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Entries in Demons (6)

Thursday
Oct272016

Society under Siege: The Paranormal Paradigm Shift

Acts 16:16-19; Ephesians 6:10-12; Revelation 9:20-21.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on October 23, 2016.

It is interesting that as drug abuse has sky-rocketed, so has alternative spirituality and paranormal activities.  Historically drugs have been used to make it easier to connect with the spirit world.  However, America’s fascination with the paranormal began long before the 1950’s.  In the 1800’s a large influx of eastern mysticism came to the United States and spawned groups that sought to explore the spirit world.  Séances and contacting spirit guides began to catch fire among certain groups.  Contrary to popular conception, we are not becoming more and more anti-supernatural in our society.  Actually more and more people are adopting a spiritual world view that is alternative to the biblical view.  These alternative views typically teach that all things are connected and that the living can tap into this cosmic connection or force in order to obtain information.  They do not believe in a personal God that will judge our life.  Rather, they believe that we are all part of God, along with everything else in the universe.  This paranormal paradigm shift that is happening in America is really a going back to the ancient world views.  I do not mean that there are huge numbers of people worshipping Zeus.  However, they are reaching out to entities and conversing with “ascended masters,” whether they go by the name Zeus or not.  In many cases American Christians are not prepared for the reality of where this is headed.

It is past time for Christians to get acquainted with what the Bible has to say on this issue and be ready to give an answer for the reason for the hope that we hold.

The Early Church Had A Supernatural World View

In Acts 16:16-19, we join the Apostle Paul in the Greek city of Philippi.  Now a large percentage of the modern Church has rejected the supernatural element of the Bible.  Yes, they will acknowledge that there is a God, but the idea of angels and demons interacting with the world is just too much for them.  Miracles are too much for them.  Thus they explain away the miracles and supernatural events of the Bible.  We will see in our passage today that this is completely foreign to the first Christians.  Such a “belief” is not true Christianity.  It is something else entirely.

To set up this encounter in Acts 16, we need to understand that the Bible presents the reality of spiritual beings.  Just as there is a hierarchy among the peoples of the earth, so there is a heavenly hierarchy within the spirit world.  The Bible presents a cosmic problem.  A rebellion against the Creator has begun in the spirit world and mankind has been caught up in it.  There are good and evil spirit beings that are of lesser or greater power.   There are holy and fallen angels.  Now when Paul entered Philippi, he had come to preach the Gospel of Jesus to those who would listen.  At some point a young girl began to follow him around loudly proclaiming that Paul was a servant of the Most High God and people should listen to him.  This went on for several days.  No doubt Paul was praying about what motivated this girl and what he should do.  We are told that the girl was possessed with a spirit of divination and was used by her master to make him money by telling fortunes.  The word translated “divination” is literally python.  She had a python spirit.  This snake spirit was connected to the god Apollo and was supposed to be responsible for the amazingly accurate prophecies given by the oracles of Apollo.  Now this is not a story of Greek mythology.  Paul meets a real slave girl who is apparently good enough at fortune telling to make her masters money.  Notice that this spirit that possesses the girl operates in a “benign” way in order to give her information.  This is quite the opposite of the spirits that possessed the Gadarene demoniac that Jesus met on the sea of Galilee (Luke 8).  Those spirits manifested in a raging and insane manner that scared the daylights out of anyone who met him.  Thus some spirits are predatory in a malignant and dysfunctional way.  But, other spirits are predatory in a seemingly benign and somewhat functional way.  The ancient world was afraid of the spirits.  This fear and yet desire to know how to be safe in this world is how Satan kept the ancient world under his sway.  The early Christians knew that demons and deceiving spirits existed.  Any fortunes that this girl was ever able to give were part of a deceptive game plan to keep the Philippians under the control of the evil spirits.

Notice how Paul responds.  He is annoyed by what the girl is doing.  However, his problem is not with her.  He knows that the real problem is that python spirit that possessed her.  Early Christians knew that their warfare was not against people, kings, or nations.  They knew that their warfare was against spiritual entities that Satan used to manipulate the people.  This girl was not just a slave of men.  She was a slave to a predatory, evil spirit. 

