An Effective Deliverance
Methodology: Then and Now

 Gerald E. McGraw

 Idon't like your method of casting out demons,” a critic complained to a Midwestern minister. “How do you do it?” the latter inquired. “Oh, I do not expel demons at all,” the critic responded. The pastor thought of the perfect reply—the next day: “Brother, I like the way I do it better than the way you don't do it!”

 Prominence of Jesus' Deliverance Ministry

 Demonstration of the Kingdom Message

   Urging repentance and belief in the good news, Jesus began his earthly ministry by proclaiming: “The kingdom of God is near” (Mark 1:15).1 Although a rebel king occupied the throne of this world system (Luke 4:5-6; 1 John 5:19), Jesus had arrived to challenge his cruel grip.

   Already Jesus had foiled the rebel king throughout forty days of wilderness temptations, three of which God divulges in Scripture (Luke 4:2-13). Jesus' successful defense entitled Him to begin His offensive to rescue victims from the rebel king's realm. Jesus told His foes, “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20).

 Example of Jesus' Own Ministry

   Christ's great Galilean ministry began with an amazing lesson in the Capernaum synagogue, where an unclean spirit interrupted his oral teaching. Silencing the demon, Jesus astonished His congregation by successfully commanding the spirit to leave. “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority!” Jesus' audience marvels, “He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” His popularity rapidly spread throughout all Galilee as a result (Mark 1:21-28).

    That very night as the Sabbath was ending and people were bringing to Jesus the troubled, Luke notes that “demons came out of many people” (4:41). In fact, Mark adds that Jesus “drove out many demons” that night (1:34).

   Jesus did not stop expelling demons after these deliverance scenes in Capernaum. Writers sometimes argue that Jesus' ministry to the demonized included only a few scattered cases. Mark shows, however, the true pattern of Jesus' ministry throughout Galilee: “So he travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons” (1:39).

   In the above paragraphs if the name of some contemporary minister, evangelist or teacher were substituted instead of Jesus, most would exclaim: “What an extremist! How unbalanced anyone must be who casts out demons wherever he travels! How can he cast many demons out of people?”

    When we assert that we as ministers, evangelists and teachers want to be like Jesus, we refer to His loving character, His skillful teaching or His acts of mercy. The one thing it seems we do not mean is that we want to travel about as a home missionary casting many demons out of many people.

 Training of Jesus' Followers

   Not only did Jesus cast out many demons in many places; He taught His followers to do likewise. Mark mentions three reasons for appointing the disciples: “that they might be with him, and that he might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons” (Mark 3:14-15).

   Sending the apostles on a missions trip, He commissioned them to cast out demons: “And having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out. . . . `Cast out demons,' ” Jesus directed (Matthew 10:1, 8). Jesus “gave them power and authority over all the demons” (Luke 9:1).

   The Master did not limit this authority to the Twelve. When the seventy lay witnesses joyfully reported, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name,” He explained, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. . . ” (Luke 10:17, 19).

    Nearly all evangelicals affirm that the Great Commission remains in effect. Still Christ's followers must proclaim the gospel throughout the world. If so, still He directs us to teach others “to observe all” He had commanded His apostles—including casting out demons in His name and authority (Matthew 28:18-20; compare Mark 16:15-17).

 Methodology of Jesus' Deliverance Ministry

   If Christ expects believers to expel demons, how should one perform such an act? When I was asked to write this article, the editor directed me to explain the method of casting out demons that I have found most successful. The remainder of the article will seek to explain this. I will begin the process, however, by examining Jesus' own deliverance methodology.

