Evangelism, Discipleship and Casting Out the Strongman

Complimentary Story
March 2023

   Bob Dylan is rightly acclaimed as a musical genius. His songs have created a muscial tapestry of events, moods, and emotions for the last 60 years and counting. 

   One of Dylan’s many classic songs is titled, “The Times They Are A-Changin.” Here is one stanza:

Come gather ‘round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’ 

   The times have indeed changed from my youth in the 1960s. War has come to America. It is a war of attrition; a long, slow, and painful destruction of America as a free and liberty minded republic.

   As a pastor for 25 years and a Christian for 40 years, I have watched the Church’s response with varying degrees of frustration, shock, and anger. I have experienced all these emotions as I’ve watched the Church withdraw from this war, compromise its very identity, and slide into the rotten cesspool of apostasy, thinking that its appeasement toward evil will somehow enable it to survive. It simply does not know that God has written Ichabod over it.

   Here is reality – you cannot withdraw from evil thinking you will be spared. It will come for you eventually.

   You cannot compromise with evil. Evil has no honor and will never abide by any conditions that place you beyond its reach.

   You cannot appease evil. Appeasement only emboldens evil and reveals the cowardice in you.

   What those of us who are called, anointed, and equipped to be watchmen have seen unfold in America, is nothing less than the intentional war launched against the Church. The results have been devastating.

   A dumbing down of faith over the last several decades has served to disconnect Christians from their heritage and mission.

   Our heritage as a nation, our prosperity, and our abundance, is a direct result of the Christian faith applied in every context of life – individually, collectively within local communities, and civically as we answer the call to direct the moral underpinnings that are responsible for a free people to flourish.

   The Christian faith rightly practiced is salt and light that confronts and withstands evil.

  Genesis 3:15 reminds us that God promised to defeat evil. John 3:16 is an announcement of that victory by the One who would secure it by His own sacrifice. John 19:30 proclaims that victory over evil is completed, and 1 John 3:8 tells us that Jesus’ mission, the reason for His incursion into time and space was to destroy the works of the devil. That mission has been accomplished in an eternal sense.

   What, then, is left for Christians to do? Certainly we are to live and practice our faith from a position of ultimate victory secured by Jesus. But, what does that look like? It looks like this:

• Identifying evil

• Confronting evil

• Destroying the foundations of evil so that the symptoms of evil can be healed in people’s lives

Jesus secured victory for the creation. It is available to all by faith. However, it is to our account to vanquish evil in our day.

   A church that has been mesmerized into believing that it can simply ride out the storms until better days appear is not equipped to identify, confront, and destroy the roots of evil.

One of the many things that the Church has missed is the reality that America is in the grip of a secular religious insurgency. The battle lines have been clearly identified.

   On one front we see Big Government (federal, state, local, and every affiliated organization and department that derives its power from them), Big Tech, Big Media, Big Pharma, and the spirit of antichrist animating the deceived masses as well as the apostate “church.”

   On the other front, seemingly vastly outnumbered, we see the remnant ecclesia, the rag-tag assortment of what appears to the enemy as ill-equipped, gun-toting, Bible-carrying, rednecks and assorted deplorables.

   Make no mistake about this battle however. The war has been fought and won already. The dark secret the enemies of God do not want the world to know is this — they are defeated before they lift their arm to fight.

   The world and all that is in it is not the prize the remnant fights for. The prize we fight for is the souls of men. I call your attention to Matthew 12:22-29. This is what we read in that passage.

   “Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw. All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, ‘This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?’   But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.’

   “And knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, ‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.  If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? If I, by Beelzebul, cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.’”

   What revolution must the remnant lead?  We must lead the revolution of ministry to the perishing, to the broken, to the hopeless, to everyone we meet and all of this happens in the streets of our cities.

   I have made the following statement so many times in the last two years that some people may think I sound like a broken record. That statement is: There is no political solution to the problems we face in America IF God is not in it.

   Simply stated, God must lead His body, the remnant, the ecclesia into the battles He desires we engage in. One thing I know for sure is this – when we submit ourselves to His leading He will bring ministry to us. We won’t have to search very hard.

   John 15:1-6 gives us the correct context to see our days through. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”

   What is the fruit we are called to bear for the honor and glory of our Lord Jesus? It was prophesied of Jesus in Isaiah 61 and fulfilled by Jesus’ own words in Luke 4.  “And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, ‘THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.’

