How easy it is in a society based largely on humanistic principles and a materialistic and naturalistic worldview, for even Christians to lose sight of the irrefutable reality we find in the Bible: “..our battle is NOT against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of evil in the spiritual realm…” (Eph 6:12)
Many symptoms of demonic oppression were seriously present in this man’s life:
- We might be tempted to think it was simply mental illness. But it wasn’t purely a physiological or medical problem. It was a situation caused or taken advantage of by actual spiritual entities (specifically, demons).
- Dwelling among the tombs (preoccupation with death and darkness)
- Uncontrollable temper and rage. Severely abusive.
Note how the demons seem to have felt very secure and undisturbed before Jesus arrived. And upon His coming, look how upset and disoriented they become! This confusion is the inevitable fruit of a spirit that is opposed to the authority and power of King Jesus.
We see from this Biblical example that evil spirits thrive in dark places where the light of Christ is not shining, and they often react in very ugly ways when the power and name of Jesus arrives:
- Mark 1:21-23 First reaction against Jesus’ demonstrated authority…came from a demon. And look what he says: “What business do we have with one another?” (The same thing the Legion said in our text!)
- Acts 8:9-11, 20-21 The gospel expands to Samaritan territory: Simon the Sorcerer, tries to buy his way into the inner circle…Again, we see that actual spiritual darkness is working against the authority of Jesus.
- Acts 13:8 Paul and Barnabas have just launched out on the first Gentile mission. They arrive on Cyprus, as likely the first apostolic missionaries there. And a “magician” (sorcerer) “opposed them”.
- Acts 16:16 Paul and Silas “crossed over” to Macedonia (Europe), to become the first apostolic missionaries there. And a girl with a “spirit of divination” met them!
Notice how quickly these evil spirits are reduced to begging in the presence of Jesus! These evil spirits who were usurpers and false gods and goddesses, and greatly feared by the inhabitants of the land, are rendered powerless and become whining beggars in the presence of JESUS!
“Do not torment us…” “Do not send us to the abyss before the time…”
The evil spirits are undisturbed until someone who represents heaven’s authority comes forward to claim the spoils of Christ’s victory. Many years ago I had an experience in a remote village. We were there preaching the gospel and baptizing new believers among an animistic group. (Animists believe that there are spirits and gods dwelling within many aspects of nature. And they are to be feared, manipulated, and appeased. There are ruling spirits associated with forests and lakes, with mountains and temples, etc.) There was in the group that had gathered that day a demon-possessed woman. The demon was using her vocal organs and speaking in a male-like, guttural voice, saying, “Why have you come here to bother us? What business do we have with you?”
It was quite remarkable, because this is basically the same things the demons said to Jesus in the New Testament! We helped the lady respond to the gospel. She called on the name of Jesus and was actually baptized that same day, totally free by Jesus. On the way back from the place of baptism, walking along with the new believers under a starlit sky, I was just soaking in the experience. It occurred to me that there are demons in places in our world that not once in the 2,000 years since Jesus gave us His authority to drive them out, have yet to been made to submit to His glorious name. What an honor it was to exercise the glorious authority of King Jesus that night. The demons in every place tremble at His name. This is just another clear proof that supports Christ’s exclusive claim of being the only God and Lord in this universe.
The demons must give up their ground when those who are on mission with Jesus come to town and proclaim the glorious gospel. No, they don’t like the fact that they have to go. And they whine and fuss and grudgingly comply. But go they must.
This is another great reason why being on mission matters immensely.
More next time.