Rev Dr Edgar Mayer – Living Grace Lutheran Church, Toowoomba – Date: 17 May 2015

For more sermons and other writings, please check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org

 

Promised Joy

 

Three weeks ago, someone came to see me and said: “I just want to be happy.” She believed that there was a god but she wasn’t a Christian. She had not yet given herself to God – had not yet submitted to him – but – at the same time – she no longer wanted her old life because it was a dead end. She wasn’t happy.

Can God make you happy? And if this woman came to church, would she find evidence among us that God can make his people happy? Are you happy?

God has made us some wonderful promises and they are about this life right now:

 

Peter 1:8-9: Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

 

1 Thessalonians 1:6: You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

 

Romans 14:17: For the kingdom of God is … [about] righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

 

Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Psalm 28:7: The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

 

John 15:10-12: If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

 

Luke 6:22-23: Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

 

James 1:2-3: 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.

 

1 Peter 4:12-14 [NCV]: My friends, do not be surprised at the terrible trouble which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you. But be happy that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings so that you will be happy and full of joy when Christ comes again in glory. When people insult you because you follow Christ, you are blessed, because the glorious Spirit, the Spirit of God, is with you.

 

Hebrews 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

John 16:24: Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

 

Philippians 4:4-5 [NCV]: Be full of joy in the Lord always. I will say again, be full of joy. Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind. The Lord is coming soon.

 

Psalm 92:4-5: For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done. How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts!

 

God promises us joy – even when suffering and persecution come – and he delivers on his promise by his Spirit who dwells with us and fills us with the presence of God. Wherever God is, there is joy – Romans 14:17: “The kingdom of God is[about] righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

So far the theory. Martyn Lloyd-Jones [one of the truly great preachers of the last century - a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor who was influential in the Reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century - for almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London] complained in one of his sermons:

 

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Spiritual Depression, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing House 1965, p12: Christian people too often seem to be perpetually in the doldrums and too often give this appearance of unhappiness and of lack of freedom and of absence of joy. There is no question at all but that this is the main reason why large numbers of people have ceased to be interested in Christianity.

 

How happy are we as Christians? Maybe Christians in general could be happier [Christians can weigh each other down with traditions and disputes and judgements and make the faith all about obedience (in their own strength)] but I think that there is joy among us. At least, when we come together – even when I am preaching – we seem to laugh a lot. Often, I don’t understand how this is possible. There is no humour in my sermon transcript. I am not telling jokes but – no matter how serious the topic – we always seem to end up joyful. I think that this is great and of God.

Yet, the Sunday highlights can be misleading. Many of us are struggling during the week and there are tears being shed and – to be fair – some of them need to come out because of real grief (a loved one may have died or there has been an accident or other bad news). The Bible knows thatthere is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance(Ecclesiastes 3:1-4). You don’t have to smile and show a happy face when you are in mourning. But then – so Martyn Lloyd-Jones – there is much doom and gloom which are unnecessary and unworthy of Christians. He sums up the problem by saying:

 

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Spiritual Depression, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing House 1965, p20: The ultimate cause of all spiritual depression is unbelief. For if it were not for unbelief even the devil could do nothing.

 

What does he mean? How can unbelief make us unhappy? This is easy and happens all of the time:

 

Mark Virkler: Dialogue with God, South Plainfield: Bridge Publishing House 1986, p119-120: The church I was pastoring felt called by the Lord to have a fund-raising campaign in an attempt to pay off their $60,000 mortgage. Everyone was asked to spend time in prayer to find out what they should do to help the campaign. I knew there wasn’t anything I could do. My family was living on a very small pastor’s salary. We had no savings account and our checking account registered $0,00 at the end of every week. Whatever came in immediately went back out to pay bills. I didn’t even bother to pray about it because I knew we had nothing to give.

Then I had a fleeting (spontaneous?) thought that I should sell the duplex we owned and give the balance to the church. I thought that was a pretty stupid idea. It couldn’t possibly be from God. I hadn’t been in prayer when it came. It was just a dumb idea. So I didn’t even ask the Lord if the thought was from him for several days. You see, I didn’t really want to know. I finally gave in and asked if He wanted me to sell the duplex and give the money to the church. When He said yes, I was really angry and frustrated. My first retort was, “I never did believe in journaling anyway!”

I didn’t believe in having insurance, so the duplex had been my investment for the future. I had done much of the work in building it myself, so the mortgage was low and could be paid off while my wife and I were still young. After that it could continue to provide a monthly income to care for my family if anything happened to me, or to provide for me in my old age. And now Jesus was telling me to sell my security and give all the profit to the church!