   “And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’” 

   In this passage we find one of the major focuses of Jesus’ ministry. It is difficult to understand how it is missed. Perhaps ignored would be a better word to use.

   What does it mean to “proclaim release to the captives” and “to set free those who are oppressed?” Are we to understand these statements only within the context of setting people free from sin through the Gospel proclamation? Or, setting people free from economic systems that impoverish them? I believe there is a lot more being said here than most Christians understand.

Did you know that…?

• 7 out of 28 chapters in Matthew’s Gospel have some reference to demonic activity.

• 7 out of 16 chapters in Mark’s Gospel have some reference to demonic activity.

• 8 out of 24 chapters in Luke have some reference to demonic activity.

   This means that nearly one-third of the Gospels that give us information on Jesus’ ministry have to do with demonic activity. In Matthew 10:1-8 we read a common emphasis for Jesus.

   “Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him. These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: ‘Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.’” 

   Why am I raising this issue? I am raising this issue because the world is being overrun by demonic oppression, possession, and influence. This is the iniquity force (to borrow a phrase from Dr. Michael Lake) behind every government overreach, every tyrannical bent, and every activity secret or visible that seeks to enslave mankind. The only freedom available for them is through the truth of who Jesus Christ is, and then utilizing the power and authority of Jesus to set people free. That being the case, where are the Christians taking to the streets?

   As Christ’s sons and daughters, we have His power and authority, delegated to us, living within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. John 20:22 says that Jesus “breathed on them (His disciples) and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit.”

   Our great commission in Matthew 28:18-20 informs us that we will be successful in making disciples when we make the effort because Jesus’ power and authority is ours for this work.  “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”

   Paul made this astounding statement to the Ephesian believers (1:18-23) — “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

   James, the half-brother of Jesus reminds us to be “doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (1:22).

   So, proclaiming release to the captives and freedom to the oppressed will require that we change the way we “do” church. Christianity has become ingrown and anemic. Serving God has been reduced by millions of Christians to attending a church service once a week. How tragic that the very people God is trusting to turn the world upside down for Christ are not even turning the pages of the Bibles with any regularity.

   My argument today is that our evangelism efforts today must include the ministry of deliverance. Now, don’t roll your eyes or groan under your breath. I have had, in the past, the same hesitation and in some instances rejection of many deliverance ministries and ministers. The reason is that some deliverance ministries and ministers are better suited to a stage show in Las Vegas. They offer pure entertainment.

   True deliverance ministry is rooted squarely in the ministry of Jesus. Listen to these passages of Scripture and judge for yourself if we should be elevating the ministry of setting people from demonic bondage in the ecclesia today. Mark 1:14-42 says this: “Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’ As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him. They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, ‘What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are — the Holy One of God!’ And Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet, and come out of him!’ Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.’ Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee. And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them. When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, ‘Everyone is looking for You.’ He said to them, ‘Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.’ And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons. And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, ‘If You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’  Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.” 

   What do we see in this passage? The first thing we see is Jesus recruiting the disciples. He introduces them to the first principle of ministry – evangelism – in verse 17 which says, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.”

   So, the commission is established – lead people to saving faith. Take note of the fact that Jesus went right to the religious people – the ones who thought they were living for God – these were those who attended synagogue.

   As Jesus begins to teach the Word of God an unclean spirit manifests in the synagogue. I do not know, because the text does not tell us, but my belief is that the man inhabited by this unclean spirit was well known and respected in the religious community.

   What was Jesus’ response? Did He ignore the unclean spirit and try to finish His sermon? Did He call for the ushers to remove the man as quietly as possible? Jesus did not do either of those things. He addressed the unclean spirit directly and said, “Be quiet and come out of him.”

   The gathering at the synagogue was amazed because they had never heard such teaching with authority and had never witnessed the submission of unclean spirits to a rabbi.

   What happened next? Jesus and the disciples moved on to Simon Peters home and Jesus healed Peter’s mother in law.

   On that same day, that very evening the people of Capernaum began to bring to Jesus people who were sick and demon-possessed and Jesus healed them all.

   The next day when the disciples awoke Jesus was already gone. He had left earlier to pray. When the disciples found Jesus He told them that He wanted to go to towns around Capernaum and throughout Galilee to preach and in verse 39, to cast out demons.

   Finally, in verse 40-42 we read an account of Jesus healing a leper. Did you count the number of times casting out demons and healing the sick and diseased was mentioned? Do you understand that this was the first disciples’ initiation into the Gospel ministry Jesus called them to? Clearly, being fishers of men involves these things.

