Sunday, March 30, 2014

Casting Out Demons

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Saturday, March 29, 2014:  Luke 8:22-39

26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs.  Luke 8:26-27 (NKJV)

The Need of Our Day

Casting out demons is one of the most dramatic aspects of Jesus' ministry.  It is also one of the most controversial.  Doubters relegate it to the realm of myth citing psychology and antiquated culture.  Even believers wonder why demon activity is rarely seen or addressed in the church today at the level of the New Testament.  When it is addressed, the surroundings seem far from the objective glare of public accountability.  It tends toward the hidden weirdness of backstreet hucksters.  "Come out, foul demon of nicotine!"

We look for a modern equivalent of the ministry we see in Jesus and the apostles.  I believe a public demonstration of validated deliverance ministry lies ahead .  And when it hits, it will be as dramatic as it was in the days of Jesus.

Jesus' Most Powerful Deliverance Story

One story stands out from all the rest in terms of the power of Jesus' ability to deliver men from the grip of Satan.  It is the Gadarene demoniac.  After enduring a life-threatening sea-voyage, Jesus and the twelve arrive on the east shore of the Sea of Galilee. Out of a graveyard runs a naked crazy man shouting at Jesus. The ensuing power encounter verges on the bizarre.  It includes a relatively lengthy conversation with a demon who gives his name and negotiates an exit strategy into a herd of pigs.  It is one of the most dramatic "before-and-after" stories in Jesus' ministry. The crazy man is set free from demonic bondage and we find him "sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind." (Luke 8:35)

You would think such a miracle would sky-rocket Jesus' popularity.  Instead, He is feared and ostracized to the point that residents of the region demand He leave their country.

Some Observations...

This incredible story deserves careful analysis, but space only allows a few observations here:

1.  Demons are real.

This should not seem strange or wacked-out.  It is not only a biblical reality, it is a spiritual force that confronts each of us regularly.

2.  Demonic activity, at times, concentrates and intensifies in certain individuals.  

Satan does not play fair.  This unnamed man was the object of almost unbelievable personal attack.  The lead-demon's name was Legion (we never learn the name of the man).  Most commentators agree the name Legion indicates a Roman military legion which numbers between 2 and 6 thousand!  Since the pig herd was "about two thousand" (Mk. 5:13), it is safe to assume this poor man was inhabited by multiple thousands of demonic beings!

Why does one human being become the magnet for massive attack, while others seem unaffected?  We have no simple answer, but we must acknowledge the reality.

3.  Satan's objective is human destruction.

Just look at the condition of this man.  It had been "a long time" since he had put on any clothes. Nakedness is always associated with shame.  Since Eden, human beings have felt the need to cover themselves (Gen. 3:7).  Nakedness also speaks of sexual sin which is always the result of unbridled lewdness.

This man lived in a graveyard.  He was more at home among the dead than the living.  He cut himself with sharp objects and lived in constant torment.  Not natural restraints (chains) could hold him.

He is a description to us of what Satan wants -- death, misery, and pain upon all those who bear the image of God.

4.  Deliverance always has an environment.

We cannot here answer all the questions about the pig herd and why Jesus negotiated with the demons.  We can however say that the deliverance of this one man was somehow associated with an entire region.

When one man or woman gets truly set free, it can change a city.  When a husband or father finds liberation in Christ, his entire family will feel the reverberations.  When anyone breaks rank with the kingdom of darkness, the shock waves can rumble through the neighborhood with surprising results.

We Win!

One last point, Jesus never ran after demons.  He simply went about His duties of serving the Father, and demons cried out in His presence.  We do not need to become demon hunters.  But, we must be ready for their reality -- and not surprised when they show up.  This is not fascinating stuff -- it is warfare stuff -- and we win!

In Jesus' name, all demonic activity must cease and desist -- even the most dramatic.  It must go.  This is the authority of the Name of Jesus, and it has been given to us, the church of the living God.

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