I was so upset I didn’t speak to the Lord for several days. The subject simply was not open for discussion. Finally I cooled off enough to bring up the question again, “Lord, do you really want me to sell the duplex?” Then He explained to me why: It had become an idol in my life. I was looking for it for security rather than to Him. My trust was in a pile of cement and wood rather than in the living God. I thought about that for a while and decided He had a good point. He always does! So, what did He want me to do about it? “Sell the duplex, pay off the mortgage, and give the balance to the church.”

I considered that for a while longer and finally gave in. “All right,” I said, “but you’re going to have to be responsible for my family! And if I starve to death in old age, it’ll be all your fault!” He seemed more than willing to accept the responsibility.

The Lord told me how to advertise the duplex and what price to ask. Besides, I thought I still had an out, because I believe strongly in submitting major decisions of my life for counsel. I was sure that when I submitted this hare-brained idea to my co-elders they would see the foolishness of it and counsel me not to sell the house. But when I asked them about it, they both believed it was God speaking to me. So much for submission! With friends like that, who needs enemies?

We did as the Lord said and waited for the calls to start coming. And waited. And waited. After six or eight months on the market with no offers, the Lord said, “Take it off the market.” I didn’t really care if it were sold or not anymore. In my heart, it was no longer mine. Jesus said, “That’s what I was after all along. Now your trust is in me, not some building. The duplex is no longer an idol in your life. You have given it to me, and now I am giving it back to you; be my steward over it.”

 

It’s easy to stress over money – get all anxious and fearful – but this is unnecessary. This is unbelief. This is not trusting Jesus and what he promised us:

 

Matthew 6:25-34: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear … Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

… So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

Unbelief causes us a lot of grief because we have not yet learned to take Jesus by his words:

 

Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 

Yet, I want to take this to a deeper level and talk about battling spiritual forces which want to take away our joy. Sometimes, there is more going on than human thinking that is immature and lacking in discipline. All Christians are in conflict with ungodly powers that are opposing God – Satan who is heading up the kingdom of darkness and his demons which are unclean spirits. They are invisible but real and they hate God and whoever belongs to him – especially us who are made in God’s image:

 

Ephesians 6:12: Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

 

2 Corinthians 4:4: The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ … / Acts 26:17-18: … I am sending you … to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins … / Ephesians 2:1-10: As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient … But because of his great love for us, God … made us alive in Christ … / Ephesians 4:27: Do not give the devil a foothold. [Do not sin.]

 

Martin Luther, like many of our fathers and mothers in the faith, concurred with the Scriptures. He saw our conflict with Satan as central to our faith and wrote – Luther’s Large Catechism, translated by Friedemann Hebart, Adelaide: Lutheran Publishing House 1983, p159-160:

This is why Christians have to be armed and expect every day to face constant attacks … He is the kind of enemy who never gives up or gets tired. When one temptation stops, new ones take its place … The petition [“deliver us from evil” from the Lord’s Prayer actually means – rightly translated from the Greek of the New Testament – “deliver us from the evil one” and] seems to refer to the devil, as if to compress everything into the one idea that the sum total of all our prayer should be aimed at this main enemy of ours … this petition also includes all the evil that can happen to us under the devil’s rule: poverty, disgrace, death … all the … heartache which never ends here in the world. Because the devil is not only a liar but also a murderer, he never stops trying to kill us, and takes his anger out on us by doing what he can to get us hurt in accidents, and to do us physical harm. This is how he manages to break many a person’s neck and to drive others insane. Some he drowns, and many he pushes into suicide and many other terrible evils …

 

The devil could even get to Jesus. He was able to oppress Jesus’ mind and thoughts and Jesus was without sin:

 

Matthew 4:1-3: Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

 

Much of Jesus’ ministry consisted of setting people free from unclean spirits which – in varying degrees (oppression, torment, and possession) – tried to attach themselves to humans and their bodies. And we are meant to do the same ministry of expelling demons from people:

 

Luke 4:31-44: … he began to teach the people. They were amazed because his message had authority … an evil spirit cried out at the top of his voice, ‘Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us …’ ‘Be quiet!’ Jesus said sternly. ‘Come out of him!’ … All the people were amazed and said to each other, ‘What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!’ … When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God!’ …

 

Acts 10:38: God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil …

 

Mark 16:17-18: And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.

 

Matthew 10:7-8: As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

 

Could it be that we will recover a more joyful life as Christians once we identify how unclean spirits can rob us of the joy that is meant to be ours? Last year (2014), someone gave me the bookFree in Christwhich was written by Pablo Bottari. He is the man that oversees the deliverance tent in the crusades of Carlos Annacondia [former businessman turned evangelist, Carlos Annacondia has been the key figure in the Argentine revival, one of the longest revivals in church history for the last 27 years]. In his own words, more than one million people have received ministry in the deliverance tent and he was personally involved with about 30,000 cases.

