Mark Driscoll and his various churches’ leadership teams hold demon trials, claiming to be able to bind demons and order them around. From this report and some of the comments in response, though, it turns out that it’s the Christians who attend the various Mars Hill churches who are the ones put on trial and ordered around.
I don’t deny the existence of Satan or demons, of course. The Bible states repeatedly that they exist and work harm in the world, even upon Christians. But I do take issue with the practices of Mr. Driscoll and his Mars Hill churches, a practice that is built on doctrine unsupported by the Bible.
It’s in comparing Mr. Driscoll’s practices to Scripture that we see he and his leadership team are making things up as they go along. They promote a false doctrine contradicting what the Bible says about demons and about the power of those who belong to Jesus.
Mars Hill Requires People to Ask God to Forgive Sins He’s Already Forgiven
Let’s start by looking at their faulty teaching on sin. In Step 10 (out of 12) the protocol says:
Often it is best to begin with addressing ancestral sin and address it first because it tends to have the deepest root in someone’s life. The counselee can pray something like, “Lord Jesus, if there are any spirits who have anything to do with me, body, soul, or spirit because of my ancestral sin, I ask that you please forgive this sin and cancel any ground they have held against me.”
One of the problems here is that under the New Covenant we are not beset by ancestral sin. That’s an Old Covenant concept (e.g., Psalm 79:8, Deuteronomy 5:9), but God promised that things would be very different under the New Covenant. (Jeremiah 31:29-30.)
And what do they mean that ancestral sin “tends to have the deepest root in someone’s life” anyway? That sounds like psycho-babble and I didn’t see any solid basis for it – Scriptural or empirical – on the Mars Hill “spiritual warfare” page linked at the top of this post.
Another problem with these trials are that they’re mistakenly premised on unforgiven sin affecting the person’s life. But the Bible tells us that Jesus’ sacrifice has already covered every sin for those who belong to him, and we have been forgiven once for all eternity. (Hebrews 10:10-14.) Contrary to Mars Hill’s weak teaching and practice of forgiveness, here’s how powerful Jesus’ sacrifice really is:
He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15.)
There is no need to seek any more forgiveness for sins past, present or future. They’ve all been left on the cross, contrary to what Mars Hill falsely teaches. (For more on forgiveness see Our Need For Forgiveness – it might be different than you think.)
Taking Down Demon Names – who made that one up?
The protocol then directs the leaders holding this “trial” to identify by name the chief demon in that person’s life so that the leaders can then declare:
… we bind you by that name and upon command you will go to the pit bound by that name with all of your works and effects and all of your associates and their works and effects as well.
This is not how the Bible tells us to deal with demons. We are not instructed to get to know them through some elaborate trial protocols and then order them around. We’re told that Satan himself, the ruler of all demons, will flee at our resistance.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7.)
See how simple that is? We who submit to God – we who belong to Jesus, the perfect submitter to our heavenly Father – cause Satan to run off merely by resisting him.
Merely by resisting him. Why? Because any power he once had over us, according to the Colossians 2 passage above, has been nailed to the cross by the perfect work of Jesus our Savior.
It doesn’t take elaborate trials. It doesn’t take a 12 step protocol for identifying demons by name, binding them up, casting them into pits, and dredging up a person’s ancestral sins (whatever that means).
It takes Jesus, who nailed Satan’s powers to the cross, gives us the ability to resist Satan, and sends him fleeing from us.
Mr. Driscoll’s teachings are just made up nonsense.