 In contrast with some contemporary methodologies

   Evangelicals today employ various methods. Some assert that all one should do is to pray for the Lord to remove demons—the Prayer Only method. Others claim that a believer should simply command all demons to leave in Jesus' name—the Simple Command method.2 Still others state that a gift of discernment allows a believer to know a demon's name so it can be commanded out—discernment also assuring of expulsion. This latter technique may be called the Charismatic/Discernment method.3

   A newer non-confrontational method that has gained considerable favor is the Truth Encounter, in which a person learns important scriptural principles before renouncing holds of Satan. The person seeking deliverance makes a command that any demons present in his or her own life must leave.4 By contrast, Roman Catholics and Anglicans read an elaborate ritual including prayers along with holy water and the crucifix—the Ritual method.5

   One reason that methodologies differ so greatly is that Scripture scarcely prescribes a procedure, though it does emphasize principles like faith, prayerfulness and Christ's authority. Scripture often mentions the fact of demons' removal without detailing how this occurred. When David G. Reese began research on demons in Matthew's Gospel, he hoped to discover Jesus' method. He concluded, however, that Jesus used various methods.6

 In the two most detailed passages

 Deranged Decapolis Demoniac—Analysis of Jesus' Methods

   Often the Gospels merely state that Jesus cast out demons, without any description of methodology—but not always. The most detailed deliverance account in the Gospels concerns the deranged man in a deserted region in Decapolis. Writers often call him the Gadarene demoniac or the Gerasene demoniac. All three synoptics relate the incident, with Mark using twenty verses. Matthew, with his tax collector's mathematical precision, shows two men were delivered then. Mark and Luke apparently single out the more prominent case.

   The second most detailed account, a demonized boy, will be described later. Probably these two dramatic cases afford opportunity for the evangelists to convey the primary features of Jesus' usual methodology. Having thus recounted the basics once or twice, synoptic writers had no reason to repeat those details in reporting every incident. Hence, although many brief accounts sound as if Jesus spoke a sentence and the work was finished, scrutiny of the two detailed accounts suggests otherwise.

   To this demoniac Jesus' ministry was intentional. He left service to vast multitudes and crossed the Sea of Galilee amid a perilous “fierce gale” to liberate two very troubled men—before immediately recrossing the lake (Mark 4:36-37; Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:2, 21). He invested His own and His disciples' lives, time and strength to rescue two scorned, fearsome, “exceedingly violent” men (Matthew 8:28). Although full authority in our Lord can provide safety to deliverance workers, today's clergy and lay people usually find it more comfortable to avoid such ventures. Jesus showed compassion. He had mercy on the sufferers (Mark 5:19).

   Two Gospel writers note that the troubled man approached Jesus deliberately and bowed down before Him (Mark 5:6; Luke 8:28). Regardless of how deep the spiritual bondage, nothing could prevent this man's seeking Jesus' help. Before seeking to cast out demons, I have found it vital for a demonized person to make a similar move toward Christ.

    Jesus' ministry here was definitely confrontational, so this was no Truth Encounter. Although Jesus was constantly prayerful throughout life and doubtless was in close touch just then with His Father, He here employed no Prayer Only method. Instead, Jesus directly addressed a demon. Far from being the central focus, prayer receives no mention in this account in the three synoptics.

    Nor does this incident illustrate a Simple Command method. Jesus had already been commanding the chief demon to depart before he started entreating for concessions. The implications of the imperfect tense verbs stress Jesus' repeated commanding, as the NASB shows: “For he had been saying to him, `Come out of the man, you unclean spirit' ” (Mark 5:8). “For he had been commanding the unclean spirit to come out of the man” (Luke 8:29).

    Jesus inquired and learned the name of the demon in manifestation.7 In fact, the Greek tense again implies repetitive asking: Jesus “was asking him, `What is your name?' ” (Mark 5:9). Apparently his name, Legion, implied that he was commander of a host of evil spirits indwelling this one man. A demon's name often suggests the work he seeks to accomplish. This knowledge can aid a worker in strategy for the demon's removal as well as in testing to be certain that the demon has actually departed.

   Demons often do not depart after one order. Jesus was willing to persist until the man became free from the horde of demons. By contrast, today's advocates of a Simple Command method state that we must expel demons with one easy command—just as Jesus did. They miss several New Testament implications that in Jesus' own ministry demons were rebellious and uncooperative even as they are today.

   For example, when Jesus, the Son of God in the flesh, removed a demon from the lad at the foot of the mount, the demon hurled the boy down so violently (Luke 9:42) that bystanders cried, “He is dead!” (Mark 9:26). Some translators perpetuate the illusion that a valid expulsion is always an immediate one when they use expressions like “at once” and “immediately” where the Greek text literally states that a person was freed from the demon “that hour” (Matthew 15:28; 17:18; Acts 16:18; compare Luke 7:21).

