Summary: Much confusion abounds about deliverance because of our church culture. Let's go back to the Scriptures...
Introductory thoughts and questions.
This study comes your way because one of you requested it. Please keep those requests coming in, and if I feel it is a subject I can and/or should be tackling, I will.
Deliverance is a good Bible word, so yes, we should study it. But as always, we must study it from the Bible whence it originated, not from the culture in which we find the church in our age.
Tell me, when you hear the word “deliverance”, what comes to your mind? Men shouting over a demon-possessed child? The Exorcist movie? A drug rehab institution? A red-hot prayer meeting? A man waving his jacket over a crowd of people? Then you may be a bit surprised, even disappointed, at the results of this research.
On the other hand, way on the other hand, those churches that find it impossible to fit the miraculous, the other-worldly, into their worldly philosophy of church, well these findings may be a bit of a shock for them too. If deliverance is from God, and it is, then it will cut across our materialistic ways and open our eyes to another sphere altogether.
On my prayer list I have actually entered the word “deliverance” in regards to some serious weaknesses that my flesh continues to exhibit. I want to be delivered from these things. We pray in the Lord’s model prayer, “Deliver us from evil.” Did that have to do with demon spirits? Was Jesus asking us to pray daily or at least often, to be set free from a devil?
Have you ever met someone who said he had a “deliverance” ministry? What did he mean? In the light of even the little bit I have shared so far, is that term able to be lined up with Scripture? On the other hand, did not the apostles have a deliverance ministry in the sense in which this is most often used today? That is, did they not cast out demons, delivering people often from years of bondage?
Of course we must approach the subject of, “Can believers have demons?” Is there ever a case when a born-again believer was “delivered” in this sense? But if deliverance means only demons, how shall we all pray the Lord’s prayer? Surely Christians aren’t allowed to pray such a prayer if demons cannot control them…
So you see, it’s a can of worms, this “deliverance” thing. But one well worth opening, in my judgment. Let's see what God said, and surely the Light will dawn on us.
First we need the Bible word or words for deliverance. That piece of information is in fact the key to the whole mystery. But that info is hard to come by, as there are so many words translated “deliver, delivered, deliverance, etc” in both Hebrew and Greek. Let me zero in on just a couple:
“Yasha” , the Hebrew word from which comes a whole family of names such as “Joshua”, and “Yeshua”, is translated “save” in some places and “deliver” in others. “To bring salvation”, “to be safe” are the basic meanings of the word. Salvation and deliverance are overlapping terms.
“Sozo” is the Greek word most often used with reference to salvation in the New Testament. It means to “save, deliver, protect” and is translated “heal, preserve, save, “ etc. Again, salvation and deliverance are overlapping terms.
The concept holds true in both Testaments, that when one is saved, one is also delivered. Deliverance and salvation are the same thing.
Why make such a point about something that seems so obvious? So that we can start interpreting what we are seeing and hearing in the modern church world in light of the Biblical concepts, rather than the other way around!
What we have come to understand of the meaning of deliverance is simply not the same as what the TV evangelists are telling us.
First, let’s be clear about the English definition of deliver or deliverance, so we are all on the same page for sure: The English word comes from the Latin de liberare, “to set free from.” I know you can deliver a package and deliver a pizza, etc, but that’s another word altogether. This deliverance is “the act of or state of being delivered or being set free.” In short, deliverance is a rescue, or an escape.
How is the word “deliverance” used in Scripture?
Now that we are clear about meanings (I hope) let’s see how the word is used in Scripture, and talk about concepts in the Bible that don’t even use the word, but give us the same idea.
Didn’t Jesus say that whomever the Son sets free (delivers) is truly free? Jesus is the Deliverer. Yeshua (in Hebrew). Jesus (in Greek). The Savior. It’s all the same! Any rescue that Jesus Himself initiates is deliverance, or the synonym, salvation. A person set free from a demon has been saved from that demon.