It is daily popularized in most of the Christian television channels. It proliferates profusely in many Christian radio programs. It is prevalent in a lot of open-air crusades, but this is only a scrap of the vast depth and breadth of the “Saved but not Delivered” phenomena. You will find it everywhere: “Deliverance” moments and testimonies in worship services, “deliverance” books in book shops, “deliverance” rooms in conference meetings, “deliverance” classes and training in YouTube etc. So, the begging question is, is this Biblical? Is it true that one may be saved but not “delivered”? Are there instances in the Bible where people were saved but not yet “delivered”? Do we, ever, see the apostles practicing deliverance?
Explanation of terms and examination of biblical texts
On being saved
Let me start with what it means to be saved. Being saved means that the Lord Jesus has delivered you from man’s greatest problem, which is sin. Sin brought man into a state of guilt, as he falls short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23). To be saved, therefore, means that you have been clothed with Christ’s righteousness (Eph 1:7, Col 1:4; Rom: 3:1-26 & Rom 5:1ff). Friend, it is impossible to be clothed with Christ’s righteousness and yet, not be delivered. How can the Lord take away your guilt and not deliver you?
To be saved is to be released from the slavery market of sin. The Bible describes sin as a bad monster, domineering over all men, all of whom have been brought under its grip and power and are incapable of breaking from it by their own volition (Rom 3:9). In Rom 6:17-18, Apostle Paul praises God for the believers in the Roman church - that they were, ‘formally, servants of sin but God set them free and now they are servants of righteousness.’ Paul is thanking God because He has done to them that which they could not do by their own power. God rescued them from sin.
Before salvation, we were separated from God because of our sin. Sin alienated us from God. In fact, the Bible puts it strongly that before salvation, we were God’s enemies (Isaiah 59:2, Eph 2:12, Rom 5:10). However, when we are saved, the opposite happens. Instead of separation, we are now reconciled with God. In other words, we now have fellowship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 2:13). We are now at peace with God (Rom 5:1-2). Can you, then, say to such a person who has been reconciled to God, having peace with God and enjoying fellowship with God that he or she is at the same time not delivered?Before salvation, we were all under the wrath of God (Rom 1:8ff, Eph 2:13) but when we are saved, we are now under the love of God (Rom 5:5). We are not under condemnation (Rom 8:1, Jn 3:18).
A saved person is referred to as, born again. This means that he or she is a new creation. God the Holy Spirit has made him or her a new creation (1 Cor 5:17). The Holy Spirit brings a great change in the life and the heart of a saved person. The heart of stone is removed and a heart of flesh given (Eze 36:22-28). The Bible refers to regeneration as quickening of the dead (Eph 2:1-5). Before salvation, we have no life in us but when we are regenerated by God the Holy Spirit, then, we have life. To be saved means that the Holy Spirit has opened your heart as He did the heart of Lydia (Acts 16:14-15). You now have power to live in a new way.
Read Titus 3:3-6 and see the great change that occurs in the life of a believer as a result of being born again. It is a lie to say that one can be saved and not yet having the power to be delivered from a life of sin. This passage describes a believer in Christ Jesus. Those who have been regenerated by God the Holy Spirit are adopted into God’s family (Jn 1:12,13). They are begotten of the Father (1 Pet. 1:3, 1 Jn 3:1-3). The Father has bestowed a great privilege to believers.
Dear friend I contend that, you cannot be adopted into God’s family and at the same time, not be delivered from being controlled by sin. The doctrine of “saved and not delivered” is unbiblical. It contradicts God’s word and we need to shun it. You cannot be a child of God and of Satan at the same time.
About being “Delivered”
“Deliverance” as practiced today is a charismatic ministry concerned with offering assistance to Christians to ostensibly release them from what is known as demonic possessions. To those who hold such beliefs, getting saved is just one step of the journey of faith; step two is deliverance, without which salvation appears incomplete. To this belief system, though sin is forgiven at the point of conversion, the power of sin remains essentially unbroken: remaining sin or any form of besetting sin is viewed as being caused by the control of a demon or spirit. In such cases, there will be a spirit of sexual immorality or a spirit of anger, a demon of alcoholism or lies.