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, pX-XI: [Foreword by Carlos Annacondia] In 1985 Pablo Bottari joined our ministry team. Pablo had been a barber, and he would ask me many questions about deliverance as he cut my hair. Pablo was a gift from heaven. Day after day he would minister deliverance, first to one, then to two and finally to hundreds of people. Pablo displayed great compassion – a quality that is essential to the ministry of deliverance. Without mercy for souls we cannot devote ourselves to the ministry of deliverance, because it is about compassion, sacrifice and prayer. You cannot do it any other way.

As I watched Pablo minister, I noticed other vital qualities as well: effort, dedication and commitment. At night, following our crusade services when times of ministry would begin, everyone would seem to disappear quickly. But Pablo always stayed until very early in the morning, lovingly helping those who were oppressed by the devil.

At a crusade in Cordoba, Argentina, I sensed the Holy Spirit’s leading to ask Pablo to be in charge of the tent of deliverance. This tent, which measured approximately 60 feet [18.29 metres] wide by 230 feet [70 metres] long was filled every night with demonized people. Great patience was needed to work in there. Loud screaming, tortured gestures and violent behavior were demonstrated by many of the demonized. Individuals who ministered to them, usually members of the local churches, would spend long hours in deliverance ministry there. Yet these poor souls were still not delivered. I knew this was due to a lack of knowledge – both on our part and on the part of those who were working with us.

Although some pastors disagreed with my decision to hire Pablo because he wasn’t Pentecostal and didn’t speak in tongues, I told them that Pablo’s meekness, not only in ministry but also in teaching others how to minister, qualified him for the task. Every time these pastors confronted me, my answer would be the same. Eventually they understood. Speaking in tongues is not the only evidence of the Holy Spirit. We must never forget about love, peace, patience, gentleness and all the rest.

Pablo had the necessary fruit for this task. Besides, it was apparent that individuals were being set free through his ministry. For me, that was enough evidence that he was right to be the coordinator of the tent of deliverance for Message of Salvation Ministry.

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p21: More than one million souls in bondage have received ministry in the deliverance tent, thirty thousand of whom I have personally dealt with, but my attitude has never changed. I have sought to humble myself before the Lord completely, to depend on the Holy Spirit absolutely and to believe in the authority He has given me as His own child to cast out demons and overcome dark powers.

 

This makes him a man worth listening to and a few points and themes in his book intrigued me. I am not an expert in deliverance ministry even though at every conference now and at every Jesus Tent we do have at least one or several people who give evidence of being bothered by unclean spirits. We cannot avoid the subject and any helpful insight is welcome.

The pastor from before became anxious when God asked him to sell his duplex. We all know about fear – the fear of the unknown, the fear of unemployment, the fear of running out of money, the fear of the future (for our children), the fear of sickness (maybe an upcoming operation), the fear of aging, etc. Our fears rob us of joy (and we already identified the failure of unbelief) and this is bad enough but I never quite understood that fear was also a major gateway of allowing unclean spirits to oppress us and bring us under bondage to their power:

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p26-27: The psychologist wife of an evangelical preacher came into the tent for deliverance at one of our crusades. By the time I approached her, the people ministering to her had rebuked every spirit they sensed was involved in her bondage – but without any visible results. They had even rebuked the “spirit of psychology”!

The ministry team requested my help. I explained that there were three possible reasons why a believer would manifest a demonic spirit. It could be hatred, tremendous fear or some unbroken vow with the devil. In her case, I suspected it was fear. So I asked her, “Were you ever tremendously afraid?”

She told me that at thirteen years of age she had gone to visit her uncle and aunt. They were not at home, but her twenty-year-old cousin was there. He tried to force her to have sexual relations with him and had fondled her. She screamed until some neighbors came and rescued her. Some time later her cousin was put into an institution, but the woman could never overcome her fear. Although she was now married and had children, her past trauma hindered her from enjoying normal intimate relations with her husband.

When she renounced the fear and hatred, she was set free. My wife was with me, helping me to minister to this girl. She experienced such an overwhelming sense of freedom that she wanted to kiss my wife’s hands. Placing her hands on her chest, she wept and repeated, “I can’t believe it! I don’t feel the oppression anymore!”

As ministers to those in bondage, we must learn what opened the door in an individual’s life for the demonic to enter. Rather than focusing on the effects of oppression and bondage, it is essential to understand the causes.

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p28-30: Making conscious or unconscious vows with the devil also creates spiritual bondage … One day, Carlos Annacondia asked me to come to Mendoza, Argentina, to help with a difficult case. As the ministry team had attempted to bring deliverance to a woman there, the demon inside of her would manifest and mock them, saying, “You can’t cast me out!” or “You can’t do this, fatso!”

When I arrived and began to pray, I rebuked the demon in Jesus’ name. It declared, “You have no authority to drive me out!”

Aware that I did not have full understanding about this situation, I said to the lady, “Sister, there is something that happened to you or that is happening to you right now that you haven’t told me about.” However, she provided no helpful insight.

