The Meaning of Deliverance
by Aqueena Smith, MA, LPC, R-DMT Refuge Ministry, Chicago IL
Lately, there has been a lot of discussion about a man who claimed that he had been delivered from homosexuality. On a video that went viral, he emphatically stated, “I am not gay no more! I am delivered. I don’t like men no more. I like women! I won’t wear purses or put on make-up!” His claims have been met with much skepticism about the reality of his circumstances. Others believe that his proclamation is a scam. However, the concept and meaning of deliverance is worth discussing.
I grew up in a church tradition where deliverance was understood in two ways: no more demonic possession/oppression and the absence of a prevalent sin issue. I recall witnessing people being delivered from the demonic through loud screeches and intense crying spells. It was believed that they had demonic spirits keeping them in lust and promiscuity. This was frightening to me as a young girl. I was both intrigued by the intensity of the prayer sessions but also apprehensive of being yelled at as if I needed something cast out of me.
As I continued to grow in my faith, the Lord began to give me a more accurate revelation of what deliverance is all about. Yes, it can be about the removing of demonic influences, but it is so much deeper. In the video, the man expressed his own idea of what he believed deliverance was, and it was lacking. He only expressed the outward differences/changes he would make such as: different clothing, the shifting of his voice inflections, the ridding himself of “gay” apparel such as make-up and purses, as well as dating women. As believers, we all know that these outward expressions are not really true evidence of a changed heart. Heart change that is biblical in nature has to do with “…the renewing of the mind” as Romans 12:1-2 states, which takes time. I am not denying the validity for some people in regards to dress, however, that could become a stumbling block to others who may have a more gradual walk with Christ in the area of leaving homosexual behavior. All in all, the Lord is truly after our hearts.
Since I was 16 years old, I have had deep connections and friendships with four women that have lived as gay women and no longer experience same-gender attractions. Two of them would say that their longings and desires were diminished and ceased at the point of their conversion to faith in Christ. The others went through a process of healing emotional wounds and being connected with women in a pure way. They all would say that they are no longer attracted to women in a sexually enmeshed way. However, for me and others like me, this is not our story. At times we have attractions, and other times we don’t. We have been able by the grace of God to get our emotional needs met in healthy ways by spending time with the Lord, spending time with friends that know and love us, and by doing things we enjoy. The presence of attractions or the lack of them does not equal deliverance. It’s about how one handles themselves in the midst of temptation.
D. L. Foster, president of Overcomers Network stated,“Deliverance is not defined as the eradication of struggle nor is it the absence of conflict. It is the freedom to live, to dream and hope again as a new creation with a new life in Christ.”if the video of the man proclaiming that he was delivered was an expression of finding hope again in Christ? What if he was saying that no matter what, his hope will be in the Lord to help him be with a woman in the future, to dress in a way that does not attract other men to himself, and to leave his old behaviors behind? Of course, his story might be different from the stories of many that I know who were living in the sin of homosexuality. But similarly, he may have to endure some future falls, receive some emotional healing for unmet needs in his life, experience loneliness, and not quite feel like he is totally received in the church. But, if he perseveres, he may find supportive godly men who will walk with him, a support group, and a deepened walk with the Lord. He may still have attractions to the same gender but he probably won’t carry any shame of it because he understands Christ finished work on the cross and His forgiveness. Only God knows his journey.
So, in my mind,to do with a present and positional reality before Christ and a daily encounter as we walk with Him. All believers have been delivered from hell to a seat in heaven. Not to say that we will never be tempted by sins deceitfulness; but we have an Advocate that helps us in our weaknesses.
Jaye Thomas, worship leader at International House of Prayer-KC (IHOP) said it well in the following statement on the topic: “…The real definition of deliverance is NOT the absence of a struggle in your life. It is the grace of God (or supernatural power) to control the thing that once had control over you!” This changed everything I ever believed and how I walk it out. GRACE now gives me the option to say ‘no’ to sin and ‘yes’ to righteousness. And righteousness is not an event but a series of small “yes’s” and “no’s”. So when I use the word deliverance now I’m referring to a mindset or understanding about who I am now as a result of the shed blood of Jesus.
The question is: Who are we? Will we be called to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ today from our position of righteousness in Christ? Are we in bondage, or are we the free children of God? Let’s live out our deliverance.