When Paul opened the second chapter of the letter to the Ephesians he painted a rather bleak picture of what the Ephesians had been before they were converted. He highlights the fact that they were dead in trespasses and sins (v1); walked according to the course of this world (v2), and according to the prince of the power of the air and the flesh (v3). They were by nature children of God’s wrath. It must have been gratifying to the Ephesians to be reminded of the fact that God has blessed them with every spiritual blessing in Christ (1:3).
Paul pointed out some of the blessings that God has extended to the Ephesians from eternity in the first chapter. God chose them in Christ (v3), he redeemed them through his blood (v7), he revealed the mystery of his will to them (v9), he adopted them into his family by Jesus Christ (v5), he has sealed them by the Holy Spirit of promise (v13), and he reconciled them to himself and to one another and made one new man out of all the nations (2:10-22). He has blessed them with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
In Ephesians 4:20-23, the apostle insists that because of what the Ephesians had become in Christ they must put off the old way of the sinful nature and put on the new way of the Spirit. They must put off all the ways of darkness and walk as children of the light (5:8), children who are led by the Spirit. And this Spirit-filled-ness, must express itself in the whole of life. It must affect their persons, their relationship to others, their corporate worship, their marriages, their family life, and their work. This was their responsibility and indeed ours today.
But putting on the new way will not be easy. Apart from the limitations imposed on us by our own indwelling sin, there is someone else who will make it difficult for us to do it, and that is the devil. Using his wiles or tricks he endeavours to draw us away from the Lord and from succeeding in our bid to put off sin and to put on Christ.
Paul seems to be saying in Ephesians 6:10ff that we must not stand by and watch while the devil wreaks havoc. We must fight him. The call to fight Satan and his demons is sometimes referred to as spiritual warfare. This is a hot issue in the church today. In some sense, it is an issue that has always faced the church but in more recent times it has taken centre stage especially in some sections of the Charismatic movement.

The deliverance model of spiritual warfare

The spiritual warfare practice of our day may be referred to as the deliverance model of ministry. The tenets of the deliverance model of spiritual warfare are that a true believer can be demon possessed or controlled by evil spirits if he does not resist. It teaches that believers can take authority over the demonization because they have authority in Christ; that believers can take authority over the devil by identifying, commanding and binding demons, and that generational curses inhibit the spiritual effectiveness of both Christians and non-Christians. In this setting, the “man of God” and not so much Jesus Christ is the self-contained deliverer who by a direct command to the spirits to flee or via an application of anointed water and other concomitants can set the captives free. He has the power to release them from bondage.
The problem with the deliverance model of ministry
Our focus in this issue is to point out that the deliverance model of ministry is fraught with dangers. Apart from expressing a diminished view of personal salvation in which regeneration and conversion effect nothing, this model teaches that a regenerate and converted person may still be demon possessed. It teaches that conversion is not a protection against demon possession (1 Jn. 5:18). Deliverance model minimises sin and personal responsibility. It places the blame on Satan for all of a believer’s misdemeanours and suffering and misdirects the believer’s focus. The focus here is on identifying and commanding demons instead of “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5), and inadvertently denies the sufficiency of Scripture preferring rather to root a whole theology on the so called clinical experience.

The point of this issue of Reformation Zambia

Choolwe Mweetwa, Billy Sichone, and Saidi Chishimba in this issue of Reformation Zambia will critique the deliverance model of ministry and demonstrate that a Christian cannot be demon possessed (Jn. 17:15, 1 Jn. 4:4, 1 Jn. 5:8, 1 Cor. 6:15, 16, Col. 1:13, Acts 26:18, Matt. 12:43–45). They will also show that although it is true that the believer is identified with Christ and positionally seated with him in heaven (Eph. 2:6) where he has been given as head over all things to the church (Eph. 1:22), it does not follow that the believer is equal in authority to Christ.
We are under the umbrella of Christ’s authority. We benefit from it and we share in it. However, the direct display of it over nature and the demonic realm was his unique prerogative. It clearly defined him as the Messiah (Mk. 1:24, 1:27, 3:11). The writers will also discuss how the practice of binding the devil by some believers is based on a faulty understanding and application of Christ’s words in Matthew 12:29 (see also Lk. 11:14–23, Matt. 18:20 and Rev. 20:2). In addition to this, they will offer a biblical perspective to the whole idea of the so-called “the man of God” or “prophet”.
The gist of this issue is that the cure for demons, sin, generational curses, etc., is salvation through Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16). When we become Christians, we become new creations (2 Cor. 5:17) with the ability, under God, to overcome the world and the devil. The devil, according to Paul in Ephesians 6:10–14, is to be overcome not with armour made by man but of God. Christians must put on this armour in its entirety. The amour consists of six main pieces, namely; the belt of truth—the whole truth (v14); the breastplate of righteousness—we must seek refuge in the righteousness of Christ in which we are clothed when we are justified by faith (v14); the gospel of peace—which gives us stability and readiness to face many a difficult and trying experience (v15); the shield of faith—by which we continually rely on Christ even when the enemy roars (v16); the helmet of salvation—by which we are kept hoping for our final salvation when we are tempted to give up (v17); and the sword of the Spirit—which is the application of particular aspects of God’s word to particular temptations that may be facing us (v17). This is another way of saying we must put on Christ, without whom we can do nothing against such a fierce enemy as the devil. May the Lord use this magazine’s teaching to open our eyes and cast them away from the prescriptions of men to Christ who alone is able to give us freedom from sin, Satan, and the world.