    What shocked bystanders most about Jesus' deliverance ministry seems to have been His exercise of authority (Mark 1:27). Even though demons are rebellious creatures, they must ultimately obey Jesus' commands for their removal as the case of the deranged demoniacs shows.

   As noted above, Jesus had already been commanding the demons in these men to depart, so that the implication seems overwhelming that it was the abyss to which Jesus had been ordering them to go (Luke 8:31). No child suggests a “horrible” punishment he or she wants to avoid. He begs to miss it after being already threatened with it. The abyss represents the ultimate removal of demons from the country where they have been operative for so many generations (Mark 5:10).

    If this case exhibits Jesus' usual deliverance method, then He regularly cast demons to the abyss. Some writers, including A.B. Simpson and C. Fred Dickason, believe that these demons, after temporary shelter in the swine, were required to go to the abyss immediately after that escapade—even as Jesus had been commanding.8 The abyss appears to be the temporary prison for demons awaiting final judgment and ultimate confinement in the lake of fire.

   The transformation of the principally described demon-iac is immense. After deliverance he is sitting down, no longer restless. No longer agitated by Jesus' presence, he is at His feet and later begging to accompany Him. No longer naked, he is clothed. Not mentally ill, he is in his right mind (Luke 8:35, 38).

   From this account we infer that Jesus instructed him on how to live free (Luke 8:35). Even as deliverance workers are often unjustly criticized today, Jesus' liberation of these men was sorely misunderstood by the fearful (and assumedly mercenary) neighbors from the city and countryside. “Afraid of sanity,” as one writer has expressed it, they urged Jesus to leave. Consequently, He appointed the newly freed man to represent Him where the Master was unwelcome. The freed man must relate his testimony at his house, but he goes beyond it—throughout his city and the surrounding cities.

   In summary, if this incident that provides the most details demonstrates Jesus' normal deliverance method, Jesus ministered intentionally and mercifully. He went to the isolated region where the need was, instead of seeking publicity. He responded to a vital act of submission by the sufferer. He addressed demons verbally. He inquired the name of a demon, apparently the chief. Repeatedly He asked questions and made commands as necessary. He used full authority from the Father to deal with the foes. He sent demons to the abyss. After deliverance He spent time with the counselee, instructing on life reorientation to God's will and sharing one's release—even with hostile, misunderstanding people.

 Boy at the Foot of the Mountain—Analysis of Jesus' Methods

   All three synoptic writers also include the second most prominent of Jesus' deliverance accounts: the boy at the foot of the mount of transfiguration. Once again Mark relates the most information—sixteen verses. Readers will recall that Jesus' disciples, although successful in other deliverances, failed miserably here. This mystified them. When Jesus returned with Peter, James and John from the mountaintop, the boy's father explained the problem to Jesus, who listened, ministered to the father and commanded the offending demon from the son.

   Several facets of the account appear to shed additional light on Jesus' usual deliverance methodology. Jesus first learned the background of the case, including the son's symptoms. Amid screaming, this boy suffered from violent seizures, from which he would often fall into fire, into water or onto the ground. He would foam at the mouth, grind his teeth and stiffen, or wither away. He was mute. The father understood that an evil spirit caused these terrifying symptoms that scarcely seemed to let up. To learn such information is most beneficial before a deliverance.

   Commentators sometimes surmise that the accusing scribes (Mark 9:14) were maneuvering the father to embarrass Jesus because despite the efforts of his nine apostles, the son remained demonized. Thus, Jesus flung no accusation at the nine but hurled the stinging general rebuke: “O unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to me” (Matthew 17:17; compare Luke 9:41; Mark 9:19). The last line is classic. Jesus would not allow politicking to delay the son's release. Seeing Jesus caused the demon to attack the boy with a convulsion (Mark 9:20).

    Before proceeding, Jesus questioned the father to discover how long his problems had been occurring—a question often asked today in preparation for a deliverance session. “From childhood,” the father responded (Mark 9:21).

