of conversion, the power of sin is believed to remain unbroken. 

Sins are often attributed to the influence of specific demons or spirits, such as the spirit of lust, anger, drunkenness, jealousy, and even spirits associated with individuals in biblical narratives, like the spirit of Jezebel, Delilah, or Nimrod. Additionally, sins can be ascribed to animal spirits, including the spirit of python, leviathan, marine spirits, and peculiar entities like the sneaky squid spirit.

Within this theological framework, significant life challenges are also interpreted as being spurred by demonic spirits. Consequently, believers are thought to grapple with spirits of poverty, rejection, infirmity, stagnation, premature death, an orphan spirit, and others. You should also note that some of the names assigned to these demons are nowhere to be found in Scripture.

Casting these  ‘demons’ and ‘spirits’ out of believers within deliverance ministries often involves prayers, the laying on of hands, engaging in spiritual warfare, breaking generational curses, self-deliverance, participating in group deliverance sessions, ridding homes of perceived demonic objects, and seeking continuous guidance from deliverance ministers who profess power and authority over demons.

Typically, the deliverance process turns into an hours-long shouting match where the ‘man of god’ interrogates the demons while the ‘possessed’ believer exhibits dramatic physical behaviors or expels body fluids through coughing. as a means of demonstrating the presence and departure of demons.

Scriptural Passages Used to Support Deliverance Ministry

Deliverance ministers, often turn to passages in the Gospels where Jesus cast out demons. Notable examples include the healing of the demon-possessed man in the synagogue (Mark 1:23-28), the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20), and the boy with an unclean spirit (Mark 9:14-29). 

Furthermore, they point to instances where Jesus commissioned His disciples and gave them authority to cast out demons (Matt 10:1; Mark 3:14-15; Luke 9:1). They argue that this authority extends to all believers, as seen in passages like Mark 16:17, where Jesus says that those who believe in his name will cast out demons.

The Book of Acts serves as another crucial reference for deliverance ministers, where demons were cast out by the Apostles. For example, Acts 8:5-7 describes Philip’s ministry in Samaria, where unclean spirits were cast out with a loud cry. Acts 16:16-18 also narrates the deliverance of a slave girl by Paul, where he commanded the spirit of divination to come out of her.

Deliverance ministers draw upon these accounts to affirm the reality of spiritual warfare. They also use these passages to contend that the practice of confronting demonic forces continued beyond Jesus’ ministry and was a normative part of the early Christian church. As a result, they claim that it should be an integral aspect of Christian ministry.

However, they overlook the fact that those freed from demonic possession in these accounts were not born-again believers. Additionally, they fail to recognize that the primary purpose of these signs, wonders, and miracles was to attest to Jesus as the Messiah and authenticate the ministry of the Apostles as those sent by Him (John 20:30-31; 2 Cor 12:12; Heb 2:3-4).

How Christians Get Demons According to Deliverance Ministers?

According to the Bible, a Christian is indwelt with the Holy Spirit upon conversion. So how is it that deliverance ministers claim that this same believer can be demon-possessed? 

Well. the argument for most is that while the spirit of a believer becomes born again and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit upon conversion, other aspects of a person such as the soul or body can still be vulnerable to demonic influence.

Therefore, a believer can grant legal rights or permission to demons allowing them to inhabit their soul, body, or parts of their body through various avenues such as:

  • Owning objects dedicated to the devil e.g. Items depicting pagan gods or symbols associated with non-Christian religions. 
  • Generational curses: They believe that demons can “run in families”. Especially if your ancestors were satanists, Freemasons, or witches who died without repenting. 
  • Participating in occultic or New Age practices e.g. Astrology, palm reading, yoga, etc.
  • Soul ties including gifts from past relationships.
  • Listening to music that glorifies the demonic.
  • Watching horror films or pornography.
  • Playing games with occult themes like dragons, wizards, and magic.
  • Certain places are reputed to contain demonic presence eg cemeteries.
  • Traumatic experiences. are also seen as potential points of entry for demons.