Look at Ephesians 10-13 for a moment.  This is the famous armor of God passage.  Notice that this is about spiritual warfare against spiritual entities.  The armor of God is also spiritual.  They are to arm themselves with: Truth, Righteousness, The Gospel of Peace, Faith, Salvation, The Word of God, Prayer, and a Watchful Disposition.  He says in verse 10 that these things are needed to stand up to the schemes of the Devil.  Do not let yourself be deceived.  Our real enemies are the spiritual powers that hold the world under their sway.  Our job as Christians is to labor to set people free by the Truth and Power of Jesus Christ.  Of course, most people in Philippi were not possessed by an evil spirit.  Most of them were only “possessed” by the teachings of these evil spirits.  The devil doesn’t have to have everyone possessed.  He only has to manipulate and influence the larger masses to do all his bidding.  This young girl was set free by the Apostle Paul because he first recognized it and then called upon the authority of Jesus to set the girl free.  She needed an exorcism first and then the truth.  But most people Paul ran into needed simply needed the truth of God to cut through the blindness that they had embraced.  We don’t have to look for evil spirits.  Paul wasn’t doing that.  Rather, he was doing what Jesus had sent him to do.  He was looking for people who would listen to the Truth.  Those evil spirits that had dominion over the city didn’t like it and that is why this manifestation occurred.  So focus on people and their need for the truth.  As you are successful at counteracting the lies that these spirits promote in our society, you will start to run into opposition and perhaps even a person who is possessed.  Remember, they don’t all look like the foaming at the mouth girl in “The Exorcist.”

The Failure of Scientific Materialism

The West has come under a world view that is sometimes called Scientific Materialism.  It teaches that there is no spirit world and that all things can be explained through natural processes.  If there is something that can’t be explained we are given a kind of promissory note that promises that science will eventually figure it out.  This materialism points to the supernatural beliefs of the past and labels them all ignorance.  This itself is ignorant, but let’s press on.  It is partially true that the ancient supernatural beliefs were because of man’s ignorance.  However, because it rejects a spirit world, materialists do not recognize that much of the ignorance was because of meddling, evil spirits.

Materialism has problems though.  If humans are just biological machines and our thoughts are merely the random firing of synapses (i.e. just natural processes), then there is no right and wrong and there is no purpose or free will.  A crushing hopelessness lies at the end of such a belief.  It also runs into a logical contradiction.  If there is only material then the material had to either bring itself into existence or it is eternal.  Yet, if it has always been (if we can eternally go back to an earlier time) then time would never have gotten to us.  You cannot have an infinite regression of a material thing (space, time, matter).  This adds to the weight that few humans can actually follow such a world view.  It is too cruel and too inhuman.  Something in us cries for something beyond.  The weakness of scientific materialism has given rise to a new wave of the old spiritual ideas and paranormal activity like Paul encountered in Philippi.

As I said earlier, this began in the 1800’s as gurus and Tibetan masters interacted with the West.  The mystical world view of the East promoted a mushy spiritual paradigm.  Everything is God and we can learn to tap into it and the collective wisdom of all the spirits.  Thus séances, channeling, the occult, and many other vehicles became popular ways to connect to the spirit world.  Now surely there were charlatans who were out to make a buck off of the superstitions of suckers.  But, some activity could not be explained with this.  Early debunkers were not entirely successful.  Of course they didn’t have the scientific know how that we do today, right?  But then explain why even modern debunkers have trouble explaining away every experience and story that comes along.  Explain why our colleges and military still conduct experiments in the paranormal.

This alternate spiritual world view was different than the biblical world view.  However, during the 1800’s many Christian denominations began to give up the idea of the supernatural and miraculous.  Thus the Church was seduced to embrace scientific materialism and create a hybrid that allowed for a God, Jesus and not much else.  Jesus became a mere example and most of what is said about him never happened.  These moralists on one side and a harsh scientific materialism on the other side became a perfect dichotomy for funneling people toward something more and something spiritual. 

The alternative spiritual world view offered something that was new and exciting to many in America and the Western countries.  Thus many unwittingly opened themselves up to evil spirit with malignant designs.  The Bible warned us about them, but we have been set up to disregard what the biblical prophets had to say.  These spirits are deceivers and they cannot be trusted.  This is why God forbids and warns against attempts to contact spirits.  Christians are to pray only to God Himself.  We interact with only His Holy Spirit.  Don’t get me wrong.  The “wisdom” of these spirit beings can be powerful and seductive.  But like Satan with Eve, they only seek to steal from us what we have.

So What Should Christians Do?

