God’s power isn’t available for us to manipulate for our own selfish ambitions, or to temporarily use to find relief from an urgent problem. It’s the saddest thing to help someone experience big answers to prayer through months of counseling and care, and then discover that they don’t really want to go the distance with God.
After the worst of their problems are over, they slack off and wander away with the excuse that it’s taking too long, or that they think they know a better way. It doesn’t occur to them that they’ve been searching for freedom for years, sometimes decades, and God has already transformed them drastically through only a few months of deliverance prayers. It’s only logical to stick with it, but in the case of many, logic takes a back seat to instant gratification.
Spiritual warfare means following through with obedience in everything, after the prayers are made, after the demons are rebuked and after you’ve made the preliminary commitments to getting rid of old sins. The fact is that none of us are where we should be with God, ever. For those struggling against demonic possession, as well as those who are already free and close to God, demons attack us all and the deeper you go with God the more you discover aspects of your life that need to be changed. Anyone who says that God is asking too much of them has an inflated idea of how great his faith already is. So what would a follow-through look like for deliverance?
For example: Laura has been praying for her daughter to come home after years of rebellion and drugs. She’s thrilled to have her back and to testify to God’s goodness that everything has changed now. Her daughter’s trying to get a job, coming to church and very humbled, but confused. It’s a volatile time that requires just as much faith and sensitivity to God than ever. But Laura is full of emotions. Crying with joy to see her little girl one moment, telling everyone about answered prayer another, and the next moment hovering over her daughter with suggestions and criticisms that she isn’t changing fast enough. Laura isn’t seeing the deeper needs of her daughter’s vulnerable state, but is more worried that her new reputation of a “prayer-warrior” will be ruined if her daughter doesn’t do everything right. Laura’s prayers, fasts and sacrifices were honored by God, but she isn’t anywhere close to the end of the road. She doesn’t realize that God isn’t only interested in changing her wayward daughter—He wants to change her too. The follow-through that God is looking for, what will be the death sentence for the demons in Laura’s family, is patience, praise, encouragement, unconditional love, space, respect and the knowledge that God is the one who transforms people—not her. Laura has to fight against the demons of selfishness, control and emotionalism that played a part in driving her daughter away in the first place. That requires humility and self-control, but as she strives to live that out, the Holy Spirit will enable her to do what she never thought possible.
Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the armor of God, and then to stand. Our fight against demons takes on many forms, and as important as confronting and rebuking is, the follow-through of standing firm in obedience and faith is just as important. Obedience to repent, to love your enemies, to love your neighbors, to humble yourself to others, to be hospitable, to have good attitudes, to refrain from judging, to be faithful, to control your tongue, to serve, to rejoice in trials, to trust and persevere… God will show you just where you need to focus your follow-through efforts as you fight for freedom. But every fight requires a follow-through. Don’t be the guy that does a premature victory dance just to get tackled before reaching the end zone. God knows how much more you will be blessed when you take every opportunity to grow and learn throughout your fight.
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be bold like men, and be strong. Let all that you do be done with love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14 MEV)