Ask Norm!

By Norman S. Edwards

From SVM – Summer 2013

February 2013

Attention: Norman Edwards

I have been a member of the Church of God since my involvement with the Worldwide Church of God in 1981. I am presently involved in the Education Ministry at our local congregation here in Toronto, Ontario, giving sermonettes recently on “Spiritual Warfare”

I am writing to you in response to reading your article in the Mar/Apr 1999 issue of “Servants News” on “What the New Testament Teaches Us about Demons”. I came across your article as I was searching on Google for material on “deliverance ministries” from the perspective of the Church of God.

On further research, I found another article you wrote on Harry Potter (which I have yet to read and on which my wife, Patrice, has written articles on) in the Jul/Aug 2002 issue of “Shelter in the Word”. In that issue there was a list of books on “deliverance ministries” in a section entitled “Books Can Help.”

I have done study on “spiritual warfare” since 2005 and the best material I found on the subject was “Winning Your Spiritual Battles” by Gary D. Kinnaman. Recently I have read material by Derek Prince.

The reason I am writing is to find out your recent viewpoints on deliverance ministries. I would like it to come from our “Church of God” perspective rather than from a “Professing Mainstream Christianity” perspective because I find their material to be based a lot on their experiential knowledge on top of scriptural knowledge. I am more interested in finding information from the perspective of scriptures and from the experience of the Church of God ministries who keep the laws of God.

What are some of the excellent books on the subject that you have recently come across and would highly recommend? I have partially read “The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare” by Dr. Ed Murphy in which another book was mentioned by Neil T. Anderson entitled Bondage Breaker.

Some members of our group in Toronto have read “Bondage Breaker” and are reading another one by Anderson entitled “Victory Over Darkness”. Anderson also wrote “Winning Spiritual Warfare”. But I feel that they are falling into error and trusting too much in the “experiential knowledge” of professing mainstream Christianity and not proving all things according to scripture. I’m planning to pick up and read some of these books during the Feast.

I would appreciate that you would write back on your further viewpoints on the subject of “spiritual warfare” and “deliverance ministries”. Could you also send names and contact information of other ministers and ministries within the Sabbath and holy day keeping congregations of the Church of God that have further information on the subject.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I await your reply. — Laurent M. Bourgeault

Laurent M. Bourgeault

Dear L.M.B.,

Thank you for asking a difficult question that many Bible believers have a difficult time dealing with. But let me assure you, Jesus Christ has never had any trouble dealing with it. He spoke about demons numerous times and cast out demons to cure both of what we may in some cases today call mental illness and physical illness.

I appreciate your desire to learn from the scripture as opposed to the experience of some who may or may not be following the scripture. The men in Acts 19:12-17 were called “exorcists” and they obviously had some experience casting out demons. However, they were no match for the power of the demons they had taken on here. The Bible does not say, but experience shows that most non-believers charge a fee for casting out demons. This is something that Christ and his apostles never did. Even today, there are “Christian” ministries that make a profit from their books, DVDs, seminars, counseling or deliverance regarding demons. While that does not mean they are wrong about everything, I would certainly not accept all that they do.

The Bible never lists the “casting out of demons” as a spiritual gift. It seems to be something that any believer can do. However, there are “kinds” of demons which require a great deal of faith, along with prayer and fasting to cast out (Matthew 17:20-21; Mark 9:28-29).

However, the Bible does mention a spiritual gift of “discernment of spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10).  I have known people with this gift. They are generally aware of the presences of angels or demons—some actually see them. These people are very helpful in delivering others from demons—they can detect demons that pretend to be gone, but are not. They can also distinguish a person who is demon possessed from one who is mentally or physically ill. Most of the people whom I have met with this gift are not dynamic powerful preachers, but quiet, humble believers. Most do not want to use their gift unless they are wanted—they are often doubted by members and ministers.

During the last 20 years or so, that I understood what the Bible says about the demonic world, I have only rarely encountered demons, and usually did not have the aid of someone with the discerning gift. Most of the people did not believe they had any spiritual problem, or did not want their demons to leave. A few appeared to be delivered from minor demonic problems, but without the ability to see the demon before or after, I cannot be sure. I have never seen an example of super-human feats of strength as the Bible mentions (Mark 5:3).

I have read some of the books you mention and have learned from some of them, but as you say, there is much that is extra-biblical. I do not know of anything that I can recommend beyond them. An extensive scriptural source on the subject is the list of scriptures in an old article of mine on page 10 at http://servantsnews.com/sn0207/sw0207.pdf.  I think prayerful study of those scriptures reveals a lot of truth that we need.

Beyond that, I encourage believers to pray and have faith that God will work in them as they trust in Him. We should neither shrink back from someone who is troubled by demons and wants deliverance. Nor should we go out looking for demonic spirits when God has not brought us into such a ministry.

-Norm.

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