First we need to quit running away from the Bible and start believing it.  You do not have to reject the reality of science in order to embrace the Bible.  You might have to reject the world view that some scientists have.  But, many scientists are Christians too.  Some of them do not have a biblical world view, but some of them do.  So what is the biblical world view?  God created both the spiritual and material world.  A rebellion in the spirit world came into the material world, when Satan tricked mankind into disobeying God.  God then gave mankind over to the desires of their heart and they became enslaved to these spiritual beings, or false gods.  Yet, in His mercy, God provided a way for humans to be saved from this slavery and His eternal judgment.  Christians have been sent into the entire world to set people free from the rule of these false gods and their demonic spirits.

In fact, Revelation 9 reveals that in the last days before Christ returns, a spiritual prison called the bottomless pit will be opened up and the earth will be inundated with malevolent spirits who will angrily attack mankind because they know their time is short.  The earth is not becoming less spiritual.  We are headed towards a time of great spiritual deception and attack.  Revelation 9:20-21 says, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”  This is where we are headed.

We should also be busy warning people about these deceiving spirits and the deceptions they have promoted in our society.  Many are enslaved by the teachings and ideas that come from these evil spirits.  Science is not our enemy.  Our enemy is using science and a deceptive interpretation of its findings to deceive mankind.  He wants us to be caught off-guard by his true intentions.

Lastly, Christians must walk in the authority of Jesus Christ.  Paul said to the demon, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.”  A little girl was set free that day because Paul knew that these evil spirits cannot stand up to Jesus.  We have been sent on a mission from God to tell people about Jesus.  If you read the entire chapter of Acts 16, you see that Paul got his first convert by preaching by the river where people gathered to pray.  Lydia believed in Jesus and asked Paul to stay and teach her more.  The world would call Paul a cultural murderer.  But, He knew he was operating under the authority of Jesus who is Lord of all Lords and King of all kings, both on earth and in the heavens above.  Let’s trust Him and be about our Father’s business.

The Paranormal Paradigm Shift audio

Tuesday
Nov112014

A Clean House

Today we will be looking at Luke 11:24-26.  Here Jesus teaches on evil spirits or demons.  It is impossible to know how many evil spirits are operating throughout the world and in our society.  The Bible is silent on this aspect and so, Christians should approach this issue with balance.  On one hand we should not think that everyone is full of spirits and everything they do influenced directly by them.  Yet, on the other hand, we should not pretend that we know better than Jesus himself and that they do not exist.

The experience throughout history is that if an evil spirit is involved they will make it clear in one way or another.  Jesus was so successful in casting out evil spirits that his opponents accused him of being in league with the Prince of Demons.  It was in such a case that Jesus began to explain what is really going on when an evil spirit is cast out of a person.

Now, it is helpful to have this information regarding evil spirits because it will be a protection for ourselves and an aid against those spirits if we encounter them.  Yet, we must not let ourselves be made fearful in these things.  Evil spirits are real.  But, greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.  Jesus proved his power over evil spirits and if the Spirit of Christ is in you and the knowledge of Christ is too, then you can stand without fear.

Demons Can Be Made To Leave

The spirit that Jesus had just cast out had made the person it possessed unable to speak.  It is one thing to see a person go from acting crazy to being in their right mind.  However, it is quite another to see a person who has been unable to speak suddenly able and doing so.  As the crowds marveled over the power of Christ and others cynically accused him of working with Satan, we must not lose sight that people who are demon possessed can be set free.

So how did they become demon possessed to begin with?  Initially there needs to be some form of permission.  This can be in the form of curiosity with spirits, or seeking power through them, divination, fortune telling, occult arts, or even “white” and “black” magic.  Pursuing these things is essentially opening the door to the spirits that have promoted these things.  Although the Bible does not explain the detail of how all this works, it is clear that evil spirits can attach themselves to individuals in varying degrees of control.  The good news is that Jesus demonstrated that spirits can be made to leave and not just in rare cases such as the Jewish exorcists did.  Ultimately when one who is stronger spiritually confronts it, the spirit can be made to leave.  Jesus is that one who is not just spiritually stronger, but is the King of all kings and Lord of all lords (materially or spiritually).  He is the one that we lean upon.  Yet, Jesus gives us more information than that here.

