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Rodman Williams: The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today: Purpose, Part 2

41The emphasis upon “inner healing” is also to be noted in the spiritual renewal. See, e.g., Agnes Sanford’s The Healing of the Spirit (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1966), Michael Scanlan’s Inner Healing (New York: Paulist Press, 1974) and Ruth Carter Stapleton’s The Gift of Inner Healing (Waco: Word Books, 1976).

42 Matthew8:16. See above.

43 Literally, “a spirit of a python,” or a “python spirit” (pneuma puthōna). “Python” was the name of the Pythian serpent or dragon who was said to guard the Delphic oracle. Thus “a spirit of divination” has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit, but stems from evil.

44 didachē kainē kat’ exousian.

45 The language varies: “spirit,” “unclean spirit,” “evil spirit,” “demon” and “spirit of an unclean demon” (Luke 4:33). A person with such a spirit is frequently described as “demon possessed” Mark 1:32), or as a “demoniac” (Mark 5:15)—literally, “demonized” (daimonistheis),that is to say, “under the power of a demon.”

46 For example, there is the case of the Gadarene demoniac who could not be bound with chains, constantly committing acts of self-violence: “Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out, and bruising himself with stones” (Mark 5:5).

47 Mark 1:24. See comparable words of the Gadarene demoniac to Jesus in Mark 5:7: “I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”

48 In the event of the deliverance of the epileptic boy in Mark 9, after Jesus commands, “Come out of him and never enter him again,” the text continues: “And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said ‘He is dead.’” However, “Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up and he arose” (vv. 25-27).

49 The name of Jesus, however, is not some magical power that may be conjured up by anyone to bring about a deliverance. The later account in Acts (19:13-16) of the “itinerant Jewish exorcists” who “undertook to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits” is a vivid case in point. They tried to do this by saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” The evil spirit, unaffected, answers, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Rather than exorcism “the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” Conjuring up Jesus’ name is ineffective, even dangerous, if not done by one who is truly ministering in Jesus’ name.

50 E.g., Luke 9:1-2: “And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority [dunamin kai exousian]over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God. …” (Note, incidentally, the threefold ministry of preaching, deliverance and healing.) But it is not just the twelve who have such author­ity, for later Jesus sends out an additional seventy who return “with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ “ (Luke 10:1-17). It is important to recognize that such authority in Jesus’ day was not limited to the circle of apostles, nor is it limited to any particular “official” persons since that time. Recall Mark 16:17: “And these signs will accompany those who believe [hence, all believers]: in my name they will cast out demons. …”

51 Of course, the condition of every person outside Christ is sin; thus forgiveness is always needed. The point here, however, is that a person may be so inwardly dominated by evil that unless this is broken he is in no condition to hear the word of forgiveness (and reconciliation). It is by Christ that both occur: deliverance from the domination of Satan and forgiveness of sins. The commission to Paul, by the risen Christ, was to go to Jew and Gentile alike: “to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:18). Turning from the power of Satan to God, therefore, may be essential background for receiving forgiveness of sins.

52 For example, compare the slave girl’s situation, which exhibited no obvious disturb­ance, with that of the demoniac at Gadara who was patently in a condition of continual misery.

53 From what has been said, the most evident marks are the sensitivity of a possessed person to the presence of holiness and his feeling at the same time tormented by that presence.

54 In the spiritual renewal mention should be made of Michael Harper’s Spiritual Warfare (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1970) and Don Basham’s Deliver Us From Evil (Washington Depot, CT: Chosen Books, 1972). There has been some extrem­ism in certain sectors of the renewal with the holding of mass deliverance sessions for Christians and non-Christians alike, and an exaggerated viewing of almost every vice as demonic and therefore needing deliverance (for an effective counter­balance, see The Dilemma: Deliverance or Discipline? by W. Robert McAlister [Plainfield, NJ: Logos, 1976]). However, the importance, even urgency, of deliverance in many situations has come to be acutely recognized, and is being carried out.

55 Paul’s response at Philippi to the slave girl’s words, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation,” is a good illustration of spiritual discernment. Outwardly such words might have seemed to be a confession of faith that would have pleased Paul; however, he recognized in them a “spirit of divination” that was not of God but from evil. Hence, rather than being deluded by her words, or even proclaiming the word of salvation, he casts out the demonic spirit. Later in the same day Paul, along with Silas, is thrown into jail, and thereafter speaks to the Philippian jailer the good news of salvation, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved …” (Acts 16:31). There is no casting out of an evil spirit, for Paul dis­cerned there was none such present. Rather does he lead the jailer directly to faith in Christ. Thus, through spiritual discernment, Paul acts differently in the two situations.
Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptural quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today: Reception (Chapter 5)


The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today by J. Rodman Williams, was published in 1980 by Logos International. Used by permission of the author. Reprinted in Pneuma Review with minor updates from the author.

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2003

About the Author: J. Rodman Williams (1918-2008), Ph.D., is considered to be the father of renewal theology. He served as a chaplain in the Second World War, he was a church pastor, college professor, and key figure in the charismatic movement of the 1960s. Beginning in 1982, he taught theology at Regent University School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and became Professor of Renewal Theology Emeritus there in 2002. Author of numerous books, he is perhaps best known for his three volume Renewal Theology (Zondervan, 1996).

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