The deliverance ministry counselor told my wife to close her eyes and allow the demons to speak through her. He explained that each demon has a name, and if bound “by the blood” must be truthful and submissive.
Jared and his wife had been experiencing what they called demonic thoughts, and sought help through a spiritual deliverance ministry. These spiritual warfare sessions are common in New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) churches and are gaining popularity in mainstream Evangelical churches. Spiritual warfare is one of the hallmarks of the NAR movement. A helpful article is What is the New Apostolic Reformation Movement , as well as How Deliverance Ministries Lead People to Bondage by Bob DeWaay.
Jared has allowed me to share his story as part of this series:
Years ago some close friends were going through more than a rough patch. I cannot explain in detail the play-by-play as I do not want to break their trust should they ever stumble upon this, however suffice it to say these friends experienced horrible things spiritually, but they claim to have found peace and reconciliation through the works of a local deliverance ministry. It was through this relationship with our friends that my wife and I were introduced to the idea of a deliverance ministry and came to experience the unbiblical nature of this particular beast.
When we were first married, we lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment. We experienced what we believed were “demonic impressions” or visions, basically evil and grotesque images entering our minds. Some seemed more real than others. We didn’t know what to do to stop seeing these things, so we opened up to our friends, as their testimony was similar to this.
They personally introduced us to their deliverance counselor. Now, the counselor was highly credentialed with many degrees and certifications related to counseling, ministry, etc. He also co-pastored a church, and seemed to be a great guy we could get along with and lean on for support.
This first visit was pretty standard; no talking to demons or anything crazy. All he told us to do was to pray printed prayers out-loud. He also had us “bind” (referencing Matthew 18:18) each area of our minds and bodies (and I mean each area!) So we did this with our fibers, tendons, nerves, and our conscious and subconscious minds, in order to rebuke the devil and his minions from our living areas. This was done in the name of Jesus, while anointing everything with oil in the shape of a cross.
He explained the reasoning was due to the fact that the demons are highly legalistic and very specific about what is commanded. For example, forbidding them entrance to the house still allows them access to the roof and yard. The prayers were to be read aloud, because the devil and his demons cannot read minds. And they must respond to the words, “the shed blood of Jesus.” This was just the introduction.
Allow me to paint the scope of our marriage and it’s struggles here before continuing, as we believe these stresses were directly responsible for what you will read further on. First of all, I was an unfaithful husband by way of online activities. My wife was suffering from postpartum depression and taking anti depressants to help her find some form of normal. I was not home for my wife or son much during this time frame as I was renovating a house, which left my wife home alone with our son to combat the postpartum.
Our home was shared with my parents. My little family had a single bedroom in the house for all three of us to live in during the renovation. Alone, each of these things would be much more manageable. For my wife, the combination of her depression with a lustful husband, and being stuck in her in-laws’ house with no light at the end of the tunnel…I know only God Himself got my wife through this struggle, though we didn’t realize it back then.
With that background in mind, here’s the rest of the story:
Roughly a year later, my wife and I were on an anniversary getaway at a hotel to try and recoup, and to re-connect and simply enjoy some time together outside of the chaos we were living in. Things were going well for the most part. We were laughing and having a good time just watching the waves roll from our balcony, and watching our little boy giggle at the sight.
Unfortunately, that night was the end of the good feelings. You see, all the stress had taken a toll on my wife. She was desperate for solace, desperate to get out of the depression, desperate to stop hearing “voices” telling her she’s not good enough, that she’s not a good mom, that she’s not attractive enough, that she should do herself harm. That night, she heard a distinct voice tell her to just “end it all,” so-to-speak. She described it as literally feeling like she fell down a deep and dark hole and couldn’t find a way out.
We sought out the same deliverance counselor. Much like before, the counselor offered us a variety of prayers to take home and pray together – praying through every fiber of our being from head to toe, of our home, of our child, over our possessions, you get the idea. He recommended we read Bondage Breaker by Neil T. Anderson (warnings about this book here). Again he implored us to anoint our living areas as we had before.
The counselor did “check for salvation” by asking a series of questions that I suppose would be standard for any true biblical counselor, but he offered a caveat: “The body, spirit and soul are all distinct. Even if you are saved and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, a demon can still take residence in your body or soul.” He just termed this as demonization, not demon-possession.
Of course, none of his prayers helped, none of the formulaic and repetitive prayers offered anything to help my wife.
Further visits to the counselor revealed much more unbiblical teaching. We were never dealing with sin, or repentance, or forgiveness. We were not given the Gospel. What we were brought through was none other than a human’s attempt at usurping the throne, at relieving the cross of its power in order to bring salvation and healing into our own hands. Each session neglected Christ, reminding me of the sons of Sceva. Though they may have mentioned “the shed blood of Jesus,” the prayers were powerless against the darkness. Man is not the over-comer, Christ Jesus is!
Next, this man suggested something so outrageous, we didn’t know what to think of it. In fact, I haven’t heard much said about this even to this day. What he suggested was that my wife suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD, a form of dissociative identity disorder) – that her soul was “shattered,” and that each piece of her soul needed to be brought to salvation in order for her to be restored.
