The Movie, Braveheart, tells the story of a common man named William Wallace who led Scotland to freedom from English rule.
At the end of the movie, Wallace has been betrayed to the English and sits in prison awaiting execution. The Princess of Wales, who wants to free him, comes to his cell. She asks if there is any way he could recant his rebellion to save his life.
She says, “I come to beg you to confess all and swear allegiance to the king so that he may show you mercy.”
Wallace says, “If I swear to him, all that I am is dead already.”
Weeping, the princess says, “You will die. It will be awful.”
To which Wallace replies, “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” (Braveheart, 20th Century Fox, 1995, 2:31:40 to 2:32:53, scene 18 on DVD).
Do you want to really live? Then I invite you to turn with me to Mark 5, Mark 5, where Jesus helps a man in a worthless condition find a life truly worth living.
Mark 5:1-5 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. (NIV)
Now, according to the Talmud, which is an ancient commentary on the Old Testament Law, there were four characteristics of madness: walking [outside] at night; spending the night on a grave; tearing one’s clothes; and destroying what one was given. This man demonstrated all four characteristics (Lane, p.182). But he was more than insane, he was demon possessed! This man had allowed Satan’s legions to control his life, and it drove him mad.
Mark 5:6-7 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” (NIV) – Or better, “I implore you BY GOD not to torture me.”
Mark 5:8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” (NIV)
The demons in this man recognize Jesus’ superior power. He is kneeling before our Lord and begging not to be tortured, not so much the man himself, but the demons in him.
Mark 5:9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” (NIV)
Now, a Roman legion in Jesus’ day was about 6,000 soldiers. In other words, thousands of demons had entered this man and made his life miserable.
Mark 5:10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. (NIV)
They feared not having a definite place to stay.
Mark 5:11-13 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. (NIV)
These pigs teach us a very valuable lesson. They clearly demonstrate that Satan is a destroyer. These demons had already destroyed a man’s dignity, his sanity, and eventually they would have destroyed his life¸ had Jesus not stopped them. Instead, they drive 2,000 pigs over the cliff, killing them all.
To Satan, a man is no different than a pig, just another animal. And if we surrender our lives to Satan and sin, we end up living and dying like animals (Wiersbe). Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). So, if you want a full life, then trust Jesus with your life, and…
DON’T LET SATAN DESTROY YOU.
Don’t let the devil have the least bit of control even over a small part of your life. Don’t give him even one inch, because if you do, he’ll end up taking all nine yards and ruining your life.
We don’t know how this man in Mark 5 ended up having so many demons in him – thousands of them! But we do know that such demonization is no accident. Demons don’t enter a person unless that person deliberately opens himself up to demonic influence.
In the Old Testament, the account of King Saul’s life shows us that little acts of rebellion invite evil spirits into our lives (1 Samuel 13:13-14; 15:22-23; 16:14). And in the New Testament, Ephesians 4 teaches us that unresolved anger gives Satan a beachhead in our lives, from which to wreck havoc (Ephesians 4:26-27). We don’t have to give Satan much of an opportunity, but if we give Him just a little bit, he will jump right in and take over.
Dale Hays, in Leadership journal, describes a trip he made to Haiti where he heard a Haitian pastor illustrate the need for total commitment to Christ.
He said, “A certain man wanted to sell his house for $2,000. Another man wanted very badly to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn't afford the full price. After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one stipulation: he would retain ownership of one small nail protruding from just over the door.
“After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So first the owner went out found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail.”
The Haitian pastor concluded, “If we leave the Devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ's habitation.” (Dale A Hays, Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 2)
Have you given Satan just one small peg in your life? Have you opened yourself up to demonic influence even through little acts of rebellion or unresolved anger? If you have, then I beg you, deal with that rebellion; deal with that anger before things get worse – much worse.
Charles Kraft says, “Demons are like rats that are attracted to garbage. The problem is the garbage, consisting of things like our persistent sinful behaviors, our reactions to our emotional wounds, and sinful generational influences and patterns. These are the issues for which we are responsible. When we deal with them, when we get rid of the garbage, then the rats won't have anything to feed on, and it's easy to make them go away.” (Stephen Seamands, Wounds That Heal: Bringing Our Hurts to the Cross, Intervarsity Press, p.93)
Get rid of the garbage in your life and get rid of the rats. Ask Jesus to help you clean out the sin and anger that’s there. Then you won’t have to worry about opening yourself up to demonic influence, which will absolutely wreck your life. If you want a full and abundant life, then don’t let Satan destroy you. More than that…
DON’T LET SOCIETY DETAIN YOU.
Don’t let the world around you tie you down. Don’t let yourself be chained with its selfish and greedy attitudes.
The people in the village were not concerned about the demonized man in Mark 5. They were concerned only for themselves. They were concerned only for their own comfort and income. They put the man in chains to try and keep him away. And when Jesus healed him, they were more concerned about the loss of their pigs than they were the health of the man.
