We can never be absolutely certain that someone needs deliverance ministry.
St Paul says ‘We live by faith, not by sight’ (2 Corinthians 5:7). He also teaches us that one of the gifts of the spirit is that of ‘distinguishing between spirits’ (1 Corinthians 12:10). In all situations, we act by faith taking account of all the evidence that we can gather. We act reverently, cautiously, but with authority.
We can be certain that people, who seek our help, need to renounce any occult involvement of themselves, their ancestors and any partners. Usually when they are prayed for everything is calm and peaceful. Most such ministry is so quiet, and undemonstrative, that it is quite hard to believe that something useful has happened. The results come later, when the person concerned feels much better and more peaceful. But sometimes they will display some, or in extreme cases, all the four diagnostic symptoms that are clearly displayed in the story of the Gadarene Demoniac (Mark 5:1-20).
This story is unique. The vivid account provided by St Mark (almost certainly based on the preaching of Peter in Rome) provides a number of symptoms in a way which no other New Testament passage does. It is a beautiful story of a powerful deliverance. If we get the diagnosis right, (and it is a big ‘if’) we may be privileged to see similar outcomes.
(1) An attraction and repulsion towards Jesus, holy places, holy things, holy people. People want help but something is trying to prevent them from getting it. They will often be unable to pray through the Lord’s Prayer, especially the words ‘deliver us from evil’. Like a moth drawn towards a light, people are inexorably drawn to Jesus but terrified of his awesome light.
(2) Speaking in a voice that is clearly not their own. This may be in demonic tongue (easily recognisable by its unpleasantness) or a language which is not known to them. To hear this is an unforgettable experience – one which has no reasonable psychological explanation.