   It was important that the father, who bore responsibility for his child, should believe. The father besought Jesus, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” Seeking to perfect that wavering faith, Jesus replied, “ `If you can!' All things are possible to him who believes.” The father chose to believe, crying out, “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:22-24). On the strength of this honest choice, Jesus could act.

   Some deliverance workers cast out demons in a most public way. Others seek a private setting as often as circumstances permit. Even as Jesus cast out Legion and his demonic army in a lonely wilderness spot, so the Savior deliberately avoided additional publicity in the boy's case. It appears that Jesus quickly dispatched this deaf and dumb spirit to avoid satisfying the curiosity of a larger peering, faithless multitude (Mark 9:25).

   The total work had not been a quick and easy deliverance, as the nine could testify. This demon had caused convulsions upon seeing Jesus as well as after Jesus had commanded him to leave! Yet Jesus persisted and insisted until complete freedom came and continued from that hour.

   Even as Jesus apparently secured the continuing liberty of the Gadarene demoniac by commanding the demons to the abyss, so here Jesus ordered, “I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again” (Mark 9:25). The loving Jesus personally took the boy “by the hand and raised him; and he got up” (Mark 9:27).

   The nine here needed some follow-up ministry. “Why could we not cast it out?” they demanded. His responses included (1) “Because of the littleness of your faith” (Matthew 17:20). This faith need not be gigantic in size, for even mustard-seed sized faith can remove a mountain of demonic infestation if such faith is used. By contrast, a vast quantity of stored-up unused faith accomplishes nothing. Jesus constantly used faith. Faith in action is a sine qua non for success in setting the captives free.

   Another response to the nine's “Why?” was (2) “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:29). Jesus implied that there are different kinds of demons—some deeply entrenched while others are comparatively easy to remove.

   Again, Jesus was not advocating a Prayer Only method—the use of nothing but public prayer for the deliverance, since the record shows no praying aloud but does include Jesus' oral command to the demon. We know, however, that Jesus was “prayed up,” having been praying on the mountain when the transfiguration occurred (Luke 9:28-29). Lack of prayer surely can limit the effectiveness of deliverance attempts.

   Is fasting a necessity? Although some deliverance workers sense benefits from fasting, the best manuscripts exclude “and fasting” in Mark 9:29 along with the whole verse in Matthew 17:21. The important issues seem to be that (a) a worker should not treat fasting as a necessary “work” to earn God's favor in deliverance; and (b) a worker should be willing to refrain from food when the Holy Spirit leads. Perhaps the indispensable fasting, though, is “the fast that I chose,” says the Lord, “to loosen the bonds of wickedness . . . to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6). Abstaining from sin outweighs abstaining from food.

   In summary, this case uncovers methodologies likely used constantly in Jesus' deliverance ministry. Jesus listened to the victim's background and symptoms. Resenting the scribes' maneuvering, He sought the boy at once instead of allowing distractions. He inquired how long symptoms had been evident. He led the responsible person to fuller, more deliberate faith.

   He sought less publicity for the expulsion. Undaunted by a demonic attack on the victim, He addressed the demon by name, commanding it out permanently. After a kind, practical gesture toward the delivered person, He explained to His trusted workers the absolute need of prayerfulness and an active faith for success.

 Recommended Contemporary Deliverance Methodology:

  The Testing the Spirits Method

    Like many other deliverance workers, for thorough work, I find the Testing the Spirits method superior to methods like Prayer Only, Simple Command, Charismatic/Discernment, Truth Encounter and Ritual. Based on First John 4:1-6, this method tests the spirits in a person to see whether or not any spirits refuse to confess the Lord Jesus Christ. As John says, this is the way to differentiate the Spirit of truth (Holy Spirit) from the spirit of error (demon).

    I find the Testing method much more in harmony with the customary methodologies Jesus used, judging from the two most detailed incidents recorded in the New Testament. Surely God can bring true deliverance when sincere people today use one of the other methods for God's glory and the release of captives. Testing is not the quickest and simplest method, yet my colleagues and I have seen more thorough release and more lasting results with this method during the past twenty-five years than from other methods.