They Are Restless When Cast Out

Two pictures are given of what it is like when an unclean spirit is cast out of someone:  dry places, and lack of rest.  For an evil spirit to be kicked out of possessing someone is like you and I finding ourselves in a desert.  The dry place has no fruit or shade or promise of such.  It is a barren place that will not grow what we would like to grow.  Of course spirits aren’t looking for “food.”  They are looking for a promising person that they can plant themselves in and do the evil works that they want to do.  Thus they are restless or without a place (person) in which to dwell.  Perhaps they desire possession because that is the only way they can impact the material world for evil.  Satan’s desire is to destroy the works of God and so through possession spirits are able to fight against and destroy parts of God’s work in mankind and this world.  Without this connection they are like a man who is stuck in the desert.

This raises a question.  Why were there so many cases of demonic possession in those days?  And, are there any less today?  Though Israel had the truth of God, they generally did not follow the ways of God because of unbelief.  Thus they were often mixing God’s commands with occult religion.  The accepting of the religious practices of the nations around them led them into the trap of these spirits.  If you look at America today we have a similar problem.  We started out with the Truth of Christ as a nation.  However, over the years our unbelief has caused us to seek out religious “truth” elsewhere.  This has opened the door for greater prevalence of demonic activity and possession.  You can scoff this teaching off today.  However, these issues will become more and more prevalent in our society.

They Will Seek To Repossess

Evil spirits are not content with “dry places” and “restlessness.”  They are looking for other easy targets.  Are we quickly becoming a “target rich” environment?  They last place you want to be, if you are messing with the occult or false religions, is at an exorcism.  That would be playing with fire. 

If the spirit does not find another easy target it will eventually return to the last place it had success.  Jesus says that the spirit finds the person to be “swept and in order.”  This by contrast helps us see what these evil spirits do inside of a person.  They clutter the internal mind and soul of a person with spiritual dirt and garbage and cause chaos.  We see this with the Gadarene demoniac.  He went from running around naked and acting crazy to being clothed and in his right mind.  Those who suffered sickness and disease in their bodies from evil spirits were healed when the spirit was made to leave.  Those who were dysfunctional and mentally broken became functional and in control of their own mind and actions.  Spirits use chaos and acts of sin and evil to breakdown the internal order and cease control.

They Enlist Worse Spirits To Help

This aspect is critical in understanding why Jesus is telling us this information.  He had been accused of working with the Prince of Demons to cast out these evil spirits.  Yet, Jesus reveals that the way it really works is that lesser spirits will use their foothold in a person to bring in worse spirits.  The worse spirits are not kicking out lesser spirits.  Yes, the evil spirit could try to take over the person again.  However, it could end up getting kicked out again.  Thus it gets 7 other spirits more evil than it.  Look at it this way, people are more easily seduced by that which flirts on the edge rather than the outrageous in your face attack.  An evil spirit that operates through mere anger and bitterness is easier to embrace than one that operates through murder.  Yet, they are both evil and the embracing of one can lead to the other over time.  Thus Jesus warns that the person can end up in a worse state than previously.  Compare the Gadarene demoniac to the Slave girl in Philippi.  One could not function at all and was complete chaos.  The other operated in a way in which her masters could make money off of her and she didn’t need to be restrained.  These spirits have modes of operating that can be more or less evil and yet all are dangerous.

Don’t Leave The House Empty

Although Jesus leaves it at that, this information begs a solution.  How can a person keep from being repossessed and end up in a worse state?  Well it does start with the phrase swept and in order.  Though the evil spirit may be gone, we can still have a lot of paraphernalia in our lives that led to possession in the first place (occult books, pictures, symbols, books of magic, etc…).  We can also have a lot of habits and activities that the spirit used to keep us in slavery.  A person who is serious in being free needs to go through their house and life and do some heavy cleaning and “pruning.”  Certain places will cease to be our hangouts.  Certain people will cease to be our friends. 

Yet, more than cleaning needs to be done.  We need to invite the clean and pure Holy Spirit of God to take up residence in our soul.  Thus the people that Jesus interacted with received a lot of material benefit from Jesus.  But all of that would be little if they didn’t spiritually benefit.  Casting a spirit out is one thing.  But asking the Holy Spirit to fill us and live within us is a far greater thing.  Don’t leave the house empty.  Accept the invitation that Jesus has extended to you today.

