July 15, 2018
We have been in a series ever since we have been in this building. We've been in a series concerning a question that Jesus asked us and that is “Who do you say that I am?” The answer to that question is one that's very important because it determines everything that we do. The way that we live determines the way that we respond to the different circumstances that we have going on. It determines the way that we just handle life. So who do people say that Jesus is? We started out by saying number one, He's the Son of God. Number two, that He is one who is fully human. He went to the wedding. We understand that last week Jesus was talking to us about the fact that He is a healer. We can appreciate the fact that He is a great physician. So these three come as something that we can really kind of grasp, really kind of get a hold of a little bit, but what we're doing today is looking at a passage of scripture that really is a little bit different. Maybe a lot, lot different from the other passages that we have looked at so far. This time we're going to be talking about Jesus and the demon possessed man.
Weird, right? Weird. As our youngest grandson, Beckham would say, “Pop, all that is spooky.” Alright, spooky. This idea of somebody being controlled by demons, being controlled by the devil is spooky. Now if you're like me, one of the first things that you do when you come to one of these passages, you tend to say, “I'm not really sure that has anything to say to us. Okay? Not really sure that speaks to us that much. Hey, I'm not sure that that's relevant. Let's just go on to something else.” But I want to tell you, I think this is one of the most relevant passages of scripture concerning our society that I have ever seen in my life. So we're going to unpack that in just a few minutes and start seeing how it works. Let me tell you how we're going to break it apart and then we'll read the scripture and start trying to deal with it.
When you're talking about this Gerasenes demoniac, you’ve got to realize that there were certain characteristics about him and where to look at those characteristics. What we're going to find out, is they are the characteristics that many of us have in our own lives. What many of us have as a culture together, those same characteristics are there. There's a confrontation that Jesus has with the demon or with the demoniac that was demonized, that demanded confrontation right there. That shows us a lot about what we're dealing with. And then there are the consequences that come along with that confrontation. In other words, if Jesus comes into a situation, He usually makes a difference. He shakes things up all right. And things are just not the same. It's kind of like we're going to take a rose and take the pedals off and see if by the end of it, we can put it back together. We will make a little bit of sense as we have some takeaways that we'll be looking at. All right, so that's what we're going to be doing today and I hope you'll follow along with me because like I said, I think this passage says a tremendous amount to us and our situations, not only as individuals but our situations as a society. So would you take your Bibles please and turn to Mark 5. The reason we're going to the Bible is because that's the place I believe we're going to find the answers.
There was in Fortune magazine many years ago and I've gotten to the point where everything was many years ago now. So about a year ago, there was an editorial in the Fortune magazine and there was this statement, “In days like what we have, the world needs to hear a word from the Lord.” We look to the Church for that word, and all we hear is the echo of our own voice and that’s tragic. We know we need to hear a word from the Lord, but many people look to the Church and all that’s there is just the echoes of their own voices, their own solutions, and everything that's going on.
Could Humpty Dumpty be put back together again? No. All right, you know this. “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king's horses, all the king's men, couldn't put Humpty back together again.” So here we are with a lot of people that have a lot of answers for us and they really don't matter much because they really don't get the job done. C.S. Lewis said one time, “No amount of clever arrangement of bad eggs will ever make a good omelet.” So all these people do is come with their ignorance. If you want to put it that way and say, “Well, here's what you need to do. Here's what you need to do.” When that doesn't work, unless you change it around a little bit, it just does the same things. Just rearrange everything and hope for the best, and even that doesn't work.
We need a word from the Lord when it comes down to daily with our brokenness, our enslavement, and the power of evil in our lives. Is there any glue that can put us back together? Yes, there is. His name is Jesus. Who are you, Jesus? You are Redeemer. Okay. You are redeemer. You will buy us back from all this stuff that has messed us up, so let's read along. I believe it will be on the screen for you. Chapter Five, book of Mark.
“So they arrived at the other side of the lake and the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from the cemetery to meet Him. This man lived among the burial caves and could no longer be restrained even with a chain. Whenever he was put into chains and shackles, as he often was, he snapped the chain from his wrist and smashed the shackles.”
No one was strong enough to do it. I underlined that one right there. I think that's where we are as a culture, and if you're like me, sometimes as you look at your own life, God, is there anybody that can do anything for us? Is there anybody that can do anything for me? This man was too much for anybody to handle no matter what their solutions were they didn't work day and night. Let’s read starting with verse five.