But that wasn’t all! He began telling her to close her eyes and ALLOW DEMONS TO SPEAK THROUGH HER. He explained that each demon has a name, and if bound “by the blood” must be truthful and submissive! (Show me this in the bible.) The following conversation I remember vividly. His statements are italicized:
Deliverance counselor: “Now <my wife> I want you to close your eyes and picture yourself in a school hallway, lockers running on either side of you and doors spread apart as they normally would be. Walk down the hall and enter the second door on the right. What do you see?”
My wife: “I see a room and chairs”
“Good. Now there should be a door in the back of the room, approach it and open it then go sit down. Is there anybody else in the room with you?”
“I don’t know?”
“Look around again. Tell me who you see, what he or she looks like.”
“I think I see a little girl…”
“Ask her what her name is, and if I can speak to her. If she is willing, allow her to assume control.”
At this point of the process, I don’t know if I was more outraged or insulted! I held my tongue because I respected my friends too much to harm a relationship with them, but I also didn’t know what else there was to do to help my wife short of seeing a psychologist, which neither of us was comfortable with.
The counselor described what Multiple Personality Disorder looked like: Aside from the soul shattering due to a past traumatic event that may or may not show itself after entering adulthood, each piece of the soul represents itself differently. The counselor believed my wife had up to 30 different “alters” or “personalities” that needed to be saved. Each alter would or wouldn’t respond to me, her husband, and each alter may or may not be saved, may or may not be demonic.
How he came to this conclusion is still beyond me. This was a hard pill to swallow with SEVERE implications if true.
We had several events at our house due to this “diagnosis.” The most insane one involved my wife lying in bed with her eyes closed, talking to me via a supposed alter. This alter hated the Bible, hated Jesus, hated me and became agitated when I prayed and “rebuked” it as I was instructed to. My wife has no recollection of this event beyond me describing it to her.
As far as to what actually happened, I have read that deliverance counselors invariably bring manifestations like this to life by the power of suggestion – what a person would never believe comes to life subconsciously. But the why and how are not important now. What became important was that I was actually questioning my wife’s salvation unto our Lord Jesus Christ. I have never been more ashamed to admit that than I am right now typing this out.
Over the next few months we had many discussions about this man and his practice, about the diagnosis and path to recovery. No amount of counseling sessions helped; they just caused more emotional trauma and spiritual confusion (Ephesians 4:13-14). We finally decided after much prayer to IGNORE this man’s instruction, devote ourselves to the Word, and be at God’s good pleasure to see us through this mess.
As I write this, we have not spoken to this man in about two years, nor have we looked back into trying things his way. We consider this man and these ministries as marked to be avoided as Romans 16:17-18 instructs. When you see demons behind every door, when you look to “hidden knowledge” (that is, occultism), about demons and their hierarchies, when you trust in any “high thought” by a man that goes contrary to the Bible, you are missing that our sole focus is to glorify God, and to live in obedience to Him as revealed through His inerrant Word. Christ is our focus, period.
I mentioned early on my own sins against God and my wife. I was an unrepentant porn addict. I am not proud of this, but God is good and delivered me from this grievous sin, without a deliverance ministry! I firmly believe that my sins, coupled with all the stressors affecting my wife, were directly responsible for our marriage woes and for her mental state of depression. The counselor attributed everything to demons, not to our unrepentant sins. Without the TRUE GOSPEL, we are lost.
Author’s Note: You can read the entire series of NAR testimonies here. If you would like to send me your story about your NAR church experience and what happened when your eyes were opened, you can email me here. I will be changing your first name to keep you anonymous.
Thank you for sharing this, Jared! I am so glad you decided not to believe that your wife had MPD. I recognize a lot in your story, my counselor used the same words and methods. I don’t think it’s the same man, but they sure had the same teacher.
After reading Jared’s account, I would pray that any Christian will have enough discernment and foresight to avoid such ministries, some of these ministries are very harmful. Any so called “therapy”not based strictly on the bible should be red flagged, avoided and warned about. Were there such ministries during Paul’s day? Remember the sons of Sceva?
Acts 19:11-20King James Version (KJV)
11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.
19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
I previously made a comment early in this series of testimonies that the inner healing methods widely used in “Christian” counselling and by NAR groups came from Agnes Sanford. She used occult techniques like guided imagery and visualization in the counseling method she developed decades ago. Although Sanford held many unbiblical beliefs, she and her methods were accepted because she professed to be a Christian. The website http://www.thebereancall.org has a lot of information concerning Sanford and inner healing.
I understand many NAR groups require a person to go through inner healing and/or deliverance when coming to Christ. This is also true for students who are enrolled in some of the Schools of Supernatural Ministry (truly schools of occult originating from Bethel Church, Redding, CA). I imagine many people afterwards will need real deliverance from demonization because so much of what is taught in these Schools opens them up to the spiritual realm through trance-like states. No true biblical discernment is taught so they are extremely vulnerable spiritually.