Let me close this by laying it out in order.  When you are dealing with evil spirits the first thing that is needed is a strong believer in Jesus who will pray for the freedom of the person possessed.  Next they need to sweep their life clean of all the spiritual junk connected to those spirits.  Lastly, the person needs to put their faith in Jesus and ask for the Holy Spirit to fill them.  This is the path to freedom for those who have found themselves in bondage to evil entities.  May the peace and freedom of Christ reign in our hearts and minds.

 

Clean House Audio

Tuesday
Sep232014

The Joy of Jesus & His Disciples

When a child is young it is easier for them to rejoice in the gifts that they receive more than in those who give them.  Hopefully over time they will learn to rejoice more in the giver than in the gift.  Today we are going to look at Luke 10:17-24.  Here we see the disciples overjoyed that they had authority over demons.  Yet, Jesus points them to a better joy, the joy of belonging to God and having His salvation. 

It is not that God doesn’t want us rejoicing.  In fact, God wants us to join Him in what causes Him to rejoice.  When we rejoice in the wrong things our hearts are pulled away from Jesus little by little.

What We Rejoice In Is Critical

As the 70 disciples return from their ministry throughout the cities of Israel, we find them rejoicing greatly with Jesus.  They had been successful and accomplished exactly what Jesus had asked them.  Thus their slight error of rejoicing in their power over demons could have been allowed to slide.  Yet, Jesus takes some time to “rain on their parade.”  It is not because they are too happy and Jesus wants them to be serious.  Rather, their rejoicing is centered on the wrong thing and their joy is being drawn from the wrong well.

Now the problem of demonic possession is real.  It can be prevalent or rare in areas; depending upon where you live.  In places where the Truth of God has been rejected the teachings of demons eventually take over.  Why?  When people quit living by God’s Word they find themselves powerless and empty.  It then becomes too easy to turn to other means of power and fulfillment.  When we seek spiritual power from sources other than God, we fall into the trap of Satan.  Thus many false religions and ideologies have come into being over the millennia of mankind’s existence.  Now not all mental problems are caused by demons.  However, our tendency in the modern era is to discount the biblical record and chalk it up to their ignorance.  This mistake will leave us powerless as well.  In the first century AD, Israel had become such a place where God’s word was only given a superficial nod.  Demonic possession had gone from a rare thing to something that was more common.  The 70 had seen cities and families powerless to deal with these possessed people.  Thus their shock at the obedience of the demons to themselves turns into great joy.

In verse 18 Jesus responds by telling them about seeing Satan fall from heaven like lightning.  Now the Bible speaks of several “falls” of Satan.  So it is not evident to which he is referring.  We know that Satan fell from being a Holy Angel to becoming a Fallen Angel.  He loses his place and position in the heavenly leadership.  Yet, Revelation 12:9 also speaks of a time where Satan is “kicked out” of the heavenlies.  His access to the throne of God is cut off and he is restricted to the earth.  Later he will be cast down into the Bottomless Pit, and then released for a short time.  After this he is cast into the Lake of Fire, from which there is no return.  Is Jesus looking back to the fall from grace at the beginning of creation?  If so he is warning them that Satan too once had powerful authority and yet fell from it out of pride.  However, Jesus may be looking to something during those days.  It is clear that the entrance of Jesus into mankind and the earth had begun the fall of Satan’s kingdom.  Satan had plundered all mankind and it was under his sway.  But Jesus comes forth and begins casting him down from his rule over people and nations.  The Church would extend what Jesus had begun because of the work done at the cross.  In this case Jesus is encouraging them that Satan has lost his place and his kingdom is ripe for the picking.  Of course this will not be completed until the 2nd coming of Christ, but that is a topic for another time.

The second scenario seems more plausible because Jesus goes on to confirm that he had given his disciples authority over demons.  He calls them serpents and scorpions, but this is clearly a metaphor for the evil spirits.  We must remember that our authority is not over people and nations.  Similarly the enemy we are called to fight is not political parties, racial groups, other religions, or even Islamic Jihadis.  Our real war is against these evil spirits and the teachings or ideologies that they use to control people.

Now even though Jesus has given authority, we have to exercise that authority and learn how to use it.  We need to learn how to pray and fast, keep ourselves in daily communion with Jesus, and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Instead of being fearful of these things or pretending they don’t exist, we need to take a stand against them and cast down their influence over others.  There is one thing to note.  Not all people are possessed by evil spirits.  Most people are just heavily influenced through philosophy and vain arguments exalted against God.  Possession occurs when people actually seek power from those spirits through the occult arts.  This “permission” allows evil spirits to dominate their personality and doesn’t always manifest the same way.  In cases where there is possession the person is generally wanting to be free of the tormenting spirit, although not always.  Yet, people who are under the seductive influence of demons are not so easily helped.  In those cases we have to use the Truth of God to free their mind from the lies they have embraced.

