Hindrances to Deliverance
Lack of Repentance
To step out of satanic domination, we must give the enemy no place to have any foothold. While he can find legal ground on which to stand, he will not go. This is why people at times seek deliverance, but do not receive. It is, therefore, important that we consider carefully the things that give legal ground to the enemy.
1. Lack of Repentance
Repentance is fundamental to salvation. To be set free from any sin, we must repent. John the Baptist preached it (Matthew 3:2); Jesus preached it (Matthew 4:17); and He commissioned the church to preach it (Luke 24:46-47; Acts 2:38).How repentance needs to be preached today! God will only permit us to go on to maturity if the foundation of repentance is laid. Hebrews 6:1-3. Repentance signifies a change of mind. We are to turn from the pathway of sin. Our thoughts and actions are to harmonise with God's Word.
I once witnessed a tragedy because of lack of repentance. With a minister friend .1 visited the bedside of a woman with terminal cancer. Although much prayer had been offered by Christian friends, I had had an inner knowing for some time that she would die. When we entered the room, I saw a spirit of infirmity looking at me from the afflicted area. Its face was one of mockery and I knew why. Here we were, representing the Lord Jesus Christ, with ability to speak the word for her recovery, but through lack of repentance the enemy had legal ground to remain and afflict. Unless she repented, we were powerless to help her.
Shortly afterwards, we returned again. During our visit a fine Christian minister came and offered to pray for her. His prayer was beautiful, compassionate, rebuking the sickness in Jesus' name, but not anointed. He prayed out of sympathy, not in the Holy Spirit. Within my heart the Lord was saying, "It's too late. It's too late." I began to weep. How could I share with her what I felt in God? Who would believe the words that the Holy Spirit was speaking in my heart. As we talked with her, we suggested that perhaps there was ground for the enemy. We mentioned an area of sin, but she could not receive it. When we left, she was singing praise to God and confessing that she was healed by His stripes. She died not long after.
Through situations like this, many Christians become confused. They question why a loving God could let such a thing happen; why He didn't respond to their faith; why so many prayers were not answered. If only we could see as God sees!
Let me make it clear, however, that when other Christians die in similar ways, it is not always because they need to repent. In the case of this woman, the Lord had long sought a response from her, but it was not given. Her continuation in sin and lack of repentance had opened the door and given legal ground for the destroyer.
On the brighter side, a young Christian man came out on an altar call to get right with the Lord. As I laid hands on him, I discerned a spirit of homosexuality. It was a major stronghold. (Remember, we can talk in the singular, but think in the plural.) While I was binding the spirits, he fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper which he then tore and threw on the ground. With that, he fell backwards on the floor. As I placed my hand on his chest and continued rebuking, he slid from under my hand like melting butter on a hot frying pan. No part of his body had moved to initiate the motion; the demons transported him away from the importation coming through my hand. Afterwards he told me that on the piece of paper was the phone number of a man he was to call for immoral purposes.
This man, by destroying the paper, was repenting and turning from his sin. It was as he did so that things began to happen. If you want to be free, you must turn from all known sin. You fool yourself if you think you can play games with any form of sin.
2. Unforgiveness<a name="02"></a>
Another common ground for enemy occupation is the sin of unwillingness to forgive.
Deep wounds result in countless lives because of what others have said or done. Sometimes the offence has been of the most terrible dimension, and the person suffering feels he is justified in harbouring bitterness.
Others do not harbour bitterness against someone else, but against themselves. They cannot forgive themselves for certain actions or for certain sins they have committed. Unforgiveness hinders deliverance.
"Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors," Jesus taught His disciples to pray. Then, to emphasise the importance of the truth, He added, "For if you for give men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions" (Matthew 6:12, 14-15).
Could it be any clearer? If you do not forgive others, your heavenly Father will not forgive you.
Your unforgiveness gives legal ground to Satan. We are to forgive, not because we feel like it, but because we choose to obey the Lord Jesus Christ.
Matthew 18 relates the story of an unmerciful slave. It is the story that Jesus told in answer to Peter's question ,..."Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?". . . (verse 21).
A king decided to settle his accounts with his slaves, one of whom owed him an amount equivalent to ten million dollars. Of course the slave could not pay, and so to meet the debt, the king ordered him to be sold with his wife and children and all his possessions. The slave entreated the king to be patient, promising he would eventually pay everything he owed. But unexpectedly, the king graciously released him of the complete debt.
Having been released, this same man found a fellow slave who owed him a small amount, the equivalent of one day's wage, and demanded menacingly that he repay him. Likewise came a plea for patience and a promise of repayment. But the cry was not heeded, and the fellow slave was thrown into prison till he should pay back everything.
His action was reported to the king, who sent for him and said: You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you? (verses 32-33). Filled with anger, the king put him in the hands of the "torturers" until he should pay back the whole amount. Concluding the story, Jesus said, "So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, ~f each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart" (verse 35).
In this parable Jesus clearly taught that if a Christian does not from his heart forgive his brother, his heavenly Father will put him into the hands of the torturers. In other words, God releases him into the hands of evil spirits. Unforgiveness gives legal ground for demons to bind and bring great distress.
