Examining deliverance from a natural and supernatural prospective.
by Eric Dunbar
Supernatural deliverance does not always happen with simplicity, neither does it happen overnight as we are sometimes led to believe because God does not deal with everyone in the same manner. And while supernatural deliverance can be instantaneous, there is no guarantee that God will deliver you in such a fashion. You can’t ask God to deliver you and then expect Him to do it your way.
There are many instances in Scripture where people have struggled for years before deliverance came. That is because failure and growth are as much a part of God’s plan of deliverance as instantaneous deliverance. For instance, David was anointed to be king of Israel when he was around 12 to 15-years-old, but he didn’t actually become king until he was 30-years old.
The church is full of Christians who have secret problems with drugs and other serious addictions. They pray and ask for prayer. They continue to go to church week after week because they are seriously seeking supernatural deliverance from God. But why have these people not received their deliverance? Perhaps they see deliverance as a single dramatic moment — a moment that they perceive is all about them. But supernatural deliverance is not a singular moment event. It is a process that is completely under God’s sovereign control. It is never about you, but it is always about God’s timing.
Natural vs. Supernatural
For Christians, there is great controversy when it comes to alternative methods of addiction recovery such as twelve-step programs. But the fact is, the majority of people who get help for addictions go through some type of twelve-step program, and many of them get results. So why the controversy? The reason so many Christians are skeptical of these programs is because (1) some twelve-step programs are specifically Christian and many are not. (2) While all twelve-step programs are founded on spiritual truth, no twelve-step program specifically relates to Jesus, and therein lies the problem for many believers.
Faith vs. Recovery Steps
Faith is an invisible power that has the ability to perform supernatural wonders. The Bible describes faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” (Hebrews 11:1). There are no steps that can be achieved to get supernatural deliverance by faith. Faith is a gift from God, it cannot be bought or merited. By the same token, recovery is also a gift from God, but most people view recovery as something they worked to achieve.
Should a Christian with an addiction problem seek help from a twelve-step program? Some Christians believe they should only go to God for deliverance from addiction. If such thinking is to be adopted as a rule by Christians, then why do some Christians seek to be healed by a doctor?
Whether or not a Christian opts to seek help from a twelve-step program is a matter of personal opinion. What should matter is that they understand that addiction is a battle that cannot be fought and won alone.
When you look at a brief introduction to the twelve-steps, you will see that they are based on Biblical principles. But there is one definite distinction: Biblical principles point to and identify God as the Deliverer, whereas the twelve-steps point to and identify the twelve-step group as the deliverer. Only God is eternal, and only deliverance obtained through God is foolproof.
To understand the difference, let’s examine the steps and their contrasting Biblical statements.
Twelve-step — “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol [pain, life’s problems, sin, food, whatever is the controlling factor in your life] — that our lives had become unmanageable.”
This statement points out that we cannot manage the thing that is controlling our lives.
Twelve-step — “We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
The Bible — “…we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us.”
I believe a proper understanding of this statement is what will make the difference in whether or not you will experience lasting restoration, without even the thought of relapse. Without properly identifying God as the Restorer of your life there will always be the possibility of failure because of the fear factor.You see, God is Love, and perfect love casts out fear.
Twelve-step — “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
First we must define what is meant by “…God as we understood Him.” We cannot understand God in and of ourselves. What is, or can be known of God must come from the scriptures, and we cannot understand the scriptures unless Jesus — the Son of God — opens our understanding.
You cannot commit to what you do not understand. Having a understanding of God is vital to committing your life to the care of God.
Twelve-step — “We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
The Bible — “Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected?”
Thoroughly examine yourself to see if you are up to the challenge of pursuing your deliverance. If you do a correct search you will discover that Christ is in you, and it is by the power of God that you will be delivered.
Twelve-step — “We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
There are two major points that must be brought out here:
- If you are suffering from depression you will certainly feel that you are the person who has been wronged.
- People suffering from addiction do not “feel” righteous. Therefore you might not think that God will hear your prayer.
So why should you confess your wrongs to someone when you believe you have been wronged? Addiction brings with it a lot of pain, and the Bible makes it perfectly clear that we have all fallen short. That means that we all need forgiveness, even for things that we have long since hidden from our own view. To say it another way, you need forgiveness for not loving someone when you were being distracted by your own hurt.
“…The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man…” What does it mean to be righteous? To be righteous does not mean that you are perfect and sinless. That is self-righteousness. No one can obtain righteousness by keeping God’s Law. Righteousness is obtained by one having faith in the finished work of Jesus at the cross. You have to know that you are righteous based on the sacrifice of Christ and not you own works, then your prayers will be effective.
Twelve-step — “We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
Everyone has a desire for God to remove their negative faults, but it is the part about believing in Jesus that seems to bother people. But the scriptures are clear about this and God’s word will remain unchanged.
Twelve-step — “We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
Jesus uses the example of a little child to show us what it means to be humble. Children are especially innocent as they have not learned how to hate yet. Therefore anyone desiring to have their faults removed from their life must become like a child at heart.
Twelve-step — “We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”
The Bible — “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
The implication here is that you must forgive to be forgiven.
Twelve-step — “We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
Not only should we be willing to forgive, but, if at all possible, we should also be willing to make peace with those whom you have wronged.
Twelve-step — “We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
With each passing day you must strive to renew your mind and be willing to admit when we are wrong.
Twelve-step — “We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
The scriptures say that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. The best way to get closer to God is through prayer. If we acknowledge God in all our ways He will direct our paths.
Twelve-step — “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
Ultimately it is God who is in control of our lives. The more we learn of God, the more we will grow in His knowledge and wisdom.
Deliverance can only come by way of the supernatural. Just because it is not instantaneous does not mean that it is not supernatural. The most important thing to remember about your walk with God is that your works cannot make you righteous It is easy to get caught up in works because it makes us feel good to be recognized for good. However we are saved (made whole) by grace, and the just shall live by faith.