A Story of Deliverance

John L Nevius was a Presbyterian missionary in China from the mid to late 1800s. In one village he met Mr. Kwo who was controlled by a demon. The demon first appeared to Mr. Kwo in a dream and then took over the man’s life. Mr. Kwo became violent, irrational, and generally not himself. He said, “It is true, and most humiliating. That I, a man in the full vigor of health, should be a slave to this demon, it is the trial of my life; but there is no help for it.”[i]

Nevius said, “You have not tried believing and trusting in Jesus and I assure you that if you will do this, and take Jesus to be your Savior, the demon will leave you.Together they knelt and prayed that Jesus save and protect the man. Nevius instructed the man in biblical faith and left him Christian books. Nevius returned six months later to find him of sound mind and temperament and a committed Christian. Mr. Kwo read from the Gospel of John at their evening devotionals, and his daughter joyfully recited the catechisms for Nevius.”[ii]

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Col 2:13–15).

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ disarmed Satan at the cross when he provided the Way for sinners to have union and fellowship with God. Furthermore, God the Father and God the Son send God the Holy Spirit to indwell believers which means that the power of God that raised Christ from the dead is in them (Ro 8:11). God himself strengthens and sanctifies them as the Holy Spirit illuminates, instructs, and inspires all God’s people to read and live out God’s Word. So fortified, all Christians can stand with Christ during demonic assaults that inevitably come and sometimes with great force (Eph 6:10–18).

Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Ministries 

Today, many church and lay leaders believe that a confession of faith is an important first step, but more is required. This is due to the deliverance and spiritual warfare books, pamphlets, conferences, sermons, talk shows, seminars, movies, and praise songs that saturated Christian culture beginning in late twentieth century. Today short-hand versions are rooted in the minds evangelical Christians. Many church leaders and laity accept some or all of the following.

  • Christians open the door to the demons through serious sins such as consulting a medium; participating in pagan worship; being sexually or physically abused; and habitual use of pornography, adulterous affairs, gambling, and mind-altering, illicit drugs.

  • Once the door is open, demons establish strongholds relevant to the sin. They keep Christians in bondage in a particular area of life. But demons cannot possess Christians.

  • Christians harassed by demons require the help of deliverance and prayer ministers/counselors trained to deal with the demons. Their sessions are guided by the Holy Spirit who imparts visions and deep knowing as to the source of the problem. Some ask the person to repent before prayerfully asking Jesus to remove the demon or command him to leave.

  • Prayer ministers/counselors can also discern past traumas, relationships, and other problem areas that demons capitalize on to keep the Christian in bondage.

  • Many Christians assume that unless they open the door, demons cannot mess with them. Therefore, it is not necessary to know much about Satan and the demons. Demons become a nonissue as Christians repent of sin. In fact, too much information invites trouble.

  • Furthermore, many Christians believe that unless they open the door, demons can neither read their minds nor access their inner life. Based on the Ephesian six passage, demons shoot arrows of temptation which Christians deflect with the shield of faith.

  • Being in Christ means that he guards the inner life of Christians, and they can trust positive spiritual phenomena. For example, Jesus sometimes allows a deceased loved one to communicate during a prayer session.

  • Christians reject spiritual phenomena that is blatant evil.

  • Some wonder and others believe Satanist, shamans, and the like can curse believers. Others assume that demons attach themselves to objects that can cause trouble in Christian homes. They also wonder if demons establish strongholds in towns and areas that must be removed before people can hear the gospel. Trained prayer ministers can discern and address these spiritual matters.

The tragic consequence of this mix of truth and deception, which I will address in future blogs, is that many pastors, prayer ministers, and lay leaders no longer trust the sufficiency of the gospel to free sinners from demonic control. They no longer believe, as Nevius did, that one-on-one discipleship, prayers, repentance, turning from idolatry and other sins, fellowship, bible study, worship, serving, and loving one another in the love of Christ enables all Christians to walk in freedom. In the main, Christ equips Christians to stand with him against the demons as they live a normal, albeit radical, Christian life. He frees believers as he sanctifies and prepares them for glory. Prayer specialists are not required—worship of God is!


Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

A Woman’s Story

A Christian woman described an attack this way. “Suddenly, my mind whirled around and though I saw people’s lips move, I could not access my mind to comprehend what was said. Before Christ saved me, I simply endured the attack, but now, I call out for Christ and soon I can think again.” She once heard the demon whimper as bullies do when one more powerful forced them to stop tormenting their prey.

I replied, “The demon would have you believe that because he can do this, he is more powerful than Jesus. But he is not and he’s a liar. Jesus has given you the will to choose who to believe. Do you believe Jesus who saved you and now redeems your life? Or do you believe the demon tormenting you? No in all things, turn from the torment, whatever form it takes, and reach for Christ. Call out for Jesus. He rules the demons, and they know it.”

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 Jn 4:4).


[i] John L. Nevius, Demon Possessions and Allied Themes (Chicago: Fleming H Revell) 17–18.
2 Ibid., 18, 27.

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