Certainly Jesus came to set us free. This is explicit in Jesus’ commission that he read from Isaiah 61:1-2:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
Setting people free from demonic oppression and captivity is Jesus’ core ministry. Jesus desires to release the oppressed. He came to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). It was his central purpose. His ministry was characterized this way by his chief Apostle, Peter: “…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him” (Acts 10:38).
That is our role, too, as Jesus’ disciples. First, we must seek to break free ourselves. We probably DON’T need exorcism to do this. We need truth and we need repentance. Deep, heart-felt repentance that brings about change. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). There is NO freedom apart from embracing the truth in Jesus. And as we fearlessly embrace truth, the Deceiver loses his power over us. That’s how Satan began with Eve (Genesis 3:4-5), and he’s been doing it ever since — to Jesus in the wilderness and to you and me.
Jesus came teaching. Teaching the truth. And we are to continue this, for teaching is not weak. The truth we share has explosive seeds in it that can break people free. Paul instructed his protégé Timothy:
“And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:24-26).
Anger is a great doorway for demons to invade or influence a human being. The reason God instructs the believer to forgive so easily is this, unforgiveness leads to bitterness, and bitterness can lead to hatred! Murder actually starts in the hearts of people! In addition to forgiving our enemies, we must LOVE them! I believe these two things drive the devil insane.
Ask yourself, “am I walking in unforgiveness?” Is there someone I am continuing to hate or refuse to forgive?
A few people will require some kind of direct command of release such as Jesus gave. Occasionally the apostles would do this — but only occasionally. Truth was usually all that was necessary.
What are the lessons we disciples are to learn from Luke 4?
1. Satan is a powerful opponent that Jesus faced again and again (4:1-13). We his disciples will never get spiritual victory until we stop trivializing Satan and denying his influence.
2. Satan is the agent of oppression that Jesus came to oppose (4:18-19). His mission is to set the oppressed free!
3. Jesus confronted Satan and his demons with spiritual authority whenever they tried to attack him or others (4:33-36, 41).
4. Jesus’ focus was on wholeness and freedom, not on Satan and his work. He dealt with Satan when he had to, but he didn’t fear him or obsess over the spiritual battle. Jesus’ focus was positive, not negative.
5. We must not walk in fear of demons, but be wary and wise to there activities
6. Ask God to give us discernment on every situation. (Proverbs 3:5)
7. If it seems evil, it probably is! Shun the very appearance of evil.
8. Stay submitted to God! (James 4:7)
Rev. Dr. Mark H. Stevens