Mark 9:14-29 The Demon Is In Too Deep
What is your biggest failure of faith?
1. How Do We Respond to our Faith Failures?
A. Disciples: Arguing & Disputing
· They are unable to drive the demon out, and in the face of their powerlessness, they turn to religious debate.
· Many have left the church, turned off by petty squabbles.
ILL – Hemant Mehta the “E-Bay Atheist”
Clearly, most churches have aligned themselves against non-religious people. By adopting this stance, Christians have turned off the people I would think they want to connect with. The combative stance I’ve observed is an approach that causes people to become apathetic—and even antagonistic—toward religion as a whole. Many evangelical pastors seem to perceive just about everything to be a threat against Christianity. Evolution is a threat. Gay marriage is a threat. A swear word uttered accidentally on television is a threat. Democrats are a threat. I don’t see how any of these things pose a threat against Christianity. If someone disagrees with you about politics or social issues or the matter of origins, isn’t that just democracy and free speech in action? Why do Christians feel so threatened?
You need to spread the message of Christianity—the message being what Christianity stands for—loving each other, helping the people around you. Those are things everyone can get on board with.
· The disciples are arguing while the father of this son stands by in agony.
!!! B. Best Response to Failure = To Realize Our Dependence on God
· Prayer is not a pious exercise for those who are already strong
· Prayer is our way of showing complete dependence on God.
Prayer is a way of being empty and useless in the presence of God and so of proclaiming our basic belief that all is grace and nothing is simply the result of hard work.
· John Bunyan on Prayer gives advice for people who are so broken, so overcome by their failures that when they pray they can’t find words at all.
“Ah, sweet soul, it is not your words that God so much desires, His eye is on the brokenness of your heart, and it is that which moves His heart – a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. … if you would more fully express yourself before the Lord, study your filthy estate, God’s promises, the heart of Christ, which you may know by His blood-shedding, by the mercy He has extended to great sinners formerly, and plead your own vileness by way of bemoaning.”
2. What is the Root of Our Faith Failures?
A. Working on Magic instead of Faith
Key Question: “Why Couldn’t We Drive It Out?”
o Did we have wrong technique?
o Did we use wrong words?
Josephus quotes on Solomon & Eleazar
Solomon And God granted him knowledge of the art used against demons for the benefit of healing and healing of men. He also composed incantations by which illnesses are relieved and left behind forms of exorcisms with which the possessed by demons drive them out never to return.
Eleazar before Roman General Vespasian
He put to the nose of the possessed man a ring which had under its seal one of the roots prescribed by Solomon, and then as he smelled it, drew the demon through his nostrils, and, when the man at once fell down, adjured the demon never to come back to him, speaking Solomon’s name and reciting the incantations which he had composed. Then, wishing to convince the bystanders and prove to them that he had this power, Eleazar placed a cup or foot basin full of water a little way off and commanded the demon, as it withdrew from the man, to overturn it and make known to the spectators that he had left the man.
B. What is Our View of Prayer?
Are we invoking God’s presence to a place He was absent?
Or, are we reminding ourselves and our community that God is already here?
ILL – Philip Yancy
In his book Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? (Zondervan), Philip Yancey writes, "I have learned to see prayer not as my way of establishing God's presence, rather as my way of responding to God's presence that is a fact whether or not I can detect it. My feelings of God's presence -- or God's absence -- are not the presence or the absence. Whenever I fixate on techniques, or sink into guilt over my inadequate prayers, or turn away in disappointment when a prayer goes unanswered, I remind myself that prayer means keeping company with God who is already present.
"A friend of mine, an attractive young woman of mixed race, goes each day to visit the most violent prison in South Africa. Her efforts there have shown remarkable results in calming the violence, twice prompting the BBC to produce a documentary on her. In trying to explain those results, Joanna said to me, 'Well, of course, Philip, God was already present in the prison. I just had to make him visible.'
"I have come to see prayer along the same lines. God is already present in my life and all around me; prayer offers the chance to attend and respond to that presence."
C. Our Confidence is not in ourselves, it is in Jesus
· Jesus makes it clear that the disciples’ authority does not rest in them, their actions and their words.
· The disciple’s only success will come from depending on Jesus.
· Marshall, “Self-confident optimism may ‘feel’ like faith, but it is in fact unbelief because it disregards the prerequisite of human powerlessness and prayerful dependence on God.”
3. How Do We Build Faith and Prayer?
Role Model = the Father
A. The Father’s Situation
Son is Possessed
Today – More and More kids embrace values that roll them around in the dirt.
D. Martin Lloyd-Jones “The Demon is in too Deep” for the normal way of doing things (cf Keller)
Now I want to take this story and use it as a very perfect representation of the present position. Here in this boy, I see the modern world, and in the disciples I see the Church of God...almost at this present hour.
