Matthew 8:28-34

After the Storm had passed they continued on their journey to the other side. When they arrived two men came out of the tombs which were probably dug out for people to bury their dead. Because of their demon possession, these men were so violent and powerful that no one could even pass by that way because if they did they acted like territorial dogs who would chase them away. According to the account found in the Gospel of Mark, these men could no longer be bound by men or the chains they tried to use to subdue them.

Just like anything else Jesus did, it was no mistake that He landed where He landed. Jesus had been demonstrating His power over the physical with His power to heal, His power over creation when He quieted the storm, and now we will see His power over the spiritual by conquering the demons.

1 John 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

Many people will focus on many aspects of Jesus like His miracles, His love for the unlovely and His rebuke of the religious system of His day. What we have to keep in mind is that Jesus main goal was not all those things but to destroy the corruption that sin had caused in our lives. Of course this was accomplished through the cross over all but demonstrated in part here.

1)   Demonic Activity is Powerful

In North America there has been a  fascination with ghost, spirits and even demonic activity. From television shows and recent movies about the paranormal people have a curiosity about these things. Although some people believe that these things exist most of the time we have written off the spiritual side of life with reason and scientific explanations. The problem in the church is that although we know stories like this one where Jesus cast out demons we do not always relate that back to our everyday living or we think this is from the days of old .We intellectually believe in Satan or some type of evil force but act as if He doesn’t exist.

In C.S. Lewis book “The Screw tape Letters” , a book written about the power of demons working in peoples lives, Screw tape tells his nephew Wormwood that if he gets his human to think he is not there, he can control everything the person does. Many of us have neglected the scriptures that address this issue of spirituality and especially demonic activity in our lives and our families and churches have suffered for it.

“When we talk about demons or evil spirits, we are referring to fallen angels, finite created beings. They were created by God and once served in the very courts of heaven. But because of their rebellion they were cast out of heaven and out of the presence of God. “ Fast Facts on False Teachings, Ron Carlson and Ed Decker, pg. 243)

Mark 5:2-5 And when Jesus[a] had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.

One of the allures of getting involved in paranormal activity or searching for some other source of power to gain control over your life or others. As the passage in Mark shows us there was a price to his power and the price is the destruction of their lives. Just like any area of your life you surrender it may start out as if this is something you can control, but in the end it will eventually destroy you.

A couple of things about Demons according to the Bible

  • Demons are powerful beings (2 Kings 19:35, Psalm 103:20, 2 Peter 2:11)
  • Demons are very intelligent (Ezekiel 28:3-4)
  • Demons are very strong (Mark 5:4, Acts 19:16)
  • Demons have super natural powers to perform false wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9)
  • Demons main purpose is to destroy  God’s creation (Mark 5:3-9;9:18-26; 1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 9:1-19)

Demons know your weaknesses and they will use whatever means possible to destroy your life. The reason for this is because in order to get back at God they destroy His creation. They possess people, just like these men mentioned in this story,  not so they can have bodies but so they can destroy the bodies they inhabit.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

We need to key in on the real battle that is taking place around us starting with our own families. Satan, according to Genesis has been destroying the family since the beginning by destroying Adam and Eve. To ignore all the scriptures that the Bible talks about is a mistake on our part because it allows our enemy to go on undetected.

2)   The Power of Christ is Greater

Read vs 28

Although this point seems almost ridiculous to mention we have bought into the lie that the struggle between good and evil is a battle of equal per portions. Because of our personal struggles over sin we sometimes believe that Satan and his demons are as powerful as Jesus.

As soon as Jesus landed on the shore these demons knew Jesus was God in the flesh and came and bowed down to Him. It is written that the way they bowed was an act of worship. Although they had never seen Jesus in His human form they recognized Him right away. They knew that the Son of God meant that they were kneeling in front of the one who had the power over life and death.

With panic in their voices they were wondering why Christ was already on earth and they wondered if Jesus was their to harass them before it was time. Demons know the Bible and they did not think it was after the Millennium yet so with panic they were asking Jesus what He wanted with them.