In this belief system, extreme difficulties of life are viewed as instigated and controlled by the devil. In that regard, there’s a “spirit of poverty” (where one lives in total want of material goods), a “demon of stagnation” (where one is not expanding his business nor getting promotion at work); a “spirit of rejection” (where one is not getting a job or getting married on time). They also view all forms of sickness or deaths as demonic where they talk of the spirit of cancer, premature death, the spirit of road accidents or the demon of suicide. All these ‘demons’ and ‘spirits’ demand special prayers, superintended by the ‘man of God’ - waging a spiritual warfare, casting out demons and generational curses and bringing “deliverance” to the prayer warrior.
The “deliverance” preachers claim to be dealing with the remaining sin or persistent evils in the life of a Christian. Christians who are taught about the need for “deliverance” or a second experience usually have such questions as, ‘Why am I struggling with anger, bad thoughts or laziness? Am I saved?’ These questions show, clearly, how many have misunderstood the doctrine of progressive sanctification. It is true that we have been saved but, also, it is true that we are continuing to be saved. Sanctification is an ongoing process until we see our Savior face to face. A true believer in Christ Jesus still sins both knowingly and unknowingly. The Bible says that, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn 1:8). In Rom 7:14ff, the apostle talks of the battle within. He is telling us about an experience of a true believer. The Bible does not tell us to go for deliverance classes but rather to put to death the remaining sin, by co-operating with the Holy Spirit who is given to him (Rom 8:12ff, Col 3:5-10).
Now because we are in Christ, the grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness (Titus 2:11-14). We are called upon to fight and battle with sin and put to death the works of the flesh. Believers are called upon to put on the whole armor of God (Eph 6:10ff). The Holy Spirit helps us to progress in sanctification.
The problem with the doctrine of “deliverance” is that it gives an easy yet fruitless way of dealing with sin or evil. We passively submit to “deliverance ministry”, and are then delivered! But friend, there is no easy way. We must pay attention to the means of grace like prayer, fellowship, preaching the word, attending Sunday service etc. Rom 6:11ff says as follows – note how each of these is an instruction to activity, to personal effort and application:
The promise, however, is that sin shall not have dominion over believers. Dear reader, you have a responsibility to fight against sin but you are not left on your own. God the Holy Spirit is helping us. Whereas justification is the beginning of our salvation, in between we have progressive sanctification and the end of it is our glorification. We cannot have our best life now. The best is yet to come.
The Lord Jesus said that in this life we will have many troubles. The saved ones, even though fighting against sin, the world and the devil, are eagerly waiting, expecting and anticipating the return of the Lord Jesus. This excites them in the midst of all trials, that they can say ‘Even so come Lord Jesus.’ (2 Tim 4:7, Phil 3:20-21, 1 Thes 1:9-10). The hope of the Lord’s return revives the hope in us in the midst of trials and difficulties. The saved are prayerfully watchful (Lk 12:35-40). They are described as the ready servants (Mt 24:46). Can such a person be regarded as not delivered? A person who agrees with the hymn writer “Watching and waiting looking above, filled with His goodness lost in His love”?
How about demonic attacks? Some of you will ask this question. Yes, the devil is our enemy and he still attacks and tempts the saints, but he cannot indwell a believer (1 Jn 4:4). He cannot control him – he no longer has that power. There are two extremes we must guard against concerning Satan:
Here are what some passages in God’s inspired word tell us about Satan;
In the passages cited above, we see that the devil is our enemy, the Lord Jesus has defeated him on our behalf and we need to actively resist him through faithful, patient obedience (not through the one-off and passive activity of “deliverance ministry”).
Implications for the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ
The doctrine of saved and not delivered undermines the Lord Jesus Christ. The bible reveals to us Christ as the only Savior, the one who is mighty to save and who saves completely. This is why He came into the world: “The Son of man came to save that which was lost.” (Mt 18:11). He came to deliver lost sinners; why then do you say that one can be saved and not delivered (Lk 19:10).
The Lord Jesus came to ransom many “for even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45). You need to be asking yourself if you are a true believer in Christ that is it possible a true believer in Christ that is it possible for Christ to ransom me (1Tim 2:6) and I still remain in bondage, under sin’s daily power? Is it possible that He purchased you by His precious blood but you’re still on sale in the slavery market of sin, compelled to obey another master? When the children of Israel were ransomed from the Egyptian captivity, did they remain in Egypt, and have no choice but to use their strength to make Pharaoh’s bricks?
