Freedom: We All Want It, But Are We Willing to Pay the Price to Get It?


A young lady sitting near the front shook with frenzy while I was teaching. Her body went rigid, and the manifestations were clearly demonic. I was a young missionary halfway across the world ministering among the Xhosa people in Umtata, South Africa. I did not know what to do and neither did the African Christians present at the session. Satan wanted to disrupt the training, and he succeeded! This was my first face-to-face encounter with the demonic.

Four years later, instead of being a young, inexperienced missionary, I was a young, inexperienced pastor serving a small, rural church in central Illinois. Late one evening, my wife and I were counseling a young farm couple across our kitchen table. Their marriage was struggling, and the small fortune they had spent on professional counseling had done little good. When we stopped to pray with them, the wife said, “I see something evil. There is a dark presence that I can see in my mind trying to crush me.” Again, I did not know what to do, but a novel thought occurred to me, “Pray!” As we sought God, the Holy Spirit brought step-by-step direction. There was victory, and the young wife then experienced the presence of God’s Spirit in a new and wonderful way.

These two situations revealed to me that demons are just as real in little country churches in America as they are in Africa. In Africa they work overtly. In North America, they operate covertly. But their intent is the same: to destroy lives, marriages, churches and my teaching sessions. My experience also showed me that God wants to gloriously set people free and empower them with His Spirit!

The Journey to Freedom

Without freedom, cell members fail to walk in the life God has for them. They will come to cell meetings, but they may have a neutral or even negative effect on the ministry of the group.

Without freedom, cell leaders may ask all of the right questions and fill out all the correct forms, but they will seldom see the power of God flow through them to minister to others. Without freedom, cell groups will not reach the lost because they will be preoccupied with their own problems.

Early in my ministry I realized that I needed to learn how to lead others into freedom. To learn how to do this, my wife and I attended four intensive one-week training sessions taught by Anne White of Victorious Ministry Through Christ. When I got to the first seminar, I discovered that the first step in learning to minister spiritual freedom to others began with me. In about four hours, several prayer ministers led me through a long, hard look at my past and bring every area of my life and history into submission under Christ. In this loving atmosphere, I brought to God areas from my past that I had never examined before. As I shared about key relationships, I confessed sin and released resentments.

Even though this did not feel like a mountaintop experience for me, I noticed profound changes in my life. First, I experienced a freedom in my thought life that I did not know was possible. For men, sexual thoughts are often a constant temptation. After my personal prayer ministry, sexual thoughts might have been tempting, but they were no longer controlling. Why? Because lurid images from films and magazines that I had experienced had now been specifically brought to the Lord. These images were removed from my mind and subconscious, and their power had been broken.

I also saw significant changes in my memories of childhood. I grew up in a solid Christian home, but like everyone, my childhood years were not perfect. Before this healing experience, when I recalled my childhood I would often remember hurt and disappointment. If I tried hard I could also remember many good things. After receiving ministry, it was just the opposite. The good things came to mind first. It now took effort to remember the bad things.

I had gone to the first training event to learn how to minister spiritual freedom. But I came away with more than know-how; I was now free to serve! There was a new level of victory in my life, a fresh sensitivity to the Spirit and a growing use of spiritual gifts in my ministry to others.

As you consider this subject, ask yourself: “Do I want a deeper experience of Christ’s freedom and joy in my life?” And, “Do I want to learn how to minister healing and freedom to others in a deeper way?” If your answer to either of these questions is “yes,” read on.

Do You Want to Be Healed?

“Why do I have to confess my sins to you? Can’t I just confess them to God?” Ted asked this question in a ministry session as he told us about an ugly part of his life. He asked a good question, and it might be one you have yourself. Can you confess your sins directly to God? Of course, you can! And when you do, God promises you total cleansing and forgiveness! His word assures us that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). But we are not talking about forgiveness. We are concerned with the issue of healing. The same Bible that guarantees forgiveness when we confess our sins to God, also tells us “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16, emphasis mine). If you need forgiveness, the Bible instructs you to confess your sins to God. If you need a deeper healing, it encourages you to seek ministry from others.

It All Begins with You!