Now Jesus points them to center their rejoicing on the fact that their names are written in the heaven, i.e. that they belong to God and are saved.  I think a good principle to learn from this correction is that we should never rejoice in authority.  It is a duty and a responsibility for which we will be held accountable.  Much is at risk and requires sober focus upon the task at hand to be successful.  Therefore sobriety is the proper response to authority.  But the grace we have received from God is a proper thing to rejoice in. 

Let’s use an exorcism as an example.  The person who is freed from an evil spirit has been given the grace of God.  It is only right for them to rejoice that they are free from the evil spirit, have been given Truth, and are now able to follow Jesus.  However, the person who is used to cast the spirit out should rejoice that they belong to Jesus and now they have a new brother or sister who can experience that joy as well. 

Another example could be that of being a parent.  Raising children is a tough but rewarding task.  It is common for a young couple to rejoice that they have been given a child from God.  He has graced them with the child.  But few would rejoice that they have authority over the child.  No, that is the sobering part of being a parent.  Not only am I responsible to teach this child, but the child quickly shows that it has a sinful nature and often fights us in that responsibility.  Yet, parents can rejoice that the same God who has given them the task will also supply the help of the Holy Spirit to raise them for Him.  Thus the principle is this: rejoice in the grace you have received rather than the authority you have been given.  Rejoicing over authority actually leads to pride, arrogance, and eventually to a great fall.

Jesus Rejoices

As we see Jesus correcting their joy, in verses 21-24 we see that Jesus is not joyless himself.  Just as Jesus wept, he also rejoiced!  God does want us to have joy in life.  But He knows our hearts are tempted to rejoice in the wrong things.  Thus Luke relates those things that Jesus rejoiced in.

He rejoiced that the plan of salvation had been hidden from the “wise” of this world.  This may sound odd at first.  Why would God hide salvation from the wise of this world?  It is perhaps better to ask ourselves in what way it is hidden to them.  The Gospel is not a secret.  The death and resurrection of Jesus were done in the open and later preached openly over the course of two millennia.  It is not hidden in that they have never seen it or heard it.  Rather it is hidden because the choices they have made have blinded them to see that it is a greater wisdom.  They are so filled with their own wisdom that when the wisdom of God comes along, it seems foolish to them.  Yes, they see it with their natural eyes, but supernaturally they cannot see it for what it is.  Though we can learn many things through our knowledge and wisdom of this world, it can never lead us to discover the path of man’s salvation.  Will future artificial intelligences save mankind?  Will genetic manipulation lead to us becoming the gods that we have thrown behind us?  None of these answers or any future ones will really save mankind.  They will only lead to deeper hells and stronger chains.  The only way we can “see” the real path of salvation is to have it revealed to us by God Himself by His Spirit.  Those who are fascinated with their own methods of obtaining wisdom are not quick to turn to such a thing.  God’s wisdom recognizes that if he saves people through mankind’s own wisdom then He only will be stroking the pride of man and making his condition worse.  It was our “wisdom” that got us in this problem in the first place.  “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate it.”  Pride and lust have led to our fall and thus our salvation must cast these things to the ground.  When we recognize the wisdom of God, we too will rejoice that salvation is not something that an elite few of mankind can obtain.  The elite already think they are saved.  But God comes to those who know they are lost and cry out for help.  These He can save.

Jesus also rejoices that the plan of salvation has been revealed to “babes.”  “Babes” here is in contrast to the wise.  This mysterious salvation that is hidden and yet not hidden can be found by babies.  It is hidden to those who are full of themselves and believe that the only gems of knowledge are the ones they have found without the help of any god.  But God has given the truth, not to the Herods, Ceasars, and High Priests of this world.  Rather, he has given it to those whom these look down upon.  Those who are not full of themselves and are not offended at the need to humble themselves are able to receive God’s offer of salvation.  This is what makes Jesus rejoice.  If the way is hidden to you, it is by your own doing.