The demon manifested a second time and laughed at me. The same thing happened on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and she still was not delivered. I turned to a couple who ministered with me often and told them, “Don’t leave this woman alone until she tells you why the demon has the authority to stay.”

Late that night, the woman made a confession. She said she was a believer, and she had an unsaved brother whose wife had died. His two daughters attended church with their aunt. This man decided to remarry, but he married a witch. When the two girls discovered that their stepmother was performing witchcraft, they left the house and went to live with their aunt. The father went to get them, but they refused to go back home.

The stepmother threatened the man’s daughters and cursed the aunt. The aunt became so terrified of what might happen to her from the curse that white spots broke out all over her body. When she noticed the spots, instead of seeking the Lord’s help, she sought out “white magic,” undergoing a cultic practice called the “umbanda ritual.”

We were able to help her to see that by taking part in a demonic ritual, she had entered into what constitutes a “vow” with a demon. Realizing this, she renounced the vow. Afterward, Carlos Annacondia prayed and broke the curse. We prayed and rebuked the demon in this way: “Now, in the name of Jesus, unclean spirit who said that we didn’t have any authority – you go!”

As it went, the demon answered, “I know, I know … you defeated me. I’m leaving!” And it left.

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p91-92: For example: If the devil oppresses someone with fearful thoughts, and that person allows fear to control his or her life, Satan has achieved his objective.

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p121-125: Fear produces all kinds of ties. They are commonly known as traumas, fixations, obsessions and complexes. Many times they manifest as convulsions, fears, doubts, insecurities and phobias.

People suffer a great deal when they are deeply afraid. Some submit to spiritual forces of evil due to their fears. For that reason it is necessary to renounce fear in a prayer of renunciation.

Some parents bind their children to fear by the words they use with them. Some say, “Promise that you will never leave me.” That is a tie that binds the child to the parent under oath forever. At times we may have bound our children because of ignorance. Or we bound our children with our fears instead of teaching them to take care of themselves. Whenever we say, “Please, don’t come back home late, and don’t walk through that area in the park; someone may attack and rape you,” we may be opening a door to the enemy with our own words. Our words should be, “Go with my blessing; I am trusting that God is with you.”

Learn to communicate trust – not fear. Teach your children the value of trust and how it can be built. We should teach our children to stay away from strangers. But when they ask why, tell them that it isn’t wise to trust those whom we don’t know. We will instill fear in them if we say, “Be careful, because this or that can happen to you.”

When we raise our children with fear, they will always be afraid to make their own decisions. They will always be insecure. People with insecurities caused by fears instilled in their childhood may not be able to open their mouths at work, may be unable to discuss normal problems with others, may swallow their bitterness and live in anxiety. Almost everything related to deliverance starts early in life. When we minister to people with fears and explore where the fears are coming from, almost all have begun in childhood.

Often when we finished ministering in the deliverance tent, one of the teams that was working in the tent would bring a person who had received ministry to the registration table where we would write down his personal information, as well as that of the counselor. The deliverance would then be proved through prayer. If the person wasn’t totally free, the ministry had to continue.

One night, we were praying for a young man who fell to the ground and started to speak in tongues. His legs were unceasingly moving. I was talking to a pastor, but when I saw the young man on the floor, I commented, “This man has experienced a great fear and needs to be delivered.”

“How do you know?” asked the pastor who was talking with me. “By the movements of his legs,” I replied. “But he has been touched by the Holy Spirit,” declared the pastor. “I believe that he has a lot of fear,” I stated once again.

We waited a few minutes for him to recover, and then I approached him and asked, “Have you had a great fear in your life?” “No,” he responded, a bit surprised. “I believe it is a fear caused by a certain situation that caused you to run a lot. Anyway, think about it,” I said. “If you remember, just let me know.”

I continued my conversation with the pastor, and after a few minutes the young man came back and said, “Pastor, I remember now what happened. One day many years ago, I went hunting with some of my friends. We walked into a private field that was off limits, but we didn’t know it. When the owners of the place saw us, they started to run after us, shooting at us. They were riding on horseback while we were on foot. We had to run away and dive into a lagoon to hide. We were desperately treading through reeds. It felt as if we couldn’t advance.”

When he finished the story, I helped him to renounce the fear of death. I broke that yoke and cast that spirit out. There was no demonic manifestation. Then I prayed for him, he fell to the ground and prayed in tongues, but his legs were quiet – he had been set free from that fear. Glory to God!

As believers we have no permission to be afraid: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Fear is an open door for demons. Satan makes us afraid in order to afflict us. Then he has no difficulty entering into our lives.

It is important to discover our fears – for example, childhood fears that show up in our adulthood, fears of darkness, water, storms, closed places and others. It is necessary to find out where those fears that bind us come from.