 Contemporary Origins of the Testing the Spirits Method

    A.E. Ruark, a Prairie Bible College professor in Alberta, Canada, credentialed by The Christian and Missionary Alliance, pioneered this method in contemporary times.9 Ernest B. Rockstad, an independent Baptist pastor in Wisconsin and Kansas, is the most influential U.S. trailblazer.10

 Distinctives in the Testing the Spirits Method

   As Jesus addressed demons directly, apparently asked for their names and persistently commanded demons to depart, so does the Testing method. Since Jesus seemingly sent demons to the abyss, in my variety11 of the Testing method, I also do. I advocate working from a setting of pastoral counseling with strong dependence on biblical truth. I advocate limiting demonic violence by a series of commands that can be enforced throughout a session. Not only do I test the spirits at the start of a session, but I strongly advocate similar testing when it appears that a counselee has been released from demons. The latter test can demonstrate the fact of full freedom or show the need for additional work.

    I advocate conducting prayer sessions12 to evict evil spirits in a private setting with a leader and three to five intercessors13 as a team, plus a counselee. Best intercessors include ministers, church elders, deaconesses and other committed Christians. We seek to limit a session to four hours or less.

 Elements in a Session: Sproull/McGraw Approach14

 Preparatory Counseling

   Before a possible deliverance session, I work with a counselee through a series of preparations. This often involves several appointments. If the counselee is not well aware of the topic, I often assign some helpful reading between appointments.15 He or she is quite free to discuss past and current problems that require attention. Often the counselee has an abundance of questions.

    I seek to grasp the counselee's spiritual, physical and emotional condition and the family situation. I am particularly concerned with any occult, New Age or cult involvement or participation in any questionable religious group or practice. I seek to apply specific Scriptures to the person's needs and try to focus on the way to live free from bondage.

   I always acquaint him or her with the believer's position of authority with the Lord Jesus Christ in the heavenlies with a verse-by-verse study of Ephesians 1:15-2:6. This is foundational both for the entire process of a deliverance session and for keeping free. I show how to reclaim from the enemy any territory in the life that the counselee has explicitly or implicitly surrendered to the powers of darkness (Ephesians 4:27, NIV, KJV).

    I make it a practice never to tell a counselee that he or she has been invaded by demons. Usually I do not know this until the test. I never urge a person to have a prayer session for the testing of spirits. It must be the counselee's decision. Usually I have a waiting list for prayer sessions. To prevent a preoccupation with the dark side and to keep deliverance work from robbing time from other obligations, I normally conduct only one prayer session in a week.

   If a counselee has requested a prayer session, I explain the usual events in our sessions. I explain the counselee's part and the ways demonic answers normally come to an invaded individual. I urge the counselee to allow the Holy Spirit to search the heart in preparation for the session. Vital steps include renouncing all known sin and cancelling any ground given to the enemy.

 The Prayer Session16

   Round of prayer. After I have shared very briefly the problems the counselee believes to be most pressing, I make a brief command that powers of evil must be bound from interfering with the session. The opening stage continues with a round of prayer.

   Each intercessor prays. The counselee offers a prayer of full commitment to God and rejection of all powers of evil. The leader prays, including the appropriation of the armor on behalf of the team and counselee. Within the round of prayer, petitions normally include cleansing, guidance, protection, claiming our position of authority with Christ and the uncovering and removal of all demons from the counselee if any indwell.

   Commands to demons. As leader I make commands to limit activities of demons that may be present. Among others these include isolating indwelling demons from seeking help from demons outside. I forbid the entry of additional demons and cancel all known specific ancestral or occult holds on the counselee.

   I disallow various demonic schemes as well as expulsion irregularities, such as violent activity and undue physical manifestations. I claim full protection for the counselee, his or her family, the entire deliverance team and their households.

   Testing. Next as session leader I pray, requesting in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that God will bring to attention within the counselee any spirit that we need to talk with to set him or her free. The team and I trust that He does this, and so I immediately proceed to ask a series of test questions of whatever spirit has come to attention.

