The Desperate Need for Deliverance in the Church
“Walk healed.” The sound and careful, Spirit-led annunciation of those words — “Walk healed” — are etched in my memory.
In the closing moments of the National Prayer Summit in February 2018, people were invited to bring words from the Lord for the church. Dozens came and spoke, but one has stayed with me, embedded in my mind. “Walk healed.” Why I am so stricken and captivated? I believe it’s because I’ve also witnessed many Christ-followers and even congregations that walk wounded — limping and crawling because of trauma and pain, disappointment and abuse, sin committed by us, and sin committed against us. Wounded we come to Jesus, but like the man at the pool of Bethesda, we often can’t get off our mats to find the deliverance waiting for us in the Living Water (John 5:2–9).
Deliverance is the focus of this issue of LIGHT + LIFE because of the great need for the manifest reality of freedom in people everywhere. The results of sin and trauma are universally damaging to all humanity; therefore, deliverance and freedom are the greatest need. The good news is, our Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, comes to us as a Deliverer.
Messiah. Anointed and consecrated for a specific, holy purpose. That’s Jesus, who clearly and confidently spoke about the reason for His anointing.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19).
Freedom is our Messiah’s anointed purpose. If the coming of the Messiah brings freedom, recovery, sight and deliverance, where is it? Why is the need so great when the supply is so plentiful?
We forget that the source of our deliverance is only Jesus. We often seek healing from people who’ve wounded us. We yearn for apologies that may never come, long for restitution that is never paid, or wait for remorse to break through the hearts of our abusers. It may never come, but that shouldn’t exclude us from healing. Like the man at the pool of Bethesda, our focus is on our disability and our inability to get to the “pool” we believe holds the key to our freedom. Jesus stood right in front of the man on the mat, but the man’s focus was so carved into his mind that he missed the Healer as he yearned for an inadequate source of healing. When we turn to the Healer for our healing, we no longer need the apologies, restitution or remorse that we think will heal us.
We forget that we might need to turn away from something or someone. Here’s an inconvenient truth; people usually prefer Jesus to be a caretaker and enabler who will continue to patch the holes in their behavior and relationships. Jesus will never promote ongoing bondage. He is our Deliverer, who desires to transport us from our toxic location to a spacious place of freedom. Like the rich man who became sad because he couldn’t see his way to obey Jesus (Luke 18:18–25), he sacrificed true freedom in preference of his “chains.” The hard truth is that many will clutch their chains and forego freedom. Sometimes our chains serve us well. We’ve learned to leverage them, soliciting charity from others. Others leverage their chains to keep someone bound to them in a dysfunctional relationship. True deliverance comes with renouncing and repentance, the chains must come off, and we must walk away from them.
We forget that deliverance must deal with our mindset and identity. Freedom from identifying as a slave in bondage requires spiritual reorientation. When we think like slaves and identify as slaves, we walk as slaves. We identify as wounded, hurt, harmed and traumatized. When our abusers and accusers have left us, there are lasting impressions to be dealt with. But how do we reorient the mental paths that slavery has carved into our mindset and identity? We need the balm of the Living Word of God. The devil knows the benefit of repetitive words and phrases to embed trauma into your life. In the same way, the Deliverer offers His Word of Life to heal. We must exercise the same repetition to hide the Word of God in our hearts, healing our mindset and our identity.
This Advent, anticipate deliverance, not just an infant Deliverer. Break off your chains at the manger and submit yourselves to the renunciation and repentance that opens the way to deliverance and freedom. Jesus is willing and able, are you? Are we, as a church, ready to walk healed?
May it be so. Amen.
Brett Heintzman is the publisher of LIGHT + LIFE through his role as the communications director of the Free Methodist Church – USA, which he also serves as the director of the National Prayer Ministry.