The following is an excerpt from Setting Captives Free that explains the connection between healing and deliverance and gives biblical examples of evil spirits causing sickness.
When we read the New Testament accounts, we can see that physical healing and deliverance from demons are very closely related. Though there is a distinction between these two ministries, there is also much overlap. Healing ministry primarily refers to the restoration of the physical body back to health by the power of the Holy Spirit. Deliverance refers to casting out evil spirits to free people from various types of demonic influence. But as we will see below, these two ministries go hand-in-hand.
Consider the following examples from the Gospel of Luke:
When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many… (Luke 4:40-41)
And a great multitude of people…who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all. (Luke 6:17-19)
And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. (Luke 7:21)
And certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons. (Luke 8:2)
There are many other biblical examples that could be given, but the examples above provide clear evidence of the relationship between healing and deliverance. Healing of sickness and deliverance from demons are mentioned in the same breath. These ministries are meant to go together and often intersect. In the ministry of Jesus, healing and deliverance were the two most common supernatural signs. They were a demonstration of the message that Jesus preached: the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. As the Kingdom of God advanced, healing the sick and casting out demons were byproducts.
Sometimes Jesus healed people by laying hands on them or speaking a word of command to them. Other times, healing was a direct result of a demon being cast out. The New Testament is clear that evil spirits can cause sickness. On the flip side, I have seen that sometimes a traumatic or prolonged physical sickness can be a door opener for evil spirits to gain entrance. You never know when healing will turn into deliverance or deliverance into healing. This means that if we want to grow in healing ministry, we should also be familiar with deliverance. And if we want to grow in deliverance, we should also be growing in healing. Though they are distinct and can be done independently of each other, they are so closely related that we should not completely isolate them from one another.
I remember the first time I experienced the clear connection between healing and deliverance many years ago. I was praying for a young lady who was having neck pain. I prayed over her for healing, but nothing happened. The following week, she asked for prayer to receive deliverance. She was aware that there were demonic spirits tormenting her and pressuring her toward sin. Another woman and I prayed over her, and several demons manifested and were cast out. Interestingly, the pain in her neck was totally healed, even though we had not addressed it specifically. Evidently, it had been caused by an evil spirit, and once the spirit was cast out the pain was gone.
Just as emotional healing and deliverance are closely linked, so are physical healing and deliverance. And through the cross, Jesus has paid the price for our healing and wholeness in every area.
In the previous several chapters we looked at how evil spirits can cause bondage, oppression, and torment. But another characteristic activity of demons is to afflict people with sickness and disease. Surely, many medical doctors today would laugh at the notion that evil spirits are the cause of a physical ailment or a mental disorder. But it is satan who is laughing while he goes unnoticed bringing torment and sickness to people. The Bible is our source of truth. Even if many doctors, psychologists, scientists, and even pastors scoff at the idea of evil spirits causing sickness, we must examine the Scriptures to see what they teach in this area. Though there have been great medical and scientific advances, if we see sickness only from a natural standpoint, we will often miss the root cause of the problem.
One of the primary examples of an evil spirit being the root of a physical affliction comes from Luke chapter 13:
Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.” The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him. (Luke 13:10-17)
The woman in the synagogue was crippled in her spine, having a condition that today would probably be diagnosed as a severe form of scoliosis. But the cause of this problem is clearly stated: a spirit of infirmity. Her physical condition had a spiritual root. Jesus spoke a word of healing to her and then laid His hands on her. The woman was healed immediately. Notice that when the ruler of the synagogue complained about this healing happening on the Sabbath, Jesus referred to the woman as a daughter of Abraham whom satan had kept bound. She had not merely been dealing with a physical ailment; she had been in captivity to the evil one.
The New Testament has other relevant examples as well. Matthew 9:32-33 reads: “As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a man, mute and demon-possessed. And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke.” Here we have a man who was mute, and the clear cause of the condition was a demon. Jesus later healed a man who was both blind and mute by casting out a demon (see Matthew 12:22). In Matthew 17 Jesus healed a young boy who suffered from epileptic seizures. Verse 18 states, “And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.” The source of the boy’s sickness was an evil spirit that needed to be cast out in order for him to be healed.
Just like in the New Testament, I have personally seen various types of physical afflictions healed through the casting out of demons. Not all sickness, disease, or pain is caused by a demon. There can be natural causes and various factors involved. But I believe it is much more common than we often realize for evil spirits to be the source of an affliction. We must not allow modern cultural influences to cloud out the clear biblical truth in this area. Let’s ask for greater discernment to recognize when a spirit of infirmity is at work, and a greater anointing to heal the afflicted.
Setting Captives Free is filled with biblical teaching on the topic of demons and deliverance, powerful testimonies of those who have been set free, and practical prayers that you can use for yourself or others in need of deliverance. Make sure to get your copy!