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Entries in Demon (2)

Tuesday
May212019

The Authority of Jesus

Mark 3:1-12.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on May 19, 2019.

Today, we are back in the Gospel of Mark.  We will be talking about the authority of Jesus. 

After the Resurrection, Jesus told his disciples that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to him.  Thus, he was sending them out to proclaim who he was and what he had done.  They were to disciple those who believed in Jesus.  When you bring the Gospel into someone’s life and teach them to follow Jesus, you are operating under the authority of One who is greater than the Washington State Legislature, or the United States Congress, or the United Nations Security Council.  You are operating under the authority of Jesus, who is the King over all kings and the Lord over all lords.

However, this does not mean that we should be arrogant, and neither does it mean that we should be fearful and timid.  May the Spirit of Christ rise up within us and enable us to rise up in the face of the spirit of this world.  May we be bold enough to lead people to Jesus.

Jesus appoints The Twelve Apostles

Though Jesus has already called the twelve disciples to follow him, here we have an actual appointment to a position that these men didn’t understand completely, at the time.  They are not just to be his disciples (a word that focuses on being students of Jesus), but also to be his apostles (we will talk more about this word in a bit).

Verse 14 in the King James Version and in the New King James Version do not have the added phrase “whom he also named apostles.”  This is due to the fact that many more manuscripts and many older manuscripts have been discovered since the creation of the KJV in the early 1600’s.  Modern translators have had to weigh the evidence of the many manuscripts that currently exist and make choices of what was in the original.  In case you think this is unacceptable, you may be interested to know that the translators of the King James Version testified that they had done this very thing themselves.  They did their best with the manuscripts they had at the time.  This is why most modern versions have added the phrase “whom he also named apostles.”  It is interesting that sometimes it goes the other way, a phrase is believed to have been added later and is thus removed by newer versions.  Either way, we want to have what was written originally, no more and no less.  Thankfully, none of these questionable phrases or words affect any doctrinal positions of the Bible.  Even if the word “apostle” should not be connected to this passage (even though the evidence seems to point in the other direction), Mark will undisputedly use the word apostles of these guys in chapter 6.  This is also backed up by multitudes of other passages throughout the New Testament.  The 12 Disciples were also called to become the 12 Apostles.

Before we look at the names that are listed, we should note that it says that these men are those that Jesus wanted.  We should not rush by that statement.  It is his choice; and when you analyze his choices, you find them to be revealing.  None of these men are professionally trained in the Scriptures.  They are also mostly lower class (although Matthew does represent the wealthy).  Even in Matthew’s case, his wealth is attained through taxation and therefore makes him an outcast to his people.  They all are from a rural area of Israel, and all from Galilee except for Judas Iscariot.  He is the only man from Judah picked and his name is also the Greek form of the Hebrew name Judah.  Still he is “Iscariot.”  This is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew Ish Kerioth, or man of Kerioth (a rural town in Judah).  When you connect all of this to the New Testament theme that Jesus calls those who are not always the greatest and wisest of this world, you begin to get the picture.  The greatest and wisest of this world are often so full of themselves that there is no room for God.  Also, God purposefully operates in a way that the simplest among us can understand and come to Him for salvation (not to say that The Twelve were simple-minded).  This is counter to the operations of the great in our world today.  Those who wish to create great organizations look for the brightest stars to work for them, but Jesus calls those who are not the brightest stars.

So, what is an Apostle anyways?  In the vernacular of the day, they would be official representatives of Jesus, at least when he is not available.  They would be his “sent ones.”  The main purpose of this appointment would be evident after the ascension of Jesus.  The text tells us that these apostles would be with Jesus (everywhere he went).  Thus, they would be eye-witnesses of all the miracles that he did and the teachings that he delivered.  They would also be eye-witnesses of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.  They would represent a solid foundational witness that would stand the test of time.  In this sense there are no apostles today.  We operate on the foundation built by Jesus and his apostles, once and for all, in the first century.

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 is a better place where the Apostle Paul takes time to describe and explain the appointing of the apostles.  They were those who were eye-witnesses of the post-resurrection appearances and had been given the Gospel directly from Jesus.  In fact, Hebrews 3:1 tells us that Jesus is the Apostle and High Priest of our faith.  Just as the father sent Jesus to the world, so Jesus was sending his apostles to continue his work to the ends of the earth.

