When Three Worlds Collide (2): The Enemy (2)
Intro – Reality is comprised of 3 spheres of influence – the world of Satan and demons, the world of God and good angels and the world of mankind. Behind the veil of our physical perception, a battle rages between God and Satan for our souls. The outcome is not in doubt. One day God will bring history to a screeching halt and banish sin forever. In that day, you want to be on the right side. But decisions we made now – for or against Jesus Christ -- will determine our eternal destiny. The battle rages for our soul.
In our text, these 3 worlds collide in open warfare revealing 3 great truths – the Destructive Power of Demons, the Delivering Power of Christ, and the Damning Power of Self. We began to look at the world of demons last week with the warning that we maintain balance by remembering that the Christ who is in us is greater than the Satan who is in the world. Winners are “in Christ”, but it is helpful for us to know something about the other world.
I. Destructive Power of Demons
A. Demons Are Real – The Bible is basically nonsense if Satan and demons are not real. Paul says in Eph 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against . . . the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Demons are the enemy we fight against every day.
B. Demons Were Particularly Prominent in Christ’s Time – The Bible says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (I Jn 3:8). God appearing in the flesh sent panic through the world of demons and they were given more license than usual to reveal themselves. God used this to demonstrate His complete mastery as Jesus never broke a sweat in thwarting their most impressive demonstrations – a preview of the judgment that awaits them and all who choose against Christ.
C. Demons Are Filthy (both Physically and Morally) – They love filth and have created an unprecedented level of acceptance of moral degeneracy in our society that would have been unthinkable a couple of generations ago. They degrade and humiliate.
D. Demons Desire to Possess
They want bodies if possible – they’ll settle for less if necessary. This man had many demons. V. 30, “Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him.” A legion would be 6,000. This guy was a walking demon convention! They “had entered him.” They indwelt him. Every demon Jesus encounters indwells someone. They “have a demon” (v. 27) or an unclean spirit has “entered” them. Jesus orders them to come out (vv. 29, 33) or He casts them out. People are said to be demon-possessed or oppressed which translates δαιμονιζομαι – “demonized.” That’s the word in v. 36, “And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed.” They mean the same. The victim has been taken over, body, mind and will, by one or more demons. Every time Jesus encounters demons, this is the condition. Someone is demonized.
See how badly they want a body, v. 32: “Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission.” The lease is up on their current residence so they desire another body, even if it is an animal. Why a body? Because that gives them max entre into the physical world. They can do more damage with a body than any other way. V. 32, “So he gave them permission.” Luke is clarifying Jesus controls every nuance of this situation? Powerful as they are; His power over them is absolute. Here He permits them to enter the pigs.
Some criticize Jesus for allowing this destruction. Bertrand Russell, in Why I Am Not a Christian, not his most profound book, says a virtuous man would never have allowed this destruction. Pretty weak reason for rejecting Christ. For one thing, Jesus didn’t order the demons into the pigs, He merely allowed it. The destruction was their responsibility. Second, destruction of the pigs previews the man’s fate had Jesus not cast the demons out. The destruction of the animals saves a human life. No one could object to that trade-off.
But there is a third consideration. The region of the Gerasenes, east of the Sea of Galilee, was Gentile territory, but close to Jews. We are not told if the pig owners were Jew or Gentile. If owned by Jews, they were illegal – unclean to be around. Their destruction by demons was symbolic. The unclean demons entered unclean animals demonstrating their penchant for evil. Their destruction prevented their illegal consumption, and punished the sin. Furthermore, the destruction in the lake pictured the ultimate destruction that awaits these same demons in the lake of fire prepared for the devil and His angels. This was a graphic and gracious warning of judgment to come. Far from sinful on Jesus’ part it was another loving invitation to repent!