The Christian who is submitted to God is not afraid. When we remain in the center of His will we have no fear. Yielded to God, we have the authority to stand firm before the enemy and say, “In the name of Jesus, get out.” Satan cannot touch those who are submitted to God and who obey Him in all things.

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p149-150: During a group of meetings in Italy, a young woman asked me to minister to her. Lovingly and patiently my wife spoke to her, but we couldn’t find what was causing the oppression. Since we were coming back to that same city soon, we told her to ask her mother what traumatic experience she had as a little girl.

Some months later we were back, and we met with her. She told us what she had found out. Following our advice, she had asked her mother about her childhood. Her mother told her that when she discovered she was pregnant, she didn’t want the baby, so she tried to abort by inserting knitting needles into her uterus. But God didn’t allow that to happen – her uncle was a believer, and he was praying for her.

Upon hearing this, my wife and I prayed with this girl, asking her first of all to forgive her mother for trying to kill her. Then we asked her to renounce the fear of death. At that moment, with those words still in her mouth, she started to sob. The real cause of her bondage had been revealed – fear. Since she had not known what happened to her when she was in the womb, she couldn’t remember anything. This is evidence that the tiniest embryo has the ability to perceive aggression. As a result of our ministry, both her life and her mother’s were changed. Her mother received the Lord and was set free from every yoke.

 

Why is fear such a major gateway for unclean spirits to come in and mess with us? In a nutshell, fear is an expression of unbelief and unbelief, according to Martin Luther and many other church fathers, is the chief sin – the root cause and chief power of all sin:

 

Preface to the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans: In particular, the Scriptures see into the heart, to the root and main source of all sin: unbelief in the depth of the heart … That is why only unbelief is called sin by Christ, as he says in John, chapter 16, “The Spirit will punish the world because of sin, because it does not believe in me.” Furthermore, before good or bad works happen, which are the good or bad fruits of the heart, there has to be present in the heart either faith or unbelief, the root, sap and chief power of all sin. That is why, in the Scriptures, unbelief is called the head of the serpent and of the ancient dragon which the offspring of the woman, i.e. Christ, must crush, as was promised to Adam (cf. Genesis 3).

 

Fear is doubting God. Fear is falling short of trusting God and believing his promises. Fear is believing that other forces are stronger than God or have more power than God is willing to grant us. Fear is believing a lie about God. Fear is sin and sin always opens the door to temptations (seek for other ways out than God) and, in the worst case scenario, allows oppression by unclean spirits which play on our fears and increase them until we are in bondage to these fears (supernaturally strengthened).

When I read the book, these testimonies about fearful people struck a chord with me because I never considered fear as an entry point to unclean spirits but it makes sense. Fear is not faith and whatever is not of faith – whatever does not belong to a relationship of trust in God – is sin – that is, separation from him.

How do we get free of fear and maybe the bondage of fear by unclean spirits? You may not suspect that unclean spirits are at work in your life but they are not rare and it is not shameful to be oppressed by them. Many pastors (e.g.: Mark Virkler, Derek Prince) discovered to their great surprise that they had unclean spirits. They did not suspect them and you may not suspect their presence because they do not want you to know that they are with you. They want to remain in hiding because when you know that they are there, you may want to confront them.

Pablo Bottari considers it a great failing of the church that we do not deal more intentionally with demonic oppression and, right from the start (independent of any manifestations), clean up properly what may be there:

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p47-49: I often compare new believers with little toy airplanes that take off all right, but at the first obstacle, they plunge to the ground.

After receiving Christ, the new believer is up on “cloud nine” for some time. Then problems arise, real struggles take place and soon many get discouraged because they do not advance as they would like to in their Christian lives. It is at this point of a person’s spiritual experience when deliverance is so necessary. If it doesn’t get done, we will have an ever-increasing amount of unhealthy believers.

The apostle Paul affirms: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The truth declared in this verse states that the new creatures are those who are “in” Christ – it doesn’t say “those who have accepted Christ.” To live “in” Christ means to obey his command to “submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:7-8).

The first thing is to submit to God. If we depend entirely on Him and live under Christ’s lordship, we can resist the devil, and we will verify that he truly flees from us. It isn’t until believers understand what it really means to place their entire lives under the ruling of Christ that they can honestly declare that “the old has gone.”

If we renounce everything that is under the enemy’s control from the very beginning of our new life, our growth will be normal and even. When we don’t do so, we will develop into a deformed Christian, like a real monster.

Unfortunately, many new believers are taught that the Christian life is a long list of prohibitions. Thus, the expressions on their faces reflect worries and sadness rather than joy.

New believers need ministry to help them get rid of all those things in the past that prevent them from growing. Unless they achieve complete spiritual healing from the beginning, they will continuously encounter obstacles that will damage them.