Do you need a deeper work of healing in your own life right now? Do you want to learn to minister spiritual victory to others? Either way, this ministry must begin with your own spiritual freedom. If you are a cell member or cell leader, talk to your pastor to see what freedom ministry your church offers. If your church does not have people trained in this ministry, ask your pastor where you might look for help. This type of ministry makes you realize the importance of submission to those over you in the Lord. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13.) Satan loves to get believers unconnected and unprotected. Don’t even think about beginning
any type % spiritual freedom ministry without the blessing and counsel to your pastor!

There is likely someone trained in freedom ministry in your church or area who can help you. If not, learn about it by reading Neil
Anderson’s The Bondage Breaker and his practical ministry booklet The Steps to Freedom in Christ. Both are published by Gospel Light. Two other excellent books are the practical The Believer’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare by Thomas B. White (Vine Books) and the explanatory Spiritual Warfare by Timothy Warner (Crossway Books).

How to Minister Spiritual Victory to Others

If you are just beginning to minister to people in the area of spiritual victory and healing, I want to offer you some advice.

In John 5:6, Jesus asked a paralytic man, “Do you want to be healed?” Take note of his response. Instead of answering Jesus’ question, he immediately made excuses. Often, people beginning a freedom ministry mistakenly attempt to help people who are not seeking healing and freedom. You may think that everyone wants to be healed. But it is easy for any of us to get comfortable with “my” problems and to actually depend on them.

When someone asks my wife or me to pray with them and minister to them in the areas of spiritual freedom and healing, we ask them some direct questions: “Do you really want to be set free? Are you ready to forgive others? Are you willing to quit blaming others and take responsibility for your future with God’s help? Are you actively involved in a cell group? Are you in submission to those in authority over you?” If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, tell him or her to come back to you when the answers are “yes.” Attempting to help people who are not ready is a waste of everyone’s time. Dion Robert, the pastor of one of the world’s largest churches in the Ivory Coast, Africa was asked at a conference what to do with cell members who don’t want to deal with their personal bondages. Pastor Dion responded, “Nothing.” He explained that it is better to wait until people are miserable and genuinely want help.

Jesus told the paralytic man, “Pick up your mat and walk.” (John 5:8) It is interesting that Jesus did not reach out and touch the man. Instead, he commanded him to do something that required personal initiative. If someone wants freedom ministry ask them to take the first step. People that want freedom counseling in the cell ministry at our church are required to have read The New Believer’s Station. We require this book because it makes people interactively study what the Bible says about strongholds, forgiving others and the lordship of Christ. Now that our church is offering Encounter weekends, they are also prerequisites to individual sessions. These weekends convey essential teaching on spiritual warfare and they deepen the body life relationships that help believers – especially new Christians – walk out their victory.

Going Deep in Personal Ministry

What takes place in a prayer ministry session that is focused on spiritual freedom? It is not that complicated. Your simple goal is to help individuals bring everything to God that is holding them back from total surrender to Jesus Christ. To do this, address three areas. First, guide people to confess their sin to God. Second, walk them through forgiving those that have hurt them. Thirdly, break the power of spiritual oppression that has come to them through their sins, through hurts or through lies or curses that have been spoken over them. Sessions do not have to be dramatic and emotional. Demonic oppression is usually easy to deal with once you have dealt with the underlying roots. Different books and ministries commend various patterns, but they all boil down to these three elements of inviting the Holy Spirit to do His revealing work. He desires to bring deep healing, and He will if you wait on Him and listen to His directions. As you listen to people confess, also listen to the Holy Spirit. As you pray for them, be sensitive to His timing and guidance. I remember one session when I was ministering to a middle-aged man. As we prayed for
him, in my mind I saw a young boy getting out of a car. When I shared this with him, he immediately knew what it meant. His son had missed the school bus the day before, and the man had to drive him to school. He was very upset which caused him to belittle the child. This was not an isolated incident; it was an ongoing pattern in a deteriorating relationship. Through this word of knowledge, God revealed his need to repent of his attitudes as a father.

One of the most rewarding things in this ministry is seeing the Holy Spirit’s gentle, probing work as people come to God for healing. He can move through you this way also. You don’t have to sit as you listen to a cell member complain about the same sin for the forty-second time. You can learn to lead people into freedom. And you can be free yourself to love people as never before!