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For Freedom

2003 by OAIM All rights reserved.

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For Freedom Freedom From Sin
Galatians 5:1 Breaking Strongholds
The Purpose of Our Salvation Teaching Freedom in Counseling
Deliverance Ministries Challenge Our Freedom Bibliography
Deliverance Ministries Redefine Our Status End Notes
Steak and Arsenic

For Freedom

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1

Do-nothing, slave of Marcus, that’s how he was known. He lived his life in a limbo land between human and beast, never close to attaining the status of human being, yet somewhere above the level of a dumb beast. The value of his life varied according to the whims of his master. On a day where his master was jovial and Do-nothing pleased him, his value was great and he was treated to an extra slice of crusty bread. On a day where his master’s stomach was sour, Do-nothing was worth far less than the annoying mouse that scampered across the floor, whose greatest purpose would be to provide a momentary pleasure to the boot that would crush it.

He had no dreams, no aspirations, no hopes of a future other than this. This was his life. From the dawning of the day until far into the night, Do-nothing was not his own. A puppet in the hands of his master Marcus, Do-nothing was at the mercy of everyone but himself. It was as if he were a piece of furniture, silently waiting at the side until needed to be used. [1] [2]

This is the state each and every one of us is in before we come to know the rest that is found in the finished work of Christ on the cross. The slavery that holds us is absolute, slavery to the world, slavery to demonic forces, and slavery to our own passions. Escape is impossible. Our situation is most hopeless.

However, we, as Christians, know that the story does not end there. We know for certain that the impossible freedom slaves fear to hope for is not at all illusive, and that it is being held out to us in an unbelievable way, free for the taking to all who would accept it. But is it really that simple? Does freedom really come that easily? My answer to both of these questions is an unabashed, fervent, yes!

While it is nothing new to face teachings that would seek to complicate the simplicity of the Gospel, today the Church is faced with a growing number of these types of teachings, both from without and within, that are threatening the very core of our beliefs: the finished work of Christ on the cross. It is vital that we learn to see these teachings for what they are and to be able to expose them in the people we counsel.

Although these teachings appear in many forms, one of the most destructive forms that is currently raising its head on the scene today is deliverance ministries. A few short decades ago, only extreme fringe groups were involved in anything in regards to delivering people from demons. Today, however, deliverance ministries have not only become commonplace, but they are even becoming fashionable in the most mainstream of churches.

In order to see how deliverance ministries are undermining the cross of Christ, we must first examine what the very purpose of our salvation is.

The Purpose of Our Salvation

Both Greek and Roman law gave our friend Do-nothing, slave of Marcus, very little chance of changing the status of his slavery on his own. There were, however, two laws that could dramatically change a slave’s life forever.

The first of these laws is alluded to in Galatians 5:1. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” According to the law, a slave could actually be “purchased” by a god. This was done by a man, usually the slave’s master, who would stand en lieu of the god and offer the appropriate monies to the temple treasury. With the transaction, a legal document was drawn up which used the words “for freedom,” to indicate the new status of the slave. Once this transaction was finalized, the slave belonged irrevocably to the god and could never be enslaved by anyone else again. [3] [4]

This is precisely the picture Paul was intending to touch in the minds of those who read this passage. Our salvation was never intended to be a temporary situation. The freedom we gained has marked us as God’s slave for eternity, [5] and we can never again be enslaved by any other master. Our purpose is now to serve our Master, completely and wholeheartedly, forever.

A second law concerning slaves was that a slave could be adopted into the master’s family. [6] [7] If a master chose to take such a step, the slave would be given a new name and would gain all the rights and privileges given to any other child of the family. Just as with any child, adoption was a permanent action, unable to be revoked by either party. Although the slave would never actually be a flesh and blood child of the master, he would be treated as if he were the master’s child.

We see this picture also in Paul’s words to the Galatians in his illustration of Ishmael and Isaac in Galatians 4. Paul was reminding the readers that their salvation caused them to have a unique form of freedom: one that was permanent and never to be revoked by either party. Our salvation, according to Paul, did not save us to enslave us, but to utterly free us from the claims of sin, Satan and self.