Why could not we cast him out? The first answer is 'this kind'. There we have a significant statement. Why could not we cast him out? Oh,' says our Lord, 'this kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting.' He is telling them, in other words, that the first thing they have to learn is to differentiate between case and case.
And here I see a very great difference between today and two hundred years ago, or indeed even one hundred years ago. The difficulty in those earlier times was that men and women were in a state of apathy. They were more or less asleep. Going back, certainly two hundred years, there was no general denial of Christian truth. It was just that people did not trouble to practice it. They more or less assumed it. And in a sense, all you had to do then was to awaken them and to rouse them, and to disturb them out of their lethargy. ….. All you needed at that time was an occasional campaign just to rouse people and to awaken them. And that seemed to be sufficient.
But the question is whether that is still the position. Are we right if we diagnose that to be the state of affairs at the present time? What is 'this kind'? What is the problem that is confronting us? I feel increasingly that as we examine this truly, we shall see that the kind of problem facing us is altogether deeper and more desperate than that which has confronted the Christian Church for many a long century.
For the problem for us is not apathy, it is not a mere lack of concern and lack of interest. It is something much more profound. It seems to me to be a complete unawareness, even a denial of the spiritual altogether. It is not just apathy, it is not that people really have at the back of their minds what is right and true, but are not doing anything about it. No, the whole notion of the spiritual has gone. The very belief in God has virtually gone.
· Western World is a Mission Field
· “This Kind” is new/ different
o Inoculated to the Gospel
§ I remember Christianity
· Blacks in the back of the bus
· Husbands beating their wives
· “This Kind” offers new possibilities
o Brokenness is more obvious
§ Too many leaders have fallen for us to pretend to be perfect
o We can approach the world as “Wounded Healers”
o We can struggle with our issues while helping wanderers find Jesus
· In “This Kind” of age, the thing that a spiritual wanderer needs is the exact same thing that a follower of Jesus needs:
o to hear the Gospel clearly preached
o to see Jesus clearly lifted up
o and to be filled with the Holy Spirit
B. The Father Approaches Jesus
v.22 b “If you can do anything about this/”
v. 23 Jesus throws this back, “If you can? Everything is possible for him who believes”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
· The answer begins when we approach Jesus
C. Building Faith
1) Faith is not easy.
- We often say “Just have faith”, but faith is never easy, especially in the face of pain
- Doubts mix with a thin layer of hope
There is something in man which is always apparently on the eve of disappearing, but never disappears, an assurance which is always apparently saying farewell and yet illimitably lingers, a string which is always stretched to snapping yet never snaps.
2) Faith is Humble
The father doesn’t buff up his request, but comes broken and honest
- There is no swagger to faith
3) Faith is a gift and is sustained by the power of Jesus
4) Faith takes Focus
Martin Lloyd Jones
'This kind cometh not forth but by prayer and fasting.' This word fasting is not in all the ancient manuscripts, but it implies not only literal, physical fasting, but concentration. The value of fasting is that it enables you to give your undivided attention to a subject. So what our Lord said to the disciples is this: you will never deal with this sort of problem until you have been praying, concentrating in prayer, waiting upon God, until he has filled you with the power.
5) Faith + Prayer = POWER
In the Nineteenth century there was a successful attorney in Chicago by the name of Horatio Spafford. He was intelligent, successful, and godly. Early on in his success, he came to the realization that he needed to have balance both in his home and church as well. He loved them and He loved his church. Also, he was a close friend of D.L. Moody, the great evangelist. This guy was trying to build a solid spiritual life.
In 1871, Spafford’s real estate investment was totally wiped out during the great Chicago Fire. Several months before that, his only son had died. Wanting to get things together, Spafford planned a trip to Europe with his family, and that trip was going to coincide with an Evangelistic crusade of D.L. Moody. At the last minute, a business development delayed him, so he sent his family as scheduled, and he was going to catch up with them later.
However, the ship that they were on got hit by an English vessel, and it sank in just twenty minutes. All four of his daughters drowned. His wife survived though and was taken to Whales. Form there she sent her husband a message with the words, “Saved alone.” Right away he boarded a ship to meet her. The captain knew his sorrow, so as they were traveling, he stopped the boat over the place Spafford’s daughters had drowned.
He didn’t understand why all this had to happen. But that day He trusted in the Sovereignty of God. And as that ship was stopped, it was there that “sorrows like sea billows roll” and it was there that he knew God “regarded his helpless estate” and all he could say was “It is well, It is well with my soul.” This experience led him to write probably the most inspirational song in hymn books today.