Now, I know that there is a lot of controversy in the Church today over whether or not there are still apostles today, and in what sense.  There is a good article online at the Assemblies of God website: https://ag.org/Beliefs/Position-Papers/Apostles-and-Prophets.  This should walk you through all of the pertinent issues and is well-balanced.

Mark emphasizes their closeness to Jesus (as opposed to the many other disciples who did not travel everywhere with Jesus).  These guys would have the most time with Jesus compared to anyone else.  He would explain things to them that he may not have explained to the crowds.  This would enable them to accurately preach, or proclaim, what Jesus wanted them to teach.  The Kingdom of Heaven was here, and whosoever will could join and become a part of it.  Always remember that proclaiming the truth for Jesus begins with first spending time with him, through his Word and spiritually in prayer.

They were also going to be given power to heal and cast out demons.  This demonstrates the power of Christ in regards to physical matters and spiritual matters.  They would truly operate under and in his authority.  This would be especially important as the Gospel was taken to the nations.  These nations represented the territory of the spiritual enemies of Christ and his people.  The apostles were the tip of the spear of Christ’s invasion of the spiritual kingdom that Satan had amassed over the years. 

So just who were these guys?  The apostle Peter is actually named Simon and Jesus has given him the nickname Peter, which means rock.  Yes, Peter may have been the original Rocky!  Jesus also gave nicknames to the two sons of Zebedee, James and John.  They are called the Sons of Thunder.  Boanerges is a Greek spelling of an Aramaic compound word.  We can also notice that there is another James in the list, the son of Alphaeus.  He is sometimes called James the Lesser.  There is another Simon who is a Cananite.  This is not a reference to Canaan (notice the two a’s in a row).  It was a word that was used of a group of Zealots who resisted and plotted against Rome.  Lastly, we have the infamous Judas Iscariot.  He would be the one who would betray Jesus and then go on to commit suicide.  He is replaced in Acts 1 by Matthias.  Yes, Jesus knew very well that he had chosen a guy who would one day betray him, but that was part of the plan.

Challenges to his authority occurred

Jesus had far more authority than people could really accept.  He literally is the One who had given the Law and had brought Israel into the Land of Canaan, but that is another story.  So in these verses, we see several challenges to what Jesus was doing.

First, there is a challenge mentioned from his own family (this is what is meant by “his own people.”)  It could mean those who are from his clan, but most likely meant his immediate family.  The question here is that they think Jesus is out of his mind.  Perhaps it was the continual traveling around causing disruption with great crowds of people.  Perhaps it was the way in which he didn’t fit in with the religious establishment.  We don’t know exactly what bothered them, except the fact that they don’t understand and spiritually are not in the right place. 

Let that be a lesson to us.  Sometimes those closest to us can resist the work of God in our life the most.  This is not always true, but it often can be.  Don’t be that type of person that holds people back from what God is doing, out of your own fears.  Make sure that you are following God and then you will be in a good position to help others to do so.  Yet, even then, remember that you are not God.  Leave room for the Holy Spirit to operate in the lives of your loved ones. 

Now, recognize that this passage is not supporting crazy actions.  Jesus was not climbing up on top of the temple and casting himself to the ground.  Rather, it is showing that what Jesus was doing was far outside the normal, and thus, it was hard to accept for many, including his own family.

The second attack on his authority in this passage is from the scribes who are experts in The Law.  They come down from the big city and proclaim that these country bumpkins are being taken in by a charlatan.  They claim that Jesus is able to cast out demons because he is in league with Beellzebub, which was an Aramaic term for the “Lord of the flies,” (aka, the lord of the demons).

However, Jesus sets the record straight.  He first points out that Satan is not going to cast himself out (that is cast out demons who are there doing his bidding and extending his kingdom).  Clearly, Jesus sees Satan as the head honcho of an evil, spiritual kingdom that had been set up on this earth.  No general or king gives up their territory of authority without it being taken from them in some way, which leads to the next point.

Jesus makes it clear that he is casting out demons because he has first “bound the strong man.”  He has somehow put Satan in bonds and thus can go out and mop up his territory at will.  So, what does Jesus mean by binding Satan?

Revelation 20 speaks of a time when Satan will be captured and bound in the bottomless pit for 1,000 years.  He is then going to be released for a short time before he is recaptured and thrown into the Lake of Fire, never to return again.  Of course, Jesus cannot be talking about this actual removal of Satan from earth because the apostles later warn believers to be aware of Satan and his tactics, i.e. he is not bound up yet.  1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  So, we can call this the ultimate binding of Satan and it is not what Jesus means.