In Romans 6, Paul is very clear about what we have been saved from. “Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:16-18 A great transformation takes place at the moment of our salvation, when we exchange the slavery to the god of this world for the slavery to the only true God.

Deliverance Ministries Challenge Our Freedom

The teaching of deliverance ministries, however, does not follow these pictures of freedom. The very idea that a Christian can still be a slave to sin negates the completeness of the freedom we experience at salvation. If we are still in bondage to sins (which they personify as demons), then the freedom we have in Christ is not sufficient. It falls short of the manumission of a slave who was freed from slavery through being purchased by a god. If Paul’s words in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” are used to paint the picture of a completely free slave, how could it be that a Christian can still be in slavery to sin (i.e., demons)?

It is vital to ask ourselves what purpose a deliverance ministry serves in the life of a Christian. If their belief is that a Christian, after salvation, still needs to be freed from demonic bondage, then they stand in direct opposition to the finished work of Christ on the cross. If Christ did not free us from all, He did not free us at all.

We must follow this train of thought through to its logical conclusion. If Christians were not freed from demonic forces at the moment of our salvation, then the work of Christ on the cross was incomplete, needing something further to finish the job He obviously could not do on the cross. Further, this indicates that the deliverance minister, who casts the demons out, will accomplish something that Christ could not do. As with most false teachings, Christ is lowered because of His “inadequacies,” and man is exalted to His place.

It is in the best interests of deliverance ministers to persuade people of the many demons they have so they become dependent on them to “save” them in a way they could never achieve on their own. One deliverance minister’s website [8] has a chart of over 200 demons that a person could possibly have in their life. This ensures the deliverance minister of a perpetual clientele, not only from the variety of demons that might need to be cast out, but also because it seems the demons do not stay out, returning from time to time to give the deliverance minister more business.

The Bible tells us that when we are saved, we are released from our slavery to sin and made instead a slave to righteousness. [9] Does this mean that we no longer sin? Of course not. We all still have the sin nature within us [10] and will have until we shed our mortality. However, one of the root beliefs of deliverance ministries is that we were also delivered from this sin nature and, therefore, any sin that we have in our lives must be caused by something other than ourselves, i.e. demons in the form of sins. It is a commonly held belief among deliverance ministers that sin is not so much something we do but an entity that exists within us.

We see this in Neil Anderson’s [11] words about Romans 7:17-21 [12] , “How many players are involved now? Two: sin and me. But sin is clearly not me; it’s only dwelling in me. Sin is preventing me from doing what I want to do, but I am responsible for allowing sin to reign.” [13] As you can see, sin has been turned into a type of being living within us that has power to keep us from doing what is right. Obviously, it is an easy step to call this being a demon.

One should not miss Anderson’s implication that our responsibility is not for committing the sin, but for letting this entity called “sin” rule in our life. In a sleight-of-hand maneuver, our responsibility is swiftly changed from our shoulders onto this being called “sin.” This lays the foundation for claiming it is the demon within us that causes us to sin, and not our own nature, and therefore it establishes our need for more than the cross of Christ to gain us freedom.

Deliverance Ministries Redefine Our Status

The other picture of manumission Paul gives us brings a slave into the family of the master. The teaching of deliverance ministries in regards to this is that not only do we become part of God’s family, but we are given the very same authority Jesus has. Their logic begins with Ephesians 1:18-21, [14] where Paul states that Christ is seated in the heavenlies with all authority given to Him. From there, they progress to Colossians 3:1 [15] and conclude that if we are raised up to be with Christ, then evidently we have also been given the same authority He has.

What they fail to take into consideration is that Christ is God and we are not. Just like the slave will never be of the same substance as the master, we will never be gods. A child will always be separate from the parent and will always, in many ways, be subordinate to that parent. In the same way, we will be God’s children for eternity and that does involve subordination to His sovereignty.

It is also important to remember that both of these pictures Paul gives us in Galatians are at work at the same time. We are both adopted children with all the rights and privileges that accompany that, and we are slaves to our God. The more we submit as slaves of righteousness, the more we show ourselves to be true children of God. A child is not above his father, but as he obeys his father, he proves himself worthy of the father whose name he bears. We are not above our Father, but as we obey, we honor the name we’ve been given.