Mark 5:14-17 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. (NIV)
You see, the pigs represented a considerable income for the town. They raised the pigs to be sold at market in this Gentile section of the country. But when Jesus’ actions destroyed their lucrative source of income, they feared further losses should Jesus stay. That’s why they asked him to leave.
Again, the pigs teach us a very important lesson. Not only do they teach us that Satan is a destroyer. They teach us that the world is selfish & self-centered. Warren Wiersbe says, “The destruction of the pigs revealed the spiritual condition of the people of that district: they would rather have their swine than have the Savior! Money was more important than the healing of [this man] or the salvation of their own souls” (Wiersbe, Bible Exposition Commentary).
You see, Jesus was coming to town to be a blessing to them. He would have healed more people, He would have brought the good news of the Kingdom, and pushed away a lot more darkness. But the people would rather have their pigs than the power of Christ at work in their town, so they beg Him to leave.
They were chained by their own self-interest & greed, a set of chains worse than what the demon possessed man ever had. He at least was able to break free from his chains. On the other hand, the people, like many today, don’t even know they’re chained by their attitudes, so they never break free.
It reminds me of an old tale about a village that bought a fancy tower clock for their town square. Quite a while after it was installed, a visitor to the town discovered that all the people were sleeping during the day and working at night. He asked the villagers about it, and they told him, “We have the most unique town in America. After we got our new clock, we began to notice that the sun kept rising earlier and earlier every morning. Finally the daytime hours were dark and the night hours were light. We are petitioning the President for special recognition as the only town in America with such a situation.”
Well, as it turned out, sparrows were roosting inside the clock mechanism, which caused it to run slower and slower. They didn’t realize the problem, so they allowed themselves to be controlled by this manmade device (Ruth Ann Ridley, “Learning to Live in the Limits,” Discipleship Journal, Jan/Feb 1983; www.Preaching Today.com)
Now, that’s the way it is with a lot of people in the world. They’re not aware of the problem, so they allow themselves to be controlled by manmade devices, by the pursuit of money or a host of other material things. After all, everybody else is doing it, we tell ourselves. But let me tell you: Such an attitude is worse than any physical chain. Such tyranny keeps us in the dark when we should be enjoying the light. Such selfishness robs us of our enjoyment of life.
My dear friends, if you want to really live, don’t let Satan destroy you; don’t let society detain you. Instead…
TRUST THE SAVIOR TO DELIVER YOU.
Depend on Christ to make a difference in your life. Rely on Him to change you from the inside out.
That’s what Jesus did for the demonized man in Mark 5. The only thing society could do was chain him up and lock him away, but even that didn’t do any good. Jesus, on the other hand, changed him from the inside out. On the outside (vs.15), he was “sitting there, dressed and in his right mind.” But on the inside there had been a real change, as well.
Mark 5:18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. (NIV)
It’s the same language used in Mark 3:14 where Jesus appointed 12 as apostles to be “WITH HIM.” This man wanted to be “WITH Jesus” in His inner circle as one of His apostles. Unlike everybody else, this man wanted to get as close to Jesus as possible, but Jesus had other plans for him.
Mark 5:19-20 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. (NIV)
“The Decapolis” is a Gentile region east of Galilee which includes 10 cities. And there, God used him to open people’s hearts to the Savior for when He later came to that same region. In Mark 7, Jesus goes into “the region of the Decapolis” where He heals a deaf man and gets a much better reception than what he got this time (Mark 7:31-37). At that time, Mark 7:37 says, “People were overwhelmed with amazement. ‘He has done everything well,’ they said. ‘He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.’”
When all society could do was chain a crazy man up, Jesus changed him from the inside out and then turned him loose to open the way for further ministry in his own community. And Jesus can do the same for you and me. He can change us from the inside out and use us for His glory right here in our own community.
Lee Strobel is a pastor, an author, and a former atheist, who is now one of the leading defenders of the Christian faith today. In a message some time ago, he talked about the difference God made in his life.
His daughter Allison was 5 years old when he became a follower of Jesus, and all she had known in those five years was a dad who was profane and angry. Strobel says, “I remember I came home one night and kicked a hole in the living room wall just out of anger with life. I am ashamed to think of the times Allison hid in her room to get away from me.”
Yet five months after Lee Strobel gave his life to Jesus Christ, that little girl went to his wife and said, “Mommy, I want God to do for me what he's done for Daddy.” At age 5! What was she saying?
She had never studied the archeological evidence [regarding the truth of the Bible] like her dad had. All she knew was her dad used to be this way: hard to live with. But more and more her dad was changing for the better. And if that is what God does to people, then sign her up. At age 5 she gave her life to Jesus.
Lee Strobel says, “God changed my family. He changed my world. He changed my eternity.” (Lee Strobel, from the sermon, “The Case for Christ” at Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, California; www.PreachingToday.com)
Do you want God to change YOU? Do you want God to change your family and your world forever? Then trust Christ with your life. Let Him have full control. Let Him change you from the inside out. And then let Him use you to open the way for Him to change the lives of others.
If you want to really live, don’t let Satan destroy you. Don’t let Society’s attitudes detain you. Instead, let the Savior deliver you and use you for His glory!