If anyone doubts what I say, I encourage you to read the books that Agnes Sanford wrote. It makes it plain how she mixed the occult and Christian ideas. After her, the couple, the Sandfords, continued her methods and were/are prominent in the NAR.
Amazing Maggie, it so easy for these counterfeits to get a foot in the door just by saying they’re Christians! Inner healing and all that comes with it is occultic and originates in Hindu mysticism, brought to the West with yoga and other occultic practices it has been slowly seeking in to churchianity for a long time! Now it’s acceptable and taught to the undiscerning as a “christianized” method. It has proliferated for one reason, the sheep don’t want to read scripture…………
Isaiah 2:6, my people are filled with influences from the East.
It was said to the ancient Hebrews, and it applies to churchianity today. How sad so many Christians defend Eastern practices.
Manny, it takes spiritual maturity to discern some of this stuff. The visible church tends to accept what the greater culture is enamored with and props it up with Scripture (out of context). The sheep are easily fooled, and the shepherds (under Christ) are not doing their jobs. Too often, discernment consists of: if it looks and feels good, it is good–which is not biblical discernment at all.
Sorry for typos this tablet is crazy!
You can disagree with the methods used in these sessions, but there’s no doubt the woman was heavily oppressed by demons. A strange personality who hates Jesus is NOT suggestion or a psychological problem.
Denying the existence of demons is antibiblical and simply ignoring them will not make them go away.
I suggest you take authority yourself as the spiritual head of the home and forbid them from harrassiing your wife in the name of Jesus. This is not mumbo-jumbo, just follow biblical directions.
We must be careful in stating we can rebuke Satan, as stated in Jude 1:9 “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”
I have had some well meaning Christians tell me to ‘bind Satan’ in the name of Jesus. There is no biblical support for this. Being the spiritual head doesn’t give one power to rebuke the Devil. Take note of what was stated in Jude, ‘the Lord rebuke thee’.
The Biblical instructions for dealing with demons are to:
. stand firm, resist, stand firm, stand firm (Eph 6:10-18)
. “resist the devil & he will flee from you” (James ?)
These are the instructions that God, through the Apostles, left for us to follow in this present age re: dealing with demons. Praise God for His Living Word! (Heb4:12) ~Brenda
As the demon told the sons of Sceva, Jesus I know, Paul I know, but who are you? You see to even have any sort of spiritual deliverance, the person wanting to play exorcist must be a Christian and walking in the Spirit. Yes demons are real, they know scripture and yes they fear Jesus, but if you’re not saved and think you are, or are not right before God (unconfessed sin, etc) it’s a serious mistake to believe one can bind a supernatural being. It is dangerous. It’s not a thing to be taken lightly. Also, demons don’t go beyond what God allows, He uses them as He sees fit and according to His plan. Saved Christians reading scripture and walking with The Lord have nothing to fear. I’ve never heard of a Christian being possessed. Yet most cases of possession have the occult in the recipe, such as ouija boards and/or other occultic practices that try and communicate with the “dead,” which are nothing more than demons masquerading as family members, friends, or personages. Playing with the supernatural is dangerous and can be lethal, stay away.
I question someone claiming that spiritual head of the home must take authority and forbid demons from harrassing the wife. Here’s what the Bible says, “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” Jude 1:9
Notice how Michael says ‘the Lord rebuke thee’ – he dared not to go where he shouldn’t go.
I agree Manny, I cannot fathom how a Christian can be demon possessed, and that it is a serious mistake to believe mortals can bind supernatural beings. Good comment
Yes, lyn, that’s a good verse to use. And if we keep that in mind while also looking at the other instructions concerning the devil, we see that nowhere is the Christian instructed to bind anything or cast anything out (Ephesians 6:11-18). I don’t see anywhere in the Bible that a believer can be possessed by demons.
The Apostles had authority to cast out demons, but they do not instruct us to do so. It is very unwise to try to take on such things.
Yes Lyn, also deliverance in the bible led to the glorification of Jesus’ name, not the exorcist. And it legitimized the early Church, as unbelievers saw that the miracles were real unlike the inerrant, would be exorcists that got pummeled and ran for their lives, ironically being the sons of a “religious” leader!
Thankyou for sharing, it is only recently I realise how these deliverance methods and counsellors are occultic. I had false memories come up through “soaking prayer”. I believed I had been abused by a satanic occult group and had done horrific things. No one questioned the validity instead sent me to deliverance ministry etc. 12 years at least, more like 18 years of bondage to confusion, self hate, torment.. I had childhood issues that left me vulnerable to seeking answers to my insecurities. The power of suggestion, going into an altered state of consciousness in a church service or anywhere opens us to the demonic. God’s word has the answers when read in context with correct exegesis, not going inward through differing methods. Demons cannot possess a christian. What we end up believing and thinking can become “real” to us. Don’t dabble in what the bible forbids no matter who is teaching or “helping” you, or providing a spiritual experience to connect with God.