Now, can people be demon-possessed today? The answer is Yes, though it is not seen with the same frequency. And, demons cannot just willy-nilly enter someone without being invited any more than the Holy Spirit enters without being invited. In spiritual warfare the demons can only go where the welcome mat is out! That’s why the Bible warns in passages like Lev 19:31, “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.” In other words, “Stay away from mediums, fortune tellers, Ouija boards, witches and dark literature, songs, games and clubs. Many are relatively harmless frauds, but others are portals to a world of real demonic activity. People get drawn in unwittingly by actions that indicate an invitation they never intended.
The occult world entices. We long to know what’s behind the curtain! But it is dangerous. In occult practices people open themselves to they know not what. Thus God’s strong warnings. He equates the occult to those who practice child sacrifice. Deut 18:10-12: “There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD.” God is crystal clear. If you are seeking fortunes, contacting the dead, following astrological omens, playing spiritist games you are in disobedience and you are playing with fire. I Chron 10:13 tells us King Saul died for consulting a medium for guidance instead of God. God will not be mocked, Beloved. Fooling with occult practices, even in fun, opens us to demonic activity. I urge you in strongest terms keep yourself and your kids away from any such involvement. It amounts to throwing out the welcome mat. God’s told us all we need to know.
Now, some good news. No true believer can be demon-possessed. I’ve read a lot of books by people who find demons in ways and places never mentioned by the Bible. Demons of anger and covetousness and laziness and even hang-nails. May I say, those are not demons; those are sins. They are not healed by a quick fix exorcism; they are healed by continued confession, and practicing holiness until we get it right. A Christian cannot be demonized. Why? Bc he is indwelt by the HS, and the HS and demons cannot occupy the same space. Isn’t possible. Paul says in II Cor 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” And where is the Spirit of the Lord? In the heart of every believer. Listen -- to Rom 8:9, “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” You can’t be a Christian and not have the HS. And where the Spirit is, there is freedom, not bondage. To attempt an exorcism on a believer is shear folly. You can’t belong to Satan and God at the same time. II Cor 1:21-22 : “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” John says in I John 4:13, “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” A true believer cannot be demon-possessed. Not possible.
But we can be demon influenced. And sometimes that influence is great. Many tools are available to demons giving access to us through our glands, our minds, our senses, our emotions, through friends and acquaintances, through indwelling sin (the flesh) and the world. Christians are constantly under attack through impersonal forces – internally through a sin nature, and externally through a Godless world culture. These consistently urge us away from God and toward self-gratification. But demons can enlarge temptations coming from those areas, making them even more compelling and enticing.
Paul warns in I Tim 4:1-3, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” Demons have teachings – just like God does? They enhance man and minimize God. What are these? Anything that undermines the truth of the Bible and the gospel. It ranges from scientific theories that leave God out of the equation, to ascetic practices aimed at making God our servant, to libertine doctrines abusing His grace. Doctrines of demons are appeals to worldliness that make personal pleasure the highest good, leading us to worship the creation rather than the Creator. Anything that makes God small is directly or indirectly demonic. The only antidote is to know truth!
James warns how demons can influence in Jas 3: 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” We have all seen lives literally destroyed by selfish ambition and jealousy. When we harbor these we might as well put up a sign, “Demons at work” because – they are! Some of us have coddled feelings of bitterness and grudges for years giving unwitting access to demons, who if they can’t control from within, are perfectly happy to control from without. You’ve made the sin more important than Christ.We play with fire until those sins are repented, given to God.
Paul warns further in I Cor 10:20: “No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons.” When we bow down at the altar of ambition, pride, wealth, romance, recreation, prestige, shopping, sports, porn – whatever comes before God we give way to demon influence. All false gods are demonically inspired and can ruin a Christian life. Matt Chandler writes: “Surely anyone can see that our worship switch is always set to On, and we’re tuned to some ridiculously finite broadcasts. Grown men paint their bodies and surf an incalculable number of websites to follow a sports team. Go to any concert and you'll see people lift their hands spontaneously and clap and close their eyes and be spiritually moved by music. People fish or hike to be in tune with nature. We put posters on our walls, stickers on our cars, ink under our skin, and drugs into our system. We want to worship something. We are wired for it by God himself. But something has gone wrong with the wiring. Satan easily gets our focus off the true God and onto some good but inane temporal substitute. Our true god is whatever we cannot live without? The only way to avoid the demonic influence is by a constant, heavy dose of God and His Word.