“He wandered among the burial caves and in the hills howling and cutting himself with sharp stones. When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw Him and ran to meet Him and bowed low before Him with a shriek. He screamed, ‘Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the most high God. In the name of God. I beg you, don't torture me.’ The demon said this because Jesus had already said to the spirit, ‘Come out of the man, you evil spirit.’ Then Jesus demanded, ‘What is your name?’ And he replied, ‘My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.’ Then the evil spirits begged Him again and again not to send them to some distant place. There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside. ‘Send us into those pigs,’ the spirits beg. ‘Let us enter them.’ So Jesus gave them permission. The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs. The entire herd of about two thousand pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water. The herdsmen fled to the nearby town and the surrounding countryside spreading the news as they went. People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowded soon gathered around Jesus and they saw the man who had been possessed by the Legion of Demons. He was sitting there fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. They were awed by this. What in the world is going on? Then those who had seen what happened told all the others about the demon possessed man and the pigs and the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with Him, but Jesus said, ‘No, you go home to your family and you tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful He has been.’ So the man started off to visit the towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him and everyone was amazed at what he told them.”
Lord, we need for you to amaze us today. There's some of us here today who feel like that our lives are just shot. We made such a mess out of them, that there's absolutely nothing that can be done and we're just a walking dead mess. There are some others that perhaps believe that something could be done, but we feel like we've got to be a part of it. We've got to accomplish it ourselves and we can't do it. We need for you to open our ears and open our hearts to hear what you say and to see your amazing love. Now I pray that you'll do that. I pray in Jesus' name that you will do that for His sake, for your sake, and selfishly for our sake, Thanks, because we need something that can glue us back together. Amen.
In that first verse of chapter five, it says, “so they arrived at the other side of the lake.” That doesn’t seem too significant, didn't even to me, until I got to thinking about it. Well, of course they arrived at the other side of the lake. That's what they were doing. Okay, but I want you to know that Jesus was going to the other side of the lake with the intention, the sole intention of delivering this man from the power of Satan in his life. That was the reason He was going. That was all He was going for and nothing was going to stop it, and that's important. Nothing was going to stop Jesus from redeeming this man out of the terrible mess that he was in, not even a storm. Now this was the storm, starting at chapter four, and this is really an integral part of the story, in chapter four, the storm comes up and the disciples are afraid. They come to Jesus, they wake Him up and say, “Don't you know Jesus, we're about to go down. If this boat goes down with you, with all of us, you, the whole kingdom that you keep talking about has just been destroyed, has just been smashed. So Jesus gets up and the Bible tells us that He says, “Peace be still.” He rebuked the waves and actually that means he said, “Be quiet. Be muzzled.” Now, that's significant. That's the same word that Jesus often use when He confronted demons in people's lives, “be muzzled, be quiet.” I think Satan realized that he was about to be challenged and he was going to lose one of the most precious possession that he had, and that was this demonic man. Jesus was coming and he sent the storm, and yet Jesus says “That? No, you’re just not going to stop me. That's not me. I love this man too much. You think a storm at sea would stop me from getting to him?” You sang a song awhile ago, that talked about this odd ending, this great love of God, and it said, “There's no shadow that you won’t light up, mountain you won’t climb up, coming after me. There's no wall, you won't kick down.” Why would you tear something down coming after me?
I think that's everything I'm trying to tell you. Do you realize how greatly you are loved? No matter what your situation is today, no matter what you're going through, what you've been through and how messed up you may be, and I wish I could stand up and say I'm not messed up, but I know I am messed up. I hope someday I can do something about it or Jesus can do something about it, if I'll let Him. Right? That's a key word right there “if I'll let him,” but do you know how much love, do we realize how much love that God has coming after us and nothing will stop Him? Nothing will stop it. Okay, so He's going after this man because this man's in a terrible, terrible mess. This man is so out of control that he's more monster, than he is a man.