   I begin by inquiring, “Do you confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh?” (1 John 4:2). Sometimes an answer comes immediately. If necessary, I keep repeating questions. If no demon indwells a Christian, the Holy Spirit will gladly testify that He confesses this about Christ. If a demon indwells the person, that evil spirit hates to confess his defeat through the enfleshment and sacrifice of Christ. Demons normally answer “No” to this very first question.

   At any time throughout the session if demons delay answering or obeying, an intercessor or I can read an appropriate Bible verse or start a fitting chorus or hymn. This accomplishes three beneficial results: It honors the Lord, encourages the counselee and “pounds” the demon.

   Regardless of the answer I have received to the initial test question, I will continue with additional questions like, “Do you confess that Jesus Christ is your Lord?” (1 Corinthians 12:3) and “Do you really love the Lord Jesus Christ?” (Romans 15:30). I select from a list of more than two dozen biblically based questions.

   On the basis of the responses, all people present can know whether the person is totally free of demons or whether one or more indwell the counselee. The series of test questions requires 100 percent accuracy, since the Holy Spirit inspired the Word and knows all truth, but demons are masters of deceit.

   Identification. If the test has demonstrated the presence of an indwelling demon, the next step is to discover his identity. I ask, “What is your name?” When I have learned his name, I often inquire whether he is a supervisor or even the chief of all demons in this counselee. If he has authority over other demons, I ask him their names. I seek the names of all supervisors.

   As necessary I find the name of every indwelling demon, his place in the hierarchy, time and mode of entry and purpose in the host. It helps to know the name of each demon so that I can later bind all together by name under the chief or a supervisor; then I can command the chief or supervisor to leave with all that are bound to him. In this way I can ultimately gain assurance that all demons have actually left.

    It is beneficial to know the time and mode of entry since this normally constitutes the demon's ground for remaining there. When demons refuse to leave, experience teaches that this is normally because the counselee has not retracted all ground from the enemy. Obviously it helps the counselee to know the purpose and work of the demons so that he or she can know which problems stem from the work of these foes. So many mysteries unravel when these evil spirits are forced to reveal what their strategy has been.

   Expulsion—Preparations and Accomplishment. First, if demons have mentioned some ground that is not yet cancelled, I help the counselee to do so. Sometimes the counselee needs me to explain why the activity that admitted the demon was wrong. A sample prayer for seeking forgiveness and renouncing ground follows:

   “Heavenly Father, I ask You to forgive this sin of ________. I ask You to cover it with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. I accept Your forgiveness. I take back whatever permission I may have given through this sin for the demon named ________ to dwell in me.” When the chief demon admits that neither he nor any other demon in the counselee has remaining ground, it is time to proceed toward expulsion.

   Experience demonstrates that in today's generation, especially in complex cultures, it is rare that only one demon inhabits a person. Thus it often saves much time if I first bind all demons by name into one group under the chief.

   Next I ask an intercessor on the team to pray that all demons will leave when the command is issued. I find it is best for the counselee to make the initial expulsion command. If the chief demon's name is Hatred, the counselee would make a command like the following: “I command that the demon Hatred and all who are bound to him must leave me now and go directly to the abyss, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” I immediately issue the same command, repeating it several times.

   Often at this point we sing a song or two about Christ's blood and His victory. When I think the demons may have departed, I repeat the original test or one like it, laying down the condition that the chief Hatred (to use our example above) must answer if he is still present in the counselee. If he has gone to the abyss and taken his group, then any demon present must answer. If all demons have gone to the abyss, I expect that the Holy Spirit of God will supply correct answers to all retest questions. The retest results show whether the person now is totally free, whether Hatred and his group remain or whether Hatred and the entire host have gone to the abyss but one or more demons remain that had not been previously discovered. If any demons remain, I repeat the earlier steps until they too depart to the abyss.

   Conclusion of the Session. If any or all demons have been expelled, the counselee should have opportunity to offer a prayer of thanksgiving and should invite the Holy Spirit to fill the areas previously occupied by the powers of darkness. In practical experience this means that the Holy Spirit wants to produce the fruit of love instead of hatred, hope and joy instead of despair, self-control instead of addiction, etc.