While praying in a meeting for a woman who was having traumatic manifestations with no progress being made, I discerned she was harbouring unforgiveness in her heart. She confessed this to be true and named members of her family. "Go home and get before the Lord," I said. "Repent of your sin and ask God's forgiveness, because you will not be freed until you are willing to forgive from your heart."
If you are deliberately harbouring unforgiveness, God will see to it that you won't get free (no matter who prays for you) until you forgive.
By an act of choice, in obedience to the Word of God, you are to say: "Lord Jesus, I choose to forgive - and I do forgive. By faith I receive cleansing now. And in Your name I renounce every spirit of unforgiveness."
If you need to forgive yourself, you should say: "Lord, I forgive myself. Never again will I blame myself or reject myself for what I have done. You have forgiven me, and I forgive myself. I claim freedom from the effects of this. In Your name, I renounce every evil spirit that has kept me in bondage in this area. Thank You that You are beginning to set me free right now. Thank You, Lord."
It is important to understand that our ability to forgive does not depend on our feeling able to forgive. If in your heart you sincerely desire to forgive, then choose to forgive; speak words of forgiveness. If afterwards you find you still have feelings of unforgiveness, do not let the enemy bring condemnation. Instead resist the enemy. Say:
"Enemy, I have forgiven (so and so)." Then come against the spirits of unforgiveness that are making you feel as if you haven't forgiven.
3. Unbelief<a name="03"></a>
We have already considered the key of faith in Chapter 8, but because of its importance I refer you again to this chapter. Faith is the key to receiving from God. In contrast, unbelief hinders you from receiving from God. We are told that when Jesus was in Nazareth, He did not perform many miracles because of the unbelief of the people (Matthew 13:58).
Unbelief hindered the disciples from being able to cast a demon from an epileptic boy. The father had to bring him to Jesus to cast it out. Afterwards when the disciples asked Jesus why they could not cast it out, He replied,..."Because of the littleness of your faith" (Matthew 17:20).
Sadly, some choose not to believe because of the cost. It may be a deliberate choice or it may be done unconsciously. There is a cost involved in identifying with certain doctrines and experiences. They may be contrary to the accepted beliefs of our denomination. We may risk losing our position or our friends.
There are others who want to believe, but no matter how hard they try, they find they can't. This is a frustrating situation to be in. What is the cause and what can be done about it?
As a young evangelist, I took ten days of my vacation to pray and fast because I wanted to find the Lord as my Healer. I knew that He healed today - and how desperately I wanted to be healed. But I wasn't sure if healing was in the atonement, or if God intended that everyone could be healed. I had with me an excellent book on divine healing. Throughout the ten days, I would get small glimpses of truth, seeing clearly the truth I was seeking, and then it would vanish. A few hours later, I would see it again, but again it would disappear. As desperately as I wanted healing and wanted to believe, no faith could be released in my heart.
Years later I realised that spirits of unbelief had been blinding the eyes of my understanding. It was during sessions of deliverance that I became free to believe that healing was purchased through the atonement. The breakthrough came when I was delivered from spirits of infirmity. How they manifested and cried through me as the truths of the blessing of healing in the atonement were declared! It was the demonic resistance that convinced me that healing was mine through Calvary's provision. Once the spirits of infirmity had gone and I was healed, I could see clearly from the Word, truths I had never seen before. There had obviously been a deliverance from unbelief at the same time.
If you want to believe, but can't, you should begin to renounce spirits of unbelief. As freedom comes, your faith can then find expression in other areas in which you need freedom.
An evangelist friend shared with me that while he was preaching in a church, one of the leaders responded to a call for salvation. The man had been active in the church for twenty-three years, but not born again. When the way of salvation was declared, he cried, "I want to believe-but I can't!" My friend realised that a spirit of unbelief was at work, and naming it, rebuked it in Jesus' name. Immediately the man fell to his knees crying out to Jesus to save him. My friend stood witnessing a thrilling conversion experience that would never have come about if he had not taken his authority over spirits of unbelief.
4. Fear of the Supernatural<a name="04"></a>
Many Christians have a fear of the supernatural. Our walk is to be a supernatural one, but the enemy, through spirits of fear, holds Christians back from entering into it and receiving supernatural blessings.
This fear can manifest itself as either a fear of God or a fear of Satan - neither of which stem from God. There is a fear of the Lord which is a good thing and which Proverbs 1:7 describes as "the beginning of knowledge," but the fear we are here referring to, has a demonic source.
While praying for a Christian worker, the Holy Spirit showed me that he had a fear of God that was hindering his relationship with God. This unnatural, demonic fear had come through his strict church upbringing which had given him an unbalanced concept of the nature of God. He saw his heavenly Father as someone with a big rod ready to immediately punish any offender. He confided that he had trouble trusting God for the future because of a fear of what God might do to him. Together we renounced this demonic fear, choosing to see the Lord as He truly is and to love and trust Him implicitly.
Other Christians are "frightened" of the Holy Spirit, particularly of the gifts or manifestations of the Holy Spirit. The cause often stems from negative teaching they have received.