The binding is in his own life.  The gospels all point out that the first thing Jesus does in his ministry is to go into the wilderness, where he is tempted by the devil.  Jesus thwarts Satan’s every attempt to bring him under his control.  That is why Jesus later says in John 14:30 that the ruler of this world is coming, but “he has nothing in me.”  So, Jesus has bound Satan in his own life by countering each temptation and spiritual attack.  Notice that most people are possessed by a demon.  However, if we are to set other people free from the bonds of sin that Satan has used to bind them, t hen we must first bind Satan’s work in our own life.  It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit and looking to Jesus Christ that we can overcome the enemy and then plunder his kingdom.

So, as we close this morning, just remember that Christ calls all of his believers to be learners or students of his word.  He also calls us to pick up the work that the apostles began and go to the world with the good news of the person and work of Jesus Christ.  He is God’s answer for the problem of sin in this world.  Put your faith in him today.

Authority of Jesus audio

Tuesday
Apr232013

The Holy Spirit in Spiritual Warfare

Today we are going to look at how the Holy Spirit is involved in Spiritual Warfare.  We are going to start in Ephesians 6:10-12.  When we look at this passage the work of the Spirit doesn’t readily jump out.  But in truth, He is all over the place in this passage.

Now before we begin let’s keep in mind that spiritual warfare is not some kind of mental video game where we visualize slashing demons from behind every tree.  The truth is found in this passage and understanding just how we fight the enemy.

 

He Helps Us Stand Against The Devil

These two verses emphasize the need for believers to lean upon God’s strength and His armor.  Since it is by the Holy Spirit that we know the Father and the Son, it stands to reason that the main way God’s strength and protection come to us is through His Holy Spirit that lives within us.

Now the reality is this, there are evil spirits in this world.  Now the occult world has tried to minimize this by saying that there are also good spirits that we can tap into and be protected.  However, the only spirit in the Bible we are given the green light to seek and approach is the Holy Spirit.  Thus the idea, that the spirit of long dead Grandpa being summoned to give us wisdom is actually a spiritual trick that the enemy uses to trap people.

Notice, that this passage lets us know that without the help of the Spirit of God we are not going to be a match for these kinds of tricks.  The Bible is an excellent source for studying the methods and schemes of the devil.  He employs many different “cons” on people in order to get them under his control.  However, the Holy Spirit within us-who was also directly involved in the writing of Scripture, can also give us warnings from within us.  This is where we need to truly be in prayer and sensitive to what God may be saying.  Anything short of complete dependence upon God and His wisdom will cause us to be entrapped by these demonic schemes.

Another thing to notice in Spiritual Warfare is that our enemy is not a physical enemy.  We are not fighting against people or nations even when they are treating us as their enemy.  In fact, demonic ideas and beliefs always lie behind those who mistreat us.  We don’t “see” them or sense them.  Rather, we recognize their influence through teachings, beliefs, lies, sinful lifestyles, and attitudes, whether they are religious or secular.  Thus we need the Holy Spirit to help us see how the enemy uses others to try and promote ungodly lies to us and to see through this.  The people themselves may not be even aware of this dynamic.  Thus our problem is not generally with someone who is possessed by a demon, but rather with someone who has been tricked and trapped into an ungodly mentality.  Recognizing this will go a long way to helping us keep from getting angry with people and avoiding the pitfalls the enemy sets for us through them.

He Helps Us Advance Against The Devil

Now the next verses in Ephesians 6:13-18 lay out the “Armor of God.”  Paul uses the armor of a Roman soldier to help us recognize the reality and seriousness of the battle around us.  We need to be spiritually prepared.  It will not come by dreaming about slaying demons.  It comes from listening to God’s Word, doing it, getting knocked down, getting back up, and repeat over and over again.

Though much of this armor seems defensive, many of them also have an offensive aspect as well.  Just as the battle is not physical, so our protection and weaponry are not physical as well.  So let’s look at the list.

The belt of Truth points the believer to live their life based on the Truth of God’s Word, especially the Truth about Jesus.  We should be truthful and receive a love of the Truth that the Holy Spirit is seeking to give us.  In fact in John 16:13 The Holy Spirit is called the “Spirit of Truth.”  Thus, we should have an intimate relationship with the Scriptures and spend time in prayer understanding it. We need to make truthfulness the basis of all our relationships.  This is not only a protection, but it is a weapon that God uses to set us and others free.