The Unbiblical Nature of Deliverance Ministry

1. Diminished view of Christ’s sufficiency and adding to salvation

The Bible teaches that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was complete and sufficient for the redemption of believers. The words, “It is finished” said by Jesus on the cross underscore the finality and adequacy of His sacrifice. Hebrews 10:14 further asserts this saying, “By one offering He has sanctified forever them that are His.” 

Therefore, it’s not plausible to claim that believers who have been transitioned from death to life and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son remain under the bondage of sin such that they need to be delivered from it again and again. Speaking to the church, Paul in Romans 6:1 says, “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness”. As believers, we have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us (Gal 2:20). 

Consequently, It’s incorrect to teach or believe that one can be saved but still need deliverance. This belief undermines the finished work of the cross and it renders the sacrifice of God insufficient. Yet Hebrews 7:25 asserts that Christ is “able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” 

Saving to the uttermost signifies His ability to save completely those who approach God through Him. This promise is not about making salvation merely possible or completing salvation in stages but ensuring salvation entirely, completely, and perfectly upon justification.  

Furthermore, Christ’s saving power extends beyond forgiveness of sin and guilt to liberation from the power of evil. This is made clear in Colossians 1:13 which says that God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” 

Galatians 1:4 also says “For He gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Colossians 2:15 further reinforces the victory of Christ on the cross by saying that he disarmed powers and authorities, made a public spectacle of them, and triumphed over them. 

Therefore, there is no room for the notion of partial salvation or the necessity of “deliverance ministers” to complete the work already finished by Christ. This also means that there is no need for special anointings, interventions, or rituals necessary for spiritual freedom through spiritual leaders. 

You might wonder, what about those “Christians” who frequent deliverance services every Sunday where they seemingly undergo genuine exorcisms?

I would submit to you that if the manifestations indeed involve genuine demons, then they are not true Christians to begin with. They are unbelievers whose primary need is to be confronted with the truth of the gospel. Instead of having a “spirit of lust” cast out of them, what they need is to be saved and filled with the Holy Spirit.

I also think that it’s fair for us to question how it is that these demons would willfully allow a person under their possession to go for a deliverance service to be cast out. Doesn’t that go against the grain?

In the New Testament, there is no instance where a demon-possessed person actively sought out exorcism or deliverance. Jesus and the Apostles typically encountered such cases as they carried out their ministry.

Usually, it was other people seeking deliverance on behalf of their loved ones like the demon-possessed boy in Matthew 17:14–23.

A girl looking at a grey wall written wit the word 'freedom' written on it symbolizing the freedom deliverance ministry promises.

2. Distorted view of sanctification 

Not only do  ‘deliverance ministries,’ diminish Jesus and his completed work on the cross they also downplay the Spirit’s ongoing work of sanctification. I’ve observed that there’s little to no attention given to having a Biblical understanding of sanctification. Rather than presenting it as a progressive process of growing in holiness, it’s often portrayed as something that can be achieved instantaneously through the casting out of demons.

So what happens is that believers in these circles end up blaming and looking for demons rather than dealing with sin according to the Bible. They fail to grasp that while they are saved from the power of sin, they still grapple with a sinful nature. 

The truth is, as Christians, we exist simultaneously as sinners and saints. To help navigate this tension, in Romans chapters 6-8, Paul spells in great detail how believers are to deal with sin. In Romans 6, he clarifies that as believers, having died to sin with Christ, we should not present any part of ourselves as instruments of sin because it’s no longer our master.  

In Romans 7, he acknowledges the struggle between the spirit and our sinful nature while emphasizing the inadequacy of the law to bring about true righteousness. He also highlights the need for dependence on Christ for victory over sin. And in Romans 8 he explains how the Holy Spirit empowers believers to overcome sin, leading to a life of righteousness. He teaches that it’s only by relying on the Holy Spirit that we can put to death the deeds of the flesh. Galatians 5 too, affirms the necessity of walking by the Spirit of God as opposed to indulging the desires of the flesh. 