Every vow that has been made with the enemy before knowing Christ has to be broken. Otherwise, as soon as the believer lowers his or her guard, the enemy comes back with an attack, demanding the fulfillment of their previous agreement.

True peace and real freedom will only come as we untie the bonds of ungodliness, loosen the burden of oppression, set free the brokenhearted and break all yokes.

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p60-61: Many ministers, pastors and leaders don’t like to hear that the church of Jesus Christ is in trouble. But it is a sad reality. When we minister deliverance in crusades, 90 to 95 percent of those in need of help are believers. Many of them are Christians who have drifted away from the faith, but many of them are sitting today in churches. A high percentage of believers are still suffering problems from the past, and sometimes even from the present. In all honesty, this happens because we haven’t ministered deliverance as we should.

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p74: For many years, the church has only ministered deliverance in cases where there are manifestations of demons. All those people who had a background of witchcraft remained unchanged.

 

How does the deliverance ministry happen in the deliverance tent of Pablo Bottari (who works under Carlos Annacondia). In his book, he outlines ten steps:

 

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Four Steps to Knowing If a Person Needs Deliverance

 

1.       Make Sure That the Person Is Manifesting

2.       Take Authority in the Name of Jesus and Bind the Spirit

3.       Bring to Consciousness

4.       Ask People If They Want to Be Free

 

Two Steps to God’s Wonderful Plan of Salvation

 

5.       Present the Plan of Salvation

6.       Discover the Areas of Bondage As a Consequence of Sin

 

Four Final Steps to Freedom in Christ

 

7.       Renounce the Ties That Caused the Oppression

8.       Take Authority in the Name of Jesus

a.       Break the Tie That Caused the Oppression

b.       Expel the unclean spirit

9.       Give Thanks to God for Deliverance

10.    Lead the Person to Pray for the Fullness of the Holy Spirit

 

I want to concentrate on some of the key steps and highlight how Pablo Bottari consistently cares for people and safeguards them from fear and anxiety in the whole deliverance process which is meant to minister freedom, faith and joy. He communicates much wisdom which I also needed to hear:

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p100-102: What are the words we need to use to bind spirits? Once the person who has been manifesting is in a safe and isolated place, and the degree of demonic manifestation has been determined, then I take authority over the demonic spirits and make them submit to the name of Jesus.

After a careful study of the Word of God, I believe that the most adequate phrase to deal with demonic spirits is, “You have to submit in the name of Jesus”.

The concept of binding demonic spirits is the focus of our deliverance ministry. But often the words we use will determine our success. If the persons with whom we are dealing are totally withdrawn, they will not understand words like, “Demon, I bind you!” or “Submit, you unclean spirit!” If the individuals are conscious, thus understanding what we say, they will be afraid of these kinds of words.

Consequently, I recommend saying, “You have to submit in the name of Jesus.” This is a specific and adequate expression.

Don’t rebuke the devil! The command to submit in the name of Jesus is much more effective than any other expression referring to the authority over demons. This statement covers all areas – not just the spiritual.

When Jesus sent the seventy-two to preach, they came back and joyfully told Him their experience, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:17). I like this expression very much, and I believe that it teaches us a lot.

The passage in the Gospel adds that Jesus, after saying that “he had seen Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (v. 18), rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children” (v. 21). Likewise, the Lord told us, “In my name they will drive out demons” (Mark 16:17).

It is necessary to bind the demon before ministering to the person. Once the command has been given, we have to believe that the person is under the authority of Jesus Christ.

I consider the expression “You have to submit in the name of Jesus” to be the most convenient. If the person is aware of what is going on, he or she will believe that we are saying, “Remain still.” As a result, the person will help the process by remaining quiet.

In this case, the person will be all right and will not be offended. But if we say, “Unclean spirit, you are bound,” the individual will probably get scared.

When the spirit is bound, we know he is under Jesus’ authority. If the unclean spirit is not bound, he will try to continue doing what he wants to do, violently manifesting through the individual. But if we use the authority we have received from Jesus Christ, the demon has to respond to our word and submit.

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p104: Once the person in authority has bound the spirit, he needs to tell the spirit that in the name of Jesus he cannot hurt anyone. Very often the demons, when commanded to let go of the people they have possessed, will try to afflict them with physical discomforts such as choking, pressure or palpitations.

No demon can disobey when we command him to submit in the name of Jesus. Some are more difficult than others, since some are “foot soldiers,” while others possess a higher rank and try to oppose us more fiercely.

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p98: Do not start rebuking and casting out demons every time there is a physical manifestation [loss of control of their movements, disfigured face, sudden movements, hostile look (difficulty in opening eyes), a glassy look, oppression in the chest and other parts of the body, blockage, nervous and sarcastic laughter]. If the person is conscious, there can be a significant emotional shock. The fear caused by our actions will be added to the person’s actual problem. Instead of setting the individual free from bondage, we will bind him even more by making him afraid.