   Here is what I have learned in 38 years of following Jesus and asking Him to use me – There are seasons of life and new assignments to meet the challenges of those seasons. I also know that where Jesus guides, He provides all that is needed to successfully fulfill the assignment He gives me.

   Why doesn’t the Church see this great need? Do Christians really believe that people are just evil in and of themselves? Do we not understand that just as in the days of Noah when the demonic powers overwhelmed the people, so it is in our day.

   The demonic forces are ravaging the planet. They are empowering the big tech companies, the big pharma companies, the leaders of governments, and the various global organizations whose sole purpose seems to be to lead us into a global slavery where we are merely cattle on their farm, useful for food but absent that, useful for nothing and dispensable. 

   In most cases today, the people I meet are in bondage to a wide-range of strongholds. Whether it is substance abuse, pornography, homosexuality, transgenderism, witchcraft, occultism, Satanism, or bondages of the mind and emotions, you can be assured there is a high probability that there is an unclean, or familiar, or demonic spirit behind the brokenness and slavery.

   Last month, North Carolina’s Democrat Governor Roy Cooper demanded Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s resignation after a video surfaced with Robinson saying, “There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality - any of that filth. And yes, I called it filth. And if you don’t like it that I called it filth, come see me and I’ll explain it to you. It’s time for us to stop letting these children be abused in schools, and it’s not going to happen ‘til the people of God stand up and demand [something] different, the same ones that established those schools to begin with.”

   Here is a fact of life that even some Christians cannot understand. If we remain silent, evil wins the day. If we cower in fear evil will take every last freedom that we have as Americans. If we will demonstrate faith, and stand up and speak out against the evil all around us, then politicians like North Carolina’s Lt. Governor Mark Robinson will be encouraged to keep speaking the truth and fight the battles that he can within the political arena. If Christians will tell politicians like North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper that he holds a viewpoint we do not support, then he will think twice before jumping into the fray. People who support sexual deviancy in any form are in bondage to the unclean spirits of sexual perversion and confusion.

   So, a large part of the ministry of evangelism in our day is first identifying the bondage that people are in – the strongman Jesus spoke of in Matthew 12 – and then breaking that bondage so that the Gospel can change the heart and bring redemption.

   That means Christians are going to have to begin to educate themselves in the art of verbal defense. Another name for that is apologetics. I have reminded people often that apologetics is simply removing every obstacle so that the person or people you are discipling and witnessing to can see the cross of Jesus Christ.

   We are to be able to answer the objections that people make toward the faith, we are to utilize rational and logical arguments to tear down the speculations that the wicked believe they can hide behind, and expose them to the reality of who Jesus Christ is.

   And evangelism must also include discipleship. Fishers of men understand that reaching people for Jesus means walking with them through the mud and the muck to get them freed from their chains and able to receive the truth of the Gospel. Jesus was criticized for eating with sinners but He knew exactly what He was doing. He was not condoning but neither was He condemning.

   My personality has made it easy for me in the past to be a modern day Jonathan Edwards preaching sinners in the hands of an angry God. It is easy to tell people to turn or burn, to straighten up or they’ll bust hell’s gates wide open.  What is much more difficult is to exercise patience, to allow the Holy Spirit to give you divine eyesight to see people as God sees them. 

   Doing ministry in the context I am describing requires prayer and fasting, and then observation of people to identify their bondages. That must be followed up with questions aimed at understanding peoples’  past and identifying what might be responsible for delivering them to the place they find themselves today.  Fishers of men must be good counselors or have those resources available, as well as connected ministries and organizations that can enable men and women set free from their sin and the sources of their sin to reestablish their lives. Being fishers of men takes a multi-level, multi-task effort.

   We have to bear in mind friends, that Satan has blinded the minds of people so that they cannot see. We must take the time to help them see. Satan’s kingdom is the true and original “Matrix.” It is darkness and deception and most that are in that kingdom do not know it.

   I close with this word from Matthew 18:19 and encourage you to practice it always. The verse says: “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.”

   The devil will fight to keep us from agreement just as much as he will fight us to keep us from uniting with one another. We must not let the devil win. The souls of people are in the balance.

   You may support The Transforming Word Ministry by sending your gifts to:
Dr. Mike Spaulding
P. O. Box 3007
Lima, OH 45807

Learn how to email this article to others