You will also note that throughout the NT, believers are consistently instructed to die to self, to resist gratifying the desires of the flesh, and to flee from sin. (Eph 5:17-32; Gal 5:19-21; Col 3:1-17; 2 Tim 2:22). However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any instruction by the Apostles on casting demons out of fellow believers or oneself.

The Holy Spirit, bestowed upon born-again believers at the moment of salvation, is the one who enables believers to conquer sin and walk in the ways of the Lord. Thus, the notion that the Holy Spirit only sanctifies the spirit while leaving believers susceptible to demonic possession in the soul and body diminishes His transformative power.

It’s also crucial to note that suffering is part of what God uses to sanctify believers. Contrary to attributing life’s challenges to demonic spirits, Romans 5:3-4, says, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” James 1:2-4 also encourages us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” 

The promise of a trouble-free life, often appealing to those seeking deliverance, is not a guarantee for Christians. It stems from a lack of Biblical understanding of suffering. 

Understanding suffering is integral to a correct understanding of the Christian journey. Please check out our post on A Christian Perspective: What Does the Bible Say About Suffering? to learn more about this topic.

3. Lack of scriptural support

As earlier noted, nowhere in Scripture does the Bible teach that believers can be demon-possessed. Numerous scholars and theologians too, argue that those who have genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, cannot be demon-possessed. The main reason being that they are indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, demons cannot take possession of them. 

Believers, having become a new creation, are redeemed and purchased by the blood of Christ, making them the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19-20). They belong to God and He has promised to protect them from Satan in 2 Thessalonians 3:3 saying “The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one”.

There is also a glaring absence of clear biblical teachings supporting deliverance as a formal ministry. Consequently, there is no specific requirement for overseers (pastors), elders, and deacons to be skilled in exorcising demons in the pastoral epistles (Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 2,3).

4. Manipulative practices

Certain deliverance ministries, intentionally or unintentionally, cultivate an atmosphere of fear and anxiety. They often employ strong, intimidating language that magnifies the perceived dangers of spiritual influences.

Thus, creating a narrative that believers are constantly under the threat of demonic possession or oppression. Unfortunately, this emphasis on potential spiritual peril tends to overshadow the comforting truths of God’s sovereignty and protection.

As such, many Christians in deliverance services grapple with fear that their life struggles or present and past sins, might be demonically inspired. They’re also made to carry the weight of the possibility of a ‘family curse,’ that might have allowed demons to bring about suffering in their lives. As a result, this teaching not only perpetuates unfounded fears but also imposes unnecessary blame and stigma on believers.  

Moreover, there is an exaggerated emphasis on the existence of witchcraft is common. Almost all negative experiences are attributed to witchcraft, fostering a belief among believers that it poses an imminent threat.

Exploiting these fears, some deliverance ministers suggest that financial support or offerings are a necessary part of the deliverance process. This creates a sense of obligation among individuals to give to secure their freedom.

These forms of exploitation and manipulation make believers more likely to submit to these ministries, despite their their unbiblical nature.

5. Diminished view of God’s sovereignty

Deliverance ministries paint a picture that makes the devil look like he is sovereign. The tendency to attribute every difficulty or challenge in life solely to demonic influence ends up undermining the reality of God’s sovereignty.

Furthermore, the excessive focus on demonic influence and possession inadvertently attributes more power to the devil than is biblically warranted. It gives the impression that the devil has a level of sovereignty or power comparable to God’s which is false. It conveys the message that the devil’s influence cannot be fully overcome by the finished work of Christ on the cross. However, nothing could be further from the truth. 

The Bible teaches that God is omnipotent. Moreover, through Christ’s sacrifice, believers have been delivered from the domain of darkness and brought into the kingdom of God (Col 1:13-14). It also says in 1 John 5:18 that, “he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him”. 

The devils and demons are all created beings. While granted they have some power, they are no match for God. God allows them to exist for His sovereign purposes and one day they will be cursed into the eternal fire prepared He for them (Matt 25:41).