   If, however, the time for dismissal has passed and some demons remain, then I command that they be bound from harming the counselee. I schedule a later meeting time. After a closing prayer the session ends.


    Short-range. Short-range follow-up should come immediately at the close of the prayer session if at all possible. I give each delivered counselee a copy of an inexpensive but valuable booklet, Now That You Are Free.17 I show the counselee how to combat doubt or external attack, how to be discreet about testifying to the Lord's liberation and how to concentrate on Christ—not on demons.

   I explain how to rebuild areas of life that had been damaged. I mention how to allow God's Spirit to produce positive changes. I instruct on the need to bar the doors against future reinfestation by resisting Satan and maintaining accountability to a trusted person. I show the need to replace bad habits with good ones.

   Long-range. Long-range follow-up should ideally provide a contact for ongoing pastoral care if it proves necessary. I offer my services and those of the team members if the counselee has a question or should develop a future problem. Some counselees will need additional counseling to maintain the course begun. Some with problems in areas beyond the leader's expertise need a referral.


   Jesus did not treat every case as a demonic problem. Leaders today should realize that other problems can be more serious and more frequently met. Such problems include unregeneracy, carnality, a wavering will and an undisciplined mind and body.

   Admittedly today some extremists have neglected a biblical balance on deliverance. Some use very offensive, unbiblical methods. Jesus, however, often cast demons out of people. Many Christian leaders today never do. They never refer a hurting counselee to someone who does minister to the demonized.

   Some relegate all demonization to the ancient past or to animists far away. As a result serious problems nearby never find a solution. I am not arguing that we should go out looking for demons. I am arguing that we should stop putting a band-aid on a potentially fatal wound. We should stop refusing to minister to people the Lord does send us whose major needs may be demonic.

   I think a careful observer can recover from the two most detailed accounts of His deliverances Jesus' usual meth-odology for meeting such needs. Although several different contemporary methodologies exist, I find striking similarities between Jesus' method and the major features of the Testing the Spirits method.

   Our own form of the Testing method has much more structure and detail than most plans, but it has proven itself in the lives of many counselees. Quite a number of other ministers and missionaries have adopted it. It effectively deals with demons, who can be legalistic sticklers.

   Whichever methodology a person prayerfully chooses should harmonize with the parameters of Scripture and should meet the needs of today's demonized world. In Christ's authority, His workers must set the captives free to fulfill His biblical mandate. Is the reader willing to be like Jesus?


    1Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations in this chapter are from the New American Standard Bible.

    2During Dick Hillis' missionary work in China, a soldier knocked at his door asking, “Is your Christ all-powerful?” When Hillis answered affirmatively, the visitor left there his suicidal demonized wife. The missionaries prayed in vain for four days. Then having read Ephesians 1 and 2, they decided that they must command the demon out in the name of Jesus. The deliverance was immediate. Consequently, Hillis' chapter narrating this event bears the title, “Prayer Was Not Enough: China.” It is found in the book, Demon Experiences: A Compilation (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, and London: Coverdale House, 1972). The earlier Moody Press edition appeared in 1960 with the title, Demon Experiences in Many Lands.

    3L. Grant McClung, Jr., “Pentecostal/Charismatic Understanding of Exorcism,” pp. 195-214 in C. Peter Wagner and F. Douglas Pennoyer, eds. Wrestling with Dark Angels: Toward a Deeper Understanding of the Supernatural Forces in Spiritual Warfare (Ventura, CA: Regal, 1990). The book comprises papers from the 1988 Academic Symposium on Power Evangelism at Fuller Theological Seminary where “tongues” advocates predominated but others also participated.

    4Neil T. Anderson, The Bondage Breaker (Eugene, OR: Harvest, 1990). Dr. Anderson, a former pastoral theology professor at Talbot Theological Seminary, originated the Truth Encounter method. He founded and directs Freedom in Christ Ministries and is a board of reference member of the International Center for Biblical Counseling.

    5Dom Robert Petitpierre, O.S.B., ed. Exorcism: The Report of a Commission Convened by the Bishop of Exeter. (London: SPCK, 1972). Malachi Martin, Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Living Americans (New York: Reader's Digest, 1976; repr. ed., San Francisco: Harper, 1992).