Now let's look at some of these things, these characteristics real quickly. We’re going to pop through these a little bit and I'm going to use a couple of things from experiences in my life that may help you understand. Okay? But I tell you what, when I read through and looking at some of these characteristics of this demonized man, I said, “Man, that's where we are. That's where we live. I mean, that's us as individuals. That's us as a society, man.” The devil really has a grip on us. What can we do about it? The first one was uncleanness. Luke tells us that the man was naked. Mark doesn’t say that, but Mark does say later on that the man was dressed, which really implies he had been naked, he was unclean. He lived in the field, the squalor of the tombs, where the rotting flesh was everywhere. He was totally just a dud. Corrected, a decrepit, evil, unclean man.
At this point, you know, I go back and over the last fifty years, I look as we have become more infatuated with spiritual realism and satanism, cultism. I see that there's a corresponding answer that there's a lot of things going on in our society that seem to be ushered in just because of that, where there's sexual perversion, drug use. There's all types of uncleanness, obscenity that seems to be running rampant. You're going to find filth and uncleanness. Wherever you have the Word of God, that tends to be backed off and something else has come in its place.
Her name was Ruth, and I'm not going to go into all the details simply because we don't have time and we can do that some other time, but her name was Ruth. Ruth came to my office and started talking to me. Just to make a long story short, I found out that Ruth, in just a few weeks, was going to become the high priestess of the Church of Wicca and she would have twenty thousand witches under her control. Now I want to fast forward because what we finally realized as we began dealing with Ruth was that she certainly was under an evil power that was right here. Okay. Perhaps she was even demon possessed, if not, at least there was this strong influence of evil that was coming into her life, so the only thing that we could figure to do was in the church. We decided that we were going to have an exorcism. Whether you like it or not, we were going to have an exorcism. Okay? There was something in her that needed to get out, so I remember on that Wednesday night we went back into one of the classrooms and Ruth was there.
She had consented to this. For whatever reason, she had consented to it and there were three of us in there with her and when we started dealing with her and pushing to deal with this evil in a particular way, I have never felt like I was in the presence of such filth and vileness. The things that she would say, the things that she did, the things that she suggested, it was filthy. We live in that kind of world today, folks. We live in that kind of world, but when you look at this man, you also find out that he was ostracized. He was left alone, he was in isolation and he was in desperation, running around in the tomb, probably feeling like that. He was just in this swirling vortex of hopelessness that was just getting tighter and tighter and tighter as it came down and was just squeezing the life out of him.
When you see people that are really dealing with evil today and have kind of taken up a good relationship with evil, you're going to find that they'll isolate themselves from the rest of us and you'll also find that even though they may brag about it, that they are frustrated and concerned and confused about what's going on in their lives.
This girl's name was Carol. Carol would come to the church. We were in Cincinnati there. Carol would come to the church and it was almost like she was bragging, “Look what I'm doing with my life and you can't do anything about it.” Okay, then she would stay just for a minute and run off, but there was this something inside of Carol that was crying out desperately for help even though at the same time she was crying out for it, she was pushing herself away from it and away from anybody who could give her any help.
So that goes on in our society too, as we see people who isolate themselves to become a part of something that is so drastic and so different than anything else we have known. There's also super human strength. Superhuman strength. The Bible says that this man could not be restrained. He couldn't do it himself. There was nobody else that could do it. He simply was strong. I mean they would use fetters. They would lose. Chains, nothing could stop him!
Go back with me to the first time Ruth came to my office. We're back in Savannah now. Ruth came into my office and she was telling me about how she was going to be over these witches. Yeah, I hear you. Okay. She was talking about this trick she could do, and this and that she had done, and what was going to be taking place in all this and that. Yeah, I hear you. It was almost like Ruth looked at me at that time and said, well, she didn't say it, but it was like she was saying, “Are you really listening to me?” I can remember I was sitting behind the desk. Now folks, I'm not talking about one of these little tables. All right? I'm talking about these old wooden desks. Solid Wood. Weigh a ton. Ruth was sitting in a chair and while she was sitting in her chair, she simply put her leg up and moved that desk. Just like that! That got my attention! That one got my attention!
Sometimes we feel like we're in a situation where none of our solutions can work. You know, no matter how we cleverly arrange the eggs, they are bad eggs, so they're not going to be a good omelet. It's because everything seems to be overpowering in our lives. Self destruction can be slow, it can be quick. This man was in the tombs. He would cut himself with stones.
Carol would come to the church back in Cincinnati. Carol would come to the church and one of the first thing she'd do is show me the streaks, upper arm from the drug use. She showed me the bruises where she had been used and abused by every man that came by. She was unkempt. I mean everything about her showed that there was just something terribly wrong in her life and bit by bit it was just like Carol was trying to destroy herself.