The way this was written it shows that they were begging and pleading with Jesus as if for their own existence. They knew it was not a question of if Jesus was going to cast them out but to where so they begged and pleaded with Him to release them into the pigs nearby. These demons saw Jesus for who He was, God in the flesh and that caused them to humble themselves before Him.

Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father

Mark 5:8-10 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country.

A legion of Roman soldiers was 6,000 men so and so with these demons who outnumbered Jesus 6,000 to one they still understood who He was and what their end result would be. (Revelation 20:10) Although demons are powerful they are nowhere near as powerful as our Lord and we have to remember that we have victory through Christ over all strongholds in our lives.

The true victorious Christian life is a life lived by the Spirit of God for the Glory of God. It is a life that surrenders every area to Him by bowing before Him as we recognize He is God and worthy of our Worship.

Why they wanted to be put into the pigs is a mystery and some say it was to cause confusion and or destruction by killing the 2,000 pigs. We know that the whole time Jesus was on earth Satan and his demons wanted to try and derail Jesus from His mission of redeeming mankind back to Himself. We also know that at the end of the story the fact that the pigs along with the healing of the demon possessed men, caused people to want to send Jesus out of their area. The important thing for us to remember is that we are in a battle that is unseen and until we focus on the reality of that battle and the victory we have through Jesus we will live defeated lives.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6  3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Can a Christian be possessed? “Spiritual  possession clearly implies ownership and would seem to include the control of one’s destiny. It would be impossible to be owned and controlled by Satan and have a saving relationship with Christ at the same time. So if the question is, Can a Christian be demons possessed?, the answer is clearly no.” (Reclaiming Surrendered Ground, Jim Logan, pg 32)

Although a Christian cannot be possessed we are also warned in scripture to not give Satan a foothold in our lives. (Ephesians 4:27).  We allow Satan to have a foothold when we allow areas of our lives to be taken over through sin and disobedience. It would be the equivalent to someone building on your land without permission. You have the right to kick them off but if you allow them day after day to continue to build their house on your land, then the more difficult it becomes to kick them out. Don’t misunderstand me, you still have the power to kick them out no matter how long they have been there because Jesus is the ultimate landowner now and you are just the manager of the property. The consequences come because by neglecting to protect the property, you will have to work harder to remove the debris and the destruction they caused in the process of trying to move onto territory that is not theirs.

3)   Our focus should always be on Christ

Read vs 34

First let us notice that once again Jesus heals them with no questions about how or when they became demon possessed. Jesus does not question how you got into the state you are in, He only wants to fix it and say to you “go and sin no more. Jesus does not show partiality to the how and when of your current condition, only that you are willing to surrender and turn your life over to Him.

Matthews focus is on Christ and ours should be as well. The people from the region came out to see Jesus and who He was and what He did. One of the mistakes we can make is to get wrapped up in how powerful demons are or what they are doing in peoples lives. Our focus has to stay on Christ not become, as some have, over fascinated with demonic power.

Luke 8:35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.

Repeatedly we see that people become frightened by Jesus power after He demonstrates it. These people show up on the scene and see the man they knew as being possessed sitting there calmly, they see 2,000 pigs floating in the water and they did not know what to make of the situation.

Mark 5:18-20 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

Notice the Love of Christ even though they sent Him away. The man wanted to go with Jesus but instead Jesus sent the man back to go and speak to the people about Him and how Jesus had changed his life. The people pushed Jesus away and Jesus reached back out for them. One of our responsibilities is to not let people initial rejection of the gospel message keep us from continuing to reach out to them in love.  1 John 2:18 says we are living in “The Last hour”, 1 Cor. 7:31 says, “The World is passing away”. We need to view people knowing that the time is short for us to be able to reach out to them. We cannot let their initial reaction to the gospel keep us from reaching back to them.

Ephesians 6:10-12  10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

“No Christian is a helpless pawn of Satan! That’s why we don’t ever want to become fixated on the enemy and his power. Our focus is to be on Christ. (Hebrews 12:1-2)” (Reclaiming Surrendered Ground, Jim Logan, Pg 35)

 

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