    6David G. Reese, A Survey of References to the Demonic in the Gospel of Matthew. (Ph.D. Dissertation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Ann Arbor, MI: UMI, 1985). The author is a New Testament professor at Toccoa Falls (GA) College.

    7I am well aware that some commentators argue that Jesus asked the man his name, and that the man's response was “Legion.” I see such a view as naturalistic, imperceptive of the demonic realm and out of touch with the context (Mark 5:9, 15).

    8C. Fred Dickason, Angels: Elect and Evil, rev. and expanded ed. (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), 233. A.B. Simpson, Christ in the Bible, Vol. 8: Life of Christ (New York: Word, Work and World Pub. Co., 1888), 164: “The swine rushed violently into the sea, and miserably perished; while the wretched spirits which possessed them through their own very request, were compelled to return to the pit which they so much dreaded.”

   9Dorothy Brotherton, Quiet Warrior: A. E. Ruark—Deliverance Pioneer (Beaverlodge, Alberta, Canada: Spectrum Publications, 1991).

   10Ernest B. Rockstad, Enlightening Studies in Spiritual Warfare (Andover, KS: Faith and Life Publications, 1985).

    11Variations exist in the use of nearly all methodologies. Some who use the Testing the Spirits method have not practiced all of the measures I recommend. Nor do I practice all the methods some others recommend. John A. MacMillan, e.g., Nyack College professor, missionary to China and the Philippines, and Associate Editor of Alliance Life, practiced a simple three-step method. He first asked the spirit, “Has Jesus Christ come in the flesh?” If he received a “No” answer, he asked, “Spirit, what is your name?” Then he commanded the demons to leave (one at a time). Demon Experiences, 133; John A. MacMillan, Encounter with Darkness (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1980).

    12In this article, I am using the term “prayer session” interchangeably with “deliverance session.”

    13In this article, I am using the term “intercessor” to describe a deliverance team member who is present in the room where the prayer session is in process. Intercessors remain in an attitude of silent prayer, focusing on special needs as they arise. Intercessors also assist by reading Scripture, singing, sharing insights and making suggestions to the session leader at appropriate times. They pray aloud when asked to do so. Intercessors and session leaders must conscientiously guard confidences.

    14The basic methodology I use was worked out by Dr. Jerry L. Sproull and me in 1971, with minor improvements gradually added through the years.

    15Two of the soundest and most informative books for the general reader are George A. Birch, The Deliverance Ministry (Camp Hill, PA: Horizon Books, 1988); and Mark I. Bubeck, The Adversary: The Christian versus Demon Activity (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1975). I assign other books or papers for special needs.

    16Gerald E. McGraw, War Manual: Against the Powers of Darkness, 2d ed. (Westminster, SC: Shamaim Ministries, 1996). After listing principles for deliverance work, this War Manual in outline form details the procedure briefly sketched in the remainder of this article. A reader can consult the War Manual, e.g., for the recommended commands, questions for testing and retesting, suggested punishments to use when demons resist or refuse to answer, and further explanations for maintaining freedom.

    17Jerry L. Sproull, Now That You Are Free (Westminster, SC: Shamaim Ministries, 1972).

Editorial: A Mighty Dear Hyphen to Me!

A.B. Simpson as and the Modern Faith Movement, Paul L. King

Saving Faith in the Gospel of John, David K. Huttar

Opposition to Radical Reformation: Martin Luther Against Anabaptist and Radicals, Harold P. Shelly

Putting God to the Test: An Examination of Biblical Data, John V. Dahms

The Contribution of Cultural Anthropology to Missiology, Norman E. Allison

Separation Anxiety Disorder in a Missionary Child: Theoretical Considerations and Intervention Strategies, Mark D. Bullock

Patterns of Spiritual Direction, James A. Davies

An Effective Deliverance Methodology: Then and Now, Gerald E. McGraw

Dangers in the Deliverance Ministry, K. Neill Foster

Elio Cuccaro, Ph. D., Editor

About the Authors

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