In verses 23-24, Jesus ends by reminding them of what God has given them.  A new and blessed age had begun through the wisdom of Christ.  In fact Jesus is the wisdom of God sent down to free mankind from the tyrannical pride of its own wisdom.  It is not that we shouldn’t be wise, but that our wisdom is in actuality foolishness.  When our wisdom causes us to cast the Creator aside, and when our wisdom doesn’t think retaining the knowledge of God is important, then we have doomed ourselves.  The Church of Christ was instituted as a part of a new kingdom in which the weak, poor, and babies of this world would be enabled to rise up and walk in the salvation of God.  They would live out this peculiar wisdom of God in the world, and by doing so, cast down the power of Satan and his den of snakes.

Let me encourage you, Christian, first cast down the teaching of demons in your own life.  You may not think of it as so.  But each time you cling to anger over forgiveness you have embraced the same thoughts of Satan and his evil spirits.  Each time you let wounds rule your life, you walk the same path that Satan and his spirits blazed eons ago.  When you have cleared your own life, then you will be able to help others, even to the point of exercising authority over demons.  Let us not walk in fear, or in arrogant pride.  Instead, let us walk in the simple faith of a child and prayerfully use the authority that Christ has given us for the sake of others.

Joy of Jesus Audio

Tuesday
Aug052014

The Powerful Purpose of Christ

Today we are going to look at the passage in Luke 9:37-45.  Jesus, Peter, John and James are coming down the mountain the day after the transfiguration of Jesus, in which his majesty and glory were revealed to the Three.  If you add that situation with all of the other signs and wonders they had seen, the power of Christ was well impressed upon them.  In this passage there is another powerful encounter as Jesus casts a demon out of a boy.  This kind of power can cause people to drool over all the imagination of what you can do.  Whether it is the people of Israel ready to conquer the Romans and remove the wicked leaders in the Sanhedrin or the disciples imagining their positions of power alongside of Jesus, we would not use such power for the same thing Jesus did. 

Yes, Jesus healed people everywhere he went.  But, that wasn’t his main objective.  Jesus physically couldn’t fix all the difficulties in the world limited within a human body.  But even if he did go around healing people and setting them free from evil spirits, it wouldn’t fix the underlying problem: our sin.   Jesus was sent to deal with the root of mankind’s problem.  We are a world that has come under the sway of sin and spiritual death.  Such a problem needs a spiritual answer.  Yet, that answer is counter-intuitive to our worldly thinking.  Even when we accept Christ’s death on the cross, we tend to see it as an example of how bad hatred is and how good love is.  Jesus is merely an example.  However, the testimony of Scripture is that he was paying the price for the sins of mankind.  Jesus had to lay down his powerful life and die on a cross in order to deal with our sin.  This seems like a waste of power to many people.

Jesus Heals A Possessed Boy

In verses 37-42, a large crowd sees Jesus coming down off the mountain and meets him.  Particularly, there is one gentleman who has a demon possessed boy.  He begs Jesus for help and states that his disciples (the nine who did not go up the mountain) couldn’t cast out the demon.

Now in the gospel of Mark chapter 9 we are given a lot more detail than Luke gives.  Let me go through some of those details.  We are told that the boy has been possessed since he was a small child.  The spirit had caused him to become mute and deaf.  The spirit would often seize the boy near fire or water, thus endangering his life.  He would not only seize, but would also foam and gnash his teeth.  It would be easy to scoff at the idea of a demon and look at these descriptions as antiquated relics of ignorance.  Of course medically we do know much more.  However, they had medicine back then as well.  Even today, there are incidents that modern medicine have problem explaining.  They typically get thrown under the banner of “mental disorders.”  Now not all mental issues have to do with demons.  However, there are three main problems that crop up in some mental issues.  The first is that the mention of Jesus or Scripture triggers events of seizure and difficulty in some.  Secondly, they sometimes speak in a different voice cursing Christ, the Bible, and Christians.  Lastly, it can be brought to the end at a vocal command through the power of Jesus.  These things cannot be mere coincidence or cultural.  So this really does seem to be more than just a brain problem.  There is a spirit that is doing this to the child.

The 9 disciples that had stayed behind had been trying to cast out this demon without success.  Now keep in mind that they had previously gone out throughout Israel healing people and casting out demons.  Jesus had given them authority to do so.  There was something wrong in this situation and they didn’t know what it was.  This goes to show that casting out demons is not about knowing the right words or merely being a disciple of Jesus.  Definitely we need to be connected to Christ in a living relationship.  But there is more to it than that.