That's where we live. That's where we live. This story is very relevant. When evil takes charge, when evil comes into our lives, things are going to happen and they are never good. The devil is never content until he has destroyed the last vestige of the image of God in a human personality. Did you get that? He is never content until he has taken you, the crown of God's creation, and has destroyed every vestige of that image, His image in you. That's what we're up against. That's what we're dealing with.
Okay, but Jesus sighed, when He saw this man. The Bible doesn't tell this right here, but there are several places if you will look through the gospels where it says that Jesus sighed. It's like He looked at this man and then He looked up into heaven and it was like, “Oh Father, this is not the way it's supposed to be.” This is not what you intended for your creation.” So He sets himself to confronting these demons that are inside this man.
I want to tell you three things that we find out. When Jesus confronts the demons that are there, this is in verses six through thirteen, we find out, Number One, that the demons know who Jesus is. If anybody on the planet knows who Jesus is, it's the demons. Every demon on the planet knows that they know. Here's the Son of God. In fact, anytime they would come in and address Jesus, they would address him as the Son of God. They addressed his deity.
Now, the theme to me is even knowing who Jesus is, they still come after us. Number Two, they still come after us, but are aware of their final doom. That's not to be a negative in a defeating way. We’re going to deal with that in a few minutes, but the fact is they are so under control of the devil himself that even though they fear Christ and even though they want Him to get totally out of the way and leave them alone, they will not back down. All right? They will not back down. They're aware of their final doom and they're afraid. You remember the demons said, “Don’t torture us. Don't send us into some distant place.” It appears that the demons of the New Testament need a body to inhabit and their final destination, which will be that bottomless pit and that lake with fire there, their final destination is going to be where they have no body to inhabit. So they're saying, “Don't send us to some distant place. Let us inhabit these pigs.” We'd rather live in them. They didn't have anywhere to go.
Third thing, Jesus is always in control. He allowed them to do it. So these pigs rush into the lake. They’re thrashing around in the water. They're squealing like crazy. How many of them? Two thousand! I do what my daddy-in-law tells me. Well, we were cutting pigs. If you don't know what cutting pigs is, I will tell you later. But anyway, they were cutting pigs and he had three sows that were right over there in a small pen and he gave me a stick. He said, “Don't let them in.” When those little pigs started squealing, those sows started snorting and I can tell you it was a racket. Can you imagine all the thrashing? Can you imagine all of the squealing? Can you imagine the joking as these two thousand pigs they had were drowning and being destroyed. Now here's the point. Those demons and those two thousand pigs… now focus that into one man. The man had been experiencing everything that all those pigs together had experienced.
Jesus was in control. The devil's on the leash. Jesus let them go in. The devil's on a leash. There's some things I don't understand about it. I'll just say we need to rediscover a theology of eternity. This place is not paradise and it's not going to work out right. No matter how hard you want it to, paradise is going to come later. Okay, but Jesus is in control. The pigs died. The man left. You’d think all the people would come in, and you'd think that they would say, “This is so great. Now we've been delivered from this guy who is just wreaking terror all over the place, who has just been so defiant of us. Jesus, you are so good. You have come in and you have taken care of this for us and we thank you. Would you stay a while longer and come to eat with us?” No, no. What they said was,”Get out. Get Out. You see, Jesus, there’s a difference in you and us,” is what they were saying. “You love people. We love pigs. You've messed around with something that's dear to us. You've messed around with our pocketbook. You’ve messed around with the status quo. You've come in, you've just shaken everything to pieces. You get out and you leave!”
Crazy, isn't it? No more crazier than some of the things that we may give up our marriages for. How many pigs does it take for a man to walk out on his wife? You’ll have to ask him, but they'll do it. How much are your children worth? Do your children see you loving them more than you love some other things? There was a doctor in Chattanooga, good friend, years and years ago. He was Chief Medical Officer at one of the big industries there, and he got an offer from General Mills up in Battle Creek, Michigan to be the Chief Medical Officer there. All of it was so appealing, but Susie, his wife, didn't want to go. His kids didn't want to go and they begged, “Please don't go,” but you know what? He chose the pigs and he lost the marriage and the family. Man!