E. Demons Aim to Destroy
This man lives among tombs, a foretaste of what’s coming. V. 29, “He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.” He has inhuman strength --often the case of people who are demon-possessed. Demons hate authority -- will not be bound by any shackles, physical or moral. They aim to destroy. Mark 5:5 tells us, “Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.” Where does the current trend of young people cutting and abusing their own bodies originate? It’s nothing other than a doctrine of demons, Beloved. They exist to destroy.
Look at v. 27, “When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons.” What was that about? Matt adds detail: “two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way” (Matt 8:28). They intend to destroy this visitor. Fresh meat. Of course, v. 28 tells us, “When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? They shriek to realize they confront Jesus! But their aim was destruction. They wasted no time destroying the pigs. They are not a fascinating little play thing. Giving them entre by engaging in occult practices, harboring sin, is like playing Russian roulette.
Dick Hillis used to speak at Biola when I was there – missionary to China. He told once of preaching in a Chinese village when he was interrupted by a piercing scream. His co-worker, Mr. Kong, told him that an evil spirit had just entered a man. Dr. Hillis insisted it was merely superstition. But he was about to learn differently. A woman pushed through the crowd and said. “I beg you help me! An evil spirit has again possessed the father of my children and is trying to kill him.” Kong stepped over a filthy old dog lying in the doorway, and faced the man. Kong said, “An evil spirit has possessed Farmer Ho. Our God, the ‘Nothing-He-Cannot-Do One’ is more powerful than any spirit, and can deliver him. First, you must promise you will burn your idols and trust in Jesus, son of the Supreme Emperor.” The people nodded. “Now,” continued Kong, “in the name of Jesus we will command the evil spirit to leave this man.” Kong began praying fervently. Suddenly, the old dog in the doorway vaulted into the air, screeching, yelping, whirling in circles snapping wildly at his tail until he dropped over dead. Instantly Dick remembered Luke 8. He’d seen it in real life. The man was delivered and at his baptism shortly afterward, he testified, “I was possessed by an evil spirit who boasted he had already killed five people and was going to kill me. But God sent Mr. Kong at just the right moment, and in Jesus I am free.” Their aim is to destroy. However enticing it may be to know more about the spirit world, to contact loved ones gone on, to know our future, to dabble for fun; God forbids it for the very good reason that the aim of the enemy is destruction – body and soul.
F. Demons Are Absolutely Subject to Christ
They hate and fear Christ – they hate from the depths of their being. That is because they know that they are subject to Him and that their day of judgment is coming. This is no even-steven warfare. We’ll look at it in detail next week.
Conc – To play with demons is to play with fire, but in the end, they are doomed. Irwin Lutzer met a woman on a plane who claimed spiritual powers. As a child she had detailed knowledge of a certain house that she had never visited. Later, when she visited as an adult, the details coincided with her vision. She inferred that she had lived in the house in a previous 1800’s incarnation. Lutzer suggested that perhaps she was getting her knowledge from evil spirits. The lady protested, “But I have nothing to do with evil spirits. I only communicate with good ones.” When asked how she told the difference she said, “I communicate only with those spirits that come to me clothed in light.” That was a dead giveaway. II Cor 11:13-14 reminds us, “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” He is a master deceiver with a thousand ways to take people to their own destruction.
So how is the collision of three worlds going in your life? We’re all engaged one way or the other. And demons are without question smarter and more powerful than us. The only protection is the truth of God’s Word. You’ve got to know it and you’ve got to live it. That’s how we win in spiritual warfare. Let’s pray.