6. Spiritual dependency

Having attended deliverance services in the past, a commonality they share is the fact that the Gospel is either entirely missing or significantly neglected. I’m inclined to believe that the conspicuous absence of the proclamation of the gospel is not arbitrary. The deliverance ministers know that if they preach the Gospel as taught in the Scriptures their ministries would be of no use. 

Omitting the Gospel provides room for them to recommend post-deliverance maintenance which involves periodic sessions where individuals return for additional deliverance or “follow-up” sessions. I once heard a deliverance minister equate it to an oil change in a car which has to be done every so often. This perspective is rooted in the belief that spiritual attacks and demonic influences can recur. Hence, requiring ongoing deliverance to maintain a believer’s freedom. 

Contrary to the Apostles who consistently pointed the church to the Gospel, deliverance ministers position themselves as mediators between God and man. contrary to the scriptural teaching that there is ONLY one mediator, the man Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:5-6).

7. Spiritual Warfare

Deliverance ministers often adopt a formulaic or mechanical approach to spiritual warfare. They often prescribe specific prayers and rituals that involve rebuking and binding demons among various other methods that do not align with biblical teachings. 

You will find that these approaches to spiritual warfare are in stark contrast to how the Bible recommends that we should go about spiritual warfare which includes the following:

  • Understanding the Authority of Christ: Christians are encouraged to recognize the authority of Christ over all powers and principalities. Believers have authority in Christ, not because of elaborate rituals, but through faith in Him (Lk 10:19).
  • Pray and depend on God: Prayer is an essential aspect of spiritual warfare, but it should align with God’s will and not be driven by a formulaic or manipulative approach (1 John 5:14).
  • Putting on the Armor of God: The Bible instructs believers to put on the whole armor of God, which includes the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God) (Eph 6:11-18).
  • Resisting the Devil: Christians are called to resist the devil through submission to God, drawing near to Him, and standing firm in faith” because the devil is like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9).
  • Taking every thought captive to obey Christ: So that we can destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God. This is how we destroy strongholds (2 Cor 10:3-5).


So, do I believe in deliverance?

Yes. Absolutely. I believe in Biblical deliverance which is salvation. 

I firmly hold that Christ’s sacrifice was more than sufficient to deliver us from the penalty of sin, satisfying the wrath of God on our behalf. I believe that through His sacrifice, we’re liberated from the tyranny of the devil, and the indwelling of His Spirit empowers us to overcome the power of sin. Thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice I can rest in what He has accomplished, knowing that Satan is a defeated foe.

On the contrary, what teaching Christians that they need more deliverance does is create spiritual bondage. It’s a form of legalism that hinders believers from experiencing the true freedom that is in Christ. 

And if you go back to scripture and see how it testifies of our savior; who he is, what he has done and the power rests on him, it becomes apparent that while deliverance ministers are claiming to fight the devil and demons they’re ironically teaching doctrines of demons.

Therefore, I would encourage you to exercise caution and steer clear of such ministries. Instead, focus on the liberating truths found in the Gospel and the victorious work of Christ.

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  1. avatar
    Maria says:

    Thank you so much for this insight. I’ve believed genuinely in many of your points and your post helped confirm that the stance is biblical. Especially about trusting His timing and our going through difficulties are trials to refine us.

    1. avatar
      Wanjiru Ng'ang'a says:

      Hi Maria
      You are most welcome. I am happy that this post resonated with you.

  2. avatar
    Laura says:

    This is so helpful! I have good friends who are participating in this, but it’s very new to me. It didn’t sit well because I couldn’t find a biblical basis for it. I appreciate how you’ve broken it down with scripture references to back up your arguments. Thank you!

    1. avatar
      Wanjiru Ng'ang'a says:

      Hi Laura, thank you so much for your kind words! I’m glad you found the post helpful and informative. It’s understandable to have questions when something is new and doesn’t seem to align with what you know from Scripture and I’m happy this post could offer you a biblical perspective on the matter. You’re most welcome!

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