Once again, to claim that believers are equal in authority to Jesus denies His sovereignty, lowering Him and raising up man. Philippians 2:9-11 contradicts the claim that we are on equal footing with Jesus. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Paul makes an obvious difference between our position and that of Christ that we cannot ignore.

 

Steak and Arsenic

The major problem with any false teaching is that it is rarely a black and white situation. Satan is too clever to hand us a cup of poison and expect us to drink it down as it is. No, his work is a subtle mixture of truth and error that appears most delightful to us, but is most deadly. The false teachings that attack the Church today move in just such a manner, “pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom,” [16] but once taken internally, it becomes a roaring lion, seeking to devour our souls.

This dangerous deception should come as no surprise to us since we read in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 Paul’s warning against this exact satanic trick. “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”

Even modern pastors’ voices can be heard echoing Paul’s admonition. Pastor Steven J. Cole sums up Anderson’s teachings quite well when he says, “Reading Neil Andersons’ Victory Over Darkness [17] is like eating steak laced with arsenic. The steak tastes great and makes up the major portion, but the arsenic, imbedded throughout, will kill you.” [18] We may chuckle at the two old aunts who used arsenic to bring peace to lonely men in the old black and white movie Arsenic and Old Lace, but in the spiritual realm, there is no humor in the teachings of these deliverance ministers who try to steal away the freedom Christ has given. Anderson’s book, The Bondage Breaker, would be more appropriately titled, The Bondage Maker, since it puts people back under our old slave master’s whip and offers the “freedom” of puny men over the freedom of God.

Freedom from Sin

What is the draw of the deliverance ministries then? Why have they become even trendier than counseling for many Christians? The key to their popularity is their promise of an easy way to do away with the sins in their lives. “Come to us,” they coo, “and we will cast out the demons. Then you don’t have to worry about any more desires to sin.” But is this how Jesus tells us we are set free? Did Jesus cast demons out of everyone to set them free from sin?

The very fact that Jesus separated casting demons out of some people from getting to the heart of spiritual issues with others [19] indicates that the solution to our sinful nature is not casting out demons, but our relationship with God. But let’s go directly to Jesus to see what His answer is to being set free.

Jesus tells us clearly in John 8:32 what sets us free: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” How free does knowing this truth set us? Let us read on in John 8. “Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’” Interestingly, Jesus uses the same exact illustration Paul used in Galatians 4 to show that our relationship with Him is what transforms us from slaves to sons.

What is this truth that we will know that will set us free? Clearly in the context of the passage it is the knowledge of who Jesus is and a relationship with Him. In fact, in John 14:6, Jesus defines truth for us: “I am the way and the truth and the life.” From this, the logical conclusion is that the truth that sets us free is the truth of who Jesus is and what He has done for us. This is how our freedom occurs. John 8:36 "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." It is the Son who sets us free, and the freedom He gives is complete.

Breaking Strongholds

Ironically, Paul confirms this same thought in a passage that is often misinterpreted by deliverance ministers to substantiate their position. In 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 we see what Paul considered was the real spiritual battle. “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

For some reason, deliverance ministers redefine the “strongholds” in this passage as demonic attachments to our inner being. Yet if we merely read the next sentence, we see a definition of these “strongholds” as “arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.” Nowhere in this entire passage do we see references to demons or demonic influences. The strongholds as defined here would actually fit exactly what deliverance ministries teach: an argument that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. Therefore, deliverance ministries themselves are the stronghold that needs to be demolished, not the means of freeing oneself from a stronghold.

Our freedom comes through our knowledge of God, who He is, and His power that is at work within us. Although Paul was writing to the Galatians about the false teaching of circumcision, I think his Spirit-inspired words should equally apply to the false teaching of deliverance ministries. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Teaching Freedom in Counseling

As we work with those who come to us for counseling, we need to be alert to signs that they have been influenced by this “yoke of slavery,” and we must be prepared to guide them into a biblical path for dealing with sin and temptation. One of Anderson’s catchphrases, coming from his psychological background, is that we need to know “who we are in Christ,” [20] but his focus is completely backwards. We do not need to know “who we are in Christ” to be freed. We only need to know who Christ is. Period. When someone who has been influenced by these teachings comes to us, they need to redirect their focus from how “good” they are now that they are Christians, to the God who gives us these blessings, although we do not deserve them.