In verse 41 Jesus brings up the issue of faith and perversion.  It is not addressed to the disciples, but to the generation as a whole.  It seems that this situation is itself a picture of how degraded Israel had become and how plundered by the enemy they were.  Spirits cannot just possess someone.  They can only take hold of someone when they have willfully opened themselves up to them.  This is done through false religions, occult arts, magic, sorcery, fortune tellers or any other such things.  Somewhere someone in this family has been going to spirits for something and it has resulted in a small child being possessed.  What does faith and perversion have to do with this?  God had given Israel perfect laws that would enable them to walk in power before the spirits of this world.  He had warned them of those spiritual traps the enemy used to gain power over people.  Yet, some did not believe the “old, archaic” words of the Bible.  Instead they willfully went their own way seeking power from sources God had told them not to.  On top of this, Israel had not merely sought power from another source, they also had done so while still claiming to be God’s people.  Their lives had become a mixture of things from the Bible and yet things forbidden in the Bible.  To twist God’s ways is to pervert them.  Thus the child bound by a demon and the impotence of the disciples is a small picture of the problem throughout all of Israel. 

Yet, Jesus tells the man, “If you believe all things are possible.”  To which the man replies, “I believe, help my unbelief.”  Here we see the mercy of Christ.  Though it is frustrating that they are in the situation because of their own willfulness and sin, God still has compassion on us and wants to save us.  Jesus points him back to the root problem.  If you will have faith in God all things are possible.  We are being challenged in this ourselves.  We are a generation that is lacking faith in God’s word and in His ways.  We have called our perversions acceptable to God by twisting Scripture to our own ends.  We need to take warning.

Mark tells us that Jesus commanded the Deaf and mute spirit to come out of the boy.  The boy convulsed greatly and screamed and then suddenly stopped.  The crowd thought the boy was dead.  However, Jesus took the boy by the hand and raised him up and gave him back to his father.  This is a picture of us.  We come to God full of all manner of evil things begging for help.  Though he sets us free, it leaves us in a powerless state like this boy, as if dead.  In his mercy, Jesus takes us by the hand and helps us to get up and walk in the new freedom that he has given us.  Not all have been possessed by demons, but we all have found ourselves helpless and bound to the lies that they have sown throughout our society.  Only Jesus can set us free.

Mark also has the additional information of why the 9 disciples could not cast out the demon.  Jesus told them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”  There are two things that stick out in this answer.  First of all, there are kinds of spirits.  Some are apparently harder to cast out than others.  The disciples had not run into this kind before.  The second issue has to do with prayer and fasting.  We are not given the explanation of what prayer and fasting does to enable casting out “stronger” spirits.  However, the greatest work of prayer is to focus us on God and his work.  If we live our lives mostly focused on material things of this world and rarely on God, we will find that we lack power for certain spiritual things.  Jesus points his disciples to this area.  When he is gone, they are going to need to prayer and fast at greater levels in order to do the work that God has for them.

Christ’s Purpose vs His Power

In verses 43-45 we see an interaction between Jesus and his disciples.  All of the displays of power that Jesus had been doing caused them to expect the exact opposite of what Jesus was going to do.  They expected a confrontation with the Romans and the leaders of Israel in which Jesus takes over.  All of the majestic power of Christ was not headed to this objective.  Rather, He was headed to a cross.  Even today, many reject Christ because his answer to the world seems weak and pitiful to them.  What a colossal waste of power, they think to themselves.  This difficulty in understanding God’s ways has been a timeless problem for mankind.  We don’t just think differently, but our thoughts lead in the exact opposite direction.  The bible tells us that even the foolishness of God is far higher than the greatest wisdom of man.  In Luke Jesus says, “let these words sink down into your ears…”  A surface understanding alone will not work.  Jesus was to be betrayed and killed; get it through your head.  If we follow Jesus in a superficial way and ignore all the tough things that he says, we will not get far.  The closer Jesus got to the cross the fewer people who gathered around him, until he was all alone.  Jesus is the Rejected One.  No matter how popular he is in a moment in time, we will all be tested in the long run.  You will be forced to choose.  Whom are you following?  Are you following Jesus or the wise and great of this world?  This is the question that is constantly put before those who wish to follow Jesus.  To follow Jesus is to pick up your own cross expecting to die along with him.  Let these words sink into your ears.

Powerful Purpose of Christ Audio