Deliverance in Christian thought

Deliverance in Christian thought
Exclusive Excerpt from Holistic Healing: A Christian Approach by Fr Pat Collins CM
Chapter Six: Deliverance & Spiritual Healing

Recently, I read that in August 2019 Fr. Arturo Sosa, the Superior General of the Jesuits, said that, in his opinion, the devil is merely a symbol of evil but not a supernatural person. Though he espouses a liberal point of view that is common in Christian circles, it is not orthodox. Pope Francis, a Jesuit himself, endorsed the Biblical point of view when he said in par. 161 of Rejoice and be Glad, “we should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, figure of speech or an idea.” He has pointed out in par. 160 that the words, “deliver us from evil” do not refer to evil in the abstract but to Satan the evil one, a personal being who assails us.” So, in the final petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to ask to be delivered from the temptations, illusions, and false inspirations of the devil who wanders through the world, sometimes masquerading as an angel of light, (cf. 2 Cor 11:14), seeking the ruin of souls.

The New Testament tells us how to protect ourselves from the wiles of the Devil. St Peter counselled, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith” (1 Pt 5:8). St James added, “humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jm 4:7). Take note of the verbs in these verses. Rather than being words of advice, the phrases such as “stay alert,” “be humble” and “resist the devil firm in faith” are words of command. Rely on God’s Spirit, at work within you, and the Spirit will enable you to obey them. St Paul tells us in Eph 6:16 that, “The shield of faith puts out all the fiery darts of the evil one.”

Scripture repeatedly makes it clear that the Lord is our spiritual shield. For example, in Prov 30:5 we read, “He (God) is a shield to those who take refuge in him” and in Ps 144:2, “He is my loving God, my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield in whom I take refuge.” When you feel under attack from evil, raise your shield by saying, “Jesus I trust in you.” Nestle through faith in Christ, don’t wrestle with the evil one.

Sad to say, many people ignore this advice. They resemble the Jews of old who were mentioned in Judges 21:25, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” As a result of lacking a moral compass, many people live in a permissive way, grievous sins are committed, mental health deteriorates, inappropriate activity increases, the social media fill with hateful and untruthful postings, and problems with addiction multiply. Why is it that so many people seem to succumb knowingly or unwittingly to the temptations, illusions and false inspirations of the evil one?

Holistic Healing: A Christian Approach by Fr Pat Collins CM is available here.