Our sonship is a gift we have been given. We did nothing to deserve it and we can never be worthy of it. Our role is to be grateful for our adoption and to remember the slavery from which we’ve been freed.

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil -- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14-15

 

Bibliography

Anderson, Neil T., The Bondage Breaker (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1993).

 

Anderson, Neil T., Victory Over Darkness (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1997).

 

Bailey, Keith, 10 Biblical Principles for Effective Deliverance Ministry (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, Inc.

 

Bubeck, Mark I., The Adversary (Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, 1975).

 

Dean, Robert Jr., and Thomas Ice, What the Bible Teaches About Spiritual Warfare (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2000).

 

Fisher, G. Richard, “Demons, Demons, Where Are the Demons? The Unchanged and Unchanging Neil Anderson” [website online]; available from Personal Freedom Outreach at http://www.pfo.org/wdemons.htm; Internet; accessed 31 December 2002.

 

McLaughlin, Barry, “Demon Spirits and Demon Grouping” [website online]; available from Freedom Deliverance Ministry at http://www.freedomdeliverance.com/DemonGrouping.htm; Internet; accessed 28 March 2003.

 

Miller, Elliot, “The Bondage Maker: Examining the Message and Method of Neil T. Anderson” [website online]; available from Christian Research Institute at http://www.equip.org/free/DA081.htm; Internet; accessed 31 December 2002.

 

PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, comp., Neil Anderson Warning Package (Santa Barbara, California: PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, n.d.).

 

Rugh, Gil, “The Heresies of Demonization” (Lincoln, NE: Indian Hills Community Church); audiocassette from a sermon dated 13 June 1993.

 

Sumrall, Lester, Demons: The Answer Book (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1993).

 

The Luke Project, “The New Testament and Slavery” [website online]; available from http://www.lukeproject.org/new_testament_and_slavery.htm; accessed 29 March 2003.

 

 

Unger, Merrill F., What Demons Can Do To Saints (Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, 1991).

 

Vine, W.E. and Merrill F. Unger and William White, Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996).

 

Warner, Timothy M., Spiritual Warfare: Victory Over the Powers of This Dark World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991).

 

White, Thomas B., The Believer’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 1990).

 



[1] Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, p. 255.

[2] The Luke Project, http://www.lukeproject.org/new_testament_and_slavery.htm, accessed 29 March 2003.

[3] Vine’s, Ibid.

[4] The Luke Project, Ibid.

[5] We see a similar picture of the permanence of our slavery to God in the Old Testament. In Exodus 21:5-6, we read of a slave who made the conscious choice out of devotion to remain in his master’s household. Upon expressing this desire, the slave was taken to the doorpost and his ear was pierced by an awl. Again, this was an irrevocable act.

[6] Vine’s, Ibid.

[7] The Luke Project, Ibid.

[8] http://www.freedomdeliverance.com/DemonGrouping.htm

[9] Romans 6:16-18 “Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”

[10] Romans 7:25 “So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

[11] Dr. Neil Anderson has mixed his particular brand of deliverance ministry with psychology, which has made it particularly palatable and popular in mainstream churches.

[12] Romans 7:17-21 “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

 

[13] Anderson, Victory Over the Darkness, p. 83.

[14] “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”

[15] Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

[16] Genesis 3:6

[17] Neil Anderson, Victory Over Darkness (Regal Books: 1990).

[18] Steven J. Cole, Pastor, “Steak and Arsenic.” This is from an article included in the Neil Anderson Warning Packet that is put out by PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110.

[19] See the story of Jesus and the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22.

[20] This catchphrase is used throughout Anderson’s works, and it is coupled with a listing of 65 statements that all begin with “I” that the person is to recite aloud each day for 30 days. A listing of these statements can be found at the back of Anderson’s book, The Bondage Breaker. This type of thinking is rooted in the self-esteem movement perpetuated by psychological teachings.

This article is excerpted from the book, BIBLE Counseling: Equipping Christians for an Evangelistic Counseling Ministry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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