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p156: If the demon has been bound, don’t mention the blood of Christ. When the demons hear words that mention the redeeming blood of Christ, they turn very violent and can cause harm to the person.

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p105-108: Once we go through the previous steps [1. Make sure that the person is manifesting; 2. Take authority in the name of Jesus and bind the spirit], the demon is bound and the person is quiet. Only now are we supposed to invite people to wake up or to take dominion and control over their bodies. Whenever the Lord deals with someone, He will do it when the person is completely conscious. It is very different with the devil. He will try to take over people’s will and do whatever he wants to do with them, transforming them into puppets …

When people open their eyes, explain what has happened by saying, “You have a spiritual problem, and we want to help you.” We can’t upset them by saying, “You are demonized.” Never forget that we are dealing with human lives, and we shouldn’t add any burdens …

If you have a large spider web in a corner, it must be swept away. But unless you destroy the spider, the web will return every day. But the moment you kill the spider, the spider web will disappear.

The same happens in the area of deliverance. We look at the symptoms and start rebuking demons. That is a mistake. We must first seek the cooperation of the person involved, bring that person to consciousness and then continue with the next steps.

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p97-98: Those who have to minister to such cases come to me and say, “Pastor, I have been rebuking and binding demons for an hour and nothing is happening. The person is not delivered.” When this happens, it is evident that the person is conscious, even though it doesn’t appear to be so. He doesn’t want to return to reality when we ask him to do so. My specific advice is that they need to start telling these people, “Jesus loves you.”

One believer, while ministering deliverance to a young woman, put my advice into practice. A few minutes later, she returned, saying, “Nothing is happening. She is not free.” I approached the young girl and told the believer who was praying with her to repeat once again that Jesus loved her, but to do it lovingly this time. The girl was not an inanimate object but a person, and she had to be addressed as such.

Quietly, I sat by the girl and started to tell her, “Jesus really loves you. There are no coincidences with God. You are here because there is a purpose for your life. God wants to heal you and deliver you from your present circumstances. Do you have a spiritual problem? We are willing to help you. Don’t hide. That is not going to help you solve the problem. God really wants to work in your life. Trust in Him. Open your eyes.” She finally opened her eyes and was free.

People understand what is going on. But they don’t want to face reality, so they hide and withdraw. Therefore, the fact that people may be manifesting doesn’t mean that they are not conscious. They can understand everything we are saying, even though they can’t speak.

 

Deliverance ministry is not meant to be a scary proposition but a necessary healing ministry which cleans up traumas and issues in the life of everyone – certainly for new believers to give them a good start to the Christian life which is a life of joy. I spend a little more time on the final steps to freedom in Christ because we can all do deliverance ministry as Jesus’ disciples. If you belong to him, you can pray and minister in his name:

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p140-141: Invite the person to repeat a prayer renouncing each specific situation that has been revealed as a cause of the oppression in that person’s life. This prayer needs to be spoken aloud in the name of Jesus – not in a shouting manner, but in an audible voice.

As people renounce each vow, they will undo each step that has led them to seal an agreement with the enemy, whether spiritual, emotional or spiritual.

It is not sufficient to break a bond without specifying the situation, such as merely saying, “I renounce witchcraft.” That is like shooting into the air without a specific target. People need our help to renounce things in the same way they were made. It isn’t necessary, in the case of occult practices, to know the details beforehand. If we are ministering to people who have opened their hearts because the Holy Spirit is at work in them, they will bring all the issues that bind them up to the surface. As we gain more experience in ministry, and listen to the things people confess, we learn about the occult.

The Holy Spirit guides us to ask questions with love, care and respect. We don’t have to go through every detail with the intention of helping the person remember. People will eventually bring oppressing matters to light.

All decisions have to be formulated aloud. Demons are not omniscient, and they cannot read our minds. They can introduce thoughts, but they don’t know what we are thinking. The only one who knows our thoughts and weighs our hearts is God. Therefore the demons have to be able to hear people’s decisions …

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p143-145: This is a possible prayer for a person bound to fear:

 

In the name of Jesus, I renounce all spirits of fear that took over me because [name the reasons or the name of the person that caused the fear]. I forgive and bless [name of the person], in the name of Jesus.

 

Some people suffer because of what others do to them through witches. These actions are commonly known as “jobs.” If people cannot be freed from the bondage brought about by such “jobs,” it is because there is something in them that doesn’t allow them to destroy that authority. It could be some sin that hasn’t been confessed or fear of the person who is trying to hurt them. Sin and fear are open doors to the enemy, and they produce bondage.

Many believers have confessed to me that they fear the jobs that they know witches or warlocks are doing on them. “They are doing ‘jobs’ on me. What do I do?” they ask.

“Don’t do anything. Just pray for the person that is doing that to you,” I respond. “Forgive and bless that person. Then renounce your fear of him.”