Next is the Breastplate of Righteousness.  Foremost we are to understand the need for the righteousness of God.  My righteousness falls short without Jesus.  Within the covering of His righteousness then we can embrace doing the right thing.  In fact part of the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of righteousness.  How much more can he lead the believer in living out the righteousness of Christ is this world?  As we lean on Him, He will help us to live righteously and treat people as God would have us.

Next is the Gospel of Peace.  Paul ties this in with the feet particularly because in the Old Testament the prophet says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of them who bring good news.”  The Gospel of Peace with God through Jesus needs to be the flag of every believer’s life.  Thus our feet are prepared to walk tough roads, whether to distant places or across the street, in order to share the Gospel.  This too is aided by the Holy Spirit as He leads and directs us in this endeavor.  Part of our preparation to share the Gospel is knowing the Word.  2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to study to show ourselves as approved workmen.  Yet the other side of it is to recognize that because we have studied and internalized the Word, the Holy Spirit comes along and directs us in what to say.  In fact Jesus promised His disciples in Matthew 10:19-20, “Do not worry about how or what you should speak.  For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”  Wow, what a promise for those who take this spiritual battle seriously.

Paul goes on to mention the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the Sword of the Spirit, Prayer of all kinds and in the Spirit. The Spirit is involved in bringing us to Faith and Salvation.  Also the Sword of the Spirit implies that though we may quote Scripture and share it with others, it really is the Holy Spirit who is using it like a spiritual knife to cut through the layers down to the tender part of their heart.  Prayer becomes important for us and for those that we battle.  In all kinds of prayer and praying in the Spirit we present our needs and also present ourselves for strengthening.  When we live a life filled with these things we combat the enemy in our life and the lives of those around us.  No wonder the enemy spends so much time undermining our faith in God’s Word.

Now I do want to take some time to talk about demon possession because it is a real phenomenon.  Though it seems common place in Scripture we do need to realize that our culture exists upon the foundation of the Christian ethic.  In countries that do not have a biblical foundation demon possession is not rare.  Today anti-spiritualists try to explain everything away as mental illness and of course mental illness does exist.  In fact, Jesus didn’t cast demons out of everyone, some he simply healed.  So, even the Bible recognizes that sometime the problem is merely physical.  However, sometimes a spiritual element exists beyond the physical.  Most likely we will see more and more of this in our country as we continue to cast off Biblical guidance and wisdom.

If you look at the passage in Acts 19:13-17, you will see Paul in the city of Ephesus.  God was doing unusually powerful miracles through Paul there.  Part of that was the deliverance of those who were demon possessed.  It caught the attention of many in Ephesus.  They had tried to deal with the demon possessed people in the past without any effect.  In this passage 7 sons of a Jewish chief priest named Sceva try to copy what Paul was doing.  Thus they go up to a demon possessed person and say, “we exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.”  The Bible says that the evil spirit responded, “Jesus I know and Paul I know; but who are you?”  Then the man jumped on the 7 guys and proceeded to overpower all of them until they ran from the house naked and wounded.

Here we see that without a true living relationship with Jesus himself, we are not prepared for spiritual battle.  No “magical” phrase will make demons come out of a person.  In fact demons don’t always manifest brutally.  Sometimes they come on sickly sweet.

Jesus told his disciples that some demons are harder to cast out than others.  In fact we need to pray and fast as we approach such serious business.  The demon has invested a lot of work to get control of a person and they will try every trick to remain.  The key is that Jesus has all authority over all spirits, both good and evil.  Thus as long as we are anchored in Jesus and take the situation seriously, we can grow in learning how to combat such unseen enemies.

Final Thoughts

Living for Jesus and sharing the Gospel is God’s plan against the enemy.  This doesn’t need to change because we are closer to the end times.  It is simple and yet serious.  When we have the Holy Spirit in us we become a light in a dark world.  How important it is for us to work with Him to take down any strongholds in our life and to take that light into the lives of those who are bound under ideas and philosophies of demons.

When you speak to the lost, pray for insight in how the enemy has trapped them and how to use the Truth to set them free.  Sometimes we can be saying true things, but they are the point that attacks the lie that they have believed.  Take time in prayer and in asking questions and simply listening so that then you can truly be a warrior for God in this life.