See your integrity, teens. How many pigs does it take for you to give up your integrity? You singles? You know your character. What's the going price for selling your character? All these things. It's not that crazy. We do them every day. We see on the news what people are willing to give up for a few pigs. Let me ask you this. What is it that would cause you to say, “Jesus, there's not room for you and for this too, and quite frankly, Jesus, I think I'd rather have this right now.” Now, this guy, when he was confronted, he decided. He was healed and so he was the one who wanted to go with Jesus. And Jesus says, “No, you go home and you tell the people, you tell your family, let them see what great things the Lord has done for you and how much mercy He has had on you.” This man was so appreciative. What Jesus had done, he would buy it.
Now, what are some takeaways real quick? What are some takeaways? Okay. Here's some takeaways. Let me remind you, C. S. Lewis said in a little book called The Screwtape Letters, and you need to read it if you'd never have. He said that a big part of our problems come from what Satan puts into our heads. Okay, but then he turned around and said, but there's also a big part of the problems in our lives that comes from Satan taking things out of our heads, making us forget what we ought to be.
I think there are three things that Satan would want us to forget. Number one, it's the power of the story. This guy had a great story in life. This man had been redeemed by Christ. He had been delivered. He had. They had seen what he was and they saw what he had become, and he could say, “This is my story.” I want you to know you have a story, just like that. Your story is just as valuable as his. You might not have the same details, but you have the story. Ray Steadman was preaching one night on I Corinthians 6:19 and took that passage about all the things that were the powers of the flesh, this and that and the other and when he finished, you know it came down to this bullet point where it says, and “such were some of you, but you have been washed. You've been sanctified, you've been delivered.” and he asked, “How many of you have been delivered out of some of these things?” He probably had wished Jesus would come quickly because he said it was like an eternity with nobody saying anything. Finally, on the back row, an eighty-six year old lady stood up, and then hundreds stood up. There was a young man there who had been brought by his friends. He was a pagan and he read through that list and he saw these people standing up and sharing what they had been brought out of and he said, “They're my kind of people. They're my kind.” He gave his life to the Lord. He became a minister. Okay, your story's important. Make sure you share it.
Satan wants you to forget his power. He does have great power. He would just as soon hit you and then have you forget about him. I’ve already talked about what he could do to individuals. Here's another thing he would like for you to forget, the power of God. He wants you to stay at the dreadful place where you are. He wants you shrieking. He wants you screaming in helplessness. He wants you floundering around in hopelessness. Well, his motive is that he is a liar and a murderer. He wants to destroy you.
Linda and I were in a restaurant one Sunday after church and there was this waitress that was there. She had been very nice, very pleasant, and she had done a great job. Finally she looked at me and said, “You don't know me, do you?” That's it? She said, “Yes you do. My name is Carol. Remember the girl, the drug addictions, the bruises. My name is Carol.” I said, “My goodness, Carol. What happened?” She replied, “Jesus came into my life. Jesus came into my life.”
We don't have time to read it, but I want you to look at Romans 6:6-7 and 14. Just jot that down and go home and read it. This is what Jesus wants to do for you. He doesn't just want to give you a new beginning. He wants to give you a new start and and a heart inside to do that. Some people you know, you reupholster a cushion, the springs are bad. You put a new piece of cloth, you sit down on it, you get up and it pops right back up, tears it again. You cannot have a new beginning without a new heart. That's discouraging. Jesus says, I'll give you a new heart and a new start. Some of you here have said, “That can't happen to me, I’m too bad. I've messed it all up.” Talk to the demoniac. Talk to Carol.
Jesus can change your life and if you're sitting there knowing that your life is all messed up, that you would like to have something that can glue it back together, there are going to be some people that'll be over here ready to talk with you and share with you, but it comes down to this. Jesus can deliver you from anything that is taking you down, IF you will let him. If you'll let him. It's time to do business. Okay. Time to do business with God. Find your freedom. Find Jesus, your Deliverer, your Redeemer.
God, would you give us the courage to look at you? Would you give us the courage to let you look straight into our hearts? Would you remind us that you know us so well? There's no sense trying to hide from you. Would you give us the courage, Lord, to step out and say, “Make me whole. Give me life. Free me from the power of Satan in my life.” Thank you Jesus for paying a greater price than two thousand pigs. Thank you for giving yourself, Lord. Give us now your life. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.