Unnatural fears of God are to be renounced. The Word of God is to be read so that through revelation knowledge, we might see how wonderful our God is and how intimate our relationship with Him as His children can be.
Other Christians are afraid of Satan; afraid of talking about him or his works; terrified of what the devil might do to them. In truth, it is our enemy who is afraid of us, but through deception he tries to reverse the picture. Let us renounce the fear of Satan; renounce the fear of the supernatural. Let us yield to God, the Holy Spirit, and be filled with His presence and power.
Jesus said, "Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you" (Luke 10:19).
Never again confess fear, but declare your authority and start "treading on" the enemy.
5. Pride<a name="05"></a>
... "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. - James 4:6-7
Pride keeps multitudes from entering the kingdom, and within the kingdom keeps multitudes from receiving deliverance. How humbling it can be to have to confess you have inner needs, or to have to share areas of bondage that are embarrassing or that you think will sound foolish.
We prayed for a woman who had such a fear of water that she was afraid to be baptised. With reluctance she would enter her swimming pool on a hot day, but never place her head under the water. If we weren't sensitive, we could laugh and say, "It's ridiculous! Fancy being afraid of water." After her fear was acknowledged, and it was broken in Jesus' name, she was gladly baptised. What a victory! But it would never have happened if she had not humbled herself and sought help.
Men, may I speak a word to you. Why is it that we won't humble ourselves and open up as readily as women do? More women seek salvation and deliverance than men. The reason is not that men are not in need, for their needs are just as great. I believe the reason is that we men are often not as honest as women, and not so willing to humble ourselves. Don't let the enemy keep you away from blessing any longer. Humble yourself today. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time (1 Peter 5:6).
6. Lack of Wisdom<a name="06"></a>
Unwise words and actions can turn people away from truth. A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle. Proverbs 18:19 Any new truth that comes to an individual can be received with such excitement that he wants everyone to know about it. But not everyone wants to know or is ready to know. Untold damage can be done by zealous, wisdom-lacking Christians who try to force truth upon others. This can apply particularly to the truth of deliverance.
When any exciting truth is discovered, one's mind tends to dwell much on it for weeks or even months until it comes into balance with other truths. There is nothing wrong with an initial overemphasis provided it does not continue forever.
People become tired of hearing someone always talking on one subject. Be balanced. Be wise. Don't talk about demons all the time. Don't boast that you were delivered from so many demons last week and so many the week before. Unwise words or actions can turn away others whom the Lord desires to bring into new liberty.
If in the past you have had foolish, unwise things said to you about certain truths, do not allow the effect of those words to keep you from entering into blessing. Forgive those who have said unwise things to you and choose to receive the truth.
7. Lack of Perseverance<a name="07"></a>
Some expect that years of problems can be solved in an hour of counselling. This is not so. lime is involved. Warfare is work. Extensive time periods can pass before all bonds are broken. Many become discouraged and weary along the way.
In the midst of the battles, we must learn to appreciate what the Lord is doing. It is easy to see what the devil is doing. But what is God doing and allowing in the seeming delays? Without becoming passive, we must surrender to His full plan and purpose for our lives. The Lord is more interested in what He is making us into than in our comfort. When we appreciate the sovereignty of God, we will lose the panic.
My own road was one fraught with many pressures, and often there were days when I wondered if I could continue on. Each day I spent considerable time breaking inward strongholds. This went on, not for days or weeks, but a number of years. Some of you may have to come along a similar path. However, do not become discouraged. If you keep pressing on in perseverance and faith, you will come through just as I have come through. Joseph's time in Egypt as described in Psalm 105:16-22 was a source of strength that helped me to press on.
It was the Lord who sent Joseph to Egypt and directed his pathways through years of sufferings. This innocent, God-fearing, young man went through deep valleys when he could have questioned why he had to suffer as he did and for so long. Verse 18 literally says:
"His soul came into irons." He could have blamed the devil or he could have blamed God for his mistreatment. But in it all, he kept his eyes on the Lord, his heart attitude right, and was able to rise above the daily pressures. By his right attitude and faith, the Lord was able to fashion him as clay upon the potter's wheel. God had a purpose for Joseph that was far beyond his imagination; but before he could be raised up, he had to be abased. Verse 19 says: Until the time that his word came to pass, The word if the Lord tested him. Each one of us is also on trial. How will we respond? Will we panic or trust? Obey or disobey? See from man's vantage point or God's?
When the Lord had fulfilled His purposes in Joseph, he was released into a responsible position of rulership, that caused him to be a saviour in God's hands to his family, and a key person in God's ongoing purposes for His chosen people.
I am sure as he looked back, even though he would not have wanted to tread the same pathway again, he was glad for what God had made him and what God was doing through him.
The Lord is preparing us to reign, not only in time, but also in eternity. He is fashioning us through trials and sufferings into those who will share His throne throughout eternal ages. Only those who are "overcomers" share that glory. As we persevere in overcoming the adversary in our own lives, and as our spiritual muscles are daily developed, we are preparing ourselves for His eternal purposes for us as His people.
Of Christ it was said: Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source ~" eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:8-9).