A young woman told me that she was afraid that a relative who was involved in witchcraft was going to try to hurt her. I led her to pray aloud these words:

 

Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus I renounce the fear I have of [the name of the person]. Lord, I ask Your forgiveness for being afraid, because in Your Word it says that You didn’t give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-control. I renounce fear, and I bless [the name of the person] in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

When she finished, I prayed to set her free from all ties, mentioning the name and her fear. In the name of Jesus I cast out the spirit of fear that had been enslaving her.

Jesus told us to bless those who curse us: “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). He doesn’t tell us to fear our enemies. If we bless those who hurt us, the Lord protects us and frees us from the fear of what they could do to us. When I make this recommendation, some believers declare, “But I am not afraid.” The truth is that they live under a lot of fear. If they don’t proceed according to Jesus’ teaching, they will be paralyzed by that fear.

 

Pablo Bottari: Free in Christ, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2000, p146-149: In this eighth step you will take authority in the name of Jesus, break all ties and drive out all unclean spirits.

This step is closely related to the previous one. It is divided into two parts: first the breaking, then the deliverance. The yoke is broken, and then the demonic spirits are cast out.

As the person remembers the ties and renounces them, we, as ministers of the gospel, have to break these ties immediately. The renunciation and the breaking go together.

It is first necessary to break the bonds. Then the demons can be driven out. We have to undo the causes, all the things that have given authority to the demons to oppress that life. As the person renounces each one, we break the ties.

If after we have taken authority in the name of Jesus, have broken all ties, have cast out all unclean spirits and the person is still not free, there may be something else that he or she hasn’t remembered. Don’t automatically assume that the person ministering doesn’t have enough authority. A clear understanding of why the person is oppressed or bound is probably missing. That is why I always recommend first breaking all yokes, tie by tie. Then when we believe there is nothing else remaining, only then cast out the demon.

For example: Suppose the person to whom I am ministering deliverance manifests a bondage? I will immediately pray for renunciation. Then, by the authority I have in the name of Jesus, I will break that yoke – but I don’t drive out any demons. I continue exploring the different areas. Suppose I also discover hate in the person’s heart? We will pray and renounce hate; then I will take authority over that yoke and, in the name of Jesus, break it. But I still don’t cast the demon out because I need to continue inquiring.

If the person has more ties to renounce, the moment I drive the demon out, the person will start manifesting, and we don’t want that. Deliverance is about setting a person free – not about causing the person to manifest. When we believe there are no more ties to renounce, then I take authority in the name of Jesus and drive out all unclean spirits from that person’s life.

Some people are not set free, even after receiving the ministry of deliverance, because they need to examine something more specifically, but they have not yet understood what the Holy Spirit has been trying to show them. Thus the ties remain, and it is necessary to discover what caused them. It is very important to minister lovingly and patiently. If all we do is rebuke demons, all we are doing is harassing the enemy. If I rebuke demons with authority, saying, “Let her go!” I have a good chance of being successful. But if I don’t undo what gave authority to the enemy over that life in the first place, the person may fall into the demon’s hands again.

If after having cast the demon out, I realize that the person has not been delivered and has begun manifesting again, I can rebuke two, three, four or five times to see if the demon is just resisting before leaving. But if the person continues to manifest, I stop and don’t rebuke anymore.

At that point I should be able to understand that the demon is staying, not because there isn’t enough authority to cast him out, but because there are still reasons for him to stay. So what do I do? I bind that spirit again and continue investigating.

“There is something else!” I will say to the person. “You told me that there wasn’t anything else, but there are still unresolved issues.”

“But I don’t remember anything else,” the person may say. “All right, let’s pray. The Holy Spirit specializes in bringing specific issues to our minds.”

Then, when we find another motive behind the demonic manifestation, I lead the person to renounce. I break the yoke, cast that spirit out and then the person can be free. If the individual is still not delivered, we must keep searching. That is deliverance!

 

Three weeks ago, someone came to see me and said: “I just want to be happy.” She no longer wanted her old life because it was a dead end. But can God make you happy? He can. With God, there is joy – Romans 14:17: “The kingdom of God is … [about] righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Trust his promises and guard your heart against unbelief which is often expressed in fear. If your fear persists – if anxious thoughts keep tormenting you (and rob you of all joy) – even after much prayer and crying out to God – consider doing ministry with someone else. Identify the source of your fears, renounce the ties of wrong thinking and judgements, break their power and command any unclean spirits to leave you – for good.

None of us is possessed by unclean spirits – none of us is completely under their control – we belong to Jesus – but we can be oppressed or tormented by them (for me, oppression may come in the night time) and – especially this morning – it is time to be free and joyful. This is what Jesus wants to do for you. This is what happens in his name. Lose your fear to faith and joy. Amen.