The name “Jesus” means “Savior” and the promise was that He will save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21). The promise here is not that He will make salvation possible or to save half way for preachers to complete the work but that He shall save entirely, completely and adequately. Apostle Paul under inspiration put it like this, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim 1:15). Again and again, you are seeing that man’s greatest problem is the problem of sin and that our greatest deliverer is none other than the Lord Jesus. Why did the Lord Jesus give Himself willingly? “For He gave Himself for our sins, that He delivered us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” (Gal 1:4). Dear friends, the death of our Savior was to make us right with God, bring us into a daily walk of fellowship with Him. Read (Titus 2:14). The Lord Jesus is Mighty to save (Heb 7:25). The intercession of the Lord Jesus at God’s right hand means that, “He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him”:
Apostle Paul, before salvation, trusted these things; and even though they were great obstacles, they did not stop the Lord from saving him. He trusted (Phil 3):
But my dear, the saving grace of our Savior overcame all these prejudices. Indeed, He is able to save to the uttermost, such that nothing is left for these false deliverance preachers to deliver from. Even persecution could not stop the Lord from saving the Thessalonians, “They received the word in much afflictions” (1 Thess 1:6).
The Lord Jesus has delivered us from all these obstacles and I am contending the He will not allow you to be tempted beyond your bearing (1 Cor 10:13). He is able to save from the lowest moral condition, situation and decay – not only the guilt, but also the power. His greatest work is to take away sin (Jn 1:29). He is able to take away both original sin and actual sin. Original sin simply means that we are born sinners. In other words, when Adam fell into sin as our head, we fell with him. Actual sin means that we ourselves have broken God’s law. Look at the kind of people He offered His mercy, grace and love.
He calls those who labor and heavy laden (Mt 11:26). He calls those who thirst (Rev 22:7). Those with great and heavy guilt. This is what He says to them: “Though your sins be red as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” (Isa 1:18).
The following passages show the kind of people that the Lord saved and they became part of the church, with their lives being changed:
Dear reader, with all that Christ has done, it is evident that there is no need for a new event of deliverance. Christ completed it once and for all! Our task is to walk in the Holy Spirit day by day to work this salvation out (Philippians 2:12-13).
The Lord is not limited in saving. He is able to meet all believers’ needs spiritually speaking. Edgar Andrews quoting Lanes put it like this, “Christ saves, finally, completely, perfectly and utterly.” There is no partial salvation as many people today are teaching or preaching. No place for the “man of God” to make himself necessary, and insert himself into the work which has begun. There is no temporal salvation.
Dear friend, it is wrong to teach or believe that you are saved but not delivered yet the Lord Jesus has satisfied God’s justice on your behalf, and earned the right to give you the Holy Spirit directly, with no other man as his agent. Charles Wesley got it right when he sung, “No condemnation now I dread, Jesus and all in Him is mine. Alive in Him my living Head and clothed in righteousness Divine.” To be saved means to be delivered from spiritual death and everlasting death. Read Eph 2:1, Rom 6:23, Jn 3:16, Jn 10:28-30, 1 Pet 5:10, 1 Jn 5:11 and Jn 17:3. Do these passages describe a person who is saved but not delivered? The answer is No! Once you are in Christ you have passed from death to life. You have been delivered from the power of darkness and have been translated into the kingdom of His dear Son (Col 1:13).
‘Saved but not yet delivered’ is a false teaching! You are, either, saved and living with a new power inside you or not; you cannot be saved and not delivered from the domination of sin. If, indeed, you are a true believer, I appeal to you to run away from such teachings, including churches that perpetrate such teachings. The Bible tells us to put on the whole armor of God and to fight against sin; not to run around to some men to deliver us with a power that they control, if indeed we are true believers. As a believer in Christ, you do not need to scream, sweat or froth from the mouth in order to be delivered. You need not fall backwards, or prostrate on the ground, in order to be delivered from the greatest danger – eternal damnation and spiritual death. The Biblical description of a saved person clearly shows that you cannot be saved and yet not be delivered at the same time. “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (Jn 1:13, James 1:18, 1 Jn 3:9).
For fellow pastors who teach this doctrine, kindly note that the Biblical stand is that, once a person is saved, they are therefore reconciled to God, and have direct access to God themselves, as kings and priests (Rev 1:6). I, therefore, appeal to you to stop and start teaching the truth afresh. All the more, “deliverance” classes and centers should be closed down because they confuse Christians and create a lack of assurance in the lives of those that are true believers whilst giving false hope to non-believers. My prayer is that you will diligently and prayerfully study this subject afresh.
